The Bible Delivered to us Today
There is enormous proof that God has spoken and used the Hebrew people in the Old Testament and the apostles and others for the New Testament to convey His message to mankind.
Jesus said those who have ears to hear will hear the message. It didn’t mean that they will hear the word said audibly, but that they will listen with the intent of understanding and willing to do what He said.
Those who are filled with pride, arrogance, the intellectually arrogant predisposed who are filled with unbelief are unable to receive even a word, a taste of the word of life. One must listen with the intention of being open to what is said for God to get through our hard hearts.
What is the Bible?
The Bible is an account of God working with man throughout our history. With individuals and nations. What makes the bible unique is that it was not authored by one person but inspired by one God. It has a consistent message through 40 different authors that transpired over 1500 years, 60 generations. 66 books were written on 3 different continents in times of peace, war, slavery, and imprisonment. These books comes from the perspective of Kings and young men chosen as prophets Throughout all this time God has maintained his message for succeeding generation despite those who oppose him, his people and his word. The message has been consistently the same, man needs redemption because we are fallen. God is holy, perfect, loving and just. And he must punish evil, and He rewards those who are yielding to obey his commands, specifically in receiving Christ.
The first five books of the bible were incorporated by Moses 1500 years before Christ came into the world. Then there are the words of the prophets that spoke transpiring through Israel’s history. Because they turned their back on the Lord he sent them prophets and wise men to have them return and repent. They also spoke of a future redeemer that would bring reconciliation to the whole world, through Israel.
The bible is written in diverse literary forms. Historical, narratives, biographical, poetry, drama, songs, letters and in symbolism both prophetic and apocalyptic. Their are 17 prophecy books that hold prophecies of the one who would appear to redeem mankind. They are spread out over thousands of years, and written by writers who knew nothing of each other.
Heb.1 tells us the eyewitnesses of Jesus wrote down his words as the final revelation to man. It was final because it was God who became a man this time. He didn’t send ANOTHER PROPHET as he did before –HE CAME HIMSELF.
The Bible contains 2,600 claims of inspiration such as thus saith the Lord. The inspired Word of God witnessing authoritatively to Jesus Christ, is what are called infallible and inerrant. Infallible signifies the quality of neither misleading nor being misled, and that Holy Scripture is the truth and is a reliable rule and guide in all matters of life.
Inerrant signifies the quality of being free from all falsehood or mistake and that Holy Scripture is entirely true and trustworthy in all its statements.
God has not promised an inerrant transmission of the copies. We need to recognize it is the original autographers that are perfect in inspiration. However this does not put the Bible in jeopardy. We can be confident what we have delivered to us today is accurate. However, we do need to acknowledge that all translations are an additional step away from the original texts. What happened is that the originals got worn out, but before this happened the writers assured its continuation by making copies. They took meticulous measures to make sure the copies were accurate.
We still have the Holy Spirit’s consistent witness to us through the Word so the Scripture is intact, He is the author who used men to write it. And is able to make one wise for salvation and be equipped for every good work God requires.
Most changes or “so called” omissions or additions depending on which side of the fence you stand, are so inconsequential and that they are devoid of any theological contamination.
What people do is narrow the scope and say this particular passage can no longer be called upon to support a particular doctrine, yet the doctrine remains unchanged because the majority of the support is found in other passages. So if one wants to prove some heretic changed a particular passage in order to suppress a certain doctrine the heretic was incompetent because he left support in the majority of the other Scriptures pertaining to the passage of question.
Who wrote the Pentateuch? (the first 5 books of Old Testament). The books themselves claim to have been written by Moses (Ex. 17:14, 24:4,7; 34:27-28; Lev.1-2; Num. 33:2; Deut.1:1-5; 4:4-5; 31:9,24-26). If Moses did not write the Pentateuch, the Bible is an absolute lie from its beginning because it includes Genesis the origin of mankind. There are 26 references to writing in the Pentateuch, all refer to Moses as the writer. For example Num 33:2-3 “Now Moses wrote down the starting points of their journeys at the command of the LORD.” It shows Moses is the author of the books over and over again.
Although nowhere in the Old Testament text does it say Moses is the author of Genesis we can assume he was the compiler or editor of what they knew or what God gave as revelation to him up on the Mountain. The book of the law written by Moses was handed to the priests, it ends at Deut 31:23; (except the song and blessing which is Moses’ own composition). The rest of the book of Deuteronomy is an appendix added after Moses’ death by another hand.
What God told Moses he wrote. He did not write anything God did not ask him to write. Exod 24:4 “And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD…” Exod 24:16-18 “Now the glory of the LORD rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day He called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud.The sight of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel. So Moses went into the midst of the cloud and went up into the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.”
Exod 34:27-28 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write these words, for according to the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.
Other Old Testament books claim Moses wrote the Pentateuch. Judge 3:4; 1 Kings 2:3, 8:9; 2 Kings 14:6; Ezra 2:6; Neh.9:14; Mal. 4:4). The New Testament claims Moses wrote the Pentateuch, Moses is mentioned 80 times in the New Testament (Mk. 12:26; Lk. 16:29-31; 24:27 [Moses’ writings are called Scripture]; 24:44; Jn. 1:17; 5:45-47; 8:5; Acts 15:21; 2 Cor. 3:15).
Mark 10:3-9 And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you? “They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her. “And Jesus answered and said to them, “Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. “But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.”For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh.” Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” After His resurrection in Luke 24:44, then He (Jesus) said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” The Bible is broken up into three categories that the Jews and Jesus recognized. This covers the whole Bible, everything written. V:27 “And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”
Jesus Christ quoted from every part of the Pentateuch during His life’s ministry: Genesis (Mt. 19:4-6; 24:37-39); Exodus (Mk. 12:26 citing Ex. 3:6); Leviticus (Mt. 8:4 citing Lev. 14:1-32); Numbers (Jn. 3:14-15 citing Num. 21:8,9 and Jn. 6:31-32 citing Num. 11:6-9); Deuteronomy (Mk. 10:4-5 citing Deut. 24:1).
Jesus introduced himself to the people at the synagogue by quoting Isa.61, recorded in Luke 4:18-21 “And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” His whole life revolved around the witness and validity of the scripture. Without it He could not prove who he was, and without it neither can we. Jesus’ whole ministry was presenting Himself as the Messiah in light of the Old Testament Scripture.
In Ps.138:2 we find that “God esteems his word above all his name.” Jesus pointed to the Word as the final authority for man saying “thy word is truth” and quoted it through His teaching to give us understanding of Himself. There are about 250 quotes from Old Testament books in the New Testament. Jesus continued to quote Scripture stating ‘it is written” and “have you not read.” All the Old Testament books are quoted as authoritative by Jesus and the New Testament writers except for Esther, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon.
For 400 years prior to the birth of Christ there was no prophecy, no revelation. God was silent after the last prophet Malachi. The Old Testament at the time of Jesus was completed. The Gospels record Jesus speaking of Scripture as being completed and one unit. He said to the Jewish leaders: You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life (John 5:39). Jesus pointed to the OT scripture for them to understand His person; again and again He said that it is the Scriptures that bears witness of Him and are fulfilled in Him.Jesus also said the Scripture could not be broken (John 10:35). His statements show that He believed the Bible to be historically accurate and without error coming from God.
There is every Indication that during New Testament times Jesus and the disciples were multi-lingual. When it came time for them to quote the Old Testament in the Greek written New Testament, they preferred quoting from the Greek Septuagint. For example in Romans 3 there is a large quotation from Ps. 14, where there are six whole verses in the apostle’s quotation which are not found in the present Hebrew text, but are preserved in the Septuagint! (from Adam Clarke’s Commentary)
The Greek language was first spread by Alexander the Great after he defeated the Persian empire in 323 B.C. Because of Alexander’s conquest Greek became the major international language. In 250 B.C. the Hebrew Scriptures were translated to Greek which became the dominant language of Israel and the world at the time of Christ. The Septuagint (Greek) translation of the Old Testament was done for Greek-speaking Jews in Alexandria Egypt during the reign of Ptolmey Philadelphia IV of Egypt. The Pentateuch was first translated, then later the rest of the Old Testament books were added to the translation. Long before the time of Jesus, the Jews stopped using Hebrew as their everyday language. Aramaic was used as their common tongue, however they did continue to read the scriptures in Hebrew in the temple, but not exclusively.
The historian Josephus (37-100 A.D.) said that the Jews held sacred twenty-two books (which include exactly the same as our present thirty-nine books of the Old Testament only in a different order).
After a lapse of more than two thousand years the Jews have not changed a single word of what had been written by Moses and the other prophets. We can be absolutely sure we have what they read then. One of the reasons is the dead sea scrolls found in 1948. The Essenes were called the people of the scroll. The Qumran community started in 150 B.C to 70 A.D. They hid the scrolls in Caves. In 1948 a Arab child stumbled onto one of the greatest finds in our day to prove the Bible. Various scrolls were found in 11 caves. 2 copies of Isaiah- Gen. 1-15. A commentary of Habbakuk with 3 compositions of their lifestyle of the community and hymns, major portions of every OT book with the exception of Esther, and other manuscripts.
There were no major differences in the writings that we have today. There were17 differences from the current Masoretic text of today and then, which were mostly punctuation. 10 were differences in spelling, out of the other 7; 4 were of conjunctions, the last 3 were different words used for light. The scrolls brought to the world manuscripts of Old Testament books 1,000 years older than any previously in existence. Of the older scrolls, the Isaiah A Scroll (IQIsa) is the oldest known copy of any complete book of the Bible dating back to around 125-130 B.C. (or possibly older). The Isaiah B scroll (IQIsb) dates close to the same time period (about 125 B.C.). Both texts bear close resemblance to the Masoretic text ( which was translated from 895-1000 A.D.) which is the standard text used today for all Hebrew Bible translations.
Charles F. Pfeiffer stated “The Old Testament books from Qumran are those which we find in our Bibles. Minor textual variants occur as they do in any document which depends on hand copies for multiplication, but the biblical text may be regarded as essentially reliable” (The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible, Charles F. Pfeiffer, p. 114).
Approximately 15-30 years after Christ, the New Testament began to be written in the common language of Greek, rather than the Aramaic which Jesus and the Jewish people spoke during his time. The translations of the New Testament were made in Greek so people could read God’s Word in their own tongue as this was the major language currently used. The first miracle to the people when the Holy Spirit was given and the church started was in Acts 2 where they spoke in other languages they had not learned, and communicated to people of the different nations who were gathered there at Pentecost V.12: “we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.” God had reversed what he did at the tower of Babel, Where he spread the people out because they were trying to unite without him, He now wanted to bring people together into His church through His Son. It was done through a supernatural act of language.
Jesus instructed the disciples in Luke 24:47: “and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Besides the supernatural act of tongues the language that would be the most appropriate to fulfill the command would be the international language of Greek. One of the reasons the New Testament was written in Greek is that the partition between Jews and Gentiles was broken down so we could all become one in Christ. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew to a nation that exclusively spoke Hebrew. In between God prepared the Jewish people with the Greek language by having them first translate the Old Testament into Greek. The New Testament was written in Greek bringing God’s kingdom to the whole Greek speaking Gentile world, as well as the Jews. Today we have it in English as the major common language of the world. Over 7 billion copies of the Bible have been printed in over 1800 languages and dialects. That is more than one copy for every person living on earth. This is more than any other book written in history.
Later on the bible was translated into different languages Syriac, Latin, Coptic (a late form of Egyptian). The early church writings all show they quoted from the Greek not Aramaic. But not just any Greek family –but from a certain Greek family of manuscripts. There is no ancient New Testament letters (prior to 400 A.D.) written in Hebrew, ALL are in Koine the common Greek language. Jerome completed the Latin Vulgate in about the year 405 A.D. The Gospels were published in 384 A.D., and the rest of Scripture afterwards. There are about 30 Old Latin Version manuscripts dating back to the second century. There are Syriac Versions dating between fourth and seventh centuries. These include the Peshetta, Palestinian, Philoxenian and Harclean, all of which are Greek dialect’s which differ from the common Koine that the New Testament was written in.
There are in existence around 5,000 Greek manuscripts, 8,000 Latin, and 1,000 versions from other languages, making 14,000 manuscripts of all or part of the New Testament. What is missing is the Hebrew translation in any kind of a similar amount. Altogether there are approximately 53,000 manuscripts with part or the whole of the Greek New Testament. God began a new thing, reaching out to the whole world through the Hebrew people in other languages.
With all this manuscript evidence you would think there would be no challengers on the authenticity of the scripture. Well there is. Liberal scoffers- I mean scholars try to promote the idea of what they call “Q” which is an abbreviation for Quelle a German name for a common “source” the gospels are supposed to share in. This of course has never been proven. It remains a hypothetical document. It sits side by side with the theory of evolution. Often the Q sayings are said to be word-for-word and in the same order– which is the claim for both Matthew and Luke. The fact is the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke all have a number of similarities and a number of different accounts recorded. Many propose Mark’s gospel was first and possibly so. There are others who claim Matthew was first because his gospel was to the Jews (some claim the original was in Hebrew). The liberal scholars claim Matthew and Luke are rewritten versions of Mark (often rejecting John’s). If one does a careful comparison there are very many sayings in Matthew and Luke that are NOT in Mark, nor vice versa.
The gospels are biographical narratives and each one has a specific theme to present to the readers of the people and groups written to. There were what is called apostolic legates, those who were appointed or under the authority of an apostle who wrote for them, much like a scribe would in the Old Testament. Those who claim collusion of the writers and that there was a main source they all copied from have no support for this argument. For example Mt. has 42% different material than the other writers and 58% agreement. Many times each writer will give missing details or words spoken of the same event adding depth to it.
Luke has 59% difference and 41% agreement. The differences emphasize interdependence; their agreement shows they did draw from a common background but not from a WRITTEN DOCUMENT. From a LIFE EXPERIENCED PERSONALLY with Jesus. They lived with him as John tells us in his first epistle. “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life– the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us– that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full” (I John 1:1-4).
The theory that Mark’s Gospel was the first to be written is based upon several arguments. Most of the material contained in Mark (about 93%) can be found in Matthew and Luke. It is easier for some to believe that Matthew and Luke expanded Mark rather than that Mark abbreviated Matthew and Luke. Especially when we see expansions of the same stories or Mark having privy to details they do not.
Sometimes Matthew and Luke agree with Mark in the actual words used, but they never agree with each other when differing from Mark. This would seem to prove that both Matthew and Luke did not depend upon Mark to get their information.
The order of events in Mark seems to be original. Wherever Matthew’s order differs from Mark, the Gospel of Luke supports Mark’s order, and whenever Luke differs from Mark’s order, Matthew agrees with Mark.
Mark is written under Peters authorization (many have called it “the Gospel of Peter”). It is the shortest and the most raw of all the gospels. His favorite word is “immediately” and used more than any other writer. He is the only one who mentions Simon of Cyrene son of Alexander- (Mk.15:21) so he is acquainted with his family. This also shows it was written within one generation of the cross. There are very few Old Testament quotes. He records 18 parables ( Mk.4:26-29) and 23 responses of Christ’s audience being hostile or fearful. He spends more time on the last week of Christ’s life than any other writer, as 1/3rd of his gospel is devoted to this (Chapters 11-16). It would not be Matthew who copied Mark since Matthew was an eyewitness traveling with Jesus. It would be unnecessary and ludicrous to assume that he depended upon Mark for his information, he was there.
Matthew was written to the Jewish believers who were scattered by the persecution in Jerusalem after the death of Stephen (as James was). The gospel according to Matthew has one-quarter devoted with the actual words and discourses of the Lord.
When Mark or Luke speak of Matthew they use Levi his original Hebrew name (Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27). They say the feast was in Levi’s house, Matthew just says in the house.
Matthew uses a term for money that is not used anywhere else. He Talks about the miracle of the coin found in the fish for the temple tax, something a former tax collector would notice and remember. In this we see how Jesus used and prepared each of these men as individuals.
He records 3 miracles Christ performed that no one else does. There are 10 parables and 10 incidences that are unique to Matthew. He is the only one who used the term “Holy city” for Jerusalem and “the end of the ages”.
Luke begins his gospel making it clear to Theophilus: “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative… it seemed good to me also… to write an orderly account for you…” Luke was aware of other writings (and oral) sources based on eyewitnesses and he used some of these sources to compile his gospel. His concern was to take all the accurate information and put it in a sequential order. As Luke wrote his Gospel and book of Acts under Paul’s authority who was the last apostle called, and sent to the gentiles. He was saved under Paul’s ministry in Troas in 51 A.D. and he traveled with Paul for 15 years. (Eph.6:21; Phil.2:25; Col.4:7-14 Philemon 10,23 ,24 these agree with the book of Acts). His is the longest of all the gospels with 50% of the material found only in his writings. Luke had to have talked with Mary to gain more of the private information of the virgin birth that no other writer recorded (even Matthew). He has 19 parables that no one else has, He records 8 instances that are unique, 6 miracles that are unique and he mentions 6 people that no one else does. So the concept of copying from a single source fails miserably when examined carefully.
Luke wrote in high quality (upper class Greek) Greek, his being the most literary of all gospels. Luke, because he was a doctor (Col.4:14) always writes more detail on diseases and healing showing his medical concerns. An example of this is the cutting off of the ear of the servant at the arrest of Jesus. He tells which ear and that Jesus healed it (Lk.22:51-52). He also records what Jesus said about Jerusalem more than any other gospel.
John is a completely separate gospel written up to 30 years after the others. He began as a disciple of John the baptist (Jn.1:40) and was a early disciple of Jesus who called John with his brother, the Sons of thunder (Mk.3:17).
John uses the term for himself “the disciple Jesus loved” (Jn.13:23) and he recorded no parables in his gospel. John Concentrates on Jesus as an adult but starts his gospel with his pre-existence. He has more of what John the Baptist taught than any other gospel writer. He concentrates on Jesus’ public inauguration in baptism, his life and trial. His gospel is an apologetic to get people to believe who Jesus actually is. He emphasizes the deity more than any other writer. One of the sub themes is the glory of God which he mentions 9 times. John’s gospel is not considered synoptic as it contains 92% unique material from the other three. For this reason the liberal critics reject it. Yet much of what John writes in his gospel is addressed in his epistles.
Paul declares that the God-breathed writings are sufficient. Both the Old Testament, The New Testament 2 Tim.3:16 state that all Scripture is inspired, given by God. So there is no scripture that is MORE inspired than others, the red letters of Jesus are not more important. They were all originally written with the same ink color.
We can be confident what we have today IS accurately what God has sent down through history.