By Eddie Boston | June 2020

“No man was ever great by imitation.” —Samuel Johnson
       There is a difference in meaning between the words “follow” and “imitate.” The King James Bible defines “follow” as coming after something, or someone. Examples of this are found in Matthew 16 and Luke 9.
Matthew 16:24, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”
Luke 9:23, “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
You will not find the word “imitate” in the King James Bible. Why? Because the word “imitate,” by its definition in the dictionary, allows for the possibility of counterfeiting (not necessarily financially). However, you WILL find “imitate” in the modern perversions of the Bible; “imitate” replaces “follow” in the following scriptures: 1 Corinthians 4:16, 2 Thessalonians 3:9, Hebrews 6:12, 13:7, and 3 John 11. Remember the claim of modern bible version editors: They are only replacing “difficult” and “archaic” words! Is “follow” an archaic word?! (We will look at the NIV’s rendering of the aforementioned scriptures, since it is the top-selling “bible” today.)

1. In 1 Corinthians 4:16, Paul beseeched the Corinthian believers to follow him (to come after his example). In the NIV, Paul “urges” them to “imitate” him. Does he want the Corinthians to mock him or be counterfeits? With “imitate,” anything is possible!
1 Corinthians 4:16, “Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.”
1 Corinthians 4:16 (NIV), “Therefore I urge you to imitate me.”
2. In 2 Thessalonians 3:9, Paul exhorts the Thessalonian believers to follow his ensample in the matters of labor, shunning idleness and ill company. In the NIV, Paul is merely a “model for [them] to imitate.”
2 Thessalonians 3:9, “Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.”
2 Thessalonians 3:9 (NIV), “We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate.”
3. In Hebrews 6:12, the Hebrew believers are exhorted not to be slothful, but to follow them who inherit the promises of God by faith and patience. In the NIV, the Hebrews are told to be imitators of the heirs of the promises. Again, what could possibly go wrong?
Hebrews 6:12, “That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
Hebrews 6:12 (NIV), “We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.”
4. In Hebrews 13:7, the Hebrew believers are exhorted to follow the faith of those who spake the word of God unto them. In the NIV, they are called to “imitate” this faith. Is this why we see so many imitation “Christians” today?
Hebrews 13:7, “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.”
Hebrews 13:7 (NIV), “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.”
5. I saved the best for last. In 3 John 11, the beloved are commanded to follow that which is good, not evil. In the NIV, they are commanded to IMITATE that which is good.
3 John 11, “Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.”
3 John 11 (NIV), “Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.”
The problem with the NIV’s rendering is that it seems to encourage professing Christians to be Pharisees, who had outward righteousness, but were inwardly unclean, according to Jesus.
Matthew 23:25-28, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.”
Also, recall that Satan transforms himself into an angel of light, and one of his “I will’s” in Isaiah 14 was to “be like [imitate!] the most High.” Not only does Satan transform himself, his ministers transform themselves into the ministers of righteousness!
Isaiah 14:12-14, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”
2 Corinthians 11:13-15, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”
If you are a born again believer in Christ who wants to follow Christ, be a follower, not an imitator! A follower of Christ is allowed to retain their individuality; an imitator is merely a copycat. What is it going to be?


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