technology-and-the-SSHere is a question I often use when I write Sunday School Lessons: “How does your translation have. . .”

One of the best ways to get a quick grasp on what a verse is saying is to look at it in several translations. Take Romans 12.1 for example. Let’s look at this in a few translations. Notice the last phrase—translated, “reasonable act of service” in the old King James.

  • Romans 12:1 (NIV84) Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.
  • Romans 12.1 (NIV2011) Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
  • Romans 12:1 (CEV) Dear friends, God is good. So I beg you to offer your bodies to him as a living sacrifice, pure and pleasing. That’s the most sensible way to serve God.
  • Romans 12:1 (GW) Brothers and sisters, in view of all we have just shared about God’s compassion, I encourage you to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, dedicated to God and pleasing to him. This kind of worship is appropriate for you.
  • Romans 12:1 (ESV) I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
  • Romans 12:1 (NLT) And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.
  • Romans 12:1 (MSG) So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him
  • Romans 12:1 (NKJV) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

I normally include about this number of verses when I ask this type of question. In today’s world, it is easy to come up with this number of translations. Back in the day we were lucky to have an NIV, a KJV and a couple more. Today we have smart phones. With smart phone we have access to dozens of translations that you can compare and contrast on the fly. One good and free app for that is YouVersion. And people can look up the verses themselves. They can discover. People learn more from what they discover than what you tell them.
Note the difference between the NIV and NKV. Which is it—spiritual act of worship or reasonable service? That is the makings of a good Bible study.

The short answer is this: both are right. The first word can be translated either spiritual or reasonable. A quick trip to Logos reveals it is only used one other place. (I will show you how to do this in a later chapter.)

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. 1 Peter 2.2 – 3

The second word is more interesting. It is used 4 other times. Here is how the ESV has it in various places—(more on these graphs later). You can do this on your IPhone with the Logos app. Heads up: Logos has a free app for IPhone. The app includes a limited number of books. I want to warn you that once you get the program you are going to want more books. And more, and more, and more. That free app has cost me several thousands of dollars so far. Don’t say you were not warned. )


Josh Hunt. Technology and the Sunday School