I can’t help it… Words mean things, and I like to know just what each one means, and to use the right one to say what I intend to say.
Take the familiar quote, “The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable,” generally attributed to James A. Garfield, occasionally to other random people.
There’s a lot of truth to that quote; with human nature’s tendency to deceive itself, knowing the truth often makes for quite an adjustment. In fact, Garfield was actually springboarding from something Jesus said in John’s gospel, chapter 8.
“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” (Click here to read the whole chapter.)
But wait…. some translations of the Bible word that as “…truth will make you free.”
Well? Which is it–will the truth “make” or “set” me free? Does it matter? Maybe both mean the same thing?In English, the verb “set” has a bunch of meanings. But “set free” is a common expression. To me, it implies the victim was captured or trapped by someone else. They have no way to free themselves. So, to “set” someone free, you change the prisoner’s circumstance by dealing with the captor. You take the key and unlock the prison door.
The word “make” in the text also implies a change. But as used here, it suggests a different kind of change.
Ever had someone “make” you happy or angry? We say that when someone’s actions affect our mood.
So to me, saying something will “make you free” implies that the victim lacks freedom because of some internal lack or failure. He is his own prisoner. Here, the truth changes the circumstances by dealing with the prisoner.
Which is it, then? As sinners deceived by satan, do we need to be “set” free, or “made” free?
As near as I can figure, we need both.
Thanks for reading,
Maybe you should become a Bible translator. 🙂
If only I were smart enough!