So much is riding on our view of the bible. Ultimately it is our eternal destiny that is at stake. This is not something we should ignore.
What if the bible you are reading has perverted doctrines, and the thoughts and views of the translators inserted as if they were the words of God? There are many bibles that are like this. At what point is the Jesus of your bible a false Jesus? How many professing Christians are following a Jesus who’s characteristics are more like the ideas of men than the wild God-man revealed in the original bible?
Every new version of the bible is different than the last, and every revision is substantially different than the previous one.
Muslims teach, since the time of Mohammad, that the Christian bible is corrupted and can’t be relied upon, and our hundreds of versions in the English language give them cause to gloat. The glut of modern bible versions, each different than the next, confirms to Muslims that Mohammad was correct!
But was he?
The fact is that Christians have always had only one bible. Between the time of Christ and 1881, millions of Christians died for that bible. Estimates range between 25 – 50 million during the reign of terror of the Roman Catholic Church, and many more hundreds of millions have died at the hands of practitioners of other religions.
The Novatians, Donatists, Montanists, Waldenses, Albigenses, Paulicians, and many other groups, knew the bible and were willing to die for their beliefs. Well, if people like James White are correct, however, then these people didn’t know the bible, since they are still reconstructing it!
So, what does the bible itself say about its own preservation? Does the bible teach that God would ensure Christians had access to the bible, or was it lost throughout history and is only now being restored by modern textual critics?
Here are just a few of the many verses regarding the bible’s preservation;
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. Matthew 5:18
The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever. Psalm 12:6-7
As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever. Isaiah 59:21
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. Isaiah 40:8
And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail. Luke 16:17
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. Matthew 24: 35
Matthew 24:35 is a promise of Jesus Christ Himself, and if God’s word was preserved in a library somewhere, or in a monastery somewhere else, and was not generally available to Christians, then really this promise would have been a lie. He certainly did NOT mean that His word would be preserved in a place where people could not check it to see what He had said.
Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. 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: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you. 1 Peter 1:23-25
So God promised that He would preserve His word, not in some cave, or in the sands of Egypt, but by its use in Christian Churches. And Christians did have bibles; the bible is the one ancient document that has the most manuscript evidence. Not only are there almost 6,000 manuscripts in the original languages, but there are tens of thousands of manuscripts in the early translations.
The vast majority of these manuscripts are of one family, commonly called the Byzantine text, which is the text that underlies the King James Bible.
There is another text, a corrupt stream, which is represented by around 255 manuscripts. The Vaticanus, and Sinaiticus, documents are in this group, as well as Jerome’s Vulgate, and because they are older than the majority of the Byzantine manuscripts it is to these two documents to which many modern translations refer to in their footnotes as “the oldest and best manuscripts”.
The truth is that these documents are older, but are certainly not better than the Byzantine text. The Sinaiticus document has numerous revisions and deletions, and bears the handwriting of at least seven people. Not only this but these two documents do not even agree between each other in over 3,000 places!
Here is the thing; the Critical Text, based on these flawed documents, was never used in Churches from the time of Christ until 1881. Real Christians rejected them for the Received Text, and Catholic Churches did not allow their people to read any bible at all for well over 1,000 years!
The bible text that the aforementioned Novatians, Donatists, Montanists, Waldenses, Albigenses, Paulicians, and many other groups used is the Byzantine text, which you know in its English form as the King James Bible. This is the bible for which millions died. No one died for the Critical Text; it is not worth dying for!
In case you are not sure which bibles I am referring to as the Critical Text, they are represented by bibles with names such as the NIV, NASB, the Living Bible, the CEV, the Douay-Rheims, the Jerusalem bible, the New Century Version, and the Message (which is really just a New Age Mess).
The New King James Version is based on the Textus Receptus, but its footnotes cast doubt on the text where in many places it states “this reading is not found in the oldest and best manuscripts”, or words to this effect. Not only this but the Old Testament text the NKJV uses is the corrupt Leningrad Codex, which was doctored by Nazis during the second world war!
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: II Peter 1:19
A “sure word of prophecy” means that we actually have a bible which we can rely on, and which is the same as that which was inspired by the Holy Spirit. We may not understand everything as God intended it, but the words are there for all of us to read! The problem is with us, not with Him!
Please don’t get me wrong; God did not promise to preserve the English language, nor did he promise to preserve His word in every language. His promise is in regard to the original text in the original languages. The preserved word of God is the Ben Chayyim Hebrew text, and the Textus Receptus in the Greek; The King James bible is a faithful translation of that text, and gets its inspiration in a secondary way, through the original text.
I can’t say the KJV is perfect, although it is based on a perfect text. What I can say is that the KJV is without proven error, is accurate, and trustworthy, and superior to any modern translation. Any confusion can be cleared up by studying the original languages. You don’t have to become fluent in Greek or Hebrew, just get a good dictionary. I have found the “MySword” app. for Android to be very helpful, as it has the option of loading a Hebrew and Greek lexicon with the KJV bible text.
Some KJV Onlyists will tell you that the bible was lost, and re-inspired through the KJV translators. This is a heresy taught by false teachers like Peter Ruckman. They don’t believe the bible was preserved, but that God had to restore it through the KJV translators, but as we have seen above, God’s promise was that He would preserve His Word, and He has done it as He promised.
Read the article on the history of bible believing churches, and you will see that Christians have always had bibles. (The article is excellent, but don’t believe these ancient Christians were Baptists; they might have been “Baptistic” and had some doctrines in common with modern Baptists, but all of them used real wine in their communion services. They did not feel comfortable in changing the Word of God as many modern Baptists, and fundamentalists do!)
The bible was preserved through its use in the Churches. Churches who received the original letters made accurate copies, which were sent to other Churches, and when the originals wore out, it wasn’t a problem because they had lots of copies which they had made in the mean time.
Copies of copies were made so that the Byzantine text has the most manuscript evidence of any ancient document. This text is so uniform that Textual Critics refer to it as one text, even though there are almost 6,000 copies. The copies were made by people who loved, and feared, the Lord and took great pains to ensure that their copies were accurate.
Calling it “one text” is a way they try to marginalize this text, and to imply that it is outnumbered by the two texts, Codex Vaticanus, and Codex Sinaiticus. The truth is that the TR outnumbers the critical text by a margin of over 5,000/250!
When the modern Textual critics tell you that the oldest manuscripts are the best available they are being deliberately misleading. Christians did not use the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus documents, so they were indeed preserved, but they were not used because real Christians knew they were untrustworthy, and rejected them, and non-Christians were not interested in the bible at all! (If you don’t use something it won’t wear out!)
It was not until heretics in the Anglican Church, by the names of Westcott and Hort, foisted their Critical text on a dumbed-down Church, that any Christians used this text. By that time Christians had built up an unjustified amount of respect for humanistic “scholarship”, that a great many accepted the fraudulent text without question. After all the men behind it were “scholars”. (Oooh! Everybody bow down!)
This was the same era when men calling themselves “scientists” tried to destroy the bible by pushing the evolutionary hypothesis! But evolution is just an old pagan idea taught in ancient Greece, and other places. Essentially theistic evolutionists are saying that “God was wrong, and the pagans were right!” I don’t believe such people can be truly saved!
This reliance on “scholars” has led us to where we are today, where the judgment of God is looming on the horizon! The acceptance of men like Westcott and Hort, and ecumenists like Billy Graham, and Rick Warren, is a sure sign that we are in the Great End Times Apostasy spoken of by many in the bible.
For further reading;