The Message “Bible” Part 2


The following  posts are excerpted from The Message “Bible”–  by John Lanagan* – and Dove  Ministries – Bill Subritzky. Both writers are veterans in Bible scholarship. by John Lanagan

Many of you reading this might have been raised on The Message, or have heard your Pastor preach from nothing but The Message.  After all, The Message has been endorsed by numerous well-known Christians and has been with us for a long time now. People appreciate its everyday, accessible language. So this booklet may come as a bit of a shock. The following is simply to demonstrate that there are deletions, additions and alterations throughout The Message.  Yet, Deuteronomy 4:2 states emphatically:

You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.

In an interview with Christianity Today, Eugene Peterson described the beginning of the creative process that produced The Message: “I just kind of let go and became playful. And that was when the Sermon on the Mount started. I remember I was down in my basement study, and I did the Beatitudes in about ten minutes. And all of a sudden I realized this could work.” 

Let’s compare some Message versions with more standard versions.

Psalms 1:1 ( New King James Version)

Blessed is the man

Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,

Nor stands in the path of sinners,

Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;

The Message

How well God must like you – you don’t hang out at Sin Saloon, you don’t slink along Dead – End Road, you don’t go to Smart – Mouth College.

Why has Eugene Peterson done all this? The Message, bluntly stated, seems written to make Christians less knowledgeable about the Word of God. While that may seem a strong comment, consider what Eugene Peterson himself said about the Bible:

Why do people spend so much time studying the Bible? How much do you need to know? We invest all this time in understanding the text, which has a separate life of its own, and we think we’re being more pious and spiritual when we do it. . . . [Christians] should be studying it less, not more. You just need enough to pay attention to God. . . . I’m just not pleased with all the emphasis on Bible study as if it’s some kind of special thing that Christians do, and the more they do the better.

What kind of message is THE MESSAGE?

Written by Berit Kjos, a respected researcher and author.


The consequences of twisting God’s holy Word are devastating. Throughout history, whenever God’s people followed distorted teaching and ignored genuine truth, they would compromise with popular culture and drift back to earth-centered spirituality. It’s happening all around us today. 

In contrast, the Word of God encourages us:

Study to show yourself  approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

The Lord commands us to neither add to nor delete from the Bible. We see this in Deuteronomy 4:2 and 12:32 (Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.) Proverbs 4:20-21, 30:5-6, 1 Corinthians 4:6, 2 Corinthians 4:2, and Revelation 22:19.

But how can we understand God’s Truth when Truth is no longer there to be read?

Satan has always tried to twist or deny the truth of God’s Word (Genesis 3:1-5). Jesus Christ Himself showed us the importance of the Word of God. When the devil tempted Him in the wilderness, Christ fought the devil’s lies and temptation by answering with Scripture. Three times our Lord responded with “It is written” (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10).  by Bill Subritzky

“The Message” is one man’s translation as opposed to the New King James Version which was produced by 130 top Biblical scholars. 

The plan of the enemy is to create ignorance as to what sin really is. On the other hand, the Scriptures are very clear and define sin exactly.

It is therefore extremely sad to see that a work such as “The Message” omits much of what the Scripture calls sin and there is gross error on such matters as holiness. So far as our Christian walk is concerned these are basic issues. If sin is going to be dispensed with, or at the very least minimized, then the work of the Cross is nullified.

It is for these reasons that I now make the following comments concerning “The Message”.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10

(NKJV): “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, [10] nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”

(The Message):  “Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it don’t qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom.”


In “The Message” the work of the Holy Spirit is limited by omitting the words: “fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, sodomites, thieves, covetous, drunkenness, revilers, extortioners”. Thus ten categories of sinners who will not inherit the Kingdom of God is reduced to a group who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it!

The fact that the person may be having sex outside of marriage, or be an adulterer or a homosexual or a sodomite does not matter so long as they are not using or abusing sex or using or abusing each other. Thus the Word of God is completely changed to make it say exactly the opposite to its original meaning.

We note the use of the words “use and abuse the earth and everything in it”. This is shades of New Age and Environmentalism and is a complete departure from the Word of God. The point is made that we must be concerned for the earth but all reference to sinners such as fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, etc. is completely omitted. Surely every danger signal is now triggered.

Hebrews 10:31

(NKJV): “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

(The Message) “nobody’s getting by with anything, believe me.”


Thus dire warning in the Word of God that: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” is watered down to: “nobody’s getting away with anything, believe me.”

1 Peter 4:18

(NKJV): Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved,

Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?”

(The Message) “If good people barely make it, what’s in store for the bad?”


This equates being righteous with being good. [This is not what the Bible says.]


I have only highlighted some of the discrepancies between “The Message” and the true Word of God.

When Jesus was tempted by the devil He responded to the devil on three occasions by saying: “It is written”. That shows the importance that Jesus Himself placed on the exact Word of God. In the case of “The Message” we find that the Word of God has been drastically altered, thus reducing it, or in some cases eliminating its authority or changing its meaning completely.

All Scripture is inspired. 2 Timothy 3:16. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,”

By altering its meaning so drastically in so many cases the author of “The Message” has attacked its very inspiration.

At best “The Message” is an aberration. At worst it is a corruption of the word of God. The fact that it is entitled: “The New Testament in contemporary English” will lead many young and innocent Christians to believe it is the true Word of God. As can be seen from the above they will have no true understanding of the meaning of sin and any other issues such as holiness. These are fundamental aspects of the true faith.

Pastors who use this translation are in grave danger of misleading their flocks. In no way can this work be commended for Bible study for use in churches. In fact it can be used as a potent instrument against those who seek to preach true righteousness, conviction of sin and of the day of judgement. In other words it can hinder the work of the Holy Spirit, in the hearts of many, thus causing them to stumble.

Jesus said: 

Mark 9:42

And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.”

I tremble for those who promote or use “The Message”.

The Message “Bible” Omits “Lord Jesus” 

The King James Bible refers to Jesus as “Lord Jesus” about 115 times. The New King James Bible uses this term about the same amount of times and the New American Standard about 100 times. How many times does Eugene Peterson’s The Message use the phrase “Lord Jesus”? Not once. Never. (Check it out at (



John 1: 1,14  

MSG: “The Word was first, the Word present to God, God present to the Word. The Word was God, in readiness for God from day one. The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.

KJV: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  . . And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (Editor: The word dwelt has a distinct significance in this sentence. It means tabernacle.  Jesus did not merely “move into the neighborhood.” He  came to tabernacle among His people just as He did with the Israelites in the wilderness to be close to them. There is an intimacy and holiness that is totally missing if the word dwelt is omitted. Words matter).

Romans 12:1 

MSG:  ‘Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.’

KJV:  “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”

Ephesians 5:8-10

MSG:  ‘Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it.’

KJV:  “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth) proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.”

Genesis 6:8

MSG:  ‘Noah was a pleasure to the Lord.’

KJV:  “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” (Editor: Grace is not just pleasure.  It is God choosing to bless us not curse us because of our sins).

Exodus 34:14

MSG:  ‘He is a God who is passionate about his relationship with you.’

KJV:  “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a-whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice.”

(Editor: all honor and glory rightfully belongs to God and He will not share it with another. The holiness and reverence are missing from the MSG version)


MSG: Scripture reassures us, “No one who trusts God like this—heart and soul—will ever regret it.” It’s exactly the same no matter what a person’s religious background may be: the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help. “Everyone who calls, ‘Help, God!’ gets it. (Editor: no mention of salvation is spoken of )

KJV: For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Additional Sources:

Reputable Source from whom to purchase $1.95 booklets on over 100 booklets:

Lighthouse Trails Publishing

P.O. Box 908

Eureka, MT 59917              866-876-3910 

*The John Lanagan booklet “The Message “Bible” A Breach of Truth” is sold at Lighthouse Trails for $1.95. 

Eugene Peterson’s “Mixed Message: Subversive Bible for a New Age” is also sold at Lighthouse Trails for $1.95

**If any of you have come in contact with a book called Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster or a course or teaching using the terms spiritual exercises, spiritual formation, contemplative spirituality, taize,  entering the silence, or meditation, could you please contact me? I once did a 150 page research paper on those topics.  (I promise to significantly condense it)