Introduction: Each week we have been building an argument about why
humans should pay close attention to the word of God. In all of this
our assumption is that the Bible is God’s word. Do you know how we
came to have the Bible? Some people talk as if the complete text, in
the King James version, fell out of heaven and humans accepted it and
reprinted it. The truth is far different. Recently, the pagan world
has begun to make a direct attack on the composition of the Bible.
The popular book and movie, the Da Vinci Code, claims that certain
books that should have been in the New Testament were left out.
Books left out? What is that about? Let’s dive into our lesson and
find out more!

  1. Adding and Subtracting

    1. Read Revelation 22:18-19. Why does John, the writer of
      Revelation, refer to his writing as a “book of prophecy”
      as opposed to “the last section of the Bible?” (Because it
      was not a part of the Bible when it was written.)

      1. What was John concerned about? (That someone would
        tamper with the text and add or remove something.)

      2. This warning tells us something about John’s thoughts
        about the authority under which he wrote the book.
        What is it? (He clearly believes God is involved in
        the writing.)

    2. Read Deuteronomy 4:1-2. What warning does Moses give us
      about what he has written on behalf of God? (He does not
      want anyone adding or subtracting from what he has written
      on God’s behalf.)

    3. Should these two great writers of the Bible have been
      worried? Is this adding or subtracting issue a problem?

    4. As you look at your Bible today, what are the issues that
      go into the question of whether what you have in your
      hands is reliable? (Let’s start from the top and drill
      down. First, is my translation accurate? Did the
      translator do a good job? Second, was the translator
      working on the right original language text? If people are
      tempted to add or subtract from the text of the Bible, how
      can I know my translator was using accurate text? Third,
      how can I know if the books that appear in my Bible are
      the right ones? Don’t Catholics have more? Doesn’t the
      DaVinci Code say some books that should be in the Bible
      are not there?)

  2. What Books Constitute Scripture?

    1. Read 1 Timothy 5:17-18. What is Paul referring to when he
      says these words come from “Scripture?” (Paul had
      something that he was calling the Bible.)

      1. Read Deuteronomy 25:4, Matthew 10:10 and Luke 10:7.
        Who or what is Paul quoting? (He is quoting Moses and
        Jesus. Thus, we know that the early church considered
        the writings of Moses and Jesus to be Scripture. The
        early church considered at least the Old Testament
        and the words of Jesus to be “the Bible.”)

    2. How did we get the rest of the New Testament? (Volume 5 of
      the SDA Bible Commentary at pages 123-132 and an popular
      article by C. Hansen found at (see “Fax from Heaven?”)outline the historical
      process by which the early church made a judgment on which
      of the books and letters written by the apostles and early
      leaders were to be considered part of the New Testament:

      The New Testament was the good news
      concerning Jesus Christ, and
      Christians naturally believed that
      the most authentic presentations of
      this message were those written by
      men who had been with Jesus.
      Consequently only those works were
      accepted … that were the products
      of an apostle or of a companion of an
      apostle writing in the apostolic
      period. (5 SDA Bible Commentary 132)

  3. Is the Text Accurate?

    1. Scholars believe that Revelation, the last book of the
      Bible, was written about 90 A.D. Are any originals of any
      New Testament books or letters still around? (No. The very
      oldest fragment of a copy of a book of the New Testament
      is a few verses of John 18 which are believed to date back
      to 100-115 A.D. (P.W. Comfort, Early Manuscripts & Modern
      Translations of the New Testament, p. 4 (Tyndale 1990))

    2. If there are no originals, but merely copies of copies,
      how can we know that the text of what we call the Bible is
      accurate? (We have a lot of copies. There are nearly 4,500
      manuscripts of the Greek New Testament known to exist. (5
      SDA Bible Commentary 112)

    3. When I was young, almost everyone used the King James
      version of the Bible. On what is the KJV based? (The King
      James and the New King James versions of the New Testament
      are based on a group of copies of the New Testament called
      “Textus Receptus.” These included copies of copies of New
      Testament books and manuscripts dating from as recently as
      700-800 A.D. (5 SDA Bible Commentary 116-119, 140-142) The
      reason for this is that the KJV translation was first
      written in 1611. Most people do not realize the KJV was
      the 8th major English translation of the Bible. (5 SDA
      Bible Commentary 128(see chart), 142.) According to P.W.
      Comfort, in the last 100 years we have found almost 100
      New Testament manuscripts from the sands and ruins of
      Egypt that go back to 200 A.D. (Comfort, pp. xvii, 27)
      Within the last year, the Smithsonian hosted an ancient
      manuscript exhibit in which I saw a fragment which dated
      back to about 125 A.D.!)

    4. Why is it that the King James translation has sections in
      it that do not appear in more modern translations like the
      New International Version? (As we discover more and
      earlier sections of the Bible, the scholars look to see if
      there is agreement in those copies. For example, if all of
      the copies of a section of the book of John which are
      dated before 250 A.D. do not contain a certain verse, then
      it seems logical to conclude that some scribe added his
      own comment later – and scribes coming after him who were
      copying from his copy, thought it came from the original.
      In that way, the recent discovery of more ancient
      fragments and copies gives us a more accurate view of what
      was originally written.)

    5. Should you be worried about missing verses? Worried about
      something important left out or something unwanted added
      to your Bible? (All of the commentators that I have read
      agree that we are talking about a small percentage of the
      New Testament that is disputed – and nothing that involves
      a major doctrine of the Christian faith. We have great
      evidence for the reliability of our New Testament –
      regardless of which translation you use.)

  4. Admissions Against Interest

    1. Think of the times you have told a story about yourself.
      Did you make yourself look better or worse in the story?

    2. Read Galatians 2:11-13. How would you describe Peter’s
      conduct? (Inconsistent, hypocritical. He was eating with
      the Gentiles. But, when some Jews from the “home office”
      showed up, he stopped eating with the Gentiles.)

      1. Why does the Bible include this story about one of
        the great followers of Jesus?

      2. Is Paul telling this story so the Gentiles will like
        him better than Peter? (Perhaps, although that seems
        unworthy of Paul. A better explanation is that this
        is common in the Bible. The Bible does not hide the
        character flaws of God’s great followers.)

      3. What can we conclude from the fact that the Bible
        tells the truth about its heroes? (When you are
        testifying in an American courtroom, you are normally
        not allowed to repeat what someone else said outside
        the courtroom. Reason is that those words cannot be
        tested for accuracy by cross-examination. There are
        some exceptions to this rule, and one of them is when
        a person outside of court says something that is
        damaging to himself. This is called an “admission
        against interest.” These statements are considered to
        have passed the truth test because a person is
        generally telling the truth when he admits something
        bad about themself.)

    3. Friend, you can rely on the Bible! Will you determine
      today to buy a Bible that you can easily understand, and
      then start reading it?

  5. Next week: When the Rocks Cry Out.