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The Bible, the Spirit of Prophecy, and the Church

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    The Writings of David

    By Nehemiah (Psalms)—Nehemiah 12:36 46.BSPC 16.9

    The Old Testament—Luke 24:25, 27:44.BSPC 16.10

    Coming more directly to the thought of the “holy oracles” being the revealed will of God to man, we might notice how the divine illumination came to the prophets. We read that all Scripture is inspired of God. (2 Timothy 3:16.) This text is the only place in the New Testament where the Greek word for “inspiration” is used and so rendered. The word literally rendered is “God breathed” and is so translated by Rotherham in his Emphasized Translation of the New Testament. It means that God took possession of the human instrument and Himself breathed through him the words of life, of counsel, and of warning. In a special sense it was the voice of God.BSPC 16.11

    Another step in this possession of the prophets of God is indicated by the apostle Peter in his epistle:BSPC 16.12

    “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of men: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 2 Peter 1:21.BSPC 17.1

    Here it will be noted that the Holy Spirit is the motivating power. It is the Spirit of God that moves, directs, impels His servants the prophets. This was recognized not only in New Testament days but in the days long before that. We find even David makes this acknowledgment: “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and his word was in my tongue.” 2 Samuel 23:2.BSPC 17.2

    But the Spirit of God “moved” the prophets. This is a word of wonderful significance. Literally, it means to be “borne along,” “carried along,” “impelled” or “driven.” Weymouth uses “impelled,” and in Acts 27:15, 17 we read of the ship in which the apostle Paul sailed as being “driven” by the storm. This is the same word.BSPC 17.3

    It is important that we remember that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God,” as we have it in the Authorized Version.BSPC 17.4

    Many of the translations in English, such as the Interlinear, Montgomery, Rotherham, Ford, Revised Standard, Goodspeed, Weymouth, Knox (RC), Moffatt, and Verkuyl, render it this way.BSPC 17.5

    One more thing might be observed when considering this important statement from the apostle’s letter to Timothy, and that is the word all. It is not without reason that the Greek word pas (“all”) is used in this instance. This word is rendered by several different words in the New Testament, and the following are worthy of thoughtful study:BSPC 17.6

    In Matthew 18:19 it is rendered “any.” In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 it is rendered “every thing.” In Mark 7:18 it is rendered “whatsoever thing.” In Hebrews 4:15 it is rendered “all points.”BSPC 17.7

    It would be well also to observe that when Jesus referred to the prophecies concerning His work and mission, He used the same word “all” on several occasions. To the disciples on the road to Emmaus He told them “all that the prophets have spoken.” (Luke 24:25, 27, 44.) On other occasions He mentioned “all things which are written” (Luke 21:22), “Till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18). Peter stressed the same thought, “By the mouth of all his prophets” (Acts 3:18, 21); “to him give all the prophets witness” (Acts 10:43). So also did the apostle Paul in his great defense before Felix, where he declared he believed “all things which are written” (Acts 24:14).BSPC 17.8

    Hence the word in 2 Timothy 3:16 is all-inclusive, and we do well to recognize the force of its meaning. The fact is that not a part, not certain sections of the Bible, not the testimony of one person here and there, is inspired, but all Scripture is God breathed. All of it is inspired of God and is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”BSPC 18.1

    B. B. Warfield has ably written:BSPC 18.2

    “Scripture is thought of as the living voice of God speaking in all its parts directly to the reader.... Its authority rests on its divinity and its divinity expresses itself in its trustworthiness; and the New Testament writers in all their use of it treat it as what they declare it to be—a God-breathed document, which, because God-breathed, as through and through trustworthy in all its assertions, authoritative in all its declarations, and down to its last particular, the very word of God, His ‘oracles.’”—Revelation and Inspiration, pp. 94-96.BSPC 18.3

    The Spirit of prophecy comment is:BSPC 18.4

    “The union of the divine and the human, manifest in Christ, exists also in the Bible. The truths revealed are all ‘given by inspiration of God’; yet they are expressed in the words of men and are adapted to human needs. Thus it may be said of the Book of God, as it was of Christ, that ‘the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.’ And this fact, so far from being an argument against the Bible, should strengthen faith in it as the word of God. Those who pronounce upon the inspiration of the Scriptures, accepting some portions as divine while they reject other parts as human, overlook the fact that Christ, the divine, partook of our human nature, that he might reach humanity. In the work of God for man’s redemption, divinity and humanity are combined. There are many passages of Scripture which skeptical critics have declared to be uninspired, but which, in their tender adaptation to the needs of men, are God’s own messages of comfort to His trusting children.”—Testimonies for the Church 5:747, 748.BSPC 18.5

    The Veracity of the Biblical ManuscriptsBSPC 18.6

    Quite often one hears of severe criticisms of the original manuscripts from which our Bible has been translated, Some claim that in the many copyings of the text through the years, mistakes are bound to have crept in, and that with the passing of the centuries it has become very doubtful whether we can be certain that we have a correct translation, and be sure that we have the actual word of God. It is true, of course, that there was always the danger of slight mistakes occurring in the copying of manuscripts. It should be remembered that the Hebrew language in its early written form was entirely written in consonants, no vowels at all being used. Furthermore, there were no spaces dividing one word from the other. It would look much the same as if we should write John 3:16 thus:BSPC 18.7


    If a piece of writing of this kind were given to any of us, we should certainly experience considerable difficulty in knowing which vowels to use and also how to separate the various words one from another. It was not until the Jews returned from the captivity in Babylon that the Hebrew words were divided from one another and the Hebrew Old Testament arranged into paragraphs and verses. At this time the square Hebrew characters were substituted for the old Phoenician or archaic Hebrew alphabet. Such changes as were made were introduced gradually and covered quite a period of time. Dr. Ginsburg, a Christian Jew from Poland, who became an eminent Hebrew scholar, asserts that this work was begun in the days of Ezra by men known as the Sopherim, or scribes. Several centuries passed, it seems, before any further major changes were introduced. Vowel points came in about AD. 500 to 600, and were the work of men known as the Masoretes.BSPC 19.1

    It should be remembered also that many of the Hebrew letters differed from others in a very small minor point. Even in the printed text such differences are not too easily discerned; how much more difficult to observe in handwritten copies! The following characters will illustrate this.BSPC 19.2

    ø r could easily be mistaken for ã dh ç h could easily be mistaken for ä h è t could easily be mistaken for í s å w could easily be mistaken for æ z á b could easily be mistaken for ð n In view of these considerations, it seems nothing short of a miracle that the various manuscripts have come down to us in such wonderfully correct form as we have them today.BSPC 19.3

    Furthermore, it must be borne in mind that extreme care was taken by the copyists of the Sacred Word. Carefully observe the following:BSPC 20.1

    “In making copies of Hebrew manuscripts which are the precious heritage of the church to-day, the Jewish scribes exercised the greatest possible care, even to the point of superstition. Counting, not only the words, but every letter, noting how many times each particular letter occurred, and destroying at once the sheet on which a mistake was detected, in their anxiety to avoid the introduction of the least error into the sacred Scriptures, which they prized so highly and held in such reverent awe. Moreover, each new copy had to be made from an approved manuscript, written with a special kind of ink, upon sheets made from the skin of a “clean” animal. The writers also had to pronounce aloud each word before writing it, and on no account was a single word to be written from memory. They were to reverently wipe their pen before writing the name of God in any form, and to wash their whole body before writing “Jehovah,” lest that holy name should be tainted even in the writing. The new copy was then carefully examined with the original almost immediately: and it is said that if only one incorrect letter were discovered the whole copy was rejected!”—Sidney Collett, The Scripture of Truth, pp. 14, 15.BSPC 20.2

    As to voluminous copying of the manuscript in ancient days, note:BSPC 20.3

    “Yet in all these voluminous sacred documents, which have been copied times without number, the highest authorities assure us that, in regard to the New Testament, the variations of any importance introduced by copyists amount to less than one-thousandth of the entire text. While the Hebrew documents of the Old Testament show even less variation still!...BSPC 20.4

    “Having, however, in the good providence of God, so many manuscripts to consult, the reader will understand that a copyist’s mistake in one is, as a rule, easily detected by the correct reading of the same passage in many of the other documents. So that it may be safely said, with the possession of these thousands of manuscripts, although they are only copies, we are practically able to arrive at the exact words of the Scriptures, as they originally came from God through His prophets and apostles.”—Ibid., pp. 17, 18.BSPC 20.5

    Further, from Thomas H. Horne:BSPC 20.6

    “The manuscripts of the New Testament, which are extant, are far more numerous than those of any single classic author whomsoever: upwards of three hundred and fifty were collated by Griesbach, for his celebrated critical edition. These manuscripts, it is true, are not all entire; most of them contain only the Gospels; others, the Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, and the Epistles; and a few contain the Apocalypse or Revelation of John. But they were all written in very different and distant parts of the world. Several of them are upwards of twelve hundred years old, and give us the books of the New Testament, in all essential points, perfectly accordant with each other, as any person may readily ascertain by examining the critical editions published by Mill, Kuster, Bengel, Wetstein, and Griesbach. The thirty thousand various readings, which are said to be found in the manuscripts collated by Dr. Mill, and the hundred and fifty thousand which Griesbach’s edition is said to contain, in no degree whatever affect the general credit and integrity of the text....BSPC 20.7

    “The general uniformity, therefore, of the manuscripts of the New Testament, which are dispersed through all the countries in the known world, and in so great a variety of languages, is truly astonishing. And demonstrates both the veneration in which the Scriptures have uniformly been held, and the singular care which was taken in transcribing them. And so far are the various readings contained in these manuscripts from being hostile to the uncorrupted preservation of the books of the New Testament, (as some sceptics have boldly affirmed, and some timid Christians have apprehended,) that they afford us, on the contrary, an additional and most convincing proof that they exist at present, in all essential points, precisely the same as they were when they left the hands of their authors.”—An Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, vol. 1, pp. 106,107.BSPC 21.1

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