When reading the Bible or working through your faith, the question of credibility might pop in your head. It’s scary to let the thought creep in, Is what I believe a lie? Am I being duped?
The Bible has been scrutinized and tested even at the beginning stages of its formation. Even the first century church was concerned about the credibility of God’s word. They didn’t know who to trust at times and found themselves believing a lie. If you look in the New Testament at Paul’s letters, he had to give them a “sign of genuineness” to let churches know that a letter was really from him. (2 Thessalonians 3:17)
Doing a little bit of research, you will find that manuscripts dating merely 20-30 years after the resurrection of Jesus have been discovered. The Institute for Christian Research summarizes the validity of early New Testament manuscripts this way, “The New Testament was written in first century A.D. There are some 25,000 early manuscripts in existence, almost 6,000 of which (many being only recognizable fragments) are Greek texts and the others being early translations of the Greek New Testament.” (See Resource 1 for link to article) The Bible has exceeded in manuscript count many other popular titles that go uncontested for validity, including works by Caesar and Aristotle.
Not only is it remarkable that we have manuscripts dating back so closely to the time of Christ, it is also astounding that there are no crucial differences when comparing later copies of these manuscripts. Dr. Del Tackett, creator of the Truth Project Series, notes that 99% of the errors in manuscript copies are due to grammatical and spelling errors. They do not pertain to the root of the message being communicated by the words themselves.
In an article on his blog, Dr. Tackett writes, “When one fragment has two words transposed compared to thousands that don’t, it is easy to recognize a copy error. This is why we can have such a high degree of confidence that we know what was in those originals. Yes, there are a handful of variants that are ‘substantial’ but none of them ‘substantially affect’ our Christian doctrine.” (See Resource 2 for link to article)
Throughout the history of the church, the Bible has been handled with serious care by those who possessed it. Those translating the Bible would oftentimes put their life on the line because authorities did not want scripture to be put in the hands of the people. This did not stop theologians like Martin Luther and John Wycliffe from tirelessly working to translate scripture into common language.
These translations were not done as a way for them to get ahead, but as a way to get God’s message out to the world. Accuracy was absolutely important to them. It was also important to monks who carefully wrote copies of manuscripts to preserve the truth of God through time.
In this day and age of mass printing, we can enjoy the luxury of various translations of the Bible. Due to the amount of manuscripts we have of the Bible, we have translations that go straight back to the original texts and the original languages. We have at our fingertips the most accurate translations possible of the most important book in the world.
It is with this affirmation of the credibility of scripture that we can open up the book of Revelation and read it as an untainted prophecy from God.
To finish this very brief summary of the credibility of scripture, I will leave you with the reassurance that God is more concerned about the preservation of His word than any apostle, monk, theologian, or translator. Here are some of the final words from John in the book of Revelation: “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” (Revelation 22:18-19)
Read with sound faith!
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