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How much of the Bible is needed? November 23, 2017

Posted by P, J, or J in Uncategorized.

Are there any books of the Bible you’ve never read?

Any chapters you’ve never heard preached on?

Any verses that no-one shares on facebook?

How much of the Bible do we actually need?



Many Christians like to point to 2 Timothy 3:16
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness" 2Tim3:16 NIV

…and many who quote that verse don’t recognise that in most translations that isn’t even the end of the sentence.

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 


The chapters and verse markers are a late invention, a handy way of dividing the Bible up so that we can find bits of it. Does “all scripture” mean each verse has equal weight or does it mean that we are meant to look at the whole story in order to know more of God and be “equipped for every good work”.

Because we can count the number of languages with “some scripture” some organisations will tell you that speakers of 3,797 languages don’t have a single verse. (some of them may, we don’t have figures on whether single verses have been translated, just on when significant portions have been checked and published)


Consequently it might need less than 3,797 verses translated before everyone has ‘something’ in their language. We could pick a short one such as John 11:35 “Jesus wept”. But while those two words may speak to the compassion of Christ you need a bit more detail to know why he wept and what amazing thing he did next.

Translating a single verse into every language isn’t enough. Neither is translating a single chapter, or a single book, or even the whole New Testament.

The full Bible is available in 670 languages. Speakers of another 1521 have the New Testament and some of those have some books or selections from the Old Testament. In another 1121 languages there are published selections and stories. So, speakers of 2642 languages have access to some scripture in their own language but must wait for more.

If all scripture is God breathed then surely everyone should have access to all scripture?

As to whether that means the full Bible needs to be translated into every language that’s something I’ll address in another chapter. You don’t mind waiting do you?

(2017 statistics from wycliffe.net/statistics )




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