2 Tim. 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the HOLY SCRIPTURES, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 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.
One only has to walk a few paces outside of the protective walls of his Bible Believing church to hear the Lie. Walk into nearly any Christian assembly and the Lie is being repeated there with vigorous emotion and “authority”. And sometimes (like today) I am ashamed that I have not continued to contend with the lie with the same zeal as I have in the past. My sword was so sharp once (by reason of use), so I write this little article to encourage those who once stood so boldly and confidently against the Lie to stir up the gift and contend again for the true Word of God. The Lie to which I am referring deals with inspiration of Scripture. Most are not even aware of the issue; in fact the average proponent of this gross untruth has no idea what the implications of what he is saying are. Most simply parrot the popular catch phrases of the day without ever examining them critically. Here is the Lie, the foundational issue of the whole debate over the inspiration of Scripture:
"We believe the Holy Scriptures to be verbally INSPIRED by God and are inerrant in the ORIGINAL WRITING, and that THEY are supreme and final authority in faith and life."
This innocent sounding little phrase (and others similar) is one of the most dangerous ideas ever to enter the house of God. It is found in the doctrinal statements of churches around the world. My Daddy used to ask me “if all your friends were jumping off a cliff, would you?” I am afraid that too many churches are jumping off the cliff into the darkness and confusion of modern textual criticism not because they have actually reasoned about it but instead because “everyone else is doing it.” We hear clichés like, “It is closer to the ‘Original Greek’”, or “Literally this word in ‘The Greek’ means…”, and too often Christians just fail to think about what meaning and implication those words actually carry. I’ll get to the point. The same Holy Ghost who gave the pure words to Moses, Paul, Luke, etc. certainly is not so impotent that he cannot PRESERVE the words pure.
Almost everywhere I go, I hear amateur (and professional)
scholars talking about the “Original Greek”. It has become commonplace today
(when discussing and studying the Bible) for folks to defer to their Strong’s
concordance almost exclusively for “deeper insight” into the word. The precept
seems sound enough. If we can go back to the “originals” we can get at the
real truth of what the writer intended.
Aside from the fact that only a very few have really spent the years necessary to really master an ancient dead language (have you?), there is the problem. There is not just one “original Greek”. There are over 5000 existing manuscripts (copies). Let that sink in for a moment. (selah) Why would I bring this up? Most people I talk to seem to assume that there is a Bible in Greek that is the “original.” Not only is that not true. It has never been true at any time in man’s history. Scholars refer to the actual pen and paper of Moses, Paul, etc. as autographs. These were the true “originals.” These originals are no longer extant (they no longer exist, having perished soon after their writing and subsequent repeated copings.) No translator of any Bible version ever saw even one of these “originals”. Years before the books were assembled into what we call canon (the closed list of books which we recognize to be scripture: Genesis-Revelation), long before they were put together within one cover and called “The Holy Bible”, the originals were gone. The autographs penned by Moses were gone before Jesus’ time and, the originals which Paul and Luke wrote were long gone before the final canon was settled upon. The importance of this fact can be readily seen when a bit of “horse sense” is applied. The phrase, “It is closer to the Original Greek” becomes either a very presumptuous statement or else an incredibly ignorant one. Unless we have a time machine, we have absolutely no way of knowing for certain what the “originals” (autographs) said. If therefore you believe that only the originals were inspired, perfect, and inerrant, then you have no inspired, perfect, and inerrant Bible on the earth, nor have you ever had. In case you think I’m building a straw man, let me quote a leading advocate of modern Bible versions and opponent of “King James only-ism” Mr. James R. White (The King James Only Controversy p. 36):
"All of these things [scribal copy errors] contributed to the simple fact that there is not a single handwritten manuscript of the Bible in Greek or Hebrew that does not contain, somewhere, an error, an oversight, a mistake. To err is human."
Mr. White is at least man enough to admit that he believes this. Look long and hard at what he is saying. The next logical step when you surrender your Biblical definition of “scripture” is to deny that we have a perfect word. (Hold fast the form of sound words) To err is human, according to White and all the others, but there is Someone else at work here. The sovereign Holy Spirit of God Almighty is able to preserve and keep his word pure.
Psalm 12:6. The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. 7.Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt PRESERVE them from this generation for ever.
Proverbs 22:20 Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge,
Isaiah 40:8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.
1 Peter 1:25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
When you use the phrase “Original Greek”, know that it is (for all practical purposes) a useless cliché. I personally believe that the current worship of these “originals”(like a modern day bronze serpent) borders on Bibliolatry. (In case you missed it, that was sarcasm).
The theory goes that when Paul, Mark, John, Moses etc, wrote
their books that they were inspired, perfect, and inerrant. But then over
the years, as man (weren’t Paul and Luke men?) got his grubby, mistake-prone
hands in there, the scriptures were corrupted. So therefore the only place
that the scriptures were ever inspired, perfect, and inerrant were right as
they came off the writer’s pen. This theory is not supported by one Bible
verse. It’s just not! Moses’ first “original” Ten Commandments were inspired,
but so were the second “originals” written after he smashed the first against
the mountain. Likewise the copies were inspired which Jesus quoted long after
the stone tablets were destroyed. Common sense dictates that the originals
were inspired. But read Jeremiah 36 and you will get a Biblical view of how
God regards those “originals” God historically has allowed the original autographs
to be destroyed and restored. This is a Biblical view of Preservation.
We must return to a Biblical definition of the word “Scripture”. While various “scholars” have redefined the word to mean, “inspired in the original,” the Bible never even once calls an original autograph a scripture. When the Bible says “scripture”, it is always referring to copies. Notice again Paul’s words in 2 Timothy:
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: 18. That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
Can anyone even conceive that Paul was referring to ORIGINAL autographs here? Did Timothy, from the time he was a child, study ancient autographs penned by Moses himself? Of course not! The scriptures “given by inspiration” in v.16 were the same copies of copies of copies which young Timothy studied as a child.
The doctrine that states, “the Holy Scriptures are verbally inspired by God and are inerrant in the original writing” is a dangerous extra-Biblical doctrine. Just browse through a few church doctrinal statements on the internet or pick up one from the back of a church. “We believe in the virgin birth” will be supported by scripture verses. “We believe in the death, burial and resurrection bodily of the Lord Jesus Christ” is also followed by a Bible verse or two. Then when you get to “We believe the Bible was inspired in the originals”, there is no verse! Can you honestly think of one? It is the Big Lie. “Yea hath God said?”
Timothy studied translations and copies. Jesus quoted from translations and copies. Many verses in the New Testament, penned in Greek, were translations in “the original” because the Old Testament from which the writers were quoting was a Hebrew book. In fact, the conversations between Moses and Pharaoh recorded in Exodus were translations in “the original.” Do you suspect that Pharaoh learned Hebrew to “accommodate” Moses? The conversation was no doubt in the language of Egypt but recorded in the “original” Exodus in Hebrew. In the Bible, the word scripture always refers to copies and translations. We don’t need originals. We need scripture.
Psalms 138.2. I will worship toward thy holy temple, and
praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified
thy word above all thy name.
In high school, we learned about Deism. Deists believe that “God” created the universe then just left it to run on its own like a giant clock. Of course Christians who have known the loving hand of God in every detail of their life easily reject Deism as unbiblical. However to believe that God created the clock of his Word in the originals, and then just let it wind down throughout history, is very kin to classic Deism. God is the Author and Finisher. He has always inspired copies. He has always communicated to man. He can preserve his words as easily as he can speak a universe into existence. His arms are not so short that he cannot reach his people. Just a casual study of the Bible on the subject of God’s word reveals that He esteems and expects us to esteem) His word highly.
Isaiah 34:16 Seek ye out of the book of the Lord, and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate: for my mouth it hath commanded, and his spirit it hath gathered them.
If the subject were Shakespeare, Josephus, Plato, or the book of II Maccabees, then it would stand to reason that some mistakes are possible. I (for one) could care a less whether Juliet says to Romeo, “Wherefore art thou?” or “Why are you?” She could even say, “Yo whazzup?” My point is that the Holy Bible is not just another book that we can play with. Did God promise to preserve it or not? It is a miraculous, living, holy book.
Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
Luke 16:17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.
A Challenge To All Who Would Be As Men and Not As Children.
This is by no means an exhaustive treatise on this subject.
Hundreds of men and women infinitely more qualified than myself have written
extensively on the topic of Bible preservation. Please, I exhort you, read
up on the KJV translators. Read about the significance of Westcot and Hort
and their damnable heresies. Read the many Biblical challenges to the false
science of modern textual criticism. Study about the fruit of the various
Bible versions. Investigate for yourself just who is making money off of copyrighted
Bible versions. Don’t be intimidated by men such as James White into hiding
your head in the sand all in the name of “not being divisive.” God’s Word
will divide. It is a sword! This issue is of such foundational significance
that it cannot just be swept aside. We either have a 100% perfect, inerrant,
inspired scripture or we don’t. Either we can trust a Book which the common
man can hold in his hand and study, or we must trust the scribes, priests
and scholars. Which is the Biblical view? (Jeremiah 8:7-9; Matthew 7:28-29;
Matthew 23;13) The biggest lie ever told was “Ye shall not surely die.”
It was set up with the crafty question “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat
of every tree of the garden?” If the Devil can just get you to entertain
doubt about God’s words, then his day’s work is practically over. When a preacher
tells you that the Bible was only perfect in “the originals,” he is doing
the Devil’s work. It inspires nothing but doubt, confusion and despondency.
God’s pure, perfect, resurrected, holy words are found in one Book. The King
James Bible. I close with the last five verses of the King James Bible.
Revelation 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. 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. 20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. 21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Lacy Evans, pastor in Midland Texas