Hidden Treasures

When I study Scripture, I am constantly asking what does this word or phrase mean?  For example, Ephesians 5 talks about being filled with the Spirit, but instead of defining what it means to be filled with the Spirit in Ephesians 5, Paul gives characteristics of one who is being filled with the Spirit. 

In the book of Proverbs, much is written about wisdom and understanding, but wisdom and understanding are not clearly defined in Proverbs.  We are just told to get wisdom and to get understanding.  

Psalm 37:4 says; Delight thyself also in the Lord and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.  What does it mean to delight oneself in the Lord?  How do I do that?

In John 6 Jesus is the bread of life He says to the Pharisees; Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.  Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:53&54)   What does this mean?  How can we eat His flesh and drink His blood!?  

At times the Scripture appears to be speaking in riddles by saying; this is what you need to have and this is what it looks like.  The Scripture also teaches that if you search for it, you will find it!  The wonderful thing about studying and searching the Scriptures is that somewhere in Scripture, the riddles are defined. 

My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.  For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.  Prov. 2:1-6

Being filled or controlled by the Spirit is defined in the parallel passage of Colossians chapter 3 as letting the word of Christ dwell in you richly

Wisdom and understanding are clearly defined in Job 28:28.  And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.

Isaiah explains what it means to delight in the Lord; …….honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD;  Isaiah 58:13b&14a

Jesus explains His statement concerning eating His flesh and drinking His blood a few verses later in John 6; Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?  When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?

The Lord continues; What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?  It is the spirit that quickeneth (makes alive); the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.  John 6:60-63

…….let the word of Christ dwell in you richly……. 

King James Only?

KJV or King James Authorized Version of the Bible refers to the 1611 English translation of the Bible. This translation was commissioned by King James of England, head of the Church of England.

There are a couple of legitimate reasons that a Christian may claim to be King James only, in reference to good Bible translations:

There are pastors that prefer that their congregation all use the same translation.  A pastor may preach only from the KJV.  In order to avoid confusion, particularly for new believers, that pastor may encourage his congregation to use the same KJV translation that he does.  He may be referred to as KJV only and this is well and good.

There may be pastors who believe, out of personal conviction, the KJV is the best translation available.  These pastors would encourage their congregation to use what they consider the best translation. They could therefore be referred to as KJV only.   This is also well and good.

There are also some that believe that the KJV translation itself is inspired or God breathed per II Timothy 3:16.  This would mean that the KJV is a perfect translation with no mistakes and no inadequacies of any kind.  The logic of this thinking leads to the faulty conclusion that the original languages can be corrected by the KJV and that all other translations of the Bible should be checked by the KJV translation.  The individuals that hold to this teaching are also known as KJV only, but this is not well and good.  As good as the KJV translation is, it is not a perfect translation.

The KJV translators were Anglicans.  The Anglican Church or the Church of England was a state church closely akin to the Roman Catholic Church.  King Henry the VIII of England requested that the Roman Catholic church annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon who was unable to give him a male heir.  The Pope declined.  The breach with Rome came to a conclusion when King Henry replaced the Archbishop of Canterbury in order to have his marriage annulled.  As a result of the breach with the Roman Catholic Church, King Henry the VIII became head of the church in England.  

King Henry VIII, as head of the Church of England and head of state subsequently used his power to dispose of other wives, either through annulment of their marriage or by execution.  If a wife of Henry’s was dead or their marriage was annulled, the King would be free to remarry.

What does this have to do with the KJV?  Barely 70 years after Henry VIII died, King James used his authority, as head of the church and head of state, to commission the 1611 translation of the Bible.  The translators were conscientious and scholarly men, but they were also under the influence of a monarch with absolute power.  Would the king’s absolute power influence the way the KJV was translated?

I believe the king’s absolute power influenced the translators in a subtle way.  Keep in mind that if the KJV translation was inspired of God as per II Timothy 3:16, the KJV translation would be perfect and unblemished, without even a scribal error.  I believe there is adequate evidence in the KJV text to show the influence of the King’s absolute power.  The following is one example of a weak translation.

Christ speaking to Peter – King James Translation:

And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.  Matthew 16:19 KJV

The “future perfect periphrastic” structure in the Greek shows us that instead of giving Peter unlimited authority in the church, the Lord Jesus has limited his authority to what has already been decided in heaven.

The most understandable translation of this passage would be as follows:  And I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatever you forbid on earth must be what is already forbidden in heaven: and whatever you permit on earth must be what is already permitted in heaven. (Williams)*

Rather than a blank check to the church over which the King has become head, the Matthew 16:19 passage correctly translated is actually a warning and a restraint upon the church and it’s power.  

The blank check translation of this passage in the KJV reveals, in my opinion, the political influence of the state church upon the translators.  If the KJV translation is inspired (God breathed) this passage would have been accurately translated.  

If the KJV English translation is not inspired, what does II Timothy 3:16 mean when it says; All scripture is given by inspiration of God,…?  It means  that when the Scripture was given, the Scriptures were God breathed as to source.  As such the initial  writings were a perfect rendering of God’s word to mankind when uttered and recorded in the prophet’s and apostle’s manuscripts.

 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 (II Peter 1:21).  The verses above were written by Paul and Peter in the first century during the time the NT Scriptures were being given to the church.  The biblical doctrine of inspiration applies to the original manuscripts as the perfect revelation of God.  Their being God breathed refers to how they were given, when they were given and what we were given in the first place (originally).

If we no longer have the original manuscripts of the prophets and apostles, how do we know that we have the infallible Word of God?  Do not those things that are handed down from generation to generation get distorted and muddled by oral tradition?  The answer is yes, things are muddled by oral tradition, but the Bible is an exception to that and here are reasons why:

  • Scripture has not been handed down by oral tradition.  The Scriptures have been written and copied by those who believed that the Bible was exactly what it claimed to be……..the Word of God.  They treated it as such.  God worked through these people to preserve His Word.  Many paid with their lives.
  • The volume of manuscripts for the New Testament; some full, some partial, some in bits and pieces have enabled Bible scholars to verify, through constructive criticism, the contents of each NT book.  In many cases there is more historical evidence to support Bible content, than there is for much of the secular history predating Christ.
  • In addition, before the discovery of Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest manuscripts of the OT were dated from about 1000 AD.  After the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls, we suddenly had OT manuscripts that predated Christ.  Careful study of these manuscripts by Bible scholars indicate that the oldest manuscripts we had prior to the Dead Sea scrolls were 95% plus accurate.  The 5% or less discrepancy has nothing to do with Bible doctrine and can be attributed to scribal error and changed spellings.

 God has preserved His Word.  It is not necessary to make up a  doctrine to support the Scripture as the infallible Word of God.  Bible believers have always accepted the infallibility of Scripture by faith and that was long before the 1611 KJV translation.

 Inventing doctrine to support or defend legitimate Bible doctrine does not serve God’s purpose.   

Note:  Whether or not you may agree concerning the King of England’s power to influence the KJV translators, an honest evaluation of the KJV will reveal weak translations of certain passages which deal with state church doctrine that is not biblical. Weak translations are not perfect translations.

It is not my intent in this article to disparage the KJV  translation.  If you check my blog articles, you will find that when I quote  the Bible, the majority of the time I quote from the KJV.   When I refer to a weak translation, I am referring to passages that could have been translated more clearly, but they were not more precise, in my opinion, because of the established practices of the state church at that time.

The point of this article is simply this; if the 1611 KJV is God breathed in the sense of II Timothy 3:16, then it must be perfect in every way.  The KJV is not perfect in every way. 

Those who hold that the 1611 KJV is perfect find themselves in the irrational position of believing the KJV can be used to correct the original languages and all other translations of various languages.  This kind of thinking does not edify believers, defend the faith or advance the cause of Christ.  

Inventing doctrine to support or defend legitimate Bible doctrine does not serve God’s purpose.   

*See blog article entitled Settled in Heaven.

 …….let the word of Christ dwell in you richly……

What Do You Mean By That?

Have you ever said Good Morning to someone, only to have them reply suspiciously; what do you mean by that?  Whenever it happens, it is always a good laugh.

On the other hand, when engaging someone in a conversation about spiritual things, people often respond; I am a Christian.  This would be a good time to ask seriously; what do you mean by that, what do you mean when you say; I am a Christian?

Regardless their response to the question, a follow up for the believer can be; This is what I mean when I say, I claim to be a Christian:

  I am a poor lost sinner who deserves hell.  There is nothing I can do to make my heart clean.  I am trusting Jesus Christ as my only hope of salvation and you can hold me accountable to anything Scripture says.  Is this what you mean when you say; I am a Christian?

Anyone can say I believe (the demons believe and tremble), but few are willing to be held accountable.

Note: The evidence of salvation, not the cause of it, is obedience to the Word of God.  What is lacking today in those who profess to be Christians is confidence in and obedience to the Bible. 

……let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…….