Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so.
I.We never outgrow the teachings of the foundation: It’s what we build on
Some of the purposes for teaching the foundation:
2 Tim. 2:
to understand the meaning behind “symbolic acts” (such as water baptism and communion)
to grow in understanding about what we believe . If we don’t know what we believe, our beliefs can easily be replaced)
for study and discipline
to grow in learning to discern the Lord’s voice
to give us tools to help us mature
to produce fruit that people can taste through our influence and give them an experience with God through our lives
To teach others (importance of understanding our responsibility as parents/ children)
NOT to be good at arguing
14 Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles (discerns) the word of truth.
II. Authenticity of the Word
The degree to which we trust the validity of the Bible as words inspired by the Spirit of God will be the degree of its influence and effectiveness in our lives.
What is the Bible?
The Bible consists of stories that began in the oral tradition and were passed down from generation to generation
The stories were written down by at least 40 different writers.
The first recorded instance of the “written” Word was the Ten Commandments on the stone tablets given to Moses on top of Mount Sinai (between 1,400 BC and 1,500 BC according to Bible scholars).
It was written in a form of ancient Hebrew
The earliest collection of these stories is called the “Pentateuch”, the first five books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, & Deuteronomy. (There is some evidence that the Book of Job may actually be the oldest book in the Bible.)
The word “Bible” comes from the same Greek root word as “papyrus”. Papyrus sheets were bound, or tied together similar to form long scrolls
When the entire Pentateuch appeared on a scroll it was called a “Torah” and was over 150 feet long (which took a whole herd of sheep to create)
The Bible was divided into two parts: the first 39 books are called the Old Testament (written in Hebrew) and second which consists of 27 books are called the New Testament (written in Greek).
Testament means Covenant.
Translators were shocked to discover that the original writings were first recorded in the common language of the people
The Old Testament is about life under the Old Covenant which was the law of Moses.
The purpose of the Old Testament writings is to teach us from the examples of others and to lead us to a revelation of our need for a Redeemer
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
1 Cor 10:11
These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.
I. By approximately 500 BC, the 39 Books that make up the Old Testament were complete, and continued to be preserved in Hebrew.
J. In the last few centuries before Christ, the Jewish historical books known as the “Apocrypha” were completed and recorded in Greek rather than Hebrew.
K. At the end of the First Century AD, the New Testament had been completed. The New Testament is about the New Covenant that is given to us through faith in Jesus.
II Tim. 3:16
All of the Old Testament has been found but Esther and archeology has proven the actual historical validity of this book as well.
The authenticity of the Bible as historical writing is well documented. Many colleges study parts of its writings as literature. But the Bible is more than literature. It is a revelation – an invitation to encounter Jesus – and given to teach and train believers in truth.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
II.It takes FAITH to believe that the written Word is actually inspired by the Holy Spirit and given to us by God.
The Bible was written to a Middle Eastern society that is alien to our postmodern western world. This is not to discredit it but to understand it in context
When the Bible is not read in context with the culture in mind, it can be used to justify crazy ideas in the name of God.
Out of context, the Bible contradicts itself. For example: Paul said a woman shouldn’t teach a man and yet Lydia, the first documented convert to Christianity in Europe, lead the church in Thyatira
(See also Acts 16; Priscilla - She and her husband, Aquila, are mentioned six times as partners with Paul, and were also partners in tentmaking. Paul mentions that they risked their lives for him. When Paul refers to them, Priscilla is usually listed first.
Paul’s letters cannot be interpreted correctly without understanding that in some place he quotes questions sent to him by the church followed by his response, a common practice in writing at the time.
The scientific accuracy of the written Word is amazing.
Job 26:7 tells us that God hung the earth on nothing. How could Job know that the earth hung in space before the age of modern astronomy and space travel? The answer is – The Holy Spirit told him.
2. The scientists in Isaiah’s time didn’t know the earth was round and yet he wrote that God sits on the circle of the earth. (Is. 40:22)
The word for “circle” here means a globe or sphere. How did he know? By the Holy Spirit.
B. Secondly, the historical accuracy of the Bible has also been confirme .
1. One example: Daniel 5 – in the story about the handwriting on the wall, Belshazzar hosts a feast and a hand appears out of nowhere and writes something on a wall. The king was extremely freaked out and asked for someone to interpret the writing, which Daniel did. After the interpretation, it says in Dan. 5:29: “Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.” In 1853, an inscription was found on a cornerstone of a temple built by Nabonidas, to the god Ur, which read: “May I, Nabonidas, king of Babylon, not sin against thee. And may reverence for thee dwell in the heart of Belshazzar, my first-born favorite son.” This is just one example among countless others.
C. There are over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament that were fulfilled in the New Testament.
D. But the written Word is more than a scientific or historical document. It is the revelation of Jesus. Only the Holy Spirit can reveal Jesus to us. Through an act of faith, we receive revelation through the Holy Spirit.
1. When we chose to receive the revelation of Jesus through the Holy Spirit, it is an act of faith.
1 John 5:4
for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
III.HOW GOD SPEAKS TO US
There are two translations for “Word” of God: Logos and Rhema
Logos: logos, refers to the total inspired Word of God (the Bible) and to Jesus, the living Logos, who embodies the complete message of the written Word
Jesus –who he is - embodies the concept of God’s message to us.
Examples of Logos:
The following passages of Scripture give examples of the logos of God:
In the beginning was the Word [logos], and the Word [logos] was with God, and the Word [logos] was God”
The seed is the word [logos] of God
Philippians 2:16 Holding forth the word [logos] of life
2 Timothy 2:15
Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word [logos] of truth
The word (logos) of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
1 Peter 1:23
Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word [logos] of God, which lives and abides forever
The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word (logos) of God.
1 Thessalonians 2:13
And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.
Jesus embodied that total message, and that is why He is called the “Logos” or “Word” of God
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.; 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority
Jesus is the link between the written Word of God and Himself
You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me
In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.
The 2nd Greek word for “word” in the Bible is Rhema which refers to the spoken Word
When Jesus was being tempted by Satan, He answered, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word [rhema] that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
It is the PROCEEDING WORD, that which God is saying to us
To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.
Of course one way the Spirit speaks a Rhema Word to us is through the Logos-written word – but His voice is not limited to what has been written. It is the “proceeding” word – What God is saying right now.
Why would we believe God can’t say anything to us that isn’t already written down. He’s still capable of speaking, isn’t He?
Of course, he will not contradict what he says with His character that we discern through studying the scriptures.
Examples of Rhema:
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word [rhema] of God
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word (rhema)
If you abide in me, and my words [rhema] abide in you, you shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you
Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word [rhema] I will let down the net
When the angel told Mary that she would have a child, “Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word [rhema]
Now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word [rhema]
during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word (rhema) of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness.
Then remembered I the word [rhema] of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost
Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
1st Peter 1:25
“But the word (rhema) of the Lord endures forever. And this is the word that was preached to you.
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word (rhema) about Christ.
H. We need both the logos (written word and revelation of Jesus) and the rhema (proceeding word) of God
Psalm 19:1 The
Another way God continues to speak to us is through His creation
heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2 Day after day they pour forth speech
; night after night they reveal knowledge. 3 They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. 4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.
Romans 1: 20
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.)
Hosea 12:10 I
And through visions, parables (stories), and dreams (both Joseph, the son of Jacob, and Joseph, the husband of Mary, were spoken to by God through dreams)
spoke to the prophets, gave them many visions and told parables through them
In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways
The only way to know truth and hear God’s voice is through the Holy Spirit. Revelation does not come through intellectual discernment but through divine revelation.
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come
IV.HAVING THE WORD IN OUR HEARTS: Renewing the Mind
We should be growing in our hearing from and through the written, spoken and revealed word (Jesus)
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
A habit takes 21 days to form and becomes a pattern. It takes disciple to change thought patterns and bring our thoughts under the authority of the truth
We give our time to what we are committed to – our time reveals what we love most.
Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts.
, “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom...”
Through studying the Word, we search out the Lord’s heart. We become familiar with the sound of His thoughts and his character.
If there is something that seems contradictory to Gods character, it’s usually because we don’t have the full picture or we have a skewed interpretation that we’ve been taught by someone in a pulpit.
E. God wants us to experience Him, not just know him with our minds. We take what we hear and apply it in our daily experiences, it becomes a part of our hearts
Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds
F. If all we have is a man’s interpretation of the Word, we will be limited in revelation and truth
1. Without experiences with, we can become deceived just as Eve by another’s (the serpent’s) interpretation of God’s words
G. If we take a legalistic point of view, we can become like the Pharisees who knew the word but did not even recognize Jesus as the Messiah
1. We often have our experiences with God confirmed AFTER they happen (i.e., Pentecost; Peter’s preaching to the Gentiles and them receiving the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, etc.)
2. It’s vital that we practice hearing the voice of God
H. The purpose for teachers given to the body,
is not to spoon feed us, but to help equip us as we grow together. We were never menat to become dependent on someone else to discern truth for us. He uses teachers but we MUST know God’s Voice for ourselves.
see to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
Ephesians 4: 11
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
I. These ministries are not given just to impart truth, but a love for the truth, which compels those who hear to hunger and thirst for truth enough to search the Scriptures themselves. Spurgeon once said, “I can find ten more who will die for the Bible for every one who will actually read it!”
“We need teachers to help ground us in truth, and impart a love for the truth so that we will search the Word for ourselves. We need pastors to help guide us in the ways of the Lord, and equip us to help keep and protect one another. We need evangelists to impart to us God’s love for the lost, and equip us to lead others to the Lord. We need prophets for strategic guidance, and to teach us to know the voice of the Lord. We need apostles to help take all of the different parts of the body and fit them together into a functioning whole. From this we see how all of this is needed for a balanced, healthy, Christian life.” (Rick Joyner)
J. The results of maturity mean:
1. We are “no longer be children”: According to the word we should all be able to teach and to prophesy. We should all be healing the sick and casting out demons. Our churches are filled with people with a lot of knowledge but who have little depth. As long as one person fills the pulpit as teacher, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and apostle, we will remain children
2. We will not be “tossed by waves”: If we are not connected with a growing, growing and maturing together, we will be “tossed” by moves of the Spirit (often referred to as waves). Many chase after these waves without taking personal responsibility for a relationship with Jesus and refuse to commit to a local church body where they can be accountable and grow together.
3. We will not be carried about by “every wind of doctrine”. This doesn’t say “false doctrines.” If we are just chasing after every new teaching, our faith will be only on the surface – always hungry for new knowledge without root that being grounded relationally in a body requires.
4. We will not be “fooled by the trickery of men”.
2 Corinthians 11:20, “For you bear with anyone if he enslaves you, if he devours you, if he takes advantage of you, if he exalts himself, if he hits you in the face.”
We desperately need the discernment of the Body together – As shocking as it seems, anyone can be deceived. There is balance that comes with the team, the tribe, the body and spiritual family God has called us to be a part of.
5. We will not be “misled by craftiness in deceitful scheming”. Craftiness is trying to bend the rules and get away with it – to reinterpret something God said in a deceptive way—exactly what Satan did in the garden.
K. A lack of discipline and dependence on the (the western version of) pastors to spoon feed the Word has resulted in an immature and weak church.
L. Knowledge can draw crowds, but wisdom – the application of knowledge- actually builds the house.
1. We don’t want to be just a place where crowds gather but a body that is being knit together and maturing together in the Lord
2 Corinthians 3:6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter
The New Covenant saw the birth of the Church. It’s ministry was designed to function together as a body for the purpose of being equipped so that each of us can do the work of the ministry.
1. It’s not going to happen without the Body. In order to mature, we need one another. We each have a part that the other needs.
2. This isn’t about labels. Like any healthy relationship, whoever is strong at the moment reaches out and helps the weak. We all have our strong days and weak days.
3. Although we all have an individual relationship with Jesus, and hear his voice for ourselves, as we function together and submit to one another in love, we take on the full statue of Christ.
until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
A WORD ABOUT MAN-MADE RELIGIOUS PRACTICES:
When Religion is used in the Word to speak of traditions made by mankind, it is referring to ceremonial acts: the Greek root of the word religion is pronounced: thra-ska'-ä. When this word is used, it is speaking of the external ceremonies performed out of “fear of the gods”.
The Greeks created Mythology for the same reason—out of fear of the unknown as a way to explain the unexplainable (according to Edith Hamilton, who wrote Mythology, Tales of Greek gods and heroes
1942). Man-made religion is our attempt to feel in control of the unknown and invisible God. How do we know the difference between dead religious practices and pure religion? Pure religion leads to maturity. Religious practices keep us on the bottle.
V. Translations of the Scripture
A. How was the Bible translated?
1. We all need a basic understanding of how the Bible came to us and the price that was paid by many so that we could have it in our own language
B. Rather than trying to retell the history of Bible translations, I’ve simply posted the information below from WWW.GREATSITE.COM
, which is a great source. According to their website: Permission for reproductions and quotes, “whole or in part,” “print or electronically” is given under the condition that “prominent credit must be given to “WWW.GREATSITE.COM” as the source.”
English Bible History
The fascinating story of how we got the Bible in its present form actually starts thousands of years ago, as briefly outlined in our Timeline of Bible Translation History. As a background study, we recommend that you first review our discussion of the Pre-Reformation History of the Bible from 1,400 B.C. to 1,400 A.D., which covers the transmission of the scripture through the original languages of Hebrew and Greek, and the 1,000 years of the Dark & Middle Ages when the Word was trapped in only Latin. Our starting point in this discussion of Bible history, however, is the advent of the scripture in the English language with the “Morning Star of the Reformation”, John Wycliffe.
The first hand-written English language Bible manuscripts were produced in the 1380's AD by John Wycliffe, an Oxford professor, scholar, and theologian. Wycliffe, (also spelled “Wycliff” & “Wyclif”), was well-known throughout Europe for his opposition to the teaching of the organized Church, which he believed to be contrary to the Bible. With the help of his followers, called the Lollards, and his assistant Purvey, and many other faithful scribes, Wycliffe produced dozens of English language manuscript copies of the scriptures. They were translated out of the Latin Vulgate, which was the only source text available to Wycliffe. The Pope was so infuriated by his teachings and his translation of the Bible into English, that 44 years after Wycliffe had died, he ordered the bones to be dug-up, crushed, and scattered in the river!
One of Wycliffe’s followers, John Hus, actively promoted Wycliffe’s ideas: that people should be permitted to read the Bible in their own language, and they should oppose the tyranny of the Roman church that threatened anyone possessing a non-Latin Bible with execution. Hus was burned at the stake in 1415, with Wycliffe’s manuscript Bibles used as kindling for the fire. The last words of John Hus were that, “in 100 years, God will raise up a man whose calls for reform cannot be suppressed.” Almost exactly 100 years later, in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his famous 95 Theses of Contention (a list of 95 issues of heretical theology and crimes of the Roman Catholic Church) into the church door at Wittenberg. The prophecy of Hus had come true! Martin Luther went on to be the first person to translate and publish the Bible in the commonly-spoken dialect of the German people; a translation more appealing than previous German Biblical translations. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs records that in that same year, 1517, seven people were burned at the stake by the Roman Catholic Church for the crime of teaching their children to say the Lord’s Prayer in English rather than Latin.
Johann Gutenberg invented the printing press in the 1450's, and the first book to ever be printed was a Latin language Bible, printed in Mainz, Germany. Gutenberg’s Bibles were surprisingly beautiful, as each leaf Gutenberg printed was later colorfully hand-illuminated. Born as “Johann Gensfleisch” (John Gooseflesh), he preferred to be known as “Johann Gutenberg” (John Beautiful Mountain). Ironically, though he had created what many believe to be the most important invention in history, Gutenberg was a victim of unscrupulous business associates who took control of his business and left him in poverty. Nevertheless, the invention of the movable-type printing press meant that Bibles and books could finally be effectively produced in large quantities in a short period of time. This was essential to the success of the Reformation.
In the 1490’s another Oxford professor, and the personal physician to King Henry the 7th and 8th, Thomas Linacre, decided to learn Greek. After reading the Gospels in Greek, and comparing it to the Latin Vulgate, he wrote in his diary, “Either this (the original Greek) is not the Gospel… or we are not Christians.” The Latin had become so corrupt that it no longer even preserved the message of the Gospel… yet the Church still threatened to kill anyone who read the scripture in any language other than Latin… though Latin was not an original language of the scriptures.
In 1496, John Colet, another Oxford professor and the son of the Mayor of London, started reading the New Testament in Greek and translating it into English for his students at Oxford, and later for the public at Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London. The people were so hungry to hear the Word of God in a language they could understand, that within six months there were 20,000 people packed in the church and at least that many outside trying to get in! (Sadly, while the enormous and beautiful Saint Paul’s Cathedral remains the main church in London today, as of 2003, typical Sunday morning worship attendance is only around 200 people… and most of them are tourists). Fortunately for Colet, he was a powerful man with friends in high places, so he amazingly managed to avoid execution.
In considering the experiences of Linacre and Colet, the great scholar Erasmus was so moved to correct the corrupt Latin Vulgate, that in 1516, with the help of printer John Froben, he published a Greek-Latin Parallel New Testament. The Latin part was not the corrupt Vulgate, but his own fresh rendering of the text from the more accurate and reliable Greek, which he had managed to collate from a half-dozen partial old Greek New Testament manuscripts he had acquired. This milestone was the first non-Latin Vulgate text of the scripture to be produced in a millennium… and the first ever to come off a printing press. The 1516 Greek-Latin New Testament of Erasmus further focused attention on just how corrupt and inaccurate the Latin Vulgate had become, and how important it was to go back and use the original Greek (New Testament) and original Hebrew (Old Testament) languages to maintain accuracy… and to translate them faithfully into the languages of the common people, whether that be English, German, or any other tongue. No sympathy for this “illegal activity” was to be found from Rome… even as the words of Pope Leo X's declaration that "the fable of Christ was quite profitable to him" continued through the years to infuriate the people of God.
William Tyndale was the Captain of the Army of Reformers, and was their spiritual leader. Tyndale holds the distinction of being the first man to ever print the New Testament in the English language. Tyndale was a true scholar and a genius, so fluent in eight languages that it was said one would think any one of them to be his native tongue. He is frequently referred to as the “Architect of the English Language”, (even more so than William Shakespeare) as so many of the phrases Tyndale coined are still in our language today.
Martin Luther had a small head-start on Tyndale, as Luther declared his intolerance for the Roman Church’s corruption on Halloween in 1517, by nailing his 95 Theses of Contention to the Wittenberg Church door. Luther, who would be exiled in the months following the Diet of Worms Council in 1521 that was designed to martyr him, would translate the New Testament into German for the first time from the 1516 Greek-Latin New Testament of Erasmus, and publish it in September of 1522. Luther also published a German Pentateuch in 1523, and another edition of the German New Testament in 1529. In the 1530’s he would go on to publish the entire Bible in German.
William Tyndale wanted to use the same 1516 Erasmus text as a source to translate and print the New Testament in English for the first time in history. Tyndale showed up on Luther's doorstep in Germany in 1525, and by year's end had translated the New Testament into English. Tyndale had been forced to flee England, because of the wide-spread rumor that his English New Testament project was underway, causing inquisitors and bounty hunters to be constantly on Tyndale's trail to arrest him and prevent his project. God foiled their plans, and in 1525-1526 the Tyndale New Testament became the first printed edition of the scripture in the English language. Subsequent printings of the Tyndale New Testament in the 1530's were often elaborately illustrated.
They were burned as soon as the Bishop could confiscate them, but copies trickled through and actually ended up in the bedroom of King Henry VIII. The more the King and Bishop resisted its distribution, the more fascinated the public at large became. The church declared it contained thousands of errors as they torched hundreds of New Testaments confiscated by the clergy, while in fact, they burned them because they could find no errors at all. One risked death by burning if caught in mere possession of Tyndale's forbidden books.
Having God's Word available to the public in the language of the common man, English, would have meant disaster to the church. No longer would they control access to the scriptures. If people were able to read the Bible in their own tongue, the church's income and power would crumble. They could not possibly continue to get away with selling indulgences (the forgiveness of sins) or selling the release of loved ones from a church-manufactured "Purgatory". People would begin to challenge the church's authority if the church were exposed as frauds and thieves. The contradictions between what God's Word said, and what the priests taught, would open the public's eyes and the truth would set them free from the grip of fear that the institutional church held. Salvation through faith, not works or donations, would be understood. The need for priests would vanish through the priesthood of all believers. The veneration of church-canonized Saints and Mary would be called into question. The availability of the scriptures in English was the biggest threat imaginable to the wicked church. Neither side would give up without a fight.
Today, there are only two known copies left of Tyndale’s 1525-26 First Edition. Any copies printed prior to 1570 are extremely valuable. Tyndale's flight was an inspiration to freedom-loving Englishmen who drew courage from the 11 years that he was hunted. Books and Bibles flowed into England in bales of cotton and sacks of flour. Ironically, Tyndale’s biggest customer was the King’s men, who would buy up every copy available to burn them… and Tyndale used their money to print even more! In the end, Tyndale was caught: betrayed by an Englishman that he had befriended. Tyndale was incarcerated for 500 days before he was strangled and burned at the stake in 1536. Tyndale’s last words were, "Oh Lord, open the King of England’s eyes". This prayer would be answered just three years later in 1539, when King Henry VIII finally allowed, and even funded, the printing of an English Bible known as the “Great Bible”. But before that could happen…
Myles Coverdale and John “Thomas Matthew” Rogers had remained loyal disciples the last six years of Tyndale's life, and they carried the English Bible project forward and even accelerated it. Coverdale finished translating the Old Testament, and in 1535 he printed the first complete Bible in the English language, making use of Luther's German text and the Latin as sources. Thus, the first complete English Bible was printed on October 4, 1535, and is known as the Coverdale Bible.
John Rogers went on to print the second complete English Bible in 1537. It was, however, the first English Bible translated from the original Biblical languages of Hebrew & Greek. He printed it under the pseudonym "Thomas Matthew", (an assumed name that had actually been used by Tyndale at one time) as a considerable part of this Bible was the translation of Tyndale, whose writings had been condemned by the English authorities. It is a composite made up of Tyndale's Pentateuch and New Testament (1534-1535 edition) and Coverdale's Bible and some of Roger's own translation of the text. It remains known most commonly as the Matthew-Tyndale Bible. It went through a nearly identical second-edition printing in 1549.
In 1539, Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, hired Myles Coverdale at the bequest of King Henry VIII to publish the "Great Bible". It became the first English Bible authorized for public use, as it was distributed to every church, chained to the pulpit, and a reader was even provided so that the illiterate could hear the Word of God in plain English. It would seem that William Tyndale's last wish had been granted...just three years after his martyrdom. Cranmer's Bible, published by Coverdale, was known as the Great Bible due to its great size: a large pulpit folio measuring over 14 inches tall. Seven editions of this version were printed between April of 1539 and December of 1541.
King Henry VIII
It was not that King Henry VIII had a change of conscience regarding publishing the Bible in English. His motives were more sinister… but the Lord sometimes uses the evil intentions of men to bring about His glory. King Henry VIII had in fact, requested that the Pope permit him to divorce his wife and marry his mistress. The Pope refused. King Henry responded by marrying his mistress anyway, (later having two of his many wives executed), and thumbing his nose at the Pope by renouncing Roman Catholicism, taking England out from under Rome’s religious control, and declaring himself as the reigning head of State to also be the new head of the Church. This new branch of the Christian Church, neither Roman Catholic nor truly Protestant, became known as the Anglican Church or the Church of England. King Henry acted essentially as its “Pope”. His first act was to further defy the wishes of Rome by funding the printing of the scriptures in English… the first legal English Bible… just for spite.
The ebb and flow of freedom continued through the 1540's...and into the 1550's. After King Henry VIII, King Edward VI took the throne, and after his death, the reign of Queen “Bloody” Mary was the next obstacle to the printing of the Bible in English. She was possessed in her quest to return England to the Roman Church. In 1555, John "Thomas Matthew" Rogers and Thomas Cranmer were both burned at the stake. Mary went on to burn reformers at the stake by the hundreds for the "crime" of being a Protestant. This era was known as the Marian Exile, and the refugees fled from England with little hope of ever seeing their home or friends again.
In the 1550's, the Church at Geneva, Switzerland, was very sympathetic to the reformer refugees and was one of only a few safe havens for a desperate people. Many of them met in Geneva, led by Myles Coverdale and John Foxe (publisher of the famous Foxe's Book of Martyrs, which is to this day the only exhaustive reference work on the persecution and martyrdom of Early Christians and Protestants from the first century up to the mid-16th century), as well as Thomas Sampson and William Whittingham. There, with the protection of the great theologian John Calvin (author of the most famous theological book ever published, Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion)and John Knox, the great Reformer of the Scottish Church, the Church of Geneva determined to produce a Bible that would educate their families while they continued in exile.
The New Testament was completed in 1557, and the complete Bible was first published in 1560. It became known as the Geneva Bible. Due to a passage in Genesis describing the clothing that God fashioned for Adam and Eve upon expulsion from the Garden of Eden as "Breeches" (an antiquated form of "Britches"), some people referred to the Geneva Bible as the Breeches Bible.
The Geneva Bible was the first Bible to add numbered verses to the chapters, so that referencing specific passages would be easier. Every chapter was also accompanied by extensive marginal notes and references so thorough and complete that the Geneva Bible is also considered the first English "Study Bible". William Shakespeare quotes hundreds of times in his plays from the Geneva translation of the Bible. The Geneva Bible became the Bible of choice for over 100 years of English speaking Christians. Between 1560 and 1644 at least 144 editions of this Bible were published. Examination of the 1611 King James Bible shows clearly that its translators were influenced much more by the Geneva Bible, than by any other source. The Geneva Bible itself retains over 90% of William Tyndale's original English translation. The Geneva in fact, remained more popular than the King James Version until decades after its original release in 1611! The Geneva holds the honor of being the first Bible taken to America, and the Bible of the Puritans and Pilgrims. It is truly the “Bible of the Protestant Reformation.” Strangely, the famous Geneva Bible has been out-of-print since 1644, so the only way to obtain one is to either purchase an original printing of the Geneva Bible, or a less costly facsimile reproduction of the original 1560 Geneva Bible.
With the end of Queen Mary's bloody reign, the reformers could safely return to England. The Anglican Church, now under Queen Elizabeth I, reluctantly tolerated the printing and distribution of Geneva version Bibles in England. The marginal notes, which were vehemently against the institutional Church of the day, did not rest well with the rulers of the day. Another version, one with a less inflammatory tone was desired, and the copies of the Great Bible were getting to be decades old. In 1568, a revision of the Great Bible known as the Bishop's Bible was introduced. Despite 19 editions being printed between 1568 and 1606, this Bible, referred to as the “rough draft of the King James Version”, never gained much of a foothold of popularity among the people. The Geneva may have simply been too much to compete with.
By the 1580's, the Roman Catholic Church saw that it had lost the battle to suppress the will of God: that His Holy Word be available in the English language. In 1582, the Church of Rome surrendered their fight for "Latin only" and decided that if the Bible was to be available in English, they would at least have an official Roman Catholic English translation. And so, using the corrupt and inaccurate Latin Vulgate as the only source text, they went on to publish an English Bible with all the distortions and corruptions that Erasmus had revealed and warned of 75 years earlier. Because it was translated at the Roman Catholic College in the city of Rheims, it was known as the Rheims New Testament (also spelled Rhemes). The Douay Old Testament was translated by the Church of Rome in 1609 at the College in the city of Douay (also spelled Doway & Douai). The combined product is commonly referred to as the "Doway/Rheims" Version. In 1589, Dr. William Fulke of Cambridge published the "Fulke's Refutation", in which he printed in parallel columns the Bishops Version along side the Rheims Version, attempting to show the error and distortion of the Roman Church's corrupt compromise of an English version of the Bible.
King James I
With the death of Queen Elizabeth I, Prince James VI of Scotland became King James I of England. The Protestant clergy approached the new King in 1604 and announced their desire for a new translation to replace the Bishop's Bible first printed in 1568. They knew that the Geneva Version had won the hearts of the people because of its excellent scholarship, accuracy, and exhaustive commentary. However, they did not want the controversial marginal notes (proclaiming the Pope an Anti-Christ, etc.) Essentially, the leaders of the church desired a Bible for the people, with scriptural references only for word clarification or cross-references.
This "translation to end all translations" (for a while at least) was the result of the combined effort of about fifty scholars. They took into consideration: The Tyndale New Testament, The Coverdale Bible, The Matthews Bible, The Great Bible, The Geneva Bible, and even the Rheims New Testament. The great revision of the Bishop's Bible had begun. From 1605 to 1606 the scholars engaged in private research. From 1607 to 1609 the work was assembled. In 1610 the work went to press, and in 1611 the first of the huge (16 inch tall) pulpit folios known today as "The 1611 King James Bible" came off the printing press. A typographical discrepancy in Ruth 3:15 rendered a pronoun "He" instead of "She" in that verse in some printings. This caused some of the 1611 First Editions to be known by collectors as "He" Bibles, and others as "She" Bibles. Starting just one year after the huge 1611 pulpit-size King James Bibles were printed and chained to every church pulpit in England; printing then began on the earliest normal-size printings of the King James Bible. These were produced so individuals could have their own personal copy of the Bible.
The Anglican Church’s King James Bible took decades to overcome the more popular Protestant Church’s Geneva Bible. One of the greatest ironies of history, is that many Protestant Christian churches today embrace the King James Bible exclusively as the “only” legitimate English language translation… yet it is not even a Protestant translation! It was printed to compete with the Protestant Geneva Bible, by authorities who throughout most of history were hostile to Protestants… and killed them. While many Protestants are quick to assign the full blame of persecution to the Roman Catholic Church, it should be noted that even after England broke from Roman Catholicism in the 1500’s, the Church of England (The Anglican Church) continued to persecute Protestants throughout the 1600’s. One famous example of this is John Bunyan, who while in prison for the crime of preaching the Gospel, wrote one of Christian history’s greatest books, Pilgrim’s Progress. Throughout the 1600’s, as the Puritans and the Pilgrims fled the religious persecution of England to cross the Atlantic and start a new free nation in America, they took with them their precious Geneva Bible, and rejected the King’s Bible. America was founded upon the Geneva Bible, not the King James Bible.
Protestants today are largely unaware of their own history, and unaware of the Geneva Bible (which is textually 95% the same as the King James Version, but 50 years older than the King James Version, and not influenced by the Roman Catholic Rheims New Testament that the King James translators admittedly took into consideration). Nevertheless, the King James Bible turned out to be an excellent and accurate translation, and it became the most printed book in the history of the world, and the only book with one billion copies in print. In fact, for over 250 years...until the appearance of the English Revised Version of 1881-1885...the King James Version reigned without much of a rival. One little-known fact, is that for the past 200 years, all King James Bibles published in America are actually the 1769 Baskerville spelling and wording revision of the 1611. The original “1611” preface is deceivingly included by the publishers, and no mention of the fact that it is really the 1769 version is to be found, because that might hurt sales. The only way to obtain a true, unaltered, 1611 version is to either purchase an original pre-1769 printing of the King James Bible, or a less costly facsimile reproduction of the original 1611 King James Bible.
Although the first Bible printed in America was done in the native Algonquin Indian Language by John Eliot in 1663; the first English language Bible to be printed in America by Robert Aitken in 1782 was a King James Version. Robert Aitken’s 1782 Bible was also the only Bible ever authorized by the United States Congress. He was commended by President George Washington for providing Americans with Bibles during the embargo of imported English goods due to the Revolutionary War. In 1808, Robert’s daughter, Jane Aitken, would become the first woman to ever print a Bible… and to do so in America, of course. In 1791, Isaac Collins vastly improved upon the quality and size of the typesetting of American Bibles and produced the first "Family Bible" printed in America... also a King James Version. Also in 1791, Isaiah Thomas published the first Illustrated Bible printed in America...in the King James Version. For more information on the earliest Bibles printed in America from the 1600’s through the early 1800’s, you may wish to review our more detailed discussion of The Bibles of Colonial America.
While Noah Webster, just a few years after producing his famous Dictionary of the English Language, would produce his own modern translation of the English Bible in 1833; the public remained too loyal to the King James Version for Webster’s version to have much impact. It was not really until the 1880’s that England’s own planned replacement for their King James Bible, the English Revised Version(E.R.V.) would become the first English language Bible to gain popular acceptance as a post-King James Version modern-English Bible. The widespread popularity of this modern-English translation brought with it another curious characteristic: the absence of the 14 Apocryphal books.
Up until the 1880’s every Protestant Bible (not just Catholic Bibles) had 80 books, not 66! The inter-testamental books written hundreds of years before Christ called “The Apocrypha” were part of virtually every printing of the Tyndale-Matthews Bible, the Great Bible, the Bishops Bible, the Protestant Geneva Bible, and the King James Bible until their removal in the 1880’s! The original 1611 King James contained the Apocrypha, and King James threatened anyone who dared to print the Bible without the Apocrypha with heavy fines and a year in jail. Only for the last 120 years has the Protestant Church rejected these books, and removed them from their Bibles. This has left most modern-day Christians believing the popular myth that there is something “Roman Catholic” about the Apocrypha. There is, however, no truth in that myth, and no widely-accepted reason for the removal of the Apocrypha in the 1880’s has ever been officially issued by a mainline Protestant denomination.
The Americans responded to England’s E.R.V. Bible by publishing the nearly-identical American Standard Version (A.S.V.) in 1901. It was also widely-accepted and embraced by churches throughout America for many decades as the leading modern-English version of the Bible. In the 1971, it was again revised and called New American Standard Version Bible (often referred to as the N.A.S.V. or N.A.S.B. or N.A.S.). This New American Standard Bible is considered by nearly all evangelical Christian scholars and translators today, to be the most accurate, word-for-word translation of the original Greek and Hebrew scriptures into the modern English language that has ever been produced. It remains the most popular version among theologians, professors, scholars, and seminary students today. Some, however, have taken issue with it because it is so direct and literal a translation (focused on accuracy), that it does not flow as easily in conversational English.
For this reason, in 1973, the New International Version (N.I.V.) was produced, which was offered as a “dynamic equivalent” translation into modern English. The N.I.V. was designed not for “word-for-word” accuracy, but rather, for “phrase-for-phrase” accuracy, and ease of reading even at a Junior High-School reading level. It was meant to appeal to a broader (and in some instances less-educated) cross-section of the general public. Critics of the N.I.V. often jokingly refer to it as the “Nearly Inspired Version”, but that has not stopped it from becoming the best-selling modern-English translation of the Bible ever published.
In 1982, Thomas Nelson Publishers produced what they called the “New King James Version”. Their original intent was to keep the basic wording of the King James to appeal to King James Version loyalists, while only changing the most obscure words and the Elizabethan “thee, thy, thou” pronouns. This was an interesting marketing ploy, however, upon discovering that this was not enough of a change for them to be able to legally copyright the result, they had to make more significant revisions, which defeated their purpose in the first place. It was never taken seriously by scholars, but it has enjoyed some degree of public acceptance, simply because of its clever “New King James Version” marketing name.
In 2002, a major attempt was made to bridge the gap between the simple readability of the N.I.V., and the extremely precise accuracy of the N.A.S.B. This translation is called the English Standard Version (E.S.V.) and is rapidly gaining popularity for its readability and accuracy. The 21st Century will certainly continue to bring new translations of God’s Word in the modern English language.
Timeline of Bible Translation History
1,400 BC: The first written Word of God: The Ten Commandments delivered to Moses.
500 BC: Completion of All Original Hebrew Manuscripts which make up The 39 Books
of the Old Testament.
200 BC: Completion of the Septuagint Greek Manuscripts which contain The 39 Old Testament Books AND 14 Apocrypha Books.
1st Century AD: Completion of all Original Greek Manuscripts which make up the 27 Books of the New Testament.
315 AD: Athenasius, the Bishop of Alexandria, identifies the 27 books of the New Testament which are today recognized as the canon of scripture.
382 AD: Jerome's Latin Vulgate Manuscripts Produced which contains All 80 Books (39 Old Test. + 14 Apocrypha + 27 New Test). (had apocrypha until 1880)
500 AD: Scriptures have been Translated into Over 500 Languages.
600 AD: LATIN was the only language allowed for Scripture.
995 AD: Anglo-Saxon (Early Roots of English Language) Translations of The New Testament Produced.
1384 AD: Wycliffe is the First Person to Produce a (Hand-Written) manuscript Copy of the Complete Bible; All 80 Books.
1455 AD: Gutenberg Invents the Printing Press; Books May Now be mass-Produced Instead of Individually Hand-Written. The First Book Ever Printed is Gutenberg's Bible in Latin.
1516 AD: Erasmus Produces a Greek/Latin Parallel New Testament.
1522 AD: Martin Luther's German New Testament.
1526 AD: William Tyndale's New Testament; The First New Testament printed in the English Language.
1535 AD: Myles Coverdale's Bible; The First Complete Bible printed in the English Language (80 Books: O.T. & N.T. & Apocrypha).
1537 AD: Tyndale-Matthews Bible; The Second Complete Bible printed in English. Done by John "Thomas Matthew" Rogers (80 Books).
1539 AD: The "Great Bible" Printed; The First English Language Bible Authorized for Public Use (80 Books).
: The Geneva Bible Printed; The First English Language Bible to add Numbered Verses to Each Chapter (80 Books).
1568 AD: The Bishops Bible Printed; The Bible of which the King James was a Revision (80 Books).
1609 AD: The Douay Old Testament is added to the Rheims New Testament (of 1582) Making the First Complete English Catholic Bible; Translated from the Latin Vulgate (80 Books).
1611 AD: The King James Bible Printed; Originally with All 80 Books. The Apocrypha was Officially Removed in 1885 Leaving Only 66 Books.
1782 AD: Robert Aitken's Bible; The First English Language Bible (KJV) Printed in America.
1791 AD: Isaac Collins and Isaiah Thomas Respectively Produce the First Family Bible and First Illustrated Bible Printed in America. Both were King James Versions, with All 80 Books.
AD: Jane Aitken's Bible (Daughter of Robert Aitken); The First Bible to be Printed by a Woman.
1833 AD: Noah Webster's Bible; After Producing his Famous Dictionary, Webster Printed his Own Revision of the King James Bible.
1841 AD: English Hexapla New Testament; an Early Textual Comparison showing the Greek and 6 Famous English Translations in Parallel Columns.
1846 AD: The Illuminated Bible; The Most Lavishly Illustrated Bible printed in America. A King James Version, with All 80 Books.
1885 AD: The "English Revised Version" Bible; The First Major English Revision of the KJV.
1901 AD: The "American Standard Version
"; The First Major American Revision of the KJV.
1971 AD: The "New American Standard Bible"
(NASB) is Published as a "Modern and Accurate Word for Word English Translation" of the Bible.
1973 AD: The "New International Version" (
NIV) is Published as a "Modern and Accurate Phrase for Phrase English Translation" of the Bible.
1982 AD: The "New King James Version" (NKJV) is Published as a "Modern English Version Maintaining the Original Style of the King James."
2002 AD: The English Standard Version (ESV)
is Published as a translation to bridge the gap between the accuracy of the NASB and the readability of the NIV.
“This English Bible History Article & Timeline is ©2002 by author & editor: John L. Jeffcoat III. Special thanks is also given to Dr. Craig H. Lampe for his valuable contributions to the text. This page may be freely reproduced or quoted, in whole or in part, in print or electronically, under the one condition that prominent credit must be given to “WWW.GREATSITE.COM” as the source.”