Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth
the whole lump?
(1 Cor. 5:6)
In the past two lessons we have laid a Biblical foundation for the study of manuscript evidence and discussed some basic terms and principles in the study of textual criticism. The focus of this lesson will deal with some of the differences found in translations of the Bible. It would be rather fallacious of us to discuss the topics and discoveries of textual criticism if we provided no evidence of any textual changes. Therefore, in this lesson we will list several of the textual changes between the Authorized Version and modern translations.
Those who claim that modern versions of the Bible and the King James Bible differ only in that the modern versions update the archaic language found in the Authorized Version are either ill-informed or dishonest. Yet, this seems to be the major conception of many who use or support modern translations. All one need do to verify this point is ask the layperson who uses a modern version why they use it. A common response will be that the King James is to hard to understand and the modern version uses today's language.
There are those who are more informed on the subject and recognize that there are in fact translational and textual differences as well. However, these differences are either disregarded as unimportant or downplayed as extremely limited in nature. This can be illustrated in the following quotation by John R. Kohlenberger III.
First of all, and perhaps most important, is the reassurance that the number of possible variations in the text of the Bible is very small and does not affect any major teaching of Christianity. Many variations, in fact, are trivial. In 1 Cor. 7:15, for instance, some manuscripts read, "For God has called us to peace," and others read, "For God has called you to peace." This change of person (in Greek only one letter's difference) does not affect Paul's point at all. (All About Bible, Oxford University Press, 1985. p.14).
The point he makes is two-fold. First, no major doctrine is affected in any major translation of the Bible. Second, textual variations are small and trivial. Neither of these two points are correct.
First of all, one can prove major fundamental doctrine from any translation of the Bible. That does not mean that the doctrine is unaffected. For example, one can prove the Deity of Jesus Christ and the Biblical doctrine of the Trinity using the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (the official translation of the Jehovah's Witnesses), yet both of these Biblical truths are affected and changed in the NWT. The doctrines can be established, but are weakened in the NWT. Again, the virgin birth can be proven using the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. Yet it is rejected by many conservatives because the doctrine of the virgin birth is compromised in Isaiah 7:14 in the RSV (and NRSV). The doctrine of the blood atonement is impaired in the Today's English Version by changing blood to death in many references. Yet, the doctrine can be established using the TEV. The question is not, can we prove the doctrine? The question is, has the word of God been compromised? (Matt. 16:12; 1 Cor. 5:6).
Secondly, the textual variations are not simply small or trivial. True, many of the variations in the differing Greek texts and manuscripts are not of major importance, but many others are. And the variance is by no means small but reflect a large portion of the New Testament. All one needs to do to verify this point is secure a copy of the United Bible Society's Greek New Testament (any edition) and notice the textual variances on almost every page of this critical text. As stated in lesson two, the Greek text which underlined the King James Bible and the Greek text of Westcott and Hort (used for the Revised Version of 1881) differ over 5,000 times. Additionally, the number of changes which have occurred in the English translation of the Westcott and Hort text number well over 30,000.
Both of these points are established by Dr. Jack Lewis in his book, The English Bible From KJB to NIV: A History and Evaluation published by Baker Book House, 1981. It should be noted that Dr. Lewis helped with the translation of the New International Version and is not a King James only advocate. Concerning the Greek text of the Revised Version of 1881, Dr. Lewis writes,
but the project ended with 5,788 changes in the underlying Greek text of the New Testament which was followed. About one-fourth of these are said to alter the subject matter. (Lewis, pp. 69-70. The are said comes from a book by Sir Frederick G. Kenyon entitled, Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts. )
Dr. Lewis goes on to state about the American Standard Version of 1901 that,
The instruction stated that the style and language of the KJB were to be maintained; nevertheless, in the end more than 36,191 corrections of various sorts were made in the New Testament. These included changes resulting from alterations in the Greek text itself, changes where the KJB appears to have chosen the poorer of two readings, changes where the KJB is ambiguous or obscure, changes where the KJB is not consistent with itself in rendering phrases or passages that are alike or paralleled, and changes that are required because of the other changes made. (Lewis, p. 70).
While I differ with Dr. Lewis' conclusions, his citation provides proof that the changes made in modern versions reflect more than the updating of language. Further, Dr. Lewis not only gives us a total of changes made in the two differing Greek texts (5,788) but establishes that additional changes have been made in the English translations (36,191 in the ASV). And these changes do not account for the thee's and thou's found in the KJB because the ASV also uses thee and thou in its text. Thus, we see the changes are by no means small.
One notable difference deals with the number of verses omitted from modern versions of the Bible. While there are many places where phrases or words have been either changed or omitted, here we see whole verses omitted or bracketed in modern versions as compared with the KJB. For example, both the New American Standard Version (NASV) and the New International Version (NIV) omit the following verses.
Matthew 17:21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.
Mark 7:16 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.
Mark 9:44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. (Also true of verse 46 which reads the same).
Mark 11:26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
Mark 15:28 And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And hewas numbered with the transgressors.
Luke 17:36 Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
Luke 23:17 (For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.)
John 5:4 For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.
Acts 8:37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
Acts 15:34 Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to abide there still.
Acts 24:7 But the chief captain Lysias came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our hands,
Acts 28:29 And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves.
Rom. 16:24 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
1 John 5:7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
These same conservative translations (NASV and NIV) also bracket Mark 16:9-20 (the ending to the Gospel of Mark) and John 7:53-8:11 (about the woman caught in adultery). They footnote these two passages stating "The earliest and most reliable manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20/John 7:53-8:11" (NIV), thus calling into question the scriptural authority of these two passages.
The Revised Standard Version (RSV), New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), and New English Version (NEV) go further by not only omitting the above references from their text, but also omit the following verses.
Matthew 12:47 Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.
Matthew18:11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
Matthew 21:44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
Matthew 23:14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer:
Luke 22:20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.
Luke 24:12 Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.
Luke 24: 40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.
By confining these verses to footnotes, these translations demonstrate that the Greek text from which they are translated from do not contain these verses as part of their text. As Bible-believing Christians, this leaves us with a dilemma. Three times the Bible warns against adding to or taking from the word of God (Deut. 4:2; Prov. 30:6; and Rev. 22:18). Therefore, we must conclude that the Greek texts which underline modern translations are corrupt in removing these verses from the text, or else the Greek text which underlined the KJB is corrupt for adding these verses to the text. Either way, one cannot be Biblical and believe that the KJB and modern versions are both the word of God. It is obvious that one of these lines has either added to or taken from the word of God, which is a violation of scripture. Which ever one is shown in error, is corrupt and must be rejected by the Bible-believing Christian.
Differences may be noted by comparing the KJB with the NIV. These are the two best selling versions of the English Bible, and are both considered conservative translations.
|Matthew 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.||Matthew 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.|
|Matthew 9:13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.||Matthew 9:13 But go and learn what this means: I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.|
|Matthew 20:23 And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.||Matthew 20:23 Jesus said to them, You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places, belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.|
|Mark 1:2 As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.||Mark 1:2 It is written in Isaiah the prophet: I will send my messenger ahead of you who will prepare your way.|
|Mark 6:11 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.||Mark 6:11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them.|
|Luke 2:33 And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.||Luke 2:33 The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him.|
|Luke 4:4 And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.||Luke 4:4 Jesus answered, It is written: Man does not live on bread alone.|
|John 1:18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.||John 1:18 No one has ever seen God, but God the One and
Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.
(The NASV reads, "No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.")
|Acts 2:30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;||Acts 2:30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne.|
|Acts 9:6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.||Acts 9:6 Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.|
|Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.||Romans 1:16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.|
|Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.||Romans 8:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,|
|Colossians 1:14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:||Colossians 1:14 In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.|
|1 Timothy 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.||1 Timothy 3:16 Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.|
|Revelation 1:6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.||Revelation 1:6 And has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father--to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.|
|Revelation 1:11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.||Revelation 1:11 Which said: Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.|
If these few examples do not suffice, the student is free to compare any of the following references with any major modern translation of the Bible. Again, these are only a few of the many changes found within the two line of Greek texts as reflected in English translations.
Matthew 5:27,44; 13:51; 15:6,8; 19:9,20; 20:7,16,22; 22:13; 23:4,5; 25:13; 26:3,60; 27:35; 28:2,9.
Mark 1:1,14,42; 3:5,15; 6:33,36; 7:2,8; 8:9,26; 9:38,45,49; 10:7,21,24; 11:8,10,23; 12:23,29,30,33; 13:11,14; 14:19,27,68,70; 15:3.
Luke 1:28,29; 2:42; 4:5,8,18; 5:38; 6:45; 7:31; 8:43,45,48,54; 9:10,54,55,56; 10:38; 11:2,4,11,44,54; 12:39; 17:9,24; 18:24; 19:45; 20:13,23,30; 22:31,64,68; 23:23,38; 24:1,36,42,46,51,52.
John 1:27; 3:13,15; 5:3,16; 6:11,22,47,51; 7:46; 8:9,10,59; 9:6; 10:13,26; 11:41; 12:1; 13:32; 16:16; 17:12; 19:16.
Acts 2:47; 3:11; 7:37; 9:5; 10:6,12,21,32; 13:42; 15:18,24; 18:21; 20:15; 21:8,22,25; 22:9,20; 23:9; 24:6,8,26; 26:30; 28:16.
Romans 9:28,32; 10:15; 11:6; 13:9; 14:6,21; 15:24,29.
1 Corinthians 6:20; 10:28; 11:24; 15:54.
2 Corinthians 5:17; 12:9; 13:2
Galatians 3:1; 4:15; 5:19,21.
Ephesians 1:15; 3:14; 5:30.
Philippians 3:16,21; 4:23.
Colossians 1:2; 2:18; 3:6.
1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2:15; 3:2.
1 Timothy 1:17; 3:3; 5:4,16; 6:5,7.
Hebrews 2:7; 3:6; 7:21; 8:12; 10:30,34; 11:11,13; 12:20.
1 Peter 1:22; 4:3,14; 5:2,5,11.
2 Peter 1:21; 3:10.
1 John 4:3; 5:13.
Revelation 1:8; 5:14; 11:1,17; 14:5; 15:2; 21:24; 22:14,19.
There are also places where translations differ among themselves which do not acount for the differences in the Greek texts.
|1 Corinthians 7:36 But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry.||1 Corinthians 7:36 If anyone thinks his is acting improperly
toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if she is getting along in years
and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning.
They should get married. (NIV)
But if any man thinks that he is acting unbecomingly toward his virgin daughter, if she should be of full age, and if it must be so, let him do what he wishes, he does not sin; let her marry. (NASB)
|There are three differing translations of the same Greek phrase, ten parthenon autou (the virgin of him).|
|2 Corinthians 2:17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.||2 Corinthians 2:17 Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God. (NIV)|
|The same Greek word kapeleuontes is translated as corrupt and peddle, which are two different meanings.|
|Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,||Titus 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men, (RSV)|
|The same Greek phrase can be translated either way, and thus convey two different meanings.|
While I have limited the discussion to the differences in translationof the New Testament, the same can be seen in how modern versions differ in the Old Testament.
|1 Samuel 13:1 Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel,||1 Samuel 13:1 Saul was thirty years old when he became king,
and he reigned over Israel forty two years. (NIV)
Saul was forty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thrity-two years over Israel. (NASB)
Saul was . . . years old when he began to reign; and he reigned . . . and two years over Israel. (NRSV)
|2 Samuel 21:19 And there was again a battle in Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaareoregim, a Bethlehemite, slew the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver's beam.||2 Samuel 21:19 Then there was another battle with the Philistines at Gob; and Elhanan son of Jaare-oregim, the Bethlehemite, killed Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver's beam. (NRSV)|
|Daniel 3:25 He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in The midst of the fire and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.||Daniel 3:25 He answered and said, Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods. (NASB)|
There are also many places where names referring to Deity are either removed or not fully used. To counter this, James R. White has developed what he calls an expansion of piety theory. He states, "It led people to naturally expand the titles used of the Lord, possibly even without their conscious effort to change the text." (The King James Only Controversy, p. 46). Thus, according to White, phrases such as Lord Jesus Christ were really Lord Jesus. White offers 23 examples.
The truth is that there are far more than 23 times in the New Testament where the names of Deity are omitted by modern versions and their Greek texts. The Nestle Greek text has 230 such omissions while the United Bible Society's Greek text has 212. This is reflected in the modern translation as well. The NASV has 210 such omissions, the NIV has 173, and the RSV has 213. The shear number of such omissions demonstrate the White's expansion of piety theory is erroneous. It is possible to conceive that somewhere in the process of transmission a scribe unconsciously added Christ to Lord Jesus or Lord to Jesus Christ. But to have this occur over 200 times would be a deliberate act, not an unconscious expansion as White suggests.
Further, some of these omissions consists of more than a partial removal of a phrase. Divine names and titles are omitted such as Spirit, Father, God, Son of Man, Master, the Son, The Beginning, The Ending, as well as, Lord, Christ, and Jesus. Since the Bible says of Christ, "that in all things he might have the preeminence." (Col. 1:18), it might do us well to have a Bible that maintains the names and titles of Deity over 200 times more than modern versions do.
So that the student may "search the scriptures" to see if these things are so, the following are the references where the names and titles of Deity are omitted.
Matthew 4:12,18,23; 6:33; 8:3,5,7,29; 9:12; 12:25; 13:36,51; 14:14,22,25; 15:16,30; 16:20; 17:11,20; 18:2,11; 19:17; 21:12; 22:30,32,37; 23:8; 24:2; 25:13; 28:6.
Mark 1:1,41; 5:13,19, 6:34; 7:27; 8:1,17; 9:24; 10:6,52; 11:10,11,14,15,26; 12:27,32,41; 14:22,45.
Luke 2:40; 4:4,41; 7:22,31; 8:38; 9:43,56,57,59,60; 10:21; 12:31; 13:2,25; 21:4; 22:31,63; 23:42,43; 24:36.
John 3:2,34; 4:16,42,46; 5:17,30; 6:14,39,69; 8:1,4,6,9,10,11,16,20,21,29; 9:35; 11:45; 13:3,32; 16:16; 18:5; 19:38,39.
Acts 2:30; 3:26; 4:24; 7:30,32,37,46; 8:37; 9:5,6,29; 15:11,18; 16:31; 19:4,10; 20:21,25; 22:16; 23:9.
Romans 1:16; 6:11; 8:1; 14:6; 15:8,19; 16:18,20,24.
1 Corinthians 1:14; 5:4,5; 6:20; 9:1,18; 10:28; 11:29; 15:47; 16:22,23.
2 Corinthians 4:6,10; 5:18; 10:7; 11:31.
Galatians 1:15; 3:17; 4:7; 6:15,17.
Ephesians 3:9,14; 5:9.
Colossians 1:2,28; 2:2.
1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2:19; 3:11,13.
2 Thessalonians 1:8,12; 2:4
1 Timothy 1:1; 2:7; 3:16; 5:21.
2 Timothy 4:1,22.
Philemon verse 6.
Hebrews 3:1; 10:9,30.
1 Peter 1:22; 5:10,14.
1 John 1:7; 3:16; 4:3; 5:7,13.
2 John verses 3,9.
Jude verse 4.
Revelation 1:8,9,11; 12:17; 14:5; 16:5; 19:1; 20:9,12; 21:3,4; 22:21.
As the student studies all of these examples, which are only a few of the 5,788 differences in the two Greek texts, the conclusion must be that the two texts do differ and do so substantially. The claims, therefore, that all a modern version does is update the outdated language of the Authorized Version, or that the changes made are small in number and trivial in content, are obviously erroneous.
In our next two lessons we will cover the history of these two lines of manuscripts and account for the cause of perversion as well as preservation.
How do manuscripts support Paul's discussion of the "Baptism for the Dead". It is only mentioned once in the KJB and I can find no doctrine to support it.
The passage comes from 1 Corinthians 15:29 and reads as follows, "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?"
It is mentioned only once in the KJB, but than it is also mentioned only once in the NASV and the NIV (and other modern versions). This is not a limited translation of the King James, nor is it a variance in the wording of the Greek. Both the Greek text of the King James and the Greek text of modern versions have the same Greek words. The only variation deals with punctuation. The King James places the question after the second clause, "if the dead rise not at all?". Modern versions and their Greek texts place the question after the first clause, "Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?" (NASV). The student will recall that old Greek manuscripts (uncials on either papyrus or vellum) did not have word separation or punctuation. And, the minuscules did not always use punctuation either. Since we no longer have any of the autographs, it is hard to say how they were written or where the punctuation was placed.
This verse has been used to support the Mormon doctrine of baptizing for the dead (which was not limited to the modern Mormon). The question here is theological and not one dealing with textual criticism. I do not believe the answer to this problem passage will be found in where the proper placement of the question mark belongs. I believe the context sheds light on the text.
As one reads the context, it is obvious that Paul is building a case about the resurrection (both of Christ and of the saints). It is important to notice how the persons are used in this passage. The verse states, "Else what shall they do" and "why are they then baptized for the dead?". The next verse reads, "And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?". Notice how the text changes persons from third person plural to first person plural. The text changes from they to we. If baptism for the dead were a part of Christian doctrine and needful in the church, Paul would have included himself and other believers in the act of baptizing for the dead (i.e. "Else what shall we do" and "why are we then baptized for the dead?"). Also, he and others would have mentioned this doctrine elsewhere in scripture if it were to be a Christian practice. Instead it is limited to one passage, which is offered to discuss the resurrection.
Personally, I believe Paul was using an example. Cults and heretics in Paul's day were practicing the doctrine of baptizing for the dead in hope of saving the souls of the departed. Paul's point is, if there is no resurrection, then why do we see non-Christians practicing a doctrine in hope of saving those who have already died? Even the heathen, in their false worship, recognize there is a resurrection, which is why they baptize for the dead. The resurrection is, therefore, a universal belief among all religions. This would not be the first time Paul compared the false practices of the heathen with Biblical truths to illustrate scriptual teachings (Acts 17:22-34; Romans 1:18-23).
Yours in Christ Jesus,
Additionally, Dr. Thomas Cassady and Brother Thomas Hubeart sent me e-mail on the topic of Baptism for the Dead. Although this [class] deals with theology and not manuscript evidence, I thought it might be of interest to those wishing to read other views concerning this subject. I thank these two brothers for sending me the attached points of view. ... I hope this information is a blessing to all.
Date: 96-02-07 13:14:52 EST
From: email@example.com (Dr. Thomas Cassidy)
At 03:23 AM 2/7/96 -0500, User192905@aol.com wrote:
May I offer a different view of the passage in question?
Paul begins talking about the resurrection in verse 20, and spends the next 8 verses making it very plain that not only Chirst rose from the dead, but that the Apostles and Prophets will also rise physically on that coming ressurrection day.
In verses 29 through 34 Paul asks some questions concerning Christian practice (not doctrine). If Christ, the Apostles, the Prophets, are all dead, why be baptized on the basis of their teaching, for their teaching was obviously wrong. Baptism pictures the death, burial, and RESURRECTION. If there is no resurrection, baptism does not make any sense, and to be baptized because a bunch of dead guys said so is just plain silly. Paul then says the same thing about preaching and missions work. If all the guys that said to do that are dead forever, why take orders from a bunch of dead guys?
Why put my life in danger for nothing? Why fight with beasts (and men!) if the Gospel of the Resurrection (see verse 4) is not true. He then says in verse 34, "Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame." Because some of these Corinthian believers did not believe in the ressurrection, they were not keeping the great commission, and many of their friends and neighbors had not heard the Gospel from them. Paul says "Shame on you and your unbelief."
Seems to fit the context of the truth of the ressurrection.
Date: 96-02-07 19:50:29 EST
Your "questions from students" section this time reminded me of something I had posted in one of the download libraries of the religion forum, giving the exposition of Thomas Scott on the passage. Perhaps you will find it of interest. :) (I would circulate it among the class, but I find that with all the changes that have been made and the "BCC" we are doing to keep everyone from getting a bunch of names on each transmission, I don't have an updated class list! :O Well, perhaps if you find it adds anything to what you've already said so well, you can cite it in your next installment.)
Best in Christ,
(The other) TH.
"1Cor 15:29 (KJB) Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?"
This passage has given rise to many novel and bizarre interpretations by groups attempting to claim scriptural justification for "baptism for the dead"--a justification, let it be noted, that cannot be built on any clear doctrinal passage in the Bible. As many Christians consider it a problematic passage, and because many groups such as the Mormons exploit the misunderstanding of this passage by Christians (see, for example, Stephen E. Robinson, Are Mormons Christians?, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1991, p. 19), I thought it would be useful to circulate the comments of Rev. Thomas Scott on it.
I do not have any other information on Rev. Scott other than that found in an old (1832) copy of Vol. 3 of his commentary on the Bible, but it appears from this that he was "Rector of Aston Sanford, Bucks." (according to the title page), indicating that he was British. Also, he was active toward the close of the 18th century, since he quotes from his own answer to Thomas Paine's Age of Reason. However, Scott's work is of such quality that it recommends itself, and his treatment of this verse may be found especially helpful by Christians.
Here are Scott's comments on the verse:
The expression "baptized for the dead," has given occasion to a variety of ingenious conjectures and learned discussions. Some argue that [it] only means, 'baptized in the name of one who certainly died, and who, "if the dead rise not," 'still remains among the dead.' But the word rendered "dead" is plural, and all the labour bestowed to remove that difficulty is to no purpose. Others suppose, that the apostle refers to a practice, which, it seems, at one time prevailed in the church, of baptizing a living person in the stead, and for the supposed benefit, of one who had died unbaptized. But who can imagine, that so absurd and gross a superstition was customary, when the apostle wrote? Or that, if it were, he should sanction it?
Beza, rather triumphantly, concludes that he has discovered and fixed the true interpretation; and that the apostle meant the washing of the dead bodies, among the Jews and Christians, before burial; (Acts 9:37.) which he thinks was a profession that they expected a resurrection. But the use of the word baptize, in such a connexion, could hardly be expected; and the words will not bear that sense, by any fair interpretation.
Hammond contends, that it means the profession of faith, concerning the resurrection of the dead, which was required of persons at their baptism, which represented, as he thinks, the burial and resurrection of Christ. 'Why did they profess this, if they did not believe it?' But this is far from satisfactory: for the peculiar circumstances of some persons, when they were baptized, seem evidently intended. 'What this baptizing for the dead was, I confess I know not; but it seems by the following verses, to be something, wherein they exposed themselves to the danger of death.' [says John] Locke.
The following interpretation, however, suggested by Dr. Doddridge, who received it from Sir Richard Ellis, appears the true one. The apostle refers to the case of those, who presented themselves for baptism, immediately after the martyrdom of their brethren, or at their funerals; as if fresh soldiers should enlist and press forward to the assault, to supply the places of those who had fallen in battle. Thus they professed their faith in Christ, and ventured the rage of their enemies, at the very time when others had been put to death for the gospel. But what advantage could they propose to themselves from such a conduct, if there were no resurrection? Or what wisdom could there be in so doing? For in this case, Christianity itself would lose the great evidence of its truth; even the immortality of the soul might be called in question; believers were yet "in their sins;" and they who died as martyrs had lost their souls, as well as their lives. This might show the Corinthian speculators how greatly their notions tended to discourage men from professing the gospel in times of persecution, and to make them afraid and ashamed to own the cause of Christ. If this were the case, why did Christians in general, or the apostles and evangelists in particular, live in continual and imminent danger of suffering and death, by their open profession of the gospel, and their zeal in promoting it? They could have no sufficient encouragement for so doing, if the dead should never arise.
(SOURCE: Thomas Scott, The Holy Bible . . . with Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations, and Copious Marginal References, Vol. 3 [New Testament], New York: Collins & Hannay, 1832, pp. 601-2. Paragraph divisions added.)
Yours in Christ Jesus, Thomas Holland Psalm 118:8