Dear Beloved of God:
You may or may not attend church and you may or may not consider
yourself to be a 'born again' Christian. Nonetheless, as I discussed on
the opening page, if you have started to read this section of my web site
it may be because you have a few questions and concerns about life, your
place in the world and who God really is. Maybe you are trying to dig
deeper into the richness of God's grace, mercy and love as described to
us in His Word and you want to graduate from the 'milk' of His Word to
the 'meat'. Or maybe you have worked God's Word for many years but know
in your heart that there is still something you are missing and you are
searching for some of those missing pieces which will allow you to put
more of God's Word together for a greater understanding.
I believe that the study of God's Word, the Holy Bible, rightly
divided, will provide answers to your questions and that it will make
clear to you God's will for your life.
"… Holy men of God
spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Peter 1:21). However, they always seem to fall back on the standard
teachings, interpretations and traditions promulgated by most of the
major religious denominations. These teachings are often not accurate,
they frequently do not fit together without contradiction, and thus they
generally do not give us the whole Word as originally "God breathed" (2 Timothy 3:16).
The result is that we end up with more questions instead of accurate,
You probably have a great love for God and you are trying to learn
more about God and His Word and to energize the power of God in your
life. However, it's very possible that you might not be availing yourself
of some of the most accurate Biblical teachings and interpretations
available to us today. Many years ago an approach to researching God's
Word was pioneered which is still very unique in the world today. Many
people teach from and about the Bible and many may appear to be putting
God first and working God's Word from the perspective that God is the
single author and that
My main point in this section deals with man's basic spiritual problem
- which is also the greatest mystery in the world today - that the Bible
is the revealed word and will of God. I'll discuss the critical
importance of working God's Word from the inside out, as opposed to the
other way around, which is how everyone else works it. My prayer for you
is that you will avail yourself of the 'best' study materials - and that
you will not settle for 'good' or even that matter for 'better' materials
- simply the best.
I therefore offer the information on these web pages for your
consideration. Here I will discuss the importance of understanding how we
came to have the Bible which is available to us today and why it is
important to study the Bible from God's perspective and not from our own
preconceived notions and understandings. On other pages I discuss the 'Inerrancy of the Bible' - what it is and what it
means; along with some basic Research Keys
you can apply when studying the Bible. I have a Topics
section where I post selected studies from God's Word.
If, after reviewing the Semeion Fellowship Web Site, you would
like to learn more about how to study and rightly divide the Word of God,
and to fellowship with others who believe that the Word of God is the
Will of God - I would encourage you to click on the Fellowship link and take that first step to
fellowship with us.
God will bless you for taking the time to peruse this web site and for
allowing your heart, of your own free will, to turn toward God and His
"That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father
of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the
knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that
ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the
glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding
greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working
of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from
the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every
name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to
come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to
be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body,
the fulness of him that filleth all in all." [Ephesians
A BASIS FOR BIBLE STUDY
The sixteenth century is known in the Christian church as the century
of reformation in theology. However, the years which followed did not
produce a single unified reform but rather a growth in divergent opinions
and beliefs. Similarly, the nineteenth century was a time of reformation
of the text of the Bible, particularly the New Testament. Again the
period following witnessed not a single unified reform of the text but
rather a growth in textual theories consummating in today's eclecticism.
Thus the twentieth century has had to face a whirlpool of theological
beliefs, practices, and formulas for evaluating the texts of the Bible.
The last forty years have also witnessed a theological and textual
reformation in Biblical research among some who have advocated a return
to the integrity of the Word of God. Although others have talked about
the inspiration of the Scriptures, no major reforms have taken place to
rid Christianity of the legalism, traditionalism, skepticism, and
illogical theories and practices it has faced for over fifteen hundred
years. This new group of reformers stand on the principle that "the
Bible is the revealed Word and will of God" is, in its true sense,
revolutionary. If God is perfect, then His Word must be perfect as it was
The problem with textual criticism, as it is practiced today, is that
it works from the outside to the inside rather than from the inside to
the outside. The critic carefully looks over each piece of the puzzle
trying to determine its relationship to the other pieces without
considering what the final appearance of the picture is supposed to be.
The Bible, God's Word and message to man, in spite of mistranslations and
textual changes, has not been so marred that God's intended meaning is
indiscernible. What textual criticism needs today is a means for working
from the inside, God's intended meaning, to the outside, an accurate
The Scriptures were not written by natural men. The purpose of the
textual critic of Biblical literature should be to reconstruct the
original message God gave to the Church in its complete textual accuracy
so that readers can conduct their lives and beliefs accordingly. All
theoreticians, philosophers, historians, and theologians start with
certain fundamental axioms accepted as true without proof. For the most
part, critics have accepted the axiom that the Bible was originally
written by natural men who made mistakes in the writing. Hence, with the
available set of criteria for evaluating variant readings they have no
alternative but to work from the outside to the inside. They are
attempting to reconstruct an imperfect doctrine as a guide for men in the
name of a perfect God.
To work from the inside to the outside, a critic must begin with the
axiom that the Bible is the revealed Word and will of God; that holy men
of God spoke and wrote, moved by the Holy Spirit. Since God is perfect,
His Word and will to the Church cannot be anything but perfect. So the
Bible, His revealed Word and will as He gave it to these writers, had to
be perfect. To begin from the inside then means to read the whole of His
writing for a scope of understanding. There can be no contradiction, no
discrepancies of any kind. If there appear to be discrepancies, the
critic must first criticize his own understanding. Does he understand
what is written? If he does, and there is still an apparent discrepancy,
he evaluates the variant readings based on the premise of a perfect
original. Such an approach will eliminate the contradictory variant
readings and point out the most congruent readings. This is what is meant
by working from the inside to the outside.
Words are a tool by which men communicate their thoughts and ideas to
each other. A man's word is his communication of himself. Similarly,
God's Word is His communication of Himself. Ever since the fall of man
when Adam lost his communication with God, God has endeavored to
reestablish a means of communication with man. God's Word is His
communication of Himself (John 1:1). He has chosen three ways to reveal
1) His spirit upon man,
2) the written Word, and
3) the incarnate Word, Jesus
Each of these has communicated God's ideas and will for man.
The first communication of God's Word came from the lips of men upon
whom He placed His spirit. For example, God placed His spirit on Joseph
and then He could directly communicate with him.
(Genesis 41:38-40 KJV) And Pharaoh said unto his
servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of
God is? And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath showed thee
all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: Thou shalt be
over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled:
only in the throne will I be greater than thou.
Joseph had been sold by his brothers as a slave. He was taken to Egypt
where he was put into prison. But overnight he arose from an imprisoned
outcast to second in authority in the kingdom of Egypt. No school of
learning of that time gave him such intellectual acuteness, but Joseph
had believed God, and God had placed His spirit upon him. This made him
wiser than anyone in Egypt. Because of his wisdom, Joseph was given
rulership and honor in Egypt and he made it the most prosperous nation of
Similarly, the spirit of God on men throughout history has given them
wisdom. The spirit upon Noah gave him the knowledge to construct a ship
which meets the specifications of any good sailing vessel today. The
spirit upon Joshua allowed him to successfully lead the Israelites into
the Promised Land with greater success than any worldly military leader.
The spirit upon Solomon made him the wisest man in the world. The spirit
on Bezaleel made him capable of constructing the tabernacle of God.
(Exodus 31:1-5 KJV) And the LORD spake unto Moses,
saying, See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of
Hur, of the tribe of Judah: And I have filled him with the spirit of God,
in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of
workmanship, To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and
in brass, And in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of
timber, to work in all manner of workmanship.
By His spirit on man, God could communicate with him and teach him
wisdom and skills which made him most successful. Such spirit-filled men
as Bezaleel were also the writers of God's written Word, His second means
of communication. God told men upon whom His spirit was what He wanted
written and then they used their vocabularies and penned His Word. God is
the author. The men with God's spirit were the writers.
Why did God choose the written Word as His second means of
communication? First of all, it preserved His Word and His will for the
future; and secondly, it established His Word and will in the minds of
Farmers used to shake hands over a fence with their neighbors and
agree upon certain matters. But how many businessmen today follow such a
practice? Generally they desire a long, written contract which covers any
possible "loopholes." A contract or written document
establishes an agreement. Similarly, the written Word of God establishes
His will and preserves it for the future.
(Isaiah 30:8 KJV) Now go, write it before them in a
table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for
ever and ever:
(Proverbs 22:20 and 21 KJV) Have not I written to thee excellent
things in counsels and knowledge, That I might make thee know the
certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of
truth to them that send unto thee?
Again the purpose of God's written Word is expressed within itself. It
preserves God's spoken Word for future generations so that His people can
know exactly what the prophets said. It causes them to be certain of
God's will. Having a written document, the believer is assured of his
beliefs. The extent of a person's studying this document, therefore,
determines the measure to which he or she can know and make use of the
information contained in it.
(Luke 1:1-4 KJV) Forasmuch as many have taken in hand
to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely
believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the
beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to
me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very
first [anothen — from above], to write unto thee in order, most
excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those
things, wherein thou hast been instructed.
The distinguishing characteristic which made Luke qualified to write
the scriptures was God's spirit. Many other writers were eyewitnesses,
but Luke's source was from above, God's communicating to him. He, along
with the other writers of the Bible, had perfect understanding from
above, not from worldly sources. Verse 4 again expresses the purpose: for
the reader absolutely to know the things he has been taught.
(John 20:30-31 KJV) And many other signs truly did
Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this
book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the
Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his
The Word of God is written that man may know for certain and believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the incarnate Word. The written
Word makes known the incarnate Word, the Christ. The purpose of the
written Word from Genesis 3:15 to Revelation 22:21 is to make known the
Messiah. In the Old Testament he was the promised seed, the Messiah which
Israel expected to deliver them. In the Gospels he was the king who had
come to deliver Israel. In Acts and the epistles, he is seated at the
right hand of God having consummated deliverance for the believers. In
the Book of Revelation, he will return as lord of lords in judgment of
all. As we believe the written Word regarding God's Son, Jesus Christ, we
have life through his name.
All of God's Word is perfect: His Son, the spoken Word, and the
written Word as it was originally inspired.
(II Timothy 3:16 KJV) All scripture is given by
inspiration of God…
All the written Word is "given by inspiration of God" or is
God-breathed (theopneustos). Similarly, II Peter 1:21 declares that
"holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy
Ghost." The Scriptures, God's written Word, were written by men who
had the spirit of God.
(Galatians 1:11-12 KJV) But I certify you, brethren,
that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither
received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of
(Psalms 12:6 KJV) The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver
tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
The words of God are pure. So how could they be purified or made more
pure? They cannot. Psalms 12:6 has words omitted by ellipsis and
consequently it has been misunderstood. The literal truth of the last
part of the verse is "as silver tried in a furnace, the words
of earth are purified seven times." Man's words are not pure.
Therefore, such words could not be used to communicate God's words unless
they were first purified. So when men of God spoke or wrote God's Word,
they used their own vocabularies purified seven times. Consequently,
although it is God's perfect Word, the reader can still detect the
individual differences in style and vocabulary of the individual writers.
God's will is for the Church to enjoy the benefits of His revealed
Word in all its perfection and beauty as holy men of God spoke it and
wrote it. The original "God-breathed" Word was without error.
The vocabulary was clearly that of the individual writers, but the truth
of the Word was that of one author, who is God. Frederick Scrivener, a
nineteenth-century textual critic, explained the individuality of the
Scriptural writers in these words:.
…In St. Pauls' Epistles we note the profound thinker,
the great scholar, the consummate orator: St. John pours forth the simple
utterings of his gentle, untutored, affectionate soul: in St. Peter's
speeches and letters may be traced the impetuous earnestness of his noble
yet not faultless character. Their individual tempers and faculties and
intellectual habits are clearly discernible, even while they are speaking
to us in the power and by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.
But someone asks, "Don't references by the New Testament writers
to scripture refer only to the writings of the Old Testament?" No,
they refer to their own writings on the same level as those of the Old
(Romans 16:25-26 KJV) Now to him that is of power to
stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ,
according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since
the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the
prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known
to all nations for the obedience of faith:
(2 Peter 3:1-2 KJV) This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto
you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That
ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy
prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and
(2 Peter 3:15-16 KJV) And account that the longsuffering of our Lord
is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the
wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles,
speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be
understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do
also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
These writers viewed their own and each other's writings as the Word
of God. The prophets referred to in these verses cannot be Old Testament
prophets who did not know the significance of the Mystery which in the
first century was "now" being made manifest. The prophets were
individuals living concurrently with the writing of the New Testament.
(1 Thessalonians 2:13 KJV) For this cause also thank we
God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye
heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in
truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that
The writers of the New Testament knew the words which they spoke and
wrote were not their own, but were inspired of God. Because they were
God's words, God warns readers against adding to, subtracting from, and
changing the written Word.
(Deuteronomy 4:2 KJV) Ye shall not add unto the word
which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may
keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
(Proverbs 30:5-6 KJV) Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto
them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he
reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.
(Revelation 22:18-19 KJV) For I testify unto every man that heareth
the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these
things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this
prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out
of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
(Galatians 1:8 KJV) But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any
other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him
If God is perfect, then His Word must also be perfect in every detail.
Therefore no one has a right to add to His Word, subtract from it, or
change it in any way. However, through the centuries man has added to,
subtracted from, and changed the words of the Scriptures to suit himself,
just as the serpent led Eve to do in Genesis 3. After the serpent had
questioned the integrity of God's Word and caused Eve to consider his
viewpoint, she played the role that every text corrupter has played ever
since. A close comparison of the text in Genesis 3:2 and 3 and Genesis
2:16 and 17 reveals this truth.
An English translation of the Hebrew:
|God's speaking to Adam
||Eve's and Serpent's varying God's
|Genesis 2:16 and 17:
Of all trees of the garden
|Genesis 3:2 and 3
Of the fruit of the trees of the garden
|eating you may eat
||we may eat
|But of the tree of the knowledge of good
||But of the fruit of the tree which is in
the midst of the garden
|you (singular) shall not eat it
||you (plural) shall not eat from it
neither shall you touch it
|For in the day of your eating from it
dying you shall die
||peradventure you die
The first error Eve made was changing the word "all" to
"fruit." Perhaps she was trying to clarify God's text, so her
listener would understand what God meant.
Next, she omitted a word. The original "eating you may eat"
in the Hebrew is the same word used twice for emphasis. But Eve reduced
it to one word. Her error destroyed the emphatic original which
emphasized her freedom to eat.
The third error involved assimilation of the passage to the natural
setting of the tree as expressed in Genesis 2:9, "in the midst of
the garden." Assimilation of similar (not identical) passages to
harmonize one verse with another has been the cause of numerous textual
The fourth error involved a change from the singular to the plural,
"You (plural) shall not eat from it." Perhaps she was improving
the grammar to include herself in the command since she was not around
when the command was originally given. Text corrupters have changed
pronouns, tenses, moods, and word order to "improve" the
grammar, to put it in current vernacular, to rid the text of Semitic
expressions, to adapt it to their personal beliefs, or to include or
exclude themselves from the subject.
Next Eve made an intentional addition to the text: "neither shall
you touch it." These words are totally foreign to the original
command. Marginal notes and traditions like these were often inserted
into the text. Furthermore, the words inserted are legalistic which are
designed to replace the freedom Eve deflated previously (her second
change — "You may eat"). Many deliberate forgeries with a
legalistic flavor have been inserted by those copying the text.
Finally, Eve came to the point every willful scribe comes to. She
introduced a dogmatic alteration which was exactly opposite to the
original. Instead of "dying you shall die" (emphatic) she said
"peradventure you die" (a possibility). Maybe you will die.
Maybe there is life after death. Perhaps there is no resurrection. The
same change of doctrine took place during the time of Paul: "…of
whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred,
saying that the resurrection is past already…" (II Timothy 2:17
and 18). The same kind of error appears in the writings of Clement of
Rome and Ignatius of Antioch just forty years after II Timothy was
written. This type of error is the most dangerous and the most difficult
to recognize because it has been adopted by so many theologians that the
passing of it into the text was generally unobstructed. Nevertheless,
these forgeries are discernible in the Word since they do not flow with
the many clear verses on the subject.
When men late in the first century failed to recognize the integrity
of God's Word as it was given to the apostles, they began changing it to
suit their own thinking. As early as the second and third centuries, the
manuscripts of the New Testament contained so many variations that Origen,
a third-century church leader who lived in both Alexandria and Caesarea,
Nowadays, as is evident, there is a great diversity
between the various manuscripts, either through the negligence of certain
copyists, or the perverse audacity shown by some in correcting the text,
or through the fault of those who, playing the part of correctors,
lengthen or shorten it as they please.
It is obvious that many text corruptions were already present in these
first two centuries. Furthermore, the earliest manuscripts which we have
today are two almost complete Greek uncials, and two partial Aramaic
texts in Estrangelo script from the fourth century and less than fifty
fragments (most are only a few verses) from the third and fourth
centuries. The solution to the problem in recovering the original text
then is to go beyond the existing manuscripts and the text corruptions of
the early centuries.
The manuscripts, translations, and versions which we have today
contain many errors: some intentional; others unintentional. However, the
general thread of truth contained in the Bible is not lost. Where there
appear to be discrepancies, the researcher must compare the texts keeping
foremost in his mind the integrity of the original God-breathed Word. No
scripture may be interpreted or expounded so as to be incongruent or
contradictory to any other scripture. All textual variants must be
considered in light of this axiom. A textual theory which does not take
into account the divine origin of the text can never ascertain the
Some critics say that most deliberate textual changes were introduced
into the text by A.D. 200. This is significant in the history of the text
- doctrines of the second-century church differ
considerably from the first-century as seen in the variance of
- roots of second-century doctrinal error can be seen
in the late first-century apostasy, and
- changes in church doctrine are directly proportional
to changes in the Biblical text.
Differences between New Testament doctrine and second-century writings
are evident. Pagan customs were adopted by Christian groups, legalism
displaced justification by faith, belief in life after death was
substituted for the hope of Christ's return and the resurrections, love
of suffering and death developed, and changes were made in Christology.
Roots of this error can be seen in II Timothy. All Asia turned from
Paul (II Timothy 1:15). Men said the resurrection had passed (II Timothy
2:17 and 18). Leaders left Paul (II Timothy 4:0ff). Men turned to myths
(II Timothy 4:4). Regarding the next forty years, Christian history is
silent. When writing resumed in the early second century, the doctrine of
the church had changed. These changes in doctrine (witnessed by the
writings of Clement, Polycarp, Ignatius, Justin, and others) are similar
to the changes (deliberate forgeries) in the New Testament manuscripts
during the second century.
The love of suffering and death as seen in Ignatius' letter to the
Romans is certainly different from the New Testament's treatment of death
as an enemy (I Corinthians 15:26). This attitude, coupled with the belief
in life after death influenced by the error of Hymenaeus and Philetus (II
Timothy 2:17 and 18), led to changes in the New Testament text.
(1 Timothy 4:10 KJV) For therefore we both labour and
suffer reproach [oneidizometha], because we trust in the living God, who
is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.
In the Stephen's text as well as the majority of Greek manuscripts,
Aramaic manuscripts, and Coptic manuscripts, this reading "suffer
reproach" is preserved. However, many of the old uncials and certain
cursives read agonizometha, "we fight."
This is an athletic term used seven other times in the New Testament
(five of which are in Paul's writings). It is used in I Timothy where
believers are instructed to "fight the good fight of faith."
Oneidizo, "to reproach," is used nine other times but not
once in Paul's writings to the Church. Changing from "we fight"
to "we are reproached" is an obvious softening of the words by
a second-century text corrupter who saw much reproach in the persecutions
but had little fight left for the spiritual contest.
Similarly, a scribe in the late first century or early second century
added the word "death" to John 21:19, believing there was glory
(John 21:19 KJV) This spake he [Jesus], signifying by
what death [thanato] he [Peter] should glorify God…
This addition to the text has remained in almost every manuscript since.
Only a couple of late cursive manuscripts preserve the reading which omits
"death" and the original hand of several omit the verse entirely. There are no other scriptures which
indicate glory in death, but rather there is glory in the resurrection
(Lazarus, Christ, I John 3:2, for examples). Christ told Peter in verse
18 of John 21 that when he was young he did as he wanted to, but when he
would grow up (spiritually), he would depend on another (God) to gird him
and bring him where God willed, not Peter. This he said signifying by
what means Peter would glorify God. Peter would glorify God by following
Jesus Christ. Then Jesus said in verse 19, "Follow me."
Truth has only one interpretation, which is self-evident and not
subject to critical examination. Truth itself can be ascertained, but not
analyzed. Men's words and the variations man has introduced into the
Biblical text may be analyzed, but not the truth inherent in the text.
Through studying the Word on the basis of Biblical research principles
and a God-breathed original, we can again declare the truth as originally
given in the first century. A system of Bible translation which takes
only the external evidence (MSS) into consideration without weighing the
inherent evidence of the Scriptures fails to produce the best
translation. No translator can translate accurately if he fails to
understand the subject concerning which a word or words are used. All
translators should work from the inside to the outside. All manuscripts
have the words or marks of having been in the hands of ecclesiastical
men, men who have amended the text to support their stand. A researcher
must consider the inherent accuracy of the text and then seek to convey
the exact thoughts and meanings of the original in current vernacular.
Such a rendering is a literal translation according to usage.
Most people would look at even one of the books of the Bible, let
alone the whole Bible, and declare it to be "bigger than I am able
to comprehend." Who can comprehend God in full? Yet through Biblical
research of God's written Word, we can come to a greater understanding of
God's will as those who have gone before us in research and teaching.
Truly our times are a reformation in Biblical research.
To delve further into these truths, let us consider what the
Scriptures say about themselves.
(2 Timothy 3:16 KJV) All scripture is given by
inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for
correction, for instruction in righteousness:
Not just select verses, but all Scripture is given by inspiration of
God, and it is profitable, according to II Timothy 3:16. The words of
people may not always be profitable, but all Scripture is God-inspired
(2 Peter 1:20-21 KJV) Knowing this first, that no
prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
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.
The Greek word rendered "prophecy" in II Peter 1:20 and 21
is derived from a verb that means "to speak forth" or "to
speak out," and the Greek word rendered "Prophecy" is used
in the Bible of that which is spoken forth or that which is spoken out.
According to verse 20, that prophecy which is specifically referred to in
this record is the "Prophecy of the scripture," that is, that
which was spoken forth and which was also written in the Scripture.
Verse 20 also notes that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any
private interpretation. The reason it is not of any private
interpretation is given in verse 21, which says that the prophecy —
referring to the prophecy of the Scripture — did not come "by the
will of man," but rather it came to be because "holy men of God
spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."
The words rendered "the Holy Ghost" in verse 21 may also be
rendered "the Holy Spirit," and they are used in verse 21 to
refer to God. Since God moved people to speak His Word, then the prophecy
of the Scripture is God's Word. Therefore, the Scriptures had one Author,
Who is God, although there were many writers who wrote what the Author
told them to write. The writers would have written using words from a
language and vocabulary with which they were familiar, but the words that
they wrote were words that God told them to write.
(Acts 17:10-11 KJV) And the brethren immediately sent
away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the
synagogue of the Jews.
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in
that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the
scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
How appropriate it is that the Bereans searched the Scriptures daily
rather than some other documents or opinions to see if what Paul and
Silas were saying was true. The prophecy of the Scripture was written by
holy men of God who were moved by the Holy Spirit, and the Bereans
searched the Scriptures as a checkpoint for what others taught.
Taking into account that the words in the Scriptures as they were
originally revealed were composed of words that God told people to write
gives us to understand that those God-inspired words must have been
perfect, complete, and internally harmonious as they were originally
revealed to holy men of God. Therefore, the Scriptures as they were
originally revealed must have been without any errors, discrepancies, or
deficiencies. However, adding extraneous words or personal interpretation
and opinion to the words in the Scriptures may disrupt the perfection and
internal harmony of the God-inspired Scriptures. Thus it is necessary to
search the Scriptures and to allow the Scriptures to speak for
themselves. On that basis, there are certain considerations that are
essential to the study of the God-inspired Scriptures.
- To search the Scriptures and to say what the Scriptures say
without embellishing them with other opinions and misleading terms,
it is necessary to consider the exact words that are written in
each verse and to consider those words in their context. It would
not be considered proper to misquote, to misrepresent, or to misuse
material from any other author. Likewise, it would not be proper to
use a verse from the Scriptures for a purpose other than that for
which God, the Author, intended it to be used, as indicated by the
exact words used in each verse and by its context. Therefore, in
considering a record from the Scriptures, we should read and look
carefully at the words in each verse and at the context, and we may
even need to read the entire book in which that record was written
to grasp its complete context.
- In addition to the context, it is necessary to consider other
passages in the Scriptures that deal with the same subject or
incident. Recognizing that God's words would be without any errors,
discrepancies, or deficiencies as they were originally revealed to
holy men of God, we would expect to find that passages in the
Scriptures dealing with the same subject may augment and complement
each other but that they would not contradict each other. One
record may give certain details regarding a subject or an event,
while another record dealing with the same subject or event may
supply added details. For example, the four Gospels may record
information regarding an identical event with complementary details
regarding what occurred. One record may also state something
literally while another record dealing with the same subject or
event may state the same thing as a figure of speech. However, such
divinely inspired differences in records about the same subject or
event as well as the context of each of those passages may help us
to learn more about that subject or event.
- Of equal importance is the consideration of other passages
dealing with similar subjects or events that are not exactly the
same. Similar subjects or events that are not exactly the same have
irreconcilable differences. For example, some events recorded in
the four Gospels may be similar to each other, but they are not the
same identical event because they occurred at different times, at
different places, or with different circumstances, as stated in the
records themselves. Likewise, similar subjects from different
passages of the Scriptures may not refer to the exact same subject
because they were written at different times, at different places,
to different people, about different people, about different
situations, and for different reasons. Recognizing that those
differences are by divine design, we should consider the exact
words in each passage that indicate differences in time, place,
sequence, people, and circumstances.
- Another consideration is an author's privilege to tie related
subjects together outside of their chronological order. God, as the
Author of His Word, has the same privilege, and thus not all events
recorded in the Scriptures may be in chronological order. This
characteristic is especially noteworthy in the four Gospels where
some events are not recorded in chronological order. Sequencing of
concurrent and consecutive events that are recorded outside their
chronological order requires the careful consideration of times,
locations, and other information given in the records.
- There are also forms of expressions in the Scriptures that may
appear to be unusual. Since the Scriptures were written thousands
of years ago in other languages and other cultures, it is necessary
to become acquainted with the vocabulary used in the Scriptures and
the peculiarities of the Bible languages. The Scriptures would have
been written in the language and vocabulary of the holy men of God
who were moved by God to write exactly what He told them to write,
as noted previously. Terms in the Scriptures were sometimes used to
refer to something different from the same terms as they have been
used in other writings. The context and other occurrences of those
terms in the Scriptures may help us to understand how those terms
are used in the Scriptures.
- Other peculiarities of the Bible languages include figures of
speech and customs that were used in the lands and times of the
Bible. Figures of speech were often used in those languages to
state the information in an unusual or non literal sense in order
to draw the reader's attention to what was being said. Customs of
the lands and times of the Bible were also used to draw upon those
things that the original writers and readers were familiar with and
that vividly portrayed the Word of God to them. Considering such
forms of expressions that are used in the Scriptures is necessary
to learning what the Scriptures say.
- There are, of course, variations among the many translations of
the Bible, and it may be necessary to consult the manuscripts,
printed texts, and translations of the Scriptures, as well as
concordances, lexicons, dictionaries, and other resources. However,
it is especially important to consider all resources in light of
the biblical record, its context, and other passages dealing with
the same subject in order to understand what God originally
revealed to holy men of God.
These are essential considerations in our approach to the study of
what the Scriptures say. The studies of the Scriptures on these web pages
are presented for consideration, and they are not the final word on a
particular subject. The Scriptures themselves as they were originally
revealed are the Word of God, and certainly God's Word ought to be
consulted and considered as the final word, the accurate word, and the
reliable word on these subjects. I pray that these studies will help us
to grow in our understanding and appreciation of God's wonderful Word.
If you are interested in gaining a practical understanding of what it
means to work God's Word from the inside to the outside using the
principles discussed here, click on this topic entitled "Five Crucified" and work it for
yourself. This particular topic is easily understood and the underlying
truth and integrity of God's Word is dynamically preserved.