Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God Galatians 6:16 (NIV translation)
Even – By now you must realize that you and I are victims of the translators’ theological persuasion. When we read the text in any language but the original, we must rely on the clinical honesty of the interpreters. Unfortunately, the bias of commitments to theological positions often causes our translations to contain hidden messages, sometimes in the smallest of words. That is the case with this verse. The tiny Greek word kai, uniformly translated as “and”, is here modified to read “even”. Why? Because the translators don’t want you to believe what Paul is really saying.
John Parsons makes the point very clear. In his article on Israel, he notes that the translators of the New International Version inserted their theological bias when they came to this verse. These men believe that the church replaced Israel, that the current age of the church has taken precedence over the past age of Israel as the means God uses to reach the world. According to this theological position, Israel’s apostasy resulted in God giving up on them and substituting the Gentiles in their place. As a result, texts are altered in tiny ways to promote this idea. John says, “An example of this sort of disingenuous methodology is found in the translation given to the Greek word kai (“and”) in Galatians 6:16 (“as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God”), which incidentally is the only place in the entire New Testament where the word Israel is not explicitly used to refer to ethnic Israel. [Replacement] theologians conclude that the kai before the term “Israel of God” is best translated “even” (as the NIV translates), however most Greek scholars have noted that this would be an anomalous usage and is without grammatical warrant found in the context itself (i.e., the argument against the Judaizers). Indeed, the plain reading is simply that Paul uses “and” to pronounce a blessing on believing Gentiles and believing Jews in the church, not to equate national Israel with the Church.”
Translation substitutes like this are so subtle that they barely raise an eyebrow. We don’t realize that we are being gently pushed to accept the idea that the church has taken the place of God’s election of Israel. It’s subliminal theology. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only example. Throughout the history of translations, from the King James to The Message, more than the text has often been presented in the choice of words. There is tremendous risk in attaching yourself to a particular translation. Always dig deeper. You are going to be held accountable for proper obedience. How can you know what God really says if you are going to rely on a translation that incorporates theological conspiracy?
Don’t take my word for it either. I have a personal bias as well (but I am quite sure you realize that). My efforts are simply to get you to think more deeply about what you are reading, to question the implications of the translation, to seek the truth. God’s Word will stand any amount of scrutiny. What you find might challenge your long-held assumptions; but what would you rather have, the truth or a comfortable complacency?
Topical Index: Translation