Thy Words were found and I did eat them; and Thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart. Jeremiah 15:16
The Autographs And Canonicity (Continued)
In process of time there were those who wrote epistles which they pretended were apostolic, they were spurious, fictitious. The Apostle Paul warns God’s people against these in 2 Thessalonians 2:2. Eventually, because of such apocryphal writings, it became necessary to list those which were considered genuine and by divine inspiration. The exact date when the first list was made is not known, but Origen, about A.D. 230 gave a list of New Testament books. It was not quite complete but most of those we have today were on that list. Athanasius in A.D. 367 gave the first complete list of the twenty-seven books we have in our New Testament today.
The English Bible
The translation and printing of the Holy Scriptures into English appears like a beautiful flowering vine. The work is deeply rooted in the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek original manuscripts. As this work has developed, along the stems and twigs of time, periodically translations have bloomed. The more this work has grown and developed, the more translations have blossomed until at the top in this our day there are many many translations which flower and grace the English speaking peoples of the world.
The first translation of the complete Bible into English was done by John Wyclif about A.D. 1380. This work was translated from the Latin Vulgate.
There was considerable suspicion over the Bible appearing in the language of the ordinary man so a bill was introduced in the House of Lords to suppress it, but the bill did not pass.
The first edition of the New Testament to be translated from the original Greek into English was done by William Tindale, published in 1525. He also translated parts of the Old Testament, but his martyrdom in 1536 left work incomplete. In 1535 the Coverdale Bible, the first complete version of the Holy Scriptures in English, was published with a dedication to King Henry VIII.
The Geneva Bible which was produced by exiles during the reign of Queen Mary sometime between 1553 and 1558, because it was smaller than earlier ones, became the first popular family Bible. It was called the Breeches Bible because of its rendering of Genesis 3:7, “They sewed fig tree leaves together and made themselves breeches.”
The Bishops’ Bible appeared in 1568, and the Roman Catholic Douay Version in 1609-1610. The Authorized King James Version was published in 1611.
For some 250 years the King James Version, in spite of some slight inaccuracies in translation and the constant change of language meaning, was consistently used throughout the English speaking nations. Toward the close of the nineteenth century several private translations appeared; for example, that of Dean Alford, Conybeare and Howson, J.N. Darby, etc. Then in 1881-1885 the Revised Version of the King James Version was published. This was considered a great improvement.
In 1901 the American Standard Version was published, but of still more importance was the publishing of the revision of this work under the name of Revised Standard Version of which the New Testament appeared in 1946 and the Old Testament in 1952. This actually is a revision of the versions of 1611 and 1901.
When her gracious Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was crowned, during the ceremony she was given a Bible, and as she received it the Archbishop of Canterbury said:
“Our gracious Queen: to keep your Majesty ever mindful of the Law and the Gospel of God as the Rule for the whole life and government of Christian Princes, we present you with this Book, the most valuable thing that this world affords.
Here is Wisdom; This is the royal Law; These are the lively Oracles of God.”
Let it ever be remembered that no matter what English translations of the Bible we may use and study, they are the Lively Oracles; they are the Holy Scriptures; as a unit, they form the holy book called the Word of God, the Perfect Law of Liberty, the BIBLE.
The Divine Authority Of The Bible
Authority is power, right or influence that enforces obedience, imposes control or demands support. This authority, generally speaking, is accepted on three levels: absolute authority, delegated authority, documentary authority. Absolute authority is the power possessed by the head of a political state; the president of an organization, industrial or commercial, the moderator of a conference, or a chancellor of a seat of learning. Delegated authority is the limited power deputed by a head or president to a subordinate in order that he fulfil his superior’s orders. Documentary authority is the power or influence of a written opinion.
The authority of the Word of God lies in all three spheres. Absolute authority is possessed by God only; delegated authority is invested in the authors of the different books of the Bible, and documentary authority is an attribute of all Scripture given by inspiration of God (2 Timothy 3:16).
Absolute authority emanates from both personality and position. The authority of a president of an organization arises not only from what he is as president but who he is in his personality; a weak personality no matter what the position might be exercises but little authority.
God’s Position: It is one of transcendence; He is far above all; infinitely superior to all; His supremacy gives authority to all that He may do or demand.
The Divine Personality: God in person wills, purposes, and decrees. God wills to do; He purposes how it should be done, and He decrees that it be thus done. In simple words, God’s absolute authority rests; first, upon His transcendence; and in second place, upon His will, His plan, and His word. That such is the case is fully demonstrated in His acts since creation.
Creation: God willed to make the earth habitable for man; He planned to do this in several stages so He commanded, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3), with the result, “There was light.”
The deluge: God’s absolute authority was demonstrated at the deluge; first, in His transcendence, “The Lord sat enthroned at the flood” (Psalm 29:10, marginal reading). In second place; in His will, “I will”; His plan, “Destroy”; His word, “And God said unto Noah … behold, I will destroy them” (Genesis 6:7-13).
In the Exodus: How clearly God displayed His absolute authority in the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt! Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord that I should obey Him?” (Exodus 5:2). He was to learn that full authority rested in God and that God had to be obeyed or the consequences suffered. God definitely proved this; first, in His transcendence, He said, “Against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord” (Exodus 12:12). Furthermore, He again displayed His authority as in former cases in His will, His purpose, and according to His oath, His sworn word: “I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: And I will take you to Me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will bring you in unto the land concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an inheritance: I am the Lord” (Exodus 6:6-8).
In the Church: The transcendence of the Lord Jesus is seen in Peter’s reply to the Lord’s question, “Whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
The word, will and purpose of the Lord are all evident in His prediction, “I say also unto thee (His word), that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will (His will) build My Church (His purpose): and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:16-18).
One more example will further establish the contention that absolute authority rests finally in God.
The Eternal State: In Revelation 21:5-6 the Lord states His determination, His will to execute a great purpose, and He calls upon a recorder to enter these in a document: “Behold, I make all things new. And He said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.” All is in accord with the prophecy of the Lord Jesus, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). The old creation will then have undergone changes, but the Lord’s words will remain supreme and authoritative. The response will be perfect submission to the divine will, absolute authority receiving absolute obedience, for the recorder replies, “It is done.”
Absolute Authority in Christ
In the matter of divine revelation the attention is directed to the words of the Lord Jesus in the Upper Room, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). His words implied that full divine revelation was in Him, the incarnation of Deity. The assertion claims that the Triune God was fully revealed in the God-Man, the Lord Jesus.
Similarly, in regard to authority attention is directed to the mountain in Galilee where after His resurrection Christ met with His disciples for there He said, “All power is given unto Me in Heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18).
The word “power” that He used denotes positive right to act in an unrestricted manner, the full right of disposal; that is, authority with the power to enforce it.
The Lord Jesus claimed authority in Heaven and in earth, in Heaven where it is already acknowledged and in earth where it eventually will be imposed. On that mountain Christ claimed universal dominion. His is full, divine, absolute and universal authority. Because of this, it is stated, “The Father … hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man” (John 5:27).
In view of the exalted position and the absolute authority invested in Christ, there is a wonderful picture of Him in John 13:3, “Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, … He riseth from supper, and laid aside His garments; and took a towel, and girded Himself. After that He poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet.” What a gracious condescension! What humility!
Delegated authority has been defined as authority invested in the authors of the different books of the Bible. A general view of the Holy Scriptures indicates that God delegated authority to patriarchs, priests, prophets, kings, apostles, etc. and that through these chosen men He spoke authoritatively. Frequently throughout the Old Testament human authors stated, “Thus saith the Lord,” or “The Lord said unto me,… whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.” This they did because they heard His voice saying, “I will send thee,” or “Go, and tell,” or “Say unto them.” God, obviously, selected certain persons and gave them authority to act for Him. Many of these men not only spoke for God but according to 2 Peter 1:21, they wrote for God.
Inasmuch as we live in the Church era, an examination into the delegated authority of the apostles is very relevant, especially the Apostle to the Gentiles.
There is a belief among Christians that since the gifts of the apostles and prophets have passed away, they have no important influence upon the Church today. True, the persons who were the embodiments of those gifts have been removed, and unlike the other three public gifts: the evangelist, the pastor, the teacher, these two were not transferable. The gifts, apostle and prophet, were for a special period and a special ministry, and when they had accomplished their purpose, they were removed and not replaced. Notwithstanding, their writings are with us, and these were given by inspiration of God. In their writings we still have the apostles speaking authoritatively to the Church.