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John8(1)

August 13th, 2018
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Before we go through John 8 there is a question about the story of the adultress women. Was it in the original gospel or was it added later?

We will discuss this as it is informative of how scholarship works in these matters.

In most of your Bibles, you notice that John 7:53 to John 8:11 is either set off in brackets or is in a footnote. The reason for this is that most New Testament scholars do not think it was part of the Gospel of John when it was first written, but was added centuries later.

For example:

Don Carson, who teaches at Trinity, and is a respected conservative New Testament scholar, writes, “Despite the best efforts . . . to prove that this narrative was originally part of John’s Gospel, the evidence is against [them], and modern English versions are right to rule it off from the rest of the text (NIV) or to relegate it to a footnote (RSV).” (The Gospel According to John, 1991, 333)

Bruce Metzger, one of the world’s great authorities on the text of the New Testament until his death in 2002: “The evidence for the non-Johannine origin of the periscope of the adulteress is overwhelming.” (The Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 1971, 219)

Australian Scholar Leon Morris: “The textual evidence makes it impossible to hold that this section is an authentic part of the Gospel.” (The Gospel According to John, 1971, 882)

Andreas Köstenberger: “This represents overwhelming evidence that the section is non-Johannine.” (John, 2004, 246)

And Herman Ridderbos: The evidences “point to an unstable tradition that was not originally part of an ecclesiastically accepted text.” (The Gospel of John, 1997, 286)

What are the reasons given for this Section not to be in the original to John’s Gospel?

The evidence goes something like this:

1. The story is missing from all the Greek manuscripts of John before the fifth century.

2. All the earliest church fathers omit this passage in commenting on John and pass directly from John 7:52 to John 8:12.

3. In fact, the text flows very nicely from 7:52 to 8:12 if you leave out the story and just read the passage as though the story were not there. (READ)

John 7:52

They replied, ‘Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.’

John8:12

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’

4. No Eastern church father cites the passage before the tenth century when dealing with this Gospel.

5. When the story starts to appear in manuscript copies of the Gospel of John, it shows up in three different places other than here (after 7:36; 7:44; and 21:25), and in one manuscript of Luke, it shows up after 21:38.

6. Its style and vocabulary is more unlike the rest of John’s Gospel than any other paragraph in the Gospel.

Where does this information comes from?

The Science of Textual Criticism

The New Testament that we know was originally written in Greek. The first printed Greek New Testament — that came off a printing press — was published by Erasmus in 1516. It turned the world upside down.

This means that for 1500 years the manuscripts of the biblical books were passed down to us through handwritten copies. This is how we have access to the actual words that the New Testament writers wrote with their very hands.

So the books of the New Testament were preserved for us by faithful, hardworking copyists.

Some of these copies were in a script called uncials (referring to manuscripts with all capital Greek letters), others were in a script called minuscule (referring to manuscripts with small Greek letters).

A smaller number are called papyri because they are very early and written on the special paper-like material made from the Papyrus plant that was prevalent in the Nile Delta.

One last group of manuscripts is the lectionaries — which were collections of texts for reading in public worship.

What’s Simply Staggering

Now here is what’s amazing. The abundance of these manuscripts of the New Testament, or parts of the New Testament, as compared to the number of manuscripts for all other ancient works is simply staggering.

There are 10 existing manuscripts of Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars (composed between 58 and 50 B.C.). And all of these date from the tenth century or later.

There are 20 manuscripts of Livy’s Roman History written roughly during the time when Jesus was alive. Some fragments from 5 th century. Most copies are from 10th century or later.

Only two manuscripts exist for Tacitus’s Histories and the Annals which were composed around A.D. 100 — one from the ninth and one from the eleventh century.

There are only eight manuscripts of the History of Thucydides who lived 460-400 B.C. And all of these date from the tenth century or later.

Compare those numbers with the manuscripts and partial manuscripts for the New Testament. These numbers are from the Institute for New Testament Textual Research in Muenster, Germany, which is the most authoritative collection of such data in the world. There are:

322 uncial texts, 2,907 minuscule texts, 2,445 lectionary portions, and 127 papyri, for a total of 5,801 manuscripts.

These are all hand-written copies of the New Testament or parts of the New Testament preserved in libraries around the world and now captured electronically.

No other ancient book comes close to this kind of wealth of diverse preservation.

What that wealth does is create problems and solutions at the same time. These copies do not all agree on what the wording was in the original manuscripts. So the more manuscripts you have, the more variations you find.

On the other hand, the more manuscripts you have, the more control you have over which readings are the original ones. The more manuscripts you have the more variations you find, and yet the more they tend to be self-correcting.

For example, if you had only two ancient manuscripts of the Gospel of John and one has the story of the woman taken in adultery and the other doesn’t, you would be hard put to choose.

But if you have a hundred manuscripts of John, even though you may find more variations, you will be able to tell by the number and age and geographical diversity of the manuscripts whether the story was there or not.

This is what the science of Textual Criticism has done with hundreds of variations in the manuscripts.

Here’s the way F.F. Bruce put it a generation ago:

If the great number of manuscripts increases the number of scribal errors, it increases proportionately the means of correcting such errors, so that the margin of doubt left in the process of recovering the exact original wording is . . . in truth remarkably small. (The New Testament Documents, 19).

But what is most significant for the reliability and authority of the New Testament is that the variations that Textual Critics are unsure of are not the kind that would change any Christian doctrine.

For example, in our passage from John 7:53–8:11, no truth that this Gospel teaches is changed by omitting this story.

Bruce says :

The variant readings about which any doubt remains among textual critics of the New Testament affects no material question of historic fact or of Christian faith and practice (The New Testament Documents, 20).

In 2006, Paul D. Wegner reaffirmed F.F. Bruce’s assessment (A Student’s Guide To Textual Criticism of the Bible, Downers Grove: InterVarsity):

It is important to keep in perspective the fact that only a very small part of the text is in question. . . . Of these, most variants make little difference to the meaning of any passage.

Then he closes his book by quoting Fredric Kenyon:

It is reassuring at the end to find that the general result of all these discoveries and all this study is to strengthen the proof of the authenticity of the Scriptures, and our conviction that we have in our hands, in substantial integrity, the veritable Word of God. (Frederic G. Kenyon, The Story of the Bible, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967), 113, quoted in Wegner, 301).

We can be thankful that God has, in his presence over the transmission process for 2,000 years, ordered things so that the few uncertainties that remain alter no doctrine of the Christian faith. That is really astonishing when you think about it, and we should worship God because of it.

So how do we use this text?

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Message for the Day ,

John7(4)

August 1st, 2018
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We want to see more fully the power of Jesus words shouted aloud at the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles.

John7:37-38

37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.

Salvation is not just believing some facts about Jesus. It is seeing him as a spring in the desert when we are dying of thirst.

This is what the apostle John meant when he connected believing on Jesus and receiving Jesus in

John 1:12

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God –

Believing is receiving him as water, food. He becomes our life. Because as John says in the beginning of his book “In him is life and that life was the light of men.”

Jesus is the water we need, our spiritual inner being does the drinking, and that is what believing means — coming to Jesus to drink for our true life.

38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.

Literally, it says, out of his belly.This points to our our inner being or heart.

What does this mean?

It means that when we come to Jesus to drink, we don’t just get a single drink, but we get spring, a fountain, a well. We get Jesus. Rivers of water will flow because a River-Maker is in us. That’s the point. We will never have to search again for a source of satisfaction.

When we come to him, we get him. And he never leaves. He is not fickled. Now we can ignore him, even lock him out. But it is our decision not his. He has said yes to us.

John7:39

By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.

There is quite some significance prophetically to these words.

There was an experience of the Spirit that could not be enjoyed until Jesus had died for our sins, been raised triumphant over death, and ascended to the right of the Father in glory. This is the experience of fellowship with the Spirit of the glorified, risen Christ.

This is what the Father gives to everyone who believes. We receive the presence and power and fellowship of the Spirit of the risen and glorified Christ. And he jeads us into his relationship with the Father.

Lets explore this a bit more.

Once Jesus was with us as a fleshly man, and now he is in us by his Spirit.

We have the Spirit of the risen and glorified Christ living in us. This is the glorified humanity of Jesus – the perfectly obedient human Son of God. It is this life tthat is imparted to us.

Thats what we mean by Christ in us.

Lets see some background in the Old Testament about thirst and living waters.

Here’s how God — by way of the prophet Jeremiah — describes man’s attempts to quench this thirst.

Jeremiah 2:12-13

12 Be appalled at this, you heavens,
and shudder with great horror,’
declares the Lord.
13 ‘My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me,
the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
broken cisterns that cannot hold water.
Living water was a running source of water. Water from a river or spring was always preferable to standing water. Since the land did not have abundant sources of living water — they would depend primarily upon rainfall that would be collected in cisterns. A cistern was carved out of solid rock to collect rain.

Imagine a man saying I’m going to carve me out a cistern to hold rain water. I know that after a while it will start to grow stuff because it isn’t moving. But I will settle for that over the effort to walk a while to get to takes living water from a flowing river.

A man could spend years carving out a large cistern (Herod the Great – cisterns on Masada). Imagine this man finally completing his cistern —and there finally comes that night as he lies in bed and hears the rain begin to fall. As he’s nodding off he thinks — “All of that hard work is finally going to pay off — Tomorrow I can walk outside and drop my bucket into my cistern and draw water for myself.” Morning comes and he walks out — drops his bucket into the cistern he had labored so long and hard to build.

Instead of hearing a splash he hears an echoing thud! The cistern he had carved out would at best never be as good as living water. But this was the worst. His cistern was broken. It couldn’t hold water — it ran out into the subterranean space under the cistern.

The man poured himself into the making of his cistern only to find all his efforts were in vain!

That’s is what happens when we make anything other than Jesus the true passion of our life. We pour in all our efforts and at the end we are left empty.

But there is another prophecy

Isaiah 58:11(b)

You shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

The context describes a person whose religious practices – in the context, fasting – have the purpose to become like Jesus.

God planned for Jesus to stand in Jerusalem, and cry out: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me [Jesus] and drink.”

Drinking in of Jesus is to want to be like him, not just to satisfy some personal need. True religion is not selfish.

There is another important prophesy fulfilled in this event.

Throughout the Feast of Tabernacles there also was a messianic expectation of a New Exodus and a restoration under the Messianic King. This is quite vivid in Zechariah 14 with its Temple and Feast of Tabernacle references.

Zechariah 14:8

On that day living waters will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter.

This is expanded in Ezekiel 47 . This describes living waters flowing from a restored Temple.

So at the height of the celebrations, with all these prophetic associations, Jesus was claiming to be that Temple and that we can part of that Temple with those rivers of living water flowing through us.

He is the Temple of the prophets promises. He is the fulfillment of all the Messianic hopes. And he is not working with the authorities of the Temple. He is in opposition to them. They are meant to come to him and drink.
39(b)Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

This has enormous implications about what is the way to come to God. In the OT

Psalm 42:2-4

2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When can I go and meet with God?
3 My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
    ‘Where is your God?’
4 These things I remember
    as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
    under the protection of the Mighty One
with shouts of joy and praise
    among the festive throng.

In the OT you went up to the house of the Lord to be in the presence of God where the ark was external pledge and symbol of the presence of God.

Only once a year on the Day of Atonement was the representative of the people allowed to enter the holy of holies while everyone watched outside the veil.

In the NT this event is seen in fulfilled once Jesus became the atonement for the sins of the whole world, the entrance in to the new age was opened by his resurrection and his ascension through the eternal Spirit.

Hebrews 10:22

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

This is what Jesus had not yet sent until he was glorified. That in him we become derivative temples of God. The Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Christ poured out at Pentecost, takes up a temple residence in the lives of believers.

Read more…

Message for the Day ,

John7(3)

July 24th, 2018
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Jesus divided the people of his time. He didn’t fit what anyone was expecting. Which tells us that we humans of ourselves have no idea who God is and how he does things. Just studying the creation as it is and even observing humans as they are do not reveal that the most fundamental truth of the universe: the reality behind all existence is that God is love.

And that this love is not a maudlin sentimentality or an easy going niceness that anything is all right as long as feels good to you.

It is a practical love flowing from the real relationship that exists in God. This home life of God was seen throughout Jesus’ life from conception to his resurrection and going back to his Father.

And God will never allow anyone to be part of that home life who doesn’t believe and receive the God centred life of Jesus that we have seen described in John 7.

Jesus’ brothers were just as unbelieving as the Temple leaders. They would all need to change so they could truly see and really believe.

So lets look at the division Jesus created in Jerusalem.

John7:25-39

25 At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, ‘Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? 26 Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Messiah?

Jesus is in Jerusalem teaching a divided crowd of listeners. Some want him arrested. Why? Because they saw him as a pretender who can’t possibly be the Messiah. Notice how they argue in

27 But we know where this man is from; when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.’

There was a popular view among the people that the Messiah would appear suddenly, as out of nowhere. But here Jesus is, a man from Nazareth, with no sudden appearance, and looking nothing like a Messiah.

28 Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, ‘Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from.

But only at a very superficial level.

I am not here on my own authority, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, 29 but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.’

Don’t miss the words “him you do not know.” You, the most religious, the most privileged, the most well-taught people in the world, the people with the very oracles of God, the Scriptures — you do not know God. This is why you want to kill me. I know God. I am from God. God sent me.

And since you don’t know him, you can’t recognize me.

Over and over in this Gospel, Jesus makes plain that if we reject him as God’s Son, his Messiah, and as the supreme Treasure of our life, we don’t know God or honor God or love God or have God as our Father — no matter how religious and zealous in our practices, and no matter what people say their relationship with God is.

There is only one way to know God. Do we know Jesus Christ, the Son of God, crucified for sinners as the only hope of the world? What we make of him reveals whether we truly know God, or honor God, or love God, or have God as our Father.

If people do not have Jesus as Lord and Saviour, they do not have God as Father.

This is why the Temple influenced crowds wanted him arrested.

30 At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come. 31 Still, many in the crowd believed in him. They said, ‘When the Messiah comes, will he perform more signs than this man?’

But others thought he was the Messiah — at least it was a good chance.

In other words, they were really impressed with his miracles. Maybe their faith was real; maybe it wasn’t (like his brothers’ in verse 5).

So they were divided. But the reason the opposition intensified in verse 30 (“seeking to arrest him”) was not merely because he failed to look like a Messiah, but because of what he said. The most offensive part was what he said about them, not about himself: You do not know him.

But some thought he just might be the Messiah. And when the Pharisees heard that, they took action:

32 The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him.

Jesus responds with calm and authoritative words.

33 Jesus said, ‘I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the one who sent me. 34 You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.’

Jesus is saying: You can’t take me early. And you won’t keep me here when I choose to leave. And you can’t follow me later. Your plans with me are futile. I have come to do my Father’s will, not yours. And it will be done. Exactly on time. And in the way he has designed it.

They have no idea what he is talking about.

35 The Jews said to one another, ‘Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks?
36 What did he mean when he said, “You will look for me, but you will not find me,” and “Where I am, you cannot come”?’

So the situation we have is that the crowds have been told that they don’t know God, and the Pharisees have been told that they are powerless in their plots.

Now what? What will Jesus do? What will he say?

The Feast of Tabernacles, that brought him up to Jerusalem in the first place, is almost over. There’s one more day. He is surrounded by people that want him arrested. The Pharisees have sent officers to do it.

So what Jesus is about to do at this moment into the face of Pharisees and chief priests and hostile crowds and arresting officers is speak words that no one has ever spoken.

Read more…

Message for the Day