A funny question when you put it this way: “Who owns God’s Word?” Kind of reminds me of the question we used to ask people in New York City: “Who’s buried in Grant’s tomb.” The obvious hides itself in strange ways.
So who does own God’s word? Hmm. We must ask the boss, the U.S. Government. According to the patent office, here are the owners:
- New International Version: Biblica®
- New King James Version: Harper Collins Publishers®
- New Living Translation: Tyndale House® Foundation
- King James Version: In the public domain
- English Standard Version: Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers®
Biblica, Tyndale House and Crossway are all distinctly Christian organizations. And “public domain?” Well, that’s us – the public. And Harper Collins, they also publish The Satanic Bible and other anti-Christian works by the founder of The Church of Satan. Indeed, ownership of God’s Word is a strange thing.
What does it all mean?
It means this: translation of the Bible into English from another language is an expensive and difficult task. Translating and publishing a Bible is usually a multi-million dollar project. And somebody has to pay for it. Scripture teaches that “the laborer deserves his wages.” We provide wages to the translators and publishers by purchasing their work.
My wife works many hours as a volunteer for the Salvation Army®. She does not get paid. It is her service to God. We give money to support the Salvation Army so fewer people go hungry in our community. We belong to God, the money we give belongs to God, the people who are fed are God’s and the people who work in The Army are God’s. But the Salvation Army folk need a house over their head, food on their plates and clothes on their bodies. So they get paid. Thus, while we know God owns His Word, we gladly pay to purchase our copies as “the laborer deserves his wages.”
So who owns God’s Word? God does. But like everything else we own, He allows us to share in His work and the wages that come from it.