Hebrews 13:16 KJB - “But to do good and to COMMUNICATE forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”
NASB (ESV, NIV, NKJV) - “ And do not neglect doing good and SHARING, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”
Some modern versionists criticize the King James Bible for using the word “to communicate” here and tell us that the word really should be “to SHARE”, as in giving things to others who are in need.
But are they right?
The word used here is koinonia, and it is found 21 times in the New Testament and is translated in a wide variety of ways, many of them having to do with verbal communication of sharing the mutual faith we have one with another.
Here are some examples -
“And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and FELLOWSHIP, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Acts 2:42
“God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto THE FELLOWSHIP of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:9
“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not THE COMMUNION of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not THE COMMUNION of the body of Christ?” 1 Corinthians 10:16
“That THE COMMUNICATION of thy faith may become effectual by thy acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.” Philemon 6
“That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have FELLOWSHIP with us: and truly our FELLOWSHIP is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:3
The word koinonia can also have the meaning of “a contribution” and “distribution”.
We see this in Romans 15:26 - “For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain CONTRIBUTION for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.”
And in 2 Corinthians 9:13 - “Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal DISTRIBUTION unto them, and unto all men”
There can be some ambiguity in the term or cross over in meanings. Even with the word “to share” we are not sure if we are referring to sharing wealth and property or sharing ideas and the common faith with others.
It was no accident that the King James Bible translators chose to use the word “to communicate”. Previous English bibles like Tyndale, Coverdale, the Great Bible, Matthew’s bible, the Bishops’ bible and the Geneva bible all said:
”To doe good, and TO DISTRIBUTE forget not: for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”
So maybe the KJB translators felt that this word “communicated” better the ideas of sharing in every sense of the word, both with material necessities as well as in sharing with spoken words of encouragement their mutual faith with other believers.
Young’s “literal” translation 1898 as well as Godbey N.T. 1902, Rotherham’s 1902, A Conservative Version 2005, the Jubilee Bible 2010 have “and of doing good, and of FELLOWSHIP, be not forgetful, for with such sacrifices God is well-pleased.”
In fact, in this same chapter in the previous verse we see that “words” themselves can be included in what God considers to be a sacrifice.
“By him therefore let us offer the SACRIFICE OF PRAISE to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips GIVING THANKS to his name.” Hebrews 13:15
Even IF we take the word “to communicate” in this particular context to mean “to share with others” this IS one of the meanings of the word “to communicate”
Websters Dictionary defines to communicate as 1. archaic : SHARE; 2. to convey knowledge of or information about : make known, and 3. to cause to pass from one to another - Some diseases are easily communicated.”
Not only does the King James Bible read: “But to do good and TO COMMUNICATE forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” but so too do the following Bible translations -
The REVISED VERSION 1881, the ASV 1901, Whiston’s N.T. 1745, Wesley’s N.T. 1755, Webster’s bible 1833, Living Oracles 1835, Pickering N.T. 1840, The Longman Version 1841, The Commonly Received Version 1851, The Boothroyd Bible 1853, The Calvin Version 1856, The Revised N.T. 1862, The Alford N.T. 1870, The Revised English Bible 1877, Darby 1890, The Clarke N.T. 1913, The Lawrie Translation 1998, The Third Millennium Bible 1998, The Updated Bible Version 2004, The Conservative Bible 2010 and The Hebraic Transliteration Bible 2010.
And this online Interlinear Greek N.T. - “but of doing good and COMMUNICATING be not forgetful”
Foreign Language Bibles - KJB.
John Calvin on Hebrews 13:16 - “The word communicate has a wider meaning than to do good, for it embraces all the duties by which men can mutually assist one another; and it is a true mark or proof of love, when they who are united together by the Spirit of God communicate to one another.”
All of grace, believing the Book - the King James Bible.
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