In an interview with CBN, Wycliffe Bible Translator (WBT) President John Chestnut said that the COVID pandemic has only slightly disrupted the organization’s mission of translating the Bible into the language of all the people groups in the world.
In fact, Chestnut noted that in some instances translation efforts actually increased as workers were not disrupted by other activities. However, other translations were slowed down because of the inability of workers to travel to different regions.
So far WBT has translated the Bible into 500 different languages and is currently working on 2,700 translations. At this point, there are 4,700 language groups involving nearly 1.5 billion people in 167 countries that do not have a Bible in their language.
The organization’s goal is to have the 2,700 translations it’s currently working on completed over the next four years, with the goal of starting translating the Bible for the remaining 2,000 languages in 2025.
Over the years, I have kept an eye on how Wycliffe’s work is progressing, because of the statement that Jesus made in Matthew 24 about the birth pangs leading up to Christ’s second return. This included several things such as wars, earthquakes and famines.
But in verse 14, the Lord adds that prior to His arrival that the Gospel will have been preached to all the nations:
14 This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14 NASV)
But notice how Jesus adds that once this happened, then the end will come. I can’t be sure, but it almost leaves the impression that this will be one of the last things to happen.
Though the verse refers to the gospel being preached, I have sometimes wondered if Bible translations are also part of this and perhaps even an indicator of how close this verse is to being fulfilled.
And it is important to note, that when Jesus referred to all nations, this is the Greek word ‘ethnos’, which does not refer to countries as we commonly use the word nation today.
Ethnos refers to race or ethnicity usually differentiated by language. This means that one country could conceivably be made up of several nations or cultural groups.
The Hebrew makes a similar distinction separating nations from Kingdoms/countries and even referred to Israel as a nation inside the Kingdom of Egypt (Genesis 46:3).
In Canada, we have a large French population most of whom live in the province of Quebec and as well several unique First Nations groups scattered across the countries.
These are nations by a Biblical definition.
So if Wycliffe’s work remains on track, the countdown to the final 2,000 nations will begin shortly.