Where dose the Bible come from?
2 Corinthians 10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
Psalm 119:89 For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven.
Revelation 22:18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
Inspiration may be defined as the direct influence of God on holy men in the writing of the Scriptures. The Greek word theopneustos, used in 11 Timothy 3:16, is a combination of two words: Theos, meaning "God," and pneustos, meaning "breathed."
A. The biblical view of inspiration, then, does not entail human genius or natural inspiration. The idea of inspiration in the Scriptures means "God-breathed," thus leaving no question of the origin of the Bible.
B. The very words of God are written in the Bible. While some would argue that the words themselves are not inspired, only the thoughts behind them, the Scriptures themselves are clear on this point. There are over 2,000 references in the Old Testament where the writers claimed the words were from God.
C. The Apostle Paul, in the New Testament, was just as emphatic: "If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord" (I Corinthians 14:37).
D. Inspiration is clearly more than just a limited influence from God. It is the transmission of God's thoughts to mankind and a direct revelation of His will.
E. It is important to note that while God inspired the writers of the Scriptures, these men were not simply robots. They wrote in their own peculiar styles in the current language of their day. The Holy Ghost did move on them, to be sure, and kept their words unadulterated from error. And so they spoke truth-untarnished truth which is
2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
Christ is the central theme of the entire Bible
Not only did Jesus Christ speak of the Scriptures in the highest of terms, but the Scriptures, in their turn, exalt Jesus Christ.
A. In fact, Christ is the central theme of the entire Bible. He is seen as the great unifying center of the creation (Colossians 1:15-17), the grand subject of the prophets (Isaiah 53), and the head of the church (Colossians 1:18).
B. How can anyone read the Bible honestly and still doubt the supremacy of Jesus Christ? If we speak of royalty, He is the "King of kings"; if we speak of authority, He is the "Lord of lords." We are assured that God will not give His glory to another, and yet we read of men falling down in worship to Jesus Christ (Matthew 14:33; Luke 24:52; John 20:28). There can be no other conclusion from a reading of the Word of God but that Jesus was God manifest in the flesh" (I Timothy 3:16).
The Inerrant Word of God
Inerrancy is the belief that the Scriptures are trustworthy, free from error as a whole and in all their parts. Biblical statements are considered absolutely true, regardless of the subject with which they deal. Not only does the Bible teach truth regarding religion, but it is infallible on all matters, including history, science and prophecy.
Critics are prone to point out the fact that the original autographs have perished. The moist climate of Palestine in time worked havoc on the original manuscripts of the Old Testament. Moreover, the Jewish scribes, regarding the Scriptures with an almost superstitious awe, buried any manuscripts, which were showing great age-lest the material upon which the Lord's holy name was written should be misused.
A. What remains are copies of the Old Testament originals, but it should be noted that the early Jewish scribes followed a very rigid set of regulations when making copies of the Scriptures.
B. One group of scribes, the Massoretes, are known to have numbered each verse, word and letter which they copied. So concerned were they with textual purity that the Massoretes counted the number of times each letter was used in a book and calculated the middle letter in that book.
The Written Word
The writing of the Scriptures is a remarkable tale of sacrifice and devotion. Although it is not known who all the original writers were, there is a unity of thought and of purpose throughout. The great Author of heaven directed some thirty-six to forty writers of various backgrounds to compile the greatest book ever written.
A. The Word of God came to patriarchs (Genesis 15:1), to prophets (Numbers 22:38, Hebrews 1:1), and to kings (11 Chronicles 7:12-22).
B. It was faithfully recorded by such notable figures as Moses, educated in an Egyptian court, and by lesser known personalities such as Amos, a herdsman of sheep and goats.
C. Much of what Moses wrote he received amidst the smoke and thundering of Mount Sinai, where the law of God was given.
The Bible is like a gigantic jigsaw puzzle with 31,173 pieces. (There are that many verses in
1,189 chapters of 66 books.)
The Two Testaments
The sixty-six books of the Bible are divided with thirty-nine books comprising the Old Testament and twenty-seven the New Testament. These testaments represent two covenants God made with His people.
A. There is no contradiction between the two Testaments. Nor does the new replace or do away with the old, but rather the new fulfills the old (Matthew 5: 17).
B. In the famous words of Augustine, "the Old Testament [is] revealed in the New, the New veiled in the Old. . . ." Another writer says, "The New is contained in the Old and the Old is explained in the New."
C. The basic principles of God and moral standards do not change; truth remains the same whether it is taught from the Old Testament or the New Testament. And it is the same God in both; Jehovah of the Old Testament is Jesus Christ in the New Testament.
D. The basic difference between the Old Testament and the New is that the laws of God were written in stone for the Old, and now they, are written on the fleshly tables of our hearts for the New. (See Jeremiah 31:33; Ezekiel 11:19-20; Ezekiel 36:26-27; 11 Corinthians 3:3.)
E. When the Hebrews translated the Old Testament books into Greek around 200 B.C., producing the Septuagint, the order of the books was regrouped and reclassified into a new arrangement, topically, by subject matter. This Septuagint was the translation most commonly used in the time of Christ and the founding of the New Testament Church; therefore its topical pattern was widely accepted by the early Christians and has remained the traditional and popular pattern still in use today.
The message from Genesis to Revelation goes from the creation to the final judgment, from eternity to eternity.
A. We often use the word dispensation to describe a period of time in which God deals with man in a specific pattern. The Bible describes several dispensations.
B. The first days of man in the Garden of Eden was the dispensation of Innocence.
1. Then from Eden, approximately 4000 B.C., to the Flood was another dispensation; from the Flood to the call of Abraham was yet another. These three dispensations, covering approximately the first 2000 years of mankind, are summed up in the first eleven chapters of Genesis.
2. At that point, the flow of the Scriptures slowed down, and the next thirty-nine chapters recounted the history of four generations. This era beginning with Abraham was the dispensation of the Patriarchs.
3. Beginning with Moses, 1500 B.C., was the dispensation of Law which covered the entire Old Testament except for the Book of Genesis.
4. The New Testament opened the church age, or the dispensation of Grace, which continues today. This dispensation will end with the Second Coming of Christ, an event the church believes to be very soon.
5. Following this dispensation shall come the Kingdom Age, the Millennial dispensation, prophesied to be a thousand years of peace.
6. These seven dispensations add up to about 7,000 years of history for mankind.
Preserving the Word
Two to three thousand years of transmitting, copying, and preserving separate us from the time of the original writing of the Scriptures. Has the Bible suffered in the process? No!
A. We can confidently reject the charge of unlearned critics that it is full of mistakes and changes.
B. Our assurance of reliability can be illustrated by comparing a modern text with the Dead Sea Scrolls. These ancient scrolls found in eaves near the Dead Sea in 1947, perhaps the greatest archeological manuscript discovery in history, are fully one thousand years older than the previously known ninth or tenth century Massoretic manuscripts.
C. After careful comparison of these ancient writings the conclusion is that the Bible as we know it is accurate.
Guarding the Sacred Trust
Jewish scribes had such high regard for sacred Scripture that when a manuscript began to show signs of wear, it was removed from official circulation and reverently disposed of, stored in special library cabinets (genizah). When these holy genizah were full, the manuscripts would be buried or disposed of with an elaborate "funeral" ceremony. Such sacred treasures were not allowed to fall into "unclean" hands.
A. The preparing of a new manuscript could take years. A scribe of the old Talmudic order, under strict professional rules, would not begin his tedious task each day until he performed his morning prayers, bathed, and was in full Jewish ceremonial dress.
1. Notice some of his Talmudic rules:
(1) He could use only special quality parchment from "clean" animals and ink made by a specific "kosher" recipe.
(2) Each sheet would be first ruled with exact guidelines, a certain number of columns all identical, no more than thirty letters wide and no less than forty-eight wide, and no more than sixty lines long. Each page was planned ahead so that the last word at the end of the Torah ended exactly at the end of the last line.
(3) Lettering had exact rules on shape and spacing with no two letters touching, and spacing measured by the number of hairs.
(4) Not a single letter, not even a yod, was to be written from memory. Every word was to be looked at and pronounced aloud before writing.
(5) To write the name of the Lord, the pen was to be first cleaned, the scribe consecrated, and he was not to respond to distraction while writing it- even if addressed by a king.
(6) If more than three marks had to be corrected, the entire sheet of parchment was condemned; he had to start over. Corrections were not allowed after thirty days; if even one mistake was discovered in an existing manuscript it had to be destroyed to pre- vent its use.
(7) At the end of each sheet, every word and every letter was methodically counted.
After the 5th century, the Massoretic tradition governed the scribe's trade even more strictly. A Massorete worked only in the presence of proofreaders that checked each word before proceeding. Such exacting regulations meant it could take up to fifteen years of tedious labor just preparing one Torah scroll.
Because a new manuscript was an exact duplicate equal to the one copied, and since age was no advantage, the old worn copy was destroyed. This explains why so few Hebrew manuscripts have survived to today.
The New Testament situation is just the opposite. Instead of a shortage, there is an overabundance of manuscripts.
A. While the church would often have dedicated scribes make good quality copies of New Testament books, there was also a proliferation of inferior copies.
B. The excitement of receiving an apostolic epistle and the desire to share it with other churches created a demand for many immediate copies. Eager young converts whose enthusiasm outran their skill hurriedly wrote out copies of their own.
C. Therefore, we have thousands of copies which we can compare and find the most accurate.
The Proven Word
The Bible is the best preserved book in the world with over 13,000 manuscripts of the New Testament (in whole or part) of which 5,000 manuscripts are in Greek. Of no other ancient writing do we possess so many manuscripts.
Early History of Translations
The traditional date for the translation of the Septuagint is around 250 B.C. The work is said to have been done by seventy-two Jewish scholars in Alexandria, Egypt. This would place the Septuagint as the earliest translation of the Old Testament. There is some question as to the validity of this date, since this historical reconstruction rests upon such scant evidence, namely the so-called Letter ofaristeas. It has been suggested, with no little support, that the Septuagint is actually a post-Christian document.
The Scriptures were translated into the Germanic, or Gothic, language about A.D. 350. This was the forerunner of the English language. Shortly thereafter Jerome translated the Bible into Latin, and his work became known as the Latin Vulgate. This was for many centuries the official Bible of the Roman Catholic Church. Jerome's was the last translation rendered from the original languages until the Byzantine Empire fell to the Turks in 1454.
Middle History of Translations
In 1378, John Wyelif, with a deep burden that the common man should be able to read the Scriptures in his own language, translated the Latin Vulgate into English. He was rewarded for his efforts by excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church.
In the year of 1536, Tyndale was strangled and burned at the stake with a prayer on his lips: "Lord, open the King of England's eyes." His prayer was answered three years later when the Church of England authorized the translation of the Great Bible. This had been preceded, in 1535, by the private printing of the Coverdale Bible. Matthew's Bible (Matthew was a pseudonym for a reformer martyred during the Catholic Queen Mary's reign) appeared in 1537.
All of these works, and others, were basically revisions of Tyndale.
When Queen Elizabeth ascended the English throne, the reformers returned to England from Geneva, Switzerland, and brought with them the Genevan Bible. This translation was for sixty years the dominant English Bible. It was the first to be divided into verses and to omit the Apocrypha.
When Elizabeth died in 1603, a distant relative, King James of Scotland, emerged as the heir to the throne. As his entourage wended its way from Scotland to England, he was presented with the Millenary Petition, signed by some 1,000 ministers. Among other things, the petition requested the king to authorize a new translation of the Bible.
In January, 1604, a conference of bishops and Puritan leaders convened at Hampton Court in the presence of King James. Dr. John Reynolds, himself a Puritan, was the spokesman. The king agreed to the request to authorize a new translation, and by the end of July had appointed fifty-four of the greatest scholars in all of England to the task of translating. King James charged that the translation be an exact rendering of the text.
A. The plan adhered to by the translating committee was detailed and demanding.
B. Each verse of Scripture was gone over fourteen times to gain the maximum expertise of each scholar.
C. Although a vast pool of learning and scholarship was represented by the committee, the translating input was not limited to this. Many learned men were drawn into the project in their particular area of expertise.
D. The purpose was to give the best rendering of the original languages, and to this end previous translations and commentators were carefully consulted, including Chaldee, Hebrew, Syrian, Greek, Latin, Spanish, French, Italian, and Dutch.
E. The translation was carefully, reverently, cautiously and expertly worked and reworked. The result was that the translation released in 1611 is still considered the masterpiece of the ages, even by its detractors.
Why We Prefer the King James Version
A. Nearly every new translation takes from the Scriptures.
B. Nearly every new translation makes subtle changes which affect important doctrine.
D. In many cases the Minority Text does not simply delete a word; it changes a word.
1. This results in definite attacks on fundamental doctrines.
2. Some translations are doctrinally biased. The most notable example of this is the New World Translation, the official Bible of the Jehovah's Witnesses. While it is supposedly translated from the same eclectic text as the other newer translations, it is further corrupted by strained attempts to make the Scriptures agree with the doctrinal position of its publisher. One glaring example of this bias is John 1: 1, "the Word was a god." This mistranslation is not attested to by any legitimate translator, including even the most liberal. Were it not for the Watchtower's publication of Benjamin Wilson's Diaglott, his work would have fallen into disuse long ago.
3. Nearly every new translation adds to the Scriptures.
4. Some of the new "translations" are in reality paraphrases. A paraphrase is not a translation at all, but a rewording of a translation. The most popular today is The Living Bible. In this publica- tion, Kenneth Taylor paraphrased the American Standard Version, the American edition of the Revised Version of 1881. Many of its renderings are merely his comments and opinions without any attempt to be scholarly. This paraphrase should be rejected by Christian people and used only as a commentary, if at all.
5. Some translations have condensed the Holy Scriptures. The Reader's Digest Bible clearly deletes with the editorial pen much of God's Holy Word. While the result no doubt makes interesting reading, it cannot be called the Holy Bible. Jesus said men must live by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God. No human being, regardless of his skill at editing human documents, is qualified to practice on the inspired Scripture.
6. Some translations have changed meanings. The new "non-sexist" reader published by the National Council of Churches blatantly and with no textual authority eliminates what is considered to be sexist readings in the Holy Scriptures. In a forced effort to eliminate the male image of God presented in the Bible, John 3:16 becomes: "For God so loved the world, that God gave God's only Child that whoever believes in that Child should not perish but have eternal life." God is no longer the Father but the "Father (and Mother)."
We accept the King James Version of the Bible. It is the most accurate. We at times use other versions to gain a clearer understanding. However, generally speaking, we use the
King James Bible.
2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.