In the wonderful third epistle of John we see the testimony of four individuals’; the apostle John, Gaius, Diotrephes, and Demetrius. Three had a good testimony, one that bore witness to the truth, the truth about Jesus Christ found in the Holy Bible, the other had an evil testimony because he rejected the truth and refused to receive those who bore witness to the truth, the beloved apostles and saints of God. Beloved we have much the same going on today with the church. Let us read this beloved epistle and then apply it to the testimony of the church that exists today.
(1) The elder unto the well-beloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth. (2) Beloved, I wish above all things that thou may prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospers. (3) For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walk in the truth. (4) I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. (5) Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; (6) Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well: (7) Because that for his name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles. (8) We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellow helpers to the truth. (9) I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, receives us not. (10) Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbids them that would, and casts them out of the church. (11) Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God. (12) Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true. (13) I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee: (14) But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name. 3John 1:1-14
First I wanted to comment about John’s love for his friend Gaius, John wanted Gaius to be blessed in body, soul and life. This friend of John’s was dear to his heart because he had led him to Christ and Gaius had the wonderful testimony of being faithful to the truth and loving the saints. Since Gaius was quick to help believers in their service to the Lord Jesus Christ, John wanted Gaius to be wise about good and evil. He wanted Gaius to make a distinction between those who were of God and those who were not. John made it clear that this distinction could be made on the evidence of godly and ungodly behavior. John wanted Gaius to support the faithful and avoid the faithless.
May dear brethren, we as believers can have such generous and innocent hearts that we don’t realize we must be careful to distinguish between those who have a testimony that is faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ and those who do not. How do we tell the difference? There is one eternal and comprehensive dividing line, and that is the written Word of God. Notice that John warns Gaius that Diotrephes refused to receive the apostles and spoke with malignant lying words against them. My beloved brethren, today in the church this same hateful reception is being given to the apostles through the rejection of the Word of God handed down to us through the Received Text. The Received Text is directly descended from the original writings of the apostles and the prophets; if the Word of God is rejected, then so too are His servants, the apostles and the prophets.
The promoters of the modern versions, are just like Diotrephes, they love to have the preeminence and malign God’s Holy preserved, infallible, inerrant, inspired Word given to His saints. The uncertainty they deposit in the hearts and minds of Christians regarding the Word of God is used by them to promote the sale of more and better versions with greater and improved helps so the student of the “Word of God” can know it just a little bit better (but never with complete certainty). One new version that has recently come out is the NIV Zondervan Study Bible with the august D. A. Carson as the general editor of this “new modern version”. This is the same D. A. Carson who has written against the Received Text in favor of the modern versions and believes and has stated that we cannot know the exact words that Jesus Christ spoke, we can only know the sense of those words. Beloved, are those the words of faith or of unbelief? The following is the quote of what he said:
Yet Carson has come to the position that form criticism of the Gospels is an authentic endeavor and that in the Gospels we do not have the actual words of Jesus but only a semblance of what Jesus said. “But their failure to preserve the ipsissima verba Jesu (the authentic WORDS of Jesus) does not mean that they have tampered with the ipsisima vox Jesu (the authentic VOICE of Jesus)” (D.A.Carson, Douglas Moo, Leon Morris, An Introduction to the New Testament, 1992, p. 44). David Cloud, Faith vs. The Modern Bible Versions p. 373 (pdf).
Here is a man, much like Diotrephes, who has abandoned the truth, letting his mind be deceived by textual criticism which has corrupted many with unbelief leading them into despicable apostasy. My beloved brethren, we are commanded by God to mark and avoid those who teach doctrine contrary to the doctrine we have been taught from God’s precious Word. Over and over throughout the New Testament we are warned to avoid heretics and doctrines of demons. Asserting that we cannot know the exact Words of Jesus Christ is a doctrine straight from the pit of hell. Many, I am afraid, are deceived by the great PR that is used to polish and promote these deceivers so they can become wealthy and gain renown at our expense and loss.
(17) Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. (18) For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. (19) For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil. Romans 16:17-19
Praise God He has always had His servants who have a good testimony with regards to the truth and godly behavior. Like Demetrius, who was well spoken of by those who knew the Lord and those who did not, but most importantly, who was given a good report by the truth itself, there are men today who have done diligent study in support of the faithful text that was handed down to us by the church as the beloved gospels and epistles were copied over and over again, so we can be sure we have the inspired, inerrant, infallible, preserved Word of God for us today in the Received Text, and that the King James Version is a good English translation of that Greek Text. Here is the testimony of one such faithful worker that will encourage your hearts about our precious Bible given to us by our gracious God and King, Jesus Christ.
What I want to share with you comes from the heart and mind of Wilbur N. Pickering based upon his diligent research, in his book, The Identity of the New Testament Text. This portion of his book was such a blessing to my heart and faith, and I hope that it will be likewise to yours. As John’s heart was for his friend Gaius that he would prosper in all things, so is my heart for you, that the Lord Jesus Christ would firmly establish you in the faith in this day and age of wide spread evangelical apostasy. I will give you the gist of what he wrote along with pertinent quotes from the chapter “The History of the Text”.
Dr. Pickering makes the point in this chapter that the transmission, or handing down of the text of the New Testament could be considered to be a normal process. What does this mean? The copies would be prepared by able and intelligent people who had received copies from people they trusted. There could be copying mistakes, but no malicious effort to change the text. So the errors would be minor. The faithful, believers, would have recognized the authority of the apostles and would handle the text with care and reverence.
The original autographs would have been located within Asia Minor, Rome and Palestine, with Asia Minor and Greece holding the greatest number of texts, possibly around twenty-four. Mr. Pickering says, “On the face of it, we may reasonably assume that in the earliest period of the transmission of the N. T. text the most reliable copies of the Autographs would be circulating in the region that held the Autographs”. So that would be the Byzantine area, not the Alexandrian area.
Copies would be made right away; the early church fathers attested to the circulation of texts and letters between the different churches throughout the Graeco-Roman world. Since the early copies could be verified by the centers still possessing the Autographs, there would be a “wide dissemination of MSS in close agreement with the original text.” The early church fathers freely quoted from the N. T. text and attested that it was the Word of God. Clement of Rome quoted from both the N. T. and O. T. side by side and called them both the “holy word”. This bishop of Rome, in the first century, clearly quoted from Hebrews, 1 Corinthians, and Romans in a letter to the Corinthian church and recognized these books and other N.T. books referenced, as the Scripture. Dr. Pickering sites other church fathers who quoted the N. T. Scriptures.
Up to 90% of the existing MSS belong to the Majority text type, which is the Byzantine text. Dr. Pickering then reasons that this domination demonstrates the Byzantine text goes all the way back to the Autographs. The remaining texts, the 10%, do not represent one text form, but multiple forms, and they disagree among themselves as much as they diverge from the Majority text. This is the present situation with the modern Bible versions based upon the corrupt Alexandrian manuscripts which are replete with grievous errors. No wonder those who, like D. A. Carson, support Textual Criticism are unsure of the text of the New Testament and deny the very Words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to their own condemnation and destruction.
So my beloved brethren, we have the testimony of two sources of documents for the translation of the Bible into English. Like Demetrius, one is faithful and true, and leads to greater confidence and trust in our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. The other like Diotrephes, undermines the work of the apostles and spreads apostasy abroad destroying lives, making the world a ripe place for the rise of the Antichrist. Dear believers in Christ Jesus, please choose wisely for your edification and the glory of our beloved God and Savior. Hold fast the testimony of the faithful witness and despise and reject the infidel that leaves unbelief in its wake.
(14) Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go…. (25) Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning. (26) I have many things to say and to judge of you: but He that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of Him. (27) They understood not that He spoke to them of the Father. John 8:14 and John 8:25-27
Lord Jesus Christ thank You so much for ensuring that we have Your true Word for our edification and faith. Amen!