The Big Exchange | Wycliffe Bible Translators

The Big Exchange

  • March 27, 2015
View of a green, woodsy valley

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many. — Mark 10:45 (NLT)

Bible translator Neil Anderson and six Folopa men were working hard translating the Gospel of Mark in the Folopa language. But when they came to Mark 10:45, where it says that the Son of Man came to “give his life as a ransom,” they hit a roadblock. How could they translate “ransom”?

Neil explained to the men that a ransom is a price that must be paid before a captive, whose life hung in the balance, can go free. As he explained, Neil could see they understood.

“We need to ransom people all the time,” one of the Folopa men said. “When a man is felling a tree and it falls the wrong way and kills someone, the clansmen of the dead person demand payment. If the relatives of the offender’s clansmen don’t pay, the relatives of the dead person demand the life of the offender. To save his life, we make an exchange. Pigs, shell money and other things of value are given to the relatives in exchange for the life of the offender.”

Bursting with excitement, Neil used their phrase to help him translate Mark 10:45 into Folopa. When he was done, he read it aloud. Translated back into English, the finished verse read, Jesus came to affect an exchange whereby He took the punishment of the evil deeds of many people. He came so that many people could go free and He died.

When they heard these words, the men were deeply moved.

“We give a lot to make an exchange for a wrong,” one man said. “But we have never given a person for the exchange price. Jesus did a great work for us.”

Isn’t it staggering to know that Christ gave his life in exchange for yours?