God's Preserved Word
When the devil tempted Jesus to turn rocks into bread, our Savior responded with “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matt 4:4). Therefore, we must live by every word of God. But, in order to do this, we must have every word of God. How do we know that we have every word of God today? We know this because God has promised to preserve them for us.
The Bible was Written by God
First, remember that the Word of God was inspired directly by God. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God…” (2 Timothy 3:16) and “…holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter 1:21). The inspired word of God was pure, perfect, and infallible. But the original manuscripts disappeared centuries ago. How do we know that we have every word of God? We know this, because He has promised to preserve them.
The Bible was Preserved by God
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.
The Word is For the People
Now that we know that God has preserved His Word, who did He preserve it for? Was it preserved for everyone, or just the Bible scholars? Psalm 117, the shortest chapter in the Bible, exhorts the people to praise the Lord, because His truth, His Word endures forever. “O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD.” Therefore, God preserved His word for the people, for everyone.
For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh [near] unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it. (Deuteronomy 30:11-14)
God’s Word is not hidden from us. The Word of the Lord is not preserved only in Heaven or in some language we cannot understand. God’s Word is preserved for us, on earth, in our language, that we may live by “every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” It is preserved for us, everyone who is (or will become) a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ.
Where is God's Word?
Having established God's promise to preserve His Word to all generations, the question arises, if God's Word is available today, then where is it? God's inspired, preserved Word IS available today, BOTH in the original languages, and in translations. In English, it can be found in the King James Version.
In the Greek
God's preserved Word is available in the original Greek. If God has pre-served His Word, the manuscript evidence will closely follow the original through all time periods, but with a few heretical offshoots. It will resemble a tree with a thick straight trunk, with only a few branches.
However, there are several different text-types of the Greek text. A text-type is a group of manuscripts having a strong agreement, especially on passages on which other manuscripts disagree. The two main text-types are the Byzantine and the Alexandrian. Which of these is the true Word of God? Advocates of the Byzantine text-type will point out that 95% of all known manuscripts fall into this category. Advocates of the Alexandrian claim the Byzantine was produced by a revision of the Alexandrian text around 350 A.D. However, if the Alexandrian text is the Word of God, then the Word was lost for 1,500 years between the supposed revision of 350 and it's rediscovery in the mid 1800's. But God promised His Word to all generations (Ps 100:5). God's promise of preservation is the strongest witness against the Alexandrian text.
The Word of God is found in the Byzantine text-type. The strong agreement of the Byzantine manuscripts, and the continuity of the text dates back at least as far as the Alexandrian as evidenced in ancient translations. The Byzantine text is evident in the Peshitta Syrac (145 A.D.) and Old Latin (157 A.D.) translations, dating two centuries before the supposed revision of 350 A.D.
The disagreements of the Alexandrian manuscripts, not just with the Byzantine, but AMONG THEMSELVES, prove them to be unreliable at best. The scholar John W. Burgon examined the five most revered Alexandrian manuscripts in depth, and concluded that “they render inconsistent testimony in every verse.” Of four of these, he writes “… [they] differ essentially, not only from ninety-nine out of a hundred of the whole body of extant MSS. besides but even from one another.” These differences are evident in translations. For example, look up Mark 16:9-20 only to find a footnote implying that this passage isn't authentic. However, only TWO manuscripts (of over 5000) omit this passage! Therefore, the Byzantine text-type is the Word of God.
God's Word is not limited to the original languages. For if God could use men to inspire and preserve His Word perfectly, surely He could guide men to translate it perfectly. For one of the Spiritual gifts is “interpretation [translation] of tongues [languages]” (1 Cor 12:10). In Mark 15:34, which is the Word of God, the original “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani” or the translation “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” It is self-evident, that BOTH are the Word of God. Therefore, we can conclude that God has inspired, preserved, and translated His Word for us today.
Which Bible Translation is the
Word of God?
For a Bible translation to be the preserved Word of God, it must use the Byzantine text, and it must be translated literally. Byzantine translations include the KJV and NKJV, while most other modern translations (NIV, NASB, ESV, etc.) use the Alexandrian text as their basis.
The translation must also use the proper translation method. There are, in general, two translation methods, formal equivalency, and dynamic equivalency. Formal equivalency seeks to create a literal word-for-word translation, to represent the original as closely as possible. Formal equivalency translations include the NASB, KJV and ESV. Dynamic equivalency seeks to create a thought-for-thought or idea-for-idea translation, de-emphasizing the actual words, and emphasizing the meaning of those words. Dynamic equivalency translations include the NIV, NKJV, KJV-ER, and NLT. Dynamic equivalency seeks to make the Bible more understandable. This may seem a noble cause, however, it forgets the emphasis which God has placed on His very Words. “…my WORDS shall not pass away…” Man cannot live by “every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4) using a dynamic translation. We must realize that only a literal, word-for-word translation can be taken literally as the Word of God.
The KJV is the only English translation commonly in print that uses BOTH the correct Greek text, and the correct translation method. Since most Bibles use either the Alexandrian text or dynamic equivalency, they cannot be trusted to contain every Word of God. Therefore, we can believe the KJV to be the inspired, preserved Word of God in English.