WHAT IS GOD’S WORD
Lesson No. 5
(THE NECESSARY MATERIALS)
At the beginning of our studies I put forth three questions:
#1. WHAT IS GOD’S WORD?
#2. DO WE HAVE GOD’S WORD TODAY?
#3. IF WE DO, WHERE IS IT?
In the first 4 lessons we sought the answer to #1. WHAT IS GOD’S WORD? In Lesson 1 we reached some very serious and startling conclusions:
A. Many Christians are going around quoting, exhorting, preaching, and teaching from The Bible, or some modern substitute bible, and they don’t believe for one minute that they have the infallible word of God – anywhere!
B. One of the biggest failings of local, independent, fundamental, pre-millennial churches today is: They have lost their Authority. Where does a Christian or a church derive Authority? – The Bible! No Bible = No Authority!
C. All of us (born again believers) will stand or fall on the issue of the word of God and its Authority. Sad to say more and more Christians and churches have let down their guard and have departed from the Bible and are following men.
D. We (practically all Christians) agreed that God inspired the original manuscripts and also came to the conclusion that only an infidel or a heretic or an atheist would deny it.
E. Upon that agreement we soon found out that the problem isn’t one of inspiration but preservation! And we concluded that not only did God inspire His word but He also preserved it.
I stated that I believe that the AV-KJB is the word of God – Holy, Infallible, and without proven error. That it is the English Bible that God has witnessed to and blessed, and that all other English translations since are either weak copies of it or, as is the case with most, actually perversions of God’s Holy word, adding to or taking away from the words of God.
F. I also stated that most modern translations and translators malign the AV-KJB and try to throw doubt on its authenticity and cast dispersions on it.
G. Lastly, I have asserted that Bible knowledge, discernment, and understanding are not based on the intellect or ‘schooling’, but on the believer’s faith in the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit revealing God’s will through the word to the believer.
I believe that the Devil is behind the Bible Babel and that the God of the Bible would never trust naturalistic scholars to safeguard His word. After all, the God of inspiration and revelation is also the God of history and preservation. I still contend:
God wrote only one Bible and that Bible is TRUE!
In Lesson 2 we covered the Internal Evidence concerning ‘What Is God’s Word’. In the course of our investigation we reviewed 100 Scripture verses which showed just exactly what God’s word is, what it is capable of, and what God thinks about it. By the end of the Lesson we knew that God promised to preserve His words (Psalms 12:6-7) and that He places the highest esteem on His word (Psalms 138:2) and that we, as God’s children, ought to reverence it (not worship it ).
As much as you can be sure of your salvation, you can be sure that we have God’s word in the AV-KJB because:
#1. It always exalts God, His word, and our Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ.
#2. By the way that God blessed the use of it.
#3. By the way practically everyone hates it and attacks it.
In Lessons 3 & 4 we examined the Scriptures to see what provision God made for the copying and preservation of His word and we found some very interesting facts:
In the Old Testament His word was entrusted to His People, specifically the Levitical Priesthood. The Bible demonstrates that up to the time of Christ the priest-scribes faithfully discharged their duty, since neither Christ nor his Apostles ever once questioned the words of Scripture which they read and used. Since Christ’s time Jewish scribes have continued to copy the Hebrew Scriptures. The Canon of the Old Testament was set by the time of Christ’s birth, and to this day Orthodox Jews recognize the same Old Testament Canon as the AV-KJV.
And while there is no written provision in the New Testament, we came to the conclusion that the priesthood of believers is responsible for copying and keeping God’s words. God has followed the pattern of the Old Testament and has once again entrusted the preservation of His New Testament to His people. And since all born again Christians are children of God and believer-priests, it has been the responsibility of the church and believers to keep God’s words. NOT UNBELIEVING ‘SCHOLARS’!
In our study of the Old and New Testament Canon we determined, as much as possible, who wrote which Books by an examination of Scripture and we left the guess work to others. We simply believe that the Bible which we have in our hands today was written by the men so named in the titles of the Books if we couldn’t find Scripture to prove otherwise and in the absence of any solid historical evidence to the contrary.
After the Books of the New Testament were written it was necessary to gather them together into one volume or Canon. Church history clearly demonstrates that by or before 300 A.D. the 27 Books of the New Testament were recognized and accepted by believers as being genuine Scripture to the exclusion of all other books which claimed divine origin.
We stated that the formation of the New Testament Canon was unique in that the Holy Spirit not only guided believers into choosing the right Books but also the true text of those Books. God has placed us in a peculiar position - If we accept the judgement of the early believers about the Canon then we must also accept their judgement on what constituted the true text of the Books that made up the Canon. Since the church age is typified by faith, our faith in Him should not rest exclusively in His power to save our lost souls, but should extend to His ability to preserve His word also.
In this Lesson (#5) we will discuss the materials needed to produce the Bible. First, it must be determined which manuscripts or “families” of manuscripts are genuine copies of the originals and which ones are not. Once that determination is made it shouldn’t be too difficult to produce God’s word, as He wrote it and preserved it. Please remember: All manuscripts (mss) are witnesses - we must decide which witnesses (mss) are consistent, reliable, and trustworthy and accept their testimony, and which witnesses (mss) are inconsistent, unreliable and untrustworthy and reject their testimony.
The following facts are recorded in church history. Soon after the Apostles wrote the Scriptures (The Originals):
#1. Many true and faithful copies were made by born again believers and
#2. These trustworthy copies were read and shared amongst believers and
copied and re-copied over and over again (Many copies in use – just like
#3. Untrustworthy or perverted copies were not used or read much (Just like
#4. Not many untrustworthy copies in existence – because of the little use and
small demand for them (After all, it was a lot of work to hand copy Books).
#5. That is the major reason why some, very few, manuscripts, when found, are
in such good physical shape. No one bothered to read or use them! Have you
ever seen a real Bible believer’s Bible?
We are now ready to begin our inquiry into manuscript evidence.
First came the “Originals”; those manuscripts penned by the original writers of the New Testament under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Almost all the ‘critics’, ‘scholars’, and ‘historians’ believe that most of the original New Testament writings were written on the “poor man’s paper” of that day;
PAPYRUS - A paper
At present there are approximately 76 Papyrus fragments which have parts of the New Testament on them.
In the Apostles time people wrote on either a SCROLL or a CODEX (Book form) made out of either PAPYRUS or VELLUM (animal skins). The invention of the Codex or Book form (instead of Scrolls) is credited to the early Christians, who needed a faster and more convenient way to read and use the Scriptures.
From 100 A.D. to approximately 1,000 A.D. these Scrolls or Codices are called UNCIALS – Manuscripts written in block capital Greek letters. These are the earlier or “older” manuscripts of which there are about 250 (None is whole or ‘complete’ – many contain only parts of one Book of the New Testament).
Somewhere around 900 A.D. cursive writing was invented and so many of the newer or younger or “late” manuscripts were written in this new style of writing. These later manuscripts are referred to as CURSIVES (or Minuscules) – Manuscripts written in lower case Greek letters, of which many, perhaps most, were copies of an older Uncial manuscript. There are over 2,600 manuscripts in the ‘cursive’ style (Most of which are not whole – many contain only parts of one Book of the New Testament). Most of these cursive manuscripts support the Textus Receptus
In addition to the Greek manuscripts there are also the EARLY TRANSLATIONS. These are manuscripts in a language other than Greek, the major ones being - Latin, Syriac, Gothic, Armenian, Georgian, Aramaic, Coptic, etc. Most of the Early Translations were made between the years 100-500 A.D.
Included in our list of materials are the manuscripts called LECTIONARIES. These manuscripts are extracts taken from the New Testament and recorded or put into ‘Service Books’, which were something like the responsive readings in the back of some Christian Hymnals.
Next we have the CHURCH “FATHERS”, Christians who left writings on doctrine or sermons in which they referred to the Scriptures. These “Fathers” have been divided up into at least 3 groups, much like the manuscripts have been.
Believers were first called
And last of all, and least reliable, we have the conjectures (guesses), of the “Scholars”. The vast majority of the scholars opinions can be discarded because most of them never believed for one moment that they were handling God’s very words.
Before we begin an examination of the manuscript evidence 3 FACTS should be stated so that there are no misunderstandings:
#1. Almost all manuscripts agree with each other 85%-90% of the time.
#2. The manuscripts have been ‘divided’ up into “Families” by the scholars
supposedly because of the differences in readings between the manuscripts.
#3. Manuscripts belonging to the same so-called “Family” generally will have the same
readings on certain ‘key’ texts, although they may differ greatly elsewhere.
J. J. Griesbach (1745-1812) is credited with ‘inventing’ the so-called “Family
Theory” of manuscript evidence. He divided the manuscripts into three “families”:
EGYPTIAN – (A shorter or abbreviated text.)
WESTERN – (A longer or lengthened text.)
BYZANTINE – (A middle or medium length text.)
Try to remember the “family theory” of manuscripts and the so-called “text types” because this is the vehicle or method used by the “scholars” to throw out up to 95% of the evidence in favor of the AV-KJB. And we can prove this over and over again.
I believe that by God’s guiding, the New Testament has been preserved and can be found in the vast majority (90%-95%) of the Greek New Testament manuscripts. This majority Greek text is known as: The “Majority Text”, The “Traditional Text”, The “Textus Receptus” (or the “Received Text”), The “Byzantine Text”, etc., (Give it a Latin name or multiple names to confuse the issue). This is the New Testament text from which the Authorized Version, later known as the King James Bible (AV-KJB) was translated. This is the Book that I refer to as The Word of God - Holy, Infallible, God-Breathed, and God Preserved. The Book of books!