Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
This verse directly echoes the message I preached yesterday morning! That in itself is a little exciting to me, but far more than that, the Japanese here clears up a theological problem I’ve had with every English translation I’ve looked at. Put into English, the Japanese says, “He was born before all that was created.” Jehovah’s Witnesses and others have used this verse to try to insist that Jesus wasn’t fully Divine, that He was merely a created being. Of course that flies in the face of many other passages, but the slight twist in expression clears that up even for this verse. For those who are as familiar as I am with the English Bible it doesn’t sound quite right, but it is theologically very satisfying indeed. To me this is further confirmation (as if I needed it) that the Bible is God’s Word, fully trustworthy and reliable.
I set these six verses to music back in 1978 (skipping over a little of the content) so changing the wording is jarring to me in a way, but as much as I deal with translating/interpreting on a daily basis, it is at the same time completely natural. I still go in and change things in some of the songs I’ve translated, for example, because my grasp of Japanese has gotten deeper. That aside, the issue of the divinity of Jesus is something I have to deal with frequently, ministering to Japanese. Japanese culture, and specifically Japanese Buddhism, essentially deifies every dead person, so you pray to your ancestors. That certainly clouds the issue! (They don’t say people become gods, but rather Buddhas, but that’s a semantic twist.) On top of that, Shinto, the older religion in Japan, ascribes deity to virtually every impressive natural feature, from the sun to waterfalls to big rocks to some trees. In fact, one Japanese name for their own country is “The Land of 8 Million Gods.” Expressing monotheism, and within that the Trinity, can be very challenging! However, God supplies the wisdom and the words necessary, so I’ve got to be yielded to Him and not try to do it on my own. That said, I’m thankful for the inspiration He gave the translators of the Shinkaiyaku Japanese Bible.
Father, thank You that You indeed resolve all problems of all sorts if they are genuinely yielded to You. Thank You for the training You have been giving us in that very area over this past month. Thank You that today I will be able to send a Balance Statement and a Letter of Intent to the owner of the land next door. I yield the matter of his response to that letter, and everything that happens after that, to You. May Your name be acknowledged as holy and Your kingdom come as Your will is done perfectly, not just in the matter of the land but in everything, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!