A study of Bible history will reveal God’s preservation of His Word from Satanic perversion. God’s Word began as a single oral command. From the very beginning, Satan caused man to doubt the Word’s authenticity and authority. From the very beginning, God was preserving His Word from Satan and his minions. The devil tries to keep God’s Word out of our hands, our heads, and our hearts. God’s Word has been preserved to all generations (Ps 100:5). Jesus Christ Himself told us that His words would never pass away. “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35). Peter informs us that the Word lives and abides with us forever:
“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” (1 Peter 1:23-25).
God’s word is preserved to the very word. Jesus said “my words shall not pass away…”. His WORDS are preserved, not His thoughts, ideas, or concepts.
God continued the revelation of His Word through the prophets, who wrote in Hebrew, the language of the common people. However, the devil stepped in, and seduced the people away from the Word into idolatry. Because of their sins, the nation of Israel was eventually led away into captivity.
A few hundred years later, the Living Word of God appeared (John 1:1-4). When the devil confronted the Living Word, He rebuked him with the Written Word (Matt 4:3,4). At the appointed time, the Living Word was hung on a cross, to die for your sins and those of the whole world. Above Him, in three common languages, was the inscription “Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews.” But the devil can no more destroy the Living Word than he can destroy the Written Word. Christ arose from the dead to die no more.
Jesus Christ sent out His apostles to be His witnesses. Paul and the other apostles would write many letters to the newly planted churches. Some of these were inspired by God, some were not. These were distributed by believers, just as we today buy books and CDs of our favorite pastors. Eventually, the Holy Spirit separated the inspired works from the uninspired.
In this time of transition, conditions were ripe for heresy. Heretics penned false epistles and passed them off as being written by the apostles. “…nor by letter as from us…” (2 Thess 2:2). Paul’s second epistle to the Thessalonians was in direct responcs to one of these frauds. Soon, heretics were even altering the text of Scripture.
The name of “Christian” originated in Antioch, Syria (Acts 11:26). Antioch was the homebase of Paul’s missionary journeys, and a distribution center of the Scriptures. Bible manuscripts which circulated out from Antioch have been classified as Antiochan or Byzantine. As Antioch was known for sending out the first missionaries, Alexandria, Egypt was known for sending out the first heresies. Alexandria was a center of Gnosticism, and THE center of Arianism. At Alexandria’s famous university, Clement of Alexandria sought to mix the teachings of Christ with the pagan philosophies of Plato and Philo.
Origen, Clement’s successor, was known for his allegorical approach to the Scriptures. The allegorical approach “spiritualizes” the interpretation of Scripture by arbitrarily attaching any meaning to any word. Example: Phil 3:14 “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” The allegorical interpretation could say that the “prize” is money, the “high calling” is “fame, success and fortune” and “press” means “push, shove, and fight.” Thus, one allegorical interpretation of this verse may be “Push others out of your way so that you may get wealth, fame, and position.” Thus, the Scriptures can be made to read however desired.
Origen also had no problems with changing the Scriptures to match his beliefs. Emperoer Constantine commissioned Origen’s successor Eusebius to produce 50 Bibles. Eusebius produced them from Origen’s altered text. This text became known as the Alexandrian text.
The OT Scriptures had been written in a common language (Hebrew). Likewise, the NT Scriptures were written in a common language (Koine Greek). Early Christians translated it into other common languages, such as Syriac (Peshito, 145 AD), and Old Latin (Italia Biblia, 157 AD). Around 400 AD, Jerome produced the Latin Vulgate from the Alexandrian text. This became the Bible of the emerging Roman Catholic Church, and Latin, no longer a common language, became the scholarly language of the Catholic Church. The Bible was now a book of the learned, not a book of the common people. The Church of Rome decreed:
We prohibit also that the laity should be permitted to have the books of the Old or the New Testament…we most strictly forbid their having and translation of these books. (Council of Toulouse, Cannon 14).
However, Bible-believing Christians existed outside of Rome, preserving the pure Word of God. These believers went by many names, including Donatists, Waldensians, Albigenses, and Anabaptists.
The Reformers of the 16th century rediscovered the original Bible languages. Erasmus, Stephanus, and Beza collated Greek manuscripts, and produced several printed editions of the Greek text. This text rejected Alexandrian readings in favor of Byzantine. The Catholic Church had denied the commoners the Bible; however, the Reformers were quick to put the Bible back in the hands of the common man through many vernacular translations. It is important to note that the Byzantine text was used to produce ALL of the Protestant Bibles, including the KJV of 1611.
The Catholic Church responded with the “Counter-Reformation.” The Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible was translated from the Vulgate. Also, Catholic scholars began infiltrating Protestant seminaries and indoctrinating the students. In the mid 1800s, B.F. Westcott and J. F. A. Hort, both closet Catholics posing as Anglicans, produced their own Greek text, based primarily on two manuscripts, Vaticanus and Sinaiticus. Vaticanus was “discovered” in the Vatican library in the 15th century; it’s previous history is unknown. Sinaiticus was discovered in an Orthodox monastery, in a heap of trash, waiting to be burnt! Both have an Alexandrian text, disagreeing heartily with the Byzantine Text and the KJV, while agreeing with the Vulgate and other Catholic Bibles.
About this time, the Church of England authorized a revision of the KJV. The revision committee was to remedy “plain and clear errors” in the KJV, while “…introduc[ing] as few alterations as possible…” to the text. However, Westcott and Hort were appointed to the committee. They brought their own text into the revision, and swore the committee to secrecy. Thus, the Revised Version (1881) was produced from an Alexandrian text, and introduced 30,000 changes to the KJV text.
Most Bibles since the Revised Version have used some variant of the Alexandrian text, usually an edition of the Nestle-Aland text or the UBS text. Also, many modern translations have watered down and softened Bible doctrine through loose translation. “Dynamic equivalency” and “paraphrase” translations, done with the intent on making the text easier to read, give the translators liberty to put their own interpretation into the text. (Remember the allegorical tendencies of Origen?)
However, the KJV remains solid, faithful to the true Byzantine text, and doctrinally accurate. Therefore, we can believe the KJV to be the inspired, preserved Word of God in English.