Wednesday, August 31, 2011
The second half of v. 6 is omitted in the modern critical text. The omitted phrase: ei de ex ergon ouketi esti charis epei to ergon ouketi esti ergon. The omission is made clear by comparing translations based on the traditional text and those based on the modern critical text:
Traditional text (emphasis added):
KJV Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
NKJV Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.
Modern critical text:
NIV (1984) Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
NASB Romans 11:6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.
The traditional reading is supported by a corrector of Sinaiticus, Vaticanus (with variation; it omits the first esti and reads charis for the final ergon), L, Psi, and the vast majority of manuscripts.
The modern critical reading is supported by p46, the original hand of Sinaiticus, and Alexandrinus, among others. It also appears in several Church Fathers, including Origen and Augustine.
Here is another instance where “the big two” diverge, with Vaticanus supporting the traditional reading and the original hand of Sinaiticus the modern critical reading.
Metzger gives the modern critical reading an “A” rating. This is apparently based on the preference of the shorter reading being the more original. He notes: “There appears to be no reason why, if the words were original, they should have been deleted. The existence of several forms of the addition likewise throws doubt upon the originality of any of them” (Textual Commentary, p. 526).
Contrary to Metzger, however, it seems very possible that v. 6b could have been omitted due to parablepsis. The two sentences in v. 6 are grammatically parallel with multiple vocabulary duplications, making it easier for a scribe to become confused. As noted above, Vaticanus has two variations, including using charis for the final word, rather than ergon. This means in Vaticanus the final word in both v. 6a and v. 6b is charis. In such a construction one can easily see how a scribe could have written the charis in v. 6a then had his eye return to the final charis in v. 6b and move on to v. 7, thus omitting v. 6b. Was scribal error in copying Vaticanus, its examplar, or its progeny the root of this omission?
Metzger also makes reference to “the existence of several forms of the addition” which “likewise throws doubts upon the originality of any of them.” This is a bit misleading. Aside from the Vaticanus variation, the Nestle-Aland notes list no other major variations. The UBS apparatus lists a slight variation in lectionary 603 and one Slavic manuscript, omitting the phrase ei de ex ergon ouketi esti charis, but otherwise supporting the traditional reading. It also lists a slight variation in codex 1962 which reads he charis for esti charis and ouk rather than ouketi and in lectionary 1178 which reads ouk estin ergon. This hardly seems as significant as Metzger’s note makes it sound.
External evidence for the traditional reading is early and strong (even supported by Vaticanus). There are plausible explanations for how v. 6b might have been omitted by parablepsis. The segment in question appears authentically Pauline in vocabulary and style, offering a complementary parallel to v. 6a. If not original why would it have been added? In my view the text would be significantly diminished if v. 6b were omitted. There is no compelling reason to abandon the traditional text.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
In Communion with God, John Owen discusses our perceptions that God’s love is changeable. He notes that even when we perceive his chiding and do not see his smile, this does not mean that his love has changed: “But still his love is always the same” (Banner Puritan paperback ed., p. 24).
Owen quickly anticipates objections: “But you will say, ‘This comes near to blasphemy! You are saying God loves his people in their sinning as well as in their strictest obedience. If this is so, who will bothers to serve him or seek to please him?’”
Owen responds: “But God’s love does not change and therefore we are not consumed in his wrath. Does God then love his people while they are sinning? Yes! he loves his people but he does not love their sinning. Doesn’t God’s love change towards them? Not the purpose of his will to love them, but the working out of his gracious acts and disciplines towards them is changed.”
He adds: “The doctrine of grace may be turned into an excuse for doing evil but the principle cannot. And we may further affirm that God’s detesting and loathing sin in his people is not inconsistent with the acceptance of their persons and their being chosen for eternal life” (p. 25).
Later, when discussing the “purchased righteousness” of the saints, including the imputation of Christ’s obedience, Owen reflects: “Are we, then, freed from obedience? Yes. We are freed from obeying the law in our own strength, and we are freed from obeying it in order to obtain everlasting life” (p. 122). He adds this qualification, however: “We are not freed from obedience as a way of walking with God, but we are freed from obedience as a means of making ourselves good enough to come to God” (pp. 122-123).
Reflections: In stressing the immutability of God’s love for his saints, part and parcel of the doctrine of God’s sovereign grace in salvation, including the doctrine of perseverance, it seems one will always (as Owen does) run the risk of being accused of “antinomianism.”
Monday, August 29, 2011
I will be speaking at the next meeting of the Society for the Preservation of Baptist Principles and Practices, meeting at Plantation Road Baptist Church in Roanoke, VA on Monday, September 12, 2011 at 10:30 am. The society is a fraternity of Calvinistic Baptist Pastors. They have asked me to address the topic of text criticism. So, I will do one session on "A Defense of the Traditional Text of Scripture" and a second session on "The Ending of Mark."
Friday, August 26, 2011
I just finished reading Benjamin Keach's The Marrow of True Justification (Solid Ground Christian Books edition, 2007). Keach first published these two sermons on the doctrine of justification by faith alone, both taken from Romans 4:5, in 1692. If anyone doubts that the early Particular Baptists held to the Reformation principles of sola fide and sola gratia, he needs to read this booklet. If anything, Keach has to defend his preaching of free grace from the charge of antinomianism. In the preface he states, "I had rather err on their side [the antinomians] who strive wholly to exalt the Free Grace of God, than on theirs, who seek to darken it and magnify the Power of the Creature...." (p. 8). Here is an excerpt from Keach's moving closing "application" section of the book:
Therefore Sinners, though ‘tis your Duty to reform your Lives, and leave your abominable Sins, which often bring heavy Judgments upon you in this World and expose you to eternal Wrath in the world to come, yet know that all that you can do, will fail in point of your Acceptation and Justification in God’s sight, or to save your Souls: Your present Work and Business is to believe in Jesus Christ, to look on him, who only can renew his sacred Image in your Souls, and make you New Creatures, which must be done or you perish. O cry that he would help your Unbelief: Come, venture your Souls on Christ’s Righteousness. Christ is able to save you, though you are ever so great Sinners. Come to him, throw yourselves at the feet of Jesus: Look to Jesus, who came to seek and save them that were lost; If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink, John 7:37, 38. You may have Water of Life freely. Do not say I want Qualifications or Meetness [fitness] to come to Christ. Sinner, dost thou thirst? Dost thou see a want of Righteousness? ‘Tis not Righteousness; but ‘tis a sense of the want of Righteousness, which is rather the Qualification, thou shouldst look at: Christ hath Righteousness sufficient to clothe you; Bread of Life to feed you, Grace to adorn you; or whatsoever you want, it is to be had in him. We will tell you there is help in him, Salvation in him, through the Propitation in his blood you must be justified, which is by Faith alone (pp. 92-93).
Thursday, August 25, 2011
“What were you doing when the earthquake hit?” No doubt that question has been asked a lot since last Tuesday’s tremor that put nearby Mineral, Virginia on the map as the epicenter of the 5.9 quake.
This got me thinking about earthquakes in the Scriptures. According to my Bible search program, the English word “earthquake” appears 16 times in 13 verses in the KJV Bible. The plural “earthquakes” appears 3 times in 3 verses. Elijah experienced an earthquake, along with wind and fire, but he found God in none of them. Instead God spoke to his prophet through “a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:11-12). The message appears to be that we should not seek God in extraordinary events but in less glamorous, ordinary ones. When Amos describes his public ministry he notes that it began “two years before the earthquake” (Amos 1:1). Apparently, a terrible earthquake struck the land of Israel during the days of King Uzziah and Amos’ original readers would have known precisely the event to which he made reference (see Zechariah 14:5 which makes reference to the same cataclysmic event).
In the New Testament the Greek word for “earthquake” is seismos, the root for the English words “seismic” and “seismology.” Matthew records that the earth shook both when Jesus died on the cross and when the angels rolled away the stone from the tomb (see Matthew 27:54; 28:2). When Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises to God at midnight in the jail at Philippi, Luke records there was “a great earthquake (seismos … megas), so that the foundations of the prison were shaken” (Acts 16:26).
One of the most impressive descriptions of earthquakes in the Bible does not even explicitly mention the name. Psalm 46:1-2 says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.”
No. We don’t want to make some corny spiritual point about every event that transpires in life. The earthquake, however, does have some valuable lessons:
• It reminds us that everything we think is certain in life can be changed in a moment.
• It reminds us that every moment of peace and security we and our loved ones enjoy is a gift from God.
• It reminds us of God’s sovereign and awesome power.
• It reminds us that God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
So, this week, we can let the earthquake be our teacher.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle
Here are my notes from last Sunday's message on Romans 10:16-21, reflecting on the passage's closing image of the Lord reaching toward Israel with outstretched hands:
But what of Israel? Remember, this is Paul’s compelling concern here in the heart of the book of Romans. See again Romans 9:1-3 ff.
The quotation from Isaiah 65 continues in Romans 10:21: “But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.”
What a powerful image we find here both of the character of God and of the depravity of man!
First, note the intensity of the Father’s actions. His arms are stretched forth toward his people. God is pictured as holding out his arms continuously. He stretches them forth “all day long.” Boice: “Have you ever tried to hold out your hands (or arms) for even a few minutes? It is a terribly difficult thing to do. Very few persons could hold out their hands for even an hour. No one on earth could do it for a day. Yet God says he has done this continuously” (Romans, Vol. 3, p. 1278). I thought of that scene in Exodus 17 when the Israelites are fighting the Amalekites and as long as Moses held forth his hands, they prevailed, but when his hands grew heavy and dropped they began to lose the battle. So, Aaron and Hur had to stand by Moses side and uphold Moses’ arms. But here is God standing all day long with outstretched arms, and he needs no help to keep them outstretched.
Second, note the compassion of the Father. He does not stand with arms crossed and his back turned. His disposition is like that of a parent who is bending down and stretching wide open his arms to embrace a child, or like a husband who is reaching out to embrace his beloved wife.
But what is the response? He stretches out his arms to “a disobedient and gainsaying people.” The participle for “disobedient” here is from the verb apeitheo and might also be rendered as “unbelieving.” The participle for “gainsaying” is from the verb antilego, which literally means “to speak against.”
I have had the sad duty of sitting a few times in trying to give counsel to those in a marriage crisis where I have seen one spouse reach out with open arms to the other and see the other spurn those loving overtures and lash out with reviling and even cursings. This is what Israel has done to an all-patient God.
The extreme reaction of each side accentuates the other. The intense love and compassion of the Father is made even more remarkable by the perverse and biting rejection of the people.
John Murray: “The perversity of Israel, on the one hand, and the constancy and intensity of God’s lovingkindness, on the other, are accentuated by the fact that one derives its character from the other. It is to a disobedient and contradicting people that the outstretched hands of entreaty are extended. The gravity of the sin springs from the contradiction offered to the overture of mercy” (Romans, Vol. 2, p. 63).
Again, Paul can rest in the sovereignty of God when contemplating the rejection of Christ by his fellow Israelites. They are only doing what the prophet Isaiah wrote about years before. God is on the throne, and he is at work even men are rejecting his loving overtures in the most perverse manner.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
The Fall 2011 The Virginia Home Educator (the HEAV news magazine) has a good article by Reb Bradley titled, "Crisis in Homeschooling: Exposing Major Blind Spots of Homeschoolers" (pp. 8-12). This article is an edited version of a longer 2006 essay that can be read online here.
Bradley speaks honestly and plainly about blind spots for many homeschoolers. I could certainly see how I personally and my family have also failed in some of the areas Bradley discusses.
Bradley's 9 Blindspots for Homeschoolers (the online version lists 7 blind spots):
1. Having self-centered dreams.
2. Raising family as an idol.
3. Emphasizing outward form.
4. Tending to judge.
5. Depending on formulas.
6. Depending on authority and control.
7. Over-relying on sheltering.
8. Not passing on a pure faith.
9. Not cultivating a loving relationship with our children.
Monday, August 22, 2011
Image: Ron Young, Sr. stands by the Scripture Truth sign outside Fincastle, VA.
I enjoyed a visit last Saturday with Pastor Ron Young, Sr. in Roanoke, VA. I did an interview with Ron as we did some driving around town and have posted it as a new installment of Word Magazine.
Image: The non-descript door to the Scripture Truth store.
We took a drive over to the wholesale store for the Scripture Truth Book Company, outside Fincastle.
Image: Stacks of books inside.
Image: Ron's hall of fame pictures in his downstairs' basement library.
We ended up back at Ron's house where his wife Sue made us a fantastic lunch. We then spent some time looking around Ron's library which fills the entire basement downstairs of his home. Ron said when he retired over ten years ago he estimated he had over 15,000 volumes. He has an amazing collection of Baptist history, including multiple copies of Semple's History of the Baptists in Virginia and J. B. Jeter's Baptist Principles Re-set.
Image: Close-ups from the Hall of Fame, including Lloyd-Jones, Edwards, Taylor, and Whitefield.
Image: Ron has this quote from John Eadie by one of the stacks. The quote ends: "The things on earth are seen, therefore they are temporal; the things in heaven are unseen, and therefore they are eternal. If the mind be fully occupied with things above, things on earth will be barred out."
Image: Ron among his tools.
Image: Did I say he had some theology books?
Image: Ron in his desk chair, holding a much prized, hand-sewn Scottish R. L. Allan Bible. For more on Allan Bibles watch this video.
Here's a text issue I ran across while preparing to preach yesterday's sermon I have stretched forth my hands (Romans 10:16-21):
Romans 10:17 is a well known verse on the centrality of preaching: “So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (AV). The textual question is whether the last phrase should read “by the word of God [dia rhematos theou],” as in the traditional text, or “by the word of Christ [dia rhematos christou],” as in the modern critical text.
The traditional text reading is supported by the first corrector of Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, the first corrector of D, K, P, Psi, 33, 614, 1241, 1881, and the vast majority of Greek manuscripts. It is also found in Clement.
The modern critical text reading is supported by the original hand of Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, among a few others. According to the critical apparatus it also appears (“vid”) to be supported by p46, but apparently the reading is uncertain.
Metzger only gives christou a “B” reading in his Textual Commentary (p. 525). He notes that the phrase rhema christou appears only here in the NT, whereas rhema theou is “a more familiar expression” (cf. Luke 3:2; John 3:34; Eph 6:17; Heb 6:5; 11:3). Modern text critics prefer the christou reading as the more difficult, due to its rarity, and therefore the more preferred. On the other hand, there could clearly be an argument for theou based on its regularity. One could easily also see how a scribe could have inadvertently substituted “Christ” for “God.” One might also ask if there could have been a theological motivation for the Christou reading, specifically related to Christology. Perhaps this is a point or nuance now lost on modern interpreters, but it might have been significant during the Christological controversies of the third and fourth centuries (when the earliest clear readings for christou first appear).
For modern readers this change may appear immaterial with regard to doctrine (i.e., whether the text reads “God” or “Christ” makes little difference for interpretation). The reading that came to dominate, however, among the orthodox was clearly “the word of God.” There is no compelling reason to abandon this reading and good reason to preserve it.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
I started an afternoon sermon series last Lord's Day on the Letters to the Seven Churches (Revelation 2-3). The first message was Ephesus: The Loveless Church. In preparation, I ran across this passage in John Owen's Communion with God in which he contrasts the inconsistency of the saint's love for God compared to God's love for his saints:
Our love to God ebbs and flows, waxes and wanes, increases and decreases. We lose our first love, and we grow again in love. Unlike Christ, we are never the same yesterday, today and for ever. What poor creatures we are! How unlike the Lord and his love!.... One moment we appear to stand. Like Peter we say, ‘Though all men forsake you, I will not!’ Then we fall and deny Christ (p. 25).
Friday, August 19, 2011
I’ve read on a few blogs (James White and Justin Taylor) about the upcoming “debate” on October 1, 2011 between Dan Wallace of Dallas Seminary and Bart Ehrman on the topic “Can we trust the text of the New Testament?” I recently read and am in the process of writing a book review for an upcoming issue of ATI of Robert B. Stewart, Ed., Bart D. Ehrman & Daniel B. Wallace in Dialogue: The Reliability of the New Testament (Fortress Press, 2011). This book came from the Greer-Heard Point-Counterpoint Forum in Faith and Culture that was held at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary on April 4-5, 2008. This forum included a “dialogue” (not a “debate”) between Wallace and Ehrman on the “The Textual Reliability of the New Testament.” The book contains a full transcript of the 2008 Wallace-Ehrman Dialogue including their presentations and the q and a session with the audience. It also includes seven scholarly articles from the likes of Michael Holmes and David Parker, leading academic text critics).
Now, three years later, Wallace and Ehrman are going to participate in another event, this time in Dallas. This one is a fund-raiser for Wallace’s Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts, with Erhman, no doubt, receiving a lucrative honorarium for his appearance. Though it is billed as a “debate,” my guess it is likely to be more of a “joint appearance.” Why do I say this? Because the two men are in essential agreement in their primary beliefs about the textual transmission of the New Testament. Here is part of what I have started writing for my book review in evaluating the 2008 dialogue between Wallace and Ehrman:
As the title indicates the central focus of the forum, and therefore the book, was the dialogue between Ehrman and Wallace. Ehrman is clearly the rock star in this dialogue. He is a self-described former evangelical who claims that his faith ran aground when he discovered the uneven history of the textual transmission of the New Testament as a graduate student at Princeton. Ehrman went on to write the groundbreaking scholarly work The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture (Oxford University Press, 1993), which argued that orthodox scribes altered the transmission of the text of Scripture to suit their polemical purposes. He has since written a series of popular works on text criticism and Christianity that have attacked the authority and reliability of Scripture (e. g., Misquoting Jesus). Wallace is much less well known outside evangelical circles, but he is considered the foremost evangelical New Testament text critic of our day. As evidence of this, Wallace was asked to present one of only two plenary addresses to the 2008 meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society when the annual theme was on textual criticism. The second plenary address was by Peter Gentry on Old Testament text criticism.
From his opening remarks, it is clear that Wallace is in awe (envy?) of Ehrman’s professional accomplishments. At times he almost fawns over Ehrman (cf., e. g., his opening lines: “Bart, as I expected, your presentation was energetic, informative, and entertaining. It was vintage Bart Ehrman” [p. 27]). In the audience q and a, Wallace actually states, “I think that what Bart has done for the Christian community is a great service” (p. 47). His point is that he admires Ehrman for exposing not just the general population, but also Christians, in particular, to disputed textual issues in the New Testament like the comma johanneum (John 7:53—8:11). From an orthodox position, however, it strikes one as strange that Wallace would so enthusiastically praise a man who has so brazenly attacked and attempted to undermine the authority and reliability of Scripture. Certainly civility should be the rule for such interactions, but Wallace goes beyond good manners and essentially capitulates to Ehrman. One of the more bizarre moments recorded in the dialogue also came from the q and a when an audience member asked Wallace about the propriety of preaching from John 7:53-8:11. Wallace responded, “Those are great and very practical questions that Bart can answer far better than I, so I’ll turn to over to him” (p. 57). Ehrman then gave the deadpan reply, “No. I would not preach on that.” The transcriber adds: “Audience roars with laughter” (p. 58). It is hard to figure what Wallace was thinking in deferring to Ehrman, a hardened apostate and agnostic, a question about preaching. Was he trying to be coy, humorous, cute? Though the audience laughed, it was hardly amusing.
The transcript of the dialogue between Ehrman and Wallace comes off, in the end, rather flat. Few sparks fly. There is little heat or passion expressed in disagreement. The key reason for this is that Ehrman and Wallace actually have very little to disagree about when it comes to textual criticism of the New Testament. Both, in fact, are confirmed “reasoned eclectics” (as are all the other authors in the book) who embrace the modern critical text of the New Testament as descended from liberal Protestant scholarship of the 19th century forward (as represented by scholars like Westcott and Hort, Nestle, Aland, and Metzger). No doubt, a much more stimulating exchange would have resulted if either (or both) men would have entered into dialogue (debate?) with a proponent of the Majority Text or of the Textus Receptus or even a King James Version Only-ist.
Both Ehrman and Wallace agree, for example, that disputed passages in the traditional text like the comma johanneum (John 7:53-8:11) and the so-called longer ending of Mark (Mark 16:9-20) were not part of the authentic, original text of the New Testament. So, Ehrman says John 7:53-8:11 “was not originally in the Bible” (p. 24) and that Mark 16:9-20 was added by later scribes (p. 25). Wallace, likewise, says that the woman caught in adultery is his “favorite passage that’s not in the Bible,” and he agrees with Ehrman that the traditional ending of Mark “is not part of the original text of the Bible” (p. 29).
In the end, their agreement even seems to extend to the matter of the reliability of the New Testament. Ehrman concludes his opening remarks as follows:
"Is the text of the New Testament reliable? The reality is there is no way to know. If we had the originals, we could tell you. If we had the first copies, we could tell you. If we had copies of the copies, we could tell you. We don’t have copies in many instances for hundreds of years after the originals. There are places where scholars continue to debate what the original text said, and there are places where we will probably never know" (p. 27).
Wallace draws a strikingly similar conclusion:
"So, is what we have now what they wrote then? Exactly? No. But in all essentials? Yes" (p. 46).
Thus, both agree that it is impossible to reconstruct the original text of Scripture with absolute certainty. Where do they differ? Ehrman suggests that we simply do not have enough evidence to know what the original text of Scripture contained, and so we must remain agnostic and skeptical. Thus, he can continue to muse about orthodox corruptions. Wallace, however, suggests that while we do not have (and never will have) absolute certainty about the original text of the New Testament we have a modern reconstruction that is close enough for Christians to trust and rely upon.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
My sermon last Sunday stressed the centrality and importance of preaching as a means of grace in this gospel age. This same week I ran into a passage in Richard Baxter’s The Saints’ Everlasting Rest in which Baxter reminds us that no matter how valuable these ordinary means, in heaven they will no more be needed. As he puts it, “When we have obtained the haven, we have done sailing.” In heaven, even “Preaching is done.”
Book Note: I am reading a copy of The Saints’ Everlasting Rest that was abridged by Benjamin Fawcett and was reprinted by the American Tract Society. I picked up my undated copy amid a pile of old books in a local used book store. The prefaces by Thomas Erskine and Fawcett note the usefulness of this book through the years. Baxter wrote the draft for this work at a time when he was gravely ill and away from home, with only his Bible to read. His thoughts at this dire time naturally turned to heaven. He recovered from the illness and used his notes to preach a sermon series on this topic. The book was first published in 1650. The preaching series and book were used of God in the conversion of at least two other Puritan ministers (Thomas Doolittle and John Janeway).
Anyhow, here is the Baxter quote on the cessation of ordinary means (including even preaching) in heaven:
"One thing contained in heavenly rest, is, the ceasing of the means of grace. When we have obtained the haven, we have done sailing. When the workman receives his wages, it is implied he has done his work. When we are at our journey’s end, we have done with the way. Whether prophecies, they shall fail; whether tongues, they shall cease; whether knowledge, it also, so far as it had the nature of means, shall vanish away. There shall be no more prayer, because no more necessity, but the full enjoyment of what we prayed for; neither shall we need to fast, and weep, and watch anymore, being out of the reach of sin and temptations. Preaching is done; the ministry of man ceaseth; ordinances become useless; the laborers are called in, because the harvest is gathered, the tares burned, and the work finished; the unregenerate past hope, and the saints past fear, for ever."
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle
Closing words from last Sunday's message, How shall they hear? (Romans 10:14-15):
I come to you today as an ambassador of Christ. I come from the battlefield where I can report that Christ has won a great victory. He has taken on the wrath of God for sinners. He has won a victory over death and the grave. Yes, there are many who have never heard the gospel. But now you are not among them.
He is speaking even now to you through the unworthy lips of this unworthy preacher and he is saying, "Believe in me! I am your Shepherd. Come to me and rest. Come to me and drink and never be thirsty again. Come to me and live."
I began last Sunday's message, How shall they hear? (Romans 10:14-15) by noting: "Today I stand as a preacher who is going to speak to you about a preacher, the apostle Paul, who wrote about the centrality of preaching." At the end of the message I offered four closing exhortations. Here is the fourth of the four:
Fourth: This passage implies that God’s preachers are only those especially sent and authorized by the Lord himself.
I realize that some might be offended by this last statement. We live in a democratic, egalitarian age. The evangelical church has been influenced by the Brethren and Quaker notions that there should be no distinctions within the body of believers between the officers (teaching elders or pastors) who have set apart vocationally for prayer and the ministry of the word and the people (Greek laos, the root of the English word "laity").
In 1 Kings 12:31 among the indictments against King Jeroboam who corrupted Israel’s worship was this: "And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi."
Romans 10:14-15, however, runs against the current of what we might call an “open pulpit.” Those authorized to preach are those who have been sent by God Himself. They have been gifted by God. They have been called by God. They have been set apart by God for this task.
I recently read an article written in 1876 by the old Reformed stalwart R. L. Dabney titled “Lay-Preaching” in which he had the temerity or maybe we should call it the courage to question the then growing popular preaching of D. L. Moody, an unordained lay preacher of the times, and other lay preachers. Dabney wrote: “If love and duty to Christ prompt them to preach as laymen, we see not how the same affections can fail to draw them into the ministry” (Discussions, Vol. 2, p. 84).
In 2010 a group of ministers in the UK wrote out a statement of faith titled “Affirmation 2010.” Article 12 affirms “the holy ministry,” a called and set apart ministry for the church. It closes with this denial:
We reject the view that the ministry “lies in common,” so that anyone may undertake public ministry in the church, even as we reject the idea that women may lead any part of divine worship or preach to the gathered church. We also repudiate any used of drama, mime, puppetry, and the like, as illegitimate and improper means to communicate God’s revealed Truth, since we believe God has appointed preaching as the proper way to make known His Truth to this needy world (p. 24).
Indeed, when everyone is a preacher, then no one is a preacher.
Our Confession of Faith states that it is especially “the work of pastors” to be diligent “in the ministry of the word and prayer.” It adds that it is “incumbent” on them to be “instant in preaching the word, by way of office.” It also adds, however, that preaching is not “peculiarly confined to them but that others also gifted and fitted by the Holy Spirit for it” might preach, adding that they should be especially “approved and called by the church” to this duty. Certainly this did not mean that the pulpit was open to any and all. In fact, the early Baptists referred to those set apart to help in preaching as “gifted brethren” or “teachers.” These were men who were especially approved for this work (see James M. Renihan, Edification and Beauty: The Practical Ecclesiology of the English Particular Baptists, 1675-1705, pp. 107-114).
Our passage today exhorts us to return to the old paths and to be careful in overseeing that the preaching of the gospel is by those who have been sent out by God himself for that task.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
This video from Al Martin, one of the deans of RB preachers, is a good follow up to recent posts on the centrality of preaching. Martin gives this reply in response to the question:
What biblical principles or passages would you preach upon in order to declare the timeless relevance and the centrality of the preaching and teaching of the Word of God to our generation?
Music, Performance, and Worship
I began last Sunday's message, How shall they hear? (Romans 10:14-15) by noting: "Today I stand as a preacher who is going to speak to you about a preacher, the apostle Paul, who wrote about the centrality of preaching." At the end of the message I offered four closing exhortations. Here is the third of the four:
Third, Paul implies here that when a man listens to true preaching he is in fact listening to Christ himself:
Notice how Paul stresses the act of hearing: “how shall they hear without a preacher?” What is it that men are to hear in preaching? They are to hear the voice of their shepherd (John 10:27: "My sheep hear my voice...").
When Jesus sent out the seventy to preach in his name in Luke 10, he instructed them: "He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me."
Likewise, in Ephesians 4, Paul writes to the Ephesians about how they have received preaching and teaching about Jesus and he says: "But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus" (vv. 20-21).
When would they have heard him and been taught by him? When they heard the apostles and the officers of their local churches (elders, pastors and teacher) preach the gospel to them.
John Murray confirms that “a striking feature” of this text “is that Christ is represented as being heard in the gospel when proclaimed by the sent messengers. The implication is that Christ speaks in the gospel proclamation” (Romans, Vol. 2, p. 58). He adds that “the dignity of the messengers” is “derived from the fact that they are the Lord’s spokesmen.”
Here is a frightening thing to consider for many a church that has abused the ministers sent to her: When they have spurned God’s minister and the message given through him they have often spurned Christ himself.
Boice adds along a similar line: “When I (and any other minister) stands up to teach the Bible, if I do it rightly, it is not my word you are hearing. It is the Word of God, and the voice you hear in your heart is the voice of Christ. So, if you do not like what I am saying, do not get angry with me. I am only the postman. My job is just to deliver the letters. And when you respond do not think that you are responding to me. You are responding to Jesus, who is calling you through the appointed channel of sound preaching” (Romans, Vol. 3, p. 1241).
The Reformed Baptist Fellowship blog recently called attention to an August 15 post by Phil Johnson on the Pyromaniac's blog titled "Pornographic Divination." The post has a clip of Mark Driscoll describing lurid visions he claims to experience. The clip is disturbing. It makes clear that Driscoll's view of the ministry is not in the realm of the orthodox.
I did a message a few years ago reviewing Driscoll's ministry at the request of the Society for Baptist Principles and Practices in Roanoke (listen here), in which I raised concerns about the non-cessationist views of Driscoll. Driscoll has been known as "the cursing preaching." I learned about him for the first time from a young man who was then a recent graduate of Southern Seminary and who gushed about Driscoll's ministry. He loaned me the two books written by Driscoll I that I read and used as the primary basis for my review.
Driscoll remains popular on the YRR scene. He speaks at Gospel Coalition events and has done conferences at Southeastern Baptist Seminary. His Acts 29 network is promoted by YRR parachurch groups like Together for the Gospel and the 9 Marks ministry. Johnson's post ought to serve as a chilling caution to those who have embraced and promoted Driscoll's ministry.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
NPR had a story today about the most recent research from UVA's National Marriage Project. It reports that cohabitation is not good for children even as the percentage of children born into homes where the parents are not married has risen to 42%. According to the report, "research shows the children of cohabiting parents are at risk for a broad range of problems, from trouble in school to psychological stress, physical abuse and poverty."
I began last Sunday's message, How shall they hear? (Romans 10:14-15) by noting: "Today I stand as a preacher who is going to speak to you about a preacher, the apostle Paul, who wrote about the centrality of preaching." At the end of the message I offered four closing exhortations. Here is the second of the four:
Second: Preaching must remain central in the ministry of Christ’s church.
We must turn a deaf ear to those who arise in every generation who want to replace preaching with something they believe to be more relevant or appealing.
Preaching is the ordinary means that God has ordained both for the salvation and sanctification of sinners. In 1 Corinthians 1:21 Paul wrote that “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” It is such a part of human hubris to believe that we need to improve on what God has ordained.
Yes, God can and sometime does work through other means. But consider here in v. 14 Paul does not say, “And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not received charitable act of mercy, or have not witnessed lifestyle evangelism.” No, he asks how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard in preaching.
Question 72 in Spurgeon’s catechism asks, “How is the word made effectual to salvation” and the answer given is this:
The Spirit of God makes the reading, but especially the preaching of the Word, an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith unto salvation.
Why are there many lands where missionaries have labored for years building hospitals and schools and setting up sports programs in hopes of gaining a favorable hearing for the gospel but little fruit is produced? Perhaps it is because they have neglected preaching for lesser things.
Why are there so many professed Christians who lack holiness and comfort in Christ? Perhaps it is because they have been so little exposed to the preaching of God’s word. As one wag has said, Sermonettes produce Christianettes.
Image: Stephanus 1551 Greek NT
Note: This is a series of occasional verse-by-verse expositions of Jude (begun in March 2007). I recently finished preaching a series of expositional messages through Jude, so maybe I can use my notes to finish out this series. For the final verses I will use the KJV (vv. 1-20 were from the NKJV). You can read previous parts under the label “Jude Exposition” below.
Jude 1:21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
In Greek, Jude 20-21 are really one sentence. The sentence consists of one main verb and three supporting participles (building, praying, looking). The main and governing verb is the command “keep” (from tereo). It is a call for perseverance. We know, of course, that our perseverance in the faith depends upon God. David praises the Lord for ordering the steps of the good man in Psalm 37:
23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.
24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.
In Jude 21 the stress is on human responsibility. God is ultimately the one who keeps his saints, but he works through means. The saints show they belong to Christ by virtue of the fact that they abide in Christ. Again, we can look to Psalm 37 as David urges:
27 Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell for evermore.
28 For the LORD loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.
Jude commands in particular that the saints remain in the sphere of the love of Christ. We might take this as a call for the believers not to flag in their love for Christ. Jesus upbraided the church at Ephesus for leaving their first love (Rev 2:4). Note that this is a corporate word (2nd person plural).
The final participle is “looking for.” The verb here often has a “last things” connotation. It refers to living with eager expectation of that great day. For believers it is not a day of terror but of joy. What child dreads the coming of his birthday or Christmas? So, no believer dreads the day of Christ’s coming. For the reprobate it will be a terrible day of judgement but for the saints it will be a day of receiving “the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”
• What means might the Lord use to keep his saints in the faith?
• How can you keep yourself in the love of God?
• Are you looking for (i.e., living in eager expectation of) the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life?
• Read Psalm 37 and meditate on the passages that provide assurance of perseverance to the saints in light of Jude 21.
Monday, August 15, 2011
I began last Sunday's message, How shall they hear? (Romans 10:14-15) by noting: "Today I stand as a preacher who is going to speak to you about a preacher, the apostle Paul, who wrote about the centrality of preaching." At the end of the message I offered four closing exhortations. Here is the first of the four:
First: Those who would call upon the Lord and believe in him must first have access to the hearing of the preaching of the gospel.
This ought to fill our hearts with compassion for those lands where Christ has not been preached and where there are those who have not yet heard the name of Jesus.
The famed 19th century missionary pioneer Hudson Taylor was given a burden for the land of China while he was still a teen. He wrote once to his mother contemplating the fact that each year 12 million would die in China with no knowledge of Christ:
Think, Mother, of twelve millions—a number so great that it is impossible to realize it—yes, twelve million souls in China, every year passing without God and hope into eternity…. Oh, let us look with compassion on this multitude! God has been merciful to us; let us be like Him….
Year later as an adult he returned for a furlough to England. His body had been so abused by hardship that for many months he could not get out of bed but he posted on the wall a map of China to remind him of all those who had never heard of Christ.
I ran across this textual issue while preparing to preach a sermon yesterday How shall they hear? on Romans 10:14-15
I. The issue:
I. The issue:
How should the text of the quotation of Isaiah 52:7 read? The modern critical text has a shorter reading and the traditional text a longer reading. The difference is made clear by comparing translations based on each text:
Translations based on modern critical text (NIV, NASB):
NIV Romans 10:15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"
NASB Romans 10:15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!"
Translations based on the traditional text (KJV, NKJV; emphasis added):
KJV Romans 10:15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
NKJ Romans 10:15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!"
The contested phrase:
The contested phrase, omitted in the modern text, is “who preach the gospel of peace [ton euangelizomenon eirenen].”
II. External Evidence:
The traditional reading is supported by the following codices: second corrector of Sinaiticus, D, F, G, Psi, 33, and the vast majority. It is also supported by the Latin and Syriac versions. It is also found in the church fathers Irenaeus and Eusebius. Clearly it is a very ancient reading.
The modern critical reading is supported by the following: p46 and the heavyweights, original hand of Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, and Vaticanus. It is also found in the church father Clement.
III. Internal Evidence:
If the traditional reading is original, how might it have dropped out? This is a case where parablepsis (the eye skipping inadvertently from one similar word to another) is an obvious possibility, given that there are two appearances of the participle euangelizomenon (underline added in this literal translation of the traditional text): “How beautiful are the feet of those who evangelize peace, who evangelize the good things” [hos horaioi hoi podes ton euangelizomenon eirenen, ton euangelizomenon ta agatha].
It is much more difficult to explain why the phrase would have been added if the modern critical text is authentic. One explanation is that this was done to make the reading better reflect the LXX reading of Isaiah 52:7.
In his Commentary, Metzger admits that “it is possible that the shorter reading arose because the eye of the scribe passed from ton euangelizomenon to ton euangelizomenon,” but, in the end, he notes that the UBS Committee believed it more likely the longer reading was “inserted to make the citation correspond more fully to the Septuagint (Isa 52.7; Na 1.15 [=LXX 2.1])" (p. 525).
Rather than seeing the traditional reading’s closer correspondence to the LXX as a liability for its integrity it might just as well be seen as positive. Clearly the traditional reading dates from the second century (see church fathers). Scribal parablepsis is also a clear possibility to explain the shorter reading, adapted by the modern critical text. There is no compelling reason to abandon the traditional reading.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
In one of Scott Meadows’ sermons on worship he cites from “Affirmation 2010,” a doctrinal and practical statement sponsored by The Bible League and drawn up by a group of ministers in the UK. This document lists a series of affirmations and denials. In part 10 on “Reverence in Worship,” after affirming “the concept of reverence for God,” it offers this rejection:
We reject the spirit prevailing in many churches with its tendency to turn worship into nothing more than worldly entertainment. It grieves us that, in God’s house, ministers so often choose to dress casually and conduct themselves in an undignified manner, as it also grieves us that congregations are prone to follow their bad examples, becoming cavalier about God and His holiness and behaving in a most unworthy and unseemly manner. The reverence and awe of God have tragically all but disappeared in our day.
Friday, August 12, 2011
Note: Here are our sermon texts and titles and worship songs for the remainder of August. In morning worship we are continuing our exposition of the book of Romans. In afternoon worship, we begin a new series on the Letters to the Seven Churches (Revelation chapters 2-3).
Opening Psalm: Psalm 37
Message: How shall they hear? (Romans 10:14-15)
No. 268 Christ is made the sure foundation
Psalm 43 (ST. AGNES)
Psalm 22:23-31 (AZMON)
Opening Psalm: Psalm 38
Message: Ephesus: The Loveless Church (Revelation 2:1-7)
Psalm 50:7-15 (ST. THOMAS)
No. 188 There is a fountain
No. xvi Doxology (first tune)
Opening Psalm: Psalm 39
Message: I have stretched forth my hands (Romans 10:16-21)
No. 89 Come, thou Almighty King
No. 461 Psalm 130 (NEW TUNE)
No. 17 (CCH) Come, Ye Sinners
Opening Psalm: Psalm 40
Message: Smyrna: The Suffering Church (Revelation 2:8-11)
Psalm 7:1-8 (TOULON)
No. 710 I Need Thee Every Hour
Psalm 7:9-17 (TOULON)
Opening Psalm: Psalm 41
Message: A Remnant (Romans 11:1-10)
No. 269 Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken
No. 125 Psalm 145:1-10
Psalm 46 (EIN’ FESTE BURG)
Opening Psalm: Psalm 42
Message: Pergamos: The Compromised Church (Revelation 2:12-17)
No. 143 Majestic Sweetness sits enthroned
Psalm 107:1-16 (FOUNTAIN)
No. 285 Blest be the tie (DENNIS)
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Photo: Friends enjoying the 2011 CRBC Vacation Bible School.
Sunday before last I shared a few practical thoughts on stewardship during our offering time at CRBC. Here’s a summary of what I shared (with a few things added):
It is summertime, and August is coming up, which means time for vacations. Let’s be clear that we do not begrudge anyone the opportunity of taking a vacation. We all need the rest, relaxation, re-creation, and family bonding that can take place on vacations. In fact, most of you know that my family has also taken a vacation. We certainly do not expect anyone to be present here 52 out of 52 Sundays per year.Let me address in this season, however, two very practical aspects of stewardship: the stewardship of our time and the stewardship of our money.
First, with regard to our time, please be aware that with several of our families gone on vacation nearly every Lord’s Day in August, it is important that the rest of us who are in town be present for our Lord’s Day services (morning worship, lunch, afternoon worship), unless providentially hindered. We need to be here to worship the Lord and to present a public witness for Christ on behalf of our church. As members we obviously need to be present in the afternoon service to share in the Lord’s Supper together. This has typically not been a problem for our body since our members know and fulfill their commitment to be present on the Lord’s Day. In fact, we most often have 90-100% of our members present on the Lord’s Day, and we often have as many folk attend our afternoon service as our morning service. We come together not because it is a burden but because it is a joy and a privilege to worship our Lord together.
Second, with regard to our money it is important that we plan to give consistently and intentionally. In 1 Corinthians 16:2 Paul wrote to the church at Corinth with this instruction: “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” This verse tells us that the early church gathered on the Lord’s Day and that they collected offerings. The apostle knew that if the saints gave consistently on the Lord’s Day there would be no need for special collections (“gatherings”) to support the ministry when he came. A few years back my family used to give our offering on a monthly basis. After contemplating this verse, however, we started giving our offering on a weekly basis (Lord’s Day to Lord’s Day). I am not suggesting that this is the pattern everyone must follow. Your family has to make your own decision on this. For us, however, it has helped our observance of the Lord’s Day to make an intentional weekly offering. Of course, if you miss a week in attendance, you should make up for the offering you missed at the next available opportunity. You should not lessen or neglect your giving just because you miss being physically present.
This summer, as throughout the year, let’s be good stewards of both our time and money, to the glory of God.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
I've been listening this week to a sermon series titled "A Call to Pure Worship" by D. Scott Meadows of Calvary Baptist Church of Exeter, New Hampshire.
There are two sermons on The Corruption of Pure Worship, four sermons on The Standard of Worship, and four sermons on The Inspiration of Worship.
You can also read the sermons online (starting here).
I especially appreciated pastor Meadows' insightful application of Jeroboam's corruption of worship with contemporary declension in this message.
Tuesday, August 09, 2011
NPR did a segment this morning titled Evangelicals Question the Existence of Adam and Eve. The report clearly had a bias against the traditional, Biblical position, presenting "Christian scholars" who embrace evolution as heroic and persecuted. At the least, Al Mohler, SBC pundit, did get a few comments in defending traditional perspective.
The low point came in a comparison drawn at the end to "the church" opposing Galileo. The problems with "Galileo" story is that is falsely presents Christianity as opposed to the advances of "science." The truth is that modern science and technology developed from a Biblical worldview which saw the creation as inherently good and mankind as possessing dominion to master, explore, and understand God's creation. Science flourished in areas where Christianity (and especially Protestantism) exerted a dominant influence (Northern and Western Europe and North America). The opposition to Galileo did not come from "Christianity" but from the Roman Catholic church which was committed to extrabiblical pagan philosophy (the geocentric universe).
Listening to this report also made me appreciate Dr. David Murray's timely address at last year's Keach Conference, titled The Quest for the Historical Adam.
I saw this video clip of a recent talk by John Piper at a meeting of Christian booksellers at Justin Taylor’s blog. Piper spends about half the time talking about the 400th anniversary of the Tyndale/KJV and the other half on the doctrine of Scripture.
Here are a few things I found interesting from the first half of the talk:
1. Piper presents the idea that the RSV/ESV proceeds from the Tyndale/KJV tradition.
This reminded me of similar comments by Leland Ryken in his book The Legacy of the King James Bible (Crossway, 2011) [see my review and response, pp. 16-22]. Around the 10:00 minute mark, Piper notes that in the translation of the RSV there was a disagreement between Moffatt (who wanted the RSV language to follow the Tyndale/KJV) and Goodspeed (who wanted the RSV language to be completely new). He then reads from the RSV preface to contend that Moffatt “won” this dispute.
Of course, behind this argument is a promotion for the ESV which is a revision of the RSV. Piper, Ryken, and others would like to see the ESV as the heir to the KJV as the most read and used English Bible. Sidenote: Though he ESV has made significant gains, especially among the YRR crowd, it still lags significantly behind in sales. Rather than sweeping the market it has more or less added to an already crowded field (according to the August sales stats, the ESV is only at number 5, behind the NIV, KJV, New Living Translation, and NKJV, and just ahead of the Holman Christian Standard Bible at no. 6 and The Message at no. 8).
I believe that this argument, however, is seriously flawed. I believe a study of the language of the RSV/ESV would show that it is actually a departure from the Tyndale/KJV tradition. Most significantly, it departs from the underlying text that was used by Tyndale and the KJV translators (the MT of the OT and the TR of the NT). The RSV/ESV must trace its roots to the 1881 English Revised Version, which was , in fact, conceived to overthrow the dominance of the Tyndale/KJV tradition, particularly with regard to its text.
2. Piper expresses his own preference for the RSV tradition.
This begins around the 12:00 minute mark. Piper laments that the RSV went out of print in 1990 when the gender inclusive NRSV, used by the mainline denominations, was completed. He notes that he got his first RSV as a college student in 1966 and it was his Bible of choice for c. 45 years. He even says he used it as a pew Bible (at Bethlehem BC?). I found this curious given the critique of the RSV by traditional Christians. Surely, Piper does not approve of the RSV rendering of passages like Isaiah 7:14.
3. Piper makes confusing reference to Crossway’s attainment of the RSV copyright.
Around the 13:39 mark, Piper makes reference to Crossway’s attainment of the copyright of the RSV to produce the ESV. He sees this as a fortuitous providence. He does not mention that the copyright permission was attained from the ultra-liberal National Council of Churches or under what terms. It is also a bit confusing because Crossway does not appear to have attained exclusive copyright to the RSV, given that the title page of each copy of the ESV continues to list the copyright as belonging to the NCC: “The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV) is adapted from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. All rights reserved.”
4. Piper contends that the ESV follows in the Tyndale tradition in its phraseology.
Again, I would like to do a bit more study on this. The RSV/ESV does indeed have some overlap with the Tyndale/KJV, as almost any “essentially literal” translation would, given their dependence on the Hebrew and Greek original texts. I think closer study, however, would likely show that the ESV has a stronger family resemblance to the 1881 Revised Version than the Tyndale/KJV. Like father, like son.
To test this hypothesis here is a sampling of three passages in Tyndale, KJV, RSV, and ESV (Note: I have included only the body of the main text, excluding footnotes in the RSV/ESV):
First example: Mark 9:43-48:
Tyndale: And if thy hand offend thee, cut him off. It is better for thee, to enter into life maimed, then to go, with two hands into hell, into fire that never shall be quenched, where their worm dieth not, and the fire never goeth out. And if thy foot offend thee, cut him off. It is better for thee to go halt into life, than with ij. feet to be cast into hell, into fire that never shall be quenched: where their worm dieth not, and the fire never goeth out? And if thine eye offend thee pluck him out. It is better for thee to go into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: where their worm dieth not, and the fire never goeth out.
KJV: And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
RSV: And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.
ESV: And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’
Second example: Romans 3:13:
Tyndale: Their throat is an open sepulchre, with their tongues they have deceived: the poison of Aspes is under their lips.
KJV: Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:
RSV: "Their throat is an open grave, they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of asps is under their lips."
ESV: “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
Third example: 1 Corinthians 15:33
Tyndale: Be not deceived: malicious speakings corrupt good manners.
KJV: Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
RSV: Do not be deceived: "Bad company ruins good morals.”
ESV: Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
Conclusion on this point: These three examples are hardly conclusive, but they clearly show how the RSV/ESV departs from the Tyndale/KJV tradition.