By Pastor K. Bruce Oyen
First Baptist Church
If you want good information on some Biblical textual matters, the following article is very important to read. It is posted with the author’s permission.
Westcott & Hort versus the Textus Receptus: Which is Superior?
by Doug Kutilek
Note: This study was first composed in 1996 and published that year by Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute as research report no. 45, a thirteen-page booklet (ISBN 0-944788-45-9). It was an attempt to clarify issues in the “Bible texts and translations controversy” by carefully defining and explaining terms which are often bandied about by those who seem to have limited understanding as to their actual meaning. It has not previously appeared in As I See It and is presented here with minor alterations. It is supplied with extensive endnotes, which should be read.–Editor
The New Testament was inspired by God, and came from the pens of its writers or their amanuenses in infallible form, free from any defect of any sort, including scribal mistakes. However, it is evident from the facts of history that God in His providence did not choose to protect that infallible original text from alterations and corruptions in the copying and printing process. Scribes, and later printers, made both accidental (usually) and deliberate (occasionally) changes in the Greek text as they copied and propagated it. As a result, the surviving manuscript copies (as well as printed editions) of the New Testament differ among themselves in numerous though usually trivial details.
Many attempts have been made (even as early as the second century A.D.) to sort through the manuscripts of the New Testament and weed out the errors and mistakes of copyists, in order to restore the text to its original apostolic form. Those who have made such attempts through the centuries have differed one from another in the resources at their disposal, their own personal abilities as text editors, and the principles followed in seeking to restore the original text of the New Testament.
The two most famous such efforts at restoring the original text of the New Testament are the Textus Receptus, dating from the Reformation and post-Reformation era, and the Greek text of B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort, first published in 1881. These two texts were based on differing collections of manuscripts, following differing textual principles, at different stages in the on-going process of the discovery and evaluation of surviving New Testament manuscripts, and, not surprisingly, with often differing results.  There is much dispute today about which of these texts is a more faithful representation of the original form of the Greek New Testament, and it is this question which will be addressed in this study: Which is the superior Greek New Testament, the Textus Receptus / “Received Text” or the “Critical Text” of Westcott and Hort?
Any proper and adequate answer given to this question must begin with the matter of definition of terms. First, what is meant by the term “superior”? This may seem an unnecessary question since it might be supposed that all would agree on the answer, namely, the superior Greek New Testament is that one which most closely preserves and presents the precise original wording of the original Greek writings of the New Testament. However, in the rather voluminous popular literature on this issue, some writers have argued that one text or another is superior because it is perceived to contain more proof-texts of the Trinity, the Deity of Christ, or some other doctrine. In fact, to make a selection on such a basis is much beside the point. Additional supporting proof-texts of numerous doctrines can be found in various individual Greek manuscripts or ancient versions, though the readings in question are beyond dispute not the original reading of the New Testament.  “Which Greek text most closely corresponds to the original New Testament?”–this and no other consideration is proper in deciding which Greek text is superior.
Next, what is meant by the term, “Received Text”? This name was first applied to a printed Greek text only as late as 1633, or some 117 years after the first published Greek New Testament appeared in 1516. In 1633, the Elzevirs of Leyden published the second edition of their Greek text, and that text contained the publisher’s “blurb” in Latin: textum ergo habes, nunc ab omnibus receptum, or, “therefore you have the text now received by all,” from which the term textus receptus, or received text was taken, and applied collectively and retroactively to the series of published Greek New Testaments extending from 1516 to 1633 and beyond. Most notable among the many editors of Greek New Testaments in this period were Erasmus (5 editions: 1516, 1519, 1522, 1527, 1535), Robert Etienne a.k.a. Robertus Stephanus (4 editions, 1546, 1549, 1550, 1551), Theodore de Beza (9 editions, between 1565 and 1604), and the Elzevirs (3 editions, 1624,1633, 1641).  These many Greek texts display a rather close general uniformity, a uniformity based on the fact that all these texts are more or less reprints of the text(s) edited by Erasmus, with only minor variations. These texts were not independently compiled by the many different editors on the basis of close personal examination of numerous Greek manuscripts, but are genealogically-related.  Proof of this is to be found in a number of “unique” readings in Erasmus’ texts, that is, readings which are found in no known Greek manuscript but which are nevertheless found in the editions of Erasmus. One of these is the reading “book of life” in Revelation 22:19. All known Greek manuscripts here read “tree of life” instead of “book of life” as in the textus receptus. Where did the reading “book of life” come from? When Erasmus was compiling his text, he had access to only one manuscript of Revelation, and it lacked the last six verses, so he took the Latin Vulgate and back-translated from Latin to Greek. Unfortunately, the copy of the Vulgate he used read “book of life,” unlike any Greek manuscript of the passage, and so Erasmus introduced a “unique” Greek reading into his text.  Since the first and only “source” for this reading in Greek is the printed text of Erasmus, any Greek New Testament that agrees with Erasmus here must have been simply copied from his text. The fact that all textus receptus editions of Stephanus, Beza, et al. read with Erasmus shows that their texts were more or less slavish reprints of Erasmus’ text and not independently compiled editions, for had they been edited independently of Erasmus, they would surely have followed the Greek manuscripts here and read “tree of life.” Numerous other unique or extremely rare readings in the textus receptus editions could be referenced.
In this connection, it is worth noting that the translators of the King James Version did not follow exclusively any single printed edition of the New Testament in Greek. The edition most closely followed by them was Beza’s edition of 1598, but they departed from this edition for the reading in some other published Greek text at least 170 times, and in at least 60 places, the KJV translators abandoned all then-existing printed editions of the Greek New Testament, choosing instead to follow precisely the reading in the Latin Vulgate version.  No edition of the Greek New Testament agreeing in detail with the text followed by the KJV translators was in existence until 1881 when F. H. A. Scrivener produced such an edition (though even it differs from the King James Version in a very few places, e.g. Acts 19:20). It is Scrivener’s 1881 text which was reprinted by the Trinitarian Bible Society in 1976. This text does not conform exactly to any of the historic texts dating from the Reformation period and known collectively as the textus receptus, and so consequently any one passing off the 1881 Scrivener text as a or the “textus receptus” is engaging in disinformation.
Furthermore, a careful distinction must be made between the textus receptus (even in its broadest collective sense) on the one hand, and the majority text (also known as the Byzantine or Syrian text) on the other. Though the terms textus receptus and majority text are frequently used as though they were synonymous, they by no means mean the same thing.  When the majority text was being compiled by Hodges and Farstad, their collaborator Pickering estimated that their resultant text would differ from the textus receptus in over 1,000 places ; in fact, the differences amounted to 1,838.  In other words, the reading of the majority of existing Greek manuscripts differs from the textus receptus in 1,838 places (Hodges and Farstad used an 1825 Oxford reprint of Stephanus’ 1550 text for comparison purposes), and in many of these places, the text of Westcott and Hort agrees with the majority of manuscripts against the textus receptus. The majority of manuscripts and Westcott and Hort agree against the textus receptus in excluding Luke 17:36 (here the original 1611 edition of the KJV has a marginal note: “this 36. verse is wanting in most of the Greek copies“); Acts 8:37; and I John 5:7 from the New Testament, as well as concurring in numerous other readings (such as “tree of life” in Revelation 22:19). Except in a few rare cases, writers well-versed in textual criticism have abandoned the textus receptus as a standard text. 
The question remains to be resolved: how shall we define textus receptus? It has been customary in England to employ the 1550 text of Stephanus as the exemplar of the textus receptus (just as an Elzevir text was so adopted on the continent of Europe), and so we will follow this custom. For our purposes here, the term textus receptus means the 1550 edition of the Greek New Testament published by Robertus Stephanus.
The Westcott and Hort text is much simpler to define. This is the Greek New Testament edited by B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort and first published in 1881, with numerous reprints in the century since. It is probably the single most famous of the so-called critical texts, perhaps because of the scholarly eminence of its editors, perhaps because it was issued the same year as the English Revised Version which followed a text rather like the Westcott-Hort text.
It needs to be stated clearly that the text of Westcott and Hort was not the first printed Greek Testament that deliberately and substantially departed from the textus receptus on the basis of manuscript evidence. Westcott and Hort were preceded in the late 1700s by Griesbach, and in the 1800s by Lachmann, Alford, Tregelles, and Tischendorf (and others), all of whose texts made numerous revisions in the textus receptus on the basis of manuscript evidence; these texts, especially the last three named, are very frequently in agreement with Westcott and Hort, against the textus receptus. 
Likewise, it is important to recognize that the English Revised New Testament which came out in 1881 was not directly based on the text of Westcott and Hort, although in many particulars they are the same. The Greek text followed by the Revisers was compiled and published in 1882 in an edition with the KJV and ERV in parallel columns.  It is true that the Westcott-Hort text and the English Revised New Testament of 1881 are rather similar to each other, but they are not identical.
Though the Westcott-Hort text was the “standard” critical text for a generation or two, it is no longer considered such by any one, and has not been for many years. The “standard” text or texts today are the Nestle or Nestle-Aland text (1st edition, 1898; 27th edition, 1993) and/or the various editions of The Greek New Testament published by the United Bible Societies (1st edition, 1966; 4th edition, 1993). The last two editions of each of these sport an identical text, a new “received text,” so to speak. It is true that the Westcott-Hort text is part of the heritage of both the Nestle texts and the UBS texts. Eberhard Nestle originally used as his text the consensus reading of three editions of the Greek New Testament in his day, Tischendorf, Westcott and Hort, and Weymouth, later substituting Weiss for Weymouth.  The UBS editors used the Westcott-Hort text as their starting point and departed from it as their evaluation of manuscript evidence required. 
None of the major modern English Bible translations made since World War II used the Westcott-Hort text as its base. This includes translations done by theological conservatives–the New American Standard Bible, the New International Version, the New King James, for examples–and translations done by theological liberals–the Revised Standard Version, the New English Bible, the Good News Bible, etc. The only English Bible translation currently in print that the writer is aware of which is based on the Westcott-Hort text is the New World Translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. 
In a very real sense, the question of which is superior, Westcott and Hort, or the textus receptus, is passé, since neither is recognized by experts in the field as the standard text. However, since modern printed Greek texts are in the same respective families of text, namely the Alexandrian (Nestle, et al.) and the Byzantine (majority text), it is suitable to ask, “which one is superior, i.e., which comes closest to presenting the Greek text in its original form?”
What is perhaps the strongest argument in favor of the Westcott-Hort text vis-à-vis the textus receptus, is the fact that it has firm support from the oldest extant Greek manuscripts, plus the earliest of the versions or translations, as well as the early Christian writers of the 2nd through 4th centuries. Age of manuscripts is probably the most objective factor in the process of textual criticism. When Westcott and Hort compiled their text, they employed the two oldest then-known manuscripts, Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, as their text base. Since their day, a good number of manuscripts as old and in some cases a century and more older than these two manuscripts have been discovered. With a general uniformity, these early manuscripts have supported the Alexandrian text-type which the Westcott-Hort text presents.  It is true that these papyrus manuscripts occasionally contain Byzantine-type readings, but none of them could in any way be legitimately described as being regularly Byzantine in text.  The agreement of some of the papyri with Vaticanus, especially p75 of the early third century, has been quite remarkable.
From the early versions, the critical texts have strong support in the various Coptic versions of the third and later centuries, plus frequent support in the Old Latin versions and the oldest forms of the Syriac, in particular the Sinaitic and Curetonian manuscripts whose text form dates to the second or third century (though there are also strong Western elements in the Old Latin and the early Syriac).  Jerome’s revision of the Old Latin, the Vulgate made before 400 A.D., also gives frequent support to the Alexandrian text. Of early Christian writers before the fourth century, the Alexandrian text has substantial support, especially in the writings of Origen, whose Scripture quotations are exceedingly numerous.
On the other hand, the Byzantine text-type, of which the textus receptus is a rough approximation, can boast of being presented in the vast majority of surviving manuscripts, as well as several important versions of the New Testament from the fourth century or later, and as being the text usually found in the quotations of Greek writers in the fifth century and after. The most notable version support for the Byzantine text is in the Peshitta Syriac and the fourth century Gothic version (though each of these versions has significant departures from the Byzantine text). A second-century date for the Peshitta used to be advocated, but study of the Biblical quotations in the writings of Syrian Fathers Aphraates and Ephraem has demonstrated that neither of these leaders used the Peshitta, and so it must date from after their time, i.e., to the late fourth century or after. Therefore, this chief support for a claimed second-century date for the Byzantine text-type has been shown to be invalid.
On the down side, the distinctively Alexandrian text almost disappears from the manuscripts after the 9th century, following, not insignificantly, the violent and destructive Moslem conquest of Mesopotamia, the Holy Land and Levant, and all of North Africa, destroying or enslaving the Christian community in all these locations, destroying churches and Bible manuscripts. On the other hand, the Byzantine manuscripts, though very numerous, did not become the “majority” text until the ninth century, and though outnumbering Alexandrian manuscripts by more than 10:1, are also for the far greater part considerably younger than them, most being 1,000 years and more removed from the originals.
Returning to the specific texts, Westcott-Hort vs. the textus receptus: in truth, both texts necessarily fall short of presenting the true original. Obviously, those readings in the textus receptus which are without any Greek manuscript support cannot possibly be original. Additionally, in a number of places, the textus receptus reading is found in a limited number of late manuscripts, with little or no support from ancient translations. One of these readings is the famous I John 5:7. Such readings as these are also presumptively not original. And if one holds to the “majority rules” theory of textual criticism, i.e., whatever the reading found in a numerical majority of surviving Greek manuscripts is to be accepted as original, then the textus receptus falls short in the 1,838 readings where it does not follow the majority text.
Besides these shortcomings, others also apparently occur in a number of places where a perceived difficulty in the original reading was altered by scribes in the manuscript copying process. Probable examples of this include Mark 1:2 (changing “Isaiah the prophet” to “the prophets,” a change motivated by the fact that the quote which follows in 1:3 is from both Malachi and Isaiah), I Corinthians 6:20 (where the phrase “and in your Spirit which are God’s” seems to have been added after the original “in your body,” which is the subject under consideration in the preceding verses), Luke 2:33 (changing “his father and his mother” into “Joseph and his mother” to ‘safeguard’ the doctrine of the virgin birth), Romans 8:1, end (borrowing from verse 4, in two stages, the phrase “who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit”), Romans 13:9 (the insertion of one of the Ten Commandments to complete the listing), Colossians 1:14 (the borrowing of the phrase “through his blood” from Ephesians 1:7), etc. 
On the other hand, the defects of the Westcott-Hort text are also generally recognized, particularly its excessive reliance on manuscript B (Vaticanus), and to a lesser extent, Aleph (Sinaiticus). Hort declared the combined testimony of these two manuscripts to be all but a guarantee that a reading was original.  All scholars today recognize this as being an extreme and unwarranted point of view. Manuscript B shows the same kinds of scribal errors found in all manuscripts, a fact to be recognized and such singular readings to be rejected, as in fact they sometimes were rejected by Westcott and Hort (e.g., at Matthew 6:33).
What shall we say then? Which text shall we choose as superior? We shall choose neither the Westcott-Hort text (or its modern kinsmen) nor the textus receptus (or the majority text) as our standard text, our text of last appeal. All these printed texts are compiled or edited texts, formed on the basis of the informed (or not-so-well-informed) opinions of fallible editors. Neither Erasmus nor Westcott and Hort (nor, need we say, any other text editor or group of editors) is omniscient or perfect in reasoning and judgment. Therefore, we refuse to be enslaved to the textual criticism opinions of either Erasmus or Westcott and Hort or for that matter any other scholars, whether Nestle, Aland, Metzger, Burgon, Hodges and Farstad, or anyone else. Rather, it is better to evaluate all variants in the text of the Greek New Testament on a reading by reading basis, that is, in those places where there are divergences in the manuscripts and between printed texts, the evidence for and against each reading should be thoroughly and carefully examined and weighed, and the arguments of the various schools of thought considered, and only then a judgment made. (Years of doing this very thing have led me to conclude that the critical texts are very much closer to the precise original wording of the Greek New Testament than either the textus receptus, or the “majority text,” though with exceptions in readings here and there).
We do, or should do, this very thing in reading commentaries and theology books. We hear the evidence, consider the arguments, weigh the options, and then arrive at what we believe to be the honest truth. Can one be faulted for doing the same regarding the variants in the Greek New Testament? Our aim is to know precisely what the Apostles originally did write, this and nothing more, this and nothing else. And, frankly, just as there are times when we must honestly say, “I simply do not know for certain what this Bible verse or passage means,” there will be (and are) places in the Greek New Testament where the evidence is not clear cut,  and the arguments of the various schools of thought do not distinctly favor one reading over another.
This means there will at times be a measure of uncertainty in defining precisely the exact wording of the Greek New Testament (just as there is in the interpretation of specific verses and passages), but this does not mean that there is uncertainty in the theology of the New Testament. Baptist theologian J. L. Dagg has well-stated the theological limits of the manuscript variations in the New Testament,
Although the Scriptures were originally penned under the unerring guidance of the Holy Spirit, it does not follow, that a continued miracle has been wrought to preserve them from all error in transcribing. On the contrary, we know that manuscripts differ from each other; and where readings are various, but one of them can be correct. A miracle was needed in the original production of the Scriptures; and, accordingly, a miracle was wrought; but the preservation of the inspired word, in as much perfection as was necessary to answer the purpose for which it was given, did not require a miracle, and accordingly it was committed to the providence of God. Yet the providence which has preserved the divine oracles, has been special and remarkable. . . . The consequence is, that, although the various readings found in the existing manuscripts, are numerous, we are able, in every case, to determine the correct reading, so far as is necessary for the establishment of our faith, or the direction of our practice in every important particular. So little, after all, do the copies differ from each other, that these minute differences, when viewed in contrast with their general agreement, render the fact of that agreement the more impressive, and may be said to serve, practically, rather to increase, than impair our confidence in their general correctness. Their utmost deviations do not change the direction of the line of truth; and if it seems in some points to widen the line a very little, the path that lies between their widest boundaries, is too narrow to permit us to stray. 
To this may be added the testimony of Sir Frederic G. Kenyon, the pre-eminent British authority on New Testament manuscripts at the beginning of the twentieth century. In discussing the differences between the traditional and the Alexandrian text-types, in the light of God’s providential preservation of His word, he writes,
We may indeed believe that He would not allow His Word to be seriously corrupted, or any part of it essential to man’s salvation to be lost or obscured; but the differences between the rival types of text is not one of doctrine. No fundamental point of doctrine rests upon a disputed reading: and the truths of Christianity are as certainly expressed in the text of Westcott and Hort as in that of Stephanus 
Even advocates and defenders of the supremacy of the textus receptus over the Alexandrian text agree in this assessment. One such writer was 19th century American Southern Presbyterian theologian Robert L. Dabney. He wrote,
This received text contains undoubtedly all the essential facts and doctrines intended to be set down by the inspired writers; for if it were corrected with the severest hand, by the light of the most divergent various readings found in any ancient MS. or version, not a single doctrine of Christianity, nor a single cardinal fact would be thereby expunged. . . . If all the debated readings were surrendered by us, no fact or doctrine of Christianity would thereby be invalidated, and least of all would the doctrine of Christ’s proper divinity be deprived of adequate scriptural support. Hence the interests of orthodoxy are entirely secure from and above the reach of all movements of modern criticism of the text whether made in a correct or incorrect method, and all such discussions in future are to the church of subordinate importance. 
These sober and sensible judgments stand in marked contrast to the almost manic hysteria found in the writings of some detractors of critical texts who write as though those texts were a Pandora’s Box of heresy. In truth, all text families are doctrinally orthodox. A dispassionate evaluation of evidence is very much to be preferred to the emotionally charged tirades that characterize much of the current discussion.
End Notes (to be read)
Note on additional resources
I have written and published research studies addressing specific questions regarding the effect of variations between printed Greek New Testaments and the issue of the doctrinal content of the New Testament. I affirm in each of these that in no respect is the doctrinal content of the New Testament altered, whether one follows the textus receptus, Westcott-Hort, Nestle-Aland or Hodges-Farstad. These include:
“Do ‘Critical’ New Testament Greek Texts Subvert the Doctrine of Blood Atonement?” As I See It, 5:8, August 2002
“Variant Readings and the Virgin Birth,” As I See It, 7:3, March 2004
“Variant Readings and the Virgin Birth Once Again,” As I See It, 7:9, September 2004
“I John 5:7: An Outline Study of the Evidence,” As I See It, 13:1, January 2010
By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD
In this post I will present some beliefs common to Bible-believing Baptists and compare them with the theology behind the Authorized (King James) Version of the Bible. To do so, the word “Baptists” will used, with each letter referring to beliefs common to Bible-believing Baptists. But it must be understood that these beliefs are not the private property of those who call themselves Baptists. Many others in the past have held these beliefs, but have not been known as Baptists. Many hold these beliefs now, but do not call themselves Baptists. They often are referred to as baptistic. The Bible does not say we must call ourselves Baptists, and it wrong to insist that the name be used.
“B” stands for the Baptist belief in the authority of the Bible. This means that, because Baptists believe the Bible alone is the infallible Word of God, it, therefore, is the authority upon which our beliefs are based. Did those who produced the King James Version hold this belief? Yes. But some of their beliefs are not truly derived from the Bible. These will be pointed out as this post progresses.
“A” stands for the Baptist belief in the autonomy of the local church. This means Baptists believe the local church is a congregation of Christians that govern their own affairs without having to answer to some person or organization outside of itself for its decisions. It also means that no one and no organization makes decisions for a local church. Did those who produced the King James Version hold this view. Perhaps in theory, but not in practice, for they were a part of a government-approved church, the Church Of England, which had/has bishops who oversaw/oversee local congregations. Not only did/do their bishops have authority over the local congregations. So also did James I, after whom the King James Version got its name. His role in the Church Of England is clearly stated in “The Epistle Dedicatorie,” found in the front of the 1611 edition of the Authorized (King James) Version.” Another proof that those who produced the King James Version did not truly believe in the autonomy of the local congregation is the fact that the 1611 edition of their translation says in the front that it is “appointed to be read in churches.” This in contrast to the historic Baptist belief that each congregation decides which translation/translations it will use.
“P” stands for the Baptist belief in the priesthood of all believers in Jesus Christ. This means that we believe each Christian has direct access to God the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ. In Christ’s name, they can pray directly to God the Father. In his name, they can ask him for, and receive forgiveness of sins. Did those who produced the King James Version hold this view? Yes. But they also had clergy called “priests,” something foreign to the teaching of the New Testament, and, therefore, not accepted by Bible-believing Baptists.
“T” stands for the Baptist belief in two officers/offices in the local church. These are pastors and deacons. The New Testament also calls the pastors of local churches by two other terms: bishops (meaning overseers) and elders (meaning those who lead by virtue of their age, maturity, and experience). Deacons are the officially elected servants of the local church. Did those who produced the King James Version hold this view? No. They believed in a hierarchical form of church government, with bishops having authority outside of their own congregations.
“I” stands for the Baptist belief in what is called “individual soul liberty.” This means that each person is directly accountable to God for his or her own beliefs and behavior, and no government, whether political or ecclesiastical, can dictate his or her beliefs. Did those who produced the King James Version hold this view? Only in theory. Historians have proven that King James and his government persecuted those who did not conform to the Church of England.
“S” stands for the Baptist belief that there should be an obvious separation between church and state. It means that there should be no religion or Christian denomination that is the official religion or Christian denomination of a government. Although President Thomas Jefferson rejected Christianity, the Bible, and its doctrines, he understood the importance of the separation of church and state, and advocated it. But did those who produced the King James Version hold this view? No. That is why they were members of the Church Of England, a state church.
The second “t” in the word “Baptists” stands for the Baptist belief in two ordinances of the local church, which are baptism and the Lord’s upper. We believe these are ordinances, not sacraments. This means we believe they symbolically represent important truths about the Lord Jesus Christ and his Gospel. We do not believe baptism is required of one who wants to be saved. Instead, it is required of one who professes to have been saved by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe the saved should get baptized as a public profession of their faith. It is symbolic of their identification with the crucified, dead, buried, and resurrected Lord. It is symbolic of their commitment to live new lives as followers of Jesus. The Lord’s supper is symbolic of equally important Gospel truths. The bread is symbolic of the Lord’s body which was broken for us sinners. The cup is symbolic of the Lord’s blood, which was shed in payment for the sins of all humanity. Did those who produced the King James Version hold these views? Perhaps a safe answer, based on the thirtynine articles of the Church Of England, is yes and no. Their view of baptism was not Biblical because they believed in the baptism of infants. Infant baptism, even if it is done by the Biblical method, which is immersion, is not taught in the Bible. Infants cannot do what the Bible requires of those who want be baptized. That is, infants cannot believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and make profession of their faith in him. Therefore, they are disqualified from baptism. It is an interesting fact that, though the King James Version, in Acts 8:37 and elsewhere, clearly teaches a profession of faith is required of anyone who wants to be baptized, King James and the translators of the King James Version believed in infant baptism.
The second “s” in the word “Baptists” stands for the Baptist belief in a saved church membership. We require anyone who wants to join our churches to profess to have been saved by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, and we require that their profession of faith is credible. That is, they must give evidence of being true believers in the Lord. Their lives must show that they have believed in Jesus Christ and have become his followers. We do not assume that everyone who claims to be a Christian, and who has been baptized upon their profession of faith, is a true Christian. Sometimes thy prove to be otherwise. But we do require a credible profession of faith prior to admittance into church membership. Did those who produced the King James Version hold this view? No, for the simple reason that they believed baptism grafts one into the church, and they believed in infant baptism. Therefore, I am compelled to believe they believed in infant church membership. But we must remember that infants cannot believe in Christ, and belief in him is a Scriptural requirement for both baptism and church membership.
I encourage all readers of this post to read the thitynine article of The Church Of England. By doing so, you will learn firsthand the theology behind the Authorized(King James) Version. Here is a link to those articles: http://www.thirtyninearticles.org/basics/. If you are a King James Bible-only Baptist, you will find it very interesting to read the quote from Lancelot Andrews, who was one of the key persons in the production of the Authorized (King James) Version. Read the following from the same source given above:
Anglicans trace their history and doctrine back to the earliest church and through the first English speaking Christians. The English Reformation (when the Church of England broke away from the Roman Catholic Church) was a pivotal event that resulted in the Anglican Formularies, our statements of belief. See below.
Beliefs and Doctrine
“One Canon (one Bible), two Testaments, three Creeds, four General Councils, five centuries and the series of Fathers in that period determine the boundaries of our faith.”
~ Bishop Lancelot Andrews (1555-1626)
If you want to learn firsthand what we call the Biblical distinctives of Baptists, they are derived from the pages of the New Testament. I suggest you start with reading the Book of Acts, and proceed from there. You are sure to find these distinctives as you read. It is a fact that many non-Baptists have become Baptists or baptistic simply by open-mindedly reading the New Testament. You can also read my two posts just prior to this one, and articles and books on this subject by other authors .
What follows is the testimony of one man who became a Baptist by reading the New Testament. It is taken with permission from this website: http://www.reformedreader.org.
Reading The Bible Will Make You A Baptist
Taken from the Baptist Reporter, October, 1858
To the Editor of the Baptist Reporter.
Dear Sir, — I am a young baptist, and have only seen your Reporter for Jan., 1858. Having recently joined the body, I inquired for one of the publications published by the baptists, and a minister directed me to the Reporter, with which I am quite delighted. It occurred to me that I would mention a few of the objections to believers’ baptism which I met with whilst I was among the Independents. I am a young man, and am occasionally engaged in giving a word of exhortation to my neighbours; but I am what is called a “self-educated man,” for I have had to pick up what little knowledge I have obtained; and therefore I trust you will excuse the imperfections which you may discover in this communication.
When among the Independents, in conversations with my fellow-members, the subject of baptism was at times introduced, when one or another would say, “Well; I do think that the baptists are right, and that their mode of administering the ordinance is scriptural.” “Well,” was my reply, “if you consider that the baptists are right, and that their mode is scriptural, why not join them, and be right too, and observe that which you say is scriptural?” The reply they generally gave was, “Oh, it is so inconvenient; and if we are baptized, we shall be expected to join the baptist body, and then what will our minister and the people say? I do not think it matters much.”
It appeared to me an odd thing for them so to acknowledge their duty, and then give such feeble reasons for declining. I could not but wonder what there could be in believers’ baptism that made the ordinance so objectionable.
I talked with other friends on the matter, but was annoyed by their ignorance. They knew not so much as he who was enquiring. Some said, “Oh, these baptists think all wrong but themselves. Have nothing to do with them.” Others said, “Such a mode would suit a warm climate very well, where the people are in the habit of constantly bathing, but not a cold country like ours.” Others “thought that there was something very indecent about it.” I then spake to a more intelligent class, and they informed me “that Christ only intended the ordinance to be observed by his servants in heathen lands, where Christianity was unknown, so that the converts to the gospel, by that ordinance, might publicly disown and cast off all their old heathenish practices.” Others reminded me, “that if I was going to enquire into such a subject, perhaps I would inform them why Christians do not recline at the table and take the bread and break it into pieces, instead of having it partly cut.”
Such were some of the helps I met with in the path of enquiry, from persons who professed to make the New Testament their rule of practice.
There are many in the Independent and other bodies who can say no more than the above. Why? Because, like those I have already mentioned, they have never thoroughly and impartially examined the subject. Ask them whether they have looked through the New Testament for instances of Infant Baptism; they reply, “No”. Ask them whether they have for evidence of believers’ baptism; they give the same reply.
Dissatisfied with such evasions, I resolved to search the New Testament for myself, with prayer for Divine guidance, and the result was that I became a Baptist.
By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD
In this post, I will present the views of Bible-believing Baptists versus those who produced the King James Version, also known as The Authorized Version and the King James Bible. The beliefs of Bible-believing Baptists are presented below from volume 1 of John T. Christian’s 2-volume work that is a history of the Baptists. I have this 2-volume set in hardback, and have read it carefully. The important and interesting chapter given below is taken, with permission, from this website: http://www.reformedreader.org. This is a valuable resource for those interested in the history and beliefs of Baptists.
Before you read the chapter from John T. Christian’s book, consider a few Bible-based Baptist beliefs that differ considerably from the beliefs of those who produced the King James Version. Baptists believe in autonomous local churches, in contrast to state-controlled churches, believed in by those who produced the King James Version. Baptists believe that one must profess faith in Jesus Christ before being baptized, in contrast to the baptism of infants, practiced by those who produced the King James Version. Baptists believe in religious liberty for all, in contrast to those who produced the King James Version, who believed in and practiced the persecution of those whose beliefs differed from theirs. (My post right before this one documents the persecution experienced by many at the hands of the State-controlled church of which those produced the King James Version were a part.) As you read the following chapter from Christian’s book, you will learn more Bible-based Baptist beliefs that differ from the beliefs of those who produced the King James Version. This information should help Baptists who are King James Version-only re-evaluate their excessive exaltation of the King James Version. It is a good and honorable translation, but that should not make us overlook the false teachings and shameful persecution of others by those who produced it. Such men would not now be allowed in the pulpits of Bible-believing Baptist churches. Why then, are they so highly esteemed?
The Great Commission—A Definition of a Church—A Voluntary Association—A Church Not National or General—The Officers of a Church—The Ordinances—The Proper Subjects of Baptism—The Form of Baptism—The Lord’s Supper—The Ordinances as Symbols—The Churches Missionary Bodies—The Continued Existence of the Churches.
After our Lord had finished his work on earth, and before he had ascended into glory, he gave to his disciples the following commission: “All authority is given to me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo I am with you always even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:18-20). Under the terms of this commission Jesus gave to his churches the authority to evangelize the world.
A New Testament Church is a company of baptized believers voluntarily associated together for the maintenance of the ordinances and the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The distinctive characteristics of this church are clearly marked in the New Testament.
Such a church was a voluntary association and was independent of all other churches. It might be, and probably was, affiliated with other churches in brotherly relations; but it remained independent of all outward control, and was responsible to Christ alone, who was the supreme lawgiver and the source of all authority. Originally the teachers and the people conjointly administered the affairs of the church.
In the New Testament sense of the church there can be no such an organization as a National or General Church, covering a large district of country, composed of a number of local organizations. The church, in the Scriptural sense, is always an independent, local organization. Sister churches were “united only by the ties of faith and charity. Independence and equality formed the basis of their internal constitution” (Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, I. p. 554. Boston, 1854). Gibbon, always artistic in the use of material, continues: “Such was the mild and equal constitution by which the Christians were governed for more than a hundred years after the death of the apostles. Every society formed within itself a separate and independent republic; and although the most distant of these little states maintained a mutual, as well as friendly, intercourse of letters and deputations, the Christian world was not yet connected by any supreme or legislative assembly” (Ibid, p. 558).
The officers of the church were first, pastors, indifferently called elders or bishops, and, secondly, deacons. These were the honorable servants of a free people. The pastors possessed no authority above their brethren, save that by service they purchased to themselves a good degree of glory.
The more recent Episcopal writers, such as Jacob and Hatch, do not derive their system from the ancient Scriptural form of government, but always acknowledge the primitive congregational form of government, and declare that episcopacy is a later development In the New Testament, elder and bishop are different names to describe the same office. Dr. Lightfoot, the Bishop of Durham, in a very exhaustive discussion of the subject, says:
It is clear, that, at the close of the Apostolic Age, the two lower orders of the three fold ministry were firmly and widely established; but traces of the episcopate, properly so-called, are few and Indistinct. The episcopate was formed out of the presbyterial order by elevation; and the title, which originally was common to all, came at length to be appropriated to the chief of them (Lightfoot, Commentary on Philippians, pp. 180-276).
Dean Stanley represents the same view. He says:
According to the strict rules of the church derived from those early times, there are but two orders, presbyters and deacons (Stanley, Christian Institutions, p. 210).
Richard B. Rackham (The Acts of the Apostles cii), A. D. 1912, says of the word bishop (episcopos):
We may say at once that it had not yet acquired the definite sense which it holds in the letters of Ignatius (A. D. 115), and which it still holds today, viz., of a single ruler of a diocese. From Acts xx..28, Titus i. 6,7, and comparison with I Timothy iii. 2f., we should conclude that episcopus was simply a synonym for presbyter, and that the two offices were identical.
Knowling (The Expositors Greek Testament, II. pp. 435-437) reviews all of the authorities, Hatch (Smith and Cheetham, Dictionary of Christian Antiquities, II. p. 1700), Harnack (Gebhardt and Harnack, Clement of Rome, ed. altera, p. 5), Steinmetz, etc., and reaches the following conclusion:
This one passage (Acts 20:28) is also sufficient to show that the “presbyter” and the “bishop” were at first practically identical.
Jerome, at the end of the fourth century, reminds the bishops that they owe their elevation above the presbyters, not so much to divine institution as to ecclesiastical usage; for before the outbreak of controversies in the church there was no distinction between the two, except that presbyter was a term of age, and bishop a term of official dignity; but when men, at the instigation of Satan, erected parties and sects, and, instead of simply following Christ, named themselves of Paul, of Apollos, or Cephas, all agreed to put one of the presbyters at the head of the rest, that by his universal supervision of the churches, he might kill the seeds of division (Hieron. Comm. ad Tit. 1:7). The great commentators of the Greek Church agree with Jerome in maintaining the original identity of bishops and presbyters in the New Testament. Thus did Chrysostom (Hom. i. in Ep. ad Phil. 1:11); Theodoret (ad Phil. 1:1); Ambrosiaster (ad Eph. 4:11); and the pseudo-Augustinian (Questions V. et N. T. qu. p. 101).
There were two ordinances m the primitive church, baptism and the Supper of the Lord. Baptism was an outward confession of faith in Christ. It thus expressed a belief in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and a subsequent resurrection of all believers through the eternal Spirit.
Only believers were baptized and that upon a public profession of faith in Jesus Christ. The church was composed of believers or holy persons. The members were called in the New Testament “beloved of God, called to be saints”; “sanctified in Christ Jesus”; “faithful in Christ”; “God’s elect, holy, and beloved.” The conditions of membership were repentance, faith, righteousness, and the initiatory rite of baptism, which was symbolical of the changed life.
In this connection it is interesting to note that all the Pedobaptist Confessions of Faith include only believers in the definition of the proper members of a church, The following definition of a church is taken from the Augsburg Confession of Faith of the Lutheran Church. It fairly represents all the rest. It says:
To speak properly, the church of Christ is a congregation of the members of Christ; that is, of the saints, which do truly believe and rightly obey Christ.
So universal is this definition of a church in all of the Confessions of Faith that Köstlin, Professor of Theology in Halle, says: “The Reformed Confessions describe the Church as the communion of believers or saints, and condition its existence on the pure preaching of the Word” (Köstlin, Schaff-Herzog Religious Encyclopaedia, I. p. 474).
The above definition, consistently applied, excludes infant baptism, since infants are incapable of faith, which always, in the New Testament, is a prerequisite to baptism. The New Testament teaching is quite clear on this point. John the Baptist required that those who were applicants for baptism should experience repentance, exercise faith, make a confession of sin and live a righteous life (Math. 3:2; Acts 19:4). Jesus first made disciples and then baptized them (John 4:1), and gave distinct commandment that teaching should precede baptism (Math. 28:19). In the preaching of the apostles repentance antedates baptism (Acts 2:38): the converts were filled with joy, and only men and women were baptized (Acts 8:5, 8, 12). There is no account or inference implying the baptism of an infant by Jesus or his apostles.
This is generally conceded by scholars.
Döllinger, a Catholic scholar, Professor of Church History in the University of Munich, says: “There is no proof or hint in the New Testament that the apostles baptized infants or ordered them to be baptized” (John Joseph Ignatius Döllinger, The First Age of the Church, II. p. 184).
Dr. Edmund de Pressensé, a French Senator and Protestant, says: “No positive fact sanctioning the practice (of infant baptism) can be adduced from the New Testament; the historical proofs alleged are in no way conclusive” (Pressensé, Early Years of Christianity, p. 376. London, 1870).
Many authors of books treating directly on infant baptism affirm that it is not mentioned in the Scriptures. One writer only is here quoted. Joh. W. F. Höfling, Lutheran Professor of Theology at Erlangen, says: “The sacred Scriptures furnish no historical proof that children were baptized by the apostles” (Höfling, Das Sakrament der Taufe, p. 99. Erlangen, 1846. 2 vols.).
A few of the more recent authorities will not be amiss on this subject. The “Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics,” edited by Professor James Hastings and Professor Kirsopp Lake, of the University of Leyden, says: “There is no indication of the baptism of children” in the New Testament.
The “Real Encyklopädie fur Protestantiche Theologie und Kirche” (XIX. p. 403. 3rd edition), the great German encyclopaedia, says:
The practice of infant-baptism in the apostolic and post-apostolic age cannot be proved. We hear indeed frequently of the baptism of entire households, as in Acts 15:32f; 18:8; 1 Cor. 1:16. But the last passage taken, 1 Cor. 7:14, is not favorable to the supposition that infant baptism was customary at that time. For then Paul would not have written “else were your children unclean.”
Principal Robert Rainy, New College, Edinburgh, Presbyterian, says:
Baptism presupposed some Christian instruction, and was preceded by fasting. It signified the forgiveness of past sins, and was the visible point of departure of the new life under Christian Influence and with the Inspiration of Christian purposes and aims. Here it was the “seal” which concerned a man to keep inviolate (Rainy, Ancient Catholic Church, p. 75)
The form of baptism was dipping, or an immersion in water. John baptized in the river Jordan (Mark 1:5); and he baptized in Aenon near to Salim “because there was much water there” (John 3:23). Jesus was baptized in the Jordan (Mark 1:9), and he “went into the water” and he “came up out of the water” (Matthew 3:16). The symbolical passages (Rom. 6:3, 4; Col. 2:12), which describe baptism as burial and resurrection make it certain that immersion was the New Testament act of baptism.
This, indeed, is the meaning of the Greek word baptizein. The word is defined by Liddell and Scott, the secular Greek lexicon used in all colleges and universities, “to dip in or under the water.” In the lexicon of J. H. Thayer, the standard New Testament lexicon, the word is defined as an “immersion in water.” All scholarship confirms this view. Prof. R. C. Jebb, Litt. D., University of Cambridge, says: “I do not know whether there is any authoritative Greek-English lexicon which makes the word to mean ‘sprinkle’ or to ‘pour.’ I can only say that such a meaning never belongs to the word in Classical Greek” (Letter to the author. September 23, 1898). Dr. Adolf Harnack, University of Berlin, says: “Baptism undoubtedly signifies immersion. No proof can be found that it signifies anything else in the New Testament, and in the most ancient Christian literature” (Schaff, The Teaching of the Twelve, p. 50).
Dr. Dosker, Professor of Church History, Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Louisville, says:
Every candid historian will admit that the Baptist. have, both philologically and historically, the better of the argument, as to the prevailing mode of baptism. The word baptizo means immersion, both in classical and Biblical Greek, except where it is manifestly used in a tropical sense (Dosker, The Dutch Anabaptists, p. 176 Philadelphia, 1921).
Nothing is more certain than that the New Testament churches uniformly practiced immersion,
The Lord’s Supper shows forth the death of the Saviour till he shall come again. It is a perpetual memorial of the broken body and the shed blood of the risen Lord. In the Scriptures the Lord’s Supper is always preceded by the act of baptism, and there is no account of any person participating in the Supper who had not previously been baptized. That baptism should precede the Lord’s Supper is avowed by scholars of all communions.
Dr. William Wall sums up the entire historical field when he says: “For no church ever gave the communion to any persons before they were baptized. . . Since among all of the absurdities that ever were held, none ever maintained that any person should partake of the communion before he was baptized” (Wall, The History of Infant Baptism, I. pp. 632, 638. Oxford, 1862).
The Baptists have always insisted that the ordinances were symbols and not sacraments. Indeed this is the heart of their contention.
President E. Y. Mullins has concisely stated the historical contention of Baptists in the following words:
They have seen with great vividness and clearness of outline the central spiritual elements of Christianity. With a like vividness and clearness they have perceived the significance of the outward form. For them it has seemed as if the very life of Christianity depended upon keeping the spiritual and ceremonial elements in their respective places. Christian history certainly justifies them in their view. Forms and ceremonies are like ladders. On them we may climb up or down. If we keep them in their places as symbols, the soul feeds on the truth symbolized. If we convert them into sacraments, the soul misses the central vitality itself, spiritual communion with God. An outward religious ceremony derives its chief significance from the context in which it is placed, from the general system of which it forms a part. If a ceremony is set in the context of a spiritual system of truths, it may become an indispensable element for the furtherance of those truths. If it is set in the context of a sacramental system, it may and does become a means for obscuring the truth and enslaving the soul. It is this perception of the value of ceremonies as symbols and of their perils as sacraments which animates Baptists in their strenuous advocacy of a spiritual interpretation of the ordinances of Christianity (McGlothlin, Infant Baptism Historically Considered, p. 7).
The early churches were missionary bodies. They were required to carry out the great commission given by our Lord. The obedience to the missionary program laid out by the divine Lord, the disciples in a few generations preached the gospel to the known world. The first church was organized by Jesus and his apostles; and after the form of this one all other churches should be modeled. The churches so organized are to continue in the world until the kingdoms of this earth shall become the kingdom of our Lord, even Christ. Prophecy was full of the enduring character of the kingdom of Christ (Dan. 2:44, 45). Jesus maintained a like view of his church and extended the promise to all the ages. He said: “Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). The word church here is doubtless used in its ordinary, literal sense as a local institution; and in the only other passage where it is found in Matthew (18:17) it must be taken with the same signification. The great mass of scholarship supports the contention that this passage refers to the local, visible church of Christ (Meyer, Critical and Exegetical Handbook to the Gospel of Matthew).
The critical meaning of the word does not differ from this (Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 197). The word “church” was used by our Lord and the apostles not so much in contra-distinction to the Jewish Theocracy, as to the Jewish synagogue, and the synagogue was always local (Cremer, Biblico-Theological Lexicon of the New Testament Greek, pp. 330, 331). The Roman Catholics have always denied the existence of a universal spiritual church (Alzog, Universal Church History, Vol. I. pp. 108, 109). Until the German Reformation there was practically no other conception of a church. When Luther and others split off from the Roman Catholic Church, a new interpretation of this passage was adopted to suit the new views; so they held that Matthew 16:18 merely pointed to the ultimate triumph of Christianity. But manifestly this interpretation was remote from the meaning of the Lord.
Paul gives a large promise: “Unto him be glory in the church of Jesus Christ throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Eph. 3:21). Ellicott translates the passage: “To all the generations of the ages of ages.” The glory of Christ was to exist in all of the ages in the church. The church was, therefore, bound to exist in all of the ages. Even the redeemed in heaven are described in the Scriptures as a church.
The author believes that in every age since Jesus and the apostles, there have been companies of believers, churches, who have substantially held to the principles of the New Testament as now proclaimed by the Baptists. No attempt is made in these pages to trace a succession of bishops, as the Roman Catholics attempt to do, back to the apostles. Such an attempt is “laboring in the fire for mere vanity,” and proceeds upon a mistaken view of the nature of the kingdom of Christ, and of the sovereignty of God, in his operations on the earth. Jesus himself, in a reply to an inquiry put to him by the Pharisees (Luke 17:20-24), compares his kingdom to the lightning, darting its rays in the most sovereign and uncontrollable manner from one extremity of the heavens to the other. And this view corresponds to God’s dealings in the spiritual realm. Wherever God has his elect, there in his own proper time, he sends the gospel to save them, and churches after his model are organized (William Jones, The History of the Christian Church, xvii. Philadelphia. 1832).
The New Testament recognizes a democratic simplicity, and not a hierarchical monarchy. There is no irregularity, but a perpetual proclamation of principles. There is no intimation that there was not a continuity of churches, for doubtless there was, but our insistence is that this was not the dominant note in apostolic life. No emphasis is put on a succession of baptisms, or the historical order of churches. Some of the apostles were disciples of John the Baptist (John 1:35), but there is no record of the baptism of others, though they were baptized. Paul, the great missionary, was baptized by Ananias (Acts 9:17, 18), but it is not known who baptized Ananias. Nothing definite is known of the origin of the church at Damascus. The church at Antioch became the great foreign missionary center, but the history of its origin is not distinctly given. The church at Rome was already in existence when Paul wrote to them his letter. These silences occur all through the New Testament, but there is a constant recurrence of type, a persistence of fundamental doctrines, and a proclamation of principles. This marked the whole apostolic period, and for that matter, every period since that time.
This recurrence of type is recognized even where error was detected. The disciples desired Jesus to rebuke a man who walked not with them (Mark 9:40), but this Jesus refused to do. The church at Corinth was imperfect in practice and life. The Judaizing teachers constantly perverted the gospel, and John the Evangelist, in his last days, combated insidious error, but the great doctrines of the atoning work of Christ, conversion and repentance, the baptism of believers, the purity of the church, the freedom of the soul, and the collateral truths, were everywhere avowed. At times these principles have been combated and those who held them persecuted, often they have been obscured; sometimes they have been advocated by ignorant men, and at other times by brilliant graduates Of the universities, who frequently mixed the truth with philosophical speculations; yet; always, often under the most varied conditions, these principles have come to the surface.
Baptist churches have the most slender ties of organization, and a strong government is not according to their polity. They are like the river Rhone, which sometimes flows as a river broad and deep, but at other times is hidden in the sands. It, however, never loses its continuity or existence. It is simply hidden for a period. Baptist churches may disappear and reappear in the most unaccountable manner.. Persecuted everywhere by sword and by fire, their principles would appear to be almost extinct, when in a most wondrous way God would raise up some man, or some company of martyrs, to proclaim the truth.
The footsteps of the Baptists of the ages can more easily be traced by blood than by baptism. It is a 1ineage of suffering rather than a succession of bishops; a martyrdom of principle, rather than a dogmatic decree of councils; a golden chord of love, rather than an iron chain of succession, which, while attempting to rattle its links back to the apostles, has been of more service in chaining some protesting Baptist to the stake than in proclaiming the truth of the New Testament. It is, nevertheless, a right royal succession, that in every age the Baptists have been advocates of liberty for all, and have held that the gospel of the Son of God makes every man a free man in Christ Jesus.
Books for further reading and reference:
George P. Fisher (Congregationalist), A History of the Christian Church, pp. 1-44.
Philip Schaff (Presbyterian), History of the Christian Churches, Vol. I.
John Alzog (Roman Catholic), Manual of Universal Church History, 4 volumes.
Thomas J. Conant (Baptist), The Meaning and Uses of Baptizein.
John T. Christian, Immersion, the Act of Christian Baptism.
Edwin Hatch, The Organization of the Early Christian Churches.
By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen
First Baptist Church
The purpose of this post is to consider a shallow objection to the King James Version. Besides being shallow, it is so common that it needs to be addressed. However, let me make one thing perfectly clear: I do not endorse what is known as “King James Bible-onlyism. ” “King James Bible for me-onlyism” is a legitimate view to hold because we are entitled to our own preference. But “King James Bible for everyone-onlyism” is not acceptable. I have read the King James Version many, many times from beginning to end, and continue to read it through at least once a year. Long-time familiarity with it, and confidence in its general reliability, has made it my preferred Bible translation. After reading the KJV in the first six months of each year, I then read other translations in the second half of the year. Moreover, I preach and teach from the New King James Version. When preparing sermons and Bible studies, I use a number of other translations, including the old King James Version, the New American Standard Bible (updated edition), the Holman Christian Standard Bible ,the English Standard Version, and the NIV. When teaching Bible classes, I sometimes ask those present to read to the rest of us how their translation words a given verse being studied. But, I believe we do best to make the New King Version and the King James Version our primary and most-trusted translations.
Now that it has been made clear that I am not promoting “King James Bible-onlyism,” it is time to get to my subject: a shallow objection to the King James Version. The common objection is that the KJV’s use of antiquated words makes it hard to read. The most common examples are the words ye, thee, thou, thine, and thy. Another common objection is the KJV’s use of antiquated word-endings, such as eth, est, as in “understandest.” and readeth.” Below is the entire eighth chapter of the New Testament’s Book of Acts. It can be read for its many examples of the antiquated words which so many readers object to.
Why is objection to these antiquated words in the King James Version shallow? It is because there are many other words in it, and in most other English Bible translations, that, though they are easier to pronounce, are very profound and sometimes complex in their meanings. To learn the definitions of these words takes a lot of mental effort, partly because some of them mean different things in different Biblical contexts. And yet, in my many years of ministry, not one person has told me they don’t like to read the King James Version because of these words. What words am I talking about? The great theological words of the Bible. Here are some of them:
My point is, if you don’t object to learning the meanings of the theological words listed above, you have no good reason to object to the King James Version because of its antiquated words whose meanings are usually quite simple, and whose pronunciations don’t take much effort to learn.
What follows is the eighth chapter of Acts from the King James Version. It was taken from this website: http://www.biblegateway.com.
Acts 8 King James Version (KJV)
And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.
2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.
4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
6 And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
7 For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.
8 And there was great joy in that city.
9 But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:
10 To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.
11 And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.
12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
13 Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.
14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:
16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.
22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.
24 Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.
25 And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.
26 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.
27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,
28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.
29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.
30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?
31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.
32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:
33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.
34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?
35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.
40 But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.
By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen
First Baptist Church
Is Satan attacking the King James Version of the Bible? ( If you are not familiar with Bible translations, this one was first published in 1611 A. D. by The Church Of England, and it has been the world’s most-popular translation since then, or at least up until recent decades. It is also known as the King James Bible, the KJV, and the Authorised Version. It was authorised by King James back in the 1600’s. It is a good translation, although getting used to its antiquated language takes time.) Now, back to my question: Is Satan attacking the King James Version? Without hesitation, I can emphatically say, “Yes, he is!” Satan is doing so because, in spite of its antiquated language, it faithfully expresses the original languages from which it was translated, and it, therefore, faithfully presents to us every fundamental truth of the Christian faith. Satan knows the Bible is the Word of God, so he diligently works to attack it. In 1 Peter 5:8 & 9, the apostle Peter told Christians this important truth: “Be sober, be vigilant: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” One of the key ways that the devil/ Satan, attacks Christians is by attacking the Word of God, the Bible. And he attacks non-Christians in the same way. He sows seeds of doubt about the truths of the Bible in the minds of both Christians and non-Christians.
But the fact of the matter is, Satan is not only attacking the King James Version. He is attacking all other Bible translations that faithfully express the languages in which the Bible was originally written, and which, therefore, faithfully present to us every fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith. Besides the King James Version, here are some other English Bible translations that Satan is attacking: the New King James Version, the English Standard Version, the New American Standard Version, the Holman Christian Standard Bible, and the New International Version. I have less faith in New International Version that the others mentioned, but it still presents the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith just as they are found in the Bible’s original languages. The persons involved in all of these translations believed, just like the translators of the King James Version, in the fundamentals of the Christian faith, and they, therefore, sought to clearly express them in their translations. This is why their translations are under Satanic attack. We may not like how some things are worded in these translations, but no cardinal doctrine of Christianity is left out of them. These translations are not deliberate attempts to attack the Christian faith, as is the so-called Jehovah’s Witnesses so-called Bible translation, which was made in order to fool readers into thinking the Bible supports their non-Christian beliefs.
Very cleverly, Satan is using well-meaning Christians to attack the good translations mentioned above simply because those translations are not the King James Version. Many King James Version-onlyists speak out against these translations, even though the fundamentals of the faith are found in them. It is plain to see that Satan would be behind this attack on God’s truth. He is unable to eliminate the Bible altogether from the face of the earth, so he stomps on its truths with the heels of anyone available, even well-meaning Christians. Let me give two examples of how this is done. In Isaiah 14:1, the King James Version says, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to ground, which didst weaken the nations!” But the NIV (New International Version) says in Isaiah 14:12, “How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!” Many King James Version-onlyists strongly oppose the NIV because it does not say, as does the King James Version, “Lucifer,” a term for Satan, but “morning star,” a term for Jesus Christ. But had they done some homework on this subject, they would not have attacked the NIV. If they had looked at the marginal note in the 1611 King James Version, they would have seen that it gives an alternate reading for “Lucifer.” The marginal note in my 1611 KJV says, “Or, O daystarre.” Had these KJV-onlyists looked up the word “Lucifer” in The New Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies, they would have found this definition: “according to LXX., Vulg., Targ., Rabbib., Luth., brilliant star, i. e. Lucifer, the morning star. This suits best with the context and parallelism. Isa. xiv.12.” Had these persons looked up the meaning of “Lucifer” in the Strongest Strong’s Concordance of the King James Version, they would have found this definition: “from the base meaning ‘shining one,’ this refers to an object in the night sky, often translated ‘morning star,’ and possibly referring the planet Venus; fig. used as a title of the king of Babylon (Isa. 14:12) The Latin ‘lucifer’ also means ‘shining one,’ and has become a title of Satan due to a traditional equation of the king of Babylon with the devil.” Here is a second example to make my point: Many years ago, the NIV (New International Version) was attacked because it, so we were told, left out the blood of Christ. Though I was not then very fond of the NIV, and still have reservations about its principles of translation, I decided to check out the claim that the NIV had left out the blood of Christ. So, I looked up every verse in the KJV New Testament that made specific reference to the Lord’s blood, and then looked at those same verses in my 1984 edition of the NIV. What did I find? Only one verse in the NIV, Colossians 1:14, did not make specific reference to the blood of Christ. Now, is it right to say the NIV leaves out the blood of Christ, when the difference between it and the KJV is only one verse? Of course not! But, many persons who have heard this same falsehood about the NIV promoted by KJV-onlyists, have begun to oppose it because they didn’t bother to look into it themselves.
As said above: Is Satan attacking the King James Version? Yes! But the fact of the matter is, he is not only attacking the King James Version. He is attacking all other Bible translations that faithfully express the languages in which the Bible was originally was written, and which, therefore, faithfully present to us every fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith. We should not let ourselves be used by the devil to stomp his heels on God’s truth, even if we don’t like the translation(s) in which it is found. God’s truth will ultimately prevail over Satan, just as the graphic above demonstrates. In God’s time, Satan will be forever confined to the eternal lake of fire.
By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen
First Baptist Church
My theme is put as a question: Does God expect all of us to read the King James Version of the Bible? (For those not very familiar with Bible translations, the King James Version is also known as the KJV, the King James Bible, and as the Authorised Version.) My question uses the word “us.” “Does God expect all of us to read the King James Version?” By “us,” I mean those who read English. As most of us know, much of the world’s population reads and speaks Engllsh, even if it is not their mother tongue.
Now, back to my question: “Does God expect all of us to read the King James Version?” It is becoming increasingly common for Christians to answer the question in the affirmative. They would answer the question this way: “Yes, God expects the English-speaking world to read the King James Version.” Here is the reason they think this way: they believe that only the King James Version is, as they put it, “God’s preserved Word for the English-speaking world.” Now, if that is true, it is only logical that they would believe God expects all of us who read English to read the King James Version. This is not to imply that these persons would say another translation cannot be read. But these persons would say that only the King james Version can be read as the inspired, inerrant, infallible, and preserved Word of God. They would say that, since God expects us to read his Word, he expects us to read the King James Version.
Here are some things to think about concerning the opinion that God expects all of us to read the King James Version . First, it is an opinion that was rarely, if ever, held until recent years. I have read many doctrinal statements of churches and Christian organizations. Some of these doctrinal statements go back a long time, even hundreds of years. But only in recent years have I begun to come across this position in a doctrinal statement. Second, the translators of the King James Version did not think their translation was exclusively God’s preserved Word for the English-speaking world. I have carefully read, and have done so a few times, an important document found in the front of the 1611 King James Version. It is called, “The Translators To The Reader.” Those admirable translators did not say their translation was God’s preserved Word for the English-speaking world. They also said no Bible translation, including their own, was perfect. They even said a translation does not have to be perfect to be the Word of God. Third, many of those who hold this rare view of the King James Version do so because they think it has been translated exclusively from the Masoretic Hebrew text of the Old Testament, and the Textus Receptus (Received Text) of the New Testament. Because they think these texts in the original languages are the only reliable ones, and because they think the King James Version is based only on them, they conclude that the King James Version is the only absolutely reliable English Bible translation. That is why they think it is “God’s preserved Word for the English-speaking world.” But they are mistaken about the texts from which the King James Version was translated. Even E. F. Hills, a strong advocate of the King James Version, and one who might appropriately be called a moderate “King James Version-onlyist,” pointed out that the KJV’s translators did not always follow the Hebrew Masoretic Old Testament or the Greek Received Text. I have carefully read his book called, “The King James Version Defended,” in which he pointed out that the KJV’s translators did not always follow these texts. He so clearly dealt with this subject that it makes me wonder how KJV-onlyists can recommend his book. To read my posting in which I quote extensively from E. F. Hills, it is titled, “The King James Version And The Texts Upon Which It is Based.” Fourth, those who believe the King James Version is “God’s preserved Word for the English-speaking world,” seem unaware of the fact that there have been word changes, not just spelling changes, in this translation since it was first published in 1611. I know some are unaware of this fact, but it seems many other KJV-onlyists ignore it. To face it means they must answer a valid question: Which edition of King James Version is, as they put it, “God’s preserved Word for the English-speaking world”? In other words, which words of the King James Version are “God’s preserved Word for the English-speaking world”? The question is a valid one, even if there is only one word difference between the 1611 KJV and another one. But the fact is, there are many word differences between the 1611 edition and ones now in use. And I am referring only to editions that say “KIng James Version” on them.
Here are a few examples of how the 1611 KJV differs from later editions: My 1611 edition says in Matthew 16:16, “Thou art Christ,” but another KJV says, “Thou art the Christ.” My 1611 edition says in Luke 1:3, “It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of things from the very first,” but another KJV says, “It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first,” ” My 1611 edition says in 1 Corinthians 12;28, “helps in governments,” but another KJV says, “helps, governments.” My 1611 edition says in 1 Timothy 1:4, “rather than edifying,” but another KJV says, “rather than godly edifying.” My 1611 edition says in 1 John 5:12, “he that hath not the Son, hath not life,” but another KJV says, “he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” My 1611 edition says in Jude 25, “To the onely wise God our Saviour, be glory and maiestie, dominion and power, now and euer. Amen,” but another KJV says, “To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” In Jude 25, the significant change is in wording, not in spelling.
What follows is a quote from an old book that could be classified as KJV-only. The book is called, “Translators Revived,” and was written by Alexander McClure. My copy says it is from the 1858 edition. It has a foreword and update by R. E. Rhoades. I have carefully read this book. It is very strongly pro-King James Version, and the author presented many interesting facts, some of which apply to the subject of this posting. Here is the quote, taken from the book’s “Conclusion.” It says, “Among so many reprints of the Bible, and in so many different offices, ,it would have been a mass of miracles had not many inaccuracies crept in through error and oversight on the part of printers and correctors of the press. As this is a point on which every reader of the Bible must feel some anxiety, it may be well to make the following statement. A very able committee of the American Bible Society, spent some three years in a diligent and laborious comparison of recent copies of the best edition of the American Bible Society, and of the four leading editions, namely those of London, Oxford, Cambridge, and Edinburgh, and also of the original edition of 1611. The number of variations in the text and punctuations of these six copies was found to fall but little short of twenty-four thousand. A vast amount! Quite enough to frighten us, till we read the committee’s assurance, that ‘of all this great number, there is not one which mars the integrity of the text, or affects any doctrine or precept of the Bible.’ As this, however, is a point in which the minutest accuracy is to be sought, that Committee have prepared an edition wherein these variations are set right, to serve as standard copy for the Society to print by in the future.” (Italics are used in the book quoted.)
If the King James Version is “God’s preserved Word for the English-speaking world,” we need to find out which edition we should read.
For your information, I preach and teach from the New King James Version and the King James Version. But I also read and quote other translations.