Stylos is the blog of Jeff Riddle, a Reformed Baptist Pastor in North Garden, Virginia. The title "Stylos" is the Greek word for pillar. In 1 Timothy 3:15 Paul urges his readers to consider "how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar (stylos) and ground of the truth."
Image (left side): Decorative urn with title for the book of Acts in Codex Alexandrinus.
Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the
sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou
hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and given
unto them for me and thee (Matthew 17:27).
This miracle is one of the most unusual in the Gospels. Only
Matthew has a record of it.
Men come asking Peter whether or not his master pays the “tribute”
(17:24). This is likely a reference to the Jewish “half-shekel” tax, extending
back to the time of Moses for the support of the tabernacle (and later temple)
worship (see Exodus 30:11-16).
When Peter comes to Christ to inquire, our Lord “prevents”
(gets ahead of) him by already knowing of the query (17:25). The Lord asks
whether kings take tribute from their children (sons) or from strangers? When
Peter says from strangers, the Lord declares, “Then the children [sons] are
His point is that since he is the Son of David (Matthew 1:1)
and the Son of God (Matthew 16:16), he need not pay the tax. Yet so as not to
offend (Greek: skandalizo) he sends Peter out to collect the funds needed
for the tribute, making provision in a most extraordinary manner (17:27).
He sends Peter, a fisherman, out to fish, not with a net, but
with a hook. He tells him to look in the mouth of the first fish he catches to
find a “piece of money,” and with it to pay the tribute for himself and Peter.
This is a miracle that modern naturalists love to hate. How could this be? And yet,
the believer knows that with God nothing is impossible.
What does this miracle mean? Rick Warren suggested years ago
it implied that evangelism (fishing) would result in adequate church funding. If
you catch them, they will give money! Clearly that is wrong.
The real point is the power of Christ. What a marvel of provision
this is! He superintended a coin to come into the mouth of the fish, Peter to
cast the hook, the fish to bite the hook, and Peter to discover the coin.
What is more, there is a foreshadowing of what is to come. He,
as Son of God, did not have to pay the price, and yet he did. What is more, he
paid it for Peter, his disciple. This anticipates his substitutionary atonement
on the cross.
He is, in fact, the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords.
Image: Close-up scene from "Jesus Curing An Epileptic Boy" in the Armenian Glajor Gospels, early 14th century.
Note: Devotional taken from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 17:14-21.
this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:21).
Lord’s Day we meditated on the intercession of a father for a troubled son in
Matthew 17:14-21. What spiritual lessons do we learn from this account?
First, we might say we learn something from the
pattern here. After being on the mountain of transfiguration and seeing
Christ’s glory, the disciples descend and are immediately confronted again with
the sin and misery of the fallen world. So too, in our spiritual lives, we too
experience times of other-worldly highs, but they are often followed by
experiences of our this-world reality.
Second, we learn something here about the power and
importance of intercessory prayer. A troubled father pleads with Christ for his
only son, tormented by a dumb spirit. For whom would you intercede before
Third, we learn something here about the power of
Christ. He speaks and the child was cured that very hour (v. 18).
Fourth, we learn from the failure of the apostles who
could not cure the lad because of their unbelief (v. 20). We are reminded that
without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).
learn also from the unbelief of the father who brought his son before Christ,
as he prayed, “Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24).
Fifth, we learn here about the power of the spiritual
disciplines of prayer and fasting. Christ exhorts us, as he did the apostles,
to exercise these disciplines. In Matthew 7:7-8 Christ exhorted the disciples to
ask, seek, and knock. Sadly, too often it is the case that we have not because
we ask not.
is it that deeply troubles you? Have you tried asking in prayer? Have you tried
are some kinds that “goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”
And [he] was transfigured before them: and his face did shine
as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light (Matthew 17:2).
The first three Gospels agree in saying that after Peter’s
confession and after Christ’s teaching on the suffering servant and the cost of
discipleship Jesus went up onto a mountain and was transfigured (cf. Matthew 16—17;
Mark 8—9; Luke 9). So, there is a threefold Gospel witness to this event.
Certainly, this was a milestone in the life and ministry of Christ. If one
thinks, however, of some of the key events in that life, like his birth in
Bethlehem, his baptism by John, his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, his passion
(the cross and resurrection), he may overlook the transfiguration.
When I was preparing the service for today, I looked in the Trinity
Hymnal to find a hymn that fit with the text but saw no entry for hymns on
the transfiguration (see vii).
Matthew’s description is minimal: “And he was
transfigured [metamorpheo] before them” (17:2a). He then adds that Christ’s
face literally lit up with glory, “and his face did shine as the sun” (v. 2).
What happens if you look directly at the sun? You are blinded. Matthew then
says, “his raiment was white as the light.” We get the sense of his clothing becoming
translucent. Mark says it was “exceeding white as snow, as no fuller on earth
can white them” (Mark 9:3).
This was an unusual event. There is really nothing else like
it in the Scriptures. It left a lasting impression on the eyewitnesses (see Peter’s
account in 2 Peter 1:16-18). It was a time when the divine nature of the Lord
Jesus was clearly revealed to a handful of his disciples. They saw, as it were,
the pre-incarnate glory of Christ (2 Cor 8:9).
This came on the heels of Christ’s teaching that
the Son of man had to suffer many things, be killed, and be raised on the third
day (Matthew 16:21). It was a revelation to the inner core of Christ’s
disciples as to the Lord Jesus’s true identity. One person with two natures:
true man and true God. Though he would suffer and die as a man, with respect to
his human nature, his glory, with respect to his divine nature, would not be
Just as the Father through his divine voice
declared at the commencement of his public ministry, “This is my beloved Son,
in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17), so a second stamp of approval is
given at the transfiguration as he moves toward the cross, with the added exhortation,
“hear ye him” (Matthew 17:5).
So, we too are encouraged to listen to Christ,
and we are reminded that one day we also will see him “face to face” in his
glory (1 Corinthians 13:12).
Responding to another comment by Mark Ward, regarding WM 241:
Dr. Riddle, I appreciate the time you took to offer some
answers. We do come from such different perspectives that I do not believe we
are ever going to come to agreement. I also will not demand that you engage
further, though I am willing and hoping for this to occur.
I do simply wish to request clarity on one thing
before proceeding in this discussion. CB proponents do always, in my long
experience, claim that there is a perfectly pure, preserved text of the New
Testament—and yet they just as commonly (in my long experience!) do not speak
clearly when they are asked the very natural and honest follow-up questions, 1)
"Which TR is the perfect one?" and 2) "Why that one instead of a
Do I take it that you are now answering that first
question with clarity? Are you saying indeed that Scrivener's TR is the perfect
TR? And am I correct in interpreting you to mean that a) every jot and tittle
God inspired in the autographs is present in Scrivener's TR, b) none is missing
or added, and c) all are in the right order? This is all I can take
"perfect" preservation to mean. My New Oxford American Dictionary
defines perfect as "free from any flaw or defect in condition or quality;
faultless"; it also gives "precisely accurate; exact." Is that
what "perfect" means to you?
I simply cannot see how these could be considered
"gotcha" questions. I truly do not understand your view even after
long listening, and I wish to represent you accurately. Do I? Have I stated
your view as you would state it?
Dr. Ward, I agree with R. L. Vaughan that your repeated
asking of the so-called “Which TR?” question is hard to take as genuine but
appears to be a “stratagem of debate.”
In fact, you yourself clearly answered the question in your 2020
article when you wrote that Scrivener’s TR is “used today by basically all who
prefer the TR” (53), adding, “The edition that is universally used is that provided
by the Trinitarian Bible Society” (53, n. 9).
I have clearly stated that my views are in line with the TBS’s
statement on the doctrine of Holy Scripture, that, in the NT, I make practical
use of Scrivener’s TR, that any individual passages where there are questions
about Scrivener’s TR should be examined on a case-by-case basis, and I have even
provided some principles for how such cases might be addressed.
I’d suggest that rather than trying to restate my view in
your own words that you just use my words themselves to define my position.
I am sorry if you do not think this response is adequate, or
that it is inconsistent with my belief that the Bible has been “kept pure in
Now, since I have answered your questions, would you please
answer a few of mine?
1.Would you respond to the three problems I
raised in WM 240 regarding your conflation of CB with KJVO? Given these problems,
do you still think that CB can reasonably and fairly be categorized as a variety
2.Do you believe that God’s Word is perfect and
that it has been “kept pure in all ages”?
3.Which modern critical text do you believe is
the Word of God (or the best approximation of it)?
4.Do you agree or disagree with Daniel Wallace’s
recent statement: “We do not now have—in our critical Greek texts or any
translations—exactly what the authors of the New Testament wrote. Even if we
did, we would not know it” (Myths and Mistakes, xii).
5.Do you agree with James White that any verse in
the Bible could possibly be changed based on new manuscript discoveries?
6.With reference to your preferred modern
critical text of the NT, what percentage of the that edition do you believe is
accurate and what percentage is questionable? Can you give specific examples of
7.Do you believe that Mark 16:9-20 is a spurious and
uninspired corruption and should be removed from the Bible?
8.Do you believe that John 7:53—8:11 is also a
spurious and uninspired corruption that should be removed from the Bible?
9.Do you believe that the modern text/translation
rendering of John 1:18 is theologically accurate?
10.Do you accept
the reading of 2 Peter 3:10 in the NA28 edition?
I look forward to your responses to these important questions.
Brother Riddle, I am not
"against the Authorized Version." I love and trust the KJV. If you
are asking for charitable descriptions of your position, I must ask the same.
This is a persistent misrepresentation of my view. I am not against the KJV anymore
than I am against the Wycliffe Bible. But if people insist on using it
exclusively in churches, I must call them to the standard of 1 Cor 14:
edification requires intelligibility.
point in this podcast was to make the observation that, from my perspective, it
seems you often put forward inconsistencies in your rhetoric.
example, in you book Authorized, you begin by noting that that you grew
up “reading and hearing the KJV,” adding, “and I don’t recall having any trouble
with the verbiage” (1), but you later exhort your readers, “Children and new
converts should not be given copies of the KJV” (120). Clearly, this latter
statement is “against” the usage of the AV. To point this out and to say that you
are “against the AV” is not, in fact, a misrepresentation, nor is it uncharitable.
It is simply a statement of fact drawn from your own words.
In the WM 240 podcast I called
attention to an inconsistency in your argument against CB in your 2020 article.
In that piece, you initially state that proponents of CB “take a different path to a
similar but not identical viewpoint” as KJVO (57), but, later, you argue that CB
and KJVO have “the same viewpoint” (62-63). Your rhetoric here is inconsistent.
I sincerely wish to avoid
pejorative labeling. After my book came out, when I was first contacted by
William Sandell, who was then, at least, a proponent of Confessional Bibliology
(I don't know where he's at now), I believed him when he said he was NOT
you truly wish to avoid pejorative labeling, then do not refer to those who
hold to the traditional Protestant text as KJVO.
But then I started talking with
your followers, Dr. Riddle. And I simply could not avoid the parallels. I grew
up KJV-Only. I know the arguments we made to one another. I note that there is
massive overlap between the arguments made by IFB KJV-Onlyists and those made
by Confessional Bibliologists.
First, I’m not sure who these “followers” of mine are or whether
they accurately reflected my position. I can only speak for myself.
Second, definitions are again a problem in your argument. Did you
grow up in a church of the Ruckman/Riplinger KJVO variety? Or in a church that
simply preferred the KJV? Whatever the case, your experience does not necessarily
mean that you properly understand the Confessional Text position. You claim there
are “massive overlaps” with your (undefined) KJVO. Are there not also “massive
differences”? Let’s look at your list:
- Both groups use the same
prooftexts (Mt 5:18; Ps 12:6–7; Ps 119:105; Mt 4:4; etc.).
nearly all Christian make use of these passages and other similar ones in
building their Bibliology?
- Both groups use the same key
words to describe the TR/KJV: "preserved," "pure,"
"stable," "settled," "unchanging."
most ordinary Christians use these words to describe the Bible, even those who
have no firm views on text or translation?
- Both groups insist that
inspiration demands perfect preservation.
true KJVOs of the Ruckman/Riplinger variety would say this applies to an
English translation and not the “immediately inspired” divine original (WCF
- Both groups use the same
tone. This is admittedly a more subjective judgment than the previous two
points. And, frankly, you are a more courteous combatant, Dr. Riddle. I don't
expect this comment to be persuasive to you, but for the cause of truth I must say
right when you say your argument here is completely subjective. BTW, I’ve also received
some pretty harsh comments from Modern-Text-Onlyists.
- Both groups maximize the
differences between the TR and the critical text. You yourself, in your review
of my book, called the CT a "completely different underlying text."
you deny that there are fundamental differences between the traditional text
and the modern critical text? If they are not different, then why not just
embrace the traditional text?
- Both groups call the critical
text "corrupt" and argue that it undermines or attacks Christian
doctrines. (CT proponents do not return this favor; I believe Scrivener's TR is
a good reconstruction of the original text, just not the best available.)
not the integrity of the text of the Bible a key doctrinal issue? Does it not
affect other issues like canon, preservation, authority, etc.? To remove Mark
16:9-20 and John 7:53-8:11 would remove 24 verses from the Bible, the
equivalent to one or more shorter books in the NT. To remove 1 John 5:7b-8a
would deprive the church of a key prooftext for the Trinity. Modern
translations/texts of John 1:18 challenge the doctrine of the eternal
generation of the Son. These and other examples clearly show that the doctrinal
stakes are high.
modern critical text advocates claim that the traditional text is corrupted (so
they do “return the favor”). In my debate with him JW said Mark 16:9-20 is a spurious
unorthodox corruption. I recently heard an OPC pastor say the same of the PA.
CB advocates are not alone in maintaining that the question of text has key
- Both groups refuse to answer
the "Which TR?" question. They consistently claim to have a perfectly
pure text but just as consistently dodge the questions of which TR is perfect
- Both groups functionally—as
you said to Dwayne Green, "practically"—resort to Scrivener's TR. And
that TR is the KJV.
to the “Which TR?” question have been given by the TBS (in its statement on the
doctrine of Holy Scripture), by myself (on my blog), by Truelove, by Krivda, by
Vaughan (“a stratagem of debate”), and by McShaffrey (citing Burgon, “a
diversion fallacy…throwing dust into the eyes”). Scrivener’s TR is clearly the
Protestant standard in use today. Is it that no one has answered your question,
or that you don’t like the answers?
definition is important. KJVO (by strict definition) would not embrace
Scrivener’s TR since it is not the KJV. So anyone who suggests the TR is the
standard is NOT KJVO by definition.
- Both groups put "the
TR" in their church (and other institutional) doctrinal statements but
fail to specify which TR they believe to be perfect.
definitions are key. If truly KJVO, a church or institution would not list the
TR as a standard but the KJV.
and institutions are free to define the translations and texts that they choose
to use. Is it really confusing if a church says they use the traditional text
without specifying a certain edition? Does it not, at the least, say they don’t
use the modern text?
you apply this same standard to churches that embrace modern texts/translations.
Do you insist they must specify, for example, which edition of NA they use?
Does your church do this?
- Both groups refuse to explain
the specific differences between TR editions that I talked about in my paper.
Two years on, I still simply do not know how you would handle those specifics.
I listed ten passages in which the two TRs I looked at exhibit
"Differences in Words That Produce Differences in Meaning." I listed
one missing clause (1 John 2:23) and two outright contradictions (Jas 2:18; Rev
11:2) between TR editions. I do not know how you account for these, because you
have not explained.
you ever considered that there might be problems in some of the premises in
your paper? Like, for example, you offer comparisons between one printed
edition (the 1550 Stephanus) and Scrivener’s. Why should the minor differences these
two editions hold weight when it has already been affirmed that Scrivener’s is
the generally accepted standard?
Have CB advocates really “refused” to respond to your objections? Are we
obligated to respond to the objections of anyone who disagrees with us? Or, do only
your papers, podcasts, etc. hold this special power? Why are we obligated to
respond to you?
- Both groups dismiss and
ignore my false friends argument. They say, ironically, that people should
study to show themselves approved. To my knowledge, not a single KJV defender
in either group has publicly or privately acknowledged learning a specific
false friend from me. And very, very few (Robert Truelove being a very notable
exception, Bryan Ross being another) have acknowledged that there are any false
friends in KJV English at all—even though their own TBS Westminster Reference
Bible and Defined KJB list numbers of my false friends.
are we required to respond to your arguments? I did address one of your suggested
“false friends” (“halt”) in my review of your book and challenged the idea that
this term is confusing or incomprehensible.
You said, "Confessional
Christians necessarily reject KJV-Onlyism, especially of the Ruckman-Riplinger
variety." I don't deny this. But this defines KJV-Onlyism narrowly as
Ruckmanite double inspirationism. My IFB church growing up was not Ruckmanite,
but we were KJV-Only, and proud of it. And we said almost all the same things
you say about the KJV, minus anything about the Westminster Confession, of
definition is a big problem. It is you who lumped in those who prefer the KJV
with those who hold to Ruckman/Riplinger views. I’m not yet convinced you really
understand why a confessional man cannot be called KJVO. WCF 1:8 is key. It is
the immediate inspiration of the originals that is central, not translations.
You said, "There are those
who affirm the Confessional Text position who do not make primary or exclusive
use of the King James Version." I acknowledge this. After years of
searching, I know two such people, and both of them go to the same church. And
one of them has said to me that he is privately frustrated with the rest of
Confessional Bibliology for being basically KJV-Only.
anecdotal experiences are not the standard. There are more than two examples of
persons who embrace the traditional text but who do not make exclusive use of
the KJV (and they’re not all in the same church!). You also have not yet
addressed the TBS doing translations into other languages based on the
traditional Reformation text. What about my German friend Andrej? Is he KJVO?
Dr. Riddle, the best way to get
me to stop using the label "KJV-Onlyism" for your view is to provide
an answer to the substance of my argument in that Detroit paper. How do you
handle differences among classic, mature, Protestant editions of the TR? If
they exhibit the same kinds of variants as do the TR and the CT, why are those
variants "corruptions" for my text but not for yours?
or not I respond to your article, I have the feeling you will still try to lump
in CB as KJVO. Smiles. I’ve already addressed this issue in my 2019 blog
article responding to Dirk Jongkind.
may get around to responding to your 2020 article at some point. To be straight,
I see some major logical problems with your argument, which makes responding a
challenge. One of those logical problems is the emphasis you give at the end of
your article to the supposed significance of differences in printed editions of
the TR and differences between the TR and the modern critical text. To me, this
comparison seems illogical. Perhaps I’ll have time to explain why at some
You are a gifted man. I have
heard from a reliable source that you are an excellent preacher. I don't like
having this disagreement with you. I am frustrated, brother, that you will not
answer what I take to be simple questions that, before the Lord, I asked in
right that this is not a personal disagreement. I really don’t know you personally.
It is an intellectual and theological disagreement. I’m sorry you feel
frustrated. If it is any consolation, you can be sure that many in the CB camp
find your perspective on these matters (and especially your insistence on
labelling of the CB position as KJVO) to be frustrating as well.
respect to this podcast, your comments here do not really answer the three main
objections put forward in this episode to your claim that CB is the “same” as
1.You fail to define what KJVO is, and then you use the term too
broadly. Our suspicion is that you do so for rhetorical reasons.
2.You do not explain how a CB advocate could hold to WCF 1:8 and
its insistence on the immediate inspiration of the Bible only in the original
Hebrew and Greek and still be reasonably and fairly described as KJVO.
3.You do not explain how one could hold to CB but not make
exclusive use of the KJV (and even be someone who does not speak English but
who prefers the traditional Hebrew and Greek text of the Reformation and
translations made from it in their own language) and still be reasonably and fairly
described as KJVO.
But it displeased Jonah exceedingly,
and he was very angry (Jonah 4:1).
Last Sunday we completed our brief
exposition of Jonah by looking at Jonah chapter 4. The book of Jonah is a
simple story, but with profound lessons for us. Here are three applications
from this final chapter:
First, we learn about the great
character of the LORD, the one true God of the Scriptures.
In light of the God’s mercy to Ninevah,
Jonah prayed to the LORD, “for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful,
slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of evil” (v. 2; cf.
Exodus 33:18-23; 34:5-7). The LORD so often does NOT pour out upon men the
wrath they deserve.
As I heard one contemporary preacher
recently quoted: Finding mercy in the God of the Bible is not like trying to
get blood from a stone, but water from the ocean.
As the Puritan preacher Richard Sibbes
out it: “There is more mercy in Christ than sin in us.”
Second, we learn that the LORD so
often works and teaches us through our providential circumstances.
In Jonah we learn how the LORD “prepared”
a great fish to swallow the prophet (1:17). He also “prepared” for Jonah a gourd
(4:6), a worm (4:7), and a vehement east wind (4:8). Our providential circumstances
do not come about by accident or happenstance, but under the meticulous care of
a sovereign God. In all our circumstances he puts us in a classroom and teach
us how to depend upon and trust in him.
Third, we must ask if we have become
“angry” at God’s mercy, as Jonah did.
Jonah became angry at God’s mercy to
the Ninevites. One New Testament parallel is the depiction the elder brother in
Christ’s parable of the Lost (Prodigal)
Son in Luke 15.
When the elder brother comes home, hears
the noise of the party, and discovers that the Father has killed the fatted
calf to celebrate his brother’s return, he remains outside sulking. The parable
ends with the Father telling him, “Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I
have is thine. It was meet that we should be merry and be glad; for this thy
brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found” (Luke 15:31-32).
We might ask whether we have been stingy
or resentful of God’s mercy. Have we been angry prophets? Who is our Ninevah?
Jonah had good reason to hate Ninevah, Israel’s enemy. But Christ taught his
disciples, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that
hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you”