Two weeks ago my wife and I had the joyful privilege of observing our youngest grandchild dedicated to the Lord at the church that her family attends. In the Bible study following the dedication one of the verses the pastor referred to was Hebrews 1:3. He quoted the verse from a translation that said that the Father’s Son upholds the universe by
the word of his power
I can’t help it, certain wordings stand out to me when I hear them, and this is one of them. It especially stood out because the preacher emphasized the words, pronouncing distinctly and loudly. I wondered what “the word of his power” means. I also wondered if this English wording matched the meaning that the writer of the book of Hebrews intended.
One of the last stages in the production of a translation of the Bible to any language should be a check among speakers of that language to discover what meanings they get from wordings in the translation. We went through this checking process before publishing the Bible in the Cheyenne language. And it is good that we did because we discovered several wordings which did not communicate to other Cheyennes the meaning that we on the translation team intended. Revision was required until comprehension matched intended meaning. I now check translations in other languages, and sometimes I ask a translation team what meaning speakers of that language get from some phrase in the translation.
What do you think “the word of his power” means? Please don’t say what you think it should mean; that wouldn’t be an accurate assessment of the translation wording itself, would it?
Does this phrase sound like it is a word (or message) about the Son’s power? Or does it sound like it is a word produced by the Son’s power? Or does it sound like something else to you?
Remember, we’re just checking what meaning you get from the English wording “the word of his power.” In this process, called comprehension checking, we are not checking exegesis, so we should not refer to the original Greek behind this phrase, or any extrabiblical literature. There are other kinds of checks which can refer to the original Greek or to extrabiblical literature, but this check is solely a comprehension check, what you yourself understand the phrase to mean.