Twisting the Truth

What if, even though we have the truth right before our eyes, we refuse to recognize it because we have been so blinded by lies that we refuse to see truth for what it is…truth?

A Christian Brother, pastor and devoted student of the Bible has written a pair of articles entitled “Squeamish Translating” and “Rightly Dividing 1 Timothy 2:9“, where he has examined how Bible translators have deliberately mistranslated passages in the Bible because of cultural hangups they have.

This article is about how Bible commentators have often ignored the Scripture before them and “read-into” passages what they think they “should” mean. Sometimes they have an “axe to grind” and they use a passage to push that agenda.

Jesus said “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free“.(John 8:32) Only His truth sets us free.

All Scripture passages are taken from the New King James Version (NKJV) and the New American Standard Bible (NASB). I will be examining both the study-notes from a contemporary Study Bible (SB) and comments from an older commentary (COM). Since both are highly-regarded, it is best that I don’t name them. My comments will follow each section.

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Genesis 2:25
NKJV: And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

NASB: And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Commentaries:

SB: not ashamed – This statement does not idealize nudity, but shows why humans must wear clothes. With the Fall came a tragic loss of innocence (together with the resulting shame). When people’s minds are enlightened by the Gospel, they understand their moral frailty and practice customs of dress that shield them against sexual temptation.

COM: Our first parents needed no clothes for covering against cold or heat, for neither could hurt them: they needed none for ornament. Thus easy, thus happy, was man in his state of innocency.

Comments: It amazes me how the SB authors jumped from a state of innocence (COM) to a moral requirement for clothes. The problem with the “moral requirement for clothes“, is that customs of dress DO NOT shield us against sexual temptation. The opposite is more often true in reality. What is lightly-covered is often more tempting than that which is readily viewable. What is readily-viewable loses it novelty, and thus its temptation.

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Genesis 3:21
NKJV: Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.

NASB: The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.

Commentaries:

SB: tunics of skin – The fig-leaf “coverings” of v.7 were loincloths. God’s durable “tunics” contrast with the inadequate attempt by Adam and Eve to cover their shame. His provision also entailed killing an animal, perhaps suggesting a sacrifice for sin.

COM: See also God’s care for our first parents, notwithstanding their sin. Clothes came in with sin. Little reason have we to be proud of our clothes, which are but the badges of our shame. When God made clothes for our first parents, he made them warm and strong, but coarse and very plain; not robes of scarlet, but coats of skin. Let those that are meanly clad, learn from hence not to complain. Having food and a covering, let them be content; they are as well off as Adam and Eve. And let those that are finely clad, learn not to make the putting on of apparel their adorning. The beasts, from whose skins they were clothed, it is supposed were slain, not for man’s food, but for sacrifice, to typify Christ, the great Sacrifice. Adam and Eve made for themselves aprons of fig-leaves, a covering too narrow for them to wrap themselves in, ( Isaiah 28:20 ) . Such are all the rags of our own righteousness. But God made them coats of skin, large, strong, durable, and fit for them: such is the righteousness of Christ; therefore put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Comments: There are many who liken the killing of that animal to being the first sacrifice. Taken in the context of the whole of Scripture, it seems an unlikely twist. Sacrifices were always GIVEN TO God, not performed BY God. Even though God gave Jesus Christ as the final and ultimate sacrifice, He was sacrificed (crucified) by sinful men, not by God the Father.

Adam and Eve’s fig-leaf coverings were a futile attempt to cover their shame, but their shame wasn’t their nakedness. Their shame was their sin. Clothing does in fact advertise our shame…the shame that we have been taught about our bodies. There is nothing shameful about our bodies, because they are created in God’s image, so whatever body-shame we have is learned, not real.

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Genesis 9:20-23
NKJV: 20 And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. 21 Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness.

NASB: 20 Then Noah began [a]farming and planted a vineyard. 21 He drank of the wine and became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent. 22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon both their shoulders and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were [b]turned away, so that they did not see their father’s nakedness.

Commentaries:

SB: 9:21 – drank of the wine – Scripture both favorably looks on wine and soberly warns of its dangers., particularly the moral laxity exemplified by self-exposure. Nazarites officiating priests, and rulers makig decisions were to obstain from it. was drunk – Just as Adam, the original head of the human race, sinned through eating (3:6), so Noah, the head of the human race after the Flood, sinned through drinking. The striking parallels between Adam and Noah, and the contrast between saintly Noah before the Flood and the drunken sinner after it, direct the reader to God, not man, for salvation. became uncovered – Self-exposure is both publicly demeaning and incompatible with living in God’s presence.
9:22 – saw the nakedness of his father – Gazing at another’s nakedness, either in lust or scorn, is morally wrong. Ham’s scornful leering at the father whom he should have revered was particularly reprehensible. told – If it is wrong to publicize another’s sin, how much more a father’s. The story further condemns the failure to respect one’s parents.

COM: The drunkenness of Noah is recorded in the Bible, with that fairness which is found only in the Scripture, as a case and proof of human weakness and imperfection, even though he may have been surprised into the sin; and to show that the best of men cannot stand upright, unless they depend upon Divine grace, and are upheld thereby. Ham appears to have been a bad man, and probably rejoiced to find his father in an unbecoming situation. It was said of Noah, that he was perfect in his generations, ch. 6:9 ; but this is meant of sincerity, not of a sinless perfection. Noah, who had kept sober in drunken company, is now drunk in sober company. Let him that thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall. We have need to be very careful when we use God’s good creatures plentifully, lest we use them to excess, Lu. 21:34 . The consequence of Noah’s sin was shame. Observe here the great evil of the sin of drunkenness. It discovers men; what infirmities they have, they betray when they are drunk; and secrets are then easily got out of them. Drunken porters keep open gates. It disgraces men, and exposes them to contempt. As it shows them, so it shames them. Men say and do that when drunken, which, when sober, they would blush to think of. Notice the care of Shem and Japheth to cover their father’s shame. There is a mantle of love to be thrown over the faults of all, ( 1 Peter. 4:8 ) thrown over the faults of parents and other superiors. The blessing of God attends on those who honour their parents, and his curse lights especially on those who dishonour them.

Comments: Did I miss something in this text that these commentators saw? I see nowhere in this account where God condemned Noah, and yet these commentators made a big deal out of the fact that Noah got drunk. There is no indication in Scripture how long after the Flood this event occured. Perhaps Noah hadn’t had any wine for several years, and it hit him a bit harder than he expected. No mention is made as to how “drunk” Noah was. He may have been just “drunk-enough” to be sleepy. In any case, he went into his tent to take a nap. There is NO support in this passage to conclude that Noah exposed himself in public. That is reading into the passage something that isn’t there.
Noah did the right thing by going into his tent and taking a nap. There is also no reason to condemn him for becoming exposed in his tent. His tent was his private quarters, much like our own homes are. Taking off his clothes in his tent was his right, just as we have the right to take our of in our own homes.

Ham DID do the wrong thing, and it WAS totally-disrespectful to his father. Ham is also the only person in this story that was condemned – cursed through his son.

Conclusion should only be drawn based on the facts presented in the story, not our opinion of how we think the facts “should” be.

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Isaiah 20:1-4
NKJV: 1 In the year that Tartan came to Ashdod, when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him and he fought against Ashdod and took it, 2 at the same time the LORD spoke by Isiah the son of Amoz, saying, “Go, and remove the sackcloth from your body, and take your sandals off your feet.” And He did so, walking naked and barefoot.

3 Then the LORD said, “Just as My servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot three years for a sigh and a wonder against Egypt and Ethiopia, 4 so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians as prisoners and the Ethiopians as captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt.

NASB: 1 In the year that the commander came to Ashdod, when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him and he fought against Ashdod and captured it, 2 at that time the LORD spoke through Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, “Go and loosen the sackcloth from your hips, and take your shoes off your feet.” And he did so, going naked and barefoot,

3 And the LORD said, “Even as My servant Isiah has gone naked and barefoot three years as a sign and token against Egypt and Cush, 4 so the king of Assyria will lead away the captives of Egypt and the exiles of Cush, young and old, naked and barefoot with buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt.

Commentaries:

SB: 20:2 sackcloth…barefoot. The Lord ordered Isaiah to be partially clad like a captive going into exile. Sackcloth was a garment for mourning (15:3; 22:13; 37:1, 2; 58:5), or else the distinctive prophetic garment (2 Kings 1:8; Zech 13:4).
20:3 three years. It could designate the time that Isaiah walked about as a sign or the duration before the sign would be realized.
Sign and wonder. The prophetic style of life (8:18; Deut 13:1, 2: Jer 32:20) pointed out the folly of relying on Egypt, because Egypt, like any nation, was vulnerable.

COM: God here, as King of nations, brings a sore calamity upon Egypt and Ethiopia, but, as King of saints, brings good to his people out of it. Observe,

I. The date of this prophecy. It was in the year that Ashdod, a strong city of the Philistines (but which some think was lately recovered from them by Hezekiah, when he smote the Philistines even unto Gaza, 2 Kings 18:8), was besieged and taken by an army of the Assyrians. It is uncertain what year of Hezekiah that was, but the event was so remarkable that those who lived then could by that token fix the time to a year. He that was now king of Assyria is called Sargon, which some take to be the same with Sennacherib others think he was his immediate predecessor, and succeeded Shalmaneser. Tartan, who was general, or commander-in-chief, in this expedition, was one of Sennacherib’s officers, sent by him to bid defiance to Hezekiah, in concurrence with Rabshakeh, 2 Kings 18:17.

II. The making of Isaiah a sign, by his unusual dress when he walked abroad. He had been a sign to his own people of the melancholy times that had come and were coming upon them, by the sackcloth which for some time he had worn, of which he had a gown made, which he girt about him. Some think he put himself into that habit of a mourner upon occasion of the captivity of the ten tribes. Others think sackcloth was what he commonly wore as a prophet, to show himself mortified to the world, and that he might learn to endure hardness soft clothing better becomes those that attend in king’s palaces (Matthew 11:8) than those that go on God’s errands. Elijah wore hair-cloth (2 Kings 1:8), and John Baptist (Matthew 3:4) and those that pretended to be prophets supported their pretension by wearing rough garments (Zechariah 13:4) but Isaiah has orders given him to loose his sackcloth from his loins, not to exchange it for better clothing, but for none at all–no upper garment, no mantle, cloak, or coat, but only that which was next to him, we may suppose his shirt, waistcoat, and drawers and he must put off his shoes, and go barefoot so that compared with the dress of others, and what he himself usually wore, he might be said to go naked. This was a great hardship upon the prophet it was a blemish to his reputation, and would expose him to contempt and ridicule the boys in the streets would hoot at him, and those who sought occasion against him would say, The prophet is indeed a fool, and the spiritual man is mad, Hosea 9:7. It might likewise be a prejudice to his health he was in danger of catching a cold, which might throw him into a fever, and cost him his life but God bade him do it, that he might give a proof of his obedience to God in a most difficult command, and so shame the disobedience of his people to the most easy and reasonable precepts. When we are in the way of our duty we may trust God both with our credit and with our safety. The hearts of that people were strangely stupid, and would not be affected with what they only heard, but must be taught by signs, and therefore Isaiah must do this for their edification. If the dress was scandalous, yet the design was glorious, and what a prophet of the Lord needed not to be ashamed of.

III. The exposition of this sign, Isaiah 20:3,4. It was intended to signify that the Egyptians and the Ethiopians should be led away captive by the king of Assyria, thus stripped, or in rags, and very shabby clothing, as Isaiah was. God calls him his servant Isaiah, because in this matter particularly he had approved himself God’s willing, faithful, obedient servant and for this very thing, which perhaps others laughed at him for, God gloried in him. To obey is better than sacrifice it pleases God and praises him more, and shall be more praised by him. Isaiah is said to have walked naked and barefoot three years, whenever in that time he appeared as a prophet. But some refer the three years, not to the sign, but to the thing signified: He has walked naked and barefoot there is a stop in the original provided he did so once that was enough to give occasion to all about him to enquire what was the meaning of his doing so or, as some think, he did it three days, a day for a year and this for a three years’ sign and wonder, for a sign of that which should be done three years afterwards or which should be three years in the doing. Three campaigns successively shall the Assyrian army make, in spoiling the Egyptians and Ethiopians, and carrying them away captive in this barbarous manner, not only the soldiers taken in the field of battle, but the inhabitants, young and old and it being a very piteous sight, and such as must needs move compassion in those that had the least degree of tenderness left them to see those who had gone all their days well dressed now stripped, and scarcely having rags to cover their nakedness, that circumstance of their captivity is particularly taken notice of, and foretold, the more to affect those to whom this prophecy was delivered. It is particularly said to be to the shame of Egypt (Isaiah 20:4), because the Egyptians were a proud people, and therefore when they did fall into disgrace it was the more shameful to them and the higher they had lifted up themselves the lower was their fall, both in their own eyes and in the eyes of others.

Comments: Did I once again miss something, or several things, in this text that these commentators spotted? Did the LORD make a couple of verbal-typos when He told Isaiah to prophesy naked, and then go on to say that Isaiah had done so for three years? That would seem to be what these commentators are implying.

Isaiah was neither the first prophet to prophesy naked, nor was he the last. King Saul, after the Spirit came upon him, stripped naked and prophesied before Samuel(1 Samuel 19:23, 24). The prophet Micah likewise stripped naked in mourning because of the deplorable spiritual condition of the children of Israel (Micah 1:8, 9). The only thing out of the ordinary was the duration of Isaiah’s prophesy – three years.

What I see in these commentaries is the personal hang-ups of the commentators. For someone who is clothes-compulsive, even being told to preach one sermon in public naked would cause them to doubt God’s sanity. For Isaiah, this was just another prophesy God gave him to proclaim…all in a day’s work, so to speak.

* If it wasn’t so blatantly obvious that COM was reading into the text what he thinks “should” be there, he goes on to INVENT CLOTHING for Isaiah that didn’t even exist in Isaiah’s time…shirt, waistcoat and drawers. He then goes on to say that the Egyptians will be led away in rags, not naked, as God said. I suppose being dressed in rags would have been considered being “naked” by COM’s standards. Cultural-modification at its finest. And we wonder why the church has so much problem with any form of nudity…

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John 21:1-14
NKJV: After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberius, and in this way He showed Himself: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas call the twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing”.
They said to him, “We are going with you also.” They went out and immediately a got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. 4 But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?” They answered Him, “No.”

6 And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.

7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea. 8 But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish. 9 Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.”

11 Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and eat breakfast.” Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?”—knowing that it was the Lord. 13 Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish.

14 This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.

15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”

16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?”

And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.”

NASB: 21 After these things Jesus manifested Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and He manifested Himself in this way. 2 Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They *said to him, “We will also come with you.” They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing.

4 But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 So Jesus said to them, “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?” They answered Him, “No.” 6 And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.” So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish. 7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved *said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea. 8 But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish.

9 So when they got out on the land, they saw a charcoal fire already laid and fish placed on it, and bread. 10 Jesus *said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have now caught.” 11 Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn.

12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples ventured to question Him, “Who are You?” knowing that it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and the fish likewise. 14 This is now the third time that Jesus was manifested to the disciples, after He was raised from the dead.

15 So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” 16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He *said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus *said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

Comments: This is a very touching, intimate story. Only a fews days after the Lord’s death and resurrection, while the Lord’s disciples were still mentally processing the events of the last few days, a group of them decided to go fishing. Simon Peter had badly disgraced himself, and was still feeling the full shame of his disgrace. Perhaps he no longer felt “worthy” to be one of the Lord’s disciples. They were fishing-buddies, and for several of them, fishing was their normal occupation…what they were doing when Jesus called them to be His disciples. Fishing was something very familiar. It was comforting. It was normal…

That Peter was “stripped for work” was considered normal for working-class people in that day and time. He may have thrown his garment on out of reverence for his Lord, but it probably was more practical than that. He didn’t want it buried under a bunch of slimy, smelly fish. This was NOT the first time the Lord had seen Peter naked, because Peter was quite likely naked when they first met. Jesus and His disciples also fully participated in Jewish religious life, which included all the necessary ceremonial washings. Being naked in each other’s company was an ordinary occurrence.

What is vitally-important about this story is that it is a story of fellowship and of restoration. Peter was restored to full fellowship with his Lord, and the disciples received a new commission. They were given a new occupation, an all-consuming occupation. Instead of fishing for fish, they were to become fishers of men…to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God.

While the commentators, which I didn’t quote in this segment, had their usual field-day denying that Peter was actually naked, and even bequeathed clothing items on him that he didn’t know he had, this is really about restoration. Restoration, and the love of God, are the most significant themes in Scripture. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20b)

This whole post is really about restoration…restoring an accurate understanding of Scripture, without modifying it to suit our 21st century culture. I am saddened that I felt compelled to expose the faulty understandings of Scripture of these great scholars, but it is truth that sets us free, not twisted truth. Twisted-truth brings bondage, and far too many believers are in bondage to twisted-truth. We are to view our culture through the lens of Scripture, not interpret Scripture through our culture.

God bless!

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One thought on “Twisting the Truth

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