Changing Words; Changing Ways; Changing God…

A recent article in the BBC news is about body scanners being used in some Los Angeles (USA) subways.  Subway officials apparently touted the new scanners as ‘voluntary,’  but those refusing to go through the scanner won’t be allowed on the subway.

I don’t know about you, but to me that is a complete changing of the meaning of the word ‘voluntary.’  It has been made into its exact opposite: ‘required.’

This isn’t the only example of words having their meanings drastically changed recently.  It’s happening somewhat frequently, especially by special interest groups wanting to spread their philosophy of life and its rampantly done in politics.

Isaiah 5:20 states, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, …” (ESV).

So what should believers in God and followers of Yeshua (Jesus) do about this?

First, learn to recognize when, where and how this is happening.  Then learn the truth.

Why, you ask?  Because, over time, the new definition of word will become the accepted norm, even when it is against God’s word, or at the expense of a group of people.

Take the onslaught against Israel as an example.

Israel is called ‘apartheid’, yet nowhere in Israel’s laws or culture do you find a people group discriminated against.  That is what ‘apartheid’ means, such as what one had in S. Africa where it was encoded into law that one group of people was lower then another.  We all know that ‘apartheid’ is bad, so when a group accuses Israel as being an apartheid state because of the Palestinian situation, you, as a reader, immediately associate a negative thought with Israel even if there is no truth to it.  (If you want to claim that Israel is an apartheid state because of the lot the Palestinians are in, you desperately need to read about real apartheid, such as what was happening in S. Africa some decades ago.  That was apartheid.  And also about the history of the Palestinians.)

Another example is how we redefine words in the Bible to fit what we want to hear.

Paul writes, in a negative fashion, about people observing different days, seasons and years.  A typical reader, who has heard and is perhaps even knowledgeable in Christian theology, will immediately associate this reference as Paul speaking against observing God’s sabbath or feast days.  ‘Days, seasons and years’ is changed to “Sabbath, feasts, and other ‘Jewish’ observances.”  The whole context of who the letter is being written to, Paul’s beliefs, and Paul’s actions is completely ignored.  The letter is written (mostly) to Gentiles, and the Gentile world back then was full of all sorts of observances of days and times and season.  That was a normal part of gentile life!  And Paul himself is seen observing both the Sabbath and some feast days in the book of Acts!  If he really meant to speak negatively about those things, then he disqualifies himself as someone to be listened to.

Lastly there is Yeshua’s use of the word ‘food’ in the gospel of Mark, where it is written, “…by this he declared all food clean.”  Ignored is the immediate context of what is being written about.  Ignored is also the fact that Jews back then weren’t sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for someone to tell them that pork was to be eaten!  They didn’t even consider it food, just as I don’t consider worms, ants, or insects as food even though others do.  When someone says ‘food’ to me, I don’t start thinking about those things at all.  Not even a smidgen.

In the same way, when the word ‘food’ was mentioned to the ancient Jews, their thoughts were about those things they considered food (which were those things God called clean)!  They would have immediately understood that Yeshua (Jesus) was stating that the washing of hands before eating had no impact on whether a food was clean or not clean, as the Pharisees were claiming.

So, be it in every day life, politics, or reading our Bibles, be aware of changing what words mean!


  • Yosef


2 thoughts on “Changing Words; Changing Ways; Changing God…

  1. If I remember correctly, “by this He declared all foods clean” is not even found in the manuscripts. It is literally added in by the Christian English translators! But yes, when they heard “food”, pig didn’t come to mind.
    As for the pagan gentile feasts that Paul railed against, one evolved into our Christmas, and another into Easter.
    And another example about the changing of the words is the word “gay”, which used to simply mean “happy”.
    Another example is the word “Apocrypha”. It is a fact that that word was not applied to the Biblical books it now refers to until a few centuries ago. Before that, it meant spurious writings like the Gospel of Thomas that were Gnostic and never accepted. And yet, dishonest (or perhaps uninformed – dangerous in an apologist) Protestant apologists will take quotes from the church fathers condemning “apocryphal” works out of context, and apply them to the modern-day Apocrypha, and insist this is proof that the books we call the Apocrypha were never accepted! Quite deceptive.

    1. Thanks for the info. I didn’t know that about the word ‘apocrypha.’ It isn’t surprising, though.

      You remember correctly about that verse in Mark where Yeshua (Jesus) is quoted as declaring “all foods clean.” It isn’t in the earlier manuscripts that we have. I just didn’t want to include that information in my post. The study of manuscripts is not something most people consider, and when they come into contact with such information, I find it is usually met with extreme skepticism, especially when an important foundation to a particular doctrine is undermined with the information.

      And though I agree with you in principle about Christmas and Easter, I’m not sure I would use the word ‘evolved.’ My understanding is that those holidays are more a conglomeration of various traditions that were added over time…. which, when I think about it, is a definition of ‘evolve’, so I guess that word is fine.

      As for words changing meaning, that is one reason I really like Hebrew. It is very difficult (though not impossible) to change a word’s meaning in Hebrew as all words have a 3 letter root. The root meaning can not change. But English changes all the time and the current “political correctness” agenda has accelerated that change.

      – Yosef

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