As stewards of the mysteries of God, we are invited to search out the Scriptures for the “matters” that God has hidden there. The purpose of this article is to share a hidden mystery (or two) and to encourage you to do your own searching.

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.
Proverbs 25:2

Generally, there are three types of Bible translations. There are thought-for-thought translations; where the translators have taken a verse or passage and translated what they believe to be the thought of the writer. This includes a few of the more popular modern translations: NIV, REB and The Message.

There is also what are called word-for-word translations. Included in this group are the KJV, NKJV, and NASB. These translations are considered more reliable than thought-for-thought translations because they avoid much of the latter’s inherent human interpretation.

To improve readability, word-for-word translations include the rearrangement of sentence structure. This accommodation introduces a very small opportunity for mistranslation. However, as we will soon discover, small mistakes (e.g., the exclusion of a “the”) can make for some very BIG differences.

Lastly, there are literal translations. These include Young’s Literal Translation (YLT) and various Greek interlinear publications. Literal translations are more difficult to read, primarily due to sentence structure. However, they can be quite revelatory. Here are a couple of examples.

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” John 8:12 NKJV

Again, therefore, Jesus spake to them, saying, “I am the light of the world; he who is following me shall not walk in the darkness, but he shall have the light of the life.”  John 8:12 YLT98

Notice that the direct article, “the”, appears before “darkness”, and “life”, in the literal translation (this is true to the Greek text). Therefore, there is a specific darkness and a specific life. I don’t have a definitive opinion of “the darkness”. Some consider it to be separation from God; others, the deception and bondage that such a separation creates.

“The life” is what interests me most here; for we know that “the life” is the life of Jesus Christ (see John 1:4).  That dramatically changes the meaning of this entire passage. The light that we shall have doesn’t come from a type of general life; and certainly not from our life. It comes from the very life of Christ!

This reminds me of another example:

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20 NKJV

… with Christ I have been crucified, and live no more do I, and Christ doth live in me; and that which I now live in the flesh — in the faith I live of the Son of God, who did love me and did give himself for me… Galatians 2:20 YLT

Again, we see that it is not our life (“live no more do I”), but His.

Also interesting is “in the faith I live of the Son of God”. Do you see it? The faith that I live by is not my faith – as other translations suggest – but His.  How can it be His faith?  Because He is living in me. How about that!?!

This is truly the tip of the iceberg regarding the mysterious missing “the”. Here are a few others, for your searching pleasure: Romans 6:6-7, 11 and 13 (the sin); Romans 7:5 (the death); Romans 8:2 (the life, the sin, and the death). In each of these verses – and more than 40 others – the direct article is missing from most translations.

Is it possible that the discovery of a “the” could change someone’s theology? Could such a discovery impact a person’s salvation experience? Consider for a moment, “the sin”.

There is an enormous difference between general “sin” and “the sin”. General sin is regularly taught and understood as something external to our being. It is on the outside trying to get in; something we must resist. It is covered by Jesus’ sacrifice and blood.

“The sin” is something we are born with – our very nature. It is the rebellious nature we inherited from Adam and Eve. Furthermore, it is the root cause of every general sin.

Discovering the “the” puts our focus where it belongs; and calls us to the ultimate salvation response. The “the” directs our attention to what God is after: The total surrender of our kingdoms (Mark 8:35).

Why would God allow such an important thing to be hidden from us?  Proverbs 25:2 gives us the answer: It is His glory to hide a matter; and His children’s glory to search them out.

Yes, our heavenly Father likes to play hide and seek.  His truth is not hard to find… for those that will search after it with their whole heart. Do not be deceived!! Wholehearted seekers are the only seekers who will find His salvation (Luke 13:24).

Humbly yours and forever His,