THE WORD OF GOD
A LAYMAN'S LOOK AT THE BIBLE
ByZander Dell Raines
COPYRIGHT, 1997-APOCALYPSE PRODUCTIONS
THE EARLY VERSIONS-AD 100 to 1611
HISTORY QUIZ-Who or what are the above pictures?-(Click pictures for answers.)
THE EARLY PERSECUTION
Following the death of Jesus Christ, Satan launches a prolonged and vicious attack against the church. The first of the saints to fall is one of the first deacons named Stephen.
And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.-Acts 7:59-60
Stephen's death is not the first attempt to kill off the Church in the New Testament period. The first such attempt was made when King Herod killed the babies in Bethlehem when Jesus was born. A second King Herod would kill John the Baptist. Yet a third King Herod murdered one of the original twelve apostles, James, the brother of John.
Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.-Acts 12:1-2
Thus began a trail of blood that would stretch throughout the centuries to come. The city of Jerusalem is destroyed by the Roman legions in AD 70 and, by the time of the writing of the book or Revelation, the persecution of the church is in full swing. This situation is graphically shown in the letter to the church at Smyrna.
And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.-Revelation 2:8-11
Nero, who had the Apostle Paul beheaded, was the first of ten Roman emperors who endeavored to stamp out the early Christian church. It was also Nero who would have the city of Rome burned and blame the act on the church. Thus the first wave of the Roman killing of Christians began. Nero would die in AD 67, the same year that he had Paul murdered.
Nero would be replaced by emperor Domitian. It is Domitian who has the city of Jerusalem destroyed. He also has everyone in the family of David killed to stop future uprisings. It is also during this time that the Apostle John is exiled to Patmos.
The city of Jerusalem was destroyed by the legions of Rome in AD 70. three years later, the last Jewish stronghold called Masada, also fell to the Roman army. Dr. Yigael Yadin tells of some absolutely fascinating Biblical discoveries he made while excavating this ancient site.
Domitian also had Paul's student Timothy beaten to death with clubs. It is during this period that, under the leadership of the Apostle John, the church compiles the New Testament. Dr. Otis Fuller gives some wonderful details to the compilation of the New Testament texts.
"The last of the apostles to pass away was John. His death is usually placed about AD 100. In his closing days he cooperated in the collecting and forming of those writing we call the New Testament. An ordinary careful reading of Acts, chapter 15, will prove the scrupulous care with which the early church guarded her sacred writings. While John lived, heresy could make no serious headway."
THE EARLY CORRUPTION
The last chapter of the last book of the last Testament of the word of God was sealed with a curse for any that would add to or take away from the Holy Scriptures
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.-Revelation 22:16-21
These words were penned by the Apostle John. John would be imprisoned on the island of Patmos (Revelation 1:9) for his strong stand for God, but would later be released and return to the church at Ephesus where he would oversee the gathering together of the 27 books of the New Testament.
When the New Testament canon is established, the churches at Ephesus and Antioch (Acts 11:19-26) begin to make faithful copies of these Bibles, sending them out with their missionaries to all parts of the earth so that the world might know that the Messiah, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, had come to purchase the salvation of all mankind with His own blood. This then becomes the Received Text of the church.
At about this time, The Roman Emperor Domitian's rule ends in AD 108. Trajan is the next emperor of Rome. It is Trajan who begins the practice of throwing Christians to the lions. While this is happening in Rome, the church at Antioch is translating the Received Text into Syrian. This version, known as the Peshitta, would later be called the Queen of Versions. The church also translates the Old Latin version of the Received Text during this time for the churches started in Rome and northern Italy. Emperor Adrian would replace Trajan and continue these bloody attacks against the church, sending thousands of Christians to their death.
As Jesus Christ and the apostles warned, wolves are also slipping into the church to corrupt the word of God. Irenaeus, an early church leader, notes this in the second century AD.
"Wherefore also Marcion and his followers have betaken themselves to mutilating the Scriptures, not acknowledging some books at all, and curtailing the gospel according to Luke and the Epistles of Paul, they assert that these alone are authentic which they themselves have shortened."
In AD 162 Marcus Aurelius become emperor. By his order, Polycarp and Justin are martyred. It is during this time that the practice begins of sewing Christians into nets and throwing them to wild bulls began. Following Marcus, Severus takes the throne, ruling for forty years persecuting the church with great zeal.
THE ALEXANDRIAN TEXTS
Some of the early New Testament church missionaries traveled south to the city of Alexandria in Egypt. Here they would encounter many other religious groups, such as the Arians and the Gnostics. The church had been warned of such groups by the Apostle John and many other of the early church leaders.
Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.-I John 2:18-19
They would also come into contact with the religious school there. At that point in time, the school was under the leadership of a man named Adamantius Origen. This man would ultimately do a major revision work on the New Testament, changing many of the scriptures to better suit the Greek doctrines prevalent at that time. At this point I will defer to Dr. Floyd Nolen Jones for more details concerning this period in church history.
"Origen, a Greek philosopher, had been taught by the founder of Neo-Platonism. Neo-Platonism is a strange combination of Aristotelian logic and Oriental cult teachings. It is a concept that conceives the world as being an emanation from "the one"-the impersonal one (not the personal "Abba" of the Bible) with whom the soul is capable of being reunited in some sort of trance or ecstasy. Origen was a follower of that philosophy and he attempted to add and amalgamate Christianity to its views. The problem with Origen, as with many who profess Christianity today, was that he tried to take the best of the world system (that which he had learned in school, his old philosophic views, etc.) and incorporate it into Christianity; but they do not mix. Origen was the third head master of a school founded AD 180 in Alexandria, Egypt by the Greek philosopher Pantaenus. Pantaenus was succeeded in AD 202 by Clement of Alexandria (not Clement of Rome) who taught Plato's work was also inspired in the same sense as Scripture. Their beliefs, as revealed in their writings, indicate that they were lost Greek philosophers. They declared themselves Christian on the basis of their having been water baptized. Origen's energies were also directed toward the New Testament. Whereas he only recovered and translated the Old, he edited the New. Around the year AD 227, Origen traveled extensively throughout Palestine, Greece, and Asia Minor. Everywhere he found Greek New Testament manuscripts he had them altered to fit his own doctrine. Origen had a wealthy patron who supplied seven stenographers and seven copyists to accompany and assist him as he altered Scripture."
So it is that by the year AD 230, there are two completely different versions of the Holy Bible. One was given by God in Israel. The other is a corrupt copy made in Alexandria, Egypt. So from this point in history, we find that we have two completely different lines of text for the word of God. The original word was made up of the Hebrew text of the Old Testament and the Greek text of the New Testament. We also have a line of corrupt copies made up of the Greek Old Testament and the Origen New Testament, both of which have their beginnings in the pagan schools of Alexandria in the land of Egypt.
THE CHURCH AT ROME
Emperor Maximus comes to the throne in AD 235. He developed the Circus Maximus which was a series of annual events in which Maximus entertained his subjects by killing Christians. Fifty Christians would be thrown to the lions at one time while the Romans watched and cheered.
Maximus was followed by emperor Decius in AD 249. A Christian brother by the name of Julian is the most famous martyr of this period. Upon refusing to bow to Rome's gods, Julian is placed in a large leather bag with serpents and scorpions. The bag is then thrown into the sea.
The rule of Valerian begins in AD 257. Christian persecution worsens. In one case, 300 Christians are rounded up. They are commanded to sacrifice to Jupiter. When they refuse, they are suffocated one at a time until all are dead.
The last Roman emperor of this period is Diocletian. When this ruler learned that there were Christians in his army, he had over 6,000 of them brought to one place. When they refuse to worship Rome's idol, he has 600 of them killed. When they refuse the second time, he has another 600 murdered. On the third refusal, Diocletian orders his legions to kill all the rest, and orders the destruction of their homes and families also.
Over two hundred years of bloody persecution could not stop God's church. However, with the death of emperor Diocletian, the Roman empire itself splits apart. As if to say He had seen enough, God destroyed this world-ruling government that has for so long stood against His church. It was also at this point that Satan pulled off one of his greatest schemes. As the old saying goes, "If you can't beat them, join them!". The devil realizes that he cannot destroy the church, so he has his people try to become part of it to destroy it from within.
By AD 312, the Roman Empire is full of warring factions, each trying to take all of the world for themselves. There are two major generals who try to bring Rome back together and restore the empire. One is called Galerius and the other Constantine. They battled bitterly for the throne. Galerius held the city of Rome. Constantine led his armies to take the city away from Galerius.
Just before the final battle, Constantine has a vision that he says is from God. His troops won the battle and Constantine is declared the new emperor of Rome. He tells his troops that God has given him a special mission. He has his troops baptized and declares to them that they are now all Christians.
The Roman Emperor Constantine takes for himself the title "Pontifus Maximus". His first official act is to pass the edict of Milan. It declares that the official religion of Rome is now Christianity and gives freedom of religion to all. The first major period of church persecution has now officially ended. Dr. Ira Price gives us an important piece to the puzzle of what happened to bring the Alexandrian line of texts to the forefront at this point in time.
"Eusebius of Caesarea, the first church historian, assisted Pamphilus, or vice versa, issued with all its critical remarks the fifth column of Origen's Hexapla with alternative readings from the other columns, for use in Palestine. The Emperor Constantine gave orders that fifty copies of this edition should be prepared for use in the churches."
With freedom of religion in Rome comes a new and perhaps more deadly enemy to the faith as the Alexandrian texts are introduced to the church at Rome. Now the church must fight a new, and more deadly battle as the influences of the ancient system called Mystery Babylon (Revelation 17) finds its way into the church at Rome.
MYSTERY BABYLON HISTORY
4000 BC-Genesis 4-Here we see the story of how Abel would become the first person to be martyred for his faith in God. Cain killed his righteous brother because of the sin in his own heart. This is only the beginning of man's rebellion against God. Finally the whole world would fall under judgment because they had all turned their backs on the God who had created them. The rebellion does not stop here however.
2300 BC-Genesis 8-Here we see men recovering from the flood of Noah. The leader of mankind is God, working through Noah and later his son, Shem. It is Noah who received the birthright (Genesis 25:27-34) and the blessing (Genesis 27:1-30) as directed by God. However someone else decides to take the leadership of the family, and proclaimed himself a king over all of mankind.
2200 BC-Genesis 10-Nimrod sets up his kingdom at Babel and sets out on a plan to take his rebellion all the way to heaven, to the throne of God itself, just as Lucifer, the one who inspired Nimrod, had once hoped to do (Isaiah 14:12-14). God had other plans, however. Babel would finally become Babylon, the nation that would be Israel's worst enemy throughout the Old Testament.
800 BC-Isaiah 47-Notice that what God is saying, through the prophet Isaiah, is that witchcraft and astrology had its beginning at the tower of Babel. God is the true ruler of the earth. God gave dominion to mankind (Genesis 1:27-28), under God's direction. Satan has used Mystery Babylon to try to usurp
God's rule of the earth by putting mankind under his own authority. However, there is ultimately only one ruler for the nations of the earth.
400 BC-Daniel 7-The prophet Daniel sees the vision of the Son of man ruling over all nations. This, again, is something that the devil has repeatedly tried to duplicate down through the ages, so that men will worship him rather than the creator. Attempts at this include the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek, and Roman empires.
AD 30-Matthew 13-Jesus proclaims to the rulers of Israel, a system now also deeply infected with Mystery Babylon doctrines, that He is the Son of man. To the average man on the street this would infer that Jesus is calling Himself just an average man like anyone else. To the religious elite however, who know of the prophecy in Daniel that we mentioned earlier, this is a proclamation that He is the Messiah. Their reaction to Jesus' claim is now history. Because they, and most of the rest of the world, reject Jesus as the true ruler of mankind, God will allow them to have another ruler, just as wicked and sinful as our own world, as a whole, has become.
AD 100-Revelation 13-Notice here that a man finally comes forth who does indeed, for a few short years, brings all the nations of the earth under a one-world government. The results of this is one of the major subjects of the book of Revelation. At the height of the carnage of this period, God comes forth leading the Calvary of heaven, to save mankind from themselves.
THE CHURCH OF ROME
As the pagan empire of Rome joins itself to the church at Rome, those who refuse to compromise the doctrines that are taught in the word of God find themselves once again the enemies of the state, as more and more new doctrines come from the newly formed state-church. The Lutheran church historian Mosheim has a good description of difference between the church as set up by Christ and the new state-church that is developed in the centuries following this period.
"Whoever supposes that the bishops of this golden age of the church correspond with the bishops of the following centuries must blend and confound characters that are very different, for in this century and the next, a bishop had charge of a single church which might ordinarily be contained in a private house; nor was he its lord, but was in reality its minister or servant. All the churches in those primitive times were independent bodies, or none of them subject to the jurisdiction of any other. For though the churches which were founded by the Apostles themselves frequently had the honor shown them to be consulted in doubtful cases, yet they had no judicial authority, no control, no power of giving laws. One the contrary had equal rights, and were in all respects on a footing of equality."
The religious system known as Mystery Babylon has long had the pagan Roman Empire in tow, and now she uses her power to bring her doctrines into the very church that Jesus has built (Matthew 16:18). Those who remain loyal to Christ and the Scriptures quickly find themselves on the outside looking in, as Dr. J.M. Carroll so aptly describes.
"The course followed by the loyal churches soon, of course incurred the hot displeasure of the state religionists. Many, if not most of whom, were not genuine Christians. The name 'Christian', however, was from now on denied those loyal churches who refused to accept these new errors. They were robbed of that, and called by many other names, sometimes by one and sometimes by another; Montanist, Tertullianists, Novationists, Paterines, etc., and some at least because of their practice of rebaptizing those who were baptized in infancy, were referred to as Anabaptists. AD 426, just ten years after the legal establishment of infant baptism, the awful period known as the 'Dark Ages' had its beginning."
Through a series of church councils and other maneuvers, many of the doctrines that were started by Mystery Babylon at the tower of Babel are slowly introduced into the church at Rome. "Yea, hath God said?" takes the Received Text of the church and replaces it with the Alexandrian Text. "Ye shall not surely die" is seen in many doctrines, such as purgatory. "Ye shall be as gods" can be seen through the worship of Mary and the saints. After all, was not the Roman Caesar a god also? A complex system of works salvation replaces the simple gospel of Jesus Christ, and puts an extremely heavy burden on the people.
And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.-Luke 11:46
Idolatry leaves the temples of Rome only to be brought into the house of God, as the church at Rome is slowly transformed into the church of Rome.
For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled. And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.-Revelation 17:17-18
THE DARK AGES
When the state-church of Rome began to form, one group that refused to bow to this new movement was the church of northern Italy. Having been formed around AD 120, this church, later to be called the Waldenses, would separate themselves from the church of Rome, taking with them their beloved Received Text in the Itala Bible. Many Waldenses would openly condemn the church leadership that had supplanted the Received Text of the Bible with the corrupt Alexandrian Text. The story of one of these men, Helvidius, is told by Dr. David Otis Fuller.
"In the fourth century, Helvidius, a great scholar of northern Italy, accused Jerome, whom the Pope had empowered to form a Bible in Latin for Catholicism, with using corrupt Greek manuscripts. How could Helvidius have accused Jerome of employing corrupt Greek manuscripts if Helvidius had not had the pure Greek manuscripts? And so learned and so powerful in writing and teaching was Jovinian, the pupil of Helvidius, that is demanded three of Rome's most famous father; Augustine, Jerome, and Ambrose to unite in opposing Jovinian's influence. Even then, it needed the condemnation of the Pope and banishment of the Emperor to prevail, but Jovinian's followers lived on and made the way easier for Luther."
The Christian faith has already spread all the way to Britain long before the forming of the church of Rome, so when the Pope sends men to evangelize Europe, they find churches are already well established and thriving there. They also find them opposing the Alexandrian Texts because they already have the Received Text in their possession due to this selfsame work of earlier missionaries from groups such as the Waldensian churches of northern Italy. According to the church historian Dr. Von Dobshutz:
"When Pope Gregory found some Anglo-Saxon youths at the slave market of Rome and perceived that in the North there was still a pagan nation to be baptized, he sent one of his monks to England, and this monk, who was Saint Augustine, took with him the Bible and introduced it to the Anglo-Saxons, and one of his followers brought with him from Rome pictures showing the Biblical history, and decorated the walls of the church in the monastery of Wearmouth. We do not enter here into the difficult questions of the relations between this newly founded Anglo-Saxon church and the old Iro-Scottish church. Differences of the Bible text had something to do with the pitiful struggles which arose between the churches and ended in the devastation of the older one."
Thus the heavy hand of the Roman Empire would reach out to destroy all earlier churches that were established there who would not agree with their new doctrines. Christian churches in Wales, Britain, northern Italy and many other parts of the world were destroyed if they dared oppose doctrines of the church of Rome or if they preferred the Received Text to the Alexandrian Texts. Thus the world was hurled headlong into the period of time that we call the Dark Ages. This period was a great judgment against the Roman Empire for its continual opposition to the gospel of Jesus Christ Just as the nation Israel was judged by a Babylonian invasion (Habakkuk 1:1-7), so now the Roman Empire falls victim to the invading barbarians by AD 486. The hunter now becomes the hunted as the Dark Ages officially begins. God's word is still on the move, even in these dark times.
The children of Ishmael, long-time enemies of the nation of Israel, are given the word of God as the Received Text is translated in their language in the Arabic Bible in AD 650. The people of Russia also are given the gospel in the Slavic Bible around AD 800. So, even here, God's word goes forth even as the Roman Empire falls under the judgment of God.
THE DARK AGES-2
In 1090, the church of Rome decided that they wanted to restore the city of Jerusalem that the empire of Rome had destroyed over 1,000 years before. By this time, the Moslems controlled the city so the Pope declared a series of wars, called the Crusades, to get the city back from the control of the Moslems. Many European noblemen went to fight in the Crusades, and while traveling to and from the wars, they met many Waldenses, Ana-Baptists, and other Christians who shared with them the Received Text as Dr. Peter Ruckman, dean of the Pensacola Bible Institute, explains.
"You see, until Martin Luther's time, there was no European recognition of the correct Bible text. It was traveling by "underground railroad" through Europe, being propagated by Lollards, Waldenses, Albigenses, Picards, Lyonists, Petrobrusians, Henricians, Berengarians, Bogomiles, Paulicians, Cathari, and Montanists, but they had the dice stack against them."
Many of these noblemen returned home with copies of the Received Text and raised questions concerning the Catholic Bibles that were based on the corrupt Alexandrian Text. The pressure from these questions became so great that in 1229, the Catholic Church actually outlawed the Bible for any but their own priesthood. Can you imagine? Those that claimed to be God's church actually forbid God's people from reading God's word. This event fulfilled yet another Bible prophecy.
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.- Amos 8:11-12
Man's thirst for God's word became so great that any who could, would try to seek out the Christians in the mountains just for a chance to see the word of God as revealed in the Received Text. The church of Rome responded to these people leaving their ranks in a swift and deadly way. In 1252 the Inquisition was initiated. The purpose of the Inquisition was to wipe out all heretics. A heretic is anyone who does not totally agree with the doctrine of the church of Rome. Throughout Europe men, women, even children were stolen from their homes in the dead of night.
They would be tortured to learn the location of their Christian brothers or simply because they did not agree with the church of Rome. They would then be killed and their property given to the church. This bloody attempt to stamp out God's people went on for over 400 years. When it was done over 50 million people, many Ana-Baptists and even Catholics themselves were killed. It became so bad that family members would betray one another to save their own lives, bringing to pass still another Bible prophecy
Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death.- Mark 13:12
When the Inquisition reached its height, God provided a way of escape. In the 15th century, God began to open men's eyes to many new discoveries that would rock the world, and give His church a chance to flourish once again. This is also the fulfillment of Bible prophecy.
But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.- Daniel 12:4
It is during this time that eastern Europe receives better access to the word of God as the Received Text is translated into Roumanian in the Tepl Bible. This is the beginning of a wondrous time as God begins to free Christian Europe from the clutches of Mystery Babylon, and the church once again begins to flourish as God had foretold in Isaiah 60.
THE NEW WORLD
Just as Daniel had foretold (Daniel 12:4), knowledge in many areas of life began to explode, beginning with a man in Germany named Johannes Gutenberg. This man was given a dream from God, which showed him a marvelous device. It was the world's first printing press and Gutenberg followed God's instructions and began printing Bibles for the people. At the same time in Italy, a young man had another revelation from God concerning the nature of the earth itself, based on a verse found in the Bible.
It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:- Isaiah 40:22
The man who believed this verse was Christopher Columbus. The pope in Rome had declared that the world was flat, so Columbus had to leave Italy and go to Spain to find support for his project. His plan was to sail to the west, go around the world and land on the east Asian coast.
In 1492, Christopher Columbus set sail from the south of Spain and, after many long weeks, his ships sighted land. Thinking that he had reached India, Columbus named the natives that he found there Indians, which they are still called to this day. He had actually landed on an island off the coast of North America. He named the island "El Salvador" which means the Saviour.
Meanwhile, back in Germany, one of the newly-circulated Bibles reached the hands of a young German priest named Martin Luther. His love of God made him read this forbidden book and he found a passage that changed his life forever.
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.- Romans 1:17
Martin Luther would openly oppose the Mystery Babylon doctrines that had infiltrated the Church of Rome and ultimately break with the Catholic Church altogether. Years later, he would ultimately reject the Alexandrian Text of the Roman Catholic Church and translate the Received Text into German in the Luther Bible. Thus yet another nation would receive the true word of God.
Suddenly the word of God begins to take Europe by storm. The Received Text is translated into the language of Holland in 1523, Denmark in 1524, Iceland in 1540, Hungary in 1541, Finland in 1548, Poland in 1551, Croatia in 1563, and Yugoslavia in 1584. Only eternity will tell how many souls will be in heaven as the result of the word of God literally flooding these nations.