Know Your Bible

VOL. 14                                                                                                                         October 9, 2016                                                                                                                            NO. 30





What proof do we have that we can trust the Bible for everything it says. The Bible has been handed down so many times.  The translation has been changed and everybody knows when you're passing on information the meaning never comes back the way it originated. One word changed can change the whole meaning of the passage. The Bible was written so long ago how do we know its meaning is still the same and how do we know it's not just another man-made project.



The proof that you ask about is found in many places.

First, there is archaeology. Archaeologists have uncovered evidence in many places and from across many centuries about many different aspects of the Bible. For example, at one time skeptics doubted whether the Hittites, which are mentioned only briefly and with little detail in the Genesis account, actually ever existed at all. Eventually archaeological discovery in Asia Minor uncovered an entire civilization, with their distinctive culture, language and history. The simple biblical references were found to be representative of a people who settled and traded throughout the entire ancient Near East in the time of Abraham and the other patriarchs. 

Many biblical cities have been uncovered and excavated to reveal distinctive events such as destruction layers which coincide with the biblical story of the Exodus from Egypt and capture of many of the cities of ancient Canaan in the books of Joshua and Judges.  Many other such things are well attested in both the literature of other peoples and from excavation activities. For example, during the fall of Jerusalem in 587 BC, the book of Jeremiah (with 2 Chronicles and 2 Kings) represents the fall of the surrounding cities while Jerusalem lay under siege. In the excavation of the city of Lachish, the so-called "Lachish letters" were found, which detail the gradual capture of the towns precisely as Jeremiah and the books of history describe.  Furthermore, it mentions some who were "weakening the hands of the people" in the midst of the siege, which is precisely the charge leveled against the prophet Jeremiah in the book by his name. There are many other things, far too numerous to mention here, which establish the general tenor of the biblical writings as recording genuine history. 

Further, as to the fact that the Bible has been handed down to us in the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament through many hands and many centuries, let it be noted that the Bible is the best attested ancient book in the entire world. There are literally thousands of copies of both the OT and the NT in their original languages which have come down to us - some of them extremely ancient. For example, many copies of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Hebrew manuscripts of OT books) go back to the first century before the time of Jesus, others perhaps even a century earlier than that. If we may trust that we have the works of Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, and the host of other ancient writers whose materials are not nearly so well attested, why would we not also be able to believe that we have the precise words of Christ and his apostles, as well as those of Moses and the Old Testament prophets?

As to whether the words were changed in the process of time and transmission to our day, you must remember that the transmitters (scribes) of ancient times were extraordinarily careful, believing that a curse from heaven was upon the one who would change even a single word of Holy Scripture (see Deut. 4:2; 12:32; Matt. 5:18; Rev. 22:18, 19). But since mistakes did occasionally occur because of oversights and writing errors, it was the hundreds of other copies of the scripture that acted as a countermeasure to assure the mistakes could be corrected. This process of establishing the original text has come to be called "the science of textual criticism."

The translation process itself is really the most convincing part. Think of all the translations there are out there - literally hundreds of different ones in the English language alone. Take a few translations and compare them side by side. You know what happens? You come up with very little difference between them.  Most only differ in the different ways of saying the exact same things!

The ultimate answer is YES, we can definitely trust the Bible.

—Dan King

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"I've always called our preacher the pastor of the church. Recently a friend told me this was wrong. Why?



The word "Pastor" occurs in Ephesians 4:11 of the New King James Version of the New Testament: "And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. . . ." Our first task is to determine the meaning of the word.  If one does not properly define a word, then he is apt to use it wrong!

According to Young's Analytical Concordance the term literally means a "shepherd, feeder." Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words confirms this definition, stating that pastor means, "a shepherd, one who tends herds or flocks ... Pastors guide as well as feed the flock ... this was the service committed to elders (overseers or bishops) ... this involves tender care and vigilant superintendence."

So, the meaning of our study word is straightforward -- a pastor is a shepherd or overseer, and, as Vine's accurately points out, this role is given to the elders who tend the flock of a local congregation. Nowhere in the New Testament is a preacher laboring with a local congregation described as "THE pastor" of the church.  Indeed, such a designation would be a corruption of the role and responsibility of the preacher. Man’s tradition has come to use the word pastor as a synonym for preacher but such is a misuse of the term. 

People often misunderstand the term because they are not familiar with what God's Word says about the organization and government of the local church. The New Testament describes each congregation as an autonomous body under the headship of Christ.  Each congregation consists of elders (pastors, shepherds, bishops), deacons (servants), and saints (other Christians). This organization is perfectly described in Philippians 1:1, "Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons...

Elders must meet the qualifications set forth in I Tim. 3:1-7 and Titus 1:3-9 (blameless, husband of one wife, gentle, not a novice, having faithful children, etc.). The qualifications for deacons are also stated in I Tim. 3 (not double-tongued, not given to wine, not greedy for money, etc.). It's important to notice that a plurality of elders is always mentioned in connection with local churches. For example, in Acts 20:17 the apostle Paul called for the "elders of the church." (See also Acts 14:23 and Titus 1:5)

Of course, a preacher could serve as one of the elders, or pastors, of a congregation if he met the qualifications (just as Peter was an elder, I Pet. 5: 1). He could NOT, however, be THE pastor.  The elders have the responsibility to shepherd or oversee the flock (I Pet. 5:2).

—James Evans

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You are an influence, whether you are aware of it or not, either for good or evil. 


What you are going to be tomorrow, 

you are becoming today. 


God writes with a pen that never blots,

speaks with a tongue that never slips,

and acts with a hand that never fails. 

Page 3


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