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A New NAR Bible (Part 4): The Passion Translation vs. the English Standard Version

esv study bible 2In my past three posts (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3), I looked closely at a new translation of the Bible called “The Passion Translation,” produced by NAR apostle Brian Simmons. I showed why it is not a trustworthy translation.

In this post, I will show four things to look for in a trustworthy translation. To illustrate those characteristics, I will contrast the The Passion Translation with another newer translation, the English Standard Version (ESV).

Four Characteristics of a Trustworthy Translation

A trustworthy translation is produced by a team of translators. Unlike The Passion Translation, which was produced by a lone individual, the ESV was produced by more than 100 Bible scholars–an international team from many denominations. Why is team translation work important? It provides checks and balances to make sure that the translation is accurate and doesn’t reflect the pet theological views of just one person or only a certain group of Christians.

A trustworthy translation is produced by reputable scholars. Apostle Simmons’ single credential–other than the fact that he claims to be an apostle–is that he assisted in a translation project of the New Testament for an indigenous people group in Panama. But he apparently has no formal academic training–only the on-the-job training he received during his eight-year stint in Panama working with New Tribes Mission.

In contrast, the translators behind the ESV are leading Bible scholars with the highest academic credentials awarded from respected seminaries and universities.

A trustworthy translation is produced from early manuscripts. Much of The Passion Translation was translated from Aramaic manuscripts of the New Testament that date to the fifth century. I wrote about this in my last post. In contrast, the ESV was translated primarily from Greek manuscripts of the New Testament that were written centuries earlier. The reason the date of the manuscripts is so important is this: the closer a manuscript is to the original documents means there was less time for its text to be changed or for copyist errors to creep in. Think of the “telephone game“: the more people who transmit the message, the more it changes.

A trustworthy translation is transparent. In the “Translator’s Introduction” to Letters From Heaven, apostle Brian Simmons makes a number of bold claims without offering any way to verify the truth of his claims. For example, he claims that “many new discoveries” have been made that indicate that the original documents of the New Testament were actually written in Aramaic, not Greek. Yet, he does not identify a single discovery. So how can one know that what he says about those discoveries is true?

As another example, Simmons claims that “some scholars” are starting to believe that the New Testament was originally written in Aramaic. Yet, he does not identify who these scholars are. So, how can one know that they are legitimate scholars?

As a third example, he never identifies the specific manuscripts he translated from. So how can one know if he used reliable manuscripts?

In contrast to Simmons’ lack of transparency, the translators behind the ESV lay all their cards on the table–thus, their work can be verified. The ESV Web site provides a complete list of the scholars who contributed to the ESV translation and identifies, by name, the specific manuscripts that were used for their translation work.

Other Trustworthy Translations

Some other trustworthy translations of the Bible that shares these four characteristics include the New International Version (NIV) and the New American Standard Bible (NASB).

You can find out if the translation you use shares these characteristics by looking at the opening pages of your Bible. The “Preface” or “Introduction” will generally explain how the translation work was undertaken–including how many scholars did the work, who those scholars were, and if their work was based on early manuscripts.

See more posts about the Passion Translation here.

— By Holly Pivec

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22 Responses to “A New NAR Bible (Part 4): The Passion Translation vs. the English Standard Version”

  1. Jane Says:

    I agree with your opinions on the NAR, but….

    Oh how I wish you hadn’t used the ESV to show a ‘good’ translation.  I wouldn’t own an ESV if you gave it to me free.  It may sometimes out its many translators, but it’s obvious they’re all a bunch of Calvinists.  They have removed verses, such as the one that says at the end, ‘otherwise grace is no grace’.  That saying just didn’t line up with Calvin’s version of ‘truth’ that tells us that God’s grace is not for ALL, and therefore Christ didn’t die for ALL.  For Calvinists, Calvin resides above the God of truth, and even ‘corrects’ God in his own Word.

    Don’t get me started, but I believe Calvinism to be the worst of the worst of cult teachings.  I refuse to believe in a God who is not a “real” judge, but one who gives no one the freedom to choose Christ or not.  Then Calvin’s god just condemns all who this god didn’t himself ‘choose’ for salvation.

    I’m disappointed in you.

  2. admin Says:


    I think the verse you may be referring to is Romans 11:6. I’m not sure where you heard that it was removed from the ESV. You can see it in the ESV here: http://www.esvbible.org/Romans+11%3A6t

    I know some non-Calvinist Arminians think highly of the ESV Bible. For example, see this Arminian blog here: http://www.classicalarminian.com/2013/01/the-esv-legacy-bible.html


  3. Toby Fruth Says:

    I appreciate the site and the articles.  I think if one searches far and wide, one will find all sorts of errors with KJV, NKJV, ESV, NASB, RSV, NIV, etc.  I know I have come across many such articles.  I think the main point of the article is to show that large groups of scholars embarked on attempts to bring accurate English translations to English-speaking people.  Subjective opinions and biases are part of being human.  Translators make mistakes, and even force their subjective views in to the translations.  Thankfully, we have many translations and multiple ancient transliterated texts for comparison.  I, for one, am thankful that so many scholarly works exists and readily available. 

    Many believers around the world are persecuted for having any form of Bible.  This site performs a much-needed service, and this series of posts is valuable in pointing out clear-cut heresy.

  4. Jane Says:

    Thank you for letting my posts remain.  That’s very different from most sites that are afraid of contrary opinions and so remove them.  

    Actually, I’d rather see folks have the ESV than no Bible at all.  As long as it remains without commentary.  We certainly don’t need ‘The Passion Bible”, paraphrased by one man and obviously written to line up with NAR ‘theology’.  Making God’s thoughts line up with man’s thoughts is surely not what God had in mind when he gave us HIS Word.  We just don’t need any of these new translations, we already have enough wonderful tried and true literal ones.  These newer ones can’t serve any purpose but to bend folks toward a new kind of theology and doctrine, which can be dangerous.

    Anyone can brag that they used 1000 old Greek and Hebrew manuscripts to write their Bible, but actually that’s not such a good thing since then they can pick and choose which verses from all these manuscripts line up with their own particular and often peculiar theology.  The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ translation is famous for that.  

    The NAR’s Translation ‘The Passion Bible’ comes along at a time when apostasy seems rampant as folks leave well Bible grounded churches for the excitement of these “new” prophecies made by uninspired men.  We need to just leave well-enough alone so we don’t fall into the devil’s clever new trap.

  5. New Tribes Mission Says:

    The reference to Brian’s prior service with New Tribes Mission should not be taken as an endorsement of lone ranger translation methods or recognition of modern day apostles other than the use of “being sent with a message” in the same way “missionary” is used.  New Tribes Mission has very stringent guidelines for Bible translation that includes teamwork and accountability.

  6. Scott Says:

    I have heard from many different sources about dreams and visions of Christ in the Muslim world. I really don’t know what to make of these. This “bible” is bad, I believe this moves NAR from false teaching into an all out cult.

  7. Alan Says:

    Scott, I believe the NAR has always been cultic (even OCCULTIC), ever since the founder, C Peter Wagner wrote that he believes in the truth of this (totally unscriptural) phrase; “The end justifies the means.” in his book; ‘Your Church Can Grow’, which was originally published in the 1970’s and has been republished several times since.
    This diabolical phrase phrase is the polar opposite of what God’s Word teaches. It implies that it doesn’t matter what we do, as long as the end result is a ‘good’ one, which is definitely NOT what the Bible says.
    If this statement were true (in the Biblical sense), then we would justified in taking up the sword to propagate the Kingdom of God, which is exactly what the NAR have been promoting for several years now. (See Rick Joyner’s book; ‘Civil War In The Church’, and look up ‘Joel’s Army’ and what the NAR teach about it.
    These guys are quite seriously the most dangerous people on earth that call themselves Christians. 

  8. Alan Says:

    My name (at the top of the comment above) somehow got four extra letters. It should read:
    Alan, not; Alanwhat. 
    Don’t know what happened, but I suspect it’s my think fingers and a small keyboard. 😉

  9. admin Says:


    I just fixed it.


  10. John Says:

    It’s funny that New Tribes Mission should mention “accountability” in their comment disowning Pastor Brian Simmons. New Tribes Mission had a boarding school in Panama, where Pastor Simmons worked for them, and the school abused children. Most of the abusers were simply moved into administrative positions in the mission, instead of being prosecuted under the law. In fact, one of the child abusers at NTM might have written that message above on behalf of the mission. Perhaps the real dangers to Christianity aren’t those who want to make this dying religion exciting and interesting to a new generation, but those from the old guard who cover up the physical, emotional, spiritual and sexual abuse of their own children.

  11. Holly Says:


    I can’t speak to the allegations made against New Tribes Mission so I am not attempting to defend this organization or make accusations against it. But the problems with apostle Brian Simmons’ translation–including his lack of transparency and accountability to any reputable scholars–remain.


  12. M. K. Says:

    When I taught the Ladies Bible Study in our current church before health reasons forrced me to quit, I used to encourage the ladies to read the passage in as many different Bible versions as we had present. NKJ, KJ, RSV, NIV, and NASB were the most common. None of us owned “the Message”. I often read the passage from the Amplified as well.

    I used to enjoy pointing out how the meaning did NOT change, even as the words may have been slightly different. It used to help make passages come clearer to some of the ladies especially if we were slogging thru a more complicated bit.

    I thought it was a good habit to encourage people to fully grasp the meaning, by going to several GOOD translations to get the full meal deal.

    I am appalled at the misuse of scripture in this mis translation of the Word. Whatever happened to handling the Word accurately let alone reverently.

  13. Jim Says:

    In the Intro to the Passion Bible Simmons clarifies that the type of translation that he determined to produce as a “Dynamic Equivalent”.  A DE is not the same as a Literal Translation (I.e. the NASB).  It’s also not the same as a paraphrase (I.e. The Message).  To some degree you’re comparing apples to oranges.

  14. Anne Says:

    A friend in Australia told me about The Passion.  I am wondering if there is any way to verify Mr. Brian Simmon’s claim to have worked with NTM and what he actually did with them IF he indeed worked with them.  His claims are rather strong, yet does not show up on the ‘radar’ for being as integral as he says regarding the Kuna translation he refers to.  His title is Dr. but a Dr. of what and if so, from where?

    My father impressed upon me the importance of handling God’s word with great care.  I shudder to think my friend is reading something which has veered of the course of God’s truth and compiled with personal interpretation and filling.

  15. Jerry Dodson Says:

    Jane wrote:
    “Don’t get me started, but I believe Calvinism to be the worst of the worst of cult teachings.  I refuse to believe in a God who is not a “real” judge, but one who gives no one the freedom to choose Christ or not.  Then Calvin’s god just condemns all who this god didn’t himself ‘choose’ for salvation.”
    This statement is muddled at best and misleading at worst. I realize that this forum is not a place to debate the doctrines of grace, so I won’t attempt it, but Jane’s misunderstanding of the sovereignty of God in salvation is just sad.

  16. Terry Caturano Says:

    Thank you so much for your careful research on the NAR and its danger to the church.  I have been reading “A New Apostolic Reformation?” co-authored by you and D. Geivett, and it is so helpful in enabling us to identify the specific problems with this movement.  My husband and I teach an adult Sunday school class in an Assembly of God Church.  For several years, we have been increasingly concerned with the guest speakers in our church, who have majored on aberrant interpretations of the Bible and Christian doctrine.  They cleverly disguise the novelty of their doctrines behind Scriptural terms, redefined.  Certain catch phrases have been used repeatedly by speaker after speaker, including labeling certain speakers as Apostles and Prophets.  There has been an over-emphasis on signs and wonders.  Other guest speakers present the “Word of Faith” and “Prosperity Doctrine.” Their teachings are always based on a handful of verses about prosperity (defined as financial), blessing, healing, and faith, while ignoring the rest of Scripture that puts their pet verses into perspective.  We intent to talk to our pastor, who is the “gatekeeper” who invites and allows these speakers to promote their doctrine, and encourages us to support them in attendance and finances.  Keep up the good work.  I have greatly benefited from your blog and your book.

  17. kadri liisa Says:

    For me i have not read much Passion translation however some parts are translated into estonian by one prophetic lady.I like  Amplified Bible, New Living Translation, Message as it expands the meaning of verses.
    And bit the Voice bible what has been used in my church.
    Good work in comparing it.

  18. Frans B Says:

    Let us pray for those who are deceived, that their eyes may be opened

  19. Joe Luis Riojas Says:

    Ms. Pivec,

    Thank you for your insight and wisdom, that continues to be helpful to this day-i realized that the article is 6 years old late! My pastor has started to use the Passion translation I intermittently, your article(s) have provided clear, concise evidence of the folly of Simmons works. God Bless..


  20. Thomas Lowery Says:

    Thanks so much, great article and quite relevant to our fight for accurate and honest bible translations. Handling the word of God is so important. It should be approached with great fear and trepidation. The NAR seems callous and ambivalent to God, whom they claim to serve. Lord bless.

  21. Rod P Saunders Says:

    Brian Simmons isn’t a “NAR Apostle”. As for trustworthy translations being done by a team, are you unaware that Martin Luther did a bible translation that not only changed the German culture but the German language as well? Are you unaware of the Moffatt translation, the Bible in Basic English, the Worrell translation, Young’s Literal Translation, the Tyndale Bible, the Darby Bible, the Wuest New Testament translation, the Barclay NT translation, and the Phillips NT translation. All done by individuals. As for trustworthy translations only using older manuscripts, I guess you would consider the KJV and the NKJV “untrustworthy”?

  22. Laurel A Says:

    Rod has a point. There are many translations done by individual translators, and some are excellent. I particularly value Phillips NT translation – easy to follow, by a gentleman who could clearly handle English style and avoid the wooden characteristics common in translations done by committee.

    However, all these individually produced translations have done two things: 1) they have stood the test of time 2) they have been useable by Christians of many different denominations. I can’t see the Passion translation being used by anybody not NAR influenced. (My own church, sadly, has started referring to it). And the controversy started pretty quickly over it, for good reason, I think.

    My reaction to “translation novelty” is this: if the doctrines you are preaching are true, you can preach from a conventional Bible text and make your argument in the sermon, comparing scripture with scripture. If those doctrines are false, you have adulterated the word of God and at the minimum, produced confusion. You are no longer proving your argument from scripture, you are importing your argument *into* scripture. How will the reader ‘test all things’ if you have changed the very standard to which they should be compared?

    I’m fine with paraphrases and dynamic equivalence. But they should be clearly labelled as such.

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