A message for today by Gary Rose


I listened to this again today and thought to myself how appropriate it is for the year 2022. I remember the original Simon and Garfunkle release as being wonderful, but this new rendition has surpassed their efforts.


Today, this song is even more applicable to our country than the original was, many, many years ago. The United States of America is rapidly changing from a Republican Democracy to a totalitarian Communist state. Our freedoms are quickly disappearing before our very eyes.The government wants control of our bodies, our children and frankly our entire lives.


Crime and inflation are rampant, our nation is becoming a third world joke as I write this and unless things change  radically, censorship will eliminate any form of dissent by anyone ( except the government elite of course ).


Sin has been renamed into something more palatable, then tolerated and now widely accepted. Persecution has begun. Those who do not agree with our Communist representatives will soon be imprisoned or worse. I wonder, how long will it be before anyone who even mentions GOD will have to endure the final form of persecution - DEATH.

Wake up, America! Remove the criminals in government, imprison them for the rest of their lives and those who have committed treason, punish to the uttermost!

Our country needs a spiritual revival. If this isn't done, then Christianity will become illegal. Act before it is too late. Do not resort to violence, but use every legal means to bring about a truly civilized society once again.




The Power of our Thoughts by Ken Weliever, The Preacherman



The Power of our Thoughts

Man is made or unmade by himself; in the armory of thought he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself. He also fashions the tools with which he builds for himself heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace wrote, 19th century British author, James A. Allen.

In this classic book, As He Thinketh, Allen further observes, “By the right choice and true application of thought, man ascends to the Divine Perfection; by the abuse and wrong application of thought, he descends below the level of the beast. Between these two extremes are all the grades of character, and man is their maker and master. “

“Of all the beautiful truths pertaining to the soul which have been restored and brought to light in this age, none is more gladdening or fruitful of divine promise and confidence than this – that man is the master of thought, the molder of character, and maker and shaper of condition, environment, and destiny.”

Allen’s observations only reflect the truth stated in Proverbs 23:7, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” 

Consider these three applications of this Biblical axiom.

#1 Our Thoughts Determine our Character.

The kind of person we are is the result of the kind of thoughts we have been thinking. Jesus affirmed that this is so. “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19)

The wise man also said, “The thoughts of the righteous are right; but the counsels of the wicked are deceit” (Prov. 12:5). The righteous don’t think right thoughts because they are righteous, but they are righteous because they think right thoughts.

If we are to become the kind of person that God wants us to be, if must begin with the right kind of thinking. Indeed as Emerson said, “A man is what he thinks about all day long.”

#2 Our Thoughts Precede our Actions.  

Since we are what we think, what we do will be the result of what we are thinking about.

For example, Paul said in Acts 26:9, “I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.” Why did he do these things? Because he thought about them. Also, when Simon sinned in Acts 8, Peter indicated that his evil action came about as a result of the thought of his heart (v. 22).

A person’s thinking is so important because it determines his deeds. Good deeds result from good thinking; bad deeds result from bad thinking. While it is important to always correct our wrong deeds, it is more important to correct our wrong thinking.

#3 Our Thoughts Fortell Our Circumstances.

This is a general principle. Obviously, some events beyond our control may happen in life that affect us adversely. But it is usually true that our lot in life has been determined by our thoughts. Solomon said, “The thoughts of the diligent tend to the plenteous; but of every one that is hasty only to want” (Prov. 21:5).

James A. Allen expressed it this way, “The soul attracts that which it secretly harbors; that which it loves; and also that which it fears.

Even when bad things happen to good people who’ve been thinking righteous thoughts, our attitude and thinking will determine the way we deal and feel about misfortune. Paul demonstrated this kind of thinking in the different situations of his life (Phil. 4:11-13).

“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Phil 4:11-13)

Samuel Smiles challenges us to right thinking when he wrote:

Sow a thought, and you reap an act;

Sow an act, and you reap a habit;

Sow a habit, and you reap a character;

Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

Does the Water Regenerate? Dave Miller, Ph.D.



Does the Water Regenerate?

From Issue: R&R – November 2021


Do you believe that when a person is baptized that it is the water itself that regenerates? Or do you believe that when a person is baptized it is the washing by the Holy Spirit that regenerates?


The water certainly has no cleansing power whatsoever. The only reason why Peter could say that “baptism saves” (1 Peter 3:21) is because that is the point at which we are forgiven of sin based on the sacrifice of Christ. Hence, it is Christ’s blood—and only His blood—that cleanses sin (1 Peter 1:18-19; Revelation 1:5). [Recall that Peter clarified his “baptism saves” statement by adding “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” So baptism “now saves” via the atoning work of Christ, i.e., His death, burial, and resurrection—which is the Gospel (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4).] The H2O of baptism is parallel to the water of the Jordan in 2 Kings 5. Naaman’s leprosy was not cleansed by those waters—but by God Himself the moment Naaman met the terms/conditions of cleansing (i.e., immersing 7 times). Similarly, the waters of the Pool of Siloam possessed no healing power. It was solely Jesus who restored sight to the blind man—on the condition that the man would go to that pool and apply the water to the mud Jesus had smeared on his eyes (John 9:7). Neither water nor mud, then or now, has any cleansing capability. They were merely mediums/conduits Jesus used to impart the blessing of physical cleansing to the blind man. The same may be said of the waters of baptism. God has always used physical conditions as preludes to His blessings, but the power remains within God’s own mind. Hence, salvation occurs in God’s mind the very moment a person complies with God’s stipulated condition(s). Water baptism is not the HOW of salvation—but, rather, the WHEN.

Regarding the “washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5) by allowing Scripture to interpret itself [see AP’s book Baptism & the Greek Made Simple, p. 142], it becomes apparent that the Holy Spirit regenerates people via His Gospel message which instructs the individual to be immersed in water. The term “Spirit” in John 3:5, 1 Corinthians 12:13, and Titus 3:5 all refer to the message (“word”—Ephesians 5:26) that the Holy Spirit provided via inspired writers/spokesmen. When that same message is presented to hearers today, requiring them to manifest faith, repentance, oral confession, and immersion in water (Romans 10:17; 2:4; 10:9-10; 6:3-4), and the individual complies with those prerequisites to salvation, when that individual rises from the water of baptism, he/she may then be said to have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit (i.e., based on the blood sacrifice of Christ, the Holy Spirit regenerated the individual by means of His stipulated prerequisites to cleansing by that blood). The Holy Spirit regenerates people via their obedience to the Gospel. Notice how Peter words it: “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever” (1 Peter 1:22-23). “Through the Spirit” is a textual variant that may not have been in the original text, but it is nevertheless an accurate representation of the facts, since the only way for anyone to receive salvation from God is for Him to tell us how we may do so. God did so via the Gospel message authored by the Holy Spirit. When we read Scripture and implement its instructions in our lives, we are being influenced and instructed by the Spirit.

What is the meaning of life? by Roy Davison



What is the meaning of life?

This question is often asked by someone who feels that his life has little meaning. He wonders who he is and why he is here. Maybe a better question is: “How can I find meaning in life?” or even “How can I make my life meaningful?”

The Bible gives God’s answers to these questions!

Your life can have meaning, from a Christian perspective, through:
1. your family;
2. your friends;
3. your work;
4. your service;
5. your faith.

The Scriptures enable us to live meaningful lives because they teach us truths about ourselves, others, and the world in which we live.

We find many answers in Genesis, the first book of the Bible. Our origin, identity and mission are stated.

“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27).

We are created in the image of God!

This explains both our origin and our identity. We are a creation of God. Adam is called “the son of God” (Luke 3:38). We are God’s offspring (Acts 17:28, 29). God is our Father!

Our life, as an image bearer of God, has meaning regardless of our circumstances! We understand our identity better when we learn about God and His attributes from the Scriptures. This enables us to follow our Father’s example and to obey His instructions. This gives meaning to our lives.

Family relationships give meaning to our lives.

God created us male and female. This is an extremely important aspect of our identity and of the meaning of our lives.

The continuation of life is an important part of the meaning of life. “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it’” (Genesis 1:28).

The husband-wife relationship gives meaning to life. “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth” (Proverbs 5:18). “Live joyfully with the wife whom you love” (Ecclesiastes 9:9).

The parent-child relationship gives meaning to life. “Children’s children are the crown of old men, and the glory of children is their father” (Proverbs 17:6).

These relationships give meaning and great joy to life when the Creator’s instructions are followed.

People who are not blessed with a marriage partner or children, can have spiritual children through the good influence they have on others. The Messiah, who did not have physical children, says: “Here am I and the children whom God has given Me” (Hebrews 2:13). Paul, who was single, calls Timothy: “my beloved and faithful son in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 4:17).

Friends give meaning to our lives.

“There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). “Ointment and perfume delight the heart, and the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel” (Proverbs 27:9).

“Friends” is one of the designations for Christians! John closes his third letter with, “Our friends greet you. Greet the friends by name” (3 John 14).

Meaning is given to the life of a Christian by these spiritual relationships in the church of Christ.

First of all, we have a relationship with Jesus who said, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:14) and “Whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:50). Paul encourages Christians: “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love” (Romans 12:10).

Productive work gives meaning to our lives.

“Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor” (Ecclesiastes 2:24).

God told Adam and Eve to subdue the earth and to “have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28).

God also works! “Jesus answered them, ‘My Father has been working until now, and I have been working’” (John 5:17). We are made in the image of our Creator, so we also are able to work and create, and we find fulfilment in doing so!

Because rest is required to enable us to work, rest also adds meaning to our lives.

God created us so that we spend about a third of each day sleeping. After creation, God rested on the seventh day (Genesis 2:3). The law of Moses provided for a weekly day of rest. Jesus gives rest to Christians: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Notice that rest is appreciated by those who labor. After our work on earth is done, we can look forward to an eternal rest (Hebrews 4:9).

After a busy time, Jesus told His disciples: “‘Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’ For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat” (Mark 6:31). A well-earned holiday can add meaning to life!

Serving others gives meaning to our lives.

Jesus encourages us to serve others explaining that He himself “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

The life of someone who serves is meaningful.

Paul told the Ephesian elders: “I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35).

Some people mistakenly think that amassing wealth gives meaning to life. But Jesus warned, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15). In Ecclesiastes, Solomon, one of the wealthiest men who ever lived, said that all material gain is vanity.

The Christian faith gives meaning to our lives.

Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

A Christian not only knows where he came from, he also knows where he is going. His hope - based on the promises of God - reaches beyond the grave. Like Abraham, he seeks “the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10).

Helping to spread the gospel of Christ gives meaning to the life of a Christian.

What a privilege that we may proclaim God’s message of salvation to the world! What could be more meaningful than helping someone inherit eternal life. Our assignment is: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15, 16).

What have we learned?

In the Bible, God explains the meaning of life. Because we are created in the image of God, we understand the meaning of our lives better, the more we learn about God.

Meaning is given to life by:
our family;
our friends;
our work;
our service;
our Christian faith.

“Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). To glorify God is the ultimate meaning of life!

Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from The New King James Version. ©1979, 1980, 1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers, unless indicated otherwise.

Published in The Old Paths Archive

"CAN WE TRUST THE BIBLE?" Regarding Its Canonicity? (New Testament) by Mark Copeland



Regarding Its Canonicity? (New Testament)

  1. We are examining the canonicity of the Bible...
    1. The word "canon" means a rule or standard for anything
    2. For early Christians, it meant the rule of faith, what is accepted as authoritative Scripture
  2. Our previous study considered the canonicity of the Old Testament...
    1. Why Christians accept the Hebrew canon as Scripture
    2. Why the Old Testament Apocrypha is not accepted as Scripture
  3. The canon of the New Testament is more universally accepted...
    1. Its 27 books are viewed as Scripture by both Catholics and Protestants
    2. Though other books (over 300) have been proposed by some as Scripture
  4. This naturally raises some questions...
    1. Did the early church acknowledge its own canon (Scriptures)?
    2. If so, upon what basis were some writings accepted and others not?

[To answer such questions, let's first consider...]

      1. They continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine - Ac 2:42; cf. 2Pe 3:2; Jude 17
      2. They received their words as the Word of God - 1Th 2:13; cf. 1Co 14:37
      3. Paul quoted the gospel of Luke as Scripture - 1Ti 5:18; cf. Lk 10:7
      4. Paul's letters were designed to be circulated among the churches - Col 4:16
      5. Peter equated Paul's letters with "Scripture" - 2Pe 3:15-16
      -- The church accepted the apostles' writings because to accept their teaching was to accept Jesus Himself - cf. Jn 13:20
      1. Written by an apostle (e.g., Matthew, John, Paul, Peter)
      2. Written by a close associate of an apostle (Mark, Luke, James, Jude)
      -- Thus the writing had to be "apostolic" in addition to showing evidence of inspiration
      1. It was read publicly - e.g., 1Th 5:27
      2. It was circulated widely - e.g., Col 4:16; Re 1:11
      3. Copies of it were collected - e.g., 2Pe 3:15-16
      4. It was often quoted in other writings - e.g., 1Ti 5:18
      1. Include the 27 books of our New Testament
      2. Most books were acknowledged from the very beginning
      3. Seven books (Hebrews, James, 2nd Peter, 2nd & 3rd John, Jude, Revelation) were disputed by some at first, but eventually accepted as authentic and apostolic

      [Thus all professing Christians accept the 27 books of the New Testament as canonical. But what about other books supposedly written by or about the apostles? Why are they not accepted? It may therefore be of interest to note...]

      1. Otherwise called "false writings"
      2. There are over 280 of these writings
      3. More than 50 are accounts of Christ
      4. The more well-known of these are:
        1. The Gospel of Thomas
        2. The Gospel of Peter
        3. The Gospel of Hebrews
        4. The Protevangelium of James
      5. Their value is limited, but they do illustrate:
        1. Some of the ascetic and Gnostic attitudes opposed by the apostles
        2. The popular desire at that time for information beyond the Scriptures
        3. The tendency to glorify Christianity by fraudulent means
      1. They were never considered canonical by respectable leaders
      2. Mainly produced by heretical groups
      3. Containing exaggerated and mythical religious folklore
      4. Most known only through citation or quotation by another author
      5. Thus their historical connection to the apostles is suspect

      [Similar to the Pseudepigrapha is...]

      1. Not to be confused with the OT Apocrypha
      2. These were books written after the time of Christ
        1. Which were accepted at first by some in the church
        2. Which appeared at times in collections and translations of Scripture
        3. They had acceptance in some areas for a temporary period of time
        4. They never enjoyed acceptance by the Church in general
      3. The NT Apocrypha include:
        1. The Epistle of Pseudo-Barnabas (70-79 A.D.)
        2. The Epistle to the Corinthians (96 A.D.)
        3. The Ancient Homily, also known as the Second Epistle of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians (120-140 A.D.)
        4. The Shepherd of Hermas (115-140 A.D.)
        5. The Didache, also known as the Teaching of the Twelve (100-120 A.D.)
        6. The Apocalypse of Peter (150 A.D.)
        7. The Acts of Paul and Thecla (170 A.D.)
        8. The Gospel According to the Hebrews (65-100 A.D.)
        9. The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians (108 A.D.)
        10. The Seven Epistles of Ignatius (110 A.D.)
      4. These are more valuable than the Pseudepigrapha
        1. They provide early documentation of the existence of NT books
        2. They fill in the gap between the teaching of the apostles and the writings of the early church of the third and fourth centuries
        3. They provide clues to the practices, policies and future teachings of the church
      1. They never enjoyed more than a temporary and local recognition
      2. Those that advocated their acceptance considered them at best to be "semi-canonical"
      3. No major church council or New Testament collection included them as inspired books
      4. The reason they had some acceptance was because they wrongly attached themselves to references in canonical books (cf. Co 4:16) or alleged apostolic authorship (e.g. the Acts of Paul)
  1. Christians believe that God has spoken...
    1. First, through prophets in OT times - cf. He 1:1
    2. Then, through His Son Jesus Christ - cf. He 1:2
    3. Now, through the apostles and inspired writers of the NT - e.g., 1Co 14:37
    -- The record of God's revelation is now contained in the Bible, both the OT and NT
  2. Of course, this belief often raises related questions...
    1. How do we know the Bible is inspired of God?
    2. Can one even understand the Bible as we have it?
    3. Is the Bible an all-sufficient guide?

We shall examine these questions as we continue this series, "Can We Trust The Bible?"...

Please note: Much of this material was gleaned from the following sources...

How the Canonicity of the Bible was Established, By Wilbert R. Gawrisch Theology Survey: The Bible (Canonicity), Valley Bible Church

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2022 

"CAN WE TRUST THE BIBLE?" Regarding Its Canonicity? (Old Testament) by Mark Copeland



Regarding Its Canonicity? (Old Testament)

  1. The Bible consists of 66 books...
    1. The Old Testament contains 39
    2. The New Testament contains 27
  2. Why these 66 books and not others...?
    1. What about the additional books in Catholic versions of the Old Testament?
    2. What about the so-called "lost books of the Bible?"
  3. Such questions pertain to the canonicity of the Bible...
    1. The word "canon" means a rule or standard for anything
    2. For early Christians, it meant the rule of faith, what is accepted as authoritative Scripture
  4. The inclusion of any book into the canon follows two basic steps...
    1. Inspiration by God - God determined the canon by co-authoring it
    2. Recognition by men - Man recognized what God revealed and accepted it as the canon
    3. "A book is not the Word of God because it was accepted by the people, it was accepted by the people because it was the Word of God."

[So why 66 books and not others? Let's first consider the question as it relates to the OT...]

      1. Anyone who accepts the authority of Jesus will accept what He acknowledged as Scripture
        1. He pointed people to the Scriptures - cf. Jn 5:39
        2. He spoke of the faithfulness of Scripture - cf. Jn 10:35
      2. Jesus recognized three major divisions of the OT, which included 39 books - cf. Lk 24:44
        1. The Law (Torah) - the five books of Moses (Genesis - Deuteronomy)
        2. The Prophets (Nebhiim) - "the former prophets" (Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings) and "the latter prophets" (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and a book containing the 12 minor prophets).
        3. The Writings (Kethubhim) - three poetical books (Psalms, Proverbs, and Job), five rolls (the Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Esther, and Ecclesiastes), and several historical books (Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah and Chronicles)
      3. Jesus followed the arrangement of the OT books that was customary among the Jews
        1. We see this from His comments in Lk 11:49-51
        2. There he speaks of the persecution of the prophets from the murder of Abel (Gen 4:8) to the slaying of Zechariah (2 Chr 24:20,21)
        3. This arrangement is the one that is followed in the Hebrew OT today also
      4. "Jesus does not quote from every book of the Old Testament, but he does quote from all three of the main divisions, showing that he accepted the entire Old Testament as canonical." - Wilbert R. Gawrisch (How The Canonicity Of The Bible Was Established)
      1. Paul acknowledged the Hebrew canon
        1. As written for our learning - Ro 15:4
        2. As written for our admonition - 1Co 10:11
        3. As profitable for doctrine, etc.- 2Ti 3:14-17
      2. The apostles frequently quoted from those books in the Hebrew canon
        1. In their gospels - e.g., Mt 1:22-23; 2:17-18; Jn 12:37-41
        2. In their efforts to evangelize - e.g., Ac 17:2-3
        3. In their epistles - e.g., Ro 3:9-10; 4:3; 1Pe 2:6

        [It is evident that Jesus and His apostles accepted the authority (canon) of the Hebrew scriptures which include the 39 books in the Old Testament. But what of the extra books found in the Catholic Old Testament...?]

      1. These books were written after Malachi (400 B.C), prior to the coming of Jesus 2 These books include:
        1. The Wisdom of Solomon (30 B.C.), known as the Book of Wisdom
        2. Ecclesiasticus (132 B.C.), also known as Sirach
        3. Tobit (200 B.C.)
        4. Judith (150 B.C.)
        5. 1 Maccabees (110 B.C.)
        6. 2 Maccabees (110 B.C.)
        7. Prayer of Azariah (100 B.C.) placed as Daniel 3:24-90
        8. Susanna (100 B.C.) placed as Daniel 13
        9. Bel and the Dragon (100 B.C.), placed as Daniel 14
        10. Baruch (150-50 B.C.), placed as Baruch 1-5
        11. Letter of Jeremiah (300-100 B.C.) placed as Baruch 6
        12. Additions to Esther (140-130 B.C.), placed as Esther 10:4-16:24
        13. 1 Esdras (150-100 B.C.), also known as 3 Esdras
        14. 2 Esdras (150-100 B.C.), known as 4 Esdras
        15. Prayer of Manasseh (100 B.C.)
    2. THE APOCRYPHA ACCEPTED... 1 The Council of Trent accepted the Old Testament Apocrypha as canonical in 1546
      1. With the exception of 1 and 2 Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh
      2. While there are 15 total books in the Apocrypha, Roman Catholic Bibles count only 11 because they combine the Letter of Jeremiah with Baruch and omit 1 and 2 Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh
      3. The teaching of 2 Esdras 7:105 in opposition to prayer for the dead may have led to its exclusion by the Roman Catholic Church 2 Reasons suggested for the Old Testament Apocrypha as Scripture include:
        1. Some church fathers accepted these books (Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria
        2. The Syriac church accepted them in the fourth century
        3. The Eastern Orthodox church accepts them
        4. The Roman Catholic Church proclaimed them as canonical in 1546
        5. The Apocrypha was included in Protestant Bibles, including the original KJV of 1611
        6. Some have been found among other OT books with the Dead Sea Scrolls
      1. Jesus and His apostles did not accept these books as part of the Scripture
        1. There are no NT references to any of the Apocrypha as being authoritative
        2. The NT writers quote not one part of the Apocrypha
      2. Judaism never accepted these books as part of the Scriptures
        1. Ancient Jewish leaders specifically rejected the Apocrypha (Josephus, Philo)
        2. While included in the Septuagint (Gr. OT), they were never accepted as canonical
        3. The New American Bible, the new Catholic translation, in a footnote to the Story of Susanna and Bel and the Dragon frankly admits: "They are excluded from the Jewish canon of Scripture..."
      3. While a few early church leaders appear to take some material from them, most were opposed to the inclusion of the Apocrypha into the canon of Scripture (Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Jerome, Origen)
      4. The Apocrypha itself recognizes our OT canon as a distinct twenty-four books, which corresponds to the Hebrew Bible as it is known today
        1. In 2 Esd 14:44-48, 70 books are distinguished from 94, leaving 24, or the exact number of the Hebrew canon, which became our 39 OT books
        2. Not only does the Apocrypha not claim inspiration for itself, it actually disclaims it when 1 Mac 9:27 describes an existing cessation of prophecy
      5. They include unbiblical teaching, such as praying for the dead (2 Mac 12:46)
      6. They contain demonstrable errors; for example:
        1. Tobit was supposedly alive when Jeroboam led his revolt (931 B.C.)
        2. He was still living at the time of the Assyrian captivity (722 B.C.)
        3. Yet the Book of Tobit says he lived only 158 years - Tob 1:3-5; 14:11
      7. The first official adoption of the Apocrypha by the Roman Catholic Church came at the Council of Trent in 1546, over 1,500 years after the books were written
      8. When the Apocrypha appeared in Protestant Bibles:
        1. It was normally placed in a separate section since it was not considered of equal authority
        2. Luther included the Apocrypha in his German Bible, but he introduced them with the comment, "These are books that are not to be considered the same as Holy Scripture, and yet are useful and good to read."
      9. No Greek manuscript contains the exact collection of the books of the Apocrypha as accepted by the Council of Trent
      10. While the Syrian church accepted the Apocrypha in the fourth century, the translation of the Bible into Syrian in the second century A.D. did not include it
      11. The Qumran community had hundreds of books in its library beyond the Scriptures
        1. While the library had some of the Apocrypha, it did not have commentaries on the Apocrypha it did with OT books
        2. The OT books had special script and parchment, unlike the Apocrypha
        3. Qumran clearly considered the Apocrypha as different from Scripture
  1. While the Apocrypha of the OT may be of historical value and in some ways supplement God's truth, they are not canonical
  2. Those who accept the authority of Jesus and His apostles will be content with those books found in the Hebrew OT
  3. In one sense, the issue might be regarded as irrelevant...
    1. The Apocrypha relates to the Old Testament
    2. Christians are under the New Covenant of Christ, not the Law of Moses - Ro 7:6; Ga 5:4
    3. Therefore we are to continue steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine - cf. Ac 2:42

But then that raises another question: What about the canonicity of the New Testament? This we shall address in our next study...

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2022

"CAN WE TRUST THE BIBLE?" Regarding Its Preservation And Translation? by Mark Copeland



Regarding Its Preservation And Translation?

  1. Has the Bible we have today been altered or corrupted...?
    1. We have no original "autographs" (manuscripts penned by the authors)
    2. All we have are copies of copies, made over the years
  2. How do we know there hasn't been...
    1. Significant changes or errors made in the process of copying?
    2. Collusion (secret cooperation for deceitful purposes) by those who possessed the early copies?
  3. It is not uncommon to hear such statements as...
    1. "The Bible was corrupted by the Catholic church who possessed it" (Mormons, JWs)
    2. "Only Catholic Bibles are reliable, since the church possesses the oldest copies" (Catholics)
  4. Yet it possible to have confidence in the Bible, that it...
    1. Contains the Scriptures as they were originally written
    2. Is free from attempts to twist the Scriptures to support a particular church or doctrine

[This confidence comes from keeping two things in mind: 1) Textual evidence for the Biblical documents, and 2) Translation guidelines for selecting a translation of the Bible.

Let's first take a look at the...]

      1. The Massoretic Text (900 A.D.)
        1. Earliest complete text of Hebrew OT, copied by Jewish scribes called the Massoretes
        2. Comparison with earlier Greek and Latin versions
          1. Reveal vary careful copying
          2. With little deviation during the thousand years from 100 B.C. to 900 A.D.
      2. The Dead Sea Scrolls (150 B.C. - 70 A.D.)
        1. Discovered in 1947, containing copies of OT books dating back to 100 B.C.
        2. Compared with the "Massoretic Text" of 900 A.D., they confirm the careful copying of Jewish scribes for over 1000 years!
      3. The Septuagint version of the OT (200 B.C.)
        1. A Greek translation of the OT, done in 200 B.C. by 70 scholars
        2. It also confirms the accuracy of the copyists who gave us the Massoretic Text
        -- In his book, Can I Trust My Bible, R. Laird Harris concluded, "We can now be sure that copyists worked with great care and accuracy on the Old Testament, even back to 225 B.C....Indeed, it would be rash skepticism that would now deny that we have our Old Testament in a form very close to that used by Ezra when he taught the word of the Lord to those who had returned from the Babylonian captivity."
      1. The number of the manuscripts
        1. Over 4,000 Greek manuscripts
        2. 13,000 copies of portions of the N.T. in Greek
      2. The location of the manuscripts
        1. Found in various places: Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, Greece, Italy
        2. Making collusion very difficult (not one church or religion contains them all)
      3. The date of the manuscripts
        1. Several papyri fragments have been dated to within 50-100 years of the original
        2. We have several nearly complete N.T. Greek manuscripts within 300-400 years
          1. Codex Sinaiticus, found near Mt. Sinai
          2. Codex Alexandrinus, found near Alexandria in Egypt
          3. Codex Vaticanus, located at the Vatican in Rome
      4. The variations of the manuscripts
        1. The vast majority are very minor (spelling, differences in phraseology, etc.; modern translations often note the differences in footnotes)
        2. Only 1/2 of one percent is in question (compared to 5 percent for the Iliad)
        3. Even then, it can be stated: "No fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith rests on a disputed reading...It cannot be too strongly asserted that in substance the text of the Bible is certain: especially is this the case with the New Testament." - Sir Frederick Kenyon (authority in the field of New Testament textual criticism)
      5. Other translations of the manuscripts
        1. More than 1,000 copies and fragments in Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Gothic, Ethiopic
        2. 8,000 copies of the Latin Vulgate, some almost dating back to Jerome's original translation (ca. 400 A.D.)
      6. Writings of the early "church fathers" (100-400 A.D.)
        1. Early religious leaders who left 1000s of quotations of the NT in their writings
        2. Even if all the NT manuscripts and translations were to disappear overnight, it would be possible to reconstruct the NT from their quotations, with the exception of 15-20 verses
        -- The evidence is sufficient to show that the Greek text of the New Testament has been faithfully preserved, without the possibility of collusion or corruption by any one religious party or faction

      [While the text of the Bible has been remarkably preserved in its original languages, how can we be sure that the version we use is faithful in its translation of the text? Here are some...]

      1. Some translations are the work of one person; for example:
        1. The Living Bible, by Kenneth Taylor
        2. Which is not really a translation, but a paraphrase
      2. Though well intentioned, such translations often:
        1. Express the views of one person
        2. Convey the theological bias of that individual
      3. It is better to find translations produced by a committee of scholars
        1. With often hundreds of experts in Hebrew and Greek
        2. Who examine and critique each other's work in the translation
      1. Some translations are the work of one religious group; for example:
        1. The New World Translation
        2. Produced by Jehovah's Witnesses
      2. Such translations are often slanted to prove doctrines favorable to the group
        1. E.g., the NWT translation of Jn 1:1-2 ("the Word was a god")
        2. E.g., the NWT translation of Col 1:16-17 (inserting "other" four times)
      3. It is better to find translations produced by representatives from different backgrounds
        1. Who are members of different religious organizations
        2. Who check each other's work to prevent theological bias
      1. King James Version (KJV)
        1. A classic, but somewhat archaic
        2. Many people have problems with or misunderstand the old English
      2. New King James Version (NKJV)
        1. An updated KJV, desiring to preserve the beauty of the KJV
        2. My personal choice, very easy to read
      3. American Standard Version (ASV)
        1. Most literal to the Greek, but therefore harder to read
        2. Almost out of print
      4. New American Standard Bible (NASB)
        1. An update to the ASV
        2. My second choice, though often wordy
      5. Other translations useful as references:
        1. New International Version (NIV) - easy to read, but prone to theological bias
        2. New American Bible (NAB) - approved for Catholics, useful to show differences in doctrine are not due to translations
  1. Can we trust the Bible? Yes, because...
    1. The Hebrew and Greek manuscripts (though copies) have been providentially preserved
    2. Translations are available that are free from theological bias
  2. Yes, it is possible to have confidence in the Bible, that it...
    1. Contains the Scriptures as they were originally written
    2. Can be read without fear that it has been tainted to support a particular church or doctrine

We can trust the Bible...do you? - cf. Jm 1:21-22

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2022