Editor’s note: I started this post almost a year ago and shelved it, but after having discussions this week with some other believers about the integrity of God’s Word and then seeing a video clip that reminded me of this post; I decided to come back and finish it.
Back about a year or so ago, I saw one of those Joel Osteen sermons on TV. He used a verse from Proverbs 16 and seemed to quote it accurately but got a completely different meaning out of the verse than I ever would have. The verse he used was Proverbs 16:9 which says, ” In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” I don’t know how you read that verse, but I take it to mean that God’s plan is the one that wins out over mine. For Joel it says that if we don’t make plans, God can’t direct our steps! He then says, “Noah had a plan for the ark. Solomon had a plan for the Temple.” He doesn’t mention that both of those plans came directly from God Himself! But this is what he does with a verse that he quotes more or less accurately. What about all of the ones that he seemingly creates out of thin air or quotes incompletely?
- Faith without corresponding actions is dead – James 2:17 (not sure what translation this is, possibly “New Testament in Modern Speech” based on a search engine hit, whatever version that is)
- Write the vision and make it clear – Hab. 2:2 (only part of the verse and even less of the overall context of the passage)
Then there are verses that are so mangled that they hardly resemble any verse of Scripture anymore:
“Long before God laid down the earth’s foundation He had us on
His mind. Because of the sacrifice Christ made we are free people
and not just barely free but abundantly free.”
If I simply asked you to try and find this in Scripture using a search program, I doubt you would have much luck(I put the first sentence in Google’s search engine in quotes and got zero results); especially if you searched in an actual translation text. The above quote supposedly comes from Ephesians 1:4 according to Joel, but I cannot find any translation or paraphrase of Scripture that actually says this in Ephesians 1:4. The closest match I have found is the Message, which is a paraphrase and not a translation of the Greek text as much as it is a “translated commentary” of some kind. The Message is fine for reading to get a fresh take or something, but it is wholly inadequate for serious study or preaching and teaching. That said, the verse that Joel quotes isn’t even found in the Message itself. It is sort of a patchwork job using the text of the Message “verse” (it appears he may have borrowed some words from other set of verses, even though the Message numbering is pretty loose anyways) as a framework or starting point to create a verse that says what Joel needs it to say.
There is a growing trend among Christians to pick and choose what they like in God’s Word and what they don’t like, which leads to a lot of trouble. This is kind of an obvious example of the problem, but this is a man who gets a lot of respect and obviously has drawn a great crowd of people who wish to hear his message. I pray that God uses the small snippets of gospel that might accidentally find their way in to the broadcasts to make someone ask about who Christ truly is, but I know that they won’t get the true picture from just watching Joel.
I am not doing this to say that Joel is condemned to damnation or anything like that. In all candor, I may never write another post about the guy (after all, this post sat around for a year almost before I finished it). In all seriousness, if someone can kindly point out to me what translation of Scripture Joel uses, I would appreciate it. After a bit of research, it really looks like he is writing and teaching from his very own personal version of a scripture that only loosely resembles the real deal. For that reason alone, I wouldn’t want anyone to take him too seriously.
Are you sure that Joel O. uses a Bible???
I thought he preached out of one of Tony Robbin’s books. Or maybe Dale Canagie.
He has that book that he holds over his head all the time. I am just trying to figure out what translation it is. It may just be a leather bound copy of Best Life Now, but I am trying to give the benefit of the doubt here. I am genuinely curious as to what translation it might be on those graphics on the screen during his sermons (assuming that it even is a single translation represented).
His loose use of Scripture has always bothered me. I remember him showing a couple of verses on the screen for a sermon he preached for an Easter service that they held at Minute Maid field in Houston one year and the verses had an ellipses (. . .) in them because he didn’t want to use the whole passage in the sermon as his text. I looked it up and it turned out that he had a good reason; the omitted text completely contradicted his message.
I have been wary of him ever since.
I hate to say this, but the way he uses the Bible (holding on to it) is more of a prop than anything else.
It lends him ‘authority’.
“You got a problem with what I’m sayin?” You’d better not, I got the Bible right here.
He could probably find some verse in the Bible somewhere to back uo just about everything he says.
The Bible can be, and is used that way by a lot of preachers.
You are right about that. I agree with you completely. It is one of the reasons that he puts the text of verses he uses on the screen instead of having people turn to the text and is part of my point. I am not sure he is using any single version at all but may be cobbling together several versions to create a “verse” that works for his messages. I don’t think that most of what he says could be backed up by even a single unaltered verse, particularly not the ones he often cites.
That was part of the reason I did this post. I want people to be wary of preachers that try to insist that they are backing their message up with Scripture, but are unwilling to have you check it out for yourself. When I check Joel’s Scripture references, I usually find a verse that is very different from the one he has quoted, and that is after I have searched multiple translations.
It could be that Joel is of the ” I have a great sermon, now If I could just find some scripture to go with it,” crowd.
I believe he uses the “best life now ” translation.
Is that any relation to the “purpose driven” translation at all?
You know, I like the Message for occasional reading, but it is next to worthless as a serious study Bible for me.
Jeff, Steve, and Will: I believe he uses the New Living Translation.
Here is the link to “his” special NLT Bible he released recently (courtesy of Amazon): http://tinyurl.com/6xnrbc.
Joel is one of my favorite irritants. I have several family members that just love the guy. I’ll keep to myself what I really think of him for now.
However, I do not believe his treatment of the Word at the beginning of every service truly gives God’s revealed Word the respect it deserves. I’m sure you’ve seen it. He holds up the Bible (or some other leather-bound book, since he never seems to open the one he’s holding) and asks his congregation to repeat saccharine-filled declaration:
The problem is that every sermon I’ve ever seen of this guy uses maybe one or two, surgically removed scriptures and then 95% of the rest of it is his pontificating about how God wants to give you everything you ask for: health, wealth … to quote him: “Total victory!”
Just give me Jesus!
Thanks for the heads up. I went and looked up Ephesians 1:4 in the NLT that you mentioned. Here is a comparison of the verse he put on the screen during that sermon and the NLT verse that I found with the NLT first.
Now Joel’s version –
He may endorse the NLT, but I am still hunting for the translation of Ephesians 1:4 that gave up this monstrous misread, cause it doesn’t appear to be this one.
My suggestion? Dont listen to, or allow anyone in your “flock” listen to any money thirsty &$#@% like Joel Osteen.
My opinion? He doesn’t care if he quotes the Bible directly, or twists it to the point of it not even making sense. As long as his ignorant followers are willing to chew on what he’s saying…as long he’s making the “people” happy. Why would he care? As long as he has a couple G’s comin his way…I dont see why he would have a problem with twisting, lying, anything…He’s a selfish, ignorant, money thirsty &$#@%.
I respect you for not being that way. But I do find it sad that so many thousands of people actually listen to what he says and embraces it. It makes them feel warm and fuzzy. Maybe that’s why.
Religion and life aren’t about what makes you feel good. It’s about the truth.
To each their own, I suppose. *shrug*
Good day, sir!
P.S. Sorry I haven’t been keeping up with your writings. I’m busy. Too busy. I’ll try.
I hope you don’t mind but I edited one of the words you used in your earlier comment. It’s nothing personal; I just am not a big fan of profanity and don’t want to include it on this blog really. I know it wasn’t a particularly strong word for some people, but I wanted to tone it back a bit.
And by the way, you don’t have to apologize for not keeping up. I understand busy all too well. It is good to hear from you though. God bless.
I feel as long as Joel is helping people be possitive
leave him alone. There is so much evil in the world today, if it helps one get off of a substance abuse in the name of God let it be. I understand the bible is really not quoted..Todays world people needs healthy parents and a positive reminder that there is hope no matter what. Thank you for letting me share MY oppinion…
I wanted to thank you for your comments, but I don’t think you understand why I wrote this. I am glad that you can recognize that Joel is not quoting the Bible accurately, but you apparently don’t understand why it is a problem. The Bible isn’t just another book. It is God’s word and it shouldn’t be treated like a self-help book or twisted like a pretzel.
The reason I wrote this post is to point out the difference. If Joel were just some self-help guru with a book out like Tony Robbins; I wouldn’t have given it a second thought. But Joel is presenting his message as the Gospel and that is deceptive and ultimately harmful to people. Positive thinking won’t help you in the long run and it won’t overcome evil. There is only one who can do that and indeed has done it, and His name is Jesus Christ. I am simply hoping to point beyond the platitudes and half-truths that Joel espouses to the real truth in God’s Word.
Joel Osteen Sun 10/25/09 pm:
Funny that I find a blog post title [ https://jeofurry.wordpress.com/2009/09/01/what-translation-of-the-bible-does-joel-osteen-use/ ] with the exact same question I had tonight 10/25/09 after seeing Joel quote on screen a small portion of what his screen credited to Romans 5:17: that WE get to reign as **KINGS** in (THIS) life.
Joel interpreted it to mean we can all live like Kings and Queens in THIS life if we would only take the shackles of limitation off our minds/hearts and off God’s hands, ie, God is willing to bless us beyond measure in “The Here and Now,” per Joel, but we simply are not willing to let Him.
I didn’t remember Paul ever saying such a thing re THIS life so I checked Romans 5:17 in the KJV first:
KJV: 17For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall REIGN IN LIFE by one, Jesus Christ.)
HUGE difference, eh? No mention of living like KINGS in THIS life in the KJV; and, btw, no mention of JESUS CHRIST in Joel’s snipped version for his church and TV audience.
Like the above blog, I then tried to find WHICH specific version Joel actually used, but without 100% clear success.
What he quoted: “REIGN AS KINGS IN LIFE” was surprisingly NOT from the NIV nor NLT nor CEV, nor ESV, MSG, NIRV, BBE, Gods Word, NASB, NKJV, MKJV, LITV, YT, Darby, etc. I searched every English version at biblegateway and olivetree and biblize.
The only versions that came close were the AMP (but on Joel’s screen there were no brackets like the AMP uses), the WEY-NT, and the NWT:
AMP: 17For if because of one man’s trespass (lapse, offense) death reigned through that one, much more surely will those who receive [God’s] overflowing grace (unmerited favor) and the free gift of righteousness [putting them into right standing with Himself] REIGN AS KINGS IN LIFE through the one Man Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).
(Wey NT) Romans 5:17 For if, through the transgression of the one individual, Death made use of the one individual to seize the sovereignty, all the more shall those who receive God’s overflowing grace and gift of righteousness REIGN AS KINGS IN LIFE through the one individual, Jesus Christ.
CAPS added by me to show the exact phrase that was shown on Joel’s screen.
Is the AMP NT based on Westcott & Hort? I wondered because, interestingly enough, the WTBTS bible, the NWT, reads similar to AMP & WEY-NT; the NWT being the only other version I found that resembled Joel’s quoted/visual on-screen verse:
NWT: 17For if by the trespass of the one [man] death ruled as king through that one, much more will those who receive the abundance of the undeserved kindness and of the free gift of righteousness RULE AS KINGS IN LIFE through the one [person], Jesus Christ.
CAPS again added by me to show the only portion of the entire verse used by Joel on-screen and verbally quoted by him.
(Is Joel a secret JW using the NWT? lol, totally joking there as the JWs are definitely taught the opposite extreme of what Joel teaches, ie, practically your basic poverty level thinking.)
As best I can figure from this little bit of research, Joel, in this one instance anyway, probably used those few words of Romans 5:17 from the AMP… which, btw, IS from WH:
The Amplified Bible is a translation… based on the American Standard Version of 1901, Rudolph Kittel’s Biblia Hebraica, the Greek New Testament of Westcott and Hort, and the 23rd edition of the Nestle Greek New Testament as well as the best Hebrew and Greek lexicons available at the time…
The NWT is also from the same: http://en.allexperts.com/q/Jehovah-s-Witness-1617/reliability-honorable-man.htm
And I couldn’t find re WEY-NT (which evidently is from Wesley originally? and later a/k/a WNT or Weymouth New Testament) which manuscripts were used?
It is a good thing to meditate on God’s goodness and His good intensions toward us through Christ (and only through Christ).
But I would Not want Joel Osteen to be my ONLY source of Bible information because a 100% diet of Joel Osteen and nothing else would be like eating too much honey…
Proverbs 25:16: Have you found honey? Eat only as much as you need, Lest you be filled with it and vomit.
Proverbs 25:27: [It is] not good to eat much honey; So to seek one’s own glory [is not] glory.
@GraceParadise: Bravo! Thank you for putting so much work into that comment. Well-written and balanced.
Ha, thank you Joe!! That’s so nice of you.
I thought for sure Joel’s Roms 5:17 was going to be the NIV but when it wasn’t, I was determined to find where he got it. 😉
And I’ve ALWAYS thought of the “too much honey” scriptures every time I see Joel. Ha.
I got a kick out of yours and other above comments (the purpose driven bible, lol, and the Your best life now bible. Gave me some chuckles!)
Especially I agree re the opening robotic message Joel has his church recite. That has bugged me big time from Day One. I had a Christian lady friend who asked, “What’s wrong with it?” I was surprised she didn’t know! I said, Well for one thing, it is not even a scripture! Two, it’s like a New Ager’s daily affirmation with no substance as it’s all about Me Me Me. And lastly, I said Why doesn’t he Say A Prayer instead at the start of his sermon & ask the Lord to let the Holy Spirit be on him as speaker and on the church members. Etc.? vs that repetitive MANTRA.
Oh well, there I go again. Thanks Joe!
I appreciate your comments. I didn’t have a chance to respond immediately when I approved them the other day, but I have had a better chance to read them now. When I titled and wrote the post, I really was hoping for some kind of tangible answer, but the longer it goes the more convinced I am that there isn’t one. I get the feeling he just uses the Word in whatever way it suits him at the time. I have seen him use a verse with ellipses in the quotation as I mentioned in a previous comment, so I am pretty well convinced that he has little respect for the Word itself, no matter what his mantra says. It just smacks of a complete misunderstanding of 2 Timothy 2:15 – Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
Hi Jeo. Thanks, and yes, I know what you mean. It’s sad really.
(I’ve heard people pick on Joel because he never went to seminary, as if that explains his lack of solid Biblical knowledge. Well I surely do not hold that against a person! Those places are not exactly “safe” places of learning these days either. Besides, it does not take Bible college to understand scripture. Our tutor is Christ via the Holy Spirit.)
Coincidentally, today’s Berean Bible Society email devotional touches on this same subject:
“Do You Understand?” (what we read in Scripture): http://www.bereanbiblesociety.org/twominutes/twominut.php?i=270&v=print
One who does not care whether or not he understands what God has said is not truly interested in knowing what God has said. His faith is based on his own will rather than on God’s Word, for regardless of the meaning of Scripture, he will take any passage that suits his fancy and use it as he wishes.
One thing is for sure, though: Whom the Lord loves, He reproves. Joel is young yet. He may wise up in time on his own. If not, his season of chastisement may come. Look how the Lord corrected Jim Bakker! (who I really knew nothing about him much in his hey day as I didn’t watch Christian TV in those days, but I do like the “new” Jim Bakker. The Lord let him go through the ringer and Jim learned his lesson and he is all the better for it, older and wiser, etc.)
Not to beat a dead horse, but a few minutes ago I went to use the Prayer App on my iPhone (a Great way to document your prayers!) and the app has a new scripture everyday. Today’s verse reminded me of the Joel pre-sermon Mantra:
“But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” – Matthew 6:7
“But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the
heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard
for their much speaking.” – Matthew 6:7
(hmm, the first scripture above ran off the right edge of the page [that’s how it looks from iPhone] so submitting it again with forced carriage returns to make the lines shorter.) Thank you!
I certainly don’t look down on someone who hasn’t attended seminary. I am finishing a master’s degree at the moment from Liberty, but I don’t feel like that is something that is necessary. I am doing it because I wanted to take some of these classes for my own learning. Frankly, seminary can be overrated as you have pointed out.
I like what you said about Jim Bakker as well. Sometimes, God must use “drastic” means to get our attention. My prayer is that I would be humble and attentive to His voice when He speaks quietly instead.
Amen, brother, and beautifully expressed: “My prayer is that I would be humble and attentive to His voice when He speaks quietly instead.”
I’ve seen this guy Joel a few times,and I’ll tell you as a christian i know that Jesus never told us that we are going to get all those things that this man tells people they are going to get just for asking. he acts like you walk in to his church put some money in the basket and your going to get what ever you pray for,Christ never said it was going to be like that for christians….he said”PICK UP YOUR CROSS AND FOLLOW ME”I think Joel maybe skipped this part….not to jugde as i have my own x-tra large cross to bare,and am one of the worst sinners ever born. thank you Jesus for forgivness…A-men. so anyways lets pray for all those people that go to that church to hear the everythings going to be just perfect sermon every week to be touched by the Lord
A Big Mistake
It is unfortunate that some people mistakenly believe that Muslims worship a different God than Jews and Christians, and that “Allah” is just the “god of the Arabs”. While word Allah is also used by Arabs Cristian . Last words of Jesus waere ” Ilahi Ilahi Lima sabaqtani” It means O my God O My God why left me”. Word Ilah is rood word of Allah. This myth, which has been propagated by the enemies of Islam, is completely false since the word “Allah” is simply the Arabic name for Almighty God. It is the same word for God which is used by Arabic-speaking Jews and Christians. However, it should be clarified that even though Muslims worship the same God as Jews and Christian, their concept of Him differs somewhat from the beliefs of other religions – mainly because it is based completely on Divine Revelation from God. For example, Muslims reject the Christian belief that God is a Trinity, not only because the Quran rejects it, but also because if this was God’s true nature, He would have clearly revealed it to Abraham, Noah, Jesus and all of the other prophets. Islam was religion of Abraham, Jackob, Isaq, Ishmael. (Peace and blessings of God upon all of them). Because Islam literally means path of submission to God Almighty only worthy to be worshiped and only worthy to be begged.
for more http://islam100.wordpress.com
“Islam” is an Arabic word which means “submission to the will of God”. This word comes from the same root as the Arabic word “salam”, which means “peace”. As such, the religion of Islam teaches that in order to achieve true peace of mind and surety of heart, one must submit to God and live according to His Divinely revealed Law. The most important truth that God revealed to mankind is that there is nothing divine or worthy of being worshipped except for Almighty God, thus all human beings should submit to Him.
I have gone ahead and approved your comment here, but I cannot figure out why you posted it under this topic in this discussion as it doesn’t seem to fit here at all. That said, let me address a couple of issues that you have mentioned. The mistake being made here is the one you have just introduced. While you are completely correct that Allah is the Arabic word for God, you are wrong in stating that Islam is talking about the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has revealed Himself fully through the person of Jesus Christ. You cannot call Jesus a prophet or say He was right about what He spoke and deny His deity, because He made the claim to Deity Himself.
He did reveal Himself to them in this way. Jesus says in John 8:54-59:
Jesus claimed that Abraham saw Him as God. Jacob wrestled with God as a man in Genesis 32:22-32:
This passage makes it plain that Jacob wrestled with a “man” who was God. This is understood to be a preincarnate appearance of Christ and there are no other easy ways to interpret this. Again, Jesus made the direct claim to be God multiple times and the Jews wanted to stone Him for doing so (John 10:31-39). Jesus claimed that the entire scope of the Hebrew Scriptures was about Him (Luke 24:27) If you wish to call Jesus a prophet, but want to deny His Deity, you have a problem, because that isn’t a rational position to hold.
The problem with Islam is exactly its denial of Jesus as the Son of God. His own words won’t allow that kind of prevarication. He said that no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). Jesus also spoke about the Holy Spirit as God (John 14:15-21; 15:26). Those who deny that Jesus is God are said to posess the spirit of antichrist (1 John 2:22-23). These are not my words or my imaginations. They are the teachings of Jesus and those who followed Him on earth.
I just caught a clip on Joel’s talk using Ephesians 1:4. I stumbled upon this discussion for the same reason that everyone else did apparently. I had to know which version he was using. I roughly read all of the comments and didn’t notice anyone mention one thing that blew me away. It was already unbelievable that “his” Ephesians 1:4 was nowhere close to any other translation, but then he said this…
“Another translation says, ‘UNQUESTIONABLY free.'” Not only does he quote an obscure and crazy translation of the Bible, but he has another (maybe imaginary) translation to back it all up.
Nice try, Joel.
Good catch. I was so busy trying to find out what the primary one was that I missed that altogether. I am pretty sure there is no answer for my original question, unless there is a “Joel Osteen” version of the Bible out there somewhere.
“The Message” doesn’t resemble Osteen’s translation at all!
How dare you accuse him (who is clearly guilty of twisting words and translations), but then doing the same thing so that you can attack “The Message”.
You might want to go back and reread. I am guessing you didn’t comprehend much of the post or the comments, since you resorted to name-calling out of the gate with your first ever comment here; so I am going to help you out a little bit.
Here is Joel’s version of Ephesians 1:4 from the post:
Here is Ephesians 1:4 from the Message version of the Bible:
I am guessing a little bit with the Message since it isn’t as specific about individual verse numbers.
Can you honestly say there is no similarity whatsoever here? I didn’t say they were exactly alike in any case, but it would be hard to say that he got the first half of the verse from anywhere else. I have no beef with the Message. It is an easy to read paraphrase, but it is not accurate to call it a translation, which is all I said about it above. I would certainly challenge you to point out where I “twisted words” to attack “The Message.” If you can’t, then I declare all of your accusations baseless and specious. I welcome your input, but next time try and get something right.
P.S. For more information about the Message and the general consensus of it as a paraphrase rather than a translation, feel free to check out these links
Christian Book Distributors
So the answer is… it’s not a translation? I have more problems with Joel Olsteen than I can post on here, but this one is fairly new to me. I never thought about what translation he used (although in fairness, I don’t listen much to his redundant messages) because I just assumed he pulled some accurate Scripture out of context. But to notice that he doesn’t even use Scripture at all? That’s very upsetting.
The best way to describe Joel Olsteen has to be found in the words of John MacArthur here.
I guess this is what he means when he says, “Jesus is a footnote that satisfies his critics and deceives his followers”.
Thanks for commenting and thanks for the link. That is a great clip. There are a lot of great “dead on” statements in that short six minutes or so.
I also suspect that your answer is the correct one. On the few instances that Joel does “quote” Scripture correctly; he invariably twists it out of context to mean something totally other than what the original message was and is.
Most of these comments are false!!!!! let God judge him and not a living man. whos John Macarthur? hes not known and now he starts to attack the young man?
I am going to go out on a limb and say that maybe you attend Joel’s church or perhaps watch it on TV. I don’t usually edit comments and I have yours posted as is as well. My desire in writing this wasn’t to attack anyone. If you happen to know what translation Joel is quoting from above, please say so.
If you don’t know who John MacArthur is, I would venture to say you need to expand your horizons a bit. For right now the biggest difference I can see between the two is that when John MacArthur quotes Scripture I know what version he is using or can find it and he also quotes it accurately. I can’t say the same for Joel Osteen. For that reason alone, I will prefer John to Joel every time. People who play with and twist or alter the Word of God are dangerous. Show me that translation that Joel got his reference from and we can talk about John some more.
he may be wrong in somw ways but he has always lifted my spirits and thats what God wants
I can only guess that you got that out of the elusive Osteen bible that I haven’t been able to find. The Bible doesn’t say that God wants to “lift our spirits.” It promises persecution and trials and discipline for those who love the Lord. Statements like this one:
For that matter, try looking at some other places like John 15:20 or John 16:33; 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5; and so forth. I weep for those that are being deceived by hearing a message that makes them “feel good.” It is what we were warned about to be sure:
Just stumbled on your blog.
If it’s any help, the ‘unquestionably free’ bit comes from John 8:36 (Amplified Version).
Unfortunately I’m stumped with the Ephesians 1:4 quote, because all the translations I’ve seen agree that the purpose of being chosen long before God created earth was so that we would be HOLY, faultless and blameless before Him (nothing about freedom there; other parts of the Bible, yes, but not that verse).
Just a thought here, bearing in mind the John 8:36 quote: it’s quite possible that Joel intended the quote to end with “…he had us on His mind”… and that the on-screen graphics person inadvertently tacked on part of the sermon to the verse….
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for taking the time to comment. I don’t know if we will ever completely unravel the mystery of Joel’s personal translation. Based on the traffic that comes in to this one blog post, I think it is a question that a lot of folks ask after watching him. That is encouraging to me.
Blessings to you.
I think Joel O. uses the translation that has had the New Testament pages ripped out of it.
Was just wondering myself where Joel got his quote from, and stumbled upon your site. It appears that he is preaching from the Message bible, and is condensing a paraphrase. Below is a quote from the Message bible, Ephesians 1, verses 4-8 (the version on biblegateway.com as at Sep 2011)
The bits that Joel quoted are in CAPITALS; his minor changes are in square brackets, the bits he missed out are in small text.
“LONG BEFORE he [GOD] LAID DOWN EARTH’s FOUNDATIONs, HE HAD US in [ON HIS] MIND, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.
BECAUSE OF THE SACRIFICE of the Messiah [CHRIST MADE], his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a [WE ARE] FREE PEOPLE—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. AND NOT JUST BARELY FREE, either. [BUT] ABUNDANTLY FREE!”
I won’t comment further as I don’t know much about Joel Osteen, but hope this helps.
Thanks for taking the time to do that. It is very insightful indeed. I had an inkling that he was drawing the passage from the Message, but didn’t have the patience to see just how he had mangled it exactly. He uses so precious little Scripture as it is that it is really a shame to see him unable to use what is actually there instead of his own imagined version. The changes you have noted really change the tenor of the verses as a whole, even more than the changes from the plain meaning of the original Greek text brought on by the Message’s paraphrase of the text.
I don’t mean to judge, because we’re not supposed to, but I personally believe that any pastor should have to teach their congregation about what NOT to do. To me, Joel only gives them sugar-coated words about how God will give them anything they want, but he never touches on the fact that He won’t just drop it in your lap. You have to live a life devoted to Jesus, and you must resist the devil. Joel never talks about the imminent danger of Hell, or about any of the sins that Satan tries to beguile the world with. I would love for him to have a sermon series about all that stuff.
Thanks for commenting. I am sorry that it took me a couple of days to get this one approved. The email notification ended up in the spam folder and I didn’t see it right away.
I agree with what you are saying, but I am sure that you don’t expect Joel to preach such a series. I would love to hear a “prosperity preacher” attempt to explain Paul’s rather sarcastic barb at the whole prosperity message in 1 Corinthians 4:6-13 for instance. I am not holding my breath waiting for it though.
Blessings to you.
I have been watching Joel the past few weeks and really seemed like my faith was growing. I started checking the verses and was upset to see they were nothing like what he had on the screen. I don’t want to judge but it made me angry and felt mislead. I was enjoying hearing the word and felt happy in this rough time I’m going through. Maybe I will try to find somone else who preaches out of the real Bible and doesn’t spin it their way. Thanks for the question I stumbled on this googling what translation he was using too.
Those feelings are quite natural. As a pastor, I always try to caution people that they need to be in the Word themselves and never just take what you hear without question from anyone. I have tried to be careful not to cast judgment on Joel as it isn’t my place either (Romans 14:4), but I do have an obligation to emphasize the truth of Scripture.
The Bible commends those who search and seek and those who search the Scripture to confirm the message they hear. I frequently encourage those in my church to dig into Scripture after they hear the message and provide notes with my sermons that give the references in Scripture that I am referring to so that people can do exactly that. You are welcome to take a listen to the sermon audio at our church’s website if you want. I don’t preach to thousands, but I strive to be faithful to the place and people that God has called me to minister to and I am blessed to be chosen by Him.
I don’t know your situation, but I know that God does and I prayed for you after reading your comment. May God richly bless you as you seek Him in His Word. I pray that you will find a faithful teacher of the Word and a faithful community to be a part of in your area.
Joel’s version of Psalm 44:3 “It was not their own strength that gave them the victory. It was because you favored them and smiled down on them.”
Sounds like me to he is writing his own paraphrase. The Message should be tossed in the heap of trash along with Joel’s. Both do a grave disservice to the word of God and both have totally ignored the commandment to not add or subtract anything from God’s Word.
The Message and Joel would do well to start their version of Scripture with: “Here’s how I interpret this verse.”
I’m still looking for his version of Scripture too. It’s not NLT, The Message, or even the NIV. The closest I could find is that the New Century Version uses Joel’s word: Victory, and the Amplified Bible uses Joel’s word “Favor”.
He does admit that he’s more of an encourager than a pastor, and income does not come from his “church” but from books/tapes/ etc. I trust his sincerity, but he would do well to study what God says. (good advice to myself).
The Message quite clearly says that it is a paraphrase, the problem is that a lot of people have no idea what that even means. I know too many who depend on the Message as if it were an actual translation of the Scripture and it saddens me.
I am amazed at the life that this post has taken on since I wrote it. It may be the most read post on the entire blog and the search terms make it clear that most of those who come here are asking the exact same question that I posed to begin with, and so far the answer has been: he isn’t using any one translation at all.
I am grateful to see that so many aren’t just taking the man’s word for it and are investigating what God actually says in His Word. I pray that they will continue to do so. I thank you for stopping by and even more for taking the time to comment. May you be richly blessed in your study of God’s Word.
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I stumbled on this post when looking for what translation another television preacher uses and the “autofill” lead me here. I’m very wary of Mr. Osteen for several reasons. However, his questionable quoting of scripture wasn’t one of them. Thanks for cautioning us. At first I liked him enough. It sounded like Truth, sounded like scripture, and made me feel “uplifted,” warm and fuzzy. I was new to the faith and just unaware of all that’s out there in the “Christian” world. Didn’t truly understand about being discerning and careful. Didn’t know you can’t trust everything with a “Christian” label slapped on it as being truly of God. Because there are many out there who, perhaps like Joel, are at best true Christian brothers (born again, regenerated) who are very misguided or at worst, false prophets and teachers. I eventually became aware something’s off with him. One thing is the whole prosperity gospel thing. This is basically what’s presented- it’s your right to be healthy and wealthy and God’s main concern is your happiness. Maybe not consciously, but God is presented as a means to these things. Like, “Hey, come to Him so you’ll have a good life not because there’s this thing called sin, you’ve sinned, and you need a Savior.” Also, the messages are very much like pep talks and a bunch of self-help stuff, basically the power of positive thinking. With Jesus thrown in a few times. And he never gets down to anything of substance, the meat and bones of the Gospel. Not even hard but essential subjects. Like sin. Never really talks about sin, explains what Jesus did on the cross, what salvation is, the new nature and fruits of someone who’s truly been saved. Have you ever really been convicted of sin while listening to him? If not, maybe that should be a clue. And again with salvation not being clearly presented- the “sinner’s prayer” at the end. (I have to say he’s definitely not the only one to do this). He has people believing that because they hollowly or half-heartedly repeated some magic words after him at the end, maybe gave a mental assent to Jesus as Savior and God, that they are indeed saved and going to heaven. Scary. Now I’m sure some have truly been reborn through this invitation at the end of his sermons, because God truly was working in them and they truly repented, but we are not justified by those words alone as one might be lead to believe. Salvation is a supernatural process, more than a formula! Sorry for rambling. In closing, this thought: IF he’s really misrepresenting God, the Gospel, scripture, aside from it being dishonoring and offensive to God- what’s the big deal? Here it is. Lost people not understanding the Gospel who believed they’re saved and are actually headed for hell. And true believers possibly being led astray. Those are two of my biggest fears in life. Truly these days are dark and there is much deception, much contending for the souls of our friends, families, and others. I’m encouraged to see there are others out there who are on guard. There are so many scary things in Christianity today, not just him. Please join me in earnestly praying against all deception and for those caught in it, even Mr Osteen.
Thanks for stopping by and for commenting. I agree with you, and I am encouraged by the fact that those who listen to Osteen still have the opportunity to search the Word for themselves. I join with you in fervent prayer that those who hear men like Joel will go deeper and see God for who He really is and that they will find the truth and that the truth will set them free. I am further encouraged by the fact that God seeks and saves the lost. I have seen that first hand yet again this week.
May you be richly blessed as you walk with the Lord in the light of His Word.
John Piper hates the prosperity gospel.
Osteen would do us all a favor if he just removed the word church from the location name of his sunday gatherings.
Seems to me it’s not that far of a stretch. If some want to believe Osteen to be accurate, they will also easily believe that we should bomb Libya, Syria, and Iran despite the powers granted in the constitution.
Throw out the written words, the written agreements and we can do anything we want……. DANGER Will Robinson!
I am glad for you. Hebrews clearly states that we are not to stay stuck in only knowing about the resurrection and other elementary aspects of Christ.
I encourage you to keep that writer’s guidance in mind. It will help keep your perspective when watching those who only practice that “Church is about cupcakes for kids and cool music”.
“Be careful. Evil has a way of making friends with good and dragging it into the darkness.” – A quote my pastor made about 10 years ago.(A very similar quote can be found on an episode a CSI which I find hilarious.) I believe Joel probably believes what he stands up and says every Sunday, but what he doesn’t realize is how misconstrued it has all become. We are called to live sacrificial lives just as Jesus did. God is pleased when we live our lives for Him and the desires of His heart, not our own. In college, I wrote a paper on selfishness and how almost any sin can be traced back to that one root. I recall this now, beause selfishness seems to be what Joel preaches week in and week out. I have listened to a few of his sermons in the past several days following along in my ESV. I found this discussion, as I became fed up with his lack of honest scripture. I am thankful that you Jeoff have kept the discussion very respectful while also pointing out the falsehoods of Osteen’s teachings. As to the actual question of what version he uses, I think we all know at this point that he is somehow paraphrasing paraphrased commentaries to fit what he says. What this reminds me, however, is how much God’s desire to be known should cause me to pray fervently that His word be truthfully interpreted and taught. Many people are misled, it was even a plague of the early Church so often addressed in the epistles. We need to pray that God’s truth is upheld, as opposed to held up, chanted over, and never read.
Thanks for sharing. My intention when I first wrote this post was to see if I could get an actual answer. As you mentioned, the answer appears to be that he is making it up from mashing together various versions and paraphrases with his own opinion. I have seen him distort Scripture on multiple instances and rarely watch him anymore. I am greatly encouraged that people stop by here daily at this post (according to my stats) based on searches for the truth of Scripture. I believe that God works in the hearts of those who hear His Word and guides them as they search for the truth. God’s Word promises that He will be found by those who diligently seek Him. Keep fighting the good fight.
I noticed something odd when I surfed through Joel Osteen ministries website. You have to pay for most of the information you require. the only free stuff are the small stuff e.g screensavers, phrases. This immediately struck me that if you were so concern with leading people to the Word of God and ultimately, receive Christ as your Saviour as this should be your core message as a preacher, you would be offering the Word of God freely. Joel Osteen Ministries want you to pay before you read etc….I never saw a bible there for sale but only Joel Osteen books…….. Its all about creating his wealth. thanks for letting me post on here even though I steered off the path of the original topic.
I’m sorry if I sound offensive to anyone on this blog and I know I’m kind of late and don’t know how many people still look at it but it really makes me sick on how people are so quick to judge Joel Osteen. I looked up some of the verses that people are criticizing him about. I looked them up in the old fashion KJV, which is what I’ve used my whole life seeing that I grew up in a traditional southern Baptist Church (even though i own a few other translations as well) and i can see where he got his message from these verses. Everyone perceives certain verses in the Bible in their own way unless someone else explains them to them in a different way, and even then they can still choose whether or not to believe what that person said to them about the verse is accurate.
What we have to understand is every Bible in the English language are translations in the first place, meaning that someone, or a group of people, debated on what each verse in the Bible is supposed to mean. I believe that the verses that Joel Osteen has put on the screen or “quotes” in his Church are what HIS understanding of them was. Since it doesn’t say what Bible translation the verses are stated from can mean that what is on the screen is what Joel Osteen himself received personally from the verse(s) or section in the Bible. And who on this Earth is “worthy” (the only word i can think of using) to talk bad about him for doing so? Even the original King James Version was translated into English from another language when Emperor Constantine agreed to convert to Christianity. (supposedly he did so just to save the Roman empire at the time) Emperor Constantine, then offered the various Church leaders money to agree upon a single canon that would be used by all Christians as the word of God. The Church leaders gathered together at the Council of Nicaea and voted the “word of God” into existence. But even then, The Church leaders didn’t finish editing the “holy” scriptures until the Council of Trent when the Catholic Church pronounced the Canon closed. However, it seems the real approving editor of the Bible was not God but Constantine! So what we are reading today, we hope to be what is truly God’s word, but we can’t know which verses, books, or if the Holy Bible was completely manipulated by Constantine and the Catholic Church. Then Constantine ordered and financed 50 parchment copies of the new Holy Scriptures. It seems with the financial element added to the picture, the Church fathers were able to overcome their differences and finally agree which books would stay and which would go. The Popish Councils of Nice and Laodicea, about 350 years after the time Jesus Christ is said to have lived, voted the books that now compose what is called the New Testament to be the Word of God. This was done by yeas and nays, as we now vote a law. The Pharisees of the second temple, after the Jews returned from captivity in Babylon, did the same by the books that now compose the Old Testament. And as someone bad-mouthed Joel Osteen about, they made a living by their religion, they had a self-interest in the vote they gave. So as you can see, The Holy Bible, no matter which translation, has always been worded the way selected individuals choose to, and many were for financial reasons, or to make profit. So what if Joel Osteen chooses to word his verses he bases his sermons on are worded the way he perceives it? It is his decision on how he decides to run his Church somewhat, so why call him ugly names for doing so and by doing that, people are making themselves look bad as Christians. For who are we to judge others? I really enjoy watching Joel Osteen because I believe he has a very dedicated approach on reaching out to others spreading the benefits of living a Christian life. I also believe he has helped other tremendously by preaching the way he does and I have a lot of respect for him for doing what he does. Even if he doesn’t quote his verses out of a known Bible translation. There has been so many different translations produced, why can’t he word verses in what he seems to think is the message that is trying to be put across. Has anyone seen him do any harm to others by doing so? He forces no one to be a member of his Church or to watch him on TV. So I think people should really reconsider being less judgmental of him because of the way he chooses to reach his viewers.
James 4:12 ESV
“There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?”
Thanks for commenting. I daresay that your comment will help to prove my original point. Translation does indeed involve “judgment calls” and interpretation, but it does not involve taking the meaning and flipping it on its head. I notice that you still didn’t answer the actual question of the post. What translation is he using for that verse? Unless I have missed something along the way, Osteen is not competent in either Hebrew or Greek and thus is not qualified to “make up his own translation.” We are commanded to “rightly handle the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), and making up your own interpretation as you even admit Joel must do in your comment does not follow that standard as set by Paul. I don’t stand in judgment of Joel (Romans 14:4), but as a shepherd entrusted by God with that calling, I will point people back to the actual Word of God as it has stood and will stand forever(Psalm 119:89).
Oh and by the way, you might want to check the dates of the translation and publishing of the KJV and the life of Constantine; I think you will notice a gap of well over a thousand years between the two. Perhaps you just jumbled your thoughts, but it doesn’t help when you make a statement that suggests such a complete ignorance of historical dates in the midst of giving a “lecture” about history. When you set about correcting people on the net, it helps to get the facts right.
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The issue isn’t personal. I was glad to see Mr. Osteen step away from proclaiming himself to be a Reverend, but rather more of an encourager. He serves that role well. People need encouragement.
The issue is, however, using texts to match a message, which he is guilty of from time to time and a quick research of verses he puts up on the TV screen sometimes don’t match the book. I sometimes wonder if he even looks these verses up, or does he have someone else finding verses for him to support his message.
To answer your question, and I hope it was a question more than a statement of defense, on why he cannot say: “The Bible says this….” and provide his own version of what he thinks it says consider this:
One really can’t argue on what the Bible says (it is written), but can argue/discuss what it means, how it is to be applied. Mr. Osteen has actually changed the words and unfairly told people that those changes are what the Bible says. Proverbs 30: 5-6 comes to mind as do verses in John and Revelation.
Joel, and I have bought his books, would have more credibility if he didn’t do this and I think if he spent more time in the texts he would find his message changing. Let’s hope he does that.
Great thoughts. I couldn’t have said it better.
I read this article and the post that follows. And I’m not impressed. First, no matter what version of the bible you are using its lost in translation. I am a KJV girl, but I still need the Strongs concordance to get the real meaning. The scrolls they are written on has the purest form of the truth. That’s why you have to study to show YOURSELF approved unto GOD!
Now the verse that has you so upset, let’s look at “Long before God laid down the earth’s foundation He had us on
His mind. Because of the sacrifice Christ made we are free people
and not just barely free but abundantly free.”
Where is the false statement? The bible confirms that God had us on his mind from the begining. Second because of Christ sacrifice we are certainly free! And not just barely free. I don’t mean to seem rude and arrogant, but are you hoping people will think God has forgotten them? Or that they aren’t truly free, but barely?
I get you want to know what version he uses. That’s how I found this post. None of the people posting or you, know Joel’s heart or even how often he reads “his prop” but by all means judge and stone away! I’m sure God gave each of you permission to do so.
Just because someone doesn’t read the same version as I do does not mean that the Holy Spirit is unable to teach! It’s Gods words and his authority!
I absolutely love Christ! I know he called sin, sin! But he also said a houses divided against itself will not stand. Those that are for us are not against us……… Btw, did you talk with God before you posted this, or did you just post out of your own campaign?
If you think Joel is a wolf in Sheeps clothing, talk with God about him…. See God has this awesome way of listening and performing miracles we could never dream of. FYI, Jesus died for Joel and …. He loves him and you and me. Our God is so mighty that if he has the power to send his son to die for us and to rise again, surely he has control in this situation too!
I live in a glass house and I’m certainly not throwing rocks, but I’m so tired of man picking who can do the job! I’ve never watched Joel and said you know what, I don’t think I can run this race. I’m never going to be good enough for God. I sure wish God loved me and had a plan for me………….. I’m going to cheat, lie, steal, and serve the devil! Or even that I can live just however I want and I am still going to make heaven!
I walk away feeling the love of God an the encouragement to give God more and to trust him more.
JOEL IS NOT AGAINST CHRIST, SO THAT MEANS HE IA FOR HIM!
For someone who condemns judging others, you are very fond of doing it yourself. Let me just clear up a couple of things. Firstly, the whole point of this post is regarding translation. It is irresponsible to mix and match translations to get a certain meaning from a text in Scripture. It is one thing to compare them or use a concordance/dictionary to get deeper meaning, but the way that Joel has handled Scripture every time I have seen him (this is just a single example that I had video for); he does so in a manner that betrays the simple command of Scripture itself. Since you are a “KJV girl”, I will use your preferred version (and let you know what version I am quoting from as well, which is more than Joel will do apparently).
And before you say, “aren’t you quarreling about words?” I would point out that my problem with Joel isn’t about a single word or even a single verse as you seem to think it is. My issue is with the pattern he has developed of playing fast and loose with Scripture when he quotes it by apparently “making his own translation” rather than using any one translation at a time. This is a clear example of what Paul is criticizing here. It is not “rightly handling the word of truth.” Unless you can show that Joel is a linguistic scholar of either Greek or Hebrew (preferably both), he has no ability to “retranslate” Scripture in such a way. This isn’t using tools to get a better handle on the meaning, this is manipulating the text to say something that isn’t there. Words mean things and Joel’s “unquestionably free” is going to be understood a whole lot differently by his modern listeners than what Paul intended when he said what is correctly rendered in KJV English as “that we should be holy and without blame before him” in Ephesians 1:4.
And since you have missed me saying this repeatedly, I am not here to judge Joel. He stands before God on his own. But it would be irresponsible of me to just let it go for two reasons. One is the example of the Bereans. If you are unfamiliar with it, you can look at Acts 17:10-11
Secondly, because those who would be teachers are called to a higher standard (James 3:1). I will reiterate my reasons for writing originally. One was to try and legitimately answer the question of the title. What translation does Joel use? He should be upfront and state what it is each and every time he quotes Scripture. That is the responsible thing to do for those he means to teach and lead. If all he does is make people “feel good” about themselves without ever helping them to arrive at the truth, then he has not benefited his listeners at all. After all sound doctrine isn’t about “feeling good” (2 Timothy 4:3); it is about truth and sometimes truth makes us feel bad in order to get us where we need to be (2 Corinthians 7:8-12)
Finally, since you seemed to have missed it in your jump to judgmental conclusions regarding me and this post let me requote the last paragraph.
Thanks for commenting. Maybe next time focus more on what is actually said and less on how you feel about it. It makes for better dialog.
All believers need to be checking what we are taught against the Word of God to find out if those things are so. If a church or a speaker we come across is out of line with God’s Word, we must lovingly, patiently give instruction or correction. If it will not be corrected, then we should seek out a church that is faithfully obeying God’s Word.
I appreciate it, I wonder what version he uses cause it is like someone posted like he reads or teaches Tony Robbins self help books. He does uplift people emensely and I hope it is , LORD WILLING coming from the Lords word. God bless you all. Thanks
Earlier posters fretted over judging Mr. Osteen for fear of being judged perhaps because of their misunderstanding of Mt 7:1. Truly we cannot judge by outward appearances of carnal things, however Joh 7:24 tells us to use a righteous judgement. When Mr. Osteen’s words are compared to the Word of God he falls far short of anything Christian. Yes he uses the name Jesus but he preaches another Jesus, a false Jesus. He is a false teacher and unless God grants him repentance he will like his followers be condemned.
In the last day, because they received not the Truth, many will be sent strong delusion that they may believe lying wonders like Mr. Osteen (there are today many like him), it is Gods judgment against them. And God takes full responsibility for doing this. 2Th 2:11
When the bottomless pit (abyss) is opened (place of no knowledge of God) scorpions and locust (false teachers) emerge to go forth deceiving slay men’s souls. Satan is their head and they are his tail (his power). Locust eat green things (crops) and children starve, likewise these locust eat (destroy through lies) God’s word and spiritually men die.
It would be useless to make this post without giving honor to God for his Salvation of Grace through Jesus Christ. Before Adam and Eve even sinned God provided for their (and our) salvation in a savior slain before the world was. God has a people who he has prepared to receive his Word and of them he will lose none. They possess an imputed righteousness paid for by the Blood of a slain substitute and will in the last day be found blameless though their sins be many. Which Jesus will you worship?
All I see here are a bunch of complainers and cry babies. I’m also not a promoter of Mr. Osteen yet you so called Christians are worse than the sinners you preach about. While Thousands have turned to God through Joel Osteen ministries you guys have managed to convert how many of us sinners to Christ? Instead you sit on here sounding like a bunch of jealous house wives who are mad because although you claim your spiritual your not. Instead of proclaiming your bible to others your interest lie in bashing others who don’t do things “your way”. You Christians fight more over each other than the lost do. It’s rather sad and pathetic to watch yet it does bring a smile to my face knowing while your putting on your sunday smile, your spending the rest of the week trying to bash others on this forum. Your faith is a personal responsibility. Stop worrying about what others are doing and worry about how YOU will be judged when the time comes. Can you with absolute certainty say that GOD agrees with you on your stance about Joel Osteen? If you have that certainty then maybe you are misled. If you don’t have that certainty then you might start preparing an answer for your day before the throne when you have to account for your actions. Note I said your actions! When your judgement comes I’m sure it will not be based on the actions of someone else such as Joel Osteen! You guys can’t even manage to believe the same things. You have multiple bible translations and multiple church denominations that are a product of your fighting with each other over what “GOD” really thinks and has to say lol. Have a nice day my fellow hypocrites.
You seemed to have missed the point completely. Your attention to grammar and logic bears a striking similarity to the way Joel Osteen treats Scripture itself, which is to say with very little care. It seems plenty of people continue to ask this question as this post remains the most visited one on this blog (based on the stats I can see when I wander over here to check anyway). The sad thing is that this simple question continues to go unanswered. Not a single person who has appeared to “defend” Joel over the years has been able to give a simple answer to this one question. I admit, I am not holding my breath. I see no need to answer any of your questions if you can’t answer the first one posed. (Hint: it is the title of the post)
Hope for Today Edition of New Living Translation. I don’t have one to check for sure. Maybe the Hope for Today Edition is slightly different than the New Living Translation.