The Mirror Bible is a new paraphrase by South African Bible teacher Francois du Toit. Mirror Word is the teaching ministry of Francois du Toit. The translator/paraphraser says that he has carefully translated the original languages of the Bible and then reworded the message to be fresh and clear to the modern reader. As of 2020, du Toit has completed some of the New Testament (Luke 1—16, The Gospel of John, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Timothy, Titus, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter 1—2, 2 Peter 1, 1 John 1—5, Revelation). His goal is to paraphrase the entire New Testament and select portions of the Old Testament as well. The Mirror Study Bible has footnotes that explain the reasons the author has chosen various renderings.
While du Toit claims to be bringing out the meaning of the biblical text, it seems clear that he is actually importing his beliefs into it. Du Toit is a universalist who believes that all mankind was redeemed through the cross: “Jesus died humanity’s death and when the stone was rolled away, we were raised together with him! Every human life is fully represented in him!” (www.mirrorword.net/about-us, accessed 12/19/20). For du Toit, the gospel is not that sinners can be saved by faith in Christ but that humanity has already been saved and the gospel is simply the annunciation of that fact. People need to become aware of this fact and embrace it in order to live truly joyful and fulfilling lives.
A comparison of a few passages from the ESV and the Mirror Bible will illustrate du Toit’s theology:
John 1:12 in the ESV says, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” These are compared with the many who rejected Christ in John 1:11. The point is that, while many rejected Jesus, those who receive Him (and only those) become God’s children.
The Mirror Bible completely reverses this. The point of the Mirror Bible paraphrase is not that people need to become children of God but they need to recognize that they are already children of God because of Christ: “Everyone who realizes their association in him, convinced that he is their original life and that his name defines them, God gives the assurance that they are indeed his offspring, begotten of him; he sanctions the legitimacy of the sonship.” According to the Mirror paraphrase, it is not sonship that people need but assurance of that sonship.
In the ESV, John 3:3 is translated, “Jesus answered him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’” All of the other modern versions convey the same message, although the wording may be slightly different. The point is that without new birth a person will be excluded from God’s kingdom.
The Mirror Bible gives a completely different emphasis: “Jesus answered him emphatically; no one would even be able to recognize anything as coming from God’s domain unless they are born from above to begin with! The very fact that it is possible to perceive that I am in union with God, as a human being, reveals humanity’s genesis from above!” Here, receiving Christ does not make one a child of God but simply proves the divine origin of mankind.
Although there are many other examples, one more will serve to clearly demonstrate du Toit’s theological bent, which influences his paraphrase. John 3:17–18 in the ESV (and very similarly in all reputable English translations) reads, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” The condemnation spoken of here is the condemnation of a holy God who judges unrepentant sinners who refuse Christ.
In the Mirror Bible, the warning of God’s condemnation becomes something else entirely: “God has no intention to condemn anyone—he sent his son not to be the Judge but the Savior of the world. Faith and not flesh defines you! In the persuasion of your authentic sonship there is no separation or rejection! For someone to prefer not to embrace this is to remain under their own judgment sustained by their futile efforts to define themselves through personal performance. In their stubborn unbelief they reject what is revealed and redeemed in the Name of the son, begotten only of the Father and not the flesh.” For du Toit, the condemnation of God for rejecting the Son becomes self-condemnation as one refuses to recognize his true sonship and tries to earn God’s favor by his performance.
In the final analysis, the Mirror Bible is not an accurate translation or paraphrase. Far worse than being simply inaccurate at some points, the Mirror Bible attempts to promote teaching that is actually contrary to the New Testament gospel. The Mirror Bible will not help anyone come to a better understanding of the meaning of the original text; rather, it represents a twisting of Scripture (see 2 Peter 3:16).