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  • Most people in the United States do not believe the Bible is the word of God.
  • Many people try to get around the miraculous aspects of scripture. Our faith needs the miracles!

Jesus has power to forgive sins

  • Matthew 9:1-7
  • Matthew 4:23-24 – Compare Matthew 9:35.
  • Romans 1:16
  • Hebrews 10:14-17
  • How do you know you are forgiven?
    • Emotions are not sufficient evidence of spiritual realities.
    • Faith! Hebrews 11:1
  • By healing the paralytic, Jesus proves that He has power to forgive sins.

Jesus has the power to give eternal life

  • Matthew 9:18-19, 23-25
  • Jesus did this several other times in the gospel.
  • Jesus did this so that we would not be afraid of death.

Jesus has the power to reward faith

  • Matthew 9:20-22
  • Jesus healed her because of her faith. The power was His, but He used it because of her faith.
  • We must be confident in Jesus and His power.

Jesus illuminates us

  • Matthew 9:27-31
  • John 9:1-11
  • Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and the reason we know that is because He gave sight to the blind.

For further study, see also:

Questions or comments? Join our Discord server for further study.

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  • Chris’ Comment: You always have to give up something you want to get something you want more.

When someone sinned, something had to die.

  • Isaiah 59 – Sin separates us from God, and thus from life.
  • Leviticus 1:4
  • Leviticus 4 – God says He will forgive their sin if they sacrifice an animal. The sinner had to kill the best animal they had.
  • Isaiah 53:3-6
  • Because we are not under the Law of Moses, we don’t get how personal it is when we sin.
  • Leviticus 4:1-12

Consider the volume of blood involved and the sufficiency of Jesus’ sacrifice.

  • Hebrews 10:4 – None of all this animal blood was sufficient to forgive sins.
  • Hebrews 10:26-31

Appreciate the detail involved in the sacrifices.

  • Leviticus 4:20 – God’s forgiveness is conditional.
  • Romans 12:1
  • The condition of our sacrifices matters!

If we’re not careful, all of this loses its significance.

  • Isaiah 1:10-15 – God was tired of their sacrifices because those sacrifices weren’t changing them.
  • If these people could lose focus, the same can happen to us!
  • Romans 15:4
  • Don’t undervalue any part of God’s word!

For further study, see also:

Questions or comments? Join our Discord server for further study.

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  • Mark 1:4 – Much of the gospel message is very simple.
  • Romans 11:33

Why was Jesus baptized? Why did he never sin?

  • Mark 1:9-12
  • If Jesus can be baptized when He was without sin, we must certainly obey God as well.

God calls all of us to service.

  • Mark 1:16-20
  • God calls all of us to obedience, but each of us has something different to bring to the work of God.

Jesus had authority.

  • Mark 1:21-31
  • The demons came out because they had to. He had authority over them.

People flocked to Jesus because they wanted something from Him.

  • Mark 1:32-45
  • God can do things for us that we can’t do for ourselves.

For further study, see also:

Questions or comments? Join our Discord server for further study.

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  • We may feel overwhelmed by immorality in this world, but God tells us to not be afraid.

II Kings 6:8-23

How God uses His people

  • I Kings 16:25-28 – Omri was the worst king Israel had yet seen. Omri was mentioned in secular history. He made Israel prosper economically (almost to the level of Solomon’s day), yet spiritually he was a disaster.
  • Omri’s reign was much like America today. The people did evil, but still claimed to serve God.
  • It was a hard time to truly serve God in those days. Elijah and Elisha are God’s response to Omri’s rule.
  • Our job is to stand up and tell people about God.

Appreciate what God can do!

  • II Kings 6:9-10 – God delivered Jehoram to be faithful to his promises.
  • Deuteronomy 6:7-11
  • We may suffer as Christians, but we can have confidence in God.
  • God is for us!
  • I Peter 1:14

We need to be a humble and forgiven people, not gloating over our victories.

  • II Kings 6:20-23 – Jehoram’s first response is to kill them. Elijah’s response is to treat them well, which brings a period of peace.
  • Our job is to show people Christ – not to win a battle.

For further study, see also:

Questions or comments? Join our Discord server for further study.

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As we continue our series on apologetics, these last four classes will be about how we got the English Bible. We will talk a bit about how the Bible itself came to be, but we will focus on the early English translations of the Bible for most of this study. The story of the English translation of the Bible is a fascinating history by itself, but it illustrates in grand detail the danger of turning away from God’s design for the church.

What I hope you will take away from this study:

  • God’s power and wisdom in making His word known to us.
  • The reliability of the English translations we have today.
  • Appreciation for the dedication and effort that made our Bibles possible today.
  • How dangerous it is to organize differently than what God commanded and drift from God’s word! You won’t even recognize the pure truth anymore!
  • Secularly, why some parts of the US constitution are setup the way they are.
  • Finally, and most importantly: How much we should treasure God’s word!

We will be covering a significant amount of history but try to stay on the narrow track of the important parts of history that resulted in the English Bibles we have today.

I have two primary resources for this class:

I welcome your comments and questions!

What is the Bible?

The Bible as we know it today is a set of 66 books, written by various men over a period of roughly 1500 years. The word Bible comes from a word that means “book” in both Latin and Greek. As of 2006, over 4 billion Bibles have been printed in 2400+ languages.

In the beginning, writings were on stone, clay, and papyrus. Scrolls were used up to about the First Century A.D., then codices were used. (A codex is a book.) Papyrus came from the Nile delta. Paper as we know it today was developed in China in roughly 300 B.C. but was not common in Western Europe until the First or Second Century A.D. Papyrus supply eventually could not keep up and parchment and vellum became more common. Paper was not common until 12 Century A.D.

The Wycliffe Bible that we will study about was inscribed by hand on parchment or vellum. Production time was 10 months to 2 years. The cost was a laborer’s annual wage!

  • Just think how carefully you’d treat your Bible if it cost as much as your car!
  • We are very, very blessed that this is no longer the case!

These books were inspired by God but written by human hands. God gave these men the words to write. Men chosen by God to be prophets were given the words they needed to speak at the time they were needed. Notice how God sent Moses to be His mouthpiece to the Israelites:

Exodus 4:11–16 (NASB95)

11 The Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 “Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.” 13 But he said, “Please, Lord, now send the message by whomever You will.” 14 Then the anger of the Lord burned against Moses, and He said, “Is there not your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that he speaks fluently. And moreover, behold, he is coming out to meet you; when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. 15 “You are to speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I, even I, will be with your mouth and his mouth, and I will teach you what you are to do. 16 “Moreover, he shall speak for you to the people; and he will be as a mouth for you and you will be as God to him.

The New Testament echoes the same kind of language:

Hebrews 1:1–2 (NASB95)

1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.

1 Corinthians 2:11–13 (NASB95)

11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

Ephesians 3:1–5 (NASB95)

1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— 2 if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you; 3 that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. 4 By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;

When was each book of the Bible written?

Old Testament

Book Date Book Date
Job Considered earliest, but date unknown 2 Kings 561-538 BC
Genesis 1445-1405 BC Judith* Uncertain (538 BC – AD 70)
Exodus 1445-1405 BC Daniel 536-530 BC
Leviticus 1445-1405 BC Haggai 520 BC
Numbers 1445-1405 BC Baruch* 500-100 BC
Deuteronomy 1445-1405 BC Zechariah 480-470 BC
Psalms 1410-450 BC Ezra 457-444 BC
Joshua 1405-1385 BC 1 Chronicles 450-430 BC
Judges 1043 BC 2 Chronicles 450-430 BC
Ruth 1030-1010 BC Esther 450-331 BC
Song of Solomon 971-965 BC Malachi 433-424 BC
Proverbs 971-686 BC Nehemiah 424-400 BC
Ecclesiastes 940-931 BC Susanna* 400 BC-AD 70
1 Samuel 931-722 BC Psalm 151* 400 BC-AD 100
2 Samuel 931-722 BC Letter of Jeremiah* 307-317 BC
Obadiah 850-840 BC Tobit* 225-175 BC
Joel 835-796 BC Ben Sira (Sirach)* 200-175 BC
Jonah 775 BC Bel and the Dragon* 200-100 BC
Amos 750 BC Greek Esther* 200-1 BC
Hosea 750-710 BC Prayer of Azariah* 200-1 BC
Micah 735-710 BC 1 Maccabees* 150-100 BC
Isaiah 700-681 BC 2 Maccabees* 150-100 BC
Nahum 650 BC 1 Esdras* 100 BC-AD 100
Zephaniah 635-625 BC Prayer of Manasseh* 100-1 BC
Habakkuk 615-605 BC 3 Maccabees** 100-1 BC
Ezekiel 590-575 BC 4 Maccabees** 100-1 BC
Lamentations 586 BC Wisdom* 50-20 BC
Jeremiah 586-570 BC 2 Esdras** AD 100-200
1 Kings 561-538 BC

*A deuterocanonical/apocryphal book
**A pseudepigrapha book

New Testament

Book Date Book Date
James AD 44-49 Acts AD 62
Galatians AD 49-50 1 Timothy AD 62-64
Mark AD 50-60 Titus AD 62-64
Matthew AD 50-60 1 Peter AD 64-65
1 Thessalonians AD 51 2 Timothy AD 66-67
2 Thessalonians AD 51-52 2 Peter AD 67-68
1 Corinthians AD 55 Hebrews AD 67-69
2 Corinthians AD 55-56 Jude AD 68-70
Romans AD 56 John AD 80-90
Luke AD 60-61 1 John AD 90-95
Ephesians AD 60-62 2 John AD 90-95
Philippians AD 60-62 3 John AD 90-95
Philemon AD 60-62 Revelation AD 68-69 or AD 94-96
Colossians AD 60-62

The Old Testament books were written in Hebrew with some Aramaic. The New Testament books were written in Greek.

The Canon of Scripture

All the books of the Bible started as separate texts, but they came to be part of collections:

  • The Law (Pentateuch) - by 400 B. C.
  • The Prophets - by 200 B. C.
    • Joshua, Judges, I and 2 Samuel, I and 2 Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and minor prophets)
  • The Writings - by 130 B. C.
    • Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations. Ecclesiastes, Esther. Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, I and 2 Chronicles

It was not until the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in A. D. 70 that the Old Testament was put together in its current form.

So how do we know that the books of the Old Testament should be in the Old Testament?

By the time of Christ, the canon of the Old Testament was firm and fixed. Jesus and the apostles quoted regularly from “Scripture.” Two examples:

Luke 24:44 (NASB95)

44 Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

The three divisions of scripture Jesus mentions line up exactly with the Jewish division of the Old Testament: Law of Moses, Prophets, and Psalms.

Luke 11:49–51 (NASB95)

49 “For this reason also the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and some they will persecute, 50 so that the blood of all the prophets, shed since the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the house of God; yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation.’

Here Jesus indirectly refers to the totality of the Old Testament as it was arranged by the Jews – from Abel (Genesis) to the death of Zechariah (II Chronicles 24:20-21), which comes at the end of the Hebrew Bible.

So, what about the New Testament? How do we know we have the right books?

First of all, we know we can trust what Jesus Himself said and the people He sent out to bear His message. The people of the first century were in an excellent position to judge the authenticity of the writings as they were copied and spread between churches and individual Christians.

The early churches were unanimous in accepting the 27 books of the New Testament as divinely inspired. We can also see that these books harmonize with each other, with the Old Testament, and with recorded secular history.

So, what about the Apocryphal books or Deuterocanonical books? These are currently included in Catholic Bibles.

These books were almost all written before the New Testament, but Jews of that time never considered them to be canonical. Jesus and his disciples also never quoted from them or referenced them, even though the rest of the Old Testament was quoted heavily.

These books also disagree with each other, recorded history, and the rest of the Old Testament. For example, in the book of Judith, Nebuchadnezzar is said to have ruled over the Assyrian empire from the city of Ninevah, when he was actually the King of Babylonia, ruling from Babylon.

It is for these reasons that these books are not included in the 66 books of the Bible.

The Septuagint

In the 3rd century B. C. 72 scholars (6 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel) were sent by the high priest in Jerusalem to Alexandria by request of King Ptolemy II Philadelphus. He wanted to include a copy of the Torah in Greek in his great library there. The scholars completed the translation in 72 days (according to tradition). Other Old Testament books were later translated, along with the 14 books of the Apocrypha. and the whole work became known as the Septuagint (p. 14).

The Septuagint was the Bible of the first apostles and was used by the early church. Because Christians adopted it as their own and used it in debates against Jews, the Jews tried to argue it was an imperfect translation.

  • This sort of backlash would happen repeatedly with new translations!

In the 2nd century A.D., the New Testament began to take shape. It was not until the middle of the 4th century A.D., that the canon of the NT was established.

Also, in the 2nd century A.D. an “Old Latin” translation of the Bible was made directly from the Greek by an unknown group. It came to be used as scripture by the Latin-speaking churches of North Africa, Italy, Spain, and Gaul.


Alongside this, the Catholic church began to take shape. Early Christians were very loosely organized as independent local churches as we read in the New Testament. But by the end of the second century, a more structured hierarchy developed with a central bishop having authority over the clergy in a city. The hierarchy started to mimic the structure of the Roman empire. The churches in some regions began to have more influence than others and by the 2nd and 3rd centuries, bishops were meeting in regional synods to resolve doctrinal issues. The bishop of Rome began to act as a court of appeals for problems that other bishops could not resolve.

  • Note that we see nothing in the New Testament authorizing any of this. There is no clergy/laity distinction. Under the New Covenant, all Christians are priests. Jesus serves as our high priest.

Revelation 1:4–6 (NASB95)

4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood— 6 and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Hebrews 7:23–28 (NASB95)

23 The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, 24 but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. 25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. 26 For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. 28 For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.

  • There is no authority for bishops (elders) to have any oversight of anything beyond the local church they are part of. Once you start going the wrong direction here, it’s hard to find a place to stop!
  • We discuss the organization of the local church here with some regularity. You might be tempted to think that this is a side issue or a more technical thing that doesn’t really matter, but we will see in this class just how important this fundamental issue is and how badly things can go wrong when we don’t stick to the pattern God set forth in the New Testament.
  • Passages like 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9 give the qualifications of elders and deacons.
  • Elders and deacons are always mentioned in the context of a single local church. No higher levels of organization are laid out in the New Testament.
  • A complete study on elders and deacons is well beyond the scope of this class.
  • Paul warned Timothy that an apostasy was coming, which may in part refer to Catholicism and various traditions around celibate priests, forbidding certain types of foods, etc.:

1 Timothy 4:1–3 (NASB95)

1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, 3 men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.

Over time, various theological leaders such as Ignatius of Antioch, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, and Augustine of Hippo defined Catholic teaching.

  • The problem is, they were already going down the wrong track!

When Constantine became Emperor of Rome, he worried that disunity among Christians would displease God, so he took steps to eliminate some sects of Christianity. He also called ecumenical councils to determine binding interpretations of church doctrine.

  • After one such council (the Council of Nicea, AD 325), questions about the divinity of Christ caused a schism.
  • A new religion called Arianism began to flourish outside the Roman Empire (they believe Jesus is a created being that is subservient to God but is also God).
  • Partially to distinguish themselves from Arians, Catholics’ devotion to Mary became more prominent.

In 380, Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, which caused Christians outside the Empire to be persecuted. Other countries feared that Christians would revolt in favor of the emperor.

  • This is a surprising reason why it is good for a government to not endorse a particular religion. It can actually backfire for those of that religion!)

The church now had legal authority for capital punishment, resulting in the first use of capital punishment on a heretic in 385.

Back to the Latin translation…

By the middle of the 4th century, several variants were circulating. The Church authority saw this as corruption of the text and thus intolerable.

In 382 A. D., Pope Damasus invited Eusebius Hieronymus (later known as St. Jerome) to revise it. Jerome was a good choice as he was an outstanding biblical scholar and knew both Hebrew and Chaldee.

At first, he made edits to the gospels and Psalms. followed by several other books. In 391, he decided to abandon this and translated directly from the original languages. In 405, he came out with a Latin translation of the full Bible. The translation was not immediately accepted by the church. Some said it was “tainted with Judaism” while others adhered to the older Greek and Latin versions due to their “halo of sanctity.” This exasperated Jerome and even at his death in 420, it was still not fully accepted. (p. 15)

  • This issue of people refusing to accept a translation because it sounded like it supported a particular group will be a common theme in this series of lessons.
  • We will also see that it is very common for people to not accept a new translation just because it sounds different than what they are used to.

By the early 7th century, it was in general use by churches throughout the west.

So, with all of that foundation laid, we now look at what was happening in Britain.

Christianity in Britain

According to tradition, Christian missionaries first arrived in Britain not long after the Crucifixion. They settled as hermits at Glastonbury in Somersetshire, where they built a church of wattles (fence posts and twigs), dedicated to the Virgin Mary. For a while they lived in caves at the foot of Tor hill.

Tradition says were 12 in number and sent by Philip, coming in by way of Wales. Supposedly were led by Joseph of Arimathea. (Josephs’ story became more fantastical in Sir Thomas Mallory’s Morte D’ Arthur, in which he was the custodian of the Holy Grail (the chalice Christ drank from at the Last Supper and which was used to catch and preserve the blood flowing from Christ’s wounds).)

The church at Glastonbury was even older than the one at Rome, which gave some challenge to Roman claims. Christians were initially all through the British Isles until Germanic invaders pushed them west so only Ireland and Wales were primarily Christian (400s-500s AD).

In the spring of 597, Augustine of Canterbury landed on the Isle of Thanet with forty monks on a mission from Pope Gregory the Great. King Ethelbert of Kent received him and promised not to interfere. Thousands were reportedly baptized by Augustine himself on Christmas Day. Then a second wave of missionaries arrived. In 602, Augustine founded Christ Church, Canterbury as his episcopal see.

  • Now we see the errors of Catholicism spreading abroad.

Augustine learned of the other Christians on the island and met with them in the interests of “Catholic unity,” which went bad quickly. Their worship practices did not line up, and apparently even worse, the two church calendars did not line up. The British wouldn’t budge, but Augustine saw himself as their spiritual overlord and insisted they conform with Latin norms. This devolved into threats from the Catholics. The two church missions were joined by the Synod of Whitby in 664, incorporating Britain into the Holy Roman Catholic Church. A succession of popes then increasingly centralized HRCC authority and setup the complex hierarchical structure it has now, finally resulting in the papal monarchy as stated by Pope Gregory VI in the 11th century (see p. 23). Pope Innocent II adopted the title “Vicar of Christ.” and made himself the arbiter of the affairs of Europe. The HRCC represented order and stability during a time when there was chaos and lawlessness in the feudal system. But the HRCC began to decay from within and by the middle of the 14th century, papal authority had declined (p.24).

  • Overly large organizations always tend to crumble and decay from within. We see the same thing with large corporations.

The birth of religious inquiry and spiritual freedom can be traced back to John Wycliffe.

Now we must introduce a man named John Wycliffe:

  • Born of a squire in Yorkshire about 1328
  • Sponsored the first complete translation of the Bible into English.
  • Wanted to evangelize the common folk: “The preaching of the Word is an act more solemn than the making of the sacrament.”
  • Was admitted to Merton College, Oxford in September 1345. College life was very spartan, with meals just bread, beer, soup thickened with oatmeal, and one serving of meat a day (p. 25). The library was under St. Mary’s church in a large chest. Books were scarce and expensive.
  • Oxford started attracting a lot of people who would later become big names, including Roger Bacon and William of Ockham.
  • Wycliffe stayed at Oxford as a student and teacher for 35 years, acquiring degrees in 3 different colleges (Merton, Balliol, and Queens).
  • He survived the Black Death in 1349.

For further study, see also:

Questions or comments? Join our Discord server for further study.

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© 2024, Mark Watson

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