Know Your Bible

VOL. 13                                                                                                                          March 30, 2014                                                                                                                            NO. 5



No one questions the authenticity of Plato, Aristotle, or Homer, but the manuscript evidence for each of these is far less than that of the Bible.  We can be assured that the Bible text we have today is the text of the first century.


The Iliad and The Odyssey

Written: around 900 B.C.

Earliest available manuscript: 400 B.C. (500 years later)

Total manuscripts: 643


Works of Plato

Written: 427-347 B.C.

Earliest available manuscript: A.D. 900 (1200 years later) 

(There is one fragment from 3" century B.C.)

Total manuscripts: 7


Works of Aristotle

Written: 384-322 B.C.

Earliest available manuscript: A.D. 1100 (1400 years later)

Total manuscripts: 49


Works of Julius Caesar

Written: 100-44 B.C.

Earliest available manuscript: A.D. 900 (1000 years later)

Total manuscripts: 10


Works of Pliny

Written: A.D. 61-113

Earliest available manuscript: A.D. 850 (750 years later)

Total manuscripts: 7


The New Testament

Written: 1st Century

Earliest available manuscript: 1st Century (within 30-40 years)

Total manuscripts: 5,800


The Bible has over 5,800 early Greek manuscripts available to confirm the accuracy of today's New Testament. In addition, there are thousands more in Latin, 5yriac, Slavic, Gothic, Ethiopic, Coptic and Armenian.


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  Church members are prone to leave things behind in the pews.  We’ve even known of some folks who drove away from the meeting house before discovering that they left one of their toddlers sleeping in the pew. Anyone taking a turn at cleaning the church building is in for an eye-opening experience. It is amazing to see the things that get left in the pews. For example:

- Trash!  Candy and gum wrappers, scraps of paper, Kleenexes, and other rubbish frequently get carelessly strewn in the seats.  Some of this is accidental, but the volume of trash left in some pews is extraordinary. Everyone could easily help with this by simply ‘policing’ their area before leaving. 

- Personal Items.  Blankets, sweaters, foot stools, children’s books and toys, and other such things are common in the pews. We understand the need for some of this, but we’d encourage some organizing and tidiness to make a better appearance and impression – especially on visitors.

While these things are normal, and can easily be tolerated, there are some other things that represent a more significant issue:

- Bibles.  If you leave your Bible in the pew, it suggests that you don’t really use it on a regular daily basis. That’s a problem that needs to be fixed immediately. Take your Bible home. Read it every day.

- Class Materials.  Our children’s teachers work hard to make the Bible classes the best they can be. They almost always have teaching aids and handouts to send home with the kids. Too often these are carelessly left behind. Please, parents, pay special attention to these things. Gather them up. Take them home. Review the subjects with your children. And, of course, the older kids and adults need to take their books home and study, too! If you leave your class materials in the pew, it’s pretty obvious that you are not making any effort to come to class prepared.

- God’s truth.  The most serious of all things that get left behind in the pews is the truth. Too many walk away from Bible classes and sermons without any serious consideration that the things that have been taught need to be put into practice in their daily lives. They are effectively unchanged by the exposure to the essential truths of His Word. “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” (James 1:22-25)

Before you leave the pew, make sure that you haven’t left anything behind. Think!

—Greg Gwin

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  The song Just As I Am is perhaps the most commonly used invitation song. The idea in the song is that we cannot make ourselves right with God on our own; apart from Jesus’ blood we have no hope. That is precisely the New Testament picture (Eph. 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.”; Tit. 3:5 “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,”; etc.).

I fear, however, that some folks have an erroneous idea about Jesus saving us “just as we are.” They seem to think that He saves us without any change in our conduct. That is opposite to the New Testament picture.

Jesus’ charge to the apostles was “that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations”  (Lk. 24:47). Forgiveness is extended to those willing to abandon sinful conduct, not to those who insist on continuing in it.

Paul wrote to the Corinthian Christians, “Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you…”  (1 Cor. 6:9-10). He did not say such are some of you, but “such were”. They changed their conduct in connection with being washed, sanctified, and justified (v. 11).

“Just As I Am,” if referring to our own helplessness, is a comforting sentiment. But to suggest it means salvation without repentance is to hold out false hope. 

—Frank Himmel

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Know Your Bible" is e-mailed weekly by the church of Christ which meets at 112 Roberts Avenue in Wise, Virginia. If you know of others who might benefit from the articles contained in this bulletin, we would be glad to have you submit their e-mail addresses and we will include them in next week's mailing. If you are receiving this bulletin and do not wish to continue to do so, please e-mail us with your desire to be removed from the mailing list and we will remove your address promptly. Continue to the bottom of this page and further instructions will be given as to how you may contact us.

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