Against Sola Scriptura

Against Sola Scriptura

Introduction

I used to be Sola Scriptura, meaning I use to believe that the Bible was the sole and only authority when it comes to matters of faith and practice within Christianity. It’s a belief that was popularized by Martin Luther, although never the common position of the church until his time. Sola Scriptura, at least in the evangelical form that I once held to, practically states that because the writings are inspired and from the Apostles they alone can teach us matters of faith and practice. One of sola scriptura’s biggest implication is that the Scripture alone gives us the clearest picture of Christianity. Does this stand true? I don’t think so and here is why.  

Scripture is from the Apostles, but so is Christian Tradition

“I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions just as I handed them on to you.” 1 Corinthians 11:2 NRSV

Imagine you are a 1st century presbyter (Elder) appointed by one of the Apostles to lead the church. You have been taught firsthand by the Apostle himself and have been judged both knowledgeable and able to carry out the task that was given you. The Apostle leaves you behind and it is time to begin your work. Only one problem stands in your way, my sola scriptura friend, at this time there is no New Testament Scripture and if there is even just one Scripture written you don’t even know it exists. Oof! The Apostle forgot to leave you the un-written New Testament! How will you ever carry out your task? Could it be that people who were trained by the Apostles would be able to carry out Apostolic tradition? Of course, and that is how Christianity began. It began through Apostolic tradition and not through Apostolic Scripture. 

Scripture is a part of Tradition

So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter. ” 2 Thessalonians 2:15 NRSV 

Things have been going good in the church and you and the other presbyters have been doing a fine job. However, one day you and the church are facing a big problem. One of your fellow members brings up something that you are unsure about, weren’t instructed on, or just totally dumb founded at. What would you do? Well it would seem that many churches wrote to the Apostles, especially Paul, to find out what they should do. His answer to the churches is what makes up the majority of what we call “the New Testament”. Yes, the Epistles of Paul and the other Apostles give us a firsthand insight of their understanding of Church practice and sometimes mentioning of Christian doctrine. However, these Epistles were given in a historical context and weren’t originally given to be “New Testament Scripture”. Now of course they are because of their immense value. That value being what I recorded above, which things include mentioning on Church practice and Christian doctrine. These writings were not however what the church was built upon. It was built upon the Apostles and Prophets and their writings are only one part of their tradition, albeit an extremely important and first hand part.  

Christian Tradition with the Holy Spirit Completes Christianity

“because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of persons we proved to be among you for your sake. ”  1 Thessalonians 1:5 NRSV 

The condemnation of the false teacher in your midst, the question of practice, or the encouragement to continue on has now been given to your church by means of letter from the Apostle. Great news! You wonder if you should keep the letter that the Apostle wrote you now that the struggle in the church is over. You, like a lot of others in the churches, decide to do so. Another good idea. Maybe since the Apostle is so busy and can’t write or visit often you decide it would be a great idea to share the writing you received with the other churches so that they may also be helped in the same way you were. Of course, you often discuss what the Apostle spoke to you verbally with those from other churches as you meet them in person. You both recall often how you are thankful what the Apostle has shown you. Just like Jesus’s works were so plentiful that they could not be recorded so the works of the Apostles. You also share what the Holy Spirit has done in the midst of your church. 

Where in the Scriptures are the steps to start and run a church? Where is the doctrine of the Trinity or the hypostatic union so carefully written down for us? Did the church receive the doctrines and practices in writing or did they receive them in presence of the Apostles? I think it’s safe to say that Paul delivered the teachings by means of the Holy Spirit to people in person.  

Conclusion

I have chosen to express my reasons for leaving sola scriptura in a story format. I think when one looks at early church history, they will not object too much to the way this story has been presented. My main reasons for leaving sola scriptura is that it is too narrow in its scope to be an accurate picture of Christianity. The Scriptures, although incredibly valuable in what they do provide, are not what the church was built upon and they are insufficient in themselves alone to testify to Christianity. Many people who are sola scriptura, as myself once was, deride tradition when in reality the New Testament is a part of what is Christian tradition. The whole of Christian tradition and the promised gift of the Holy Spirit in the church is what gives the most accurate picture of Christianity. Our Lord Jesus did not leave behind script to be a witness of His atoning work, or His Lordship, or His resurrection, although He Himself and these things were testified in the early Scriptures which He valued. He left behind a living, purchased vehicle for this and that is the Church. 

Determining the Canon of Scripture

Determining the Canon of Scripture

Introduction

How do we determine that the books in the Bible are true and that these books are from God? What sets them apart from other writings? I’d like to present to you what I believe to be the Christian Canon at this time in my study and the most logical ways to determining what should be considered Holy Scripture. Let me start out by highlighting some of the fundamentals of the faith as received from the Apostles.  

Basic Christian Beliefs

W=As Christians we have committed ourselves to: 

  • YHWH as the only God
  • Jesus of Nazareth with His teachings  
  • The prophets with their prophecies 
  • The Apostles and their teachings
  • The faithful who have gone before us with their writings 

Order of Commitment

Those who have committed themselves to these things above have not all done so in the same order as others who have also committed themselves to these things. One may have believed in God being YHWH because they first heard and committed themselves to Jesus, but another may have believed in Jesus because he first believed in YHWH and the prophecies of the prophets. The order does not matter, but all of these are connected and must be committed for the Christian.  

For the majority of people who were not raised by believers they probably became committed to Jesus before they committed to the Christian Scriptures. For that person the Scriptures are validated because Jesus validated them. For the person raised by believers the Scriptures were no doubt first believed because they were taught to do so. These two most common ways of validating the Scriptures are pretty much inescapable for all new followers of Jesus. These two forms of accepting Scripture can be classified as Authority and Tradition respectively. These two are good and when both given and received honestly these are ideal. As to giving honestly I mean the church or the men of old passing down and referencing the works written by the Apostles and Prophets. As to receiving honestly I mean knowing that those writings which are being given are from the Apostles and Prophets. To complete the honesty of both one needs to confirm the validity of the tradition of what has been given.  This is because the most important reason that anyone should be reading the Scriptures is because they are true and represent God’s teachings. How do we rationally conclude then that these writings we commit to today are God’s teachings and how do we do make that conclusion on any writings in general?  

Logical Validating Methods

When it comes to our commitment to Jesus and the Scriptures, I have listed these three as some of the only and biggest methods to determining what is true teaching from God in writing format.  

  • Validation by our authorities: Jesus, Prophets, Apostles (Authority) 
  • Validation by the religious use and acceptance as proven by historical record (Tradition) 
  • Validation by prophetical fulfillment (future)   

Authority

Like I mentioned earlier we must never forget the fact that we read and commit to the Scriptures because we first commit to Jesus. When we commit to Jesus we become faithful to that which He also was faithful to. We want to identify ourselves with the One who knows truth and is Truth. Jesus demonstrated through His teachings, His religion, and His quotation of sources that He Himself was faithful to the “Old Testament” portion of what we call the Scriptures. Jesus never lists out which writings He affirms and which He does not, but because of His teachings and His religion we can come to a pretty good idea of which He held to. Jesus committed to YHWH as the “only true God” and regarded the God of the Jews as the only one that mankind should “serve”. He taught in Synagogues and affirmed the “religion of the Jews”. The Jews at that time had a collection of writings they affirmed to be Holy Scripture, but it should be noted that there is no evidence to support that there was one agreed upon collection. Instead it is demonstrable that others at the time held to more of or less of what could be called the common collection, or canon, of their day. The next section will discuss more about this. 

Tradition

The common collection of Scripture is the collection of writings which can be traced throughout time by historical records as generally being held to by most sects of Judaism and Christianity. If we start from today’s sects of Christianity we will have a few handfuls of collections at our reference, at least when it comes to the “Old Testament” portion. This is mostly because the “New Testament” portion has enjoyed less debate throughout history.  Within today’s sects of Judaism we see fewer collections than in Christianity, but there still are at least a few different collections. Generally for all sects of Christianity it is agreed upon that the 66 books of what is known as the protocanon, or the Protestant collection of writings, is true. Accordingly, the major sects of Judaism would agree that the “Old Testament” section of the protocanon is true as well.  The majority of old translations of the Scriptures from the time of the completion of the New Testament until now also agree with these 66 books. There is witness however to people who believed in the 39 Old Testament writing collection but also held to other books as also true and important. Looking at the different versions of the Septuagint will lead someone to understand that not only did some hold more books to be true, but also that there were more than one variation of this different collection. Many of the early church fathers quoted other books and regarded them as true. These books are referred to by many people as the apocrypha or Deuterocanon depending on the book. The scrolls found at Qumran (Dead Sea Scrolls) show that there were many other religious works by the time of the first century. These works attest to other writings in Hebrew. It is now widely believed that there was a Jewish sect known as the Essenes who lived at the time of Jesus. This group of people was those who hid the scrolls found at Qumran/Dead Sea and held to them as truth. The Ethiopian Jews now known as Beta Israel hold to a collection of writings that includes some of these other writings along with the common Jewish collection. It is commonly said that these Jews left Israel before the destruction of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah. When it comes to the New Testament the same principles apply as did with the Old. The only thing with the New Testament is that the common collection was finalized so early on in the history of the Church that any divergence from this common collection does not enjoy nearly as large of a witness as the divergences within the Old Testament. In conclusion of this section it is demonstrable that historically the common canon (protocanon) of the Scriptures have been revered by most throughout time. This does not mean however that these are the only books that were or should be regarded as true. 

Prophecy

According to the Law of Moses a man who claimed to be a prophet was either justified or damned depending on if what he said was going to happen actually did happen. For us in this age there aren’t many predictions of the prophets that have yet to be fulfilled. We pretty much are solely waiting for the last strong leader, whom is commonly referred to as the anti Christ, and the second coming of Jesus. When it comes to validation of Scripture one of our last ways of determining its validity is by seeing if its predictions come true. Unfortunately, when these final predictions take place it will all but be too late for the skeptic. The Scriptures are full of predictions that were fulfilled in the times of later writers of the Bible. The final remaining prophecies are the coming of the man called anti-Christ and then the Second Coming of Christ. The only other prophecy fulfilled that we can see today is the continuation of first century prophecies such as the continuation of the Church and the moving of the Holy Spirit.

Summing up the Points

So if we take those principles into account we should be able to come to at least a pretty good idea of what should be considered. History proves that the sixty six books that are in the common collection have been highly venerated by a large majority of Christians and Jews (In regard to the “Old Testament” portion). Jesus and the Apostles are recorded as having quoted or alluded to many of these books and holding them to be true. So, I suggest that we should start from here. The Apostles and other New Testament writers are also recorded as having quoted and held to other writings. The Apostle Jude undeniably quotes from 1 Enoch, a book which is esteemed by many to not be Holy Scripture, and says that Enoch is the prophet who spoke the quotation. Paul alludes to deuterocanonical works in his writings. If we hope to be consistent in our identification of Holy Scripture we have to consider these books as well. I am not going to define the canon totally. This is something that is going to be impossible to totally figure out. At this time I can only see these points as being the only rational way to determine what the Scriptures are.  

Canons of Scripture

Protocanon Common Collection

Genesis  

Exodus 

Leviticus 

Numbers 

Deuteronomy 

Joshua 

Judges 

Ruth 

1 Samuel 

2 Samuel 

1 Kings  

2 Kings 

1 Chronicles 

2 Chronicles 

Esther 

Ezra 

Nehemiah  

Psalms 

Proverbs 

Ecclesiastes 

Song of Solomon 

Job 

Isaiah 

Jeremiah  

Lamentations 

Ezekiel    

Daniel 

Hosea 

Jonah 

Nahum 

Habakkuk 

Joel  

Amos 

Obadiah  

Micah 

Zephaniah 

Haggai 

Zechariah  

Malachi 

Matthew  

Mark  

Luke 

John 

Acts of the Apostles 

Romans 

1 Corinthians 

2 Corinthians 

Galatians 

Ephesians  

Philippians 

Colossians 

1 Thessalonians  

2 Thessalonians  

1 Timothy 

2 Timothy 

Titus 

Philemon 

Hebrews  

James 

1 Peter 

2 Peter 

1 John 

2 John  

3 John 

Jude 

The Revelation of John  

Deuterocanon Eastern Orthodox

Tobit 

Judith 

Additions to Esther  

Additions to Daniel 

The Books of Maccabees (1,2,3) 

The Wisdom of Solomon  

The Book of Sirach 

The Letter of Jeremiah  

The Prophecy of Baruch  

The Prayer of Manasseh 

Psalm 151 

Where to Start?

I have mentioned a few different thing that may be new to the reader and they may like to find out how to apply these methods and to validate certain comments I made. Let me help with a list.

1. Early Christians Quotation and Belief of other Writings

I could give the reader an example and will give one below, but here are two websites where you can read early Christian writings for yourself! Check to see what early Christians believed! Read the Ante Nicene Fathers for an especially early look.

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/

https://www.ccel.org/fathers.html

“I am aware that the Scripture of Enoch, which has assigned this order of action to angels, is not received by some, because it is not admitted into the Jewish canon either.” Tertulian (On the Apparel of Women I 3:1-3) 

2. Different Bible Canons at the Time of Jesus?

I mentioned several things that are relevant to this point. Deuterocanonical books were available at the time of Jesus and the Apostles. I mentioned early Christian writings as one proof, but other proofs include the many Hebrew fragments found at Qumran, which validate that these were written by Jews, and the historical Essenes. The Essenes, who likely hid the scrolls, were of some of the Jews who believed in these writings. Check out google for my resources on Essenes and the Dead Sea Scrolls!

3. Other Christian Bible Canons

Our brothers in the other churches are not hiding what they believe. Check out their individual websites for what canons these churches have historically held to. 

4. Early Bible Translations

Check out info on various early copies of the Septuagint and see what books this early Greek translation of the Scriptures included! 

Did God Promise to Preserve The Bible?

Introduction

The word of God is a common phrase that we hear in the churches and in the Scriptures. Now preachers in the churches almost always use this phrase to exclusively mean the Bible. Is this actually the case? And while we are talking about both the “word of God” and the Bible I want to ask the reader to consider if God ever did promise to preserve the Bible? Here is my take on the subject. 

What is the Word of God?

The phrase word of God has a couple of meanings in the Bible. The Word of God can mean The Son, but mainly every time it’s used in Scripture it’s used to mean God’s message or proclamation.  Almost every time a prophetical book begins it starts out with the author saying “The word of the Lord which came by…” then the story and recording of God’s message to the prophet follows this. The New Testament writers use this phrase a lot and it’s almost always used to refer to God’s message of Jesus and eternal life. Although we almost always hear preachers use the phrase to mean the Scriptures in their entirety this is not the case. This would be another example of not letting our modern traditions affect the reading of the Scriptures. So let’s check out some common verses used to support preservation below.  

Psalm 12:6-7 

The Poetical Books are absolutely full of references of God’s anger of the oppression of the poor. Check out Psalm 72. This Psalm is no different. The word “preserve” in verse 7 is definitely in reference to God’s word of merciful protection of the “poor” and “needy” of verse 5. To clear up confusion, the “words” of God that are purified seven times are not a reference to the Scriptures, but of His word of judgment to the oppressor and the deliverance of the poor in verses 3 and 5. No mentioning of the Scriptures are made in this passage.  

Psalm 119:152

In verse 146 David links God’s Covenant Law to Israel with the word testimony. The second part of each verse is always a reference to the Law of God, so it would be safe to interpret this as David’s meaning. Now the Law, or the commandments, are immaterial. He would not be talking about the script of the Law, but the actual commandments themselves. While the commandments may be found on script that was not its origin, we remember that God spoke everything to Moses and then Moses wrote it. There is no indication that David is talking about the Scriptures themselves.  

Psalm 138:2

That “word” which is exalted here is probably in reference to God’s message to Israel, again more specifically His promises to them. There is no indication in this passage that God is referring to the Scriptures. Again, while the promises are in the Bible, the Bible is not only made up of God’s promises.    

Isaiah 40:8

The context of this passage is a promise to Israel from God. Verse 1 starts out the chapter by God commanding comfort to be preached to Israel and that comfort is God’s promise of deliverance and comfort. Therefore the “word” of God in this passage is in reference to His proclamation of His promises to Israel contained in the Scriptures, particularly here in Isaiah. It is not the Scriptures themselves that the prophet is talking about. Again, no mentioning of the Scriptures is made in this passage. 

Matthew 5:18

This is one of the big ones used by preservationists. However, upon looking at this passage one will notice that ink and script are not what is in view here, rather the requirements of the Mosiac Law. Christ is the end of the Law as Paul says. He fulfilled the Law according to His own words here, so if He was speaking about the Scripture then the Scriptures themselves would be void. The timing is until it be fulfilled, and not the end of the material world. The Law usually refers to Moses’ writings alone and certainty not the New Testament Scriptures, which of course had not even been written yet. How does the even remotely refer to the Scriptures?  

Matthew 24:32-35

Another big passage used is found here in Matthew 24. Many claim that Christ’s words here are the New Testament writings or the Bible as a whole. It becomes more apparent when one looks at the Scripture passage that Christ is talking about His teaching of His return to be true. The Scriptures themselves record Christ words, but they are certainly not all of His words. John mentions in his exaggeration that the world could not contain the books that should be written about all the things He had done. If the Scriptures were in view here, we should have a complete text of everything Christ said, which is an impossible thing to have. He is talking about His return being true. 

John 12:49-50

The message of God, or HIs word, to John means eternal life. In this passage we see Jesus referring to God’s word and commandment which He gave to Jesus. The word is said by Jesus to be those things pertaining to eternal life and not of the New Testament Scriptures or any other Scripture for that matter. 

John 17:17

God’s word of sanctification is the consistent usage of “God’s word” found in the Gospel of John, when not referring to Jesus. It is God’s proclamation of eternal life that we see here just like we see in John 12:49-50. He is not referring to the Scriptures because as we know Jesus already condemned people who thought that because they had the Scriptures they had eternal life (John 5:39). Many teach that the Scriptures sanctify us, but this isn’t true. It is God’s gracious pronouncement which does and not paper and ink.  

1 Peter 1:22-24

Here in 1 Peter we see Peter quoting the famous Isaiah 40 passage that we examined earlier. Peter gives his own commentary on what it means and connects it to the Gospel which saves us. Verses 18 through 21 record the Apostle speaking about Jesus’ work of salvation for us and in verses 22-24 he sums this up as “the word of God” which “was preached to you” and made them “born anew”. No mention of Scripture is found here, but rather God’s proclaimed message, the Gospel of Jesus. 

Conclusion

Long story short is that when an author of Scripture wants to speak about the Scriptures, he will use the term Scripture. The term word of God has been misunderstood by many preachers and those who have attempted to connect the phrase word of God with the Scriptures in many cases may have mistaken in their common usage. This is not to say that the Scriptures cannot be called the Word of God, it is just to say that this phrase should not only be understood this way alone. The phrase is inclusive of Scripture in that the inspired text is of God and is part of His directives. However, the certain verses as looked at above do not supply a context that exclusively connects the author’s use of the phrase to the Holy Scriptures. How the authors use this phrase is available for everyone to see and no one should conclude that the phrase means the Scriptures in these passages. The Scriptures are deeply important in the Christian faith and it is wonderful to have them, but God never promised to preserve them. It has been the church and will continue to be the church who preserves them by His grace until His return, if they still be available by then.  I mention this to say that there is a very real human element in the preservation of the Church and Scriptures that must not be forgotten. God may be gracious in His preservation, but He will not be found alone as the preserver of these things.

Against King James Onlyism

Against King James Onlyism

What is King James onlyism? Simply put KJVOnlyism is the belief that the King James translation (formally known as the King James Version or King James Bible) from the 17th century is the sole translation that any English-speaking person should use. Naturally this leads to the practice of exclusively believing and reading the KJV translation. The primary idea behind this is that the KJV is fully accurate and totally representative of the original autographs of the Christian proto-canon (Protestant canon) of Scripture. From what can gather the movement of people holding this belief began in the United States in the 20th century. I have personally had my fair share of experience with the ideology and was even formally instructed of the “reasons” to believe this. Like all ideologies this comes in different forms and has different types of people using different types of reasons to support this belief. In this article I am attempting to give a brief understanding of what this ideology is and the fallacies that plague its foundations. In doing so I hope the reader will have a healthier and more informed view on the Christian Scriptures and have a basic understanding of this relatively new belief.  

The Types

When it comes to this ideology there are a few different types of people who hold this view. The most fortunate type of KJVOnlyist is the one who simply reads it because “its just what I like to read”. Can’t argue with that! This type will generally be the older generation who grew up in the days when translations were not as numerous as they are today. We’ll call this type the preference type. Another type of KJVOnlyist is the self-evident loyalist. The self-evident loyalist is the one who by all means will venerate the King James as “God’s only word for English speakers.” Reason and rational are no friends of this type. They will go to any means to the point of twisting Scripture and logic to conclude that this precious belief is true. This being from my experience. Disagreeing with them may lead to being accused of being led astray by Satan. The last type I will mention is the misinformed student type. This type is the one which will be more so dealt with in the article. The misinformed student is the KJVOnlyist who is willing to reason, but has just been led down the wrong path. Their biggest weakness is that they haven’t put the time in to validate the variables that make up the system they hold to. Often the system placed before these students is much better than that of the other types. Discussion of the translation process and the introduction of manuscript theory is introduced leading these students with much more to work with. However, I believe that it is often the case that these introductions are marred with a lack of depth, confusion of basic terms and procedures within the processes, and a dishonest withhold of key information that makes their view look bad.  

The K-ing J-ames V-ersion

(I am going to take for granted that the reader knows a little bit about textual criticism and the translation process)

What is the King James version of the Bible? Simple put it’s a translation of the Hebrew Bible and The Greek New Testament into English. That’s very simple right? Well other English translations are that as well so what makes all this translation any different? 

The Texts

As I start to discuss this I want to put a disclaimer out that I will not be discussing the Hebrew Bible and the Kjv’s version of the Masoretic text. Generally this Hebrew Text is used by most translators in some form and when it comes to the KJVOnly adherent the Hebrew isn’t really their stomping ground. They usually don’t know too much about it in my experience. The harping for the KJV is always based on the Greek New Testament. So what does the Greek New Testament of early English translations look like? Well let’s take a look. 

Stephen’s 1550 - from Erasmus’ Fourth Edition

So you’re looking at the heading and you are wondering just what these terms mean. I’ll try to make this simple, but it isn’t all that easy. In the early 16th century a man named Erasmus had the desire to publish a Greek text. His text was one of the predominate Greek texts used in the translation process of the KJV’s New Testament.  He later would go on to publish several editions of his finished work. A Greek text is the pulling of all sorts of manuscript witnesses together to create the New Testament into one linear book in Greek. Scholars of the past such as Dr. Frederick H. A. Scrivener have viewed the work of Erasmus’ text and below are some of his conclusions on the manuscript and codices believed to have been consulted based on his finished product. Now not all of these may have been used, but they are some which may include renderings that look like the finished work. (See the reference for more of Scrivener’s work on the matter.) Later Erasmus’ work was taken by Robert Estienne in the mid 16th century and he added some helpful textual notes to the mix and nice font. These two works are the same, but generally Stephen’s 1550 is what is referenced as the underlying Greek text of early English translations. This includes the KJV. Many KJV advocates will title this Greek text as the TR or Textus Receptus. They believe this captures the “preserved” nature of the Greek text as in Latin Textus Receptus means “text received.” They would say this is received from the church and ultimately from the original authors. Many adherents of KJVOnlyism are a part of groups that don’t consider the historic churches such as Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox, Eastern Orientals, etc. to even be Christian, so many are left wondering how this understanding helps their case when these groups weren’t “really” the church. Anyhow the Greek text known as Stephen’s 1550 is what was likely mostly considered when the Kjv translators were translating the New Testament into English. 

Some of the possible and likely manuscripts of the Erasmus’ Greek Text1 

Codex Bezae (5th century) 

Codex Regius (8th century) 

Codex Victorinus (Minuscule 120) (12th or 13th century) 

Minuscules: 

4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 38, 42, 111, 120, 237, 398, 2817 

The Latin Vulgate Influences

It is no secret that the Latin Vulgate (an old 4th century Latin translation of the Old and New Testaments) was used by Erasmus in his Greek text work. He even admits it himself. 

“However, at the end of this book (Revelation), I found some words in our versions which were lacking in the Greek copies, but we added them from the Latin”2

The Latin Vulgate holds certain verses and renderings that are scantly found in any Greek manuscripts if even at all. Many people want to go on and on about how this text represents the Byzantine family of text type and for the most part it does, but there are many verses and renderings in this text that are not found in this family. They are found in the Vulgate. One could look at the Revelation 22:16-21 in which Erasmus admits to supplying these verses from the Latin instead of the Greek and compare it to the Majority Text (any Greek text based on the Byzantine tradition of Greek New Testament manuscripts) to see if it is recorded this way. Acts 8:37 and 15:34 are just two more that one could compare and one will not find these in the Majority Text. Below I will show Stephen’s 1550 compared to Maurice A. Robinson and William G. Pierpoint’s Byzantine Majority Text.One last thing to note is that Erasmus’ text also omits Luke 17:36 that is found in the KJV. This was done for good reason as outside of Codex D, and Latin texts, this verse is scantly found in the manuscript family. 

Acts 8:37

Acts 15:34

Do They Actually Read the KJV 1611?

The type of KJVOnlyist that is being discussed in this article generally sees the KJV as mostly the same. Sure some archaic words were spruced up, but it still says the exact same thing, right? This is again where we run into a problem. Today the KJV is published in America by both Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press. These two slightly differ, but are mostly the same. Here are just two references where the 1611 is not the same in rendering as it is today in both the Oxford and Cambridge 

Ruth 3:15 

Also he said, Bring the vaile that thou hast vpon thee, and holde it. And when she helde it, he measured sixe measures of barley, and laide it on her: and he went into the citie (KJV 1611) 

Also he said, Bring the vail that thou hast upon thee, and hold it. And when she held it, he measured six measures of barley, and laid it on her: and she went into the city. (KJV)

John 11:3  

Therefore his sister sent vnto him, saying, Lord, behold, hee whom thou louest, is sicke. (KJV 1611) 

Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. (KJV) 

Who went into the city in Ruth 3:15? Was it “he” or “she? Did Lazarus’ “sister” call for Jesus or his “sisters”? These verses have been taken from https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/1611-Bible/ where the reader may compare the verses for themselves.  

Formal vs Dynamic Translation

One last argument for KJV Onlyism that I will address is the word for word (formal) vs thought for thought (dynamic) debate. The aforementioned philosophy is one that affirms that we translate words from other languages more so literally. The second affirms that we should translate the entire sentence in a way that carries over the idea of the author, what they are trying to say in a way that makes sense in English. This opposes the stricter literal translation of each word. Before I mention the pros and cons of each let me start out by stating this is a false dichotomy. Every translation of anything does both of these. Sure one may lean more one way than the other, but both are being done. The KJV while classified under the formal philosophy also does dynamic translation as well. It wouldn’t be a translation if it didn’t, but rather it would be more of an interlinear. Also, the KJV is not the most formal translation we have on the market today. It certainly is bested by the NASB.  

 

The pros of a formal translation are that the reader gets access to the base words of a sentence and then can reconstruct the sentence from these primary understands. The big downside to this however is not only does this make it harder to read, this is actually better executed by interlinears of Scripture. If one is relying that their English translation is totally word for word just like the original languages they are uninformed. No one should be relying on translations for the formal process, but rather the original languages or an interlinear. If someone wants to read a translation of Scripture it would be better for them to stick to the more dynamic, so that they can understand the meaning and then go to their interlinear to better understand why the authors constructed the sentences the way they did. Then the reader can judge whether their translation is good or not.  

Conclusion

So the purpose of this article is to help the reader who either doesn’t know what KJVOnlyism is or for the one who may believe in it. The evidence of what the KJV is, is laid out and one may cross check the information given. The Greek text underlying the KJV may have been a good attempt for a rushed theologian, but it certainly is not 100% faithful to the Greek manuscript history. To be fair, none are, but many others come much closer than Erasmus’ text. Preservation of the Biblical text was never promised by God, so no one should fear the obvious conclusion of textual criticism. KJVOnlyism is a new belief rooted in American Christianity and should not continue to be adopted.  

This post, like all of mine, are meant to be informative and help the Christian better understand more of the subject. I hope my point of view can help. Read my wife’s testimony about her journey away from the movement here.

  1. Scrivener, Frederick Henry Ambrose (1884). The Authorized Edition of the English Bible, 1611, its subsequent reprints and modern representatives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 
    Scrivener, Frederick Henry Ambrose; Edward Miller (1894). A Plain Introduction to the New Testament. London: George Bell & Sons. 

    One may read his works online here.

  2. https://rsc.byu.edu/archived/king-james-bible-and-restoration/6-endings-mark-and-revelation
  3. Copyright © 2005 by Robinson and Pierpont. Chilton Book Publishing

3 Reasons Why I am not KJV Only (and why you shouldn’t be either)

Introduction

If you have dabbled around this site long enough it should come to no surprise that I am not King James only. I have written another, much longer, article here. King James Onlyism is a new belief that purports that the 17th century translation is the only translation English speaking Christians should use. Check out my top reasons below for not being KJV only. 

1. The Manuscript History

I am a fan of the old ways. I guess you could say I am pretty old paths when it comes to manuscript tradition. The older a text family or manuscript is the more validity I think it has. For me the Hebrew is best in its oldest witnesses such as DSS (Dead Sea Scrolls) and its early translations. Throwing this in the mix moves me a little further away from the KJV’s version of the Masoretic text.  

When it comes to the Greek, I prefer it to actually be Greek in its entirety and to be closer in age to the actual writing of the New Testament. The “Textus Receptus” of the KJV meets neither of these qualifications, so I am going to have to reject this textus. To me it makes more sense not to use a rushed Greek text that was based on a newer text tradition and that inserts Latin renderings that make it unfaithful to said newer text tradition. Basically, the Greek New Testament of early translations such as the KJV aren’t the best representation of the Greek New Testament by a long shot. Big deal for me. 

2. The Common Preservation Assumption is Baseless

KJV fans often purport that God promised to preserve the Scriptures, which they call “His word”, and also that somehow because of this promise there must be only one English translation. The first premise is often “supported” by verses that are totally taken out of context and do not refer to God preserving the Scriptures one bit. The second premise is based on strange logic that is unrepresented in the entirety of church history. Big red flag for me. The other red flag being that it totally doesn’t make sense. So I am not KJV only because the authors of Scripture didn’t promises to preserve the Scriptures and they especially didn’t promise them to be preserved in every language.  Hint: In Matthew 24 Jesus is talking about His teaching about His return not passing away, not the Scriptures. 

3. KJV1611 is not the same as KJV today

Many KJVOnlyist actually think that the KJV they hold today is no different than the one originally translated in 1611. While for the most part this is true, there are a number of differences outside of the changes of archaic language that show that this is not entirely true. One may cross check Ruth 3:15 and John 11:3 to see that these aren’t actually the same as they are today. One may do so here (https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/1611-Bible/). If God was involved in this “super natural” process we should wonder why “he” (Ruth) went into the city and if it was Lazarus’ “sister” or “sisters” that went to meet Jesus? 

Conclusion

My top three reasons for not believing KJV onlyism are the subpar manuscript traditions, my lack of belief in the “preserved text” theory, and the obvious changes in the King James’ successions. There are other reasons such as the olde style that is harder for us today to read, but that only makes non-KJVOnlyists look “dumb” am I right?  Who would want to read a translation in a way they could understand it without studying archaic language anyway? All joking aside the KJV is an aight translation, but certainly it has its faults as all translations do.  

Read my wife’s testimony about her journey away from the movement here.

What the Church Should Seek

What the Church Should Seek

Introduction

The zeal and desire of the church to be faithful to Jesus through the teachings and traditions of the Apostles are traits that have sprung many divisions and sects in the church. The desire and zeal are both worthy. With the desire to be faithful to Jesus we have many ways presented within reality to peruse this. The writings we have from the Apostles present some of reality’s clearest written record of God’s desire. The tradition of the Church holds many answers and many questions in regard to God’s will in practice. It is the clearest visionary representation of the practices of our Lord. The Spirit of God which is within the Church presents the clearest form of revelation. Other points of reality are presented to us that reflect God’s will such as the creation and its ordered laws. The trouble we have with all of these realities is when we begin to translate them into practice. Our perception and the various variables about these realities that need to be assessed and processed by the human mind can cause us trouble. Man’s mind is not complete and there is no system of perfection that can aid it in perfection of understanding and knowledge. The image of God can then find itself only attempting to accurately perceive the reality around him. Perfection is unattainable, but the reality may be understood better and better as we move along in our study. The implications of our inability to fully understand humbles us to rely on the principles of faithfulness in honesty. The church then in its pursuit of faithfulness should seek to understand the reality which comes from God humbly in the lens of church tradition, Scripture, and revelation of the Holy Spirit and prayer. The creation is something to consider in aiding our understanding, but the Church focusing on the teachings of Christ has a lower need to try and understand the difficult and unknowable tenets of God’s creation.  

Holy Spirit and Prayer: Our Individual Relationship with God

The Spirit of God is God. That which He reveals through dreams, visions, and all types of communication is absolute communication from God. In attempting to understand God’s desire and will there is simply nothing better for the Church than for God to speak through and to them. This is the most obvious and should be the greatest desire of the Church. The obvious problem of this is that no man can manipulate that the Spirit, cause Him to speak when they will, and squeeze the divine mysteries from Him. Therefore, the church is subject to His desire and timing to reveal to the Church what He wills to reveal. Here are some other obvious variables that need to be taken into account in regard to this reality. 

Obvious variables

Untrue claims  

An extremely messy truth for an organization desiring both truth and acceptance of one another.  

Lack of Miraculous for long periods of time

When God doesn’t speak in the Church then there is no settlement for the Church on that which they are seeking. 

Questionable Practice

Tradition and Scripture contain no decisive way on “how to” the Holy Spirit. 

Tradition 

When you want to learn something about someone you look to their students, to their friends, and to their family. The Apostles are largely responsible for the churches existence and they themselves were the friends of our Lord. Looking at the faithful who came from the Apostles is a good way to understand what the Lord willed and taught while on the planet. This principle is true and reality, but what are the obvious variables that exist and need to be understood to have a better view of this reality?  

Obvious variables

Human fallibility and the passing of time

We all make mistakes and it if it’s possible for the church to have made mistakes then there is a good chance it has.  

Matters never clarified

What happens when the Apostles didn’t cover something in the detail that people wanted to know more about? What if approved men actually don’t know the answer to something. Will they attempt to answer it and will that answer then get taken as Apostolic understanding?  

Induction

Good things are good, but not everything is from the Lord and Apostles. Have there been times when certain practices have been inducted into the church and taught as pure tradition from the Apostles?  

Scripture

Scripture records of men who did interact with God. The prophetical books start out with the statement that the word came from the LORD to so and so. Moses at various points spoke with God in receiving the law, delivering the plagues, and at the meeting of the burning bush. Many men are recorded in Genesis to have a profound relationship with God. The New Testament records those who lived and ate with God incarnate. So, the authors of Scripture have recorded for us very significant events based on very significant relationships. 

Obvious Variables

Determining Original intent

If I read the Scriptures in my own context, I may just have no idea what the author originally meant to convey. Understanding things like words, culture, and other common surroundings can help us better determine what the original intent of the authors were. Without attempting to do this, this reality becomes a major stumbling black for understanding.  

Canon 

The fact that Judaism and Christianity both have had different traditions of what kind of texts to use makes this variable another presented obstacle in seeking perfection.  

Transmission

While generally the discrepancies of Biblical manuscripts are small and harmoniums in teaching, for scrutiny’s sake we have to understand the variable of transmission as something we have to acknowledge and work with.  

Conclusion

Solomon is claimed to be one of the wisest men to have ever lived outside of Jesus of Nazareth. Being somewhat a theistic nihilist Solomon affirms in his writings that everything is worthless, yet to fear God and to keep His commandments are both wisdom and understanding. Solomon’s viewpoint may be at odds with many Christian theologians of all ages, but he does highlight the main duty, or theme of man’s life. That is to be faithful to God. (Eccl. 12:13, Prov. 9:10) In our attempt to be faithful to the One who is worthy we need to sort out the “worthless” things in an attempt to be faithful in all honesty. Much study may just be worthless in the grand scheme of things, but it may just be honest at the same time. Each individual of the Church and collectively as a whole needs to seek faithfulness to God in whatever capacity they are able to. Through study of the Scriptures, tradition, and through the church’s relationship with God and His Spirit the church will continue on to perfection in honesty. The variables that need to be understood within these realities may pose a challenge, but it is not as though these variables are impossible challenges, just challenges that need to be taken on. 

The Church Around You

The Church Around You

One big thing that Christianity is known for is having lots of different denominations and sects. Let’s face it after 2000 years since its inception there seems to be as many different denominations of the church as there are different types of flowers. The main cause for this massive speciation of churches is the loyalty that each group has to its specific understandings of the teachings, practices, and traditions of Christianity. In this article I would like to briefly speak about the big four churches and some of their distinctives to help the reader who may be uniformed about their brothers and sisters across the globe.  

The Church of Rome: The Roman Catholic Church

Coming in at an estimated 1.28 billion adherents worldwide Roman Catholicism crushes the people count on the list of the big four churches. As with the all of the three high churches of the big four, Roman Catholicism traces its priestly line and origins to the Apostles of Christ. Formally declaring its own distinction and preeminence in 1054 as a result of the Great East-West Schism, Roman Catholicism declares its preeminence through its holding to the pure tradition of the church and through Papal primacy. Claiming that the pope is continually the spiritual successor to Peter as leader of the Apostles makes Catholicism distinct in its leadership practice. The Pope has the authority to declare the official position of the church on a given issue. They believe that a grace gift is imparted unto the Pope and that by it he can better understand the correct interpretation of the Scriptures and Tradition.  

Eastern Orthodox Church: The Greek Church

The Eastern Orthodox Church comes in at number two on the list of people count amongst the three high churches in this big four list. Eastern Orthodox claims an approximate 270 million adherents worldwide. Rejecting both the leadership model of Papal primacy and the editing of the Nicene Creed known as the Filioque the Orthodox officially became its own distinct Church in 1054 at the Great East-West Schism. To the Orthodox a pure line of un-interrupted tradition is a must for valid Christianity, which they believe they have preserved quite well. Their organizational leadership moto is “first among equals.” The man who is the first is called the Patriarch of Constantinople. The church is made up of fourteen autocephalous (self-headed) churches within the communion. Their interpretation model for Christianity is threefold and includes Scripture, Tradition, and the Holy Spirit. The writers and writings of the early church are highly valued and many saints from the past are venerated to this day. While they are worldwide the Eastern Orthodox Church is largely found in Eurasia and Europe.  

The Oriental Orthodox Church: The Non-Chalcedons

The last of the big three churches in this list is the Oriental Orthodox Church. While there is a good chance you have never heard of this communion it still doesn’t take away from the fact that it has an approximate 80 million adherents. Leaving the greater Catholic Church in 451 because of the decision of the Council of Chalcedon this church is best known for its view Miaphysite view of person of Christ. They also are a communion of autocephalous churches. They are mainly found in North East Africa, but largely in Ethiopia.  

Protestantism: The Church Outside of The Church

Coming in at second in count on the big four list of churches is the Protestant Church. The word protestant finds its origins in “protest”. Protest is the main idea of this form’s founding. The protestant reformation is largely attributed to the theological work of Martin Luther and John Calvin. Protestantism covers a majority of anything and everything outside of the other three churches mentioned and there is no formal set of beliefs. Breaking off from the Roman Catholic Church, protestant theology usually retains more of a western flavor of theology as opposed to a more eastern. The conglomerate movement of Protestantism holds approximately 920 million worldwide. A majority of Protestantism holds to a type of faith alone soteriology and a lower view of the church. However, there are many that hold opposite positions on these two subjects and they are still very much protestant. Protestantism covers everything from Anglican, Baptist, Pentecostal, to almost anything you can think of outside of the big three high churches.  

Conclusion

If you are reading this then there is a good chance that you fall in line with Protestantism. If you haven’t considered looking into and becoming more knowledgeable about these other branches of Christianity, I hope that this article will give you a new found interest in studying the church around you and its history.  I think it is pretty important to not only know about one specific Church, but to know about Church history and the brothers and sisters around us. 

The Church

The Church

Introduction:

There are many synonymous ways that the Church could be defined. They are a people who follow the Christian religion, they are people who obey God, they are people who worship Jesus. All such ways of speaking are accurate in simply defining the church. This work tries to layout for the reader a basic understanding of the church with some commentary on its properties. The church is a living collection of people with a semi-formal structure in its origins. It is somewhat difficult to comprehensively discuss an organization that is not only 2000 years old, but is still living and moving on in life. It’s semi-formal structure from the beginning also makes it difficult to accurately define the original intent of its founders. This work takes an approach to understanding the church that includes the taking into account of Holy Scripture, Christian tradition throughout the ages, and observation of the present church globally. Admittedly the Scriptures will be the primary tool for the set-out understandings. The author recognizes that the Scriptures are insufficient of themselves to fully express Apostolic understanding or teaching on this subject. Most of what said about the church is in mentioning in the Scriptures and no full doctrinal instruction for how to set up the church exists. I hope this introduction will better help the reader understand the perspective of the author as they read.  

Statement



What is it?  

A Brief Understanding of the Church 

The Church is the collective people of God in the last days. They have been instituted by God through command of His chosen King Jesus to be His loyal followers, obey and teach His commands, announce His appointment as King, and to await His return. They were instituted after the selection of the Twelve Apostles who acted as His representatives. The Apostles were gifted with the Holy Spirit to perform His will through various miraculous abilities. They taught others and appointed approved men as elders to teach others as well.  The Church meets together awaiting Christ while doing different practices as worship. They learn, praise, thank, take the communion meal, and use their new abilities to help one another according to the Spirit’s gifting. 

A people in time 

The church is the people of God after Christ’s ascension. The original followers were those who followed the commands and teachings of Jesus and passed down this understanding to those coming after them. The form of the early church is mostly the same as it is today, but admittedly there are some differences since the death of its leaders. Small changes with some big implications.  The author wishes the reader to understand that at its core all “the church” really is, is a people who are faithful to God. The group of people who follow God after Jesus came have been called “the church”.  “Church” is the English translation of the Greek word “Ekklesia” which simply means “the summoned”. So God’s church is simply those summoned by God or put more dynamically as God’s faithful people. Below is a fundamental understanding of “the church” which understands it as a generally obedient people (Character) with a specific name (Church). Each individual of the church is a person who shares a like character, practice, and title. 

 

“General people of God” 

The righteous throughout the ages applying the desires and commands of God to heart in both lifestyle and word can simply be called the “general people of God.” The form of which those (God’s) commands take in their specifics are known to those whom know (the specific commands) and the general commands to all people.  

“The special group”  

When the general people of God apply the specific commands then this person becomes a specific type of person. However fundamentally this just makes this person an obedient follower of God with a new name. Upon applying these commands, the people become a part of the “specific group” of the time such as in past times “Israel” or in more recent times “the church”. Generally, these are just buzzwords to classify the people of God with their specific properties.  

This work is focused on the people of God who are specifically known as the church. 

Here are the properties of those people 

Basic Rundown

Structure  

  1. Apostles  

  2. Elders/approved men 

  3. Common Church 

Commissions/Commands 

  1. Communion  

  2. Baptize 

  3. Announce Jesus 

  4. “All things” 

Practices  

  1. Meet together on the first day of the week 

  2. Worship 

  3. Praise and sing 

  4. Teaching and Learning 

Gifts  

  1. Holy Spirit  

  2. Different abilities   

Rundown Explained

Structure 

 

Jesus as head from the start

God’s approved man from the start of the Church has been none other than Jesus of Nazareth. He taught His original disciples and chosen twelve whom, excluding Judas Iscariot, have gone out and taught the world. As Son of God His teachings bare the weight of Divine authority and command. The church was given Him to take care of and to lead.  

The Twelve Apostles

Upon Jesus’ ascension the original 11 apostles and the newly elected one (Matthias) were sent out to the Jews and to the rest of the world. They taught others the teachings and commands of Jesus which they heard from Him before and after His resurrection. Before this, but after Jesus’ ascension, they waited in prayer and were gifted the promised Holy Spirit. In the power of God’s Spirit, they both remembered and preached His commands and lordship. Throughout their lives they started churches and elected approved men who held the teachings in truth to be leaders in the churches.  Some also wrote letters which have been venerated by the Church as holy instruction. After suffering many persecutions all, but John are said to have been martyred.  

Paul the Apostles to the Gentiles

Saul of Tarsus was an Israelite Roman citizen descending from the tribe of Benjamin. His Greek and common name to the Church is Paul. Paul was a man who at first was a Pharisee who violently opposed the Christian Church, but later was converted to the faith by the words of Christ Himself from Heaven. He was selected to be an Apostle, but his work was mainly to the non-Jewish people and nations. He is largely responsible for the introduction of Christianity to the world outside of Israel. He also is responsible for many letters written to the Churches which make up most of its recorded instruction.  

 

The Elders

The elders were approved men either chosen directly from the Apostles or by other already approved men. Probably most if not all of these approved men had the hands of the Apostles or other approved men laid on them so that they could be associated with the Apostles. They were the leaders in specific churches who held to the teachings in accuracy as held by the Apostles. They were men of knowledge, but also men of Christian character. They were at times likely called by the Holy Spirit through miraculous calling. Their duty was to uphold accurate teaching in their churches. They were to approve of others in the churches to confer Apostolic association.   

 

Deacons

The deacons were approved people who helped out in the churches through various means of service. They were people who were filled with the Spirit and who exemplified good Christian character. They were often chosen by other approved men and probably at many times chosen also by the Holy Spirit.  

 

The Common Church

Those not in the offices mentioned above were seen as just as important and had other gifts from the Holy Spirit that were to be used for helping the other members.  

 

Commissions/Commands

 

Baptize: 

Baptism is mentioned quite a bit in the New Testament, but never is baptism explained and neither is there a clear reason given for its commissioning. John’s baptism functioned for the purpose of repentance in preparation for the coming of God, specifically His servant Jesus. Christ commissioned His Apostles to baptize others in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. There seems to be no criteria needed to be met for baptism except that a person be willing and that all must be baptized.  Concluding on the symbolic teachings on baptism by the Apostles and that which we can deduct from other mentioning in the Scriptures it can be said that baptism is an initiation procedure by which one dedicates their life to Jesus and enters the Church. The practice was done by immersing someone in water. The word baptize literally means immerse, which was done in water in the church.  

 

Announce 

God has given Jesus the right and authority over the entire world. The Church whom He has given has been commissioned to herald this truth to the world. It is their commission that they let people know that God has selected someone to rule over the Earth and that this person will come again in the future to exercise divine decision and judgment. Therefore, the church did announce this to others and that they should repent of contrary lifestyles.  

 

All things  

Aside from the prior commissions mentioned, Jesus also commissioned His Apostles to teach others to follows His commands. The gift to remember all things that He taught them was given them through His promise and by the Spirit. The Gospel accounts coupled with the writings of the Apostles are the best testimony to Jesus’ teaching and such the Church has highly venerated these writings.  

 

Communion

On the night when Jesus was betrayed, He shared the Passover meal with His disciples. During the meal He took the unleavened bread and said that it was His body that is broken for them. He took the wine and said that it was His blood likewise shed for them. He told them to do it in remembrance of Him.  

 

Practices

 

Meeting together

The promise of God to resurrect the dead and to reform the earth is waiting its accomplishment in the return of Jesus. At the time of Jesus’ ascension, the faithful were told that He would return to the Earth to fulfill all things, but the times which His Father and our God has set for such things to occur have not been revealed. The church therefore waits in positive expectation of the fulfillment of the promises and His own coming.  They do so in coming together in one place, worshiping in holiness, and keeping in mind the things that the Lord commanded His Apostles to observe. They take communion together. 

Communion

 In the night when Jesus was betrayed, He shared the Passover meal with His disciples. During the meal He took the unleavened bread and said that it was His body that is broken for them. He took the wine and said that it was His blood likewise shed for them. He told them to do it in remembrance of Him.  

When the church eats this holy meal together, they are proclaiming His death. The bread symbolizes His body while the wine symbolizes His blood. The death of the Lord Jesus is the propitiation and the forgiveness of sin. Therefore, proclaiming Jesus’ death by means of eating this meal is the exercising of faith that God has accomplished His promise and will grant eternal life to mankind.  

Worship

Christian worship is valuing God and Jesus above all in every aspect of human lives. When the Church comes together there are many ways this occurred. Giving thanks to God for all that He has done and provided is an aspect of worship. Acknowledging God’s various works and power is an aspect of worship. These things were also done in song. Another aspect of Christian worship occurred in both teaching and learning the teachings of the Lord Jesus. Other aspects of God concerning the Scriptures and the teachings found within them were also taught and learned. Early on liturgy and the public reading of Holy Scripture were common place. 

Common Love

While the things that made the gathering of the church holy were the teachings, the worship, and the communal meal instituted by the Lord Jesus there is another aspect that works together with all these. That aspect is the common purpose in love. The Lord Jesus taught that a defining factor of the church would be their love for one another. Christians loved both in word and deed. The needs of another were cared for by one another and giving was a very real practice. Each one was to value one another as they valued themselves and to do all things in the name of the Lord. Physical and Spiritual undertakings were done for the good of the Church in Christ. 
 

Gifts

 

The Holy Spirit

The most defining property of the Church outside of knowing Jesus is knowing the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus promised His Apostles the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit being the very Spirit of God Himself was given to come upon the church and to dwell within them. The Spirit’s indwelling manifested itself through various abilities. These abilities are commonly referred to as spiritual gifts. Many gifts are mentioned as having been exercised by the church, but no concise list exists. These miraculous giftings allowed people to do things that they were never able to before in their current condition. Prophecy, healings, speaking in other languages, and various other services are but a few mentioned in Scripture. God’s presence within His church is an excellent gift and the different abilities performed by the Spirit are truly grace gifts.  

Conclusion

The Church is those who follow God and Jesus of Nazareth. Through the meeting together in worship and through the power of the Spirit the Church confirms the teaching of Jesus that He will come again to judge the Earth. They tell others of Jesus and how He is coming as Lord. Through their obedient practice for Jesus and waiting they are highly valued by God. They are those separated from the rest of the world who will undoubtedly receive the reward of Eternal Life and a good place with God on the New Earth. The author understands that seeking to understand God and Christ’s commissions is to be taken seriously, but that it also must been done in way that honestly accepts what is discovered. The search and study for perfection should take into account that Christianity was originally meant to be passed down through tradition in light of God’s Spirit in the church rather than to sole obedience to a writing. If it had been the primary way for the church to function then there should have existed some writing of extensive instruction and the church would have been structured more formally. Therefore all three of these things are necessary for understanding the Church. 

Useful Tip: Interlinear #1

Useful Tip: Interlinears #1

One of the greatest tools for those who aren’t strong in the original languages of the Scriptures is an interlinear. In this post I’d like to share a recent experience of mine that I think can help illustrate the helpfulness of both the original languages and the interlinear. 

A few days ago I was at work doing what I do best, thinking about Jesus and theology. I was pondering Jesus’ response to Mary as “The resurrection and the life” and His statement about those who believe in Him “will never die”. I was thinking how it was kind of strange even within John’s Gospel account for Jesus to be recorded as saying this and thinking what it might mean exactly. So I eventually whipped out my interlinear on my phone and discovered that there is an interesting way that most translators choose to render this verse (John 11:26). I have included some images below as a reference guide.

John 11:24–27 (LGNTI:SBL)

In Greek at the end of the verse there is a phrase found that is common to John’s Gospel. That phrase is eis ton aiona/for the age. One may also find this phrase in John 8. (Use an interlinear and see if you can find it!) The Greek word aiona and its forms are the words which we get the English rendering “forever”. While this phrase is commonly translated as forever in John’s account here it isn’t. The negatives “no” and “not” in this verse are attributed to this phrase by most translators instead of the word death. This has them to place the word “never” before “die”. I side with the few translations that render this verse as “will not die forever”.

This is a great example of how using an interlinear can help you better understand the different possible ways of understanding a text along with the difficulties of translation.

Is All of Humanity Worthy of Eternal Judgement?

Is all Humanity Worthy of Eternal Judgement?

Does Paul teach that all humans are deserving of eternal punishment because of the original sin of Adam? This is the predominant thought of Christianity in the west, but I don’t believe it is so of Christians in the East. The thought that God has burning anger within Himself for all people which is only quenchable by eternal torment is often backed up by Paul’s teaching in Romans chapter 5, 6, and 1 Corinthians 15. So does this teaching stand the test of clear exegesis? Are all men worthy of eternal wrath in the lake of fire?

 

Romans  5:12-17 NET

“So then, just as sin entered the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all people because all sinned – for before the law was given, sin was in the world, but there is no accounting for sin when there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam until Moses even over those who did not sin in the same way that Adam (who is a type of the coming one) transgressed. But the gracious gift is not like the transgression. For if the many died through the transgression of the one man, how much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one man Jesus Christ multiply to the many! And the gift is not like the one who sinned. For judgment, resulting from the one transgression, led to condemnation, but the gracious gift from the many failures led to justification. For if, by the transgression of the one man, death reigned through the one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, Jesus Christ!”

 

Here in Romans 5 we don’t see Paul make any mention of “the lake of fire” or eternal death, but just simply death. Paul is teaching that death has been around from the beginning, even before the Law of Moses, because of the sin of Adam. That’s it. We see death reigning in humanity, but we don’t see eternal condemnation being taught as man’s reward for Adam’s sin.

Romans 6:23
“For the payoff of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Again no mention of eternal torment seen here. We only see that God judges mankind with death initially, but believers are freed from death and instead live forever; have eternal life.”



1 Corinthians 15:20-23

“But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also came through a man.  For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.  But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; then when Christ comes, those who belong to him.”

 

Just like in Romans 5 Paul is contrasting Adam to Jesus. In Adam all die and in Jesus all live. He does not say that in Adam all are condemned to eternal torment, but death only. This death that Jesus frees humanity from is done away with when He returns, before the great judgment.

 

Conclusion

While the teaching of eternal punishment for the wicked is a true teaching, the teaching that all humanity is worthy of eternal punishment is not. Paul teaches in Romans and 1 Corinthians that Death is what all humanity inherits from Adam and not Adam’s personal guilt. God judges every man according to His deeds and He will give everyone what they deserve for what they have done on the final day.