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The Message

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The Message
Full name: The Message
Abbreviation: MSG
Complete Bible published: 2002
Translation type: Paraphrase
Copyright status: Copyright 2002 Eugene H. Peterson

The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language was created by Eugene H. Peterson and published in segments from 1993 to 2002. It is a paraphrase of the original languages of the Bible. Peterson states that reason the The Message was written was:

While I was teaching a class on Galatians, I began to realize that the adults in my class weren't feeling the vitality and directness that I sensed as I read and studied the New Testament in its original Greek. Writing straight from the original text, I began to attempt to bring into English the rhythms and idioms of the original language. I knew that the early readers of the New Testament were captured and engaged by these writings and I wanted my congregation to be impacted in the same way. I hoped to bring the New Testament to life for two different types of people: those who hadn't read the Bible because it seemed too distant and irrelevant and those who had read the Bible so much that it had become 'old hat.'

Eugene's first inspiration to complete the book had been after completing the Beatitudes, he states:

I just kind of let go and became playful. And that was when the Sermon on the Mount started. I remember I was down in my basement study, and I did the Beatitudes in about 10 minutes. And all of a sudden I realized this could work.

Although The Message is used commonly in congregations, Eugene Peterson stated the following to users of his book on a Christianity Today interview:

When I'm in a congregation where somebody uses it [The Message] in the Scripture reading, it makes me a little uneasy. I would never recommend it be used as saying, "Hear the Word of God from The Message." But it surprises me how many do.

According to the Introduction to the New Testament of the The Message, its “contemporary idiom keeps the language of the Message (Bible) current and fresh and understandable”. Peterson notes that in the course of the project, he realized this was exactly what he had been doing in his thirty-five years as a pastor, “always looking for an English way to make the biblical text relevant to the conditions of the people.”

The Message was published in piecemeal over a nine year period. The New Testament was published in 1993. The Hebrew Bible Wisdom Books were published in 1998. The Hebrew Bible Prophets were published in 2000. The Hebrew Bible Pentateuch were released in 2001. The Books of History came out in 2002. The entire Bible was released the same year and follows the traditional Protestant layout.

Sample verses

Psalms 23:1-4

King James Version

1. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

New International Version

1. The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
2. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
3. He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

The Message

1. GOD, my shepherd! I don't need a thing.
2. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from.
3. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.
4. Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I'm not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd's crook makes me feel secure.

John 3:5-6

King James Version

5. Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
6. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

New International Version

5. Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.
6. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.

The Message

5-6. Jesus said, "You're not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation—the 'wind-hovering-over-the-water' creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life—it's not possible to enter God's kingdom. When you look at a baby, it's just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can't see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11

King James Version

9. Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

10. Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

11. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

New International Version

9. Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 

10. nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
11. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

The Message

9-11. Don't you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don't care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don't qualify as citizens in God's kingdom. A number of you know from experience what I'm talking about, for not so long ago you were on that list. Since then, you've been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit.


Hebrew Bible
New Testament
Entire Bible

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at The Message. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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