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JB Phillips

Many moons ago, my mother was given a little book by JB Phillips called Ring of Truth. This is the JB who produced those marvelous modern translations of the New Testament. He reflects in the book on what it was like to be a translator and the effect on him of getting close to the text. And then he picks out seven verses that stuck in his mind. They are an unusual selection (I think). I’ve typed them out and given a one-sentence summary of why they stuck in his head. Enjoy his list.

Ephesians 2:4 God is “rich in mercy”

Rich like an oil tycoon — mountains of mercy instead of mountains of gold — such wonderful imagery he says

1 Peter 5:7 “cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you”

The “cast” here in the Greek is apparently a strong word — it means to throw it down with all your force like one might shake off something like a spider perhaps that had crawled onto one’s hand — toss your care on Him

2 Corinthians 7:15 “your received Titus with fear and trembling”

He thinks we use the phrase incorrectly. For example, it is used here when talking about people meeting Titus, so it does not mean in terror but just a little nervously as one might feel going in for a job interview. God welcomes us. We need not stand before him in terror! A little nervously, yes.

2 Corinthians 1:8ff “we were burdened beyond measure”

It is hard to imagine the stresses that Paul suffered and how amazing it is that he was able to craft these marvelous letters while enduring so much.

1 Corinthians 16:13 “be brave” is literally translated as “be a man”

The KJV translated this “Quit you like men!” Unintelligible to moderns but such a great phrase. It sounds like Shakespeare!

1 John 4:7 “everyone who loves is born of God and knows God”

There is a touch of universalism here — everyone who loves has something of God in them.

1 John 3:2 “we shall be like Him”

Yes, there will be a bodily resurrection, we shall not just be pale shades as in the old story of Hades, but we will be transformed and be like Him

James 1:2 “count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience”

Yes, sometimes we can learn from our troubles. Troubles are not necessarily all bad.

1 John 3:20 “For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart”

And just when we are about to condemn ourselves, God reminds us that he knows us better than we do and forgives us all the same

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