Last night during a webcast message to Grace Community Church, John MacArthur announced a new Bible translation project, known as the Legacy Standard Bible. The announcement begins around 7:19 of the video.

MacArthur makes a number of interesting statements:

  • The Legacy Standard Bible will be a licensed update of the New American Standard Bible (NASB), with permission from the Lockman Foundation.
  • Six faculty from The Master’s University and The Master’s Seminary form the translation committee:
    • Abner Chou
    • Will Varner
    • Jason Beals
    • Iosif “Joe” Zhakevich
    • Mark [Zhakevich]
    • Paul Twiss
  • “Accuracy” and “consistency” are priorities in the translation.
  • Yahweh in the Old Testament will consistently be transliterated and not rendered as “Lord.”
  • Doulos in the New Testament will consistently be translated as “slave.”
  • The New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs will be available at the March 2021 Shepherd’s Conference, with the completed edition to be released at a later date.

He does not explain details of the relationship with the Lockman Foundation or the implications for the updated NASB expected this year.

[UPDATE, 2020-11-21: A new website for the Legacy Standard Bible project has launched with more details: ]

A transcript of MacArthur’s remarks on the translation project is below.


… We’re just grateful to the Lord. Today, I did something really unusual. Something that is not only unusual for me but is unusual… I’ve never heard of anything like this.

As you know for, well, half a century, I’ve taught the word of God and I’ve always preached from the New American Standard Bible, the most accurate English translation. We have been given a gift, and that is we have been given the opportunity to take the New American Standard Bible, and to be licensed to do a translation work that will make that translation even more accurate.

Who’s going to do that? Well, Dr. Abner Chou, who heads up the biblical studies department at The Master’s University, and Will Varner, New Testament scholar, Jason Beals, another scholar, linguist from the University, and then from the Seminary, Joe Zhakevich, who is an Old Testament scholar, Harvard-trained in Hebrew and Semitic languages. Mark [Zhakevich] who’s trained in New Testament Greek, and Paul Twiss. All six of these guys are going through the Hebrew and the Greek of the entire Bible, tightening this into a… can I say it this way… an already accurate, but more refined translation from the original Hebrew and the original Greek.

And it’s basically driven toward two things: one is even greater accuracy and the other is greater consistency. This is an incredible thing that they’re doing. I’m amazed at the work they’re doing. I’ve seen some of it. What’s going to come out of this is a new edition called the Legacy Standard Bible.

It’s going to be the expositor’s dream Bible, to have the absolutely accurate, consistent text to study, to preach, and it’s… it’s bound to be the most accurate, the most consistent, translation in English, and that is a gift to the church. And the Lockman Foundation that did the original work on the NASB has given us the opportunity to do that. So it’s our men from the University and the Seminary who’re doing this refining translation.

There are a couple of major changes that I think are remarkable in this Bible. One is in the Old Testament. God says, my name is “I am that I am,” that’s the word Yahweh if it’s transliterated into English, but it’s not used in any translation… in any English translation of the Old Testament… you find there the word “Lord,” but that’s not the word in the original. The original word is Yahweh. The Jews thought that the name of Yahweh was so sacred they didn’t want to say it. So they didn’t pronounce it, so wherever Yahweh appeared in their Old Testament, they would say Adonai which is the word “Lord” because they didn’t want to say the Unspeakable Name of God because it was too holy. But God gave us his name, not so we wouldn’t speak it, but so we would speak it. So over 6,000 times in the Old Testament, God gives his name Yahweh, and you never see it once because it’s turned into “Lord.” So one of the changes in the Legacy Standard Bible is going to be… God’s name is going to be there. God wants us to know His name. He knows our name; He wants us to know His name.

And in the New Testament, one other significant change is the word doulos. Kurios, “Lord,” that’s a dominating word throughout the New Testament. Jesus is Lord. But the companion word to that is we are doulos. He is Kurios, “Lord,” we are doulos. And that always means “slaves.” But it’s not translated that way. It will be in this Legacy Standard Bible. So it will redefine the identity of a believer as a willing, loving, faithful slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. And what… what higher calling could there be than to be owned by Him, the one who possesses all the riches in the heavenlies. Those and some other changes are going to make the Bible that you’ll have when this Legacy Standard Bible comes out more accurate and more consistent.

We are going to have a New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs edition of it by next Shepherd’s Conference in March. And soon after that we’ll have the whole Bible. And we’re hoping that the Legacy Standard Bible will become just that, the legacy of this generation. Particularly the Master’s Seminary and these men for the next and subsequent generations to have an accurate Scripture in their hands and for all of you at Grace Church, you’ll be in on the launch of that as well.

So the Lord is doing wonderful things. We are endeavoring to do all that we are able to do and at the same time we’re praying for the Word to circle the Earth and have a high impact.

Thanks to Brent Niedergall for his assistance in preparing the transcript.