A common misconception of dynamic equivalency is that the entire Bible must be easy to read and understand. The great Reformers, Tyndale, Luther, Calvin, ect sought to put the Scriptures into the hands of the common man via translation. They were careful to not change any words in translation. However, there are passages which are noticeably hard to understand. The Bible even mentions that some parts are hard to understand. It contains varying degrees of difficulty, from very easy to very hard. The Bible speaks of itself as meat and milk. Milk is the basics of the faith, while meat is the deeper, more difficult material for the more mature. A fuller understanding is gained as the Christian grows and acts on that which they already understand. This understanding is gained through listening to preachers explain it, and through personal study with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
The Bible contains passages that are naturally hard to understand. The Bible itself even mentions that it contains difficult passages.
As also in all his [Paul] epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 2 Peter 3:16.
Peter is saying that Paul has been used of God to inspire Scripture, but not all of Paul’s writings are easy to understand. Peter warns that heretics are twisting the difficult passages, to their own destruction. (Dynamic translators, take heed.)
Many therefore of His disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? John 6:60
Jesus had told His followers that they must eat His flesh and blood (vs 54-57). When many were confused by this saying, He told them that these words are spiritual, not literal (vs 63). However, many of His followers abandon Him (vs 66), not comprehending His hard to understand Words.
The Word contains milk and meat. The milk is the basics of the faith, and is important for new Christians to understand. The milk IS easy to understand. Hebrews 6:1-2 lists these principles as repentance from dead works, faith toward God, baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. New Christians and carnal Christians cannot handle the meat.
As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: 1 Peter 2:2.
I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. 1 Corinthians 3:2.
The meat of the word is the deeper doctrines beyond the basic principles. This is for mature Christians; those who have gained discernment by exercising the Scriptures. The meat consists of varying levels of difficulty. As the Bible is an infinite Book, no one can have complete understanding of it. But further understanding is gained by acting on and exercising (using) the Scriptures that you already understand.
12. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again whichbe the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
13. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
14. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
The Scriptures are meant to be searched and studied. We have been commanded to study and search out the Scriptures, comparing Scripture with Scripture. We gain understanding by studying, not by using a easy-reader translation.
Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. (ie comparing Scripture with Scripture). 1 Corinthians 2:13.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15.
Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. John 5:39.
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Acts 17:11.
1 Peter 1:10-11
10. Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:
11. Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.
The Holy Spirit is our Guide as we study the Scriptures. As we search, compare and study the Bible, He guides us in the Truth. This is yet further indication that the Scriptures are intended to be studied.
I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. (Ps. 32:8)
Behold, God exalteth by his power: who teacheth like him? Job 36:22
…he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake Ps. 23:3
Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will he teach sinners in the way. The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way. Ps 25:8,9
Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name. Ps. 86:11
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. John 16:13.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 1 Cor 2:12,13
Faith cometh by HEARING. Generally speaking, the lost do not get saved on their own accord, but by the preaching of the Gospel by a man of God. The lost need the Gospel explained to them. This is the Biblical role of the pastor or missionary. It is the role of the preacher, not the translator, to make the Scriptures understandable. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Here are a few examples of a preacher explaining the Word to people
Nehemiah read the Scriptures passage by passage, and explained it to the people:
So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading. Nehemiah 8:8.
In addition to interpreting dreams, Daniel was able to explain hard sentences (passages) of Scripture.
Forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and shewing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will shew the interpretation. Daniel 5:12.
Acts Chapter 8 gives an example of a man being saved through another’s preaching. Here, we have the lost Ethiopian eunuch who cannot understand the Scriptures. He asks Philip to help him; Philip explains the Gospel, and the eunuch gets saved.
27. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,
28. Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.
29. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.
30. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said,Understandest thou what thou readest?
31. And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.
32. The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:
33. In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.
34. And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?
35. Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
In each of these cases, no one had an easy-reader edition, and they needed a preacher to explain the Word. Once the lost is saved, God will give him more understanding of His book. As he grows and reads and hears and applies God’s Word, God will give him more understanding. For “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4). Herein is a strong indication of God’s emphasis on the very Words. He inspired every word (2 Tim 3:16), He promised to preserve every word (Psalm 12:6,7), even to the jot and tittle (Matthew 5:18). He demands that we live by every Word. This command originated in the Mosaic Law (Deuteronomy 8:3), and is reiterated in the New Testament by our Lord Jesus Christ (Matt 4:4). The Bible is inspired to the word, and preserved to the word, that it may be lived to the word. However, it must be translated to the word to be lived to the word. Thus, formal equivalence is required to know what God actually said, and to be able to live by it.
Dynamic equivalence confuses the translator with the preacher. The translator converts the Scripture into the common language; the preacher explains it to the common people. Dynamic equivalency short-circuits this process, and offers man’s explanation in place of the very Words of God.
To grow in understanding, the Christian needs to 1) Read their Bible 2) Pray for understanding 3) Act on the parts that they understand 4) Study the Bible with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, 5) Listen attentively to preaching and teaching The Bible has varying shades of understandability, from very easy to very hard. The way to handle this is NOT by using a dynamic or paraphrase translation.