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THE MAJORITY TEXT

OF THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT

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PREFACE

The Old Testament was entrusted to the Jewish nation. Abundant evidence shows that they did an excellent job. Paul himself witnessed to that: “What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of the circumcision? Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God.” (Romans 3:1-2). The witness of the Jewish historian Josephus is also worth notice. He writes: “… and how firmly we have given credit to those books of our own nation, is evident by what we do; for during so many ages as have already passed, no one has been so bold as either to add anything to them, to take anything from them, or to make any change in them; but it becomes natural to all Jews, immediately and from their very birth, to esteem those books to contain divine doctrines, and to persist in them, and, if occasion be, willingly die for them.” Flavius Josephus, Against Apion, 8.42.
The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls has proved the case for the faithfulness of the Jewish nation preserving the Old Testament text.
Among the Qumran manuscripts was the so called Great Isaiah Scroll, which dates 100 BC. When compared to the Masoretic text, it showed that: “Despite of the fact that the Isaiah scroll was about a thousand years older than the Masoretic version of Isaiah, the two were nearly identical … The results obtained from comparative studies of this kind have been repeated for many other scriptural books represented at Qumran. The large majority of the new scrolls do belong to the same textual tradition as the Masoretic text. They are, however, centuries older and thus demonstrate in a forceful way how carefully Jewish scribes transmitted that text across the years.” James C. Vanderkam, The Dead Sea Scrolls Today, page 126.
But what happened with the New Testament?
By the time the temple and the city of Jerusalem was destroyed (70 AD) the Jews who believed in Christ were a minority in the Church compared to the large number of Gentiles who became Christians. All the apostles died in the first century and the dawn of the second century saw Christianity as a definite, separate entity from the Jewish nation, which, through its leaders, reiterated the rejection of Jesus of Nazareth as the promised Messiah.
“knowing that the putting off of my tabernacle is soon, as indeed our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. And I will also be diligent to cause you to always have memory of these things after my departure. For not having followed fables having been cunningly devised, but becoming eyewitnesses of the majesty of Jesus Christ, we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord.” (2 Peter 1:14-16)
The apostles themselves must have instructed as to how the Gentile Church should preserve the New Testament Scriptures. This must have given rise to what Pickering calls “the beginnings of a ‘majority text’.” Wilbur N. Pickering, The Identity of the New Testament Text IV, p. 93.
Multiple, faithful copies, of Paul’s epistles, of the Gospels, and other New Testament books must have been made by the recipients of the writings themselves. Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica: “I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read to all the holy brethren” (1 Thessalonians 5:5). He also wrote: “Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.” (Colossians 4:16). These statements and other similar found in the New Testament imply that an active work of multiplying and spreading of trustworthy copies took place at an early age in the Gentile Church too.
But, as mentioned even in the New Testament, heretics were many from the beginning. The Church of the first centuries was even more attacked by heretics than the Church of the centuries to follow.
Since faithful copies could not be used to this purpose, some heretics began to try to corrupt the text of the Greek Scriptures in order to be able to show copies that proved the case for their beliefs. Others would even dare create gospel accounts or other writings falsely attributing them to the apostles Peter, Thomas, James and even Judas.
Notwithstanding these vile attempts, the witness of the surviving Greek New Testament manuscripts shows evidence of the faithful hands of honest servants of God who produced faithful copies of the apostolic Scriptures down to the times of the invention of print. If evidence of the preservation of the Holy Scriptures is not seen in the wonderful agreement found in 95 percent of the existing manuscript evidence, where else can we hope to find it?
On the other hand, we can’t fail to see the traces of the heretics attempts to corrupt the Scripture in the small number of manuscripts, which disagree even among themselves, the confusing text produced in Egypt, survived in some early manuscripts and acclaimed today as the most reliable witness to the Greek New Testament.
The Majority text of the Greek New Testament is there for all to see how God preserved the apostolic Scriptures through the Gentile believers as well as He preserved the Old Testament through the Jews.
The goal of this book is not controversy. But I believe the Bible believing Christian needs to know that not only God inspired His Word, He also preserved it and such thing is quite evident especially in the Majority Text.
I hope the reader, whatever his opinions about this subject may be, will understand my work as an effort in the direction of communicating confidence in the supernatural way God gave His Word to the man of the twenty-first century.
Please bear with me. Not being a native speaker I know my English is far from perfect. So, please judge intentions and ideas more than language accuracy.


“That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:17)
 

 

 

 

I am presenting here the outline of a Bible study held at New Hope Christian Center on October 8, 2014. The interaction and the comments of those attending cannot be reproduced here: this is why nothing will ever take the place of traditional, constant church attendance.

Our text:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV)

Joy will be the subject of this Bible study.

J.B. Lightfoot wrote: “Love is the foundation, joy the superstructure, peace the crown of all.”

I decided to choose one of the many definitions of the word joy, which I believe fits my personal experience:  The Joy of the believer is a deep feeling of contentment, not depending on specific events but on his relationship with God. 

Billy Graham said: “Joy cannot be persued.  It comes from within. It is a state of being.  It does not depend on circumstances, but triumphs over circumstances.”

There  a wonderful, amazing phrase in the Old Testament which has always blessed me. … the joy of the LORD is your strength.  (Nehemiah 8:10)

This passage of Scripture tells us what kind of joy is in the believer’s heart. It is the joy of the LORD, as a result of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us.

Joy was felt at the resurrection of Jesus: So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. (Matthew 28:8)  

Joy is felt when we hear God’s Word: "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.(John 15:11)

Joy was felt by the early church. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 13:52)

Joy is felt as we serve God. "But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24)

Joy is in the Kingdom of God. "for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17)

The true, unspeakable, perfect joy has God as its source. “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  (Romans 15:13)

The joy of the Lord gives us strength, no matter the circumstances. That is why Paul can write: “I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation.” (2 Corinthians 7:4)

Peter wrote a wonderful passage to the persecuted church. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,  who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith-- the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:3-9)

Paul was in Rome, in prison, when he wrote: Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! (Philippians 4:4). If even a man, unjustly persecuted and finally cast in prison for no reason at all, literally held in chains, did not only rejoice himself, but even found the strength to encourage others to do so, we have no excuse to not enjoy and participate in this wonderful spiritual blessing – joy, the fruit of the Holy Spirit dwelling is us.

 

Taught at New Hope Christian Center, Wednesday, October 8, 2014.

The pdf outline read in the church. Feel free to download it, print it and use it for personal or group study.