Tuesday, May 23, 2017

I John 5:7 Grammar argument

“The arguments in favor of I John 5:7’s claim to genuineness include an argument from Greek grammar. The complete text of verses 7 and 8 with the disputed words in brackets is:
7 ὅτι τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες [ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, ὁ πατήρ, ὁ λόγος καὶ τὸ ῞Αγιον Πνεῦμα· καὶ οὗτοι οἱ τρεῖς ἕν εἰσι. 8 καὶ τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες ἐν τῇ γῇ,] τὸ Πνεῦμα καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ καὶ τὸ αἷμα· καὶ οἱ τρεῖς εἰς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν.
“The internal evidence based on the grammar is that if the words in brackets are omitted the words, Πνεῦμα, ὕδωρ and αἷμα, three neuters, are made to agree with the masculine article οἱ. If, however, the words in brackets are allowed to remain, the masculine article in οἱ τρεῖς agrees with the two masculines and one neuter, ὁ πατήρ, ὁ λόγος, καὶ τὸ ῞Αγιον Πνεῦμα, and, according to the rule of syntax, the masculines among the group control the neuter connected with them. Then the occurrence of the masculines in verse 8 agreeing with the neuters Πνεῦμα, ὕδωρ and αἷμα may be accounted for by the power of attraction, well known in Greek syntax.”

This grammatical argument for the Johannine Comma was made by Stephen Mills Reynolds, a member of the New International Version translation committee and the primary translator of The Holy Bible: a Purified Translation.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Should Acts 8:37 be included in the Bible?

Question: Should Acts 8:37 be included in the Bible?

Acts 8:37 King James Version  And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Many modern versions of the Bible do not include Acts 8:37, and/or have a note that some Bibles include it, or that it was not in the oldest manuscripts. The New American Standard has this note: "Early mss do not contain this verse."

For example, the New International Version:
Acts 8: 36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” [37] [c] 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.

It is true that these words are omitted in old manuscripts such as Sinaiticus (4th century), Vaticanus (4th century) and Alexandrinus (5th century). The Codex Laudianus, also known as  Ea or 08 contains an almost complete text of the Book of Acts. It is the oldest or earliest known manuscript which contains the words of Acts 8:37. This manuscript is dated to the 6th century.

Nevertheless, there are two sources for the reading which are earlier than the manuscripts that omit it. This indicates it was in some early manuscripts not now extant, and part of the original writing of Luke.

In Against Heresies (3.12.8), Irenaeus of lyons (circa AD 180) makes a reference to this as scripture:
8. But again: Whom did Philip preach to the eunuch of the queen of the Ethiopians, returning from Jerusalem, and reading Esaias the prophet, when he and this man were alone together? Was it not He of whom the prophet spoke: "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb dumb before the shearer, so He opened not the month? ""But who shall declare His nativity? for His life shall be taken away from the earth." [Philip declared] that this was Jesus, and that the Scripture was fulfilled in Him; as did also the believing eunuch himself: and, immediately requesting to be baptized, he said, "I believe Jesus Christ to be the Son of God."
About 70 years later Cyprian (circa AD 250) mentions the first part of what we know as verse 37 (found in The Treatises of Cyprian, Treatise 12, Book 3.43):
43. That he who believes can immediately obtain (i.e., pardon and peace).  In the Acts of the Apostles: Lo, here is water; what is there which hinders me from being baptized? Then said Philip, If you believe with all your heart, you may.
In addition to these, in  the Life and Passion of St. Cyprian Pontius the Deacon alludes to Philip believing with "his whole heart" -- which comes from this text.
3. The apostle's epistle says that novices should be passed over, lest by the stupor of heathenism that yet clings to their unconfirmed minds, their untaught inexperience should in any respect sin against God. He first, and I think he alone, furnished an illustration that greater progress is made by faith than by time. For although in the Acts of the Apostles the eunuch is described as at once baptized by Philip, because he believed with his whole heart, this is not a fair parallel.
These three references combined show that these words were known by early Christian writers, indicating manuscripts such as Sinaiticus and Vaticanus omit something which was originally there rather than Laudianus adding something that was not.

Full airwaves

Those that would make merchandise of the souls of men tell them that GOD’s promises are conditional upon their obedience and that HE will reward men with a mixture of spiritual blessings and the goods of this world (which shall all, in reality, perish in the twinkling of an eye).  This is how they would define the “things” which are added to men.
The airwaves of radio and TV are full of those who espouse this error, leaving men in greater darkness than those who have never heard anything.  These blind guides fulfill that prophecy of the LORD, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.” (Mat 23:15)  They can be readily discovered, as they are constantly trying to gain contributions to fund their so called “ministries”, which are in large part designed with their own benefit in mind, while they call for “love gifts” and “seed faith” offerings to dupe their listeners.
Mike McInnis in Grace Gazette, Volume XV, Issue 21

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Close to Thee

I have read that Frances Jane van Alstyne (Fanny Crosby) was the author of over 8,000 gospel hymn texts. Concerning the following hymn, Crosby wrote, “Toward the close of a day in 1874 I was sitting in my room thinking of the nearness of God through Christ as the constant companion of my pilgrim journey, when my heart burst out with the words.” (Memories of Eighty Years, Fanny Crosby, 1906) Silas Jones Vail had brought her a new tune, and she wrote Close to Thee for that tune. Vail published the song in Songs of Grace and Glory that same year.

1. Thou my everlasting portion, more than friend or life to me, 
All along my pilgrim journey, Savior, let me walk with Thee. 
Close to Thee, close to Thee, close to Thee, close to Thee, 
All along my pilgrim journey, Savior, let me walk with Thee.

2. Not for ease or worldly pleasure, nor for fame my prayer shall be; 
Gladly will I toil and suffer, only let me walk with Thee. 
Close to Thee, close to Thee, close to Thee, close to Thee, 
Gladly will I toil and suffer, only let me walk with Thee.

3. Lead me through the vale of shadows, bear me over life’s fitful sea; 
Then the gate of life eternal may I enter, Lord, with Thee. 
Close to Thee, close to Thee, close to Thee, close to Thee, 
Then the gate of life eternal may I enter, Lord, with Thee.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

100 years, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Child of the King

Cindy Walker of Mart, Texas (1917-2006), perhaps best known as a country-and-western songwriter, wrote both words and music to Child of the King.[i] Jim Reeves “recorded many of Walker’s compositions; she often wrote specifically for him and offered him the right of first refusal of her tracks.”[ii] Though successful in secular music, Walker was a Christian who remained true to her roots and was active in her church. She compiled a book of her gospel songs called Of Thee We Sing.[iii] Gospel music teacher and composer Franklin Lycurgus “F.L.” Eiland was Walker’s maternal grandfather. Child of the King has been recorded numerous times, including by The Speer Family, Skeeter Davis and The Cathedrals.

Once I was clothed in the rags of my sin,
Wretched and poor, lost and lonely within;
But with wondrous compassion the King of all Kings
In pity and love took me under his wing.

Chorus: Oh yes, oh yes, I’m a child of the King,
His royal blood now flows in my veins;
And I who was wretched and poor now can sing,
Praise God, Praise God, I’m a child of the King.

Now I’m a child with a heavenly home,
My holy father has made me his own;
Now I’m cleansed by his blood and I’m clothed in his love
And someday I’ll sing with the angels above.

Oh yes, oh yes, I’m a child of the King,
His royal blood now flows in my veins;
And I who was wretched and poor now can sing,
Praise God, Praise God, I’m a child of the King.

Another popular “Child of the King”-themed song was written by Harriet Eugenia Buell (1834-1910) in 1877:[iv]

My Father is rich in houses and lands,
He holdeth the wealth of the world in His hands!
Of rubies and diamonds, of silver and gold,
His coffers are full, He has riches untold.

I’m a child of the King,
A child of the King:
With Jesus my Savior,
I’m a child of the King.

In fact, “Child of the King” is the blessed theme that repeats in many Christian songs.

[i] An anonymous Baptist Board member using the handle “Jerome” pointed me to some authoritative sources for this attribution, and I afterward found some others.
[ii] Cindy Walker, The Dean of Texas Songwriting; Texas legend Willie Nelson paid tribute to Texas legend Cindy Walker with his album You Don’t Know Me: Songs of Cindy Walker
[iv] Buell contributed a number of poems to the Northern Christian Advocate (a Methodist journal). This one was first printed in February 1, 1877. John B. Sumner found the poem and set it to music.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A funeral text

13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent[i] them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 is a comforting text, often read and expounded at funeral. In it the apostle imparts knowledge (I would not have you to be ignorant)[ii] and establishes hope[iii] (that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope). Our hope is founded on revealed knowledge of Jesus Christ. In hope there is sorrow, but not like the sorrow of despair. There are two kinds of sorrow: (1) the sorrow of those who have no hope, who feel that death is final; and (2) the sorrow of those who have hope, who know death is not disaster for the Christian.

Knowledge that Paul imparts to raise us beyond despair to blessed hope includes:
  • Jesus died and rose again (v. 14). He was delivered up to death for our sins and rose again for our justification (Cf. Romans 4:25). He is alive and seated at the right hand of the Father (Cf. Hebrews 7:25). His victory over death assures our victory over death (Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:20).
  • Jesus is coming back again (vv. 14-16). He promised that though would go away, he would come back again (Cf. John 14:3; Acts 1:11; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 9:28). He is coming back to raise the dead (v. 16) and take the living unto himself (v. 17). The spirits of the dead (whom he brings with him) will be reunited with glorified bodies as they rise from the grave. The saints still alive on the earth will be caught up from the earth to meet the Lord (in new bodies; Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:50-52). All this transpires as Jesus descends from heaven with a shout and fulfills his promise to his people.
  • Jesus keeps us with him forever (v. 17). We are presently kept by the power of God unto salvation (Cf. 1 Peter 1:5), and we can be assured that he will keep us ever. He will never ever leave or forsake us (Cf. Hebrews 13:5). “Eternity with God, what ever-blessed bliss! Forever with our Lord and King – there’s nothing else like this!
With this revelation we have the foundation that establishes hope. Because we have hope, we have comfort in time of sorrow. Use these truths to promote hope and provide comfort (v. 18).[iv]

[i] φθάσωμεν, precede; Merriam Webster: 1.c to act ahead of; 1.d to go or arrive before
[ii] In Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College (1742), Thomas Gray wrote, “Where ignorance is bless, ‘tis folly to be wise” – bringing into English phraseology the proverb “Ignorance is bliss.” But ignorance about death is certainly not bliss, and ‘tis folly to not know what the Lord has prepared for them that love him.
[iii] ἐλπίδα, a joyful or confident expectation; Merriam Webster: 2. to expect with confidence
[iv] There are those, unfortunately, who have no hope. Jesus only is hope, neither is there salvation in any other. “…God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope…” (1 Timothy 1:1; Cf. also 1 Peter 1:3)

“The clergy syndrome”

“‘The clergy syndrome’ needs putting out of business, for it indeed has become a carnal, religious ‘business,’ and is neither spiritual nor well-pleasing to our Lord Jesus Christ, ‘who purchased the church of God with his own blood’ (Acts 20:28).” – W. F. Bell

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Holy Bible: a Purified Translation

The Holy Bible: a Purified Translation. The New Testament. Glenside, PA: The Lorine L. Reynolds Foundation, 2000

I received this New Testament free in the mail several years ago – wondered what it was, kind of glanced at it and then stuck it away on a shelf. It probably was sent out to pastors or churches on a list the Foundation had (though I’m not sure why they would have had my name).[i] Out of curiosity I have recently pulled it out and started looking at it. It is particularly the work of Stephen Mills Reynolds and Charles Butler, and possibly others. (Reynolds served on the New International Version translation committee, but I’m not sure of his role.) This “Purified” translation, which might be looked at as more of an interpretation and commentary, is peculiarly focused on promoting teetotalism. The reviewer at International Society of Bible Collectors writes, “Dr. Reynolds goes to extraordinary lengths to support his convictions regarding the use of alcohol.” Here’s an excerpt from John 2.

John 2:3 And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”19
John 2:9 When the master of the feast tasted the water that had become grape juice,…25
John 2:10 And he said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good beverage,…26

19. Oinos, the Greek word for wine, is neutral as to alcoholic content. Here the context indicates it was alcoholic…
25. Oinos (Gr.) here is grape juice. Jesus surely obeyed Proverbs 23:31 and did not create alcoholic wine.
26. The master of the feast uses oinos in its neutral sense, speaking of the good quality of the beverage. Whether it was alcoholic or nonalcoholic is not in view.

In the three verses above, oinos is translated “wine,” “grape juice” and “beverage,” according to Reynolds’s ideas concerning alcohol consumption. In footnote 19 Reynolds also explains the wedding situation with Mary the mother of Jesus serving as the caterer of the wedding – that after Joseph died Mary may have started a catering business to support her family, and that she may have felt obligated to furnish alcoholic wine as part of her obligation to her customers.[ii]

Andrew Wakefield of Campbell University Divinity School “said the Greek word translated as ‘wine’ in John 2 usually means fermented wine.” While disagreeing with inserting one’s viewpoint of alcohol into the translation of related words, Wakefield said that the initial translation of the Gospel of John is “otherwise is not a bad translation.”[iii]

This translation also has an interesting peculiarity of abandoning “the archaic ‘thou’, etc.” while distinguishing between second person singular and plural with a mark. “A (`) in this translation indicates the second person singular. The plural remains unmarked.”[iv]

The Holy Bible: a Purified Translation is clearly a niche Bible that will satisfy readers who hold the “two-wine theory” and want it inserted in their Bibles.

[i] According to Baptist Press “About 40,000 copies of the gospel [of John] were mailed May 17-18 [1999] mostly to Southern Baptists, with foundation officials citing Baptists’ opposition to alcohol.”
[ii] A Purified Translation, The New Testament; pages 197-199
[iii] Baptist Press, cited above.
[iv] A Purified Translation, The New Testament; page 3, footnote 9

Multa tenens antiqua

multa tenens antiqua: conservative by temperament; “tenacious of antiquity” (Quintus Ennius)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

No work -- not eat!

“For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:10

Question. “What does the scripture mean when it says that the one who is unwilling to work should not eat?”

Let’s establish some background first.

Work is ordained by God, both an inherent good (Genesis 2:15) and a “necessary evil” (Genesis 3:19). Work keeps us out of a lot of trouble! Work is necessary to support one’s family (1 Timothy 5:8 ), and contributes to the common good of self and society (Proverbs 12:27; Ephesians 4:28; 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12). The Bible is clear; it condemns laziness and sloth (Proverbs 18:9; Proverbs 19:15; Ecclesiastes 10:18). It commends work. Part of the “welfare system” of the law allowed the poor the dignity of contributing to their own benefit by working (Leviticus 19:10; 23:22).

The immediate context of 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12 and the broader context of the letter show these interesting exhortations:
  • be not deceived by false teachings of the coming of Christ (2:2-3)
  • pray for deliverance from unreasonable and wicked men (3:1-2)
  • patiently wait for the coming of Christ (3:5)
  • withdraw from those who refuse to walk in apostolic teaching (3:6)
  • follow the examples you have been given (2:15; 3:7-9)
  • do not feed the shiftless busybodies; let them work (3:10)
  • give up meddling and get to working (3:11-12)
The teaching of Paul was to work. He made himself an example (vs. 6-9), and expected it of others. On one hand, some resort to the “It was given for a specific church in a specific place at a specific time” argument to extract any meaning from it. On the other hand, some take this one verse out of its context to argue against any type of charity or welfare in feeding the poor and hungry. Paul warns against busybodies. Some in Thessalonica spent their time in idleness and laziness, perhaps excusing themselves with the imminent return of the Lord (2 Thessalonians 2:2-3). They avoided work and spent their time meddling in the business of others. This text is about those who choose not to work.[i] This text is not about the poor, widows, orphans, or those who are unable to help themselves. The Bible commends and commands help for others in need (Deuteronomy 15:7-11; Proverbs 31:9; Matthew 25:35-40; Acts 20:35; Galatians 2:10) and identifies such as “pure religion” (James 1:27).

“If any would not work, neither should he eat” is a valid principle for today, and should be applied in the proper circumstances.
“If any would not work, neither should he eat” is not a club with which to beat the poor, and does not absolve us from helping those in need.
“If any would not work, neither should he eat” at the least means meddlesome Christians should not be aided and abetted and encouraged on their way by the good will of the Christian community.

[i] It is possible that the Thessalonian Church maintained some communal aspects as found in the church at Jerusalem immediately after Pentecost (Cf. Acts 2:44; 4:32), but that is not necessary for understanding the passage. It could be as simple as these busybodies going from house to house with their meddling, while indulging in the meals while they were there. Normally the committed Christian would feel a special burden for their own (“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10), but should not be burdened with those who chose the meddlesome lifestyle. The resolution of this problem was to not dole out favors to them, but rather tell them to get to work.

Books by R. L. Vaughn

Books and pamphlets by Robert L. Vaughn, with some previews

A Better Paradigm for the Study of Baptist History? with Mark Osgatharp, Nathan Finn, 2009
A Brief History of Old Prospect Baptist Church, 1984
A History of Smyrna Baptist Church, 1873-2008 by J. W. Griffith, 1978, revised by R. L. Vaughn
A Message of Divine Judgment: Old Bad Edom meets Obadiah, 2013
American Baptist Association: a Survey and Census of its Churches and Associations, 2001
Baptist Doctrine: Foot-Washing (The Doctrine of Feet Washing), 1984
Before Pentecost: the Origin of the Church, 1996
For Such a Time as This. Esther: a Book of Providence, 2012
History of the Old Prospect Baptist Church, Sand Flat, Rusk County, Texas, 2014
Jonah: Prejudice for a People, Pity for a Gourd, 2009
Minutes of the Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, Rusk County, Texas: October 1867 to November 1871, 2006
Put That on Mine Account: a Commentary on Paul’s letter to Philemon, 2008
Speaking in Tongues and the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, 2009
Sub-groups within the Baptist Denomination in the United States, Canada, and the British Isles, 2004
Thaptology: Toward a Christian Theology of the Disposition of the Dead, 2015
The Saints’ Alphabet: In Praise of God’s Word (A Brief Introduction to Psalm 119), 2014
The Elder unto the Elect Lady and unto Gaius: a Commentary on John’s 2nd & 3rd Epistles, 2010
The Harper’s Index: a Metrical Index of the B. F. White Sacred Harp 2000 Revised Edition, 2002
Triads: a Compendiary Commentary on the General Epistle of Jude, 2008
Unaffiliated Landmark Baptist Churches Survey: a Listing of Unaffiliated Independent Landmark Baptist Churches, 2001