You’ve probably never thought about it, but yes, Jesus used a translation of what we call the Old Testament. As you may know, the majority of the Old Testament was written originally in Hebrew, while the New Testament was written in Koine Greek (or Common Greek)—the language of His time.
Even if you know that, you may have never realized that Jesus didn’t exclusively read from Hebrew copies of God’s Word, but from Greek translations of God’s Word.
So what translation of the Old Testament did Jesus use? He used the Septuagint (also known as the LXX). The word septuagint comes from the Latin word for seventy—that’s what LXX means in Roman numerals. Why seventy? Tradition has it that seventy-two translators all worked on this translation from Hebrew to Greek—they didn’t call it seventy-two because “seventy” flows so much better. You know, marketing.
That’s also why in some of your Bibles you will see “LXX” as a footnote. Why was this translation necessary? Much of the ancient world was united into a common culture and language after the conquest of Alexander the Great—this process was called Hellenization or the “greek-a-fying” of the world. Matter of fact, the culture and language was changing so fast that many Jewish people were forgetting their own Hebrew language or not being raised to speak Hebrew at all—this was especially true of Jewish people who were not living in the land of Judea like Egypt or modern-day Turkey.
This is a huge problem—people need to understand the language their sacred text is written in! The Septuagint was the first time EVER a significant religious text was translated from one language to another. Now this doesn’t mean that Jesus never used a Hebrew Old Testament—no. As a rabbi, Jesus undoubtedly knew Hebrew and probably used it in the Temple and in synagogues—but Jesus often spoke the common people’s language—Greek.
If we stopped here, this blog would be pretty factual but not very helpful to us personally—so let’s take it a step further. Do you remember a single time Jesus calls out the Septuagint for being wrong or for not getting some phrasing just right from the original Hebrew? Nope. What about Peter, or John, or Paul? Nope. Jesus and the apostles all felt comfortable with this translation.
As a matter of fact, all three of these men quote from the Septuagint in their New Testament writings. They trusted translations, and so can we. God doesn’t only work in the original languages of the Bible, He works in the language you understand. God’s Word is still active, powerful, and true even though it has been translated from its original languages. God is bigger than the words we use.
God wants to use your copy of God’s Word—in whatever translation you have—to change your life and eternity.
(A huge shoutout to Lifeword for sponsoring this video. Lifeword has a HUGE collection of Christian programming you can trustand it’s all available for streaming and download. Head over to Lifeword.org to check out the full collection. Oh, and did I mention that it’s not just English—there are tons of programs in other languages including Spanish so head over and check them all out—there’s so much there!)
See you next time—grace and peace.