Can reliability and readability co-exist in a modern translation of the Bible?
“Pastor, with so many Bible versions available today, how can I choose the best one? What should I tell a friend who is looking to buy a bible she can read and understand with more ‘up to date’ language?”
Dear Friend, Thank you for your honest questions about translations of the Bible. It’s a great question and certainly one that deserves a thoughtful reply.  I know I am probably going to give you much more information than you ever wanted, but I hope it helps. The long answer that follows may read more like a book than a blog but I wanted you to understand my heart on this. It is very important to “get it right” when it comes to the Bible we read. You may have your personal favorite version of the Bible or you may know a new believer looking for a Bible they can read and follow in their walk in Christ.
Let’s put the question another way,
Can a modern translation of the Bible be both readable and reliable?”
Not to over simplify, but in a word, YES!
If five hundred years ago there were readable and reliable versions of the Bible being produced in English, we have to agree that good versions are still available and capable of being produced today. The translators then did not have any special powers that are not available to translators in our day.
Just so you know, at Bible Baptist Church, we do love the beauty of the King James Version and have great respect for its majestic voice. We use it today and have for over 60 years, however, we do not hold to the exclusive position that it is the only acceptable Bible translation for English speaking people.
There, I said it. Now, let me explain that statement with some helpful perspectives. I know the battle rages fiercely over this question. Families and churches have even divided over this issue. Some just avoid the discussion altogether and stay out of the debate, by saying “Why mess with the best?” We have had a very faithful English translation (King James Version) for over 400 years! Why change now? Others, hungry for a translation of the Bible they can read with updated language are seeking good and trustworthy alternatives. At the risk of stepping on toes and getting my toes stepped on, let’s step on and attempt to answer this question.
Please understand, the King James Version is and continues to be a great translation of the Bible! (The KJV is also known as the Authorized Version because King James I of England authorized its publication in the early 1600’s). Historically, we would have to say, no greater group of linguists has ever been assembled than the over 50 scholars that assembled to work on the King James Version. It was a dream team in regards to ancient Biblical languages, though in some respects we, as fundamental Baptists, would differ from many of them in regards to important areas of doctrine. These men did, however, translate a great version of the Bible into English. It has been the overall best seller of all time. I personally use it and study from it and preach from it. It has had great staying power.
Some would argue that because of the ancient texts (Hebrew/Masoretic and Greek/Receptus) used by the translators of the KJV, no other modern version , to date, can compare or measure up to it. That view excludes all modern translations that use or reference ancient manuscripts other than those used in the KJV translation. For the reasons I just stated you may hear someone say, “I am King James only”. In fact, you may even feel wrong or guilty just by bringing up the idea of using another version when speaking to folks with that persuasion. I do wish more people would say, “I am of King Jesus only!” but I understand loyalties run deep. King James “onlyism” (i.e., the view that no other English translation of the Bible is worthy of our study) was not the position of our former pastor, the late Dr. Norman Pyle. Nor was it the position of other good men I highly respect who are more skilled scholars than I. Men like H.A. Ironside, R.A. Torrey, C.H. Spurgeon and C.I. Scofield to name just a few. Though there are good men (and friends) that would reject the comments that follow – I believe I stand in good company.
The late evangelist Dr. John R. Rice in an article written in the Sword of the Lord, March of 1979, posed a great question, “Where in the Bible does God guarantee that any translator of the Bible, anyone who copies the Bible . . . will be infallibly correct? There is no such scripture; the doctrine of the infallibility of the translation in the King James is not a Bible doctrine: it is a man-made scheme”. What Dr. John Rice was saying is that no version/translation of the Bible is beyond the need of timely revision because no human translator can claim to be infallible.
We must understand that the biblical content of the inspired 66 books of the Bible shall never change but the clarity of that content is the careful stewardship of each generation. Faithful translators simply want you to understand ancient biblical languages in the language you speak today. Newer translations that are worthy of our consideration simply seek to bring the language of the Bible into a voice recognized today and seek to do so without doing damage to the translation of the original words and meaning.
My heart is saddened when I hear, “I’m pulling my family out of that ministry because they use a “corrupted version of the Bible!” Usually, what they mean by that, of course, is any translation except for the KJV. Please know that as a shepherd of this flock, the Bible is my business. I’ve staked my eternity upon it and the welfare of my flock depends upon it. We are to live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (Mt 4:4). I want only the best text for our ministry, especially when it comes to the integrity of the written word of God.  No good shepherd would ever want to mislead his flock. Certainly, no pastor worth his “salt” would want to twist, change or corrupt the very essence of the written words of God. Such a practice is clearly condemned by the God of the Word (Rev 22:18-19).
Just for the record, I am a proponent of the “once and done view of  inspiration as it regards the God –breathed words spoken from God to the men who first recorded those words and wrote the 66 books of the Bible. Meaning, the Holy Spirit of God who breathed out every word of the Bible, originally, to and through the 40 human writers of our Bible didn’t stutter or make a mistake. Every word of God is pure. What God spoke by inspiration to the original writers of the Bible needs no reviewing or renewing. It was and is perfect, settled and sealed as it was given, infallible, inerrant and we have the biblical promise that it is preserved and  forever settled in heaven (Ps119:89).
That “God-breathed” work of the superintendence of God’s Spirit over the heart, hand and quill of the biblical authors was called divine inspiration, and indeed, was a miraculous, once and done, perfect transference of the Word of God. Most folks agree on that point. However, when it comes to the work of translation of those original words of the Bible into other modern languages (including English) some discretion is advisable. Translation work is not “spooky”, mysterious or even miraculous; it is simply the hard work of transferring the words of one language correctly as possible into another. That work didn’t start or end in the 15th Century. It continues today. When God gave us the Bible originally, he wisely chose not to breathe out the Bible into English. The words He spoke were in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic and when those ancient biblical languages are translated into modern language they must pass through a rather thick linguistic veil. It doesn’t mean our English translations are “less than the Word of God” or “less than accurate” or “unreliable”, it does, however, demand some flexibility. Why?  It is simply because no two languages are perfect mirrors or exact reflections of each other.
Where I grew up along the Amazon River – many tribes have no word for “snow”, “sheep” or “wool”. Translators then, face the real challenge of what to do with these important nouns and vital concepts found in Isaiah 1:18. He is the Lamb of God not the tapir or toucan of God.  To be honest to the Word of God, a word for lamb and wool has to be supplied/created  in the native tongue and then concepts must be taught by the missionaries. We can’t just skip over a biblical word because a language group doesn’t have it. Translation is hard work. Each word of the Bible as it was given needs to be faithfully translated. Then, we must admit, over time, due to the dynamic nature (changing nature) of language, translators need to revisit their work for accuracy to the generation in which the readers live.
Let me give you a few more simple examples in the Bible of how each generation is to be carefully aware of language changes that would best serve their own generation and protect accuracy of the original texts. It is not my intent to disparage any version – just highlighting how language can change over time.
When David overtook the city of Jebus (I Chron 11:4-7) and won the battle for the city that eventually became the city of Jerusalem, the Authorized Text says, “David took the castle of Zion. . .”  Castle is an acceptable term, of course, yet in our modern minds, we picture an imposing structure with spires, moats, and banners much like a medieval English castle. The ancient reality in David’s day was quite different and the word “fortress or stronghold” would give us a more precise understanding of the ancient stone structures built in 1000 BC by the Jebusites. This is a very minor example of how modern understanding needs to reflect the Biblical reality. Words often change in their meaning.  Modern translators need to insure that what God said when He spoke it retains its original intention and clearest sense for the generation now living.
Another example of how language is ever-changing is found in the use of the word “Charity” in our King James Bible. In the famous passage in I Corinthians 13 we see it used repeatedly. Charity, indeed, is a beautiful word!  It is used because of a decision made by St. Jerome, the translator of the Vulgate Bible, to use the word “caritas” (charity) instead of the Latin word “amor” to translate the Greek word “agape”. “Amor” at that time was more connected with human passions and romance; hence, the transliteration charity was used instead of love.  It made good sense in that culture and time, however, charity over time has changed in its primary sense and today has more of a connection with acts of pity. A better word, today, to reflect the true sense of the original word, “agape” would be the word, “love”.
Another interesting detail from the same passage is that the KJV translators added a word to qualify the fact that “love is not easily provoked” (I Cor. 13:5). The only problem with that is the word “easily” is not found in any of the ancient manuscripts. It is included there because of a translator’s attempt to clarify the thought but in so doing he actually weakened the meaning. A more precise rendering and one more reflective of the original would simply be, “love is not provoked”. True biblical love cannot be induced to ungodly anger – ever! In my view, the translators softened the force of the intended thought by adding the qualifier, easily. Translators, being human, don’t always get it right.
One more example of how the meanings of words can change and even come to reflect something completely different than originally intended is found in the usage of the word, “alleging” in Acts 17:3. It is used of Paul’s defense of the gospel. To “allege” (allegation) something today is to make a statement without full proof or evidence but in the Acts 17 context the Apostle is clearly not making a statement about the Gospel without proper evidence. The English word today has come to be understood as the exact opposite compared to when it was first translated. Paul is, indeed, providing full proof of the Gospel by a reasoned explanation. The Greek word is “to bring alongside” or to bring to light. Therefore, better words for today’s readers would be, prove, confirm or explain. Could the KJV be strengthened in these cases? I believe so, yet many would say that the Authorized Version is beyond the reach of revision.
Because of the changing nature of language, any work of translation, over time, needs to be reevaluated for accuracy. Such edits are necessary and can be very helpful.
Now let me say, as a pastor, I do want to be both wise and gracious. In a very practical sense, in our church settings, a corporate decision regarding the use of translations of the Bible should be based on the following factors:
1.) Consistency – Reading in public from a single version makes things more uniform, less confusing as it regards corporate readings, testing, and memory assignments. Our ministry has a Christian school and assignments need to flow from the unity of a similar text.
2.) Loyalty – A trusted standard must be respected. The King James Version is and has been a faithful standard for hundreds of years. Such a legacy demands great respect. We are not quick to follow fads or trends or forsake well-worn paths. Change for the sake of change alone is not wise.
3.) Charity – Right or wrong, we need to be gracious with those who may be concerned about the validity of modern versions or who may be convinced that only one Bible is worthy of use. Many of the “single-version-folks” are very dear friends of ours and we seek, when possible, to limit our freedoms so as to minister, without offense, to those God has called us.
4.) Clarity – This is a growing concern in our generation and one that soon may eclipse deference in its weight. There is a growing outcry among the under 30’s that the Bible we use in corporate worship be both readable and reliable. The Millennials (and younger) despise hypocrisy and demand honesty. They ask, “Does God really sound like Shakespeare?” And “If not, then, why do we demand our conversation with Him and reading about Him be stiff and difficult?” Such questions are not new but they are valid. We do want our own children to understand us in the language of our heart and theirs. Our college students really do want God’s Word to address them in the same language they use in normal conversation. There is no record that Jesus used an artificial tone or used obsolete words in speaking to the disciples. We must reach the heart of our generation without compromising accuracy. Would God insist that we dress the greatest story ever told in linguistic robes now 400 years old? Not if clarity is at the heart of our translation work.
5.) Accuracy – Yes, ancient texts do matter! Papa John’s slogan comes to mind, “Better Ingredients = Better Pizza”. Using the best manuscripts does matter.  Is the Bible I am using today the closest thing available as compared to the original words used by the first authors?  Is it faithful to the best manuscripts available then and now?
A wise pastor proceeds in deference and does not force his church to using new translations without nearly wholesale consent and solid reasoning. Based on these metrics we do continue to use the King James Version although I do believe many new translations meet the necessary standard of readability and reliability. I do not believe the use of good, newer versions of the Bible is a matter of sin but of preference. Let me be clear, however, if surrounded by those in a ministry setting who strongly prefer the KJV, it is wise to kindly defer for the sake of ministry harmony. I do believe this debate will likely diminish as newer translations become more widely used and accepted as both reliable and readable.
How about some needed perspective?  I am told that over 2,000 languages still have no Bible at all while we here in America have over 100 English versions over which to squabble. While some may see the proliferation of English Bibles as a curse – I call it a blessing, it’s a mixed blessing, of course, but it is a rich blessing. Someone has rightly stated that while we in America argue over which English version may be the most exact; millions around the world are dying for the lack of even one word of the Scriptures in their language! Think about that. While we often bruise each other over textual precision, much of the waiting world cries out, “Oh, for just a single verse of the Bible in my language no matter how crude the translation may be!” May we be grateful for all the biblical resources we now enjoy!
Bibles were meant to be read, not to be used as weapons to beat others over the head. Heaven will measure us, not by the perfections of the translation we used but by how well we practiced the truth we had available to us. No doubt; there are weak and even perverted translations of the Bible. The Catholic Bible includes some non-inspired books called the apocrypha. Some translations are written that are gender neutral to cater to the LGBTQ agenda. Some translators want us to address God as “our Mother” or by some neutral word like “Parent” when the original language clearly uses the word “Father.” These efforts are attempts to change the biblical picture of our God.
The Wicked Bible, sometimes called the Sinners’ Bible, was an edition of the Bible published in 1631 by Robert Barker and Martin Lucas, the royal printers in London, and was meant to be a reprint of the King James Bible. The name is derived from a mistake made by the compositors  in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:14), the word “not” in the sentence “Thou shalt not commit adultery” was omitted, thus changing the sentence into “Thou shalt commit adultery“. This blunder was spread in a number of copies. Later, the publishers of the Wicked Bible were called into account and fined £300 (which is equivalent to $64,000 in today’s economy!).
The Mormons are a cult that has a Bible that denies the deity of Christ. Surely, the Devil would like nothing better than to weaken, twist and subvert the Word of God and the work of grace. Much care does need to be taken in our defense of the accuracy of the Bible, but those spurious Bible translations are not typically the Bibles our church members are asking us about. Usually, it is a question concerning versions that are written in a style of English that has language that is more modern and understandable. What I do find a bit interesting is that many who reject all newer translations often use a phrase when they come to a word no longer in use today, “What this word means today is. . . .” and they go on to refresh and update the Old English word with the use of a modern word that is easily understood by all those listening. Further, many of the same preachers who blacken the eyes of those who use new versions also use another phrase that is quite common, “What this word means in the original is. . .” and they offer another English rendering that sheds more light on the word used by the King James translators.
These preachers know a little secret and it is that more than one English word can be appropriate, acceptable and even necessary in expressing the original meaning of some of the words used in the ancient Biblical languages.
Friend, that’s not “corrupting the text” that’s called “exposing and explaining the text” and it’s helpful and even necessary when it’s done faithfully and accurately. We must be careful to affirm two things: – inspiration and preservationof the Bible are promised by God and are the eternal and non-negotiable foundations of our faith. The Word of God endures forever. It is not posited in a single English version. The Word of God is not lost nor will it ever be lost though all hell comes against it. We have God’s promise and 1000s of copies of the originals (hand copied manuscripts) by which to measure its accuracy. Even if all the manuscripts are lost to us – we have God’s assurance – His Word that is forever settled in heaven. The written record will never be lost. God is her Guardian. Preservation is God’s promise and not found in the quill of frail and fallible man.
It is also important to know that while there are no original autographs of the original books of the Bible existing today; it doesn’t mean that the Bible is lost. You may wonder, “Why are there no original letters of the Bible left?” Why can’t we just go back to the original letters and settle all the arguments? How can we be sure if there are no original letters/books left? We must understand that the original letters (called autographs) which were hand-written by the apostles, prophets and other biblical authors were read and reread, circulated until they were simply worn out or used out of existence. But, not to worry, so many hand written copies (or fragments of the copies) of those original letters remain, and these copies are so numerous (more than 5,255 Greek manuscripts or portions of the New Testament are known to exist today!) that they can be laid side by side to measure and confirm the truthfulness and accuracy of the originals. In cases of spurious or poor copies, these weaker texts can be set aside like a bank teller sets aside a fake $20 bill. Her hands know falsehood by reason of the much handling of what is authentic. Such is the case with the Bible manuscripts. Cross comparison eliminates the weaker manuscripts.
The point I wish to press here is that while there are no original autographs of the 66 books of the Bible left today, there are so many ancient (copies) manuscripts available , that we can, by  comparison, be sure that what we hold in our hands today, is indeed, the Word of God.
Now, may we be completely honest about the work of translation?  Can any translation of the Bible from the original languages into another language be considered as perfect as the original manuscripts which were written in Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic? And further, does translation of the Bible demand such “perfection”, in the sense of exact replication?
I have already stated that no two languages are perfect mirrors of each other. Perhaps some explanation here would be helpful because I can already hear the critics saying, “Ah, if translations cannot be deemed perfect reflections, are you then admitting to using an imperfect Bible?”  In answer to that we probably ought to think carefully about a foundational question.
Can English Bibles (or any other language for that matter) always say the same thing as the Hebrew and Greek? Yes! But can it be said in exactly the same word order and with the exactly the same words? – No!  Hebrew is written right to left, English is written left to right. The syntax (word placement) varies from language to language. English verbs describe time of action and Greek verbs describe kind of action. There are also many other linguistic differences and nuances of meaning in Greek words that cannot be fully expressed with English terms. Thus, while exact reflection in translation is not 100% attainable – purity, integrity and reliability can be.  We must fiercely protect reliability to the originals even though many language variances must be recognized in translation.
When Phillip read to the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8, he read from a scroll of Isaiah and though the thoughts are a precise reflection of the Old Testament verses, the New Testament “expression” of the words of Isaiah is certainly not an exact rendering of the same word order found in our Old Testament statement of Isaiah 53:7-8. Still, the Bible records the Scripture without comment or disclaimer. Point being, the same thing may be said in more than one way and truth may be preserved with full reliability.
Inerrancy protects the exact words and intention of the original Scriptures without ruling out the many variables that come when one language is transmitted into another. This work of translation is typically done by men and women trained to understand biblical languages (Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic) and their work falls mainly into three camps of translation philosophy – the first two are called (1) Dynamic and (2) Formal equivalency, which means the translation is either meaning-driven (dynamic) or done with a word for word (literal/formal) approach. (3) Complete or functional Equivalency is the third approach that combines the two as needed. Conservative theologians believe a word for word approach is always best because it avoids turning the translator into an interpreter of the Bible. I urge you, seek to find such translations. The long history of how and where these hand written copies were stored and by whom they were translated into Latin and English is good to understand, but not the main purpose of these thoughts. Levitical Jewish priests were, indeed, better custodians of the manuscripts than Latin monks.  I do agree that the Ben Chayyim Masoretic text (Hebrew Old Testament text edited in 1524) and the Received Text (Greek text of the New Testament edited in 1516 by a Dutch Catholic scholar) are a indeed a strong suit of manuscripts (these are the exclusive texts used in the translation of the KJV), The Byzantine line of manuscripts were superior to the Alexandrian, in some regards, but to dismiss all other manuscripts, except those used in the KJV, as corrupted and inferior, in my view, is an overstatement. While I would agree that the families of texts mentioned above are preferable and that most of the textual discoveries since the 1500’s have not altered or challenged the body of textual evidence in hand at the time of those living in the middle ages, I would say that computer technology and translation science have given us wonderful advantages in the field of textual comparison not available many years ago to men like Tyndale, Wycliffe, Coverdale and Erasmus. Word comparisons that used to take months now can be accelerated to the click of a mouse. Instead of just 5 or 6 ancient texts, now, we can bring a great number of worthy manuscripts into a split-screen comparison. Translators now can build, via the internet, on the collective wisdom of good, conservative translators all over the world and built consensus on the empirical evidence of 100’s of years of respected translation work. Ours is a unique and privileged time in history and English speakers are favored above all language groups. Who else can boast the volumes of study helps and linguistic resources we have today? To say what happened in the early 1600’s at the desk of translators then was a miracle or a work that is beyond improvement is simply disingenuous.
Another reason we need to exercise grace in the version debate is because the body of disagreement within all of the best ancient texts is exceedingly small. This is a key concept and one that settles this argument in my view. Even in places where the best ancient manuscripts may vary, (which, in the whole of the New Testament amounts to about a half of one page of New Testament scripture), typically, when these differences occur, it is only a matter of word placement or word endings. These variants (differences) simply do not affect the sense of the reading or impact doctrinal truth at all. Let that soak in a second. Let it soak it for another second. Give it another second. All of this generates an honest question from the generation now emerging – “Is all this saber-rattling, church-splitting, heart-breaking bluster about versions simply “Much Ado about Nothing?” The notable biblical scholar and linguist W.E. Vine who wrote the book, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, states, “The importance of most of the variations in the manuscript readings has been greatly exaggerated . . . there is no doctrine in Scripture which would be affected if all the various readings were allowed or if all the disputed words, or those about which there is any doubt, were omitted.” (The Divine Inspiration of the Bible, pp 27-28).
That’s fascinating! Do you follow that?  What the Hebrew and Greek scholar is saying is that the argument about all the differences in the manuscript families is so minimal that it has no real effect on the doctrinal consequence of the final result. So we must honestly ask ourselves, “Should we die on this hill called Version Aversion?” I think not.
Ask most preachers where the modern versions are weak and they will mutter something about “corrupted texts” (i.e., Vaticanus/Siniaticus) or changes to the use of “only begotten” in John 3:16. Upon investigation, these charges vanish like Bedouins in the morning sun. Is Jesus Christ God’s only begotten and uniquely singular and special Son? Yes, without question! No reliable translation is debating the truth of Christ’s divinity. Much to the surprise of some detractors, the NIV does not disparage the virgin birth nor does the ESV seek to do damage to the deity of Christ. The fact that the NKJV uses the word LORD in the Old Testament instead of Jehovah, or references the Critical Text in the marginal notes shouldn’t disqualify it. It should also be noted that when some attack newer translations by singling out a phrase/word that is translated differently from the KJV, and then neglect to own up to the places where the KJV chooses to use words or phrases that could be strengthened and updated, it is simply unfair and inconsistent. Every translation, even the newest, best, and those considered most faithful, have areas of timely and necessary improvement.
Brothers and sisters, we must defend convictions at all costs but let a spirit of deference prevail! We must understand that most of the new and faithful translations are not the enemies of the sealed body of truth; rather, they only serve to illumine and grow our appreciation for the Word of God. Yes, poor translators and deceivers may attempt to do damage to the Scriptures but as in anything in life, discernment must be applied. The weaker versions must be discarded and the best embraced.
What ought to concern us today is the inclusion of those weaker versions, paraphrases (non-formal translations), that are so “meaning driven” that translators have infused interpretations not intended by the original writers who spoke the very words of God. It’s always been the job of the discerning to guide the weak. Pastors will have to do some teaching but the effort is worth it.
Now, dear reader, how about some final words to address the original question?  Which Bible translation shall I choose? Of all the top- selling word for word translations in English that are most widely used today, we can trust most of them as reliable and worthy of study.  The KJV, NKJV, NASV, MEV, ESV, and NET are all formal word for word translations and among these the NASV is considered the most literal translation to date. The NIV, while more a thought for thought (dynamic or functional equivalency) version is still very useful. The Amplified Bible has been a great help in my studies and sheds light on many of the possible Greek and Hebrew renderings in English. My personal favorite among all these is the NKJV because of how closely it reflects the majestic tone of the KJV yet with updated language.  It translates words like “ass” with donkey, “girdle” with sash. Words such as “letteth, leasing, pisseth, circumspectly, cleaveth, mess of pottage, haply” and other common verbiage from the 1600’s are updated without violence to the text. It also bridges well to the older community who grew up with the KJV.
Among college students, I have noticed a rise in the popularity of the ESV. This does not concern me as it, too, is in the trustworthy “formal equivalency” camp though based on the Eclectic Text. The Bible is God’s Word and the Author wants those words to be read, understood, believed, loved, and obeyed. The Bible says, “So then, faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” Romans 10:17.  If your understanding is improved by reading a Bible with updated language, by all means, buy one and get reading. Some modern versions that are weaker in places would be the CEV, MSG, NLT, NIRV, and GNT. These translations, in places, allow too much of a “meaning-driven”, free verse, philosophy in their translation and, in some cases, border on the irreverent. Paraphrases (Bible retelling) have their place in your library but I do not recommend them for your main study Bible. The Living Bible (TLB) by Kenneth Taylor is a refreshing version to read in a devotional sense, but generally considered more of a paraphrase.
In my humble opinion, modern translations and our response to those who use other versions is an area where God’s people are unnecessarily divided and there is much more heat than light. Forgive me for my long treatment of this topic, but tell your friend to buy a reliable version of the Bible she can read and love in the language she speaks today. Finally, we will not force those with trustworthy versions of the Bible to sense they are inferior in their discernment. Not at our church. Not on my watch. Hope this helps! Keep on loving the Word of God and keep yourself in the love of God. (Jude 21)