Hidden Bible Gem: Changed in a “Moment”

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In the past, we have looked at several translation errors that significantly changed meanings of certain Bible words. Today we’re going to check out one that was probably done unintentionally back when they translators didn’t understand a certain Greek word, but there is no excuse for it not being corrected in today’s versions, since we do know about this word now.

The Greek word in question is atomos. This is the word from which we get “atom,” and it means, “down to the smallest particle that cannot be cut in two or divided; indivisible; any of the indivisible particles postulated by philosophers as the basic component of all matter.” Check out where this word was used by Paul in 1 Cor. 15:51–52.

“Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye…”

The word moment is an incorrect translation of atomos, and completely disguises what Paul was trying to say. Let me show you:

“Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, down to the smallest, indivisible particle of our being, in the twinkling of an eye…”

Strong's Concordance #823

Now check out the Strong’s Concordance Definition so you can see how they will add an untrue definition just to make the word they used fit, even if it’s not the right definition. In other words, rather than correct the mistake, translators will follow the path of what others have done before, and will not make the correction, even though it’s been who knows how many centuries since we figured out the correct definition of atomos. If you look up the word origin in any dictionary, you will not find atomos being related to time or moments.

I’d like to point out one more beautiful truth about this passage in context. Read this:

Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Cor. 15:51–56

Who is the “all” in this passage? If you go back to verse 20 and read through the end, you find that the all is really everybody!

“For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order…” (vs. 22–23).

Paul is explicitly expounding on the words of Isaiah, that death will be victoriously conquered for all time for all people.

“He will swallow up death for all time, and the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces, and He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; for the LORD has spoken” (Isaiah 25:8).

Now that’s Good News!

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  • David

    Julie, you didn't go back far enough. Starting at vs 12 Paul clarifies who he is talking about. In context, the whole chapter and in fact the whole book is talking about those with "faith" in Christ. It's talking about the importance of Christ's resurrection to those who have faith. It's made clear because of phrases like "our preaching is useless and so is your faith." or "your faith is futile." and "those who have fallen asleep IN CHRIST". It's not referring at all to everyone but only those who had "faith in Christ"… because if Christ didn't rise from the dead "your faith is useless." Like my bible teacher used to always say… Context, Context, Context. The good news is Christ's grace for justification is available to anyone who has faith… no works needed, just a belief that Christ is who He said He was.

    • jferwerd

      Hey David. Thanks for commenting. Actually, in context, from verse 12-20 the point isn't faith in Christ, it's belief in a resurrection at all. Paul is saying that if Jesus didn't rise from the dead, our hope in a resurrection is in vain. That's what I read.

  • David

    Julie, howdy. I like that… that's my new name for you "Julie howdy". The point in this passage that our faith is in vain if Christ didn't rise from the dead. It states that clearly that Paul is talking about all of those who have "fallen asleep in Christ" will be made alive. If it's for everyone then what's faith for? … it is our faith really is in vain then.

    BTW, did you know that there are 1189 chapters in the bible and less than 10 chapters are about eternity? Read Majestic Destiny. That's a shameless plug.

    Grace and Peace,

    • jferwerd

      hahaha…yes, but there are TWO resurrections spoken of in Scripture. Paul often refers to the first resurrection to the believers, which is a resurrection of rewards. But the point is made in verses 22-23 that there is an order to resurrection, and others come later.

      Thanks for the reminder. Finals are next week and I'm finishing my book this week. After that, I look forward to diving in! I like the friendly bantering.. :D

      signed, Julie Howdy

  • Joy

    Julie, Couldn't "atomos" be referring to the concept of time rather than people and therefore be translated : in the smallest particle of time, which would then be "a moment"?

    • jferwerd

      Usually atoms refer to particles of matter, not time. Good thought though! How are you doing Joy?? Long time no hear!

      • Joy

        I'm fine, Julie. Nothing that God and I can't handle together.

  • Edward

    If i figured out what the bible was and had proof who would you tell, and if you only had a few months left to prove it or it will be gone forever how would you get that message out there fast before it was too late.

    • jferwerd

      Not really following you Edward. What are you getting at?

  • Acushla

    Dear Julie, Have you thought about Enoch during the Days of Noah how he was taken on his Birthday the Day of Pentecost which is the Birthday of the Ecclesia. The Feast of Pentecost is about the Firstfruits and Harvests and you know what the NT says about this. The Days of Noah commenced in 2010 with Record Breaking Flooding Rainfalls but the Rainbow Promise still holds true. All the other Signs are taking place for those who are Aware. I already subscribe and you can reply to my Email address.