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Visionary/Revival & Personal
Bible Prophecy






by Jacques More

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The reality this is needed for the saints,
but it is missing elsewhere (Is it anywhere else?)

Matthew 13:33 – Luke 13:20-21
Here is an example of a mistranslation due to a basic and simple word tria = "three" not being translated. This parable depends on the word "three" to be understood and without it prevents this parable to be of any use at all.

The translator, having no understanding of what was meant in the text and for the sake of being seen to produce a version in "modern" English does not translate this word but instead replaces it with an alternative which removes any possibility of any one understanding the parable.

Let me make this plain, Jesus' parable of the 3 (1+1+1) measures of meal makes no sense whatsoever as one "large amount" NIV. The same is true of The Good News Translation "with a bushel of flour" or The message "the dough for dozens of loaves of barley bread" in Matthew or "enough dough for three loaves of bread" as in Luke [awful!] and others. Though in the NIV a note is added in both places of Matthew 13:33 and Luke 13:21 to show Jesus mentions "three", the focus of the note is on the quantity and not the actual number "three". Here is the note: "Greek three satas (probably about 3/5 bushel or 22 litres)": thus revealing the purpose of the word "three" is not understood.

The deal here is the bible is not like other books. It is the inspired word of God. And the less accurate you are with the translation the more you lose (often) from the meaning. There is a place for paraphrase and I fully approve of them. But to make claim of a translation to accuracy when it is clearly more a paraphrase than a translation does not help with sound doctrine or beneficial teaching. This parable is a good example of that and is a pointer to place the NIV in a category of a mistranslated paraphrase version here.

The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.

Matthew 13:33 NIV

Here is the NKJV translation.

The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.

Matthew 13:33 NKJV

Now, I need to compliment the NIV for bringing up to date the language with terms such as "yeast" instead of "leaven" as well as "flour" and "dough" instead of "meal" and "leavened". Equally "mixed into" is more understandable than "hid in". But the very purpose of the parable is lost by having "a large amount" when "three measures" is at the heart of the thinking behind the parable. Of course it does not help translators when they rely on current dogma, teaching and belief about a passage rather than the correct grammar and actual inspired words involved in Greek. Perhaps, if the meaning of this story by Jesus was widely spread, the Greek word treis, (tria) for "three" would never have been removed in the "translation" of this passage.

So, let's explain the importance of the 3 in this passage.

To begin let's note that Jesus is quoted as teaching this alongside another parable which is written before the 3 measures of meal parable.

The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.

Matthew 13:31–32

In Luke 13:18–21 and Matthew 13:31–33 we find both these parables together. In Mark 4:30–32 we find the mustard seed into a tree parable on its own and Mark does not contain the other parable. But where the 3 measures of meal parable is, the other is there preceding it.

Jesus here tells 2 separate stories in regards to the kingdom of heaven and its relationship with a person. These are together because 2 separate emphases are told us in how kingdom life comes about in the life of the individual:

The first involves a hidden and natural progressive growth which develops without conscious effort into a full blown fruitful life in the kingdom of God. The mustard seed becomes a full grown tree.

The second parable – the one to uncover and explain – involves the 3 separate amounts of meal or flour to be handled and speaks of the personal conscious effort and responsibility of the individual to work things through.

In Jesus' day and for many centuries later, let alone today in remote or less developed world economic societies, the 2nd parable makes easier sense. The daily need and practise to knead dough in the making of bread or other flour based food is a world apart from many lives today. A trip to the supermarket, the local bakery or even a daily delivery by your milkman (UK) removes the experience and appreciation of what is involved in making bread.

What is involved?
If you have a large amount of dough to prepare, then it needs separating into workable batches. This is because if you are alone and indeed both parables talk about a single person, then you need to set aside what is not physically possible to deal with on your own until the first batch is fully prepared. There is a lot of effort and concentration in kneading a batch of dough. The yeast that has been added to the ready mix of flour and water needs to be "worked in" very thoroughly. This is done by kneading: the work of massaging and thoroughly mixing the ingredients together. And here is the point of having 3 batches mentioned. You cannot move on to the 2nd batch until you have fully finished handling and mixing thoroughly the 1st batch. And you cannot go on to handle the 3rd batch until you have thoroughly mixed the 2nd. The idea then is of handling what is manageable one at a time. If only 2 batches had been mentioned, in practise you can get away with mixing them all at once together, it just takes a little longer. But in having 3 batches you cannot. There really is too much to handle at once. There is no need to mention more than 3 because the multitude is not the issue, but the very need to handle a manageable batch of dough to permeate with yeast at any one time. This is the point of the parable.

In our lives there are issues of sin one may be struggling with, or an area of character that is particularly challenging, or an area of opportunity the Lord has placed before us. The deal is some of these things require our full and undivided conscious attention before one can move on to the next issue in hand. So, the need is to recognise what is the most important thing the Lord sees as required for us to concentrate on at this time. The enemy would want to discourage us by pointing to other things that are needful also. But the Lord expects and encourages us to deal with what we can handle one at a time. To leave the rest aside whilst the one is thoroughly mixed into the kingdom life pattern required.

Christians are encouraged to be Overcomers
Jesus said,

To him who overcomes I will give . . .

Revelation 2:7, 17, (see also 2:11, 26; 3:5, 12, 21)

But also, not to be overly troubled,

For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

Matthew 11:30

The reason the 2 parables are together is that a personal balance is to be gained. The work of the kingdom involves letting God patiently work in and through us his will, purposes and transformation as well as knowing the individual things we are faced with handling and dealing with ourselves.

Another good use of the three measure of meal parable is to combine it with Jesus' mention of needing to be single of eye.

The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.

Matthew 6:22

Yes, I did say "single". Here it is in the Authorised Version (KJV).

The light of the body is the eye. If therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

Matthew 6:22 KJV

The Greek word for "good" is agathos. Here the Greek word in the sentence is haploos, found here in its declension haplous. This word is only found twice in the New Testament; the other text which contains it is the parallel passage in Luke 11:34. The word is related to haplotés and haplós which mean "simplicity", "sincerity", "purity" and the latter, "simply", "sincerely". I suppose not dissimilarly to apistos the Greek word for "unbelieving", "unfaithful" which is in contrast to pistos for "believing", "faithful", so haploos can be contrasted to plousios which means "rich", "abounding in", "full" (could plousios be a source of the word "plus"?).

So, haploos in contrast is to be "single", "alone" or clearly seeing only one thing – in that sense – to be with only one "simple" view of what one sees: Hence the fact of its translation as "single" of eye in the KJV. If you combine this idea of being single minded with the 3 measures of meal parable where the person is to concentrate on one thing at a time, then it is useful in teaching to live a moment at a time with all one's mind and heart and strength involved in the moment. To build the kingdom one moment and one task at a time fully concentrating on that: with excellence in the little things, in the moment, thus producing over time a beautiful and well crafted whole.

So, what do you think? Is the following paraphrase close in giving the meaning of our passage?

Another story. "God's kingdom is like yeast that a woman works into the dough for dozens of loaves of barley bread–and waits while the dough rises."

Matthew 13:33 The message

It is important then for translators of any language – and this is translation 101 – to understand what is being said before attempting to put this to another set of words in a different language.

The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into three measures of flour until it was all worked through the dough.

Matthew 13:33 JM

Unless otherwise stated Bible quotes are from the New King James Version

© copyright Thomas Nelson Inc. 1979,1980,1982.

© copyright Jacques More 2011, 2018. All Rights Reserved.

INFORMATION On copying & on giving

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