"Make" or "Set": What's the Difference?
One of the most quoted scriptures next to John 3:16 is John 8:32,36 KJV “And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall MAKE you free…If the Son therefore shall MAKE you free, ye shall be free indeed.” However, in many Bible translations such as the New International Version (NIV), New Living Translation (NLT) and the English Standard version (ESV) etc. the word “set” is used in its place. One may ask what is the big difference if “make” is used instead of “set” or vice versa? It may seem as a little thing to overlook. However, the alteration of this one word can have grave implications to whether or not a person is saved or lost.
The Bible emphases a very important doctrine regarding the salvation of man. This is the doctrine of justification by faith that is the transformative center of the plan of salvation. Martin Luther emphasised the importance of this doctrine during the reformation as he said this is “the article with and by which the church stands, without which it falls (articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesiac).” Additionally, Luther said “This doctrine is the head and the cornerstone. It alone begets, nourishes, builds, preserves, and defends the church of God; and without it the church of God cannot exist for an hour… The article of Justification is the master and prince, the lord, the ruler, and the judge over all kinds of Doctrines; it preserves and governs all church doctrine and raises up our conscience before God. Without this article the world is in utter death and darkness. No error is so mean, so clumsy, and so outworn as not to be supremely pleasing to human reason and to seduce us if we are without the knowledge and contemplation of this article.” R.C. Sproul, Grace Unknown, pg.59-60
If we examine Titus 3:5-7 we are shown that justification (which in Latin means “to make righteous”) or as presented in the Bible is a “purification of a person” or “regeneration”, “renewing”, “washing”. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” The washing of regeneration (born again experience or new birth) is justification. This can be further confirmed in John 3:3,5-7 “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God… Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.”Moreover, we are told that this justification or “washing” is a subjective transformation (inner change) that takes place involving the cleansing from sin. This can be seen in Psalm 51:2 and Ezekiel 36:25-27 “Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” Psalm 51:2 “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them” Ezekiel 36:25-27. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 it shows that this washing is justification. Ezekiel 14:3-5, Isaiah 59:2 and Mark 7:20 shows sin as idols in the heart (the mind because the organ pumping blood doesn't have thoughts) that separate us from God. “And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries...” Mark 7:20 Additionally, in both Ezekiel 36:25-27 and 2 Corinthians 5:17, we see that a new creation (justification) is taking place within the mind of a person. 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
This recreation taking place within the mind involves God removing the carnal mind and the giving of the spiritual mind. (See Romans 8:6-8, Romans 5:1,18) This recreation done by God is seen as justification by faith as shown in Romans 5:1,18 and Romans 8:33 because as the person is washed from their sins they no longer have the carnal mind (or thoughts of the flesh) but will now have the spiritual mind which is life and peace. Thus they are sinfree because God cleanses all their sins when a person repents and confesses their sins. (See 1 John 1:7,9, Job 33:9) Furthermore, justification is described as being made righteous with the righteousness of God being placed into the person which the now sinfree person possesses as they would have repented and confessed their sins before. “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ into [Greek is “eis” - into] all and upon all them that believe...” Romans 3:22 Justification is also what causes a sinful human to sin no more. Thus they are sinfree (without sin or free from sin). “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be inactivated [Greek text,, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is justified [Greek text] from sin… Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord… But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” Romans 6:6,7,11,17,18. However, if a person sins they must repent again and be justified again. (See 1 John 2:1)
Now with that understanding that justification is the recreation or new birth of a person from being in a sinful state to a sinfree state through the washing of the water which represents the word (See Ephesians 5:26) we can now assess the significance of the words “make” and “set.” We must however keep in mind that this freedom or liberation is a freedom from sin and that to deal with sin it involves a Creator as shown in Romans 6:18, John 5:14, John 8:11, Zechariah 3:3-5 “Being then made free from sin…” Romans 6:18.
Here is the dictionary account of the verb make:
“To create; to cause to exist; to form from nothing…” Noah Webster 1828, American Dictionary of English Language
“To form (something)… or create…” Oxford English Dictionary 1844
Also here is the dictionary definition of the verb set:
“To compose (something); to institute; to establish; to found…” Noah Webster 1828, American Dictionary of English Language
However, when used in this context “set free…” means to have liberation or freedom but it does not emphasize a recreation being first established by God in justification that causes a person to experience liberation or freedom. It is simply like “setting” a prisoner free from jail but there was no change or recreation within a person. As such we cannot and should not use “set” but instead use “make” which shows and describes the recreation or justification (subjective transformation/ inner change) done by God. This false teaching from these false manuscripts by which these bibles (NIV, ESV, NLT etc.) were created from will cause men to be lost. As such may you receive your liberation as the light from the glorious gospel enters into your heart! Amen.
Sis. Alyssa Jugmohunsingh