A BRIEF LOOK AT NEW TESTAMENT TEXTS

David Green

INTRODUCTION
Many people have begun to question whether or not the Greek manuscripts that were used to translate the KJV were accurate. There are two sources from which the world has seen the New Testament. From one source, we have the Received Text, Textus Receptus, Majority Text and the Preserved Text. 

From the other source, we find the Alexandrian Text, Wescott and Hort Texts, Critical Text, etc. 

For this discussion we will call the one the Received Text and the other the Alexandrian Text because I feel these terms more accurately define where they came from.

I. GOD PROMISED TO PRESERVE HIS WORD
“The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” (Isaiah 40:8).
The grass and the flower will someday fade away, but God has promised to preserve His word! He cannot lie and therefore we must believe that this is an unconditional promise. How great it is to realize that there will never be a time when the Word of our God has not been in existence. How awesome it is to know that there will never be such a time in the future either.

“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35).
Christ again repeated this promise. We know that the world will not always be in existence in the way that we now see it, but someday will be destroyed (II Peter 3). Yet, the Word of God will not ever pass away.

II. ONE STREAM MUST BE RIGHT AND THE OTHER MUST BE WRONG
“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6).

Scripture is full of absolutes. There is only one Lord. There is only one faith. There is only one baptism. Etc. Etc. God would be called politically incorrect and very narrow-minded in today's world. But that is the way He is, and His truth is the same way. There may be a million different sources, but there can only be one true source.

“ And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18).

Christ organized His kind of church only. There may be other “churches” but Christ ONLY has His church. To this church He promised perpetuity...that means in every age from the time Christ organized it, there has always been a true church somewhere in the world. Keep this in mind as we continue this study. We will come back to this point.

“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:8).

See how absolute the Bible is about things? Would this be considered nice in today's society? Would to God that Baptist preachers would be strong enough to take such a stand!

III. THE HOLY SPIRIT AND THE PRESERVATION OF THE BIBLE
Before Christ left the earth, He promised us many things. One of these promises had to do with the Holy Spirit. Notice our Saviour's words in John 16:13....

“ Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”

We have been promised that the Spirit would be here to guide us into all truth. Praise God, our Lord did not leave us here alone.

“ Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (John 17:17).

The truth, then according to our Lord is the written word of God.

We know that His Spirit is in each one of us as individuals. In other words, you need to be saved, but you do not have to be a member of the Lord's church:

“And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” (Galatians 4:6).

Now, bethren, we see that the Holy Spirit is our guide for truth. And we know the truth is the word of God. To see which text is right, let us look backward into history to see who used the received text.

History tells us that the pre-Waldensian churches used it (more on that in a bit), it was used by the Greek Orthodox Church, and all of the Protestant churches used it. It was indeed the majority text because it was used by the majority of Christianity.

If the received text is indeed the text in the majority of these cases, why would we try to imply it is the inferior text? Would the Holy Spirit use an inferior truth? No, no! A thousand times no!

During the Protestant Revolution when men rebelled against the teachings of Catholicism, translations of the Bible became available to the people. These were mostly all from the Received Text.

Even in our present day, the Lord's churches use the King James Version, which is translated from the Received Text. The more conservative fundamental religions of today use the KJV while the liberals usually use versions that come from the Alexandrian Text. There is a connection.... That connection is that all the Spirit has led these men to use the Received Text because it is His preserved Word! The liberal preachers who use perverted Scripture are either not listening to the Spirit or they have no Spirit to guide them.

IV. THE LORD'S CHURCHES AND THE PRESERVATION OF THE BIBLE
“But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” (I Timothy 3:15).

The church is the pillar and ground of the truth. We have already seen that truth is the word of God, the Bible. If we believe that the church of the living God has existed in all the years from the time Christ established it until now, we must also believe that there has never been a time when His church did not have the truth. God's preservation of His church and His preservation of His Word go hand-in-hand. We cannot have one without the other. They are directly related.

History tells us that the Lord's church has in fact been in existence since the time of Christ. They remained totally separated from Rome. These churches remained true to God, and held His word near and dear to their hearts. They were known by different names, but they were the churches of God. And they held the Word of God. Notice these records I have found:

The earliest record we have is from Syrian Churches who had been organized from the church in Antioch had a translation of the New Testament that came from the Received Text in AD 150. This version was called the Peshitta Version. (Peshitta is a word that means common in Syria.)

Another early translation comes before the churches in the Alps were given the name of the Waldenses. In the year AD 157, the Italic Chuch (as it was called) translated the New Testament from the Received Text.

The Gothic Version was translated from the Received Text for the Germanic tribes in central Europe in AD 350.
And all the way to our present day, we use the KJV, not because we think it to be inspired, but because it comes from the Received Text. And we flatly reject those that do not. Why? Because the Received Text is God's Word! The Spirit guides us into this truth!

The Spirit of God has worked through what we know today as Baptist churches to providentially preserve His Word. Even though Catholicism and other enemies of the truth tried to destroy the Word of God, it was preserved until this present day!
If the other text is the correct one, then why did the Spirit hide it from the Lord's churches? After all, Codex Vaticanus, a portion of the Alexandrian text was kept in a library at the Vatican. IF it were God's Word, why would it be hid? Was it for preservation? If so, then we Baptists have a BIG problem. Either the Spirit is working through us or we are deceived. I am Baptist, brethren, because I believe we are the pillar and ground of the truth. I believe that the Catholic Church is a Whore who is of the Devil. Why would the Spirit hide His Word in a library somewhere for a few hundred years? If it were the true word of God, He would have given it to us! And He did not, so why should we get it from someone else and add it to our own?
The Holy Spirit has worked down to our present day and time and language. I believe it is the Holy Spirit that has led the Lord's churches to use the King James Bible. It was not always so, for in the beginning the Baptists were very skeptical of it. And rightfully so. We should also be skeptical of new versions, even versions that claim to come from the Received Text because we know Satan is the great deceiver. But the Spirit led those churches and preachers to begin to use the King James Version and it has been a Baptist standard for over 200 years. If the time comes for a new version to come along to replace the KJV, then the Spirit will also guide us into the truth. However, I see no evidence where we are to be looking for one. Our forefathers were not looking for the KJV when it came, but the Spirit led them to it. The same thing will happen if He should see fit to provide us with another version.

V. FAITH AND BELIEVING
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

Some people insist that we cannot be sure of which text is the truth. These people say that since we cannot inspect the original signed copies of the Bible, we cannot know what is true and what is not. I hope that my previous points have helped you, the reader, to understand that we can be sure of what we believe.

Just because the originals no longer exist is not a problem at all. In fact a lot of things we believe in are very similar. We cannot go to Jerusalem to see the first church there to make sure we are exactly like them in faith and practice. We cannot go back to Adam to see if he was our ancestor. We cannot go back to the original signed copies of the New Testament. We simply have faith that these things are true!

And this faith is not just a blind faith either. It is one that is backed up by the promise of God himself: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35). We have also seen that it is backed up by the promise of the Spirit and it is backed up by history.

“But without faith it is impossible to please him...” (Hebrews 11:6).

As a preacher, I am thankful that God has given me these things. After all, I would find it very hard to preach with any authority unless I believed this. God called me to preach His word, not to criticize it or to question Him. Hesitation in the pulpit will cause confusion in the pew! And it will not give glory to God. How can we please God if we do not even have faith that He is able to preserve His Word? We cannot please Him when we do not believe He has been true to us.

VI. CONCLUSION
“The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it.” Psalm 68:11.
That verse pretty well sums it up. The fact is, God gave the Word. He inspired men to write the books of the Old and New Testament. And then it was copied and published. But it still exists. Providential Preservation is what we call it. He used His Spirit, working through His people in general, but particularly His church and it was handed down from generation to generation. This is why we call it the Received Text, but we could just as accurately call it the Preserved Text. Praise God!


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