In Defense of Paraphrase Bibles






A friend of mine posted an anti-paraphrase bible post the other day.

I realized it was an indirect attempt to bring some fear-based correction to me, seeing how over-the-top I was about the Mirror Bible.

Which led me to share some of my thoughts on paraphrasing.

Most every sermon given or Christian book written is an attempt at paraphrasing…

My testimony is a paraphrasing that helps makes truth come alive…

Paraphrasing has been helpful to me over my whole spiritual journey; bringing scripture home, helping it land…

I’m thankful for those who dedicated their lives to paraphrasing…

ie. The Living Bible, The Cotton Patch Version, Message Bible, The Passion Translation to name a few, and my most recent discovery, The Mirror Bible!

Most of my life I pursued a relationship with a “distant” God through scripture, starting with the KJV, then NAS and finally the NIV; that was how we were taught.

Sin, we were told had separated us from God and through a series of spiritual disciplines, one being daily Bible reading, we could have a relationship with that God…

A few years back I grew tired of it all and quit on God. Thankfully He didn’t quit on me.

In recent years, having thrown out much of the theology I’d grown up on (a very freeing experience I might add), I have been discovering in new ways the goodness of God in the Gospel.

During this fresh journey of rediscovering Jesus, the Message was such a refreshing grace filled Paraphrase; which then opened me to the Mirror Bible…

It’s approach to scripture and our identity is through the lens of the incarnation, a God who is nearer to us than the air we breathe.

As a result, I’m re-discovering God afresh, not just in the pages of scripture but all around me, and in my fellow human beings of every description.

I searched the scripture to find life and usually ended up with a theology that didn’t bring life. Through the Mirror I’ve found the invitation to come to the author of life Himself.

If life could have been found in scripture, we wouldn’t have needed the incarnation, God in a human body.

And in the person of Jesus and the finished work of the cross I’m discovering my own completion in Him.

What a joy it has been; daily, with tears flowing down my face, discovering that the good news has always been better than I’d imagined…

A paraphrase recently confirmed God’s pursuit of me in the incarnation. And with it a fresh revelation and confirmation in my spirit of who I’ve always been in Him, my original identity and value by design.

It’s fun when a Paraphrase brings clarity to verses that once left me orphaned and instead affirm who I already am by design.

There is no separation, never has been, except in our minds and in our interpretations.

Lloyd Clark 
is an entrepreneur, a former pastor, and a writer. He is passionate about being loved by our Heavenly Father and revealing that same love to everyone he meets. He and his wife Mary have 5 children and 7 grandchildren and live in North Carolina.


  1. Allen Kemp

    Thanks for sharing this Jason. My wife loves The Message. When the Living Bible and the “Good News for Modern Man” New Testament (CEV) came out when I was in high school I so loved them as they made the Bible come alive and address me personally. It has to be like when the first Bibles were printed in The 15th C in the vernacular of the people and not just read by Latin speaking priests. Life changing. World changing.

    But there is no substitute for what came off the pens of the original writers. We should all have a more literal version like NASB or NKJV in one hand, an NIV or ESV or NRSV in the middle (hand- haha) and our fav paraphrase in the other hand.

    The “lens” in which the translator(s) use is a huge factor. One should read the intro to their translation to understand what the translators were working towards. I am loving how God speaks to me with my rather limited knowledge of Greek and Hebrew but Bible apps really help.

    • Jason Clark

      Hey Allen, thanks for sharing! Love your thoughts and you guys even more! My dad wrote this and I imagine he will get on at some point to connect with you.

      I too know the joy of new paraphrases and agree, it must be like when the Bible was first printed, its so much fun. I love The Message, and The Passion version has been refreshing, and of course, I love The Mirror as well. I appreciate that it includes a commentary and I appreciate the author’s “lens”.

      And I am with ya, I often will read a verse(s) and then go to my Bible Hub app and read the verse(s) in many translations so I can more fully understand.

      Lots of love to you guys!

  2. Bob Oostra

    Thank you, Jason, for making it so clear and true to me how deeply God love us (me) and how well Jesus showed us.
    I have no words, other than I thank God for you.

    • Jason Clark

      Thanks, Bob! My dad Lloyd wrote this but I’m very much with him 🙂 I’ll pass along your encouragement and likely he gets on here as well. Blessings!

  3. Matt Ziemer

    I have used many translations over the years. Currently have a NKJV and an ESV I bounce between primarily. K have enjoyed checking verses out in the CJB also lately. I have dipped into paraphrases but never to ssriously. Just wondering how the ” ministry of reconciliation” fits in with “no separation” in your view? Thank you!

  4. Tineke Ziemer

    “If life could have been found in scripture, we wouldn’t have needed the incarnation, God in a human body.”

    – Exactly!!

    The whole point of sitting down and opening up the Bible is to actually hang out with God through the experience, which I find is also so true of almost any activity I do where I open myself up to encountering him. A walk through the forest, a cup of tea on my deck, listening to the words of a song (often not “Christian”), snuggling with my children… I could go on! God’s Word is Jesus, who meets us wherever we are. My eyes began to open widely when I first read the Message paraphrase and it left me realizing that my “life of freedom” for the past 38 years was a life of bondage to religion. That eye-opening experience led me here to A Family Story where I read “We are So Worth the Blood of Jesus” and my life was completely changed in an instant. Encounter has the power to set free, whereas religion sucks all the power out of you.

    Thank you for the seeds you plant, Lloyd!

  5. Lloyd Clark

    Thanks for the comments…

    Here’s a comment from a long time friend who had no problem saying how he truly felt😃
    “The Bible, any version thereof, is itself a paraphrase. Yes, even the King James Version, the version the apostle Paul “would have used.” There were no stenographers or dictaphones and every insistence that this version or that is the unadulterated Word is pure fantasy at best and delusion at worst. Then, add to that the intellectually dishonest methods of hermeneutics taught as the right and proper method of understanding what God meant based on the insistence of an unadulterated version and proper interpretation techniques (itself a hubristic proposal) and the self-righteousness and sanctimony becomes over-powering. But it gets worse. Get a fundamentalist engaged and you’ll know just how pedantic and pointless it has become. Despite their insistence, there is no such thing as orthodoxy. Every attempt to define it is an exercise in controlling everyone else. After 25 years (ending about 25 years ago) my well-intended attempts to enable leaders of churches and Christian organizations to become even more effective as leaders, I gave up. Time after time after time after time I encountered nearly no one who wanted to become more effective. They wanted to demonstrate to their peers and their communities that they were right and everyone else was wrong. (There were exceptions but very, very, very few.) …The pursuit of orthodoxy is a cruel and dark way to live. I’m ecstatic that I gave it all up…”

    here’s some of my own additional thoughts…

    I too believe that all meticulous attempts at interpretation are themselves paraphrases, whether they’re put together by a group of theologians or by individuals.

    The only authentic word of God is a person, Christ himself and in his physical departure, the Holy Spirit was imparted with the promise that he would lead us into that same incarnate authenticity, (truth.)

    Authenticity is not a concept, a construct, a doctrine or a theological view; it is the very person of Christ, the living word, in me, and transformation the fruit.

    I no longer fear getting it wrong. Or miss-interpreting scripture. Here I am, with Holy Spirit in me, correcting, admonishing, adjusting and encouraging from the inside out…Not so I can win a theological debate, but so that my life reflects the authentic Christ within. You can’t get it wrong. Ha ha!

    Theres nothing safer than the love of God. The only trust worthy safe place is this union, this oneness, this intimacy…
    The only unsafe place is fear, fearing it can’t be this easy, fearing that I may get it wrong.

    I’ve been wrong about many things in regards to religion, and I’ve been dogmatically wrong. This I know. Truth lives in me and I can trust him to get it right. I just get to go along for the ride, abide in his love…nothing to prove… nothing to fear.

    And regarding separation, nothing can separate you from the love of God. Nothing! We were only aliens in our minds. The lost coin was lost but it never lost its original value and inscription. In the incarnation God took on our humanity completely, even identifying with our sense of separation, “my God my God why have you forsaken me…”
    When Jesus died, he took humanity with him into his death, reconciling our alienated mindsets; when he rose mankind arose reconciled to God, our original identity intact.
    And when he ascended we ascended and are right now seated with him. We have been reunited in this place of oneness… restored to our original design and value.

    And Thanks Tineke, I just saw your note, couldn’t have said it better❤️😍🤩


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