Scofield's Notes Versus The Word of God
The original Scofield Bible made its appearance to the Bible reading public in 1909. It was edited by Dr. C. I. Scofield. The text of this Scofield Bible is the A.V. 1611 text or the King James Translation. The New Scofield Bible appeared in 1967, forty-six years after Dr. Scofield’s death. The New Scofield Bible claims to be the King James text. However, numerous word changes within the text reveal this claim to be false. There are also cases in which the notes in the New Scofield Bible deviate from those of the original Scofield Bible. This article will deal mainly with the original Scofield Bible which was edited by Dr. Scofield himself. Notice will also be given as to whether the New Scofield agrees with the original Scofield Bible or deviates from it. The Scofield Bible employs a system of paragraphical sub-headings, topical references, summaries, and footnotes which are supposed to facilitate the study and comprehension of the Bible. In his introduction to the 1909 edition, Dr. Scofield claimed to be using the elements “which must combine to facilitate the study and intelligent use of the Bible.” These “helps” are woven throughout the pure text of God’s word directing the mind of the Bible reader to an overall system of Bible interpretation. However, when the text of God’s word is noted for what it says of itself, it may be seen that on several occasions the Scofield “helps” actually contradict the word of God. It would require exhaustive studies to point out all the fallacies of Scofield’s system of Bible interpretation. This article will only cite a few of the most obvious errors. Possessing the Land In comments on Deuteronomy 30, the Scofield footnote says: “The Palestinian Covenant gives the conditions under which Israel entered the land of promise. It is important to see that the nation has never as yet taken the land under the unconditional Abrahamic Covenant, nor has it ever possessed the whole land.” On this note the New Scofield and the original agree. Now compare this footnote with the pure text of God’s word. “So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. And the land rested from war.” (JOS 11:23) “And the LORD gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein. And the LORD gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand. There failed not ought of any good thing which the LORD had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass.” (JOS 21:43-45) “Thou art the LORD the God, who didst choose Abram, and broughtest him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees, and gavest him the name of Abraham; And foundest his heart faithful before thee, and madest a covenant with him to give the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Jebusites, and the Girgashites, to give it, I say, to his seed, and hast performed thy words; for thou art righteous:” (NEH 9:7-8) These passages conclusively affirm that Israel has possessed the whole land under the Abrahamic Covenant. Nehemiah plainly declares that God has performed His words in covenanting with Abraham to give the land of Canaan to his seed. The Scofield footnote plainly denies these declarations of God regarding Israel’s possession of the whole land. The Restoration of the Animal Sacrifices Another error in the Scofield system of interpretation is indicated in the footnote on Ezekiel 43:19: “Doubtless these offerings will be memorial, looking back to the cross, as the offerings under the old covenant were anticipatory, looking forward to the cross.” Dr. Scofield is referring to the animal sacrifices commanded in the temple vision of Ezekiel 40-48. Scofield holds that this is a vision of a future time which he calls “the kingdom age.” He maintains that at this time the temple will be rebuilt and the animal sacrifices restored. EZE 40:38-43; EZE 42:13; EZE 43:18-27; EZE 44:11, EZE 44:15, EZE 44:26-30; EZE 45:13-25; EZE 46:1-7, EZE 46:11-15, EZE 46:20-24 give the instructions respecting the animal sacrifices that were to be made in the restored temple. Mention is made of burnt-offerings, sin-offerings, trespass offerings, meat-offerings, and peace-offerings. There is NOT ONE SINGLE WORD in these passages indicating that these sacrifices would be memorial. They rather lead the reader to believe that these sacrifices would serve the same purposes as they served in the book of Leviticus, namely, cleansing, purging, and reconciliation. Furthermore, COL 2:14-16 plainly teaches that Christ removed these ordinances by His cross. HEB 10:18 affirms that where remission of sins is, “THERE IS NO MORE OFFERING FOR SIN!” Hence, the restoring of the animal sacrifices this side of the cross would be an insult to the sacrifice of Christ. It would be taking down what was nailed to the cross and setting up what was taken “out of the way.” Dr. Scofield’s assertion that these sacrifices will be memorial is something that he dreamed up to get around the clear New Testament teaching that these sacrifices have been set aside. Dr. Scofield has absolutely no Scripture to support his explanation! EZE 44:15-16 plainly shows that the Levitical priesthood would be the priesthood of this temple. Is God going to re-establish this priesthood in a coming kingdom age? HEB 7:11-18 teaches that the priesthood has been changed (v. 12) and that the commandment regarding the Levitical priesthood has been DISANNULLED (v. 18). The Levitical priesthood has been displaced by the superior priesthood of Jesus Christ Who is a “priest FOR EVER after the order of Melchisedec” (HEB 7:17). Is God going to revert to a weak and unprofitable order of priesthood in a coming kingdom age? Indeed not! In reading Ezekiel’s temple vision, one should know at the outset that God is NOT going to re-establish the Old Testament priesthood and sacrifices in a future age. Whereas Dr. Scofield himself asserted that “DOUBTLESS” these offerings would be memorial, the editors of the New Scofield were not quite so certain on this point. They offered two possible explanations. First, they suggested Dr. Scofield’s original interpretation. However, they left open the possibility that these sacrifices might not actually be offered. They said: “Such sacrifices, IF ACTUALLY OFFERED (emphasis added), will be memorial in character.” Obviously, the editors of the New Scofield had some doubts about Dr. Scofield’s position. As for Dr. Scofield himself, he thought his explanation was DOUBTLESS. Secondly, the editors of the New Scofield offered this suggestion: “The reference to sacrifices is not to be taken literally, in view of the putting away of such offerings, but is rather to be regarded as a presentation of the worship of redeemed Israel, in her own land and in the millennial temple, using the terms with which the Jews were familiar in Ezekiel’s day.” Now this goes right against the grain of Dr. Scofield’s original teaching. When speaking of the prophets in his introduction to the original Scofield Bible, Dr. Scofield said: “This portion (the Prophets) of the Bible, nearly one-fourth of the whole, has been closed to the average reader by fanciful and allegorical schemes of interpretation.” Yet, the editors of the New Scofield suggest that the sacrifices of the temple vision of Ezekiel may be understood allegorically. Imagine setting forth an interpretation contrary to Dr. Scofield and then attaching his name to it forty-six years after his death! The Gospel of the Kingdom In the footnote to REV 14:6, Scofield makes an arbitrary distinction between the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel of the grace of God. He asserts that the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom ended “with the Jewish rejection of the King.” He further maintains that this gospel will not be preached again until the coming of a time he terms “the great tribulation.” Here is another case where the Scofield notes are at variance with the Bible text. Speaking to the Ephesian elders AFTER “the Jewish rejection of the King” and BEFORE the so-called “great tribulation,” Paul said: “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.” (ACT 20:24-25) First, it is obvious that the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom did NOT end with the Jewish rejection of the king. Paul was still preaching that gospel. Furthermore, in verse 24 Paul said that the ministry he received was to testify the gospel of God’s grace. Yet, in verse 25 he said he had been preaching the kingdom of God. Therefore, when Paul testified the gospel of grace he preached the kingdom as well. Apparently Paul did not see the distinction between the gospel of grace and the gospel of the kingdom that Dr. Scofield saw. In fact, Paul was so focused on one gospel alone that he pronounced a curse on angels or men who would attempt to preach another (GAL 1:7-9)! For Paul, the gospel of grace and the gospel of the kingdom were the one gospel he received of the Lord Jesus to testify. Attempting to cover this flaw in the Scofield system of interpretation, the New Scofield presents the gospel of grace and the gospel of the kingdom as merely different aspects of the same gospel. They hold that the gospel of the kingdom “was announced by the O.T. prophets, by Christ at His first coming, and will be proclaimed during the great tribulation.” However, they do NOT say that the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom ended with the Jewish rejection of the King. The New Scofield editors seem to have detected Dr. Scofield’s confusion and tried to gloss it over. The Coming of Elias The Scofield notes and the Lord Jesus are at odds regarding the fulfillment of MAL 4:5-6. The Scofield footnote on MAT 17:10-13 says: “(1) Christ confirms the specific and still unfulfilled prophecy of Mal. 4:5-6: ‘Elias shall truly first come and restore all things.’ Here, as in Malachi, the prediction fulfilled in John the Baptist, and that yet to be fulfilled in Elijah, are kept distinct. (2) But John the Baptist had come already, and with a ministry so completely in the spirit and the power of Elijah’s future ministry (Lk. 1:17) that in an adumbrative and typical sense it could be said: ‘Elias is come already.’ ” It is apparent that Dr. Scofield sees John the Baptist as only adumbratively and typically answering to Malachi’s prophecy which Dr. Scofield holds is STILL UNFULFILLED. The New Scofield Bible agrees with the original on this point. One need only compare this footnote with MAR 9:13 to see how manifestly incorrect it is. Jesus said: “But I say unto you, That Elias is INDEED come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him.” The word “indeed” means “in actual fact, in reality, in truth; really, truly, assuredly, positively” (The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary , p. 1411). Jesus Christ is saying that Elias came in actual fact, in reality, in truth! Does that sound like he came only adumbratively and typically as the Scofield footnote says? So much was John the Baptist’s ministry in the spirit and power of Elias, that the Savior acknowledges it as the fulfillment of Malachi’s prediction. Justice and Judgment A frightful error in the Scofield system is found in the footnote on Jeremiah 23. The note reads: “At His first advent Christ, David’s righteous Branch (Lk. 1:31-33), did not ‘execute justice and judgment in the earth,’ but was crowned with thorns and crucified.” This statement occurs word for word in the New Scofield. Dr. Scofield could not maintain anything more contrary to the word of God than this. Notice the following plain declarations regarding what Christ did at His first advent: “And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.” (JOH 9:39) “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” (JOH 12:31) “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles.” (MAT 12:17-18) “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” (JOH 5:30) Could language be more plain? Either the Scriptures have lied about Christ executing judgment and justice or Dr. Scofield has lied. Only a blind man could miss the fact that Christ executed judgment during His first advent. In fact, it was “FOR JUDGMENT” that He came into this world (JOH 9:39). And one aspect of that judgment is “that they which see might be made blind.” It appears that Dr. Scofield was one upon whom the Son of God executed judgment, for he was certainly blind on this point. Christ’s Brethren Dr. Scofield and Jesus Christ are at variance as to the identity of Christ’s brethren. According to the Scofield footnote on MAT 25:32, Christ’s brethren “are the Jewish Remnant who will have preached the Gospel of the kingdom to all nations during the tribulation.” Of course, Dr. Scofield thinks that this remnant is a group yet to appear in the future. Though wording it differently, the New Scofield maintains the same position. However, the Lord Jesus had a different opinion. Mind how He so plainly declares who are His brethren: “And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.” (MAR 3:33-35) Christ emphatically declares His brethren to be WHOSOEVER shall do the will of God. This does not limit His brethren to a Jewish remnant in a future age. It is better by far to let Christ identify His brethren rather than Dr. Scofield. Church Truth in Hebrews Another glaring error of the Scofield system is found in its introduction to the epistle of Hebrews. In setting forth the theme of Hebrews, Scofield says: “Church truth does not appear, the ground of gathering only being stated (13:13).” The editors of the New Scofield leave this statement out. Now contrast this statement with the following two quotations from Hebrews: “Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.” (HEB 2:12) “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,” (HEB 12:22-23) It should be quite obvious from these two passages that church truth DOES appear in Hebrews. Furthermore, Dr. Scofield even has a footnote on HEB 12:23 in which he summarizes the doctrine of the church. How is that for inconsistency? On the one hand, he says church truth does not appear in Hebrews. Then on the other hand, his summary of church truth is found in Hebrews! Again, the New Scofield excludes this statement about church truth not appearing in Hebrews. But it must be remembered that this was done years after Dr. Scofield was dead. Scofield himself did not believe church truth is taught in Hebrews. Salvation by Works The Scofield footnote on JOH 1:17 makes the following statement: “As a dispensation, grace begins with the death and resurrection of Christ. The point of testing is no longer LEGAL OBEDIENCE AS THE CONDITION OF SALVATION (emphasis added), but acceptance or rejection of Christ, with good works as a fruit of salvation.” The obvious teaching of this statement is that prior to the death of Christ, men were saved by keeping the law. Here again, it is Scofield versus the word of God. Scripture rather teaches that men were eternally saved before the death of Christ exactly as they have been saved since that death, and that is BY GRACE! Paul settled this fact once and for all when he wrote: “But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” (ROM 11:4-6) In this passage Paul quotes 1KI 19:18 in which God told Elijah that He had reserved seven thousand men to Himself. God had a remnant of faithful souls in Elijah’s time. Elijah’s time was most certainly BEFORE the death of Christ. Paul then proceeds to show that “EVEN SO at this present time ALSO there is a remnant.” The key words in this passage are “even so....also.” When the word “even” refers to manner, as it does in this passage, it is frequently followed by such words as “as,” “thus,” and “so.” In such a case, the word “even” means “exactly, precisely, just” (The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, p.906). Paul is plainly teaching that God has a remnant in this present time in exactly the same manner as He had in Elijah’s day. And what is that manner? It is “according to the election of grace.” God had a remnant according to the election of grace in Elijah’s time BEFORE Christ’s death. In exactly the same manner, He ALSO has a remnant according to the election of grace in this present time AFTER Christ’s death. Had God’s people been saved by works before the death of Christ, then that would have been according to the election of works. However, Paul teaches that they were elect in exactly the same manner as the remnant in this present time, that is, according to grace, not works! Hence, Scofield’s teaching that men were saved by legal obedience prior to Christ’s death is utterly false. Paul said: “If there had been a law given that could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law” (GAL 3:21). But there was not a law given that could give life as Paul affirmed in ROM 3:20: “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall NO FLESH (neither before nor after the death of Christ) be justified in his sight....” At this point the editors of the New Scofield abandon Dr. Scofield. In explaining how sinners were saved prior to the cross they state: “Prior to the cross, man’s salvation was through faith, being grounded on Christ’s atoning sacrifice, viewed anticipatively by God; now it is clearly revealed that salvation and righteousness are received by faith in the crucified and resurrected Savior.” Observe that the editors of the New Scofield maintain that salvation BEFORE and AFTER the cross is by faith, whereas Scofield himself held that salvation prior to the cross was by legal obedience. These editors have taken a position contrary to Dr. Scofield and yet have attached his name to it forty-six years AFTER his death. How is that for honesty? The New Birth Lastly, Dr. Scofield errs greatly when he states in his footnote on JOH 3:3 that “the condition of the new birth is faith in Christ crucified.” The New Scofield says the same, word for word. However, Scripture abundantly affirms that faith in Christ is not the condition of obtaining the new birth. It is rather the evidence that one is already born anew. Note the following passages as proof of this: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (JOH 1:12-13) Observe from the above passage that the birth precedes the believing. “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ IS BORN (not ‘will be born’) of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.” (1JO 5:1) “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” (1JO 5:4) Note that faith is the “whatsoever” that overcomes the world. And that “whatsoever” is born of God. Hence, faith cannot be a condition for the new birth because the faith itself is born of God; it is a product of the new birth! If one has faith in Christ, he is already born again. Faith follows the new birth as an evidence of it. Hence, Scofield has the cart before the horse in the matter of the new birth and faith in Christ. Besides, how can faith in Christ be a condition for the new birth when, as Scofield rightly observes in the SAME footnote, the natural man “can neither obey, understand, nor please God”? Faith in Christ is an act of obedience to a commandment which most certainly pleases God (1JO 3:22-23; ROM 16:26) and natural man (fleshly man without the Spirit) cannot please God (ROM 8:7-8). Only a born-again man could render such an act of obedience as this. Hence, in maintaining that faith is the condition of the new birth, Dr. Scofield contradicts both the word of God and himself. Conclusion The above sample should provide sufficient information to substantiate the title of this article: “Scofield’s Notes Versus the Word of God.” More than once, the Scofield “helps” flatly contradict the text of the word of God. Scofield claims that his helps facilitate the comprehension of the Scriptures. However, Scofield’s “helps” actually facilitate misunderstanding rather than comprehension of the Scriptures. This is not to say that Dr. Scofield doesn’t hit it right once in a while in his notes. But the abundance of places in which Scofield contradicts the Scriptures makes this “Bible” dangerously deceptive, especially since many do not discern between what Scofield teaches and what the Scriptures teach. Satan himself employed the text of God’s word in an attempt to trip Christ (LUK 4:9-12). So, too, Dr. Scofield uses and wrests the text of the Bible to set forth doctrines which manifestly contradict the Scriptures. Nor does the New Scofield Bible improve the situation. For it not only contradicts the word of God----it actually changes the word of God. Furthermore, the New Scofield even contradicts the original Scofield while still claiming to be the Scofield Bible. This is manifest deception! When Scofield and Almighty God disagree, it must be said, “Let God be true, but every man a liar” (ROM 3:4)!