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…”
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!