Here are two translations of the same passage of scripture:
“11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” [1 Peter 2:11-12 KJV]
“11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” [1 Peter 2:11-12 NIV]
This passage is a good example of why I always encourage those doing Bible Study to consult more than one translation - the words in the source document don’t and didn’t change their meaning, but the words in the translated language very often do! For example, how did the greek words which the King James translators were convinced meant “strangers and pilgrims” morph into “foreigners and exiles” in the twentieth century? The answer is that in the 17th century “strangers and pilgrims” had a meaning which the same words in 20th century English do not!
In 1st century Greek the word for “strangers” or “foreigners” was the word for someone who did not belong to the local family, clan or tribe. The word for “pilgrims” or “exiles” literally means “those living alongside of the natives in a foreign land”.
Today, a “conversation” is limited to the words which are exchanged by people engaged in a dialog. But the original Greek word means not only that, but the accompanying behavior. As someone once said “what you are speaks so loud I can’t hear what you say”!
I wrote last time of our expectation of the great, spectacular “parousia” or royal visit that every Christian eagerly awaits, when Christ will return to earth in all His glory. There’s good news and bad news in this. For, you see, we may have to wait for Christ’s next great “visitation” (parousia) to have the good we do recognized by our pagan society. The good news is, that although in the meantime we may be slandered and wrongfully accused for doing good in Christ’s name, on that great day everyone will have to admit that our deeds were legitimately part of God’s glory. And Jesus will publicly recognize them as such.
I am reminded of “The Paradoxical Commandments” by Dr. Kent Keith which became famous because Mother Theresa wrote them on her wall:
“People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway. If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway. The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway. The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds. Think big anyway. People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway. People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway. Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway. “
Since we are strangers and pilgrims on earth, we do not need approval and acclamation of our society to do the will of God. And, in fact, they might hate us for doing so. But in the end it will all be revealed that our deeds have God’s approval and those deeds will be recognized as part of God’s Glory! Well done, good and faithful servant!
“This world is not my home I'm just passing through My treasures are laid up Somewhere beyond the blue The Angels beckon me From Heaven's open door And I can't feel at home In this world anymore”
Blessings on you and yours, Jim Black