2010 NIV and “Confess”

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Here is the breakdown of the 2010 NIV vs the NASB on “Confess” or “Confession”. All instances below (except for the one noted) are from the Greek word ομολογεω which can mean a variety of things but typically involves agreeing on the truthfuless of something sometimes with a public acknowledgement (BDAG, 708).  I selected the NASB over the 1984 NIV because they tend to keep the same English word for the underlying Greek word and it made this quicker to compile. Bold means the word is translated confess in both the 2010 NIV and NASB. So, for instance, 2 Tim 2:19 does not contain the word “confess” in the NASB (or in the Greek either. It literally says, “Names the name”). I have made notes in the NASB section of any place the 1984 NIV offered a different translation than “confess” so you could see that not all the 2010 changes are from “confess” to “acknowledge”, rather they kept it the same as it was).

NIV 2010

John 1:20 – Confess, but confessed

2 Cor 9:13 – accompanies your confession

1 tim 6:12-13 – “good confession”

2 Tim 2:19 – “Everyone who confesses” (literally, “names the name)

James 5:16 – “therefore confess…”


Mtt 3:6 – “confessed their sins”

Mtt 10:32 – “everyone who confesses”

Mk 1:5 – “confessing their sins”

Luke 12:8 – “everyone who confesses me before men”

John 1:20 – And he confessed and did not deny, but confessed, ” I am not the Christ.”

John 9:22 – “if anyone confessed him to be Christ” (1984 NIV = acknowledge)

John 12:42 – “They were not confessing him”

Acts 19:18 – “confessing and disclosing their practices”

Rom 7:16 – “confessing that the Law is good.” (different root word, meaning to “agree”, which is how both versions of the NIV translate it)

Rom 10:9 – “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord”

Rom 10:10 – “and with the mouth he confesses”

2 Cor 9:13 – “they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ”

Phil 2:11 – “every tongue will confess”

1 Tim 3:16 – “By common confession” (both NIV’s translate this “By/beyond all question” but it is the same root word as the rest of these for confession)

1 Tim 6:12-13 – “good confession”

Heb 3:1 – “consider Jesus, the Apostle and High priest of our confession” (NIV 1984 = “whom we confess”)

Heb 4:14 – “let us hold fast to our confession” (1984 NIV = “profess”)

Heb 10:23 – “let us hold fast the confession of our hope” (1984 NIV = “profess”)

Heb 11:13 – “and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on earth” (1984 NIV = “admitted”)

James 5:16 – “If we confess our sins”

1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins”

1 John 2:23 – “the one who confesses the Son” (1984 NIV = “acknowledges”)

1 John 4:2-3 – “every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God…and every spirit that does not confess…” (1984 NIV = “acknowledge”)

1 John 4:15 – “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God” (1984 NIV = “acknowledge”)

Rev 3:5 – “I will confess his name before my Father” (1984 NIV = “acknowledge”)

So you can see not all instances were actually a change from the 1984 edition. In many of those places they kept it the same. The toughest place for me on this is the Gospel of John. John is big about confessing Christ both in his Gospel and in his letters. Yet, the 2010 NIV only sees fit to have John use it once. For such a big theme that is a little uncalled for. The context is key. I am perfectly fine with some of their decisions where acknowledge makes perfect sense. But confession implies some things that profess or acknowledge do not (guilt being one) and I think that language still has biblical use, so I hate to see it go in such a wholesale manner as it is in the 2010 NIV.

0 Responses

    1. Why do that when you can analyze it to death instead? What got me was biblegateway has made it the default search translation. I bet they got some decent money from Zondervan on that one.

  1. In some contexts I would think “declare” is preferable where the intent is to make a public statement. “Acknowledge” also seems a reasonable alternative. In the (in)famous 5 Steps of Salvation doesn’t the “Confess” mean that we announce/declare/acknowledge that we are placing our faith in Christ?

    I think that “confess” is so often associated with guilt (cop shows), that phrases like “confess Christ before men” don’t make a lot of sense since he has no guilt.

    However, I do agree with you that 5 occurrences seems ridiculously low.

  2. First off, I will probably redo this list against the 1984 NIV since the more I think about it that would be a better comparison as it would highlight where the changes were. Second, as I said above I am fine with acknowledge and other translations in different passages depending on the context. I am not saying any move away from confess in any/all passages is wrong on their part. I am questioning what appears to me to be a more sweeping change away from that terms as a whole.

    The confession part is not about confessing Christ’s sin. It is about confessing him as Lord, which is a part of convicting us of our own sinfulness so that we can make the needed turn to rely on God.

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