Word Study: Are we really Peculiar? From the New Living Translation

I am 31 years old, and until two years ago, I thought that the Church was supposed to be odd, or as the KJV says, peculiar

  1. characteristic of only one person, group, or thing : distinctive
  2. different from the usual or normal: a: special, particular b: odd, curious c: eccentric, queer

It is found in two places in the KJV (1611 to 1769, both Oxford and Cambridge) –

Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. (Titus 2:14 KJVA)

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: (1 Peter 2:9 KJVA)

It is a hold over the Tyndale translation of 1526, in which one William Tyndale – who believed that the bible should be translated and given to the common man, in his or her tongue – who was educated in the ancient languages, could find no better word for the Greek than the Latin, peculiaris. Tyndale did not have the perfect English language what we have today – he had to borrow words. (For a great read on the Tyndale and other translations, read this book.) In borrowing this particular word from the Latin, he left us with an odd interpretation – in that the people of God are odd.

The NLT, like very other translation, leaves ‘peculiar’ in the past, and translates the word appropriately:

He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing what is right. (Titus 2:14 NLT1)

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are a kingdom of priests, God’s holy nation, his very own possession. This is so you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9 NLT1)

(The NLTse translates the word the same way.)

In Greek – to which we judge all translations of the New Testament by – perculiar comes from  περιούσιος (Titus 2.14) and περιποίησις (1st Peter 2.9). Both essentially translate to ‘possession,’ which aligns with the Latin for private property. The idea is that the people of God is the purchased possession of God.

Is the Church odd or is it the possession of God? Did not God purchase the Church with His own blood (Acts 20.28)? Here in is a special hope for the Church, in that we are purchased, and when something is purchased, it will be redeemed (in the ‘picked-up’ sense). We are not just a special people, but a possession of God.

Let me remind readers that the reason behind this series is not to primarily defend any doctrines using a translation but to show that the NLT does preserve important doctrines, albeit in modern English, contrary to KJVO’ers propaganda. The primary reason for this series is simply to show that the KJV is not inerrant and often prohibits the free-flow of the Gospel.

English words have changed in the past four hundred years, and frankly, I do not feel like having to explain what the word really means everytime I am talking about a passage. This is why translations are important – it allows us to preach and teach the gospel without bogging us down having to redefine words or issue tedious explanations about what the translation really means.

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6 Replies to “Word Study: Are we really Peculiar? From the New Living Translation”

  1. I tend to like the rendering “peculiar” — it really creates an impact as to how “set apart” we are.
    “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” — John 15:19

    Good study.

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