Jean Jacques Rousseau, the Genevan philosopher, said, “Pursue the books of philosophers with all their pomp and diction. How meager, how contemptible are they when compared with the Scriptures! The majesty of the Scriptures strikes me with admiration.” The Bible is indeed an incomparable book! From eternity past, God ordained a process for delivering the thought of His mind to the mind of man. On top of that, He has protected it and kept it undefiled. Theologians call this activity “preservation.” Francis Turretin, a Reformation professor from Geneva, commented on this idea: “If men use the utmost care diligently to preserve their words…in order that it may not be corrupted, how much more…would God take care of his word.” Scripture speaks of God’s safekeeping of His Word. The prophet Isaiah said, “So my word that comes from my mouth will not return to me empty, but it will accomplish what I please and will prosper in what I send it to do” (Isaiah 55:11). Consider three ideas related to the preservation of Scripture.
confirms the way in which Scripture has been kept from all harm. In 1947, there was an amazing find in caves near the Dead Sea. A truckload of ancient documents were found within various different jars. They were marvelously preserved. All in all, about 175 copies of biblical texts were found. Fragments from every Old Testament book were found. What’s amazing about the Dead Sea Scrolls is this — prior to their discovery, the oldest copies of Old Testament books we had were from the tenth century after Christ. The documents found in 1947 were from 100 B.C. to A.D. 100. In comparing the older with the newer, scholars found that the documents were similar! Copyists’ care had ensured that the Word of God was passed down throughout the ages. The Lord’s promise is true! Jesus affirmed that the Bible will endure forever. On one occasion, He told His disciples, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35).
Prevalence of Manuscripts
We don’t possess any of the original copies of New Testament writings, but we do have around 5,700 handwritten Greek manuscripts available for our observation. This number is staggering when compared to the number of ancient copies for other popular works. Seven manuscripts of Plato’s writings are available. There are ten documents backing Caesar’s works. Homer, a must-read author in most western world literature classes, has 643 manuscripts available for consumption. These numbers are indicative of the fact that the Bible is a book unlike any other book!
Confidence in Scripture
Balthasar Hubmaier, an influential anabaptist from the Reformation, famously said, “Truth is immortal.” He poignantly summed up God’s promises concerning the un-killable nature of the Bible. God has promised to preserve His revelation of Himself from all corruption. When you hold the Good Book in your hand, you hold a book that has existed before time began (Psalm 119:89-96), and it will exist until time ends. Make sure you develop a healthy reverence and regard for God’s Word! Read it, memorize it, study it, obey it, and talk about it!
Dr. Patrick Latham