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:
2 Peter 1:20-21
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
Is the Bible the Word of God? What an important question for a Christian to settle. In fact, we could go no further in our study of the normal Christian life without coming to a conclusion on this subject. With so many English versions of the Bible around, we must also determine if the Bible we use is the Word of God. We devote this lesson then to settling this matter of whether our Bible is the Word of God.
If we say that the Bible is the Word of God, what exactly do we mean? Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God". The word "all" might be difficult to understand: It means all. The word "scripture" is a familiar word that is simply a name for the Holy Writings or what we call the Bible. The word translated "inspired" is from a Greek word which means "God-breathed".
Not only does Paul not say this; no where does the Bible claim it. No, Paul claims that every word of every book of the Bible was given by God; therefore we can consider every word that we read as equivalent to God having said it with His own breath. When we say that the Bible is the Word of God, this is exactly what we mean. Just as the ten commandments were said to have been written with the finger of God, we may consider the Bible to be the very words of God as if they were spoken directly from his mouth.
Now that we understand the question better, let us repeat it: Is the Bible the Word of God? We have already seen that Paul thought so, but now we shall look at some more evidence both in and outside of the Bible
In the New Testament, notice what Peter says in 2 Peter 1:20-21. Notice what Jesus told His disciples in John 14:26 that the Holy Spirit will "teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."
The Old Testament is filled with prophets who, by definition, are those who bring the words of God to man (see Exodus 7:1-2, Deuteronomy 18:18, and Jeremiah 1:9). Read through the books that these prophets wrote and count how many times they say "Thus saith the Lord" or "Hear ye the word of the Lord". Add to this the many remarkable passages where these writers switch from the third person to the first with no transitional "saith the Lord" as if suddenly the author had become God - Isaiah 3:4, Jeremiah 16:21, Hosea 6:4, Joel 2:23, etc.
Some may say that these men only spoke the word of God, and question whether they wrote down exactly what God had said. If God gave them the power to speak His Word, surely He would also give them the ability to record it. But the Bible expressly teaches that the written word is inspired. The Old Testament is often quoted in the New as having divine authority. For Christ and His disciples, "it is written" was as good as "God says". Paul refers to the Old Testament as the "the oracles of God" (Romans 3:2). Perhaps the most striking evidence is found in verses like Romans 9:17 which uses the phrase "the scripture saith" when quoting something that God says in Exodus 9:16 (compare Galatians 3:8 with Genesis 22:18).
2. From Unity
The Bible contains 66 books written by some 40 different authors in 3 different languages over a period of about 1600 years. Yet to those who have read it, the Bible has a unity that would be hard to explain away. The Bible contains not a single contradiction but presents the same truths over and over again. Jesus can be seen in every book, the character of God is the same in each book, and the fact that man is a sinner is something repeated throughout. How could a set of books such as these agree so well if it were not for the fact that they are the Word of God!
Perhaps the greatest evidence outside the Bible that it is the Word of God is the fact that so many people were willing to die for it. In the late 1300's, a man named John Wickliffe began translating the Bible into English. Those who were found in possession of parts of Wickliffe's transcripts were often set on fire with scraps of Scripture fastened about their necks. Many Christians down through the centuries and even today have been persecuted and killed because they were in possession of all or part of the Bible. Surely these Christians believed that they had the Word of God or they would never have been willing to die for it. Their enemies knew what they had! William Tyndale was another man who had a great desire to translate the Bible into English so that the common man could read it. His translation of the New Testament came forth in print around 1525, and later he translated part of the Old Testament. His enemies (the Catholic priests) did much to discredit his work claiming that it was full of heresies, but Tyndale later wrote, "I call God to record against the day we shall appear before our Lord Jesus, that I never altered one syllable of God's Word against my conscience, nor would do this day, if all that is in earth, whether it be honor, pleasure, or riches, might be given me." For his deeds he was eventually put in prison and then burned at the stake. At the stake he cried this, "Lord! open the king of England's eyes." Here was a man who believed that the Bible was the Word of God.
Consider also these other external evidences: 1. Its prominence in literature, 2. Its historical accuracy, 3. The testimony from archaeology, 4. Its preservation over thousands of years, 5. Its adaptability to every culture down through the centuries, and 6. Its amazing transforming power.
Since 1960, there have been about 30 new translations of the entire Bible and about 50 new translations of the New Testament into English. The issue of which translation is the best has become a real hot topic these days. Many fundamentalists who rally behind the King James Version are quick to attack the other versions and those who use them, but they have no real understanding of the matter to support their emotions. Let us spend a little time now and see why the King James Version is truly the Word of God, but let us also be careful not to run down other believers who have chosen to use a different version. There have been several great men of God (R.A. Torrey, and John R. Rice for example) who preferred some of these other translations. Let's not make an emotional decision. Let's look at some facts and comparisons in order to make a right decision.
First, we need to understand that the original manuscripts containing the Old Testament were written in Hebrew and those containing the New Testament were in Greek. However, we do not have these original manuscripts, we have copies of them. In fact, there are over 5,000 Greek manuscripts in existence today ranging from fragments of the New Testament to all of it. Which of these should be used to make an English translation?
The King James Version of the New Testament was translated from a set of newer manuscripts which are known as the Textus Receptus (also called the Received Text and the Majority Text). All of the English translations out today used a couple of more ancient manuscripts known as the Alexandrian texts. Which is better, a newer text or an older one? One might assume that an older text would be closer to the original, but we ought to bear in mind that manuscripts such as these tend to fall apart more quickly if they get used frequently than those that are not used. Therefore, if a manuscript written in the 2nd century were found today, we would probably assume that it had not been used much. Why would a manuscript not be used? Maybe because it was not a good copy. The Textus Receptus has been used in the Church down through the centuries. We know this from studying the letters written by early Christians who quoted from the Textus Receptus. We conclude therefore that the King James Version of the Bible is better because it was translated from a better text.
There are two opposite methods that have been used to translate the Bible into English. One method is called "verbal equivalence" where each word from the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts are rendered into the closest matching English word. On the other extreme, there is a method called "dynamic equivalence" where the translator reads the original manuscript and writes down their interpretation of the passage into English. Which of these methods would you prefer to have been used for the Bible that you read? Are words important? The King James Version is a better translation because it was based on the verbal equivalence method.
Many people today have chosen a different version of the Bible because they think that the newer versions are easier to read and understand. Because these other translations used a different text and a different method of translation, many words and sometimes whole verses that are found in the KJV are missing or different in these others. If you were trying to study major doctrines, and your Bible was missing some words, could that make a difference in your understanding? Lets look at some important verses and test which translation is better:
1 John 5:7 is an important verse dealing with the Trinity. Notice that the other translations are missing this doctrine.
|KJV||For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.|
|NIV||For there are three that testify:|
|NASB||For there are three that testify:|
|RSV||And the Spirit is the witness, because the Spirit is the truth.|
Ephesians 3:9 also deals with the trinity because it tells us that Jesus had a part in Creation. Do the other translations teach this?
|KJV||And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:|
|NIV||and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.|
|NASB||and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things;|
|RSV||and to make all men see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things;|
Jesus is speaking in Mark 13:14 and refers to some passages in the Book of Daniel. The fact that He quotes from Daniel is important, yet this is missing in the other translations.
|KJV||But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:|
|NIV||When you see `the abomination that causes desolation' standing where it does not belong--let the reader understand--then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.|
|NASB||But when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.|
|RSV||But when you see the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains;|
The other translations completely miss some important doctrine on judgement as seen in Mark 6:11.
|KJV||And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.|
|NIV||And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them.|
|NASB||Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake the dust off the soles of your feet for a testimony against them.|
|RSV||And if any place will not receive you and they refuse to hear you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet for a testimony against them.|
Is the phrase "for ever" important in understanding judgement in 2 Peter 2:17?
|KJV||These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.|
|NIV||These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them.|
|NASB||These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved.|
|RSV||These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm; for them the nether gloom of darkness has been reserved.|
In Galatians 4:7, is the phrase "through Christ" important in our salvation?
|KJV||Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.|
|NIV||So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.|
|NASB||Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.|
|RSV||So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir.|
In 1 John 4:3, is the phrase "in the flesh" important to the doctrine of Christ?
|KJV||And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.|
|NIV||but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.|
|NASB||and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.|
|RSV||and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of antichrist, of which you heard that it was coming, and now it is in the world already.|
In Luke 2:22, notice the difference between "her" and "their". Did Jesus need to be purified?
|KJV||And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;|
|NIV||When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord|
|NASB||And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord|
|RSV||And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord|
In Luke 2:33 notice the difference between "Joseph" and "father". Was Joseph the father of Jesus? Is this important to the doctrine of Christ?
|KJV||And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.|
|NIV||The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him.|
|NASB||And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him.|
|RSV||And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him;|
Is the word "firstborn" in Matthew 1:25 important to the doctrine of the virgin birth?
|KJV||And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.|
|NIV||But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.|
|RSV||but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus.|
The book of Revelation contains a terrible judgement for those who take away from its "words" (Revelation 22:19)! Notice the words missing in the other translations of Revelation 16:5.
|KJV||And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus.|
|NIV||Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say: "You are just in these judgments, you who are and who were, the Holy One, because you have so judged;|
|NASB||And I heard the angel of the waters saying, Righteous are You, who are and who were, O Holy One, because You judged these things|
|RSV||And I heard the angel of water say, "Just art thou in these thy judgments, thou who art and wast, O Holy One.|
With all of this evidence, who could deny that the King James Bible is the very words of God? What a disgrace are these liberal preachers who deny the inspiration of the Bible when so many have given their lives claiming to the very end that they had God's Word. Next week we shall continue this lesson by looking at some things that ought to be present in our lives if we truly believe that the Bible is the Word of God.