Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:14)
I grew up listening to the Christmas account in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 2) in the language of the King James Version of the Holy Bible. Well, that is not entirely true. My first memories of the reading were from the Reina-Valera Spanish translation, but from the time I entered school in the first grade, it was the good old King James Bible. To this day, when I hear the reading from any other translation, it just does not sound the same. It loses something of the cadence and the poetic flow. I do not care; I just like the sound of the King James better.
I always pay close attention when Scripture is read, and lately, the reading of Luke 2:14 has troubled me. Here are some examples from modern translations. I will emphasize the portion that bothers me.
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (NIV)
“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (NABRE)
“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” (NLT)
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” (NRSVUE)
“Give glory to God in heaven, and on earth let there be peace among the people who please God.” (NCV)
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (ESV)
Above are just some of the more popular modern translations. I did not quote the New King James Version (NKJV) because it reads pretty much like the KJV on this verse. So, what is the problem? Notice the phrases I emphasized. All of these seem to offer peace only to those whom God has favored. Wait a minute! What about all the others that fall outside of those boundaries? Is God’s favor withheld from some and lavished only on a select few that for whatever reason known only to God meet certain criteria?
As quoted above, the KJV (and the NKJV) read, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” There are no exceptions. God’s peace and His goodwill are meant for all men, not just those who have found special favor with Him. All men!
Those who would defend the modern translations will say that those translations have been translated from “older and better (Greek) texts.” Most of us accept such statements as factual because they come from well-studied “scholars” – experts. We take it for granted that they are right. But, are they? The only way to know for certain is to look at the original language.
Here is Luke 2:14 in the original Greek: δοξα εν υψιστοις θεω και επι γης ειρηνη εν ανθρωποις ευδοκια. I know most of my readers do not read Greek, so I will translate.
δοξα – Glory
εν υψιστοις – in highest
θεω – to God
και επι γης – and on earth
ειρηνη – peace
εν ανθρωποις – to men
ευδοκια – goodwill; kindly intent; benevolence; delight; pleasure; satisfaction
There you have it. The news, the peace, and the goodwill are not only for a select, favored few, but to all mankind. The KJV has it right, the other translations have added to Scripture, a practice that is strongly condemned in Scripture.
The good news of Christmas is for all mankind. Do you know the Peace of Christmas? If not, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”