Last modified on January 6, 2023, at 17:30

The Message

The Message is a modern translation (or more accurately, a paraphrase) of the Holy Bible created by Pastor Eugene Peterson. The purpose of the translation was to capture what Peterson calls the "vitality and directness that I sensed as I read and studied the New Testament in its original Greek." Seeking to translate the Bible in a way that would read to English speakers as it would have read to Greek speakers, he wrote much of it in an informal fashion.[1]

This version is one of the very few to use the word "conservative" anywhere, in Galatians 2:11-13 (MSG):

Later, when Peter came to Antioch, I had a face-to-face confrontation with him because he was clearly out of line. Here’s the situation. Earlier, before certain persons had come from James, Peter regularly ate with the non-Jews. But when that conservative group came from Jerusalem, he cautiously pulled back and put as much distance as he could manage between himself and his non-Jewish friends. That’s how fearful he was of the conservative Jewish clique that’s been pushing the old system of circumcision. Unfortunately, the rest of the Jews in the Antioch church joined in that hypocrisy so that even Barnabas was swept along in the charade.

For example, the famous line from Psalm 23 "The Lord is shepherd, there is nothing I shall want" is translated in The Message as "God, my shepherd! I don't need a thing."[2] Some passages have been changed substantially in order to appear more exciting, such as in James 4:7, where "Resist the devil and he will flee from you" becomes "Yell a loud "No" to the devil and watch him scamper."[3]

Though sometimes a refreshing read, it is, on balance, a liberal rendition. On the positive side, it translates silent aftermath of the Apostles' argument about which of them was the greatest as "the silence was deafening." The Message is more conservative than the NIV with respect to describing the unborn child, as in Romans 9:10.[4] But an illustration of its liberal bias can be found in the all-important John 3:16: "... by believing in him anyone can have a whole and lasting life" (rather than "eternal life").

Terrific verses

The Message translates the admonition in Proverbs against gluttony exceptionally well: Proverbs 23:2-3 (MSG).


  4. See Disputed Bible Translations.