What God Promises Concerning Preservation

Introduction: In my last post, we looked at what the Bible had to say about itself about its own inspiration. So by way of review, it’s vital that we start with the right foundation of doctrine on this point, because it will make a world of difference upon the next point that I will speak about tonight. We saw first that God gave His Word to men by breathing it out through the original writers as the Holy Ghost carried them along so that what came out on paper, was perfect inerrant autographs. (2 Pet. 1:21; 2 Timothy 3:16) We saw that there were two senses in which the Scriptures were and are inspired – in the original sense, there was a supernatural leading of the Spirit in the word choices and in the thoughts of the writers so that what they spoke and wrote were exactly the very words of God. This sense of inspiration, we saw is restricted strictly to the original autographs because Scripture itself testifies to this in 2 Peter 1:21. This moving of the Holy Spirit is not mentioned to occur or to ever occur again in the copies and translations. So, the work of translation and copying is not supernatural. However, what we will see in this post, is that copying and translating will be overseen by God’s providence, not inspiration or supernatural guidance. The second sense in which the scriptures are inspired refer not only to the originals, but all the “graphe” or extant writings of scripture which Paul, Peter, Jesus, Timothy and everyone else in the New Testament would have been using. The sense in which these are inspired is that they have their original source in the mind of God and not of man and that they contain power (dunimus) to make you wise to salvation (2 Tim. 3:15) and that they are profitable for reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness. The copies and translations that the “graphe” would have been referring to in verse 15 would have been specifically referring to the LXX which Timothy would have grown up reading. So, even in the imperfect copies and translations of scripture over the years that would have been passed down, the words on those scriptures still communicated the truths that were powerful and profitable. Inspiration automatically assumes preservation. Why would God inspire scripture and then leave it to be destroyed so that it can’t help bring people to salvation and profit them for reproof, correction and instruction? It is obvious enough that God intends for these Scriptures to have this effect for all people, not just those who received the originals. So, let’s move on and look at what the Bible says about it’s own preservation and after affirming what it does say, let’s be careful to understand what it doesn’t say.

God’s Promises of Preservation:

A. The Old Testament: Isaiah 40:7-8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. 8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

It is always vital that we understand the surrounding context before we ever use a verse as a prooftext for anything. This chapter is a famous Messianic prophecy that promises the coming of Christ and His forerunner in the beginning of the chapter. These verses we have read are part of what was instructed for the forerunner (John the Baptist) to say. He is to declare the brevity of human life and it’s soon impending death, but then to compare it to the Word of the Lord which stands forever. The primary meaning of this passage is to say that God’s decrees, His promises, his declarations will stand forever and will not be subverted by anyone. Men are like grass, they could do nothing against the Word of the Lord. So, the primary interpretation is not talking about manuscripts, it’s talking about God’s decrees. Those decrees are in the mind of God. Now, where are God’s decrees, promises, and declarations contained for us to see them and know them? Scripture. So, this verse can be applied to written scripture, even though it primarily is speaking about the decrees of God. Even if all the copies of scripture could theoretically be burned up and disappear, the decrees of God would still stand and be accomplished.

Isaiah 30:7-9 For the Egyptians shall help in vain, and to no purpose: therefore have I cried concerning this, Their strength is to sit still. 8 Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever: 9 That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD.

Again, this is another writing that primarily is talking about what God is going to say to the people of Israel for having trusted in the Egyptians for protection. What God is telling Isaiah to write in a book is a testimony against Israel that will witness against them forever. This verse is not primarily dealing with the subject of Bible preservation, but it is most certainly guaranteeing us that what is about to be written will not only be for the time of the writing, but forever. The perpetuity of the written Word is assumed as certain.

Psalm 119:111 Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart. The entire chapter 119 speaks about the Word of God in so many aspects. This verse clearly teaches us that the testimonies of the Lord are a passed down possession or an heirloom for God’s people forever!

Psalm 119:160 Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.

Here we have inspiration and preservation together in one verse. From the beginning the Word of God is true and that word will endure forever.

This is one of the clearest and most simply stated promises about God’s divine protection of His Word.

B. The New Testament: 1 Peter 1:23-25 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. 24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

This passage is a direct quote from Isaiah 40. Peter tells us that we are born again by incorruptible seed. Let’s stop right there for a second. Some in recent years have said that the incorruptible seed that is being spoken of here is the Bible and it is the Bible that causes our regeneration. Some have said even further that because they believe that the KJV is the only incorruptible Bible, if you were led to Christ with another version of the Bible, you are not really saved. This is heresy because it perverts the gospel of Christ. The incorruptible seed is Christ. John 1 says that we are not born of corruptible things such as the will of man or the will of the flesh, but that we are born of God. Paul makes it clear for us who the seed is in: Galatians 3:16 NKJV 16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ.

Now, the Word of God has a function in our new birth, but it is not the seed. The seed is implanted and gives us life by the Word of God. This is accounted for in Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Then in verse 25, Peter continues to quote Isaiah 40 and applies this verse to them by saying that it is through this same Word of God is what is used to preach the gospel to them. It endured from Isaiah’s time to Peter’s time and was still profitable and powerful to bring people to the knowledge of salvation just like 2 Timothy 3:15 said!

Matthew 5:17-18 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

This is one of my favorite verses that promises God’s preservation not only on the whole Bible or it’s thoughts and doctrines, but on its very words and pen strokes. In this passage, Jesus is preaching the Sermon on the Mount, and after giving the Beatitudes; He knew that He was leaving the impression on people that He was doing away with the strictness of the law, so He clarifies to them that He is not replacing the law with new teaching, but rather He had come to fulfill it and the primary interpretation of this passage is to promise that every pen stroke of the law down to the jots and tittles would be fulfilled before heaven and earth pass away. Every prophecy and promise would be fulfilled because God is faithful. What the passage is not saying in its primary interpretation is that God will preserve a perfect line of manuscript copies or preserve all His words perfectly in any particular translation. One of the problems with the KJVO advocates when they approach these scriptures is to make giant logical leaps to conclusions that the text is in no way implying or teaching. In the case of this verse, I personally believe that every jot and tittle is preserved and will not be lost to history or time. How would we know when those jots and tittles are fulfilled if we can’t read them when they are fulfilled? Heaven and earth cannot pass away until God has consummated His eternal plans that He has prophesied through the Word of God. So, by application, not primary interpretation, I believe this verse can be used to teach the preservation of every one of God’s Words.

Verses used out of context for preservation

Now at the same time that we have plenty of promises that affirm God’s preservation, some folks overstate their case by misinterpreting other scriptures in order to make their case stronger. In doing this, they actually weaken their own credibility. We must be faithful to what the Words says, where it says it accurately.

Here is one: Psalm 105:8-10 He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations. 9 Which covenant he made with Abraham, and his oath unto Isaac; 10 And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant:

This verse is not speaking about the written Word of God at all. It is speaking about the covenant that was made with Abraham. That covenant was made long before it was ever recorded in Scripture. Before scripture existed, the covenant was made. Remember, Moses wrote the Genesis account of the Abrahamic covenant 500+ years after God had spoken it.

Then probably the most grossly misinterpreted passage that is usually the first runner up for proving the preservation of Scripture is Psalm 12:6-7. Some really nasty things are said about other translations that translate verse 7 differently than the KJV, even though the meaning is exactly the same. The problem isn’t the translation, it’s the interpretation that accuses the translation of being in error or perversion.

Let’s look at a couple of translations: Psalm 12:6-7 KJV The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. 7 Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.

NIV And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times. 7 O LORD, you will keep us safe and protect us from such people forever.

ASV Jehovah will preserve him, and keep him alive, And he shall be blessed upon the earth; And deliver not thou him unto the will of his enemies.

NJB 6 Yahweh’s promises are promises unalloyed, natural silver which comes from the earth seven times refined. 7 You, Yahweh, will watch over them, you will protect them from that brood for ever.

ESV You, O LORD, will keep them; you will guard us from this generation forever.

Some of these versions say that God’s protection is over “us” or “him” or “them” As you can see, some of these versions say that God will keep “them, him or us”. In either case, it doesn’t matter which pronoun is used, the meaning is not changed. In the manuscripts, there is a textual variant where the manuscripts disagree with the pronoun, but in either case, the meaning is not lost when interpreted correctly. “Them” is not referring to the Words of God in this verse when the entire context is taken into account. The Hebrew Chiasmic structure of the chapter will make this clear.

Psalm 12:1-8

a. Opening lament Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men. 2 They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.

b. God’s Promise Against the Evil 3 The LORD shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things:

c. The Words of the Wicked 4 Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us?

d. God Speaks of Salvation (Climax) 5 For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the LORD; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him.

c’. The Words of God 6 The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

b’. God’s Promise for the Good People Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.

a’. Final Lament 8 The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted.

If you’re not convinced, then let me give you the witness of interpretation by better scholars than all of us who all historically interpreted “them” to be the people of God. By the way, these people believed this before there was a KJV in Calvin’s case, and before there was a KJVO controversy in the case of Spurgeon, Gill and Henry:

“David, deploring the wretched and forlorn condition of his people, and the utter overthrow of good order, beseeches God to afford them speedy relief. Then, in order to comfort both himself and all the godly, after having mentioned God’s promise of assisting his people, he magnifies his faithfulness and constancy in performing his promises. From this he concludes, that at length God will deliver the godly, even when the world may be in a state of the greatest corruption.” – John Calvin “

“In life many a saint has lived a hundred years before his age, as though he had darted his soul into the brighter future, and escaped the mists of the beclouded present: he has gone to his grave unreverenced and misunderstood, and lo! as generations come and go, upon a sudden the hero is unearthed, and lives in the admiration and love of the excellent of the earth; preserved for ever from the generation which stigmatised him as a sower of sedition, or burned him as a heretic. It should be our daily prayer that we may rise above our age as the mountain tops above the clouds, and may stand out as heaven pointing pinnacle high above the mists of ignorance and sin which roll around us. O Eternal Spirit, fulfil in us the faithful saying of this verse! Our faith believes those two assuring words, and cries, Thou shalt, thou shalt.” – Charles Spurgeon

“That God will secure his chosen remnant to himself, how bad soever the times are (v. 7): Thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever. This intimates that, as long as the world stands, there will be a generation of proud and wicked men in it, more or less, who will threaten by their wretched arts to ruin religion, by wearing out the saints of the Most High, Dan. 7:25. But let God alone to maintain his own interest and to preserve his own people. He will keep them from this generation, (1.) From being debauched by them and drawn away from God, from mingling with them and learning their works. In times of general apostasy the Lord knows those that are his, and they shall be enabled to keep their integrity. (2.) From being destroyed and rooted out by them.” – Matthew Henry

“Not the words before mentioned, as Aben Ezra explains it, for the affix is masculine and not feminine; not but God has wonderfully kept and preserved the sacred writings; and he keeps every word of promise which he has made; and the doctrines of the Gospel will always continue from one generation to another; but the sense is, that God will keep the poor and needy, and such as he sets in safety, as Kimchi rightly observes: they are not their own keepers, but God is the keeper of them.” -John Gill

New ‘Mis’ interpretation: “The word ‘them’ in verse 7 refers back to ‘the words of the Lord’. That is a Bible promise of Bible preservation. This promise extends from this generation for ever.” – D. A. Waite

This interpretation by DA Waite and other zealous KJVO advocates is a new interpretation that is wrong. People like him and Kent Brandenburg who also wrote a book with the title “Thou Shalt Keep Them” use this verse as a proof text to back up their theory of an inerrant stream of manuscripts that were handed down from the originals all the way to the KJV translators desks in 1611. I’ve conversed with Kent about this passage and he says that the grammatical construction of the verse demands that ‘them’ must refer to ‘words’, but how convenient it is to switch to a grammatical argument and forget the context for the sake of justifying his position.

(disclaimer: I have not yet read Brandenburg’s book, so I can’t comment on what he’s trying to teach in that book. I’m sure he’s going to read this and be all too ready to defend himself. I use his book title as an example of this understanding of Psalm 12 and nothing more)

Psalm 119:89 For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven. This verse is usually used as a proof text for perfect preservation, but it’s easy to see where the Word of God is settled – heaven. Why? That’s God’s throne. Now, the doctrine of preservation is the real battleground when it comes to the King James Only Controversy. This is where we need to pay attention to scripture and be careful that we’re only saying what Scripture says.

So far, let’s review what the Bible has explicitly said about preservation:

A. The word of our God shall stand for ever.

B. That it may be for the time to come for ever and ever.

C. Every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.

D. My words shall not pass away

E. One jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

Basically, it’s saying the same thing over and over. The Word in general will stand forever all the way down to the individual words and down to the jots and tittles of the letters will not pass away. We are being taught that every one of God’s words will endure forever and that’s all it says. It says nothing about how God will do this. It says nothing about where God will do this. It says nothing about whom God will use to do this. It says nothing about what kind of manuscripts he will use to do this. It says nothing about what manuscript family he will use to do this. It says nothing about which translation will do this. It doesn’t even say if all of the words will be perfectly preserved nice and neatly in one perfect manuscript or one translation in any given language! However, there is a whole movement today that claims that God preserved His Word in a way that God did not tell us he would do it. Let me give you some examples: In the newest book on this subject called “A More Sure Word”, Dr. R.B. Ouellette says:

“ Some would view the translation process as purely an act of man. In some cases this is true. But if you believe God preserves His Word, then you cannot separate Him completely from the rendering of His Word into other languages around the world. The promise of preservation requires that God use man to render accurate translations in other languages. This is often a strong dividing line among those with differing positions on this issue – did God preserve only the original languages and then leave His Word in the hands of men to render into languages, or has His supernatural hand been involved in the preservation work throughout the translation process? ” – RB Ouellette

He is suggesting the 2 Peter 1:21-22 “moving of the Holy Spirit” in the translation process in regards to the KJV. He is actually subtlely suggesting double inspiration by raising that question without answering it in the negative.

“What is corrupting the Word of God? Adding to and taking away from God’s Words! As we begin comparing verses from the different versions remember this: there are no errors in the 1611 Authorized King James Version. It is God’s perfectly preserved words and you can trust it completely. ” – Gary Miller

After having given almost the exact same promises of preservation in his booklet, Gary Miller makes a quantum leap of logic with this phrase. This is a totally unfounded assertion, it is an unproven premise that makes the KJV the standard without any evidence.

“I believe that God has carried forward Bible preservation in our English language through our King James Bible. This is not to refer Bible preservation to the English translation in the absolute sense, but only in the sense that our KJB accurately preserves the proper Hebrew and Greek Words in the English language and accurately translates those divinely preserved Words….There are four reasons I believe this: A. Superiority of the Original Language Texts B. Superiority of the Translators of the KJV C. Superiority of the Technique of translating the KJV D. Superiority of the Theology of the KJV.” – D. A. Waite

I would agree that the KJV accurately translates God’s Words although I don’t know what he means by “divinely preserved”. I would say “providentially preserved” since we have no Biblical evidence of the supernatural occurring in the process. The first statement is his opinion and is another unfounded assertion. God did not tell us that he would preserve His word in one exclusive English translation, no matter how good it may be.

“We believe the Bible to be the revealed Word of God, fully and verbally inspired of God. We believe the Scriptures to be the inerrant, infallible Word of God, as found within the 66 books from Genesis to Revelation. We believe God not only inspired every word, but has preserved them through the ages. We believe the King James Version is the preserved Word of God for the English-speaking people” – Lancaster Baptist Church Doctrinal Statement

I agree with everything this says until you get to the last sentence. That cannot be substantiated with Scripture. Where does the Bible say that only one translation is allowed per language? Who makes that choice? How are we supposed to know that choice is God’s choice? Why must there be a totally inerrant and perfect manuscript of the whole scriptures intact in one volume? Has anyone in antiquity ever had that? They all had copies with variations of word differences, but who can say through history that they have had one pure stream (in the technical sense) of completely perfect, inerrant copies from one generation to another? Did God say he would deliver his Words through preservation in that manner? No He didn’t, so why is this being asserted and people’s consciences being forced to accept this? This kind of language in doctrinal statements or in books is a clear indication of the underlying false premise: the written Word has to be “intact” (entire, exact) in order to be God’s Word. Anything that amounts to anything less than a 100% equivalent of the elusive original is considered counterfeit.

“One may speculate about how the Biblical text could or should have been preserved, but a better approach is to examine what has actually been preserved—the surviving Bibles of antiquity. Unless one favors selective providence, every ancient Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament that has survived has done so because of providence. Every ancient Bible was the property of some church or private individual. Each Bible was regarded as the divinely inspired word of God by its owner and was used as authority for doctrine and practice. Apart from a few scholars in antiquity, owners of those ancient Bibles were unaware of the minor variations between their Bible and that of others; just as most modern owners of King James Bibles are unaware of the hundreds of textual differences between the various editions of the KJV. This manner of preservation was true everywhere throughout history. Otherwise one must embrace selective, special providence in order to justify a theory of preservation that says only certain ancient Bibles enjoyed special providential preservation and the others survived under subversive influence outside the purview of providence. But where in God’s universe is providence not operative?” – Dr. James Price

Conclusion: The fact is, we don’t have any other promises from God as to how the Bible will be preserved, we just have the promises that it will be! That should be good enough for all of us and we should not demand that God preserve His word in a way that satisfies our prejudices and biases. Next time, we’ll look at the process of canonization. How do we know that the books that we have are the right books and that other books that were left out were not ones that should have been included? This is an extremely important point about preservation that we need to talk about before we move on to the manuscript evidence that we have to base our modern Bible’s upon.

We’re Famous!

So this week, while I’ve been down sick for the past two days, we earned our first link from a major biblical studies blog.  Evangelical Textual Criticism, linked to our little blog and encouraged people to come over and check us out.

Welcome if you’re one of our new visitors, or if you have already subscribed here to keep tabs on what’s going on.  We welcome participation and aim to keep the debate here charitable and hopefully productive.

We hope to have a regular stream of one or two serious posts a week concerning the KJV Only debate.  We hope to make a difference, however small, in regards to this issue.  We aim to shed more light than heat on this topic, and you’re welcome to join us for the ride.

Thanks again, ETC, and we hope you consider finding a spot somewhere in you sidebar to add a link to this blog and other resources on the KJV Only issue.

The King James Translators & The King James Only Debate

The King James Version of the Bible is a wonderful translation.  It is my preferred translation.  It is my favorite translation.  I love it, study from it, enjoy it, preach from it, and believe what it says.  It is God’s Word.  What is said below is by no means intended to denigrate the KJV.  It is intended to show that the King James Version Only arguments are invalidated by the translators of the King James Version.

Though I shall retain the King James Version as my favorite and preferred Bible, I must say that it is not a defensible position to maintain that all other translations are Satanic in nature.  Neither is it defensible to call them “perversions” of the Bible.  There are, no doubt, poor translations available.  The King James is not a poor translation.  It is excellent.  It is not, however, a perfect translation.  The Word of God is perfect.  Scripture is perfect.  We must understand, however, that if the King James Version or any other translation were perfect we would not have to consult dictionaries to understand various words.  We would not have trouble with obscure passages.  Perfection is the nature of Scripture.  The transmission of Scripture in translation is not perfect.  Thus we have to strive hard for clarity of translation and we must strive hard for understanding of God’s Word.

It is to be noted that one website which posts the entire preface (www.jesus-is-lord.com) says the following about the translator’s preface to the reader:

The complete translator’s notes of the Authorized King James scholars are not included in today’s publishings. This is unfortunate because these notes say a lot about these men– they were humble, loved the word of God, loved the King, were berated by the Catholic religion, and they desired a translation for the common man who was kept in darkness. Some of the translators where killed for their faith. This book was forged in blood, sweat, and tears.”

While attempting to use the preface to the reader as a KJVO support, the one who established this website has actually posted something that speaks IN FAVOR of continual effort to improve the translation of the Scriptures into the language of the common man. Thus it is that this preface to the reader from the KJV1611 has been left intact as it was taken from the website of those in favor of the King James Version only stance.

In the Preface to The Reader below my comments are in red. ««Jump to the Preface with comments»». Originally posted at Pastoral Musings.

Understanding Biblical Inspiration

Introduction:  Before really diving into the subject of the Bible’s preservation, we need to do some preliminary study on important Biblical doctrines concerning the Bible itself. The battles raging between the King James Only advocates and those in favor of multiple version and everyone in between would be settled if there were a right understanding of the doctrine of inspiration and preservation. We as Bible believers already affirm that the Bible is the Word of God and that it is inerrant, sufficient, and authoritative for all matters of life and doctrine. I don’t need to go into detail with you about those presuppositions that we already hold to. The disagreements among conservative Christians about Bible translations and how God preserved the Scriptures has caused unnecessary divisions, broken friendships, split churches and slanders against one another. This kind of strife is not the fruit of the Spirit and is not of God when it is occurring between God’s people who all believe the gospel, the Bible and the doctrines of the Bible. For the most part, those on the KJVO side have stirred up no small dissention among the people of God by claiming that every one else’s English Bible translations are corrupt and Satanic. Consequent reactions from those who disagree have not always been helpful when as a response, they claim that the only inspired Bible is the original autographs that the Biblical writers originally wrote and are now lost. A lot of ink has been spilled on this subject and most of it has been reactionary in nature. My goal in teaching this series is not to wave a banner for one side or another, but to establish a Biblical view of inspiration, preservation, and establish a right philosophy of translations. So, here is how we are going to proceed: We will begin with the Bible and understand what it says about itself. We as Bible believers, must get all our doctrine from Scripture itself – even our doctrine of Scripture. The Bible is self-authenticating. It makes claims about itself that it can substantiate on its own merits. We know that the Bible is true because it is true to life experience, it is true to historical record, it is true in its’ prophecies and fulfillments of them. Most of all it’s true because it’s authority is grounded in the nature of God Himself. We all believe this and since we believe it, then we will start with what the Bible says about itself as our foundation.

1. The Method of Inspiration

2 Peter 1:19-21 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

A. The Assurance of Truthfulness

The first question we need to answer, is how did God give us His Word in the very beginning? What method did He use? In this passage, Peter tells us exactly how God transferred His Word to His people. Peter tells us in verse 19 that we have a more sure word of prophecy than the experience that He had on the Mount when Jesus was transfigured before him and heard the voice of God from heaven. First of all, understand that his experience was incredible and if you heard God speak audibly to you and you saw Jesus in unveiled glory; you would be very sure about what you saw and heard! So, what else could possibly be more convincing of what God had said than that? Peter says that the Scriptures are a more sure Word of prophecy. God’s written Word is even more trustworthy than a personal experience of any kind no matter how realistic it would seem. When we experience something, we can interpret it wrong, but when God wrote scripture, His words are not subject to error. We can interpret them wrong also, but the Word of God has its own means of interpretation in itself, and it is totally possible for a believer to understand it and interpret it correctly, thereby understanding the mind of God. On top of that, the Word of God can be copied, distributed and passed down to everybody, but an ecstatic experience cannot be. So, since the Word of God is so reliable, you would do well to obey it, it will shine into your heart so that Christ is formed in you and He, the Daystar will arise in your heart. This is also the power of the Word of God.

B. The Denial of Human Authorship

Verse 21 asserts that the Word of God did not have its origins in man. These are God’s thoughts, not men’s thoughts, exclusively. Let me address the idea of mechanical dictation: Some believe, especially among fundamentalists, that God dictated and man wrote in a mechanical fashion. Or, God like a writer, used a pen (the human author) and wrote His Word. This isn’t exactly the way we should look at it. A pen has no consciousness that it is being used to write something. When God’s men wrote scriptures, they were conscious of what they were doing and the thoughts that they put on paper were their own thoughts. However, the difference between the Apostle Paul’s writings and Confucius’ writings was that Paul’s thoughts were exactly God’s thoughts when he wrote them down. Paul sometimes even wrote this knowing that what he was writing was directly from the Lord: 1 Corinthians 7:10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: We also see that God spoke through the prophets in: Hebrews 1:1-2 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, Regardless of the mystery surrounding how God was able to make His wod certain without destroying the freedom and personality of the authors, several things are clear. The human authors of Scripture were not secretaries taking dictation. Their freedom was not suspended or negated, and they were not acting as robots. What they wrote is what they desired to write in the style that they were accustomed to using. God in his providence engaged in a divine concurrence between their words and His so that what they said, He said. Therefore, all of the scripture has its origins in the person and nature of God, therefore we can rightly conclude that they are inerrant, infallible, pure and incorruptible. EG: Numbers 22:35-38 – Numbers 23:3-12

C. The Transmission of the Originals

Finally, we see how God chose to give His words to men. He used holy men of God to speak, and when they were speaking (or writing) they were being moved by the Holy Ghost. In some mysterious way, God the Holy Spirit, was superintending what they were doing perfectly so that what came out of their mouths or on paper was the perfect Words of God. The word “moved” in Greek is “pheromenoi” and it literally means to be carried along like a person on a ship. A person can move around freely on a ship, but whatever he does, he will arrive where the ship takes him. This is how we can understand the inspiration of the original manuscripts written by the men God chose to bear His message. In all of the Bible; this is the only place where we are told about this method of God transferring His words to the writings and words of men. This kind of “carrying along” or being “moved” by the Holy Spirit happened this way with the original manuscripts only. This is the pheromenoi sense of inspiration that we must limit to the original manuscripts alone since this is the only place that the Bible accounts for this moving of God. The original manuscripts are often called the autographa or the original autographs.

2. The Nature of Inspiration

 2 Timothy 3:15-17 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

This verse is usually the one that most people will turn to when the topic of inspiration is brought up. I delayed to bring this verse in to the discussion on purpose until now. This verse does not say anything about the method of inspiration as 2 Peter 1 does, this verse tells us about the nature of inspiration. It’s important that we do not confuse the two, because if we do, we will logically deduce from inspiration what we believe about the doctrine of preservation in error. I will demonstrate two of those errors later. For now, let’s just look at what these verses actually are saying and teaching. Paul is telling Timothy that since he was a child he has known the holy Scriptures. What do you suppose Timothy was reading since he was a child? Acts 16:3 Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek. Timothy’s mother was a Jewess, but His father was Greek. He probably grew up reading the Greek Septuagint which was a Greek translation of the Old Testament translated in stages between the first and third centuries BC. Could it be that Paul is telling Timothy that he was familiar with the original manuscripts? Of course not, those had been long lost, but over the years, the Jews made copies of the originals, and eventually when Greek became the most common language, they translated it so it could be read in public worship.

A. Verbal and Plenary Inspiration

So, now Paul is going to say something about those scriptures that Timothy grew up reading and learning: All scripture (the totality of the writings) are “given by inspiration of God”. The first thing we need to understand is the “plenary” inspiration of scripture. This means that all of the “gramma” letters of documents of scripture are inspired. There are not parts of it that are men’s opinions and parts that are God’s authority. All of it is God’s authoritative Word because He is the ultimate source of it. Everything that it says about science, history, geography is infallible and inerrant because it is inspired of God down to the very words – and Jesus said even the jots and tittles. This is called verbal inspiration. Then Paul tells Timothy what these scriptures are useful for: which are able to make thee wise unto salvation. The word “able” is dunamena which is a strong action word for power. They have the power to make you wise to salvation. This is the power of God contained in these writings. This reminds us of another passage that affirms this power: Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. The “gramma” that Timothy grew up reading had this powerful effect. Then he changes the word for scripture and uses the word “graphe” in verse 16. This could refer to the whole of the Bible or to the contents that are contained. The five words written in English: “given by inspiration of God” is one Greek word: theopneustos which literally means “God-breathed.Theos is God and the part of the word for breathe comes from the word pneuma which means wind, breath or spirit. The way God carried along the writers was by breathing His Words from Him into the writers, so that what they wrote was exactly, the perfect word of God.

EG: Acts 1:16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.

So when we are talking about the original manuscripts we conclude that they were brought into existence through the instrument of the writer and what they wrote was the very Word of God.

B. Two Senses of Inspiration

“The next question I want to raise is this: can the scriptures that were God-breathed “theopneustos” extend beyond the original autographs and encompass the copies, and translations?

“What then is meant by “graphe”? A survey of Biblical usage will confirm that when it is used in the New Testament, graphe exclusively means “Scripture,” and usually, if not always, it refers to a text that is extant. Furthermore, in this passage, there is nothing lexically or contextually that would lead to the conclusion that Paul used the word to refer to anything other than extant and accessible copies and possibly even translations. Of course this would also demand that graphe is also inclusive of the autographa as well.” – Tom Pryde

I believe so, because the word for scriptures “graphe” is used in other parts of the New Testament to speak of the available scriptures that the Pharisees had, the synagogues used and the ones the early churches had. Consider these verses: John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. Acts 17:2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. These people didn’t have the original autographs, they had the extant copies and translations of it. What’s also interesting is to note that the verse doesn’t say that all Scripture was God-breathed; it says that it is God breathed in the present tense. In fact, the original language doesn’t have a verb at all. Well, in the present tense at that time and in the present tense today, neither of us had the original autographs of scripture (except for Timothy receiving that letter from Paul). So, it must be referring to all copies and translations also. So, the “graphe” which is considered “God-breathed / theopneustos” refers to more than the originals. The question is why would these copies be considered as inspired as the originals which the prophets and apostles wrote? The “graphe” is modified by the following words in verse 16-17… and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. These scriptures are profitable for a particular use: reproof – exposing error; correction – teaching what’s right to correct error; and instruction in righteousness – teaching how to do what is right by God. The result will be a man of God who is perfectly mature to do good works for which God had foreordained that he should walk in them. Can these extant copies and translations be considered inspired? Yes, they are God breathed, their origin is in God Himself. Can the copyists and translators be considered “pheromenoi” moved by the Holy Spirit? No, the Bible only refers to the originals being created in this way.

3. Errors Concerning Inspiration

A. Originals Only – Here is an example of a typical evangelical statement on Scripture:

 Inspiration is the work of the Holy Spirit by which, through the instrumentality of the whole personality and literary talents of its human authors, He constitutes the words of the Bible in its entirety as His written word to men, and therefore of divine authority and without error in the original manuscripts.

I would agree with these statement as long as it is not limiting inspiration to the originals only. I Tim 3:16 doesn’t limit inspiration (speaking of God as the source) to only the originals, but 2Peter 1 limits the transmission from the mind of God to the mind of man to the Originals alone.

B. KJV is only inspired – The other error is the idea that only the KJV is inspired. Some like Peter Ruckman, Al Lacy, Bill Grady, Gail Riplinger and others have tried to say that when the King James Translators actually wrote down the text in English, God moved upon them the same way He did the originals so that God has inspired the KJV as more authoritative than the Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts. They say you can correct the Greek text with the English. The other idea is that all other versions and manuscripts that do not underline the KVJ are not inspired and are of demonic origin. Before we get into this argument, we’ll have to take a closer look at what the Bible has to say about its own preservation in the next post.

Conclusion: I want you to have confidence that you have the Word of God in your hands and that you only believe what the Bible actually says about itself and not what others say you should believe. What we understand from these passages are as follows:

a. They originated from God

b. Inspiration was verbal – words were inspired, not the writers

c. Inspiration was plenary – all that they say are rooted and grounded in God

d. Inspiration is purposeful – scripture is for the profit of the believer

e. Inspiration extends to the copies and translations insofar as they match the originals.

Most of that won’t be a problem for KJVO advocates until you get to the last phrase of letter “e.” The common question is asked of them:  “If we don’t have the originals, then how are we supposed to know that the copies and translations accurately represent what the originals say?”

 That is a good question and it will be answered as we continue to look at what the Bible says about it’s own preservation and then we’ll look at the manuscript evidence along side what the Bible actually says about preservation. I believe we can know what the originals said based on the extent of the great numbers of manuscripts that are carefully compared with each other so that we find that all of God’s words are there and not one has been lost.

Will’s Transition from KJVO to KJVP

Scroll-MThose of you who follow the blogs “Fundamentally Changed” and “Reforming Baptist” already know me. I grew up at the famous North Valley Baptist Church in Santa Clara, CA and graduated from the college there – Golden State Baptist College. All of my life, I have been immersed in Independent Baptist Fundamentalism and to this day, I am still a part of the movement pastoring an IFB church. However, during my early years having recently graduated from Bible college, my conviction of holding to the King James Version of the Bible as the only inspired Word of God in English was challenged as I was exposed to other Christians on the internet. The internet was somewhat of a new phenomenon back in 1995-1999 when I was in college. Having only been taught one view, and given facts filtered through the various preachers and teachers who taught on the subject, I only knew what I was taught to believe and nothing more. I had all the KJVO books by Riplinger, Waite, Grady, Lacy, Sorenson, Carter, et al.  When challenged, all I knew was that there were less words in the NIV and NASB than in the KJV, so someone must have been cutting and shredding God’s Word like King Jehoiakim did to Jeremiah’s letter!

To stay on the safe side, I just buried my head in the sand and safely went on my way. Then when I was an assistant pastor at the church where I am now the pastor, the previous pastor had been challenged about his KJV Onlyism by one of our members. He gave the pastor a set of CD’s by Dr. Mark Minnick -pastor of  MCBC in Greenville SC and a professor at BJU- entitled: “From the Mind of God to the Mind of Man“. As one of my assignments, the pastor asked me to listen to the set and then let him know what it was all about since he didn’t have time to listen to it. I did, and it changed my outlook forever. I was finally given the facts about the other manuscripts and translations that I had never been told in college. 

Finally, after researching, reading, discussions with other KJVO and non-KJVO believers, I have come to a position of KJV Preferred. I still read from, study from and preach from the KJV in my ministry (although I do use other translations in my study as well). It all came together for me when I finally understood what the doctrine of inspiration was really all about. I won’t talk about it in this post, but I’ll post about it soon.

Anyway, my personal conclusion is that I prefer the text that underlies the KJV and the NKJV simply because it was what the church had been using for so many years, and I don’t really think that God has hidden the best manuscripts for thousands of years from His people. But to say THAT is much different than calling the older manuscripts “diabolical, corrupted, heretical or apostate”.  To those who are strictly KJVO, reading what I am saying in this post sounds to you like I have jumped ship from being a Christian altogether. I understand your sentiment, I used to judge people the same way.  Hopefully after the next few posts that I will write here (as well as on the Fundamentally Changed blog), you’ll understand where I’m coming from and maybe you’ll consider going a little deeper in your study of the matter.

Thanks to Bob and Jason for allowing me to contribute to this site. I look forward to some great discussions.


Check out my post explaining Zondervan’s announcement that they are discontinuing the TNIV and will be revising the NIV in 2011.  This is good news in that every gender neutral translation choice will be reviewed again, and Zondervan / Biblica (formerly The International Bible Society) are admitting mistakes in the production and release of the TNIV.

We here at King James Only? don’t glibly accept just any Bible translation.  I, for one, am happy that the TNIV is being re-evaluated, so that its translational choices will (hopefully) reflect the true text of Scripture more faithfully than it did before.