Important facts about The Passion Translation

I put together a fact sheet on The Passion Translation, showing — quickly and concisely — what this “translation” claims to be and why people need to beware of its growing use in churches. I posted the fact sheet below and included a link to a PDF you can download. I encourage you to distribute it widely — online, through social media, and by giving printed copies to friends, pastors and other church leaders.

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Passion Translation Fact Sheet

Composed by Holly Pivec, author and blogger at Spirit of Error (www.spiritoferror.org)

 

Who is Brian Simmons?

Brian Simmons is the founder of Stairway Ministries in Wichita, Kansas.  He’s also an “apostle,” working under the apostle Ché Ahn, with Harvest International Ministry, an apostolic network of 25,000 churches and organizations in 65 nations. He spent eight years working with New Tribes Mission in the rain forest of Panama as a church planter, Bible translator and consultant. He’s now the lead translator for the Passion Translation. To date, he’s translated and released his translation of the entire New Testament, plus Psalms, Proverbs, and Song of Songs. He earned his doctorate with the Wagner Leadership Institute (now called Wagner University) with a specialization on prayer. [Take note that the Wagner Leadership Institute is not a standard, accredited seminary or Bible College that offers academic courses on the Bible and theology. Rather it was founded to serve the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). Non-traditional courses teach people about NAR and how to be apostles and prophets and work miracles.]

 

What is the Passion Translation and why the need for it?

The Passion Translation is billed as “a new, heart-level translation that expresses God’s fiery heart of love to this generation using Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic manuscripts, merging the emotion and life-changing truth of God’s Word.” According to the website, “God refuses to meet us only in an intellectual way. God also wants to meet us heart level, so we must let the words go heart deep—which is what we’re trying to do with this project. There is a language of the heart that must express the passion of this love-theology.” Simmons named it the Passion Translation because he saw a need for a translation that restores the Bible’s potency, “unfiltered and unveiled.” Source: Letters From Heaven by the Apostle Paul, The Passion Translation (Cicero, NY: 5 Fold Media, 2013), 9 Kindle edition.

 

Who’s the publisher? And who, other than Simmons, has contributed to this translation?

The original publisher is named 5 Fold Media. [Take note that the original publisher’s name is a reference to a NAR teaching about apostles and prophets known as “fivefold ministry.”] The present publisher is BroadStreet Publishing. Simmons serves as the lead translator. [Also take note that he’s the sole translator.] He claims that every book and footnote is evaluated by respected scholars and editors. But — curiously — he has not publicly revealed the names of any of those scholars and editors.

 

How popular is the Passion Translation?

The Passion Translation has become very popular among people who attend charismatic churches and churches that are part of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). People have reported that it helped them discover intimacy with Christ and has rapidly become their favorite translation of choice for Bible study. Its popularity can be seen from its sales on Amazon, which consistently show it ranking among the better-selling Christian books. The popularity of this translation is due, in no small part, to the many NAR leaders who have endorsed this translation, including Ché Ahn, James Goll, Bill Johnson, John Bevere, and Banning Liebscher. Pastor and best-selling author Bill Johnson called the Passion Translation “one of the greatest things to happen with Bible translation in my lifetime.” This translation is now available on BibleGateway, Logos Bible Software, and the YouVersion App—all popular tools used by mainstream evangelicals and churches. So the Passion Translation is exerting influence in ever-widening circles.

 

How is the Passion Translation being used?

The Passion Translation is being used as a primary Bible for many people in the New Apostolic Reformation. NAR leaders also promote and preach from this translation in the pulpit, including Bill Johnson. Source (1:51:00)

Simmons encourages people to use it as a primary text for serious study of God’s Word. This can be seen on the Passion Translation website, which states: “The Passion Translation is an excellent translation you can use as your primary text to seriously study God’s Word because it combines the best aspects of what is called formal and functional equivalence Bibles. It is a balanced translation that tries to hold both the Word’s literal meaning and original message in proper tension, resulting in an entirely new, fresh, fiery translation of God’s Word. Furthermore, this is the first modern English translation to use Aramaic, the language of Jesus and the disciples, as a lens through which to view God’s original Word to us, a word of truth and love.”

 

What does Simmons say about his “translation”?

On a 2015 television program, Simmons claimed that, in 2009, Jesus Christ literally visited him in his room, breathed on him, and commissioned him to write a new translation of the Bible. Simmons says, “It felt like Heaven’s wind. The rock, the breath, the wind of God came upon me. And he spoke to me and said, ‘I’m commissioning you to translate the Bible into the translation project that I’m giving you to do.’ And he promised that he would help me, and he promised me that he would give me secrets of the Hebrew language.”

Simmons claims that, by blowing on him, Jesus gave him “the spirit of revelation.” In no way, he says, would he compare this “breathing” on him to that experienced by the original writers of Scripture. [Take note that he doesn’t say how it was any different.] He says: “he breathed on me so that I would do the project, and I felt downloads coming, instantly. I received downloads. It was like, I got a chip put inside of me. I got a connection inside of me to hear him better, to understand the scriptures better and hopefully to translate.”

During this same TV program, Simmons claimed Jesus revealed to him a new chapter of the Bible. This happened when he was translated to the library of heaven where he saw more books than you can imagine. One stood out called John 22. It told about the greatest revival the world is yet to see. God promised Simmons that one day He’ll bring Simmons back to heaven and give him this book. Source (21:00)

Some have described The Passion Bible as a paraphrase, similar to the Message Bible. But Simmons is adamant that it’s not merely a paraphrase, but rather a bona fide translation. Source (17:00)

 

What are the chief problems with the Passion Translation?

The Passion Translation has many serious problems. These include:

  • A lack of qualifications of the lead [sole] translator. This is a direct quote from Simmons about his qualifications to undertake this project: “I had minimal background in biblical languages, so yeah, it was something that, honestly, something the Lord has really helped me with.” Source (14:52)
  • A lack of transparency in his process (i.e., Simmons doesn’t reveal the names of the “reputable” editors and scholars who have supposedly reviewed his work)
  • Simmons’ reliance on Aramaic manuscripts to produce this translation. This is problematic because the earliest Aramaic manuscripts are from the fifth century. In contrast to Simmons’ translation of the New Testament, the standard English translations are based on much earlier and more reliable Greek manuscripts.
  • Simmons’ claims to have received a personal appearance from Jesus and a commissioning from him to produce this translation
  • Simmons’ claims that he received revelation “downloads” from God that would enable him to translate
  • Simmons’ claims that God would give him secrets of the Hebrew language that would enable him to translate
  • Simmons’ claims that Jesus showed him a new chapter of the Bible, John 22
  • His misleading promotion of his work as a “dynamic-equivalent translation” and as a reliable text for serious study of the Bible
  • Evidence of bias and abuse of the text of Scripture (see below)

 

What are some noteworthy examples of NAR-friendly bias and abuse of the text of Scripture?

Following are a few examples of bias and abuse of the text. At the end of this fact sheet are links to critics’ sources that contain more examples. Take note that critics have pointed out other examples that Simmons changed after they drew attention to them. So his translation is a moving target. When Simmons has been challenged about faulty renderings of verses, he sometimes has simply revised them – in substantial ways – without offering any explanation for his revisions.

Example 1: Take note of the addition of teaching about the Holy Spirit and the deletion of admonitions to correct and rebuke.

2 Timothy 4:2

Standard English Translations

  • “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (English Standard Version)
  • “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” (New International Version)
  • “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” (New King James Version)

The Passion Translation

  • “proclaim the Word of God and stand upon it no matter what! Rise to the occasion and preach when it is convenient and when it is not. Preach in the full expression of the Holy Spirit[a]—with wisdom and patience as you instruct and teach the people.” (TPT)

Simmons’ footnote a: 2 Timothy 4:2 As translated from the Aramaic.

Example 2: Take note of the NAR bias for an over-realized eschatology — i.e., teachings that the blessings God has promised for the future are readily available in the present age.

Mark 1:15

Standard English Translations

  • “and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (ESV)
  • “‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’” (NIV)
  • “and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.’” (NKJV)

The Passion Translation

  • “At last the fulfillment of the age has come! It is time for the realm of God’s kingdom to be experienced in fullness! Turn your lives back to God and put your trust in the hope-filled gospel!”[a] (TPT

Simmons’ footnote a: Mark 1:15 The Greek is “believe the good news” (“the   gospel”), and the Aramaic is “put your trust in the joyful message of hope.” This translation merges both concepts, making it “the hope-filled gospel.

Example 3: Take note how he has added the word “first” before the word “twelve.” Could this be because NAR leaders, including Simmons, teach that the office of apostle is ongoing for today?

Matthew 10:2

Standard English Translations

  • “The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;” (ESV)
  • “These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John;” (NIV)
  • “Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;” (NKJV)

The Passion Translation

  • Now, these are the names of the first twelve apostles: first, Simon, who is nicknamed Peter, and Andrew, his brother. And then Jacob and John, sons of Zebedee. (TPT)

 

How is the Passion Translation tied to the New Apostolic Reformation?

Brian Simmons, like some other leaders in the New Apostolic Reformation, denies being a part of this movement. Yet the core teaching of the New Apostolic Reformation is the necessity of the present-day governing offices of apostle and prophet along with their new, authoritative revelations. Simmons holds the governing office of apostle with Harvest International Ministry, and works closely with many New Apostolic Reformation leaders. His translation is endorsed almost only (if not exclusively) by NAR leaders. His translation shows significant evidence of NAR doctrinal bias. For these reasons, critics of this translation have dubbed it the “NAR Bible.”

 

What are some sources that have critiqued the Passion Translation?

  • Article in the journal themelios (Volume 43, Issue 1): “Burning Scripture with Passion: A Review of the Psalms (The Passion Translation)” by Andrew G. Shead
  • Article on the blog THINK (6 January 2016): “What’s Wrong with the Passion ‘Translation’?” by Andrew Wilson
  • Four-part series of articles on the blog Spirit of Error by Holly Pivec, starting with “A New NAR Bible (Part 1) — ‘The Passion Translation'”
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Holly Pivec is the co-author of A New Apostolic Reformation?: A Biblical Response to a Worldwide Movement and God’s Super-Apostles: Encountering the Worldwide Prophets and Apostles Movement. She has a master’s degree in Christian apologetics from Biola University.

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15 Responses to “Important facts about The Passion Translation”

  1. Bruce Cooper Says:

    Thank you Holly for the excellent work you put into this. Especially appreciate the four part series you included at the bottom of this post. I have added your links to my “Christian Resources” page under “New Apostolic Reformation – Warning Against” category, on my website and I have also reposted this post via WordPress. Grace and blessings!

  2. Janis Says:

    Holly, Once again you have so clearly stated the truth and Simmons’ beliefs are preposterous! No words should be added or taken away from the BIble! It is very unfortunate that so many people nation-wide are following NAR. Thank God you are getting the “True” word out that these so called prophets and apostles are not following God’s word and direction, but their word! Keep informing us all and help us to be a guide to others the way you are…

  3. Paula Southworth Says:

    Thank you Holly. I had to read that about three times. Totally different wording, and meaning. Plus, remove a comma and replace it with a period, well… Keep exposing. Once again thank you for laying those side by side. They don’t like to be exposed.

  4. Dean Says:

    It was like, I got a chip put inside of me. I got a connection inside of me to hear him better, to understand the scriptures better and hopefully to translate.”

    Dean replys:HOLY SPIRIT IN NEED OF WORK – when christians are feed sour milk you can pull anything over on them, they dont search to see if its true or not cause they dont know what that is…. anyone who tells you they’ve been to heaven hell of visits from Jesus is a liar and has been decieved…. you wonder why all the biggest preachers and teachers are false ones? Its because thats what the people are happy with….no wonder Jesus says: when I return will I truly find faith? the circus opens at 9…..

  5. Dean Says:

    One thing when you only do a NT bible what happens to all the Prophecies of the OT Prophets proving Jesus is the Christ?

  6. Holly Says:

    Dean,

    I didn’t approve your comments that promote King James Only. In the past, when I’ve allowed proponents of the King James Only position to post comments, I’ve seen that debate take over the discussion. I don’t want that to happen here. Plus, I’ve taken a strong position against the King James Only view. See a post I wrote about it here: http://www.spiritoferror.org/2016/09/the-error-of-king-james-only/6443 I plan to add a statement to my “Comment Policy” about my not allowing posts that promote King James Only. Thanks for understanding.

  7. Bob Wilson Says:

    Brian Simmons, as well as many NAR apostles and prophets, explicitly claim to have seen our exalted Lord Jesus. In worship service this morning we read 1 Peter 1:8 “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,” ESV Peter is very careful to use both an aorist participle and a present participle expressed in English as “have not seen” and “do not now see”. So I was curious how he handled this in TPT. Here it is and notice what is missing “You love him passionately although you did not see him, but through believing in him you are saturated with an ecstatic joy, indescribably sublime and immersed in glory.” Simmons removes “you do not now see him”. Simmons was a regular teacher at the church that I briefly attended. When I saw his early work I said that he aiming toward a goal of making this the de facto NAR Bible and thereby become wealthy.

  8. Jack Morrow Says:

    Brian Simmons’ lack of expertise, plus his reception of alleged direct revelations to help him in his work, remind me of Joseph Smith and his great scholarly work in translating the golden plates.

  9. David Alligood Says:

    I’ve asked Mr. Simmons to disclose his co-translators — the birds are still chirping. Thanks for the summary, Holly- very nice!

  10. Lisa Says:

    So many of these NAR types listen to seduceing spirits. Had no idea its how this translation came about. Thank you!

  11. John Orr Says:

    Holly, thank you for you diligent search for the truth. As you know I have known Dr. Brian Simmons for forty years. In the eighties I attended a church in which a ‘oneness’ prophet was silenced, as far as public ministry. May I simply say that there were other church groups that allowed the ‘oneness’ prophets to minister. I until recently, I believed that Dr. Brian Simmons would never twist a scripture and he did. May I say as to Mathew 10:2 my anti-Catholic bias the first before Simon … Peter bothered me, but I believe Peter was a ‘forerunner’ among the twelve apostles. I feel betrayed by Dr. Brian Simmons’ patronizing mistranslation. Now I see that this pattern of deceptive behavior has been consistant over forty years.
    Please pray for the few hundred local christians that I’ve known who are so devouted to Dr. Brian Simmons’ ministry.
    Please forgive me if you percieve the bitterness I am struggling with because I was decieved, they always do warn that if a blind man follws a blind man they both will fall into a ditch. It is alarming that they never fall into a ditch. I quess they take a break to count their money, regrettably, it was our money!

  12. Delkin Says:
  13. Michael Says:

    Good find Delkin… please read the further reply here: https://thinktheology.co.uk/blog/article/one_more_word_on_translations_my_brief_response_to_brian_simmons1

    He can make all the real time changes he wants after publishing…after all crowd sourcing is popular these days. But the need to crowd source is incongruous with how he says this is breathed and also subject to a review board.

    Bottom line is that the last response from the critical review is that making up new meanings is not the work of solid translation.

    Delkin: Do you believe there is a 22nd chapter of John?

  14. Delkin Says:

    Michael,

    I believe that the Canon of Scripture is closed and that no words will be added to Scripture. I believe that the 66 book Bible is the only authoritative word of God which is for all people and nothing will ever be added or taken from it.

    I also believe in prophecy and I believe what Bethel and Bill Johnson teach regarding the place of Scripture and the measuring of spiritual experience:

    http://bssm.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/BSSM1-Syllabus-2017-18.pdf

    “The Bible is the primary, authoritative guide to the faith & practice of Christianity. All supernatural and natural experience must be measured by the Truth as revealed in God’s Word. God is still speaking but everything we now hear must be consistent with what He has spoken. We cannot lead properly, or in a healthy, holy manner in the Christian community if we don’t know how to understand the Word.”

    http://bssm.net/schoolplanting/2017/03/21/how-to-help-students-fall-in-love-with-the-word/

    “One of the most important things you can do as a school leader is help your students develop a passion and love for the Word of God! The Bible is the source of absolute truth; it is a light that guides us through even the darkest times. Helping your students love the Word is a gift that will keep giving to them for their rest of their lives.”

    https://www.bethel.com/content/uploads/2018/03/BLN_Information_Packet-2.pdf

    “The Bible is the source of infallible truth and authority by which we judge all insight and prophetic revelation.”

    All this said, I listened to the message from Simmons and I didn’t hear this as Simmons saying that he is going to add another chapter added to the Bible. I heard it as Simmons saying that he will one day be given a book called “John 22” which will be about the last great revival. It will never take the place of Scripture and I will never buy a Bible with a 22nd chapter included in it. To me this sounds a lot like the concept of the Acts 29 church network – the ongoing work of the Lord using a term that suggests it is a continuation of the ministry spelled out in the Bible.

    It seems Simmons believes God will one day give him something like a prophetic word with information that will spur believers on to complete the ministry in John. If you notice, even Sid Roth says pretty definitely “there are only 21 chapters in John” meaning that not even his host understood this to be an addition to Scripture. I mean Simmons himself literally says, “it will not add to Scripture, that is a closed Book.” This is literally a direct contradiction to what the discernment ministries are reporting.

    As someone who believes in ongoing prophecy in conjunction with a closed Canon, I have zero difficulty accepting the possibility of Simmon’s experience and a book called “John 22” which could potentially be the word of the Lord through Simmons to some people (but not the church universal for all time). But I can understand how my cessationist brothers and sisters won’t fully understand. Here’s a good discussion from Sam Storms that helps “bridge the gap” if anyone is seeking to understand how we charismatics can see little tension here:

    http://www.samstorms.com/enjoying-god-blog/post/why-nt-prophecy-does-not-result-in–scripture-quality–revelatory-words–a-response-to-the-most-frequently-cited-cessationist-argument-against-the-contemporary-validity-of-spiritual-gifts-

    Here’s the video I listened to:

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OkUomLwpZpI

    Here’s a link to the time of the discussion:

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OkUomLwpZpI&t=14m

    And here’s where Simmons says this “will not add to Scripture, it is a closed Book” regarding John 22:

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OkUomLwpZpI&t=19m

    So yeah, it sounds scary, but if you actually listen to his full discussion and believe in prophecy, there’s not much of a problem.

  15. Michael Says:

    Thanks Delkin!

    My comments had nothing to do with cessationist or continuationist views.

    Only that he changes the meaning of the closed canon. The good news is that he appears to be open to changing his translation based on critical feedback. I just wish he had not marketed his paraphrase as a translation and that he didn’t create confusion around the closed canon with his claim of an almost revealed new chapter.

    I hold teachers to a standard of not misleading others and I know from firsthand conversations that people do not understand what you stated above by his comments, his statements and his marketing.

    Thanks and God Bless You!

    Michael

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