Written by: Pastor Joel
As everyone in our church knows, this past Christmas season we completed a detailed study of I Timothy 3:16. (1) Our church believes that the Bible is the Word of God and the words of God, and we believe that God has preserved His Word and His words for us. We are united around this truth, and our church has received the reading of “God was manifest in the flesh” as the Word of God. We believe that that is the correct wording of I Timothy 3:16, and that reading is based upon the Received Text or Textus Receptus (TR), the Greek NT that underlies the Tyndale translation, the Reina Valera Spanish Bible, Luther’s German Bible, the King James Version (KJV), and other tried and true translations.
It is always encouraging to me to see others cite passages that are clearly based upon the TR, and I wanted to refer you to a couple that I recently came across. First, I recently read Kevin Bauder’s essay The Mystery of the Incarnation, at the website of Religious Affections Ministries. (2) In his seventh paragraph, Bro. Bauder states, “Thus Paul wrote, “God was manifest in the flesh” (I Tim 3:16), referring to the divine nature by the prophecy of the human nature.”
Dr. Bauder’s position concerning the text and translations of the Bible is well known. I have read the book he co-edited, One Bible Only?, and in that work he and his co-contributors espouse various arguments in favor of the use of the eclectic Greek New Testament (i.e. the Critical Text). (3) The Critical Text (CT) of the Greek New Testament, however, never says, “God was manifest in the flesh.” The CT only says, “he (or “who”) was manifest in the flesh.”
My only point here in bringing this up is that when it came time for Bro. Bauder to write an essay on the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, and when, in that essay, it came time to quote I Timothy 3:16, Bro. Bauder appealed to the wording of the TR as it is reflected in the KJV, not to the wording of an English translation based on the CT. Perhaps he would correct me at this point, but what I take away from this is: the KJV of I Timothy 3:16 is a stronger testimony for the doctrine of the incarnation of Christ than English translations which replace the word “God” with “he” or “whom.” His essay would have packed less punch if he would have said, “Paul wrote that ‘He was manifest in the flesh.’” This situation is kind of like when you see the Coke delivery man drinking a Pepsi. The uniform says one thing, but the product choice says something different.
I note also that Bro. Bauder went so far as to say, “Paul wrote that ‘God was manifest in the flesh.’” I personally do not see how a true proponent of the CT could make such a statement, but, let me be the first to say “Amen” to what Bro. Bauder has written. I do believe that Paul wrote theos not hos, “God” not “who” or “he,” and that Bro. Bauder is in fact correct in his essay for wording it the way he did. Our church believes that Paul wrote what Bro. Bauder says in this article that Paul wrote.
The second TR reading that I came across recently was as I was studying J. Sidlow Baxter’s book, The Master Theme of the Bible. One of the passages that Baxter discusses in this book is Acts chapter 8:26ff., and concerning Acts 8:37 he writes:
“To my own mind, it is a minor tragedy that verse 37 is omitted, except by marginal acknowledgement, in ERV, ASV, and RSV, as well as in such modern language versions as the NIV. Our earliest New Testament manuscripts go back only as far as the fifth century, whereas Irenaeus, in his third book, Against Heresies, written as early as A.D. 180-188, distinctly quotes that part of verse 37 which says, “I believe Jesus Christ to be the Son of God.” And Cyprian (A.D. 200-258), in his third book Testimonies, quotes the other part of the verse. So, long before the oldest existing manuscripts, verse 37 must have been in the codices of both the Greek and Latin churches.” (4)
Acts 8:37 is another verse that our church believes is the word of God, just as it appears translated in the KJV. We agree with Bro. Baxter that it is a tragedy to omit this verse from the Bible as many of the modern English versions do, and that it is not satisfactory to relegate it to the margins of a translation. As we have studied many times in our Sunday morning theology classes, the entire teaching of believer’s baptism in this passage hinges on verse 37. I am greatly encouraged to see Bro. Baxter state with absolute certainty that Acts 8:37 “must have been in the codices of both the Greek and Latin churches” (emphasis in the original).
At Commonwealth Community Baptist Church, we believe that Paul wrote that, “God was manifest in the flesh,” and we believe that Philip said, “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest,” and that the eunuch answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Our doctrines of the incarnation of Christ and of believer’s baptism are rooted in these words. Our church will continue to hold to the TR as the Greek text to be used in our theology classes, and we will continue to hold to faithful TR translations, such as the Tyndale, Reina Valera, and King James Translation, for our preaching, teaching, studying, Bible memorization, and other aspects of our walk as Christians.
May God add His blessing to His Word, and may He enable our church to hold fast the form of sound words which we have heard of Paul and the Apostles.
“Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” II Timothy 1:13
(1) “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.”
(3) Roy E. Beacham & Kevin T. Bauder, One Bible Only? (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2001).
(4) J. Sidlow Baxter, The Master Theme of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1997), p. 201.
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Our church is known as the Commonwealth Community Baptist Church of the Bronx. Sometimes people will refer to our church simply as “Commonwealth.”
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