The Bible: Why? How? Part 6

XI. God has ever ordained specific repositories for the preservation and transmission of Scripture.

  1. As noted earlier, the O.T. Scripture was given to and committed into the hands of the nation of Israel, the O.T. church. PSA 147:19-20; ROM 3:1-2.

    1. The law was sealed up among His disciples (ISA 8:16), especially the priestly tribe of Levi, and kept in the ark of the covenant. DEU 17:18; 31:24-26.

    2. Of them, the priesthood were especially designated teachers in the O.T. LEV 10:11; DEU 24:8; 2CH 15:3; MAL 2:7.

  2. Mind that disciples continue in the word of God (JOH 8:31) which would be impossible to do if it were not preserved and transmissible.

  3. In the N.T. times, the Scripture was given and entrusted to the N.T. church.

    1TI 3:15; REV 12:17.

    1. Church members are disciples. ACT 11:26.

    2. Church members are priests. 1PE 2:5, 9.

    3. Church members are teachers, professionally and ordinarily. 2TI 2:2; HEB 5:12.

  4. Let not the importance of ACT 11:26 go unnoticed.

    1. This church was in Syria.

    2. Hundreds of years earlier, God had called Israel (Jacob) a Syrian. DEU 26:5.

    3. Jesus Christ made a submissive, uncircumcised, immersed Syrian a reproof to Israelites. LUK 4:27 c/w 2KI 5:14-15.

    4. God had prophesied to Israel that He would one day call His servants by a different name. ISA65:15.

      1. ISA 65 certainly had in view N.T. times, ISA 65:1-2 c/w ROM 10:20-21.

      2. It was in Antioch where disciples were first called Christians. Israel and Levi were fading into the sunset.

    5. From that church began the ordained ministry of the Apostle Paul (ACT 13:1-4) whose preaching and epistles turned the world upside down. ACT 17:6.

    6. That church at Antioch in Syria was originally a Jewish church (ACT 11:19) but soon incorporated Grecians (ACT 11:20) and Gentiles. GAL 2:11-12.

    7. Here was a N.T. church of multinational make-up that was the foundation and springboard for a unifying multinational gospel advanced primarily by the works of the Apostle Paul who was called by God for the task.

    8. Paul’s Holy Spirit-directed mission work went north and west where he planted churches of disciples and then later sent back epistles for their perfection in the knowledge and ways of Christ. This therefore would be the expected region and route for the transmission of God’s words as especially given to Paul.

    9. Keep in mind that Paul (and the other Jewish apostles) were well aware of the importance and necessity of copies of inspired original works (DEU 17:18). Paul stated that Timothy had had the holy Scriptures from childhood (though not the original autographs) and that he obviously considered the copies inspired. 2TI 3:15-16.

    10. If ever there was a city-church (other than Jerusalem) that could be called the “mother church” of N.T. Christianity, it was Antioch, not Rome.

    11. A reasonable investigator looking for the line of true texts (and associated manuscripts) would be compelled to look for them via this pattern and region. One would expect that the greatest likelihood of textual preservation would be from the Antioch-generated churches of Asia Minor, etc., bearing a Syrian (later, Byzantine) text-type.

  5. A direct correlation between the true, preserved Scripture and the true, preserved church of Jesus Christ should be expected.

    1. History bears out this testimony from Scripture. The efforts of the forces of darkness have throughout the centuries been levelled against the oppressed churches of Christ who would not yield to what they considered a false baptism, false gospel, false rule or false scripture.

    2. True churches would especially be persecuted churches by the divine order (JOH 15:20) and mind that the “they” in this verse were people who were convinced that they were the true followers of God.

    3. True churches would not marry the State. MAT 22:21.

    4. True churches would reject pagan religion’s methods. 2CO 6:16; 1TH 1:9.

    5. The law sealed up among the disciples (ISA 8:16) would most likely be found in the line of persecuted churches which treasured God’s words and took pains to copy them, translate them, share them and even hide them from their enemies’ designs.

    6. Invariably there would arise problems in the preservation of Scripture. Observe some problems in preservation and God's solution:

      1. What if Scripture were lost? Ans. They may be lost to men, but God knows where they are. Sometimes, the perfect, preserved Scripture is right underneath men’s noses but they don't know it, neither will God open their eyes to see it until their hearts have been humbled. 2KI 22:8-11.

      2. What if men refuse the authenticity of Scripture? Ans. God may confirm it from outside sources (EZR 4:1 - 6:15). Texts which have been questioned by modern higher criticism have been proven valid by:

        1. Lectionaries (Books containing lessons or portions of Scripture appointed for reading in church services). There exist about 2300 of these of early date which have a remarkable agreement, indicating a dedicated effort to preserve a recognized lectionary text.

        2. Writings of church fathers. A good example of this is how MAR 16:9-20 was quoted and used as Scripture by men like Irenaus and Tertullian in the 2nd Century.

        3. Greek texts of secular affairs written in the same flavor as the Koine (common) Greek of the 1st century, the language of the Textus Receptus (Received Texts) which are the basis of the AV 1611.

        4. Latin Vulgate readings that confirm the true text. For example, 1JO 5:7 was not in the first edition of Erasmus's Greek N.T. (1516 A.D.), but was later added when evidence proved that the Latin Vulgate (which did have it) was right.

      3. What if Scripture is abused or destroyed? Ans. God could simply deliver it again. EXO 32:19; 34:1; JER 36:20-32.

        1. Note the difference in the inspired texts (JER 36:32). Both were obviously the inspired word of God. This shows that God reserves the right to make variations in His text without impugning its merit.

        2. This explains why there are sometimes variations between N.T. quotations of the O.T. text and the O.T. text itself. Examples: ISA 53:4 c/w MAT 8:17; ISA 61:1 c/w LUK 4:18.

        3. Inspiration is thus seen to incorporate variation.

          1. (1)  There is no need to assume (as modern critics do) that some of the gospel writers must have been quoting from a Septuagint (a supposed pre-Christ Greek translation of the O.T.) while others did not.

          2. (2)  Antiquities experts understand this principle. One genuine Stradivarius violin may vary slightly from another genuine Stradivarius but neither of them agree with counterfeits.

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