Saturday, December 31, 2022

Warfare, and other words

  • ambushment, noun. An ambush; the state of lying concealed, for the purpose of attacking by surprise; a lying in wait.
  • armament, noun, The arms and equipment with which a military unit or military apparatus is supplied; (usually armaments) military strength collectively.
  • armory, noun. A storage place for weapons and other war equipment.
  • artillery, noun. Mounted projectile-firing guns or missile launchers, mobile or stationary, light or heavy, as distinguished from small arms; the troops or the branch of an army concerned with the use and service of such weapons.
  • bivouac, verb. To rest or assemble in an area with tents or improvised shelters; encamp.
  • cadet, noun. A student in a national service academy or private military school or on a training ship.
  • cavalry, noun. The part of a military force composed of troops that serve on horseback; mounted soldiers collectively.
  • centurion, noun. Among the Romans, a military officer who commanded a hundred men.
  • dittybopper, noun. (slang) A signals intelligence radio operator who uses Morse code.
  • epaulet, noun. An ornamental shoulder piece worn on uniforms, chiefly by military officers.
  • flotilla, noun. A group of small naval vessels, especially a naval unit containing two or more squadrons.
  • garrote, verb. To execute by the garrote (an iron collar tightened around the neck until death occurs); to strangle or throttle.
  • guerrilla, noun. A member of a band of irregular soldiers that uses guerrilla warfare, harassing the enemy by surprise raids, sabotaging communication and supply lines, etc.
  • infantry, noun. The soldiers or military units that fight on foot.
  • munition, noun. (usually munitions) Materials used in war, especially weapons and ammunition.
  • paratrooper, noun. A member of a military infantry unit trained to attack or land in combat areas by parachuting from airplanes.
  • prowess, noun. Exceptional valor, bravery, or ability, especially in combat or battle; exceptional or superior ability, skill, or strength.
  • salvo, noun. A simultaneous or successive discharge of artillery, bombs, etc.; or, a round of fire given as a salute.
  • squadron, noun. A portion of a naval fleet or a detachment of warships; a subdivision of a fleet; or, an armored cavalry or cavalry unit consisting of two or more troops, a headquarters, and various supporting units.
  • volley, noun. The simultaneous discharge of a number of missiles or firearms; the missiles so discharged.
  • warfare, noun. The process of military struggle between two nations or groups of nations; armed conflict between two massed enemies, armies, or the like.
  • weaponry, noun. Weapons or weaponlike instruments collectively; or, the invention and production of weapons.
  • Zulu time, noun. The military name for Coordinated Universal Time (UTC),  primarily used in aviation, at sea, and in the army.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

The Mediocre Commission

The apostles had what we often call The Great Commission. In our day there is The Mediocre Commission.

Go ye therefore, enroll in seminary and get at least a 4-year degree, afore ye preach the gospel to any creature; and teach all nations, baptizing, pouring, or sprinkling them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, or howsoever ye choose to do it; teaching them to observe all the things ye prefer to teach of whatsoever I have commanded you (or things ye yourselves dream up): and, lo, I am with you alway, well, until Rome and Constantinople take over the churches. Ohme. Morphew 29:19-20

Knust knows knothing

Actually Jennifer Wright Knust is a very educated person who may know a good bit about many things. However, her book and her debate with Robert Gagnon show she knows knothing about true Bible belief related to sexuality.

Bart Ehrman, author of Misquoting Jesus, gives her this whopping endorsement: “An explosive, fascinating book that reveals how the Bible cannot be used as a rulebook when it comes to sex. A terrific read by a top scholar.” If you know who Ehrman is, you may deduce that he and she graze in the same pasture of non-belief.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Sin before the fall?

...the serpent...said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

Regarding the text on the fall of man in Genesis 3:1-7, there is something I have considered from time to time for 40 years. An older preacher friend brought it up when I was a young man. In the text, the transgression of Adam and Eve is taking the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:11). This theological thread runs through the Bible (see, e.g. Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians. 15:22; 1 Timothy 2:13-14).

If I remember correctly, the preacher asked whether Eve added to God’s word (or lied), in reference to her saying “neither shall ye touch it.” “Neither shall ye touch it” is not included in the restriction of Genesis 3:17 – “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Did Eve add to what God told Adam (or lie to the serpent). If so, wouldn’t this be a sin. In the end, this preacher sort of downplayed Eve’s claim with a bit of a humourous twist. He said, “Eve was not present when God gave the command to Adam – and that it was probably Adam who told her, saying, ‘Honey, don’t even touch it.’”

Others have suggested that Eve added to (neither shall ye touch it), subtracted from (“We may eat of the fruit of the trees” instead of “mayest freely eat,” and “lest ye die” instead of “shalt surely die”), and modified (“Ye shall not eat of it” instead of “thou shalt not eat of it”) God’s command. If adding to and taking from God’s word is a sin (Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:18-19), why was Eve not already in sin before she ever took the fruit?

I am not particularly troubled by this question, but find it somewhat intriguing. It seems a question worthy of legitimate scrutiny.

What are your thoughts? Thanks.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Heels and Horns and Horses

In October of 2020, James White and Jeff Riddle engaged in a Textus Receptus vs. Critical Text Debate – especially in reference to Mark 16:9-20 and Ephesians 3:9. In the debate White made an admission that keeps coming back to haunt him. Here is a question from Riddle and the answer by White.

Jeff Riddle: “Based on your method, if there were a discovery of ancient documents that most scholars agreed that this makes this the earliest reading, you would be willing to change your position on any text in the New Testament, based on evidence that might be uncovered? Is that correct?”

James White: “Yes!” (listen approximately 1:06:30 to 1:06:52)

When Peter Van Kleeck debated White on September 24, 2022, Van Kleeck pursued this line of questioning. White avoided the implications of the “Yes” answer he gave to Jeff Riddle. He simply refused to answer Peter Van Kleeck. He claimed “facts not in evidence,” asserted “asked and answered,” and otherwise danced around hoping no one would notice his unwillingness and inability to answer. Even in the debate with Riddle, after emphatically answering “Yes,” White later back-pedaled to try to avoid the implications of his answer. 

A short video created by Jeff Riddle – “James White and the Achilles’ Heel of Modern Textual Criticism” – highlights White’s willingness to use the “hypothetical” or “theoretical” implications of new manuscript discoveries when trying to use that argument against Riddle. However, he wants to avoid the implications of new manuscript discoveries when impaled on the horns of his own dilemma – both against Riddle and Van Kleeck. The problem for White is this. The “hypothetical” (or actual) discoveries do not touch the theological position of a settled text. Nevertheless, they (discoveries, whether hypothetical or actual) really throw a monkey wrench in White’s evidentiary position. “Yes,” White said to Riddle, “I would be willing to change my position on any text in the New Testament.” He is hoised with his own petard, whether he realizes it or not. (I think he realizes it, but tries to avoid it with sufficient obfuscating rhetoric.)

A theological bibliology based on what the Bible says about itself is not tossed to and fro by every wind of new discoveries. The evidential bibliology based on manuscript discoveries is necessarily so.

Unfortunately, the “Achilles’ Heel” of modern textual criticism has become the “Trojan Horse” of modern evangelical Christianity. May God expose it for what it is.

Monday, December 26, 2022

Quick quote

This is not a direct quote, but a summary of something I recently heard.

Many today complain about King James Onlyism. However, Westcott-and-Hortism has dominated the theology of the word of God in the West, in textual criticism and evangelical bibliology, over the past century and a half.

Idea from Doug Barger, pastor of Christ Reformed Baptist Church, New Castle, Indiana

A God of Your Own

“I  beseech  every  reader  of  this  paper,  in  all  tender  affection,  to  beware  of  false  views  of  the  subject  on  which I  have  been  dwelling.  Beware  of  new  and  strange  doctrines about  hell  and  the  eternity  of  punishment.  Beware  of manufacturing  a  God  of  your  own, — a  God  who  is  all mercy,  but  not  just, — a  God  who  is  all  love,  but  not  holy, — a  God  who  has  a  heaven  for  everybody,  but  a  hell  for  none, — a  God  who  can  allow  good  and  bad  to  be  side  by  side  in time,  but  will  make  no  distinction  between  good  and  bad in  eternity.  Such  a  God  is  an  idol  of  your  own,  as  really as  Jupiter  or  Moloch, —  as  true  an  idol  as  any  snake  or crocodile  in  an  Egyptian  temple, — as  true  an  idol  as  was ever  moulded  out  of  brass  or  clay.  The  hands  of  your  own fancy  and  sentimentality  have  made  him.  He  is  not  the God  of  the  Bible,  and  besides  the  God  of  the  Bible  there is  no  God  at  all.  Your  heaven  would  be  no  heaven  at  all. A  heaven  containing  all  sorts  of  characters  indiscriminately would  be  miserable  discord  indeed.  Alas,  for  the  eternity of  such  a  heaven !  there  would  be  little  difference  between it  and  hell.  There  is  a  hell!  There  is  a  fire  for  the  chaff! Take  heed  lest  you  find  it  out,  to  your  cost,  too  late.”

John Charles Ryle (1816-1900), Practical religion. Being plain papers on the daily duties, experience, dangers and privileges of professing Christians

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Weeping in Ramah

Weeping in Ramah, a Common Meter hymn written December 18, 2012.

1. A petty king whose heart inflamed
Because a child was born;
Deigned many children had to die
Lest they might be that one.

2. The wise men sent by God had told
How God had birthed a king.
Thus Herod doubly troubled was
When he had heard this thing.

3. By guile he thought the wise men would
Be tricked to name the place,
Where the babe was, King of the Jews –
Where Jesus safely lay.

4. But wise men, being warned by God
Departed another way.
And Joseph, too, a warning had
To Egypt make their stay.

5. While Joseph ran and Herod raged,
To weeping Ramah fell;
Bethlehem’s sons less two in age
Are slain — no longer live.

6. Oh, hush, onlooker, be thou still;
Lament for Ramah’s loss.
Then for yourself, lament again—
See Jesus on the cross!

7. This native child of Bethlehem,
Had come himself to die;
To save his people from their sins
And raise them up on high.

8. Evil and sin obscure our skies,
And mourning comes in view;
But Jesus won the victory—
So there’s rejoicing, too.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

A Raw Deal, 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.
  • 1 John 5:7–8: Beyond a Reasonable Doubt? -- “I want to approach this issue from the perspective of beyond a reasonable doubt. The ‘prosecutor” (modern textual critic) insists that the ‘defendant’ (our text) is ‘guilty,’ if you will, of being false and not belonging here.”
  • A Brief but Determined Texan -- “Samuel Walker arrived in Texas six years after the republic won its independence. In five more years, he would be dead.”
  • A Raw Deal -- “Parisa is a traditional dish made of raw round steak that’s ground up and mixed with salt, pepper, onions, jalapeños and soft easy-melt cheese.”
  • Church – Timeless or Trendy? -- “With the forceful current of constant change sweeping over every part of our lives, people have the need to connect with something enduring and firm.”
  • Eminent Highland Preachers -- “[In] the Highlands of Scotland during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. God raised up a small galaxy of men, in a remote region of the world, who knew the majesty of God and the worth of immortal souls.”
  • Erasmus and the Comma Johanneum, by H. J. de Jonge -- “Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses (Louvain Journal of Theology and Canon Law), 1980, t. 56, fasc. 4, pp. 381-389.”
  • Glory To God, Peace On Earth, And A Textual Variant? -- “Were the angels continuing to proclaim God’s universal benevolence toward all people (v. 10) or only his particular grace to “those with whom he is pleased” (ESV)?”
  • How December 25 Became Christmas -- “The Bible offers few clues: Celebrations of Jesus’ Nativity are not mentioned in the Gospels or Acts; the date is not given, not even the time of year. The biblical reference to shepherds tending their flocks at night when they hear the news of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:8) might suggest the spring lambing season.”
  • How Do We Know What the New Testament Is? -- “Professing believers today do not know the New Testament by science. They do not know it by probability. God’s people do not know it by rules of textual criticism.”
  • Ignatius, Polycarp, and the Pauline Authorship of 1 and 2 Timothy -- “...Polycarp has become the earliest external witness to the belief in the early church that Paul was the author of the Pastoral Epistles.”
  • Introduction to Habakkuk -- “In the midst of national doom and personal distress, the prophet discovers the greatness of his God.”
  • Manuscripts of the Apocalypse - Recent Investigations -- “Herman C. Hoskier, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library. 1922;7(1):118-137.”
  • One Baptist’s View of Christmas -- “After several years of searching for Christ in Christmas and not finding him, it was obvious to me that Christ does not celebrate Christmas and neither should I.” (Note, formatting is a bit confusing, with some comments by a Restorationist editor)
  • Rule 9, Isolated Variants, and the ‘Test Tube’ Nature of the NA27/UBS4 Text: A Byzantine Priority Perspective -- “Aland rule number nine: Variants must never be treated in isolation, but always considered in the context of the tradition. Otherwise there is too great a danger of reconstructing a “test-tube text” which never existed at any time or place.”
  • Smith’s Station: Unearthing a Texas stage stop when East finally met the West -- “It was around for only 30 months, but it’s part of Texas history. Between 1858-61, stagecoaches rumbled along Butterfield Overland Mail Route, from St. Louis, Mo., to San Francisco, Calif.”
  • Southern Baptists have not always embraced Christmas -- “The holiday is not recognized as a special day of worship in any of the historic Baptist confessions, allusions to it are rare in Baptist history volumes before the 1880s, and the holiday possessed an association with worldliness and even paganism in the minds of many Baptist ministers.”
  • The Doctrine of Divine Impassibility -- “We worship a God who is altogether above and beyond our human imaginations. His love is perfect because it is transcendent and impassible.”
  • The Problematic Translation of ‘emptied himself’ as found in Philippians 2.7 -- “When we read that ‘he made himself of no reputation’, a literal rendering would be that ‘he emptied himself’. But there is not one whit of good reason for a literal translation. Usage elsewhere and the context here require the figurative rendering.”
  • What About Cremation? -- “‘What About Cremation?’ demonstrates that the biblical evidence is overwhelming that cremation is not the best, that it is, indeed, burial that is the Scriptural precedent for handling the dead.”

Friday, December 23, 2022

“the KJV has 1,000 different words...”

Several days ago, a member on the King James Bible/Textus Receptus Defenders Facebook group posted a link and wrote:

“I’m looking for sincere and respectful discussion if possible. King James only folks, how would you respond to this information?”

His sincerity is questionable, since he only seemed to engage with those with whom he could start an argument, or wanted to start an argument with him. Those who were “sincere and respectful” did not rate replies, apparently. After too much pushback, he took the post down. I am saving my reply by posting it here.

The statements to which he sought discussion is this below, which originated HERE.

“What do you do with the fact that the KJV has 1,000 different words that do not mean today what they meant in 1611, even having the opposite meaning? Our understanding of Hebrew and Greek has astronomically improved since 1611. There have been thousands of manuscripts discovered since 1611, and we now have 5,898 Greek NT manuscripts and numerous ones dating within decades of the originals. And the 1611 KJV translators said in the 1611 PREFACE that a new revision should be made upon such circumstances. So, why reject efforts to do so with the 1881 English Revised Version (ERV), the 1901 American Standard Version (ASV), the 1952 Revised Standard Version (RSV), the 1995 New American Standard Bible (NASB), the 2001 English Standard Version (ESV), and the forthcoming Updated American Standard Version (UASV)? Are not these revisions simply following the instructions of the 1611 KJV translators?”

1. “What do you do with the fact that the KJV has 1,000 different words that do not mean today what they meant in 1611, even having the opposite meaning?”

A. First, I would ask from whence this number comes? It sounds excessive and doubtful. I have an Excel file of “hard/difficult” words in the KJV (so-called archaic, obsolete, and “false friends”) compiled from the works of Mark Ward and others. I have only 123 words in that file – far off from 1000! Another inaccuracy is saying that the words “do not mean what they meant in 1611.” This is a loose way of stating something that often does not agree with the facts. For example, take the word “suffer.” Many people would say it has “changed meaning.” However, it is not hard to search for the word “suffer” in the KJV and find there it can mean either “allow” and “to endure pain.” Look it up on and definition 7 is “to tolerate or allow” (the same meaning some claim no longer exists!). Possibly what people mean is that we seldom use it that way anymore. That is not the same as it no longer carrying that meaning in its semantic range.

Another is the word “let.” The meaning of “let” has not evolved from “to hinder” into “to allow” over the course of 400 years since the KJV was produced. Search the King James Bible and we will find that “let” has the meaning of “to allow” which was in use in 1611 (even in the same chapter, cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:3, e.g.). The varying or opposite meanings of the word “let” is not a case of a word altering its meaning over time. The etymology of these words show that the “let” that means “to allow” and the “let” that means “to hinder” are homonyms – two different English words that are spelled the same but mean something different. The words each have a different origin or entrance into the English language.

2. “Our understanding of Hebrew and Greek has astronomically improved since 1611.”

A. To this assertion, I would ask, “Has it really improved?” Perhaps in some ways, yes, but even if so astronomical is a ridiculous adjective to use. However, even if it has improved in some ways (there are always new discoveries) it clearly has not in others.

Let me quote Bart Ehrman, a recognized top-notch text critic (and specifically referenced since he is obviously not KJV-even, much less KJVO). Speaking of the KJ translators, he says, “...the best answer is that there were forty-seven translators, who were all skilled, highly skilled, in Greek and Hebrew. Today when somebody is highly skilled in Greek, like Jeff Siker and me, we’re considered highly skilled – that means we can kind of slosh our way through a Greek text if we have a good dictionary sitting next to us. These guys, including King James, could speak Greek and did speak Greek to each other when they felt like it. They could read Hebrew like the newspaper. These were serious serious scholars. They didn’t have TV – no ESPN. So what did they do? They sat around and studied Greek. This is what they did. And Latin, and Hebrew...” (From Ehrman’s keynote address at the “Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible” exhibition at the William H. Hannon Library at Loyola Marymount University in 2013.)

Daniel R. Streett passed out a Greek quiz at the Evangelical Theological Society in November 2008. He summarized the experience this way, “ audience was made up of mostly Greek professors and doctoral-level students who had probably taken, on average, 4-7 years of Greek by now and some of whom had been teaching Greek for 20-30 years by now. After the audience had finished, I collected their quizzes. The average ‘grade’ was 0.4 out of 10 correct.” That doesn’t sound astronomical, or even good, to me.

For more information on these, see “Do they know Greek?

3. “There have been thousands of manuscripts discovered since 1611, and we now have 5,898 Greek NT manuscripts and numerous ones dating within decades of the originals.”

A. I understand that many manuscripts have been discovered. I assume “thousands” would be an accurate representation (although, something recently “discovered” may have been known to those in prior times, and the exact total number we have today is a matter of continuing debate). It is worth mentioning that thousands of manuscripts have been lost from the 1st century until now. So those were accessible to others but not to us.

Interestingly, the primary Greek text promoted today often ignores the thousands (majority) and go with the minority (especially Sinaiticus & Vaticanus). The “embarrassment of riches” of thousands of manuscripts are embarrassingly disregarded in favor of two older manuscripts that have many disagreements just between themselves. An interesting way to look at this is to notice that the majority texts of Hodges-Farstad, Robinson-Pierpoint, and Pickering exhibit much closer agreement with the Textus Receptus than with the Critical Text. Why? Because the “embarrassment of riches” of thousands of manuscripts usually, though not always, favor the readings in the TR. The “thousands of manuscripts discovered since 1611” usually support the TR rather than the CT. Further, the KJV translators and others even before their time knew about the variants most commonly cited today.

4. “And the 1611 KJV translators said in the 1611 PREFACE that a new revision should be made upon such circumstances. So, why reject efforts to do so with the 1881 English Revised Version (ERV), the 1901 American Standard Version (ASV), the 1952 Revised Standard Version (RSV), the 1995 New American Standard Bible (NASB), the 2001 English Standard Version (ESV), and the forthcoming Updated American Standard Version (UASV)? Are not these revisions simply following the instructions of the 1611 KJV translators?”

A. To what statement in the 1611 does this refer? It is hard to address unidentified assertions. whether I think they are following the instructions of the translators without inspecting the statement. Even if they were, which is doubtful, the specific efforts mentioned (ERV, ASV, RSV, NASB, UASV) are based on different Greek texts.

Too often “The Translators To The Reader” by Miles Smith (the 1611 Preface) is bone-picked by both sides to see what meat they can find for their arguments, with really trying to understand it in context. Some people think the King James translation is a poor translation and try to convince others so. Some of these same people, when they write about the preface in the King James, then act as if everything in it must be taken as if it were inspired! It would be comical if not such as serious issue.

[Note: this version has been slightly modified, with typographical and grammatical corrections, and formatting not available in the Facebook group.]

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Jesus and Joshua, Hebrews 4:8

For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. Hebrews 4:8

There are legitimate discussions to be had about the King James translation. Despite all the armaments arrayed against it, it is still the Standard. There must be discussions about it, because it is the Bible to which all comers compare themselves, either positively, negatively, or both. This is inevitable, and should be understood without running to exasperation. However, some of the distractions are so wearisome, and border on the weirdly lunatic fringe of animus toward the King James translation – even when the detractors are otherwise very intelligent and educated people. The admin at “Dust Off The Bible” is one such example, being an M.Div seminary graduate who writes well. Yet he comes up with some real whoppers, such as complaining about the KJV translators using a “J” for Jehovah and Jesus. He apparently never bothered to check an original printing, which does not have a letter “J” (what some mistake for a “J” is a blackletter capital “I”). Jehovah is Iehovah and Jesus is Iesus.

Here he comes again this time with an imagined Translation Error In The King James Version: Hebrews 4:8 (Jesus or Joshua?). Introducing the essay, he writes, “The Greek text clearly has the name Ἰησοῦς (Iesous)...” Seems there should not be much to say about translation after that. The rest should be exegesis and interpretation. But no.

The translators are translating Greek. The KJV Old Testament names from Hebrew and New Testament names from Greek reflect that difference. For example, Elijah vs. Elias/ηλιας, Elisha vs. Eliseus/ελισσαιου, Isaiah vs. Esaias/ησαιας, Jonah vs. Jonas/ιωνας (and, of course, Joshua vs. Jesus). You think they should have standardized the spellings? Fine, but be honest, that is not the same as a mistranslation!

The simple fact is the name is correctly over from the Greek in an English language and English Bible that has a history. You do not like it? Get over it. Here is some of the history of the spelling in the Bibles leading up to 1611.

  • 1526 Tyndale - Iosue v. 8, Iesus v. 14 (This is chapter 5, “verse 1” in Tyndale)
  • 1535 Coverdale - Iosua v. 8, Iesus (v. 14 = 5:1)
  • 1537 Matthew - Iosue v. 8, Iesus (v. 14 = 5:1)
  • 1539 Taverner - Iosue v. 8, Iesus (v. 14 = 5:1)
  • 1540 Great - Iosue v. 8, Iesus (v. 14 moved to 4th chapter)
  • 1541 Great Bible - Iosua v. 8, Iesus v. 14
  • 1557 Geneva NT - Iosue v. 8, Iesus v. 14
  • 1560 Geneva Bible - Iesus v. 8, Iesus v. 14 (v. 8 has note, “Meaning Ioshua”)
  • 1568 Bishops - Iesus v. 8, Iesus v. 14 (v. 8 note says, “By Iesus, is meant Iosua”)
  • 1602 Bishops - Iesus v. 8, Iesus v. 14 (v. 8 has note, “By Iesus, is meant Iosua”)
  • 1611 KJV - Iesus v. 8, Iesus v. 14 (v. 8 has note, “That is, Josuah”)

Here is how the names appear in Greek:

  • Hebrews 4:8 ει γαρ αυτους ιησους κατεπαυσεν ουκ αν περι αλλης ελαλει μετα ταυτα ημερας
  • Hebrews 4:14 εχοντες ουν αρχιερεα μεγαν διεληλυθοτα τους ουρανους ιησουν τον υιον του θεου κρατωμεν της ομολογιας

The spelling difference ιησους vs. ιησουν is related to the case, nominative (subject) versus accusative (object). See 6:20, where the Greek spelling for “Iesus” the Christ is the same as 4:8 for Joshua. 6:20 οπου προδρομος υπερ ημων εισηλθεν ιησους κατα την ταξιν μελχισεδεκ αρχιερευς γενομενος εις τον αιωνα.

Looking over these historical samples, it is evident that (1), the Greek spelling for the Old Testament successor of Moses and the New Testament Messiah is the same; and (2) the English spelling reflecting that sameness appears in other Bibles, and was changed by the Reformers at Geneva from what had been in previous Bibles to standardize the Greek word which was the same in both places, with the addition of a note of explanation.

The 1885 English Revised Version changed the name in verse 8 to Joshua (with the note, “Gr. Jesus”) and has Jesus in verse 14. 

Nothing sinister or stupid is going on with the name “Jesus” in the King James Bible. A little research is good for what ails ya.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

On Baptismal regeneration

The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 1 Peter 3:21

Robert L. Sumner: 
“In this passage in 1 Peter 3, there are three important observations to note.  First, baptism is a figure.  The record says, ‘the like figure whereunto baptism doth also now save us.’ 
When I was baptized, my baptism was a figure – a picture, if you please – of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.  It was my testimony of my faith in His death, His burial and His resurrection for my eternal salvation.  Baptism is a figure of what saves us. 
Second – and this is what those who teach salvation by water baptism like to omit – ‘Not the putting away of the filth of the flesh.’  You see, baptism does not put away our sins.  No, no!  It cannot do that, the Bible says.  The ‘filth of the flesh’ is not washed away in or by any baptismal water. 
Then, third, note that baptism is described as ‘the answer of a good conscience toward God.’  Baptism is the answer of a good conscience!  The only way a man can have a good conscience is to be saved.  Hebrews 9:14 tells us that a conscience is purged from dead works by ‘the blood of Christ.’  If a man has a good conscience, it is only because he has been cleansed from his sin by the blood of Jesus Christ.  First Peter 3:21 is simply saying that if one has been saved by the blood of Christ, he ought to be baptized, setting forth in a figure the ground of his salvation: the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.”
Robert L. Sumner (1922-2016), Does the Bible Teach That Water Baptism Is a Necessary Requirement for Salvation?, Biblical Evangelism Press; 1970.  This is also in a chapter in Biblical Essays by Robert L. Sumner, Biblical Evangelism; 2013. 

B. H. Carroll:
“On I Peter 3:21 I make this point on the picture of baptism: ‘Baptism doth now save us.’ Baptism doth now save us in a figure; baptism doth now save us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. That is the figure, but baptism does not put away the impurity of the carnal nature – does not put away the filth of the flesh. These are the four points: (1) Baptism saves us in a figure. (2) That figure is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (3) Paul says, ‘You have been planted in the likeness of his death, so ye shall be in the likeness of his resurrection.’ Wherever you see a baptism you see a burial and a resurrection. This is not a real salvation, but a pictorial one – a figure of salvation, and baptism does save us that way, and nobody will deny it. (4) The answer of a good conscience toward God. And the force of this last is: (a) The conscience is bad before it is cleansed, (b) How made good? Hebrew 9:14: ‘By the blood of Christ.’ (c) The place of a good conscience – 1 Timothy 1:5 explains.”
B. H. Carroll (1843-1914), An Interpretation of the English Bible, Volume 12, Acts, Broadman Press; 1948, p. 98.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

The Nazarene

But when he [i.e., Joseph] heard that Archelaus did reign in Judæa in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: and he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.[i] Matthew 2:22-23.

The historical incident

Matthew 2:23 records the historical incident of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus journeying from the land of Egypt to the city of Nazareth. After coming out of their exile of safety in Egypt, they returned to Nazareth. Because of God’s warning, they did not stop in Judæa but continued on to their former home in Galilee. There Jesus grew from boyhood to manhood (cf. Luke 2:51-52; 4:16).

Nazareth was a village in the region of Galilee, part of the land of Naphtali (Joshua 21:32; 2 Kings 15:29, et al.). Galilee bordered and was west of the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee. Isaiah 9:1 suggests a region jutting into or surrounded by “the nations,” Gentiles, a non-Jewish population (cf. Matthew 4:15). Magdala (Matthew 15:39), Tiberias (John 6:1, 23), and Capernaum (Matthew 4:13) were on the Sea of Galilee. Nazareth and nearby Cana (John 2:1ff.) were about halfway between the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean Sea.

As cities go, Nazareth was small and insignificant. Neither the Hebrew Old Testament, the Apocrypha, the writings of Josephus, nor the Talmud mention the city of Nazareth. It first shows up in the Bible in the Gospels, as the town of Mary and Joseph (cf. Luke 1:26; 2:4; Matthew 2:23; 4:13).[ii] Joseph and Mary had lived in Nazareth before traveling to Bethlehem because of the taxation (cf. Luke 2:4-5), and thither they eventually return.

One commonly accepted belief about the origin of the name of the city is that it derives from the Hebrew word netzer (or nēser, netser נֵצֶר). The Old Testament Hebrew uses this word four times, including Isaiah 11:1.[iii]

“…the name, Nazareth, is from the Hebrew word netzer, which is translated ‘branch’ in the English language. Several of the Old Testament prophets predict the coming of Christ as ‘the Branch,’ or a synonymous term.”[iv]

Concerning the name of the city, John Gill writes:

A Nazarene, as David de Pomis says,{[v]}

“is one that is born in the city Netzer, which is said to be in the land of Galilee, three days journey distant from Jerusalem.”

The prophetical equivalent

The historical incident of Jesus’s family returning to Nazareth coincides with the fulfillment of prophecy. Matthew explicitly and unequivocally connects Jesus being a called “a Nazarene” with his dwelling in Nazareth.[vi] What is the prophecy? What does it mean?

In its simplest meaning, a Nazarene is a man from Nazareth.[vii] But why is “a Nazarene” significant? We cannot search the Old Testament and find the word Nazareth, much less Nazarene. Note that in verse 23 Matthew writes prophets plural, rather than citing one specific prophet. Rather than “fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet,” it is “fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets.” Compare Matthew 1:22; 2:15, 17; 3:4; 4:14; 8:17 and other places, where he is stating a specific prophecy by a specific prophet. This should shortly (or at least eventually) suggest to us that Matthew is connecting a theme of prophecy, a general sense, rather than a direct statement found in one particular place.

But what is that theme? What is the sense? Unlike Bethlehem, the town of King David where Jesus was born, Nazareth was an obscure town in a despised region of the country. Commenting on Matthew 2:23, Matthew Henry wrote:

“Thither they were sent, and there they were well known, and were among their relations; the most proper place for them to be in. There they continued, and from thence our Saviour was called Jesus of Nazareth, which was to the Jews a stumbling-block, for, Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” [and “out of Galilee ariseth no prophet” they thought.]

Henry continues on this theme:

“…He shall be called a Nazarene. Which may be looked upon…As a name of reproach and contempt…Now this was not particularly foretold by any one prophet, but, in general, it was spoken by the prophets, that he should be despised and rejected of men (Isa. liii. 2, 3), a Worm, and no man (Ps. xxii. 6, 7), that he should be an Alien to his brethren, Ps. lxix. 7, 8.”

Albert Barnes put it this way.

“He does not say ‘by the prophet,’ as in Matthew 1:22; Matthew 2:5, Matthew 2:15, but ‘by the prophets,’ meaning no one prophet particularly, but the general character of the prophecies. As Jerome observes,[viii] he shows that he took not the words from the prophets, but only the sense.”[ix]

The high and holy eternal Son of God became the meek and lowly (Matthew 11:29; Zechariah 9:9), of no reputation, the reputation of a Nazarene. The prophets, plural, prophesied this theme about the Messiah to come. Jesus fulfilled it.

Prophets prophesy

  • Psalm 22:6-8 But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
  • Psalm 69:7-8a Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face. I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother’s children.
  • Psalm 118:22  The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.
  • Isaiah 53:2-3 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
  • Isaiah 53:12 …he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
  • Daniel 9:26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off…
  • Zechariah 9:9 …behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.

Jesus Christ fulfills

  • Matthew 21:42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
  • Mark 8:31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
  • Luke 17:25 But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.
  • John 1:11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
  • John 1:46 And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.
  • John 7:52 They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.
  • John 12:48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
  • Acts 3:14-15 But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.
  • Philippians 2:6-8 …Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
  • Hebrews 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death…

Called a “Nazarene” i.e., Jesus of Nazareth, by:

  • a multitude in Jerusalem (Jesus the prophet of Nazareth ιησους ο προφητης ο απο ναζαρεθ, Matthew 21:11)
  • a maid in Jerusalem (Jesus of Nazareth ιησου του ναζωραιου, Matthew 26:71; του ναζαρηνου ιησου ησθα Mark 14:67  )
  • by demons (Jesus of Nazareth ιησου ναζαρηνε, Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34)
  • a crowd on the Jericho road, heard by blind Bartimæus (Jesus of Nazareth ιησους ο ναζωραιος, Mark 10:47; Luke 18:37)
  • an angel (ιησουν ζητειτε τον ναζαρηνον Mark 16:16)
  • disciples on the way to Emmaus (Jesus of Nazareth ιησου του ναζωραιου Luke 24:19)
  • Philip (Jesus of Nazareth ιησουν τον υιον του ιωσηφ τον απο ναζαρεθ John 1:45)
  • officers of the priests (Jesus of Nazareth ιησουν τον ναζωραιον, John 18:5, 7)
  • someone writing by the authority of Pilate (Jesus of Nazareth ιησους ο ναζωραιος, John 19:19)

In an ingenious display of the low and humble estate of Jesus, Luke 4:28-30 shows that even the despised citizens at the synagogue of the despised city of Nazareth despise and reject Jesus the Nazarene, intending to cast him down the brow of the hill on which Nazareth was built. Oh, the power and wonder, too – “But he passing through the midst of them went his way.” See Matthew 13:54-58, another occasion where “they were offended in him” and showed him no honour – he whom they contemptuously considered the native carpenter’s son. Although the Nazarene prophet was without honour in his own country, in his own city, in his own house, yet at the name of the Nazarene carpenter’s son every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess “that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

The Lowly Nazarene (by William Henry Gardner, 1866-1932).

1. Jesus knows earth’s cares and sorrows,
Through Death’s valley has He been,
At the bench He toiled and suffered,
Christ, the “Lowly Nazarene.”
2. His great heart will bear our burdens,
On Him you can ever lean,
He knows all our hopes and longings,
Christ, the “Lowly Nazarene.”
3. Comfort gives He to the beggar,
Freely as unto a Queen,
For His love indeed is boundless,
Christ, the “Lowly Nazarene.”
Lord of earth and sky forever,
Christ, the Lord, with pow’r supreme!
Born of woman in a manger,
Once a “Lowly Nazarene.”

We see Jesus the Nazarene, the Son of God who made himself of no reputation, lower than the angels for the suffering of death – the death we deserved and his death that paid the penalty for sin. With the songwriter Charles H. Gabriel, “I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene.”


[i] 23 και ελθων κατωκησεν εις πολιν λεγομενην ναζαρεθ οπως πληρωθη το ρηθεν δια των προφητων οτι ναζωραιος κληθησεται Matthew 1:23 in 1894 Textus Receptus.
[ii] Some mythicists (people who think that Jesus never existed) place high stock in the fact of lack of prior mention, hoping to use it to support their own myth. However, neither faith nor facts support their diversion. In 2009, Israeli archaeologists found what they believed were the remains of a dwelling in Nazareth that can be dated to the time of Jesus. Archaeologist Yardena Alexandre, excavations director at the Israel Antiquities Authority, said that their finds suggested that Nazareth was a small out-of-the-way city populated by Jews of modest means. See “Nazareth dwelling discovery may shed light on boyhood of Jesus,” as well as “Did First-Century Nazareth Exist” and “Jesus’ House? 1st-Century Structure May Be Where He Grew Up.”
[iii] For four uses of netzer (sprout, shoot, branch) in Old Testament, see Isaiah 11:1; 14:19; 60:21; Daniel 11:7.
[iv] Old Testament in Matthew, Volume I, J. W. Griffith, Pasadena, TX: White Printing, 1994, p. 28.
[v] De Pomis, 1525-after 1593, a notable Italian Jewish physician and philosopher, in Ẓemaḥ Dawid (i.e., The Offspring of David), Hebrew Lexicon, fol. 141. 2., 1587.
[vi] Nazarene – an inhabitant of the village of Nazareth. This has been often confused with Nazarite. A common misreading or misinterpretation of “Nazarene” is that it means “Nazarite.” However, Matthew does not say Nazarite, and Jesus was not a Nazarite.
[vii] Followers of the Nazarene were sometimes called Nazarenes. “For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes:” (Acts 24:5). In addition, sometimes “Christians are called Notzrim by Israelis in the Middle East.” See “Jesus “the Nazarene” – what is behind the title?
[viii] Et veniens habitavit in civitate, quae vocatur Nazareth ut adimpleretur quod dictum est per prophetas, quoniam Nazareus vocabitur. Si fixum de Scripturis posulsset exemplu, numquam diceret, quod dictum est per prophetas; sed simpliciter, quod dictum est per prophetam: nune autem pluraliter prophetas vocans, ostendit se non verba de Scripturis sumpsisse, sed sensum. Nazaraeus, sanctus interpretatur. Sanctum autem Dominum futurum, omnis Sciptura commemorat. Possumus et aliter dicere, quod etiam verbis, juxta Hebraicam veritstem in Isaia scriptum sit: Esiet virga de radice Iesse, et Nazaraeus de radice ejus conscendet (Isai. xi. i.). | English translation: And coming, he dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene. If he had asked for a fixed example from the Scriptures, he would never have said what was said through the prophets; but simply, what was said by the prophet: but now, calling the prophets in the plural, he shows that he did not take the words from the Scriptures, but the sense. A Nazarene, the Spirit interpreted. And all the Scriptures mention the coming of the Holy Lord. We can also say in another way, that even in words, according to the Hebrew truth, it is written in Isaiah: A rod shall come from the root of Jesse, and a Nazarene shall come up from his root. (Isai. xi. i.). Jerome’s Commentary on Matthew.
[ix] Barnes sums up the view of Jesus the Nazarene as one despised in four points: 1. He does not say “by the prophet,” as in Matthew 1:22; Matthew 2:5, Matthew 2:15, but “by the prophets,” meaning no one particularly, but the general character of the prophecies. 2. The leading and most prominent prophecies respecting him were, that he was to be of humble life; to be despised and rejected. 3. The phrase “he shall be called” means the same as he shall be. 4. The character of the people of Nazareth was such that they were proverbially despised and contemned, John 1:46; John 7:52. To come from Nazareth, therefore, or to be a Nazarene, was the same as to be despised, or to be esteemed of low birth; to be a root out of dry ground, having no form or comeliness. This was what had been predicted by all the prophets.

Monday, December 19, 2022

A Biblical View, 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.
  • A Biblical View of Church History -- “I need to interject here, as the title of this article reflects, I am not talking about a Protestant view of Church History vs. a Catholic view—I am talking about a biblical view.”
  • CDC knew COVID vax associated with myocarditis but left off post-vax surveys -- “Data released under court order shows 1 in 3 among earliest populations to get vaccinated reported needing medical care, missing school or work, or inability to ‘perform normal daily activities.’ CDC still fighting to keep v-safe ‘free-text field data’ secret.”
  • Fredericksburg Cast Iron Co. -- “Leveraging our Texas-German heritage from the heart of the Hill Country, Fredericksburg Cast Iron Co. produces heavy duty cast-iron cookware that is 100% made in Texas.”
  • Kisatchie Wold -- “A large sandstone ridge which extends from the Mississippi River floodplain to the Rio Grande valley, roughly paralleling the Gulf of Mexico.”
  • Living Between Two Worlds -- “Daniel stands on the crossroads between two disparate worlds. Behind him he casts his mind’s eye to the holy city, the source of his identity and citizenship.”
  • Martyn Lloyd-Jones vs. Expressive Individualism -- “The clip below is cued up to an excerpt near the end where Bakewell asks Lloyd-Jones about what we now call expressive individualism.”
  • Parisa: A Medina County Delicacy -- “If it looks like raw hamburger meat to you, you are close. But you are also so, so far.”
  • Responding to the Present Alarm -- “The alarm is blaring. Men hit snooze, some cover their ears, others panic, aimlessly running around with anxiety. The alarm continues.”
  • The Geneva Bible and Authorised Version Compared 1 -- “...the sharp contrast drawn between the Geneva and the Authorised Version is overdrawn. Such is their close similarity that it makes more sense to compare rather than contrast them.”
  • The Geneva Bible and Authorised Version Compared 2 -- “Scholarship in the Hebrew and Greek languages had come to their highest point since the recovery of this knowledge at the time of the Renaissance.”
  • The Geneva Bible and Authorised Version Compared 3 -- “There is every reason to believe that the AV raised the bar for translation yet higher and, as they expressed it themselves, made a very good translation even better.”
  • The Legacy of the First Revised Bible Translations -- “Several ancient Jewish revisions of the Septuagint have names associated with them. Most famous among them are “the Three”: Theodotion (post 30 AD), Aquila (ca. 130 AD), and Symmachus (ca. 200 AD).”
  • The Trial of the Century -- “John Scopes was the football coach but occasionally filled in for members of the teaching staff at the local high school. He had recently substituted for the biology teacher.”
  • Why do Mormons use the KJV? -- “There are two main reasons that the Mormon church utilizes and endorses only the King James Version. The first is that at the time of the organization of the church in 1830, the King James or Authorized Version was accepted as the authoritative Bible among English speaking people.”

The providential preservation of the holy Scriptures

In discussing the providential preservation of the holy Scriptures we must notice first a very important principle which accounts for the difference between Old Testament textual criticism and New Testament textual criticism. The Old Testament Church was under the care of the divinely appointed Aaronic priesthood, and for this reason the Holy Spirit preserved the Old Testament through this priesthood and the scholars that grouped themselves around it. The Holy Spirit guided these priests and scholars to gather the separate parts of the Old Testament into one Old Testament canon and to maintain the purity of the Old Testament text. In the New Testament Church, on the other hand, this special priesthood has been abolished through the sacrifice of Christ. Every believer is a priest before God, and for this reason the Holy Spirit has preserved the New Testament text not through any special priesthood but through the universal priesthood of believers, that is, through the usage of God’s people, the rank and file of all those that truly trust in Christ.

Edward F. Hills, in The King James Version Defended

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Wise men still seek Jesus

“…behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.”

One of my favorite traditional Christmas carols is “Three Kings of Orient,” probably more commonly known as “We Three Kings of Orient Are.” Part of it is the minor mood of the 5 stanzas, no doubt (the chorus is in major mood). This hymn honors our Lord Jesus Christ as the Risen “King and God and Sacrifice” – ranging from his miraculous birth to his glorious resurrection.

Some folks object to its phrasing “three kings” and therefore do not to sing the song. That is fair enough, if you so choose. However, note two things. First, this error is not an error of “fact” – as the error of placing the wise men at the stable instead of a house (Matthew 2:11) – but a difference of interpretation. Second, the “offending” words may be changed.

I do not agree with the interpretation that we should identify the wise men as kings. However, this idea goes all the way back to early church writers. Circa AD 200, Tertullian argued that the wise men were considered kings. In Adversus Marcionem (or Against Marcion, Book 3, chapter 13) after referencing Zechariah 14:14 and Psalm 72:10, 15, he writes, “For the East generally regarded the magi as kings...”

Origen, writing around AD 250, mentions the same or similar spiritual meaning of the gifts as Hopkins in “Kings of Orient” (See Contra Celsum, or Against Celsus, Book 1, Chapter 60). He also appears to be the first to quantify the wise men as numbering three (Homilies on Genesis and Exodus). Commenting on Psalm 72:10 and Isaiah 60:6, Matthew Henry writes:

“This was literally fulfilled in Solomon (for all the kings of the earth sought the wisdom of Solomon, and brought every man his present, 2 Chron. ix. 23, 24), and in Christ too, when the wise men of the east, who probably were men of the first rank in their own country, came to worship him and brought him presents, Matt. ii. 11.” (Vol. 3, p. 508)

“This was in part fulfilled when the wise men of the east (perhaps some of the countries here mentioned), drawn by the brightness of the star, came to Christ, and presented to him treasures of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, Matt. ii.11.” (Vol. 4, p. 351)

Therefore, we see there is a long-standing teaching that the wise men were three, and/or that they were kings. Nevertheless, I think it likely, considering the extent to which Matthew continually refers his record back to the prophecies of the Old Testament, that the wise men would have been connected to “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet.” Regardless, I do not find this an egregious error, as some other Christmas traditions that directly disagree with what the Bible says. Simply replacing “three kings” with “wise men” will alleviate that problem (see footnote 1).

The lyrics below are as generally found in most songbooks I have used in my lifetime. There are some minor variations from the original, with a major difference in the last two lines of stanza 5.

1. We three kings of Orient are[i]
Bearing gifts, we traverse afar—
Field and fountain, Moor and mountain—
Following yonder Star.

2. Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain[ii]
Gold I bring to crown Him again,
King for ever, ceasing never,
Over us all to reign.

3. Frankincense to offer have I;
Incense owns a Deity nigh;
Prayer and praising, All men raising,
Worship Him God on high.

4. Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom; —
Sorrowing, sighing, Bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.

5. Glorious now behold Him arise;
King and God and Sacrifice;
Alleluia, Alleluia,
Peals through the earth and skies.[iii]

O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.

John Henry Hopkins, Jr. (1820-1891) wrote this hymn in 1857. He was at that time the rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Hopkins was the General Theological Seminary’s first music teacher (1855-57), and editor of the Church Journal (1853-68). He wrote both the words and music for a Christmas pageant of the General Theological Seminary in New York City. According to Doug Storer in Amazing But True, this was the “first widely popular American Christmas carol...” John was the son of John Henry Hopkins, Sr. and Melusina Muller. His father was the first Episcopal bishop of Vermont.

Hopkins first printed Three Kings of Orient in Carols, Hymns, and Songs (New York, NY: Church Book Depository, 1863), on page 12. Though seldom sung this way today, he originally organized the song so that stanzas 2, 3, and 4 were sung as solos by each “king.”[iv] Stanzas 1 and 5 and the chorus were sung by all. Hopkins explains in a note under the song:

“Each of the verses 2, 3, and 4, is sung as a solo, to the music of Gaspard’s part in the 1st and 5th verses, the accompaniment and chorus being the same throughout. Only verses 1 and 5 are sung as a trio. Men’s voices are best for the parts of the Three Kings, but the music is set in the G clef for the accommodation of children.”

I searched for some a cappella renditions to link here. Apparently, to many now a cappella means not using musical instructions, but allowing for vocal sounds that sound similar to musical instruments. That is interesting, requires a lot of talent, and often sounds good. However, that is not what I was looking for. Here are a couple, by A Cappella Hymns and the Central Dauphin High School A Cappella Group. I like to sing all five stanzas, then sing the chorus once afterward; I realize this is not so common to sing it that way.

[i] For those who find “three kings” objectionable, I suggest substituting either “We wise men from in the east are” or “We wise men of Orient are.” Orient in this context simply means east.
[ii] The original has “Bethlehem plain.”
[iii] Hopkins’s original words are “Heav’n sings Hallelujah, Hallelujah the earth replies.”
[iv] The traditional (not biblical_ names of the wise men derive from at least two sources, the 6th-century Armenian Gospel of the Infancy (Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthazar) and the 8th-century Excerpta Latina Barbari, or, A Barbarian’s Latin Excerpts (Melchior, Gathaspa, and Bithisarea). Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthasar are also mentioned in the 8th-century Collectanea et Flores. These particular names mostly circulate in the West.