Introductory Note:

The First Nations Version (FNV) is a dynamic equivalence translation produced by Terry Wildman of Rain Ministries in collaboration with other First Nations individuals and the Bible translation organization OneBook Canada (Wycliffe). It was “created by Native North Americans for Native Americans and all English-speaking peoples.”

Reading or hearing the scriptures in different translations, especially in dynamic versions that express the truths of scripture with modern language or idioms from other cultures, can give us fresh ears to hear a word from God. The FNV offers us the gift of hearing the Christian Scriptures in the tradition of Native storytellers’ oral cultures. There is, as the book’s introduction states, a “simple yet profound beauty” in this storytelling style. Enjoy!

Renovaré Team

Excerpt from First Nations Version New Testament

Taken from Galatians 5 and 6

The Chosen One set us free so that we can remain free, so stand firm and do not let anyone rope you into being slaves again. Listen closely to what I, Small Man (Paul), am telling you: if you decide to participate in the cutting of the flesh ceremony for good standing with Creator, then what the Chosen One has done will not help you. Again, I speak truth from my heart: any man who participates in the cutting of the flesh ceremony for good standing must follow all of the law given by Drawn from the Water (Moses).You who trust in the law for good standing have cut yourself off from the Chosen One and walked away from the gift of Creator’s great kindness.

The Thing that Matters Most

But through the Spirit we keep trusting in the Chosen One for good standing and aim our hearts toward Creator’s right ways.So then, in Creator Sets Free (Jesus) the Chosen One, whether or not you participate in the cutting of the flesh ceremony does not matter. What matters is walking out our faith on the road of love.

You were walking in a good way. Who talked you out of following the path of truth? That counsel did not come from the one who called you to follow him. It has been said, A little yeast will spread through the whole lump of bread dough.” 

But I am sure that our Honored Chief will bring you back into agreement with the truth. As for the one who is troubling you, whoever he is, his ways will come back on his own head.

My sacred family members, if I still teach that the cutting of the flesh ceremony is needed, then why am I under attack? If that is what I truly teach, then the story of the cross of the Chosen One would make no one stumble. If only those false teachers who are trying to force their way on you would go the whole way and cut it all off!

Freedom to Love and Serve

But you, my sacred family members, have been called to walk in freedom. Do not use this freedom to walk in weak and broken human ways. Instead, walk in love and serve each other. For all of our tribal law finds its full meaning and purpose in this one instruction, Love your fellow human beings in the same way you love yourself.” If you keep on acting like wild animals, biting and snapping at each other, watch out! You may end up wiping each other out!

Walking with the Spirit

So I say to you, if you keep walking by the Spirit’s guidance, your weak and broken desires will no longer lead you down the wrong path. For our broken human desires go against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit go against our broken human desires. They are at war with each other, and this struggle keeps you from doing the things you want to do. But if you follow the guidance of the Spirit, you are not under tribal law. You have been set free to follow the Spirit! 

The Wrong Path to Follow

We all know the things our weak and broken human ways lead us to do, things such as walking in impure ways, giving in to dark desires, following after spirit-images, and participating in witchcraft. Also hostile ways such as fighting, jealousy, lashing out in anger, arguing and making trouble, and dividing into opposing groups. Our broken ways also lead us to want what belongs to others, to become drunks, and to participate in wild parties. It is things like this that I am warning you about. For I have already warned you that the ones who walk in these ways will not share in the blessings of Creator’s good road.

The Fruit of Walking with the Spirit

On the other hand, if we follow the guidance of the Spirit, our lives will bear good spiritual fruit. The Spirit will grow in us the fruit of love and joy, peace and patience, kindness and goodness, faithful hearts, gentle ways, and self-control.

Our tribal law has nothing to say against those who walk in these ways. For the ones who belong to Creator Sets Free (Jesus) the Chosen One have nailed their weak and broken humanity to his cross. This puts to death all their wrong desires and broken ways.

Since our life comes from the Spirit, let us dance in step with the Spirit and follow the Spirit’s guidance. In this way we will not become big-headed troublemakers who are jealous of each other.

Called to be Burden Bearers

My sacred family members, if someone among you has given in to broken ways, you who are guided by the Spirit should lead this person back to the right path in a spirit of gentleness. But keep a close eye on yourselves, for you may be tempted to do the same kind of thing. Bear each other’s heavy burdens, this way you are walking a path that brings full meaning and purpose to the law of the Chosen One. The people who see themselves as something when they are nothing have become their own trickster.

Each one of you should take a good look at your own deeds. Then you can feel honor in the good you have done without comparing yourself with others. For all of us have our own burden basket to carry.

Good and Bad Seed Planting

The ones who are instructed in the message of the Chosen One should share all good things with their teacher.

Let no one mislead you. You cannot make a fool of the Great Spirit. Whatever you plant is what you will harvest. If you plant the seeds of your own broken humanity, you will harvest only death and decay. But if you plant the seeds of the Spirit, then from the Spirit you will harvest the life of the world to come that never fades away, full of beauty and harmony. Never grow tired of doing what is good. For when the time is right, we will reap a harvest of good things as long as we do not let our hearts fall to the ground. So then, whenever we are able, we should do good to everyone, and most of all to the members of our sacred family.

Final Words to Remember

Take a good look at the large letters I use to write to you with my own hand! The Apache and some of the other southwestern tribes have burden baskets. They are often used in a coming-of-age ceremony in which the new generation accepts the responsibility to carry the burden for its generation. These men who try to force you into participating in the cutting of the flesh ceremony do so for the wrong reasons. They do not teach the full meaning of the cross of the Chosen One out of fear of being hunted down and harmed by their own Tribal Members. For even those who have participated in the cutting of the flesh ceremony do not themselves keep our tribal law. They only want you to participate in the ceremony so they can brag to others about what they did to your body.

May I never brag except in what our Honored Chief, Creator Sets Free (Jesus) the Chosen One, has done by dying on the cross. For I was nailed to the cross with the Chosen One. That is how I died to the ways of this world and how the ways of this world died to me. So it no longer matters whether one participates in the cutting of the flesh ceremony or not. What matters is that you are a new creation in the Chosen One.

Last Words

May peace and mercy rest on all who walk true to this way of seeing and thinking, and on the people of the Great Spirit who together form the tribes of Wrestles with Creator (Israel).

Last of all, let no one trouble me any longer, for on my body I bear the scars that mark me as a follower of Creator Sets Free (Jesus).

My sacred family members, may the gift of the great kindness of our Honored Chief, Creator Sets Free (Jesus) the Chosen One, guide your spirit on the road of life.

Aho! May it be so!

From First Nations Version: An Indigenous Translation of the New Testament by Terry M. Wildman. Consulting editor: First Nations Version Translation Council. Copyright © 2021 by Rain Ministries, Inc. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL.

Image: Abstract Mask, 1979. © David Chethlahe Paladin.

Text First Published October 2021 · Last Featured on October 2022