Friday, July 19, 2019

The Vision (7.19.19): So Solomon built the house

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on 1 Kings 6.

So Solomon built the house and finished it (1 Kings 6:14).

We are continuing our study of 1 Kings, the first part of which (1 Kings 1—11) concerns the reign of King Solomon, known for two things: (1) his wisdom; and (2) building the temple.

Five of these first 11 chapters are devoted in part or whole to the temple:

1 Kings 5: Preparation
1 Kings 6: Building
1 Kings 7: Furnishings
1 Kings 8: Dedication
1 Kings 9: Blessing

In 1 Kings 5, we saw Solomon’s preparation. The temple would not just pop out of thin air, but he has to make the plans, procures the materials, and provide for the labor to fulfill this goal.

Now, in 1 Kings 6 we see the fulfillment of those plans. If 1 Kings 5:5 is the key verse for the “preparation” chapter (“And , behold, I purpose to build an house unto the name of the LORD my God…”), then 1 Kings 6:14 is the key verse for the “building/fulfillment” chapter (“So Solomon built the house and finished it.”).

We no longer have or need a physical temple, because Christ is our temple and our once for all sacrifice. These chapters are then perhaps most helpful in that they address the centrality of worship in the life of the believers. Solomon knew that his most important duty in the sphere of influence the Lord had given him as king was to lead his people rightly to worship the Lord.

A spiritual lesson to be learned: We do not need merely the desire or the plan to serve the Lord, but we need also the resolve to see it through. This means we must finish what we start. We must persevere as the Lord completes the good work he has begun in us (Phil 1:6).

In Luke 14 Christ taught his followers to count the cost of discipleship. He compared the commitment to become a disciple to being like a man who intended to build a tower and who first had to sit down and count the cost “whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish” (vv. 28-30).

May the Lord give us the grace to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow him.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Eusebius, EH.3.11-16: Simeon of Jerusalem & Clement of Rome

Image: Defaced marble bust (c. AD 70) of the Roman Emperor Vespasian (c. AD 9-79), Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Museum, Copenhagen.

A new episode is posted to the series on Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical History: book 3, chapters 11-16. Listen here.

Notes and Commentary:

In these brief chapters Eusebius describes the continuation of the Christian communities in the time after the fall of Jerusalem, during the reign of the Roman Emperors Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian. The focus is on the cities of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Rome, key center of early Christianity.

Chapter 11: Eusebius notes the importance of “the family of the Lord” in the church at Jerusalem, in the selection of Simeon, son of Clopas, to succeed James as bishop. He asserts that Simeon was the son of Clopas (Cleopas), the brother of Joseph (according to a tradition from Hegessipus). This is the Cleopas mentioned in Luke 24:18 (Cleopas as one of the two disciples who met the risen Lord on the way to Emmaus) and John 19:26 (Mary of Cleopas).

Chapter 12: This notes Vespasian’s efforts to seek out the family of David to avoid future insurrections.

Chapter 13: This notes the Roman imperial succession from Vespasian to Titus to Domitian, and also the Roman church succession from Linus to Anencletus.

Chapter 14: This notes the succession in the church of Alexandria from Annianus to Abilius in the fourth year of Domitian.

Chapter 15: This notes the succession in the church of Rome from Anencletus to Clement (cf. Phil 4:3) in the twelfth year of Domitian.

Chapter 16: This notes the “long and wonderful” epistle of Clement of Rome to the church at Corinth. For a review of Clement's epistle, see WM 113.


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Eusebius, EH.3.9-10: Josephus and the OT Canon

This is an occasional series of readings from and brief notes and commentary upon Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical History: book 3, chapters 9-10. Listen here.

Notes and Commentary:

Eusebius here offers a sketch of the life and writings of Josephus, the Jewish historian whose works he uses throughout the EH. He also includes Josephus’s description of the canon of the Hebrew Bible.

In chapter 9, he provides the sketch of Josephus.

He notes that Josephus was among the most famous Jews of the first century, having first fought against the Romans and then having joined with them in the Jewish war.

Among his literary works he notes the Antiquities of the Jews in 20 volumes and the Jewish War in 7 volumes.

He also notes another work in 2 books which he calls On the ancientness of the Jews, and which Lake notes is better known as Against Apion.

In chapter 10, Eusebius cites a passage in Against Apion in which Josephus describes the Jewish canon as consisting of 22 books (the same number as the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, though Josephus does not make this point). This number is presumably the same as the 39 books of the OT made by joining books into one volume.

He notes three parts of the Hebrew Bible:

First, 5 books of the law of Moses.

Second, 13 books of the prophets, covering the time from Moses to Artaxerxes.

Third, 4 books of “hymns to God and precepts for the life of men.” This would presumably be the Psalms and wisdom books.

He adds that there have been more recent works of history from Artaxerxes to his present (presumably 1-2 Maccabees, etc.) but that these “are not considered worthy of equal credence with the rest.”

He notes especially that the Jews do not dare to make “additions, omissions, or changes” to their Scripture and that they know this innately and are then taught from birth to regard the Scriptures as the decrees of God.

Finally, he notes that Josephus is also credited with writing a work titled “The Supremacy of Reason” or “Maccabees” (Lake: 4 Maccabees).

Josephus’s works are indeed a very important historical source for Eusebius in reconstructing the record of early Christianity. He remains an important source today.


Sunday, July 14, 2019

Eusebius, EH:3.8: "Clear Marvels" that forecast Jerusalem's doom

Image: View of Jerusalem, 1921, by Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

Another entry is added to the series on Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical History: book 3, chapter 8. Listen here.

Notes and Commentary:

In the previous chapter (3.7) having discussed Christ’s prophecies of the fall of Jerusalem, Eusebius in this chapter (3.8) reviews a number of ill omens that supposedly also predicted its fall and destruction as described by Josephus.

These include:

A star that stood over the city and a comet that lasted a year;
A light that shone on the altar and temple for half an hour at the Feast of Unleavened Bread;
At the same feast, a cow that gave birth to a lamb;
The opening of a heavy, bronze gate in the temple on its own;
The appearance of a demonic phantom;
At Pentecost, the sounds of an invisible host in the air;
The “woes” of Jesus (Joshua) son of Ananias during the Feast of Booths;
And a “sacred script” that one from that country should rule the world, which Josephus took as a reference to Vespasian but Eusebius to Christ.

To modern ears these may seem like little more than superstitious fantasies, but Eusebius takes them seriously, though less so than he does the prophecies of Jesus in the Gospels.


Saturday, July 13, 2019

Eusebius, EH.3.7: Christ's Prophecies of the Fall of Jerusalem

Image: Destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, painting, 1867, by Francesco Hayez (1791-1882).

Another episode is posted to the series on Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical History: book 3, chapter 7. Listen here.

Notes and Commentary:

Eusebius continues to stress the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans in AD 70 as “the reward of the iniquity of the Jews and of their impiety against the Christ of God.”

He also stresses that the fall of Jerusalem had been accurately prophesied by Jesus himself in his teaching ministry.

He cites Josephus’ estimate that 1.1 million died by famine and sword and that 90,000 under age 17 were sold into slavery.

He then recalls again Christ’s prophecies against the city, especially in Luke chapters 19 and 21. Eusebius expresses none of the modern skepticism that sees these as mere ex eventu prophecies. Rather, he sees this an indisputable evidence of Christ’s divine character and of the supernatural character of his words.

He also sees it as especially appalling that a robber and murderer (Barabbas) was released rather than “the author of life.”

Finally, he notes that despite such insults, it is a sign of divine long-suffering that the fall of Jerusalem came only 40 years after Christ’s crucifixion.


Friday, July 12, 2019

The Vision: I purpose to build an house

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on 1 Kings 5.

“And, behold, I purpose to build an house unto the name of the LORD my God….” (1 Kings 5:5a).

Solomon is known for two key things:

First, he was a man of great wisdom (see 1 Kings 3—4).

Second, he built the temple in Jerusalem.

This second great achievement begins to be described in 1 Kings 5 (the preparations for building) and continues in 1 Kings 6 (the completion of the building), 1 Kings 7 (the vessels and furnishings of the temple), 1 Kings 8 (the dedication of the temple), and even in 1 Kings 9 (the blessing that comes to King Solomon by building the temple).

If you’ve ever built a house or had a house built you know the excitement of looking over the plans and imagining what it will look like. And you likely also know the less exciting but necessary part of making a financial plan to be able to secure the realization of the project. And for the physical builder, he also has to assemble the materials, be they blocks, lumber, plywood, sheetrock, etc. to complete the project.

A house does not just pop up out of thin air. And Solomon’s temple did not just materialize out of nowhere. The Lord was pleased to use means. He made Solomon the chief instrument to bring about the construction of this place of worship.

Overall, this passage teaches us about the importance of worship. Consider these four points:

First: Worship must be a priority in the believer’s life.

Solomon’s first priority as a leader over Israel was to make provision for worship, to build a central place of worship.

Worship must be a spiritual priority for us as well. This includes not only private worship but especially public worship.

Second: Worship must be regulated not by the preferences of men (“will-worship”) but by the design of God.

The detailed and orderly construction of Solomon’s temple reflects the Regulative Principle of worship.

True worship is not that which comes from human whims and imaginations, but it is giving to the Lord that which he desires from us.

Third: True worship requires proper preparation.

Notice the intentionality and the preparation of Solomon. Such is also required of us. We must order our lives aright.

Fourth: True worship now comes not in a place but in a person.

The temple that Solomon built would be destroyed by the Babylonians, rebuilt by the exiles who returned led by men like Ezra and Nehemiah, refurbished by Herod, and destroyed again by the Romans in AD 70, and there has never been another temple built to replace it.

The early Christians were considered strange, because they had no physical temple. They looked not to a place but to a person: the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is indeed our temple. Let us worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Thursday, July 11, 2019

WM 127: Interview: Robert Truelove on Text and Canon Conference

WM 127: Interview: Robert Truelove on Text and Canon Conference has been posted. Listen here.

In this interview with Truelove, Pastor of Christ Reformed Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia, we discuss his testimony, pastoral ministry, and interest in the text of Scripture.

We also discuss the upcoming Text and Canon Conference which will be hosted at his church on October 25-26, 2019. See the conference website here.


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Eusebius, EH.3.5-6: Starvation during the Siege of Jerusalem

Image: Close-up of the Arch of Titus, Rome, constructed AD 82, depicting Roman looting of the Jerusalem temple in AD 70.

A new episode has been added to the series on Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical History: book 3, chapters 5-6. Listen here.

Notes and Commentary:

This chapter focuses on the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70, as well as the horrendous sufferings undergone by the inhabitants of Jerusalem during the siege and before the fall of the city.

Josephus is used a source for much of the information.

In chapter 5 reference is made to a group of Christians in Jerusalem who were “commanded by an oracle” to flee the city before its destruction to settle in the city of Pella of the region Perea.

Eusebius sees the destruction of Jerusalem during the Passover season as a clear sign of this having been divine retribution for the crucifixion of Jesus.

In chapter 6 he describes the grotesque sufferings of those under siege in Jerusalem. These focus on accounts of hunger and starvation, that led to infighting and terrible acts of inhumanity. Not only did the beleaguered inhabitants begin to eat belts, shoes, and leather stripped from their shields, but they also turned to cannibalism.

The low point comes in the account of a woman named Mary of Bathezor, who, driven mad with hunger, killed, cooked, and ate her infant son.


Tuesday, July 09, 2019

WM 126: Review: Dillehay on the Ending of Mark

I have posted WM 126: Review: Dillehay on the Ending of Mark. Listen here.

In this episode I review part of a sermon from June 16, 2016 (look at this sermon page to find the entire original message) by Pastor Justin Dillehay of Grace Baptist Church of Hartsville, TN.

I looked up the message after reading Pastor Dillehay's Gospel Coalition article on dealing with textual variants (referenced in WM 123).

This is one of several WMs that have reviewed various contemporary preachers and teachers who reject the authenticity and originality of the traditional ending of Mark (16:9-20). See the WM archives for WMs 4, 35, 44, 60-63, 64, 65, 66.

For more detailed arguments regarding external evidence in defense of Mark's traditional ending, see my article "The Ending of Mark as a Canonical Crisis" in Puritan Reformed Journal Vol. 10, No. 1 (January 2018): 31-54.


Friday, July 05, 2019

The Vision (7.5.19): And God gave Solomon wisdom

Image: Another scene from 2019 CRBC VBS.

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on 1 Kings 4.

And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is one the sea shore” (1 Kings 4:29).

The historian tells us the source of the blessings that came to Israel through Solomon: “And God gave Solomon wisdom…” (v. 29). It did not come from Solomon himself but from the Lord. One commentator observes: “Grace explains wisdom” (Davis, 1 Kings, p. 49).

As James wrote, “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.” Where does wisdom come from? Proverbs 9:10: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” If we do not get this right everything else will be askew, off-kilter, or, as they say in Appalachian English, sigogglin.

Solomon’s wisdom, like the number of the nation of Israel, was as the sand of the seashore! (v. 29b).

His wisdom excelled that of the men of the East and of Egypt (v. 30).

He was wiser than the other sages of Israel, like Ethan the Ezrahite (credited with writing Psalm 89), Heman (the name means “faithful”; credited with writing Psalm 88), Chalcol and Darda, the sons of Mahol (v. 31a). His fame spread beyond the boundaries of Israel (v. 31b). He was internationally known for his wisdom. In 1 Kings 10 we read about the queen of Sheba hearing of his fame and coming “to prove him with hard questions” (v. 1).

He spoke 3,000 proverbs (v. 32a). We know Solomon as the father of Biblical wisdom literature, including as author of much of the book of Proverbs. He wrote 1,005 songs (v. 32b). Psalms 72 and 127 are attributed to him, as is the Song of Songs.

He was a naturalist, an arborist, a biologist, a zoologist (v. 33). A wise man appreciates the beauty and complexity of the natural world and praises the Designer who created and sustains it all.

Solomon was a man of great wisdom, but in the fullness of time a greater than Solomon has come. He is, as Paul described him, the power and wisdom of God (1 Cor 1:24). The Lord Jesus Christ would himself declare, “a greater than Solomon is here” (Matt 12:42). True wisdom comes from the fear of Christ.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Eusebius, EH.3.4: Paul's Fellow Workers

Another episode is posted to the series on Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical History: book 3, chapter 4. Listen here.

Notes and Commentary:

This chapter focuses on Paul and his apostolic associates and their role as pastors in the early churches.

Paul is cited as the one who “laid the foundations of the churches from Jerusalem round about unto Illyricum.”

Eusebius says that though Paul had many (even thousands) of fellow-workers but proceeds to focus on those mentioned in Paul’s letters and in Acts. These include:

Timothy, first bishop of Ephesus.

Titus (Titus 1:5), bishop of the churches in Crete.

Luke of Antioch, the physician. He is acknowledged as the writer of the Gospel of Luke and Acts. Eusebius claims that Paul cited Luke’s Gospel, saying, “according to my Gospel.”

Crescens (2 Timothy 4:10), sent by Paul to Gaul.

Linus (2 Tim 4:21), first, after Peter, as bishop of Rome.

Clement (Phil 4:3), third bishop of Rome.

Dionysius of the Areopagus, of Athens [Acts 17:34; and as noted by Dionysius of Corinth].

It is difficult to determine whether this information rests on any firm historical footing other than what is gleaned from sporadic minor references to these figures in Paul’s letters. Still, it does suggest admiration for Paul and a desire to trace leadership succession from the apostles in the early churches.


Friday, June 28, 2019

The Vision (6.28.19): Ask what I shall give thee

Image: CRBCers visiting residents at Epworth Manor last Sunday afternoon and handing out potted plants with Scripture verses made at VBS (6.23.19).

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on 1 Kings 3:

1 Kings 3:5: In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.

1 Kings 3:9: Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?

1 Kings 3:10: And the speech pleased the LORD, that Solomon had asked this thing.

The Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night (v. 5a) and says to him, “Ask what I shall give thee” (v. 5b).

Solomon offers a prayerful response. One commentator observed: “we may rightly take Solomon’s prayer as instructive in the art of prayer” (Dale Ralph Davis, 1 Kings, 34).

Solomon begins by rehearsing the Lord’s goodness in fulfilling his promise to David his father, that he would have a son sit on the throne of Israel (vv. 6-7a; cf. 2 Sam 7:12ff).

We also see Solomon’s humility as he says, “and I am but a little child…” (v. 7b). Think of how dependent a child is on his parents to care for him. Such was Solomon’s dependence on the heavenly Father.

Solomon further notes the honor of his having been set “in the midst” as king among God’s people (v. 8).

Solomon then asks the Lord to give him a heart of understanding (or, a “hearing heart”), so that he might judge the people and discern between good and evil (v. 9). The word “heart” does not have the sentimental meaning of modern usage, but it refers to the seat of the intellect, affection, and will.

Solomon was asking not how he might be served but how he might serve God’s people through obedience.

This pleased the Lord (v. 10). We want to be God-pleasers and not man-pleasers. We want to have the smile of God on our words and deeds. Solomon had this peculiar favor!

Now consider how you might respond should the Lord say to you, “Ask what I shall give thee.” What do you need or want most from the Lord? Would you ask for something that merely pleases the flesh? Or, would you ask the Lord to give you an understanding heart, so that you might best serve him and his people?

Consider James 1:5: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Eusebius, EH.3.1-3: The Apostles and Their Writings

Image: St. Paul Writing to the Thessalonians, c. 1629, by Jan Lievens (1607-1674)

A new post has been added to the series on Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical History: Book 3, chapters 1-3 (listen here):

Notes and Commentary:

Book 3 begins with an account of the apostles and a discussion of the canonicity of some of the early Christian writings.

Chapter 1 notes the scattering of the apostles:

Thomas: Parthia

Andrew: Scythia

John: Asia (Ephesus)

Peter: To Jews of the dispersion and then Rome where he died as a martyr.

Paul: From Jerusalem to Illyria and a martyr’s death in Rome.

The source cited is Origen’s commentary on Genesis.

Chapter 2 is brief and notes Linus (cf. 2 Tim 4:21) as the first bishop of Rome after the deaths of Peter and Paul.

Chapter 3 discusses the early writings.

Of Peter’s writings only 1 Peter is noted as beyond dispute. 2 Peter is not held to be canonical by some but is received by others.

Other works associated with Peter like the Acts of Peter, the Gospel of Peter, the Preaching of Peter, and the Revelation (Apocalypse) of Peter, says Eusebius, are not acknowledged “among the catholics [en katholikois]” or cited by any ancient or contemporary “orthodox writer [ekklesiastikos sungrapheus].”

Among Paul’s writings, Eusebius notes the 14 letter of Paul, among which Hebrews was challenged by the church of Rome with regard to whether it was by Paul.

The Acts of Paul is rejected.

The Shepherd of Hermas (cf. Rom 16:14) has also been rejected but found useful by some for use with those who need “elementary instruction.”

Here we see the process of the recognition (not formation) of the canon at work.


Friday, June 21, 2019

The Vision (6.21.19): The LORD shall return thy wickedness

Image: CRBC 2019 VBS Crew! Great week of learning about the life of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew.

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on 1 Kings 2.

Therefore the Lord shall return thy wickedness upon thine own head (1 Kings 2:44b).

Solomon’s ending statement here concerning the just punishment of Shimei stands out.

This same principle is expressed by Paul in Galatians 6:7: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

Eastern religions have the concept of karma, a distortion of this truth. A popular adage likewise says, “What goes around, comes around.”

The Biblical idea is different, however, because it does not posit some impersonal force, but the monitoring and intervention of a sovereign and just God. God is not mocked! He will not wink at our sin! If you live in an ungodly manner you will meet an ungodly end!

What does our sin deserve? It deserves the wrath of God. We deserve to have our wickedness brought down upon our heads, to reap what we have sown.

We deserve not only temporal punishment but eternal punishment.

A fundamental dilemma within the human experience is here expressed. God is holy and righteous, and he has holy and righteous standards with respect to which we have fallen short.

We are all like Adonijah in our pride and over-reaching.

We are all like Abiathar in that we have failed in our religious duties.

We are all like Joab in that we have been prone to violence, lust for revenge, and unjust anger.

We are all like Shimei in that we have cursed at just authority and trespassed gracious boundaries set for us.

And we are all also like David and Solomon too in their distinctive sins.

The prophet Isaiah, who ministered during the twilight of the Kingdom of Judah, would prophesy of a mysterious suffering servant who would come. He would be “wounded for our transgressions” and the Lord would lay on him “the iniquity of us all” (Isa 53:5-6).

Then, in the fullness of time, Christ came. Of him Paul would write: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (Rom 5:8-9).

Yes, we deserve to have our wickedness returned upon our own heads, to reap what we have sown. But the good news of the gospel is that Christ has reaped for us what we have sown.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Thursday, June 20, 2019

WM 125: Q & A:: Text, Translation, Preservation, Canon

I have posted WM 125: Q & A: Text, Translation, Preservation, Canon. You can listen here. In this episode I respond to three recent sets of questions sent to me by podcast listeners. Below are the questions (in italic) and my response notes (in bold):

Question one:

Hello Dr. Riddle,

Might you consider this Q/A for a Word Magazine broadcast (unless you’ve already addressed it; I don’t recall coming across this anywhere yet)?  When one holds to the Traditional/Confessional Text, how should we view and interact with: (i) the Critical Text (i.e. text(s) resulting from Reasoned Eclecticism); (ii) English translations from the CT?  This, particularly in light of the reality that, if one holds to the TT one would presumably view the CT as being an “adding to or taking away from” Scripture, which is a most serious thing.  Thus, do we view the CT and translations thereof still as Scripture, as parts of Scripture, as study resources only, or in some other type of category?


See Confession 1:8

I can use critical texts and translations based upon them as study tools.

As far as translations go, I can consider them the Word of God to the degree that they reflect the Hebrew and Greek original. In places where they depart from the original, they are deficient.

For authoritative study, preaching, and teaching I will prefer to study the received text and translations based upon it.

Will this be a test of fellowship? I can have fellowship with those who disagree but I reserve the right to advocate for my position.

Practically speaking I think it is wise for a local church to have an agreed upon text for its liturgical and doctrinal ministries. I prefer the traditional text.

Question two:

Hope this finds you well!

I want to get a better understanding of your view of the preservation of scripture. I've been thinking about what we can both agree it's not. Do we agree on these bullet points?

Response: I am not a fan of this format. Rather than offer some interpretation of what you think I may or may not agree with why not simply take something I have written or said and note your own agreement or disagreement?

Preservation does not mean a guarantee that God's people somewhere on earth will have the perfectly preserved word at any given point in time. The Textas Receptas [Textus Receptus?] did not exist until the 16th century. There was no Greek manuscript that perfectly matched the TR prior to the TR. Thus, if the TR is the perfectly inspired and preserved Word of God, then no single person [manuscript?] contained the perfectly inspired word of God prior to the 16th century. And moreover, it was centuries after Christ before any Christians had the full cannon in possession anyway.


I disagree with every sentence in this statement.

Preservation means that God’s Word has been “kept pure in all ages” (confession 1:8).

The received text did not come into existence only in the sixteenth century. It is identical with the divine original.

Since it is identical with the divine original, there were Greek mss. that “matched the TR” from the beginning. Thus, there were mss. that contained the inspired and preserved Word of God from the beginning.

Christians had the “full canon” the moment the last canonical book was written.

Preservation does not mean a guarantee that translations won't mess things up. No translation is perfect. Theological Propaedeutic [Philip Schaff, 1892] on page 193 gives a list of places where the KJV mistranslates things, for instance, including a place where it gets the gender wrong, being imprecisely gender-neutral instead of masculine.


On translations, see again Confession 1:8.

I am not familiar with this Schaff work but know he was a modern critical text advocate.

I would have to review his perceived KJV “mistranslations” one by one to see if they have any merit or if, as I suppose, they might be contested.

By extension, preservation does not mean a guarantee that meaningful numbers of Christians will have access to the perfectly preserved Word. Most people cannot read Greek and Hebrew. Therefore the overwhelming majority of Christians in church history have not had meaningful access to the perfectly preserved word of God


I disagree with the first sentence. See again Confession 1:8.

I agree with sentence two but disagree with sentence three. Muslims believe you must know Arabic to read and understand the Koran, but Christians do NOT believe that you must know Hebrew and Greek to read and understand the Bible.

Preservation does not guarantee that the Bible does not change from one generation to the next. The TR changed much in the 16th century, and conjectural emendations such as the TR's reading of Luke 2:22, based purely on theological reasons, were later found to have (admittedly very narrow) manuscript evidence. I don't think it's putting words in anyone's mouth to say that a TR advocate would point to this as a divine attestation that the conjecture was providential and well-founded; but underlying this conviction betrays the admission that new manuscript discoveries can indeed influence our position and that this need not be shied away from.


I disagree with every sentence in this paragraph.

Preservation does guarantee that the Bible does not change.

The printed TR tradition did not change much (i.e., it was not wildly unstable) in the sixteenth century and Luke 2:22 is not an example that proves a defeater for the Confessional Text position (see Agros podcast #12). Please note the distinction made by Jan Krans between an emendatio ingenii ope (‘emendation by means of reasoning’) and an  emendatio codice ope (‘emendation by means of manuscripts’).

You talk about how your disagreements with modern textual critics are a fundamental disagreement about the preservation of God's word. You also talk about the fact that maybe there are impurities in the TR or slight changes that ought to be made. Please correct me if I'm overstating the case of our agreement in these above tenants. I'm struggling to understand what a TR-only advocate's view of preservation is. 

As a point of reference, this is what I've mentally constructed, based on our areas of agreement, as to what a TR advocates' view of preservation looks like. "For the first 15 centuries nobody had the Word of God in its full purity. There were editions that came close, but none of them fully hit the mark, for none of them matched the TR. And then through a one hundred years of editing through textual criticism of liberals who denied justification by faith and who in their doctrinal impurity are similar to modern 20th and 21st century textual critics, we went through the process of getting the TR. The changes were evolutionary and demonstrably based on scientific study of the available texts when we read these scholars in their own words. Lots of changes were made throughout this 100 years, many of them speculative, many of them seemingly in error, but through God's providence, what emerged is the closest thing we're ever going to get, nay, even the perfect Word of God. And any attempt to revisit this (including the efforts of Maurice A. Robinson at assembling a Byzantine priority text that seeks to fix the perceived problems in the TR) are unnecessary and should be decried as a rejection of the Received Text and a waste of time." 

Is that woefully missing the mark? How off am I? I want to fairly understand the case as best as possible.


Your “reconstruction” of the TR position is not something I recognize. What is this 100 year process? Who were the scholars working on this who rejected justification by faith and held other doctrinal errors similar to those held by modern text critics of the nineteenth century? Are you talking about Erasmus? This was not true of the Protestant orthodox (like Stephanus and Beza) who produced the printed editions of the TR.

What is the TR advocate's view of preservation? If we agree on the bullets, where does the disagreement lie, exactly? It seems we both agree that things were messy for the first 15 centuries — failing to do so is to deny history, inasmuch as the TR has important deviations from the majority text and has no full support of any single manuscript. It seems we disagree on whether that messiness has continued for the past 5 centuries or not. But for two people to have a disagreement about something that occurred 75% into New Testament history does not require a fundamental disagreement about the nature of the preservation of scripture, which tells me that there's something more here. Something I'm missing or misunderstanding. Can you help me here? 



As noted above I have little, if any, agreement with the points you noted above.

The confessional text is NOT that “things were messy for the first 15 centuries.” No, God’s Word was “by His singular care and providence kept pure in all ages.” The true text has not been “messy.” It has always been challenged, abused, ridiculed, and attempts have been made to alter and distort it. This has been true since the time of the apostles (2 Peter 3:15-16; Rev 22:18-19). The printing, editing, and promulgating the traditional text was of providential importance in the sixteenth-seventeenth century, but God’s word has always been kept pure. Christ’s sheep have always heard his voice in it.

Question three:

Hello Pastor Jeff,

As time may allow you…

1.    Thx for your post Audio and Video available from SEBTS's 2019 "Linguistics and New Testament Greek" Conference at  Just wondering whether to dip in or not… my objective at present is to form a more solid understanding of text criticism and understand the key aspects to the “two sides”… will listening to the link(s) contribute to that personal objective in your view?   Was this conference curved toward reasoned eclecticism (deliberate or otherwise)?

2. Would you hold to the canon being closed at the Reformation rather than by, or toward the end, of the 300’s AD?  I’ve heard Pastor Truelove’s several sermons on this now and taking pause for thought… I think I understand the historical nature of canonicity, but it strikes me that closure of same late provides historically challenges if not practical textual ones (i.e. if the canon closed late why can’t the text similarly ‘settle’ late?).


On #1: Though a few of these lectures are pitched at an introductory level, most are pitched to those who hold at least an intermediate level of Greek. Much of this is relevant for text criticism and all speakers would likely support the reasoned eclectic view.

On #2: I would say the canon was closed when the last canonical book was written. The question is: When do we have the first instance when the canon was recognized/acknowledged? This was not defined confessionally until the Reformation era. Canon is still a dividing line between RC, Orthodox, and Protestants.