Blue Flower

Beliefs

The Bible in our own tongue

Part 1 From origins to one tongue - From the original to the Vulgate

Part 2 From one tongue to everyday tongues - From the Vulgate to Wycliffe

Part 3 Translation advances - To Tyndale and his successors

Part 4 King James Version and its successors - The translation, revisions and editions

Part 5 Revised Version and its successors - To today, including modern media

Let's open the Bible

Part 1 Introduction and the 5 books of Moses 

Part 2 The Bible's history books 

Part 3 The Bible's poetry books 

Part 4 The Prophets 

Part 1 - From origins to one tongue - From the original to the Vulgate

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[Mouse over or tap the red numbers in the text to read the supporting Bible quotations.]

The Bible teaches that, before the foundation of the world, God planned to have a son who would be the very centre of His purpose with mankind and the earth 1,  2, 3 .

Both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, Jesus of Nazareth is revealed as the focus of God's divine plan and the highlight of all His promises that make up the Gospel.

In prophecy Jesus is described as:

  • the seed of the woman  4 , the one who would deal with the enormous problem of sin:
  • the seed of the patriarch Abraham 5, 6 : the one who would inherit the land of Israel and indeed the whole earth 7 :
  • the prophetic fulfilment of important features in the Law of Moses such as that of the high priest and the sacrifices 8, 9 :
  • the son of king David of Israel 10, 11 who would eventually sit upon the throne of David in Jerusalem.

For God’s promises to Abraham and David to be fulfilled, Jesus must return from heaven to be king over the earth, and reign from Jerusalem 12, 13, 14, 15 . This is the Good News of the Bible – the Gospel of the kingdom of God 16, 17 .

Jesus was conceived – that is to say, came into existence, by the power of the Holy Spirit operating on the womb of the virgin Mary 18, 19, 20 . He is therefore called ‘the son of man’ being born of Mary and also called ‘the son of God’ having God as his Father.

As son of man, through his love of his Father, 21 and also his love for his spiritual brothers and sisters 22, 23, 24 , he was able to overcome the natural desires of the flesh – that is to say, using Bible words, he destroyed the devil 25, 26 . In order to achieve this, Jesus had to be of the same flesh and blood as those he came to save 27, 28, 29 . If Jesus had existed before his birth or had a nature like that of the angels, it would not have been possible for him to have overcome in himself that same human nature, which has enslaved men and women from the days of Adam and Eve.

During his ministry, as recorded in the four Gospels, Jesus demonstrated his roles as prophet, priest and king in his conduct, his preaching and by performing miracles through the power of the Holy Spirit 30, 31 .

Jesus died because it is right that all flesh is worthy of death 32 . Yet because he lived his mortal life without ever sinning, 33 it was right that God should raise him from the dead after three days and nights 34, 35 . Because of this, those people who believe the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ 36 , can be accounted as righteous, have their sins forgiven and have the wonderful hope of eternal life 37 .

Jesus is now at His Father’s right hand as an immortal high priest through whom faithful believers have access in prayer to the Almighty Creator 38 .

Jesus will return to the earth, and with the help of his brothers and sisters 39, 40, 41 will restore the earth to its Edenic state 42, 43 before delivering it to his Father 44 .

It is impossible to overstate the importance of Jesus Christ in God’s creation 45, 46 .

[Mouse over or tap the red numbers in the text to read the supporting Bible quotations.]

Although quoting from the King James Version of the Bible, this essay will follow more modern translations of the Bible by using the term ‘holy spirit’ rather than ‘Holy Ghost’.

In Luke 1:35 1 , it can seem that the second phrase containing the words power of the Highest, is a further description of the Holy Spirit in the preceding phrase. Thus, the Holy Spirit is the power of God. Similarly, in Luke 5:17 2 , as the Lord Jesus healed people, it is recorded that the power of the Lord was with him to heal.

The word spirit is a translation of the Greek word pneuma which is not masculine in gender, but neuter, although translators often treat the word as masculine.

Whilst the words 'the holy spirit' are mostly a New Testament term, they correlate to Old Testament usage of the Spirit of the LORD [Yahweh)’ or sometimes just ‘the Spirit’ 3 , 4 , 5 . All these terms describe God’s energy or power. Psalm 104:4 says, ‘Who (God) maketh His angels spirits’, - so the angels are embodiments of God’s Spirit. At the start of Creation, ‘the earth was without form, and void….And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters’ which originally covered the planet 6 . By the end of the sixth day the earth was transformed into a paradise, in which a physically perfect man and woman dwelt and worked 7 . God had made the earth by His power 8 . Previously, by His Spirit, He had garnished or adorned the heavens 9 .

Throughout the Old Testament, Yahweh’s prophets spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit 10 . Often their words were written down deliberately for the benefit of successive generations 11 , 12 , 13 , 14 .

Occasionally, those prophets performed miracles – for example, both Elijah the prophet and Elisha who followed him miraculously fed the hungry and raised the dead 15 , 16 .

One of the most notable actions of the Spirit of God was the conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary without the aid of a human father 17 . After his baptism, Jesus was given the power of the Holy Spirit 18 , 19 , by which he spoke the word of God and performed so many miracles such as feeding the 5,000, healing the sick and raising the dead 20 , 21 , 22 .

In the New Testament context, the term ‘the holy spirit’ is the power or energy of God when it is ‘set apart’ (the meaning of the word ‘holy’) for miraculous works of a redemptive nature. When given to a person, it was never given for that person’s own benefit, but for the benefit of those to whom the recipient was ministering. Indeed, a careful reading of both Old and New Testaments shows that the Spirit was never given for the recipient’s personal benefit. So, the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the first century were miraculous powers to confirm the preaching of the Gospel and to edify the early ecclesias (congregations). Hebrew 2:4 reads, ‘God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit….’ Similarly, in a cosmopolitan world, it was necessary, for example, that some members of the ecclesia could immediately speak foreign languages for preaching the Gospel, without the normal process of learning a language 23 , 24 .

When the Lord Jesus Christ promised the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, in John’s Gospel chapters 14 to 16, as is evident from the above-mentioned quotations, he promised miraculous support to the apostles. For example, in John 14:26 , Jesus declared, ‘But the Comforter, which is the holy spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you’. Thus, to facilitate their preaching work and especially also for the completion of the Bible, the apostles were promised an infallible recall of his words. For us today, as we turn the pages of the Bible, that particular promise is invaluable as we are assured that we have the true words of Jesus therein!

The purpose of the gifts of the Holy Spirit was to act as a witness to, and support the words of the prophets and apostles – not to replace their teaching. Additionally, it can be seen the miracles performed were prophetic of the Kingdom of God to be established when Christ returns. For example, in Acts 3:2-10, there is a healing of a man lame from birth. Amongst other things, this was prophetic of the time when Christ returns to set up a kingdom and ‘the lame man (shall) leap as an hart’ 25 .

For the first century believers, they had the Old Testament Bible and whilst the New Testament was being compiled, they also had the gifts of the Holy Spirit to compensate for not having a complete Bible. After the New Testament was completed, then the gifts were no longer available or needed. Today we have the complete Bible available to us – both Old and New Testaments - so we are in a no better or worse position that first century believers.

Finally, it is appropriate to ask how long were the gifts of the Holy Spirit available after the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost 26 ?

  • It can be noted that Israel in the wilderness were greatly helped by miraculous support in the form of the manna, water from the rock, the pillar of fire and cloud 27 together with clothes and shoes that did not wear out 28 . These gifts ceased after they entered the land under the leadership of Joshua 29 . This was for a period of 40 years. As shown below, the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the first century were available over a similar period of 40 years from Pentecost.
  • Acts 8:17-18 and 19:6 reveal that these gifts were transmitted by the laying on of the apostles’ hands. Hence when the apostles were dead (by the latter part of the first century), the Holy Spirit could no longer be given to ordinary brothers and sisters. 30

  • 1 Cor.13:8-11 teaches that the gifts of prophecy, tongues, and knowledge would come to an end ‘when that which is perfect is come.' Paul was inspired to compare the period during which those gifts were available to a childhood, after which childish things were put away (v.11). The ‘perfect’ refers to the completion of the Bible 31 c.f. James 1:23-25)

  • In Acts 2:17, the apostle Peter, citing the prophet Joel, revealed that the pouring out of the Spirit would be upon three generations. The verse reads, ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams…’

  • In John 9:4 Jesus said that the miraculous works of the Holy Spirit would cease ‘when night cometh,…’ This is a reference to Micah 3:6 (with a similar context of the elders of Israel refusing the testimony of the Spirit - vs.1 & 8) ‘Therefore night shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a vision;….and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them’. Mic.3:12 places a precise dating as to when that would happen – ‘Therefore shall Zion ….be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps,…”, which took place in AD70 with a final demolition in AD135. Thus the witnessing gifts of the Spirit were no longer passed on after AD70 and weere extinguished from the earth by AD135.

To sum up: the Holy Spirit is the power or energy of God, and the term equates to the Spirit of Yahweh in the Old Testament. By that power, the heavens and earth were formed. By the Spirit of Yahweh, God’s prophets spoke and wrote down the words of God in the Old Testament and sometimes they performed miracles.

In the New Testament, Jesus himself was inspired by the Holy Spirit to speak the words of His Father, and perform miracles which demonstrated that he was sent by God. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead was achieved by the power of the Spirit. Likewise, spirit-inspired apostles such as Peter and Paul preached and wrote the word of God in the New Testament. The miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit were a prophetic witness that their preaching was of God. The apostles had the particular ability to lay their hands on believers that they also might share in some of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit. Transmission of the spirit by laying on of hands passed away as the apostles died.

So today, believers do not have the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but what they do have is the whole Bible – Old and New Testaments, that those believers might be ‘sanctified’ (John 17:17), that they might be wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus’ (2Tim.3:15).

[Mouse over or tap the red numbers in the text to read the supporting Bible quotations.]

The Bible reveals God to be the Creator and Sustainer of all things 1, 2 .

He dwells in the heavens in unapproachable light 3 .

He is all powerful, all wise, a God of love, mercy, holiness, righteousness and truth 4 .

God is one, 5, 6, 7 and is Spirit 8 and both these descriptions convey the meaning of a single unlimited power as opposed to the limitations of flesh and blood or a pantheon of gods.

God’s Name is Yahweh 9, 10 11 .

God sends his angels to carry out His work in controlling the nations 12 , and also to direct the lives of individuals who seek to live in accordance with His commandments. 13, 14 .

The existence of God can be proven in at least two ways...

1. There is repeated emphasis in the Bible that God is the Creator of all things 15, 16, 17, , 18, , and the evidence of the Creator’s hand is clearly seen in the design and beauty of creation 19 .

2. Fulfilled Bible prophecy shows that there is a God Who has foretold events, sometimes a few years, and sometimes thousands of years, before they happen 20, 21, 22 .

Examples can be seen in the story of the Jewish people, whose history was described in advance in the Bible - in particular in Deuteronomy chapter 28, written about 1400BCE. It contains a large section describing in detail terrible events which would overtake Israel if they abandonned belief in their God. In verses 64-67, there is a prophecy of their extreme suffering during the Holocaust (1941-45) . 23 . In fact, Scripture not only contains Yahweh's warnings of punishment for disobedience, but also the sad fact that his people would, repeatedly, disobey, and because of this, He declares that the Jewish people are unwilling witnesses to His existence 24 .

There are also many passages of the Bible which describe the Jewish people returning to the land of their forefathers and becoming a nation state in that land, albeit in unbelief of the messiahship of Jesus of Nazareth 25, 26 .

Similarly, the Old Testament prophecies are filled with descriptions of the Lord Jesus Christ. A wonderful example is found in Psalm 22, which describes the death by crucifixion of Jesus in detail 27 . Isaiah chapter 53 is another accurate prediction of the life and suffering of Christ 28 .

Many more examples of fulfilled Bible prophecy are available, and it must be emphasised: these are not generalised predictions but are detailed and verifiable revelations.

The grand purpose of God with mankind and the earth is contained in His name Yahweh, which means He who will be. It is the Divine purpose that His character of mercy and truth will be demonstrated by a family of men and women who have chosen to believe in Him 29, and whom he will adopt as His sons and daughters. This wonderful hope is open to all those who truly believe that God is righteous but merciful and that His promises to the patriarchs Abraham 30 and David 31 will be fulfilled. These promises of a glorious future world are called The Gospel of the Kingdom of God 32 .

Membership of this family depends on committed acceptance that salvation from sin and death is only available through belief in the name of Jesus Christ 33 , and an earnest desire to have a character like Jesus. At the resurrection, when Jesus returns, such men and women hope to be graciously granted such a holy character, and a body which will live forever 34 , so that they populate the earth and work at filling it with God’s glory 35, 36 .

This simple belief in Yahweh, the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, brings settled hope, and confidence for the future.