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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Hell, Romans 8:38, and The New Living Translation

I don't dislike the NLT, but we do need to be careful to remember that an "equivalence" is not a translation (and both are subject to bias).

I noticed that the NLT has this for Rom 8:38:

"And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love."

A wonderful thought for Christians! However, we have some bias slipped into the NLT here. The Greek reads "archḗ" and "dýnamis." Other translations render these "principalities" and "powers." These would be evil forces, no doubt, but should we impose on them "the powers of hell?"

The latter implies that "hell" is some sort of spiritual HQ. There is nothing in scripture to support that assumption. In fact (and ironically), these principalities and powers are far from the hell of tradition.

"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."
-Eph 6:12 (NKJV)

"Principalities" here is the same Greek word as used in Romans. Where do we see these dark rulers? They are "in heavenly places" or "in the heavens." Gk: epouránios

Since the NLT translators assume some sort of HQ in "hell," they assume the principalities and powers of the evil enemy are coming from such a place. But just as the "gates of hell" are not some HQ (how do gates attack?), men have imposed their traditions and make the word of God of no effect.

"Making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down."
-Mk 7:13 (NKJV)
What triggered me when I saw it was the word "hell." I knew Paul only uses it ("Hades") once in all his preaching and writing and it is in reference to believers conquering the grave (Hades) in resurrection in 1 Cor 15.

I recommend word studies and checking the Greek/Hebrew when studying. And, as always, don't neglect the three most important factors in properly interpreting scripture: context, context, context.