Bible Gateway Pulls Controversial “Passion Translation”

By Josh Shepherd
Passion Translation Brian Simmons TPT
Pastor Brian Simmons is lead translator for The Passion Translation—a controversial Bible version, which has been pulled from Bible Gateway. (Screengrab via YouTube / BroadStreet Publishing)

A controversial Bible version popular among charismatic and Pentecostal Christians has been pulled from the world’s top Bible search website, Bible Gateway.

Frequently criticized by biblical scholars as a paraphrase mislabeled as a translation, The Passion Translation (TPT), which seeks to “recapture the emotion of God’s Word,” was reportedly removed from the site as of February 1.

TPT was first released in 2017 as a New Testament with the Psalms. It now also includes Genesis, Isaiah, Proverbs, and the Song of Solomon.

BroadStreet Publishing, which markets and distributes The Passion Translation (TPT), confirmed the removal from Bible Gateway in a statement to Christianity Today (CT). BroadStreet noted that Bible Gateway gave “no explanation” for TPT’s removal but added: “Bible Gateway has the right to make decisions as they see fit with the platforms they manage.”

A representative of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, which owns Bible Gateway, told CT that the decision involved a realignment of business goals.

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However, as first reported by Church Watch Central, evangelist and TPT lead translator Brian Simmons of Passion and Fire Ministries blamed the removal on cancel culture.

Brian Simmons Passion Translation TPT
Brian Simmons (Photo: Facebook / Passion & Fire Ministries)

“So, cancel culture is alive in the church world,” wrote Simmons. “Bible Gateway just removed TPT from their platform.” Simmons also alleged that a critic of TPT paid scholars to “trash” the translation, but did not post any documentation.

Simmons then called on his followers to contact Bible Gateway and request it back. However, that Facebook post has since been deleted.

The Roys Report reached out to Simmons but did not hear back by publication time.

Several scholars of various Protestant Christian traditions have criticized TPT since its release. Andrew Shead, Ph.D., a member of the NIV Committee on Bible Translation, authored a 7,600-word criticism in The Gospel Coalition’s Themelios journal.

“TPT is not just a new translation; it is a new text, and its authority derives solely from its creator,” wrote Shead. “TPT is not a Bible, and any church that treats it as such and receives it as canon will, by that very action, turn itself into an unorthodox sect.”

Other vocal critics of TPT include Reformed charismatic pastor Andrew Wilson of King’s Church London and Calvary Chapel-trained pastor Mike Winger. Winger’s website and YouTube channel, Bible Thinker, has produced 12 videos with scholars critically reviewing the Bible version.

Evangelical parachurch ministry Got Questions provides lengthy analysis of TPT. The website includes an earlier statement from Simmons, since revised on the TPT website. He once stated his translation is “about prioritizing God’s original message over the words’ literal meaning.”

Got Questions compares one verse, Luke 1:37, in several translations. “For nothing will be impossible with God,” the verse states in the ESV. “For no word from God will ever fail,” it reads in the recent NIV translation. The Passion Translation renders this verse as: “No promise of God is empty of power, for with God there is no such thing as impossibility.”

The Message, which late author Eugene Peterson maintained was his own paraphrase of the Bible and not a translation, remains on Bible Gateway. Peterson, who died in 2018, told CT in a 2002 interview that he felt “uneasy” about The Message being used in public worship. By contrast, Simmons and his ministry applaud using TPT as the primary text in sermons.

An official website for TPT lists about 20 Christian ministers who have given “Endorsements” to the paraphrase. These include figures such as Bill Johnson of Bethel Church, Chuck Pierce of Glory of Zion International Ministries, Heidi Baker of Iris Global, and Bible teacher John Bevere.

On the TPT website, an FAQ page notes that “respected scholars and editors” have evaluated Simmons’ translation work but does not name them.

Addressing his qualifications to serve as lead Bible translator, Simmons said in a recent interview: “My qualifications are that I was told to do this from the Lord. Whatever he tells you to do, he will meet the need you have to finish it.”

Simmons continues his work on the remaining books of the Old Testament. The Passion Translation remains available to read via YouVersion, OliveTree, and other Bible platforms.

Freelance journalist Josh Shepherd writes on faith, culture, and public policy for several media outlets. He and his wife live in the Washington, D.C. area with their two children.

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17 thoughts on “Bible Gateway Pulls Controversial “Passion Translation””

  1. Neil Cameron (One Salient Oversight)

    This is actually very good news.

    The Passion Translation is not a Bible. Brian Simmons, the “author”, has added words and phrases that are just not there in the original languages. It is, at best, a simplistic commentary of the Bible.

    Sadly there are churches out there that use TPT as their official Bible. These churches attribute to the words and phrases, that Simmons added, the work and power of the Holy Spirit. Christians who use the TPT as their Bible are being misled.

  2. This is misleading. Pastor Brian Simmons has a Bible translator background from years doing such work on the mission field for a very evangelical organization, New Tribes Mission. Even if you do not like his theological bent and the way he paraphrases the Bible in the TPT, Simmons DOES have the background to do this work. The way this article reads suggests he is just writing this translation (paraphrase) based on his whims. That is unfair and uncharitable. Yes, he clearly feels called by God to do this work; but he was also equipped by God through a respectable organization and its training to do it as well.

    1. You might be unaware David that New Tribes Mission says Mr. Simmons had nothing to do with translation work. He also claims to have been to heaven and received a “download” of translation insights from God. This is in no way normal translation work.

      1. Not sure of your source there about NTM translation, but it contradicts what I heard attending his church in Connecticut before he did TPT. He was absolutely on the mission field. So, I tend to believe him regarding the translation piece… maybe it was not his primary function in the field?

        1. His source is the official statement given to Mike Winger by the organization ethnos360, which was once called NTM. They disavowed that he had ANYTHING to do with actual word by word translation work. He was with them but lied about his work there. He also claims to have delivered a complete translation to a particular tribe. The translation for that tribe wasn’t completed until after he was no longer there. He’s a fraud.

          1. I would suspect ethnos360 has some theological differences with Simmons at this juncture. So, I have reason to hold that statement from them with some healthy skepticism. Minimally, it confirms Simmons was with them, though; and when he was with them, they were known as a Bible TRANSLATING missions organization. So, there is that to consider.

  3. Beth Price-Almeida

    I didn’t realize people were using it as an actual Bible. I thought it was more of a study aid to use alongside the Bible for new believers.

  4. Why don’t you “Christians” start a Passion translation polarizing fight between yourselves and the anti Passion translation “Christians”
    You do well to destroy the Church from within.

    Gen Z are so far removed from the King James Version these youngsters think it’s another language.

    Read Ephesians chapter 1 in the Passion translation. It’s beautifully written.
    Perhaps it’s not an accurate translation but why don’t you Christians go ahead and burn it together with your Harry Potter books then?

  5. I never really knew what to make of all the versions of the Bible. I can understand the benefit of having various versions to emphasize understanding English concepts especially when we take into consideration the many ways in which the English language changes so rapidly. I was given a New American Standard 45 years ago as a gift from a friend and I guess I’m just used to reading it. However even this version uses old English words/phrases for the purpose of understanding that the narrative is addressing deity and if you’re not used to reading this version it may prove a challenge for you. I do like however that whenever a personal pronoun is being used (I think that’s the correct part of speech designation) it means always speaking to or about God and is a capitalized word i.e. Him, He etc. In any event, I think there may be too many versions and maybe even unnecessarily so to have as many as we do. Any comments or thoughts are welcome.

  6. Like the New World Translation used by Jehovah’s Witnesses The Passion translation is a paraphrase of the Bible whose intention is to smuggle the teachings of the NAR (New Apostolic Reformation) in to the text.

  7. Christopher Hanley

    Just a brief note. In 2004 Holman published a very good Bible translation. It was called…The Passion Bible. The “Passion Translation” is, intentionally or not, a plagiarism right from the cover.

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