Bibliology - The Preservation of God's Word

  1. THE MEANING OF PRESERVATION
    1. Biblical Usage
      1. Forms: preserve, preserved, preservest, preserveth
      2. Total references: 56
      3. References to the preservation of scripture: Psalm 12:6-7 and possibly Proverbs 22:12
    2. Basic Meaning
      1. Negative meaning used externally – to keep from harm, injury, damage, danger, destruction, evil, etc.
      2. Negative meaning used internally – to keep from spoiling, rotting or decaying
      3. Positive meaning – to keep up, carry on, maintain, uphold, sustain; “to keep in a sound state” Webster, 1828
    3. Doctrinal Definition
      1. The act of God by which He keeps and protects the Word of God so that every word is exactly of His choosing and completely without error
      2. More simply, the act of keeping scripture inspired  (see 2 Timothy 3:14-16)
    4. Scriptural Confirmation of Preservation
      1. Psalm 12:6-7
        1. The purity of God’s words (Psalm 12:6)
          1. As silver tried
          2. Purified seven times
        2. The preservation of God’s words (Psalm 12:7)
          1. Kept
          2. Preserved
          3. For ever
      2. Psalm 100:5
        1. God’s truth endures
        2. To all generations
      3. Psalm 111:7-8
        1. God’s commandments are sure
        2. They shall stand fast
        3. They stand for ever and ever
      4. Psalm 119:89
        1. God’s word is settled
        2. It is settled in heaven
        3. It is settled for ever
      5. Psalm 119:152
        1. God’s testimonies are founded
        2. They are founded for ever
      6. Psalm 119:160
        1. God’s righteous judgments endure
        2. Every one of His judgments endure
        3. His judgments endure for ever
      7. Ecclesiastes 3:14
        1. God’s word stands for ever
        2. Nothing can be added to it
        3. Nothing can be taken from it
      8. Isaiah 40:8; 1 Peter 1:25
        1. The word of the Lord stands
        2. It stands for ever
      9. Matthew 5:18; Luke 16:17
        1. God’s law will out-survive heaven and earth
        2. God’s law will be fulfilled
        3. This preservation and fulfillment apply even to the jot and tittle
      10. Matthew 24:35; Luke 21:33
        1. Heaven and earth shall pass away
        2. God’s word will not pass away
      11. Three Sentinels of God’s Word
        1. Deuteronomy 4:2
        2. Proverbs 30:5-6
        3. Revelation 22:18-19 
  2. THE METHOD OF PRESERVATION
    1. By Moving Upon Men
      1. Moses and Aaron (Exodus 4:10-16,27-31)
        1. From God
        2. To Moses
        3. To Aaron
        4. To the people and to Pharaoh
      2. Paul and Tertius (Romans 16:22 with Romans 1:1)
        1. From God
        2. To Paul
        3. To Tertius
        4. To the Romans
      3. Jeremiah and Baruch (Jeremiah 36:1-4,20-24,32)
        1. From God
        2. To Jeremiah
        3. To Baruch
        4. To Jehudi – burned in the fire
        5. From God, to Jeremiah, to Baruch all over again (Jeremiah 36:32)
    2. By Guarding the Word
      1. Against corruption (2 Corinthians 2:17; 2 Corinthians 4:2)
      2. Against forgeries (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3; 2 Thessalonians 3:17-18)
      3. Against editing (Revelation 22:18-19)
    3. By Accepting Only God’s Word (Isaiah 8:16)
      1. The form of sound words (2 Timothy 1:13)
      2. The things that are assured (2 Timothy 3:14)
      3. The teaching of the faithful word (Titus 1:9)
    4. By taking the collective actions of many fallible men and moving among them and upon them so as to produce and preserve an infallible book (Romans 8:28; Isaiah 46:9-11).  If God can use even lost and wicked men to bring about His perfect will (Psalm 76:10; Proverbs 16:4; Revelation 4:11), then He can use saved sinners to preserve His perfect book!
  3. OLD TESTAMENT PRESERVATION
    1. Preserved By the Priests
      1. They kept the tables of the Law (Deuteronomy 31:24-26)
      2. They taught the words of the law
        1. To the courts (Deuteronomy 17:8-13)
        2. To the people (Deuteronomy 31:9-13)
      3. They copied the words of the law
        1. Before the king (Deuteronomy 17:18-20)
        2. By the king’s scribe (2 Samuel 8:15,17)
          1. First mention of “scribe” in the Bible
          2. A scribe was a copier of manuscripts
        3. By the men of Hezekiah (Proverbs 25:1)
        4. By Baruch, the scribe (Jeremiah 36:4,17-18,32)
        5. By Ezra, the priest (Ezra 7:6,10-12,21)
    2. Revivals of the Word
      1. Under Asa (2 Chronicles 15:1-15)
      2. Under Josiah (2 Kings 22:1,8-20; 2 Kings 23:1-7; 2 Chronicles 34:14-21)
      3. Under Ezra (Ezra 7:6,10; Nehemiah 8:1-8Nehemiah 9:1-3)
  4. NEW TESTAMENT PRESERVATION
    1. The New Testament Books Were Immediately Accepted as Scripture
      1. The claims of the authors
        1. Apostles (Matthew 10:20; Luke 12:12; Luke 21:15)
        2. Paul (1 Corinthians 2:13; 1 Corinthians 14:37; 2 Corinthians 10:7-13; 2 Corinthians 13:3; Galatians 1:6-12; Colossians 4:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:8-9; 2 Thessalonians 3:6,12-14)
        3. Peter (2 Peter 3:1-2)
      2. The acceptance of other New Testament authors
        1. Peter testifies of Paul’s epistles (2 Peter 3:15-16)
        2. Paul quotes Luke 10:7 in 1 Timothy 5:18 along with Deuteronomy 25:4 and calls them both scripture
      3. Early Quotations
        1. Clement (c.96) quotes Hebrews as “the holy word”.  He also quotes Matthew, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Titus, James and 1 Peter.
        2. Polycarp (c.115) quotes Matthew, Luke, Acts, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, 1 and 2 Peter and 1 John.  He alludes to Mark, Hebrews, James and 2 and 3 John.  He speaks of Ephesians 4:26 as “sacred scripture”.
        3. Many other early quotations are also available but the point has been made.
    2. Warnings Against Textual Corruptions Were Made Immediately
      1. In the scriptures themselves (2 Corinthians 2:17; 2 Corinthians 4:2; 2 Timothy 4:3-4; 2 Peter 2:1-2; 2 Peter 3:16; Jude 3-4; Revelation 22:18-19)
      2. Polycarp (c.115) said, “Whoever perverts the sayings of the Lord…that one is the firstborn of Satan.”
      3. Irenaeus (c.180) said about his own writing: “I adjure you who shall copy out this book, by out Lord Jesus Christ and by his glorious advent when He comes to judge the living and the dead, that you compare what you transcribe, and correct it carefully against this manuscript from which you copy; and also that you transcribe this adjuration and insert it in the copy.”
    3. The Making of Good Copies Spread Rapidly
      1. The copies were to be circulated (see Colossians 4:16)
      2. Widespread early quotations prove the existence of numerous copies
      3. Justin Martyr referred to the weekly practice of reading the Scriptures in the churches about 150 (see 1 Timothy 4:13; Luke 4:16)
    4. The Rejection of Corrupt Copies was an Early Practice
      1. New copies were compared with faithful copies
      2. Corrupt copies were rejected
        1. Some were destroyed
        2. Some were put aside unused (like Sinaiticus)
      3. Pure copies were used
        1. Used until they were worn out
        2. Used to make new copies
David Reagan

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 20:11

Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.