In Luke 17, our scheduled reading today, I noted another departure of the Brazilian version, Nova Versão Internacional, from the American NIV which inspired it. Jesus told the Pharisees that “the kingdom of God is among you” or “in your midst.” So the NVI. But it can also legitimately be translated, “within you,” as the NIV does. The NVI doesn’t follow the NIV at this point.

The difference between the two provides more evidence that the Brazilian adaptation does not slavishly follow the English version. In fact, the NVI seems to favor the rendering that most of the major English versions do (see list below), since only the NIV and the NKJV render it with the idea of the kingdom being “within.” The NET Bible’s explanation for its choice is that Jesus would not say such a thing to the Pharisees, who rejected the kingdom.

Noteworthy that the 2011 update to the NIV prefers “in your midst.” But it was the previous edition that Brazilian translators used for their consultation.

NET – nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
NIV – nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.”
NASB – nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
NLT – You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is among you.”
NRSV – nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.”
NKJV – “nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”
ESV – nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”
HCSB – no one will say, ‘Look here!’ or ‘There!’ For you see, the kingdom of God is among you.”

Though we’re comparing the NIV and NVI, I couldn’t help but note that the ESV rendering, “in the midst of you,” is quite a wooden expression, and the NASB, supposedly the literal, stiff translation, comes out with the smooth phrase, “in your midst.”

Another possible rendering noted by some versions is, “within your grasp.” Within the context, this possibility seems to make even more sense than the other two. The Pharisees are thinking the kingdom is still far away, distant, yet to come, with Jesus the King standing in front of them. Jesus seems to say, “You can enter this kingdom here and now (yes, I understand the coming of the kingdom in Acts 2, but Jesus also makes it present in his person) by accepting me as the Messiah and submitting to my terms.”

Final note: This sense of the kingdom of God being in their midst already or within their grasp reminds me of Moses’ statement to Israel that “the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it” (Deut. 30:14 NIV).

If we want to find God, we can. If we want to understand his will, we can. If we want to enter his kingdom, enjoy its benefits, and put our hands to the task set out by the King, the door is right in front of us.

3 thoughts on “The NIV, NVI, and NIV 2011 on Luke 17:21

  1. Interesting. I just studied this passage last week in conjunction with a lesson based on Genesis 19. The NET Bible’s notes were of interest, and make sense to me. So it seems similar to His other statements that the Kingdom is at hand. Within grasp…

    On a peripheral note, would you not agree that we sometimes oversimplify Kingdom doctrine? It seems to me that the Kingdom of Heaven exists in both the temporal and the eternal planes, the kingdom/church therefore being a subset of the whole.

    • Hi, Emmett, thanks for the comment. Yes, I think so, I’ve usually described the church as being a subset of the kingdom, though I don’t know that I’ve used that term. I do like it! Good one. Haven’t thought about the kingdom on earth as being a subset of the heavenly, though. Have to mull that one over.

What do you think?