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First Peter
Chapter 1
verses 23-25
1 Peter 1
Verses 23-25


Christians are purified. They are forgiven. Their sins are remitted. They
have been redeemed with the blood of the Lamb of God. Yet, this
purification is obtained by obedience to the truth.

What is truth? The truth is the gospel – it is the gospel of truth. It is based
upon the founda-tion Peter revealed in his confession: Jesus is the Christ,
the Son of God (Matthew 16:16-18). It is represented in the death, burial and
resurrection, since it is in these Jesus was presented as the Son of God with
power (Romans 1:4; 1 Corinthians 15:1-7).

It is in obedience to this truth – in the likeness of the death, burial and
resurrection of Jesus – in baptism (immersion), preceded by faith,
repentance and a confession of faith (John 3:13-21; 5:19-47; 6:41-71; 14:1-
11; 20:30,31; Mark 16:15,16;Acts 2:14-41; 3:12-26; 4:8-12; 10:34-43; 16:
30,31; 17:22-31;Romans 1:16,17; 10:10-13; 10:14-17; 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:
16; 15:1-28;Galatians 3:26; Ephesians 2:1-22; Hebrews 11:6; Luke 13:3,5;
Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30,31; 2 Peter 3:9; Matthew 16:16-20; Acts 8:37; Romans
10:10; Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15,16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; Romans 6:1-
8;Galatians 3:27; 1 Peter 3:21,22; Matthew 28:18-20; John 5:24-30; 8:31,32;
14:15; 15:14; Romans 1:5;16:25-27; 2 Corinthians 5:1-11; Galatians 5:19-26;
Colossians 1:19-23;Hebrews 2:1-4:13; 10:19-39; 12:18-29; James 1:20-27; 2:
14-26;2 Peter 3:1-18; 1 John 1:1-10; 4:29-5:5).

Jesus is the author of eternal salvation to all those who obey him (Hebrews
5:9). The grace of God calls Christians to obedience. It was for the
obedience of nations that the apostles preached (Romans  1:5; 16:25-27).
This obedience was not only in the act of baptism, but to all that Jesus
taught (Matthew 26:18-20). Everything included in the New Testament was
directed by the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 15:26,27; 16:7-16).

This includes the words of Jesus, “A new commandment I give unto you,
that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
By this shall al l men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to
another” (John 13:34,35).

“Now the end of the commandment is charity (love) out of a pure heart, and
of a good con-science, and of faith unfeigned: from which some having
swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; desiring to be teachers of the
law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm” (1
Timothy 1:5-8).

Love is to be unfeigned, unfaked and unpretended. From a pure heart and
mind Christians love one another.

Love is a decision of the mind to seek the others good. Love id defined in 1
Corinthians 13:1-7.

Christians love their brethren, not merely in word, but also in deed (1 John
3:14-24; 4:7-21).

They are regenerated, or born again, not by the corruptible things of this
world – but by the incorruptible things which come from heaven. They are
born again through the word of God – the gospel – the New Testament –
which lives and abides for ever.

The word of God is forever. Grass will abound and whither. The flowers
bloom and shrivel. All the beauty of this world explodes, it blossoms and
fades. Life itself is but a brief vapor, which today is and tomorrow is gone
(James 4:13-15). But, the gospel which was preached by the apostles – that
same gospel which was preached in the first century – endures for-ever.
The promises, the rewards, the punishments, the commands, everything in
the gospel will last forever. God and Christ will never forget any of it.

“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away”
(Matthew 24:35).

No point in all of Christianity is more important than this: the gospel has not,
and will not change. Though hundreds of years have transpired, and
thousands of hand-written copies have been written, the gospel has been
preserved as originally given, in a way that no other document in the history
of the world has.

THE PROMISE OF PRESERVATION

"For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven" (Psalm 119:89). For ever
the word of the Lord shall endure. "For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory
of man as the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower thereof falls
away: but the word of the Lord endures for ever. And this is the word which
by the gospel is preach¬ed unto you" (1 Peter 1:24,25).

Jesus said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass
away" (Mat-thew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33). The word of God, the Holy
Bible, "liveth and abides for ever" (I Peter 1:23).

PROVIDENTIAL PRESERVATION

The preservation of God's word is providential, not miraculous. By
providential, it is meant God uses a natural process rather than a
supernatural process. Inspiration is a supernatural process; the process of
scribal transcription is a natural process. An example of providential
preservation is seen in the book of Esther. Every event which takes place
has the hand and guidance of God, yet the name of God is not mentioned in
the entire book. There is not a single supernatural even within the book.
Through natural processes God raises up Esther to be in a place to preserve
the nation of Israel. The end result is almost miraculous. It is this same type
of providential preservation which God has exercised on his word.

THE  EVIDENCE OF PRESERVATION

God cannot lie (Titus 1:2). He has promised to preserve his word, and history
chronicles the wonderful story of the care God has exercised in preserving
and perpetuating his holy book, the Bible.

The evidence for the preservation of the Bible is the most impressive of all
ancient docu-ments. There can really be no doubt to the honest inquirer of
the validity and authenticity of the Biblical record, in either the Old or the
New Testaments.

THE  PRESERVATION  OF THE  OLD TESTAMENT

Questions had been raised about the validity of the Old Testament text by
many in the 19th and 20th centuries, since the Hebrew manuscripts of the
Massoretes that we had dated from well into the Christian era, about 900 a.
d. How¬ever, these questions were raised by liberal scholars influenced by
the Rationalistic (Liberal, Modernistic) school of Germany who denied the
inspiration of the scriptures. Those who were counted believers, never
doubted the validity of the Old Testament text; they believed the promise of
God.

There was reason to believe in God's promise. Great care had been taken by
the scribes in the transmission of the Hebrew text.

Samuel Davidson, in his book Hebrew Text of the Old Testament (Samuel
Bagster & Sons: London; 1859), relates the rules followed by the Talmudists
(100-500 a.d.): "A synagogue roll must be written on the skins of clean
animals, prepared for the particular use of the synagogue by a  Jew.  These
must be fastened together with strings taken from clean ani-mals. Every
skin must contain a certain number of columns, equal throughout the entire
codex. The length of each column must not extend over  less  than  48 or  
more  than  60  lines; and  the  breadth  must  consist  of  thirty letters. The
whole copy must be first-lined; and if three words be written without a line,
it is worthless. The ink should be black, neither red, green, nor any other
colour, and be prepared according to a definite recipe. An authentic copy
must be the exemplar, from which the transcriber ought not in the least
deviate. No word or letter, not even a yod, must be writ-ten from memory,
the scribe not having looked at the codex before him... Be-tween every
consonant the space of a hair or thread must intervene; between every para-
graph, or section, the breadth of nine consonants; between every book,
three lines.

The fifth book of Moses must terminate exactly with a   line; but the rest
need not  do so. Besides  this, the  copyist  must  sit   in  full  Jewish dress,
wash his whole body, not begin to write the name of God with a pen newly
dipped in ink, and should a king address him while writing  that name he
must take no notice of him."

This insured that copies were exact copies of the manuscript being copied.
It is even because of their extreme care that the manuscripts we have come
from such a late date. Sir Frederic Kenyon, in his book Our Bible and the
Ancient Manuscripts, explains:

The  same  extreme  care which  was   devoted  to the  transcription  of  
manuscripts   is also  at  the bottom  of  the   disappearance  of the  earlier
copies. When   a  manuscript had  been copied with  the  exactitude  
prescribed by the Talmud,   and  had been  duly veri-fied,   it  was  accepted  
as  authentic and  regarded  as  being  of  equal  value  with any other copy.
If all were equally correct, age gave no  advantage  to  a  manuscript;   on  
the  contrary,age  was   a  positive  disadvantage,   since  a manuscript  was
liable  to become  defaced  or damaged in  the  lapse  of time.   A  damaged
or imperfect copy  was  at  once  condemned  as unfit for  use.
Attached  to  each   synagogue  was  a  "Gheniza,"  or  lumber  cupboard,   
in  which defec-tive manuscripts  were  laid   aside;   and  from  these  
receptacles  some  of the oldest manuscripts now  extant  have   in   
modern   times  been   recovered.   Thus, far from re-garding  an  older copy  
of the  Scripture as   more  valuable,   the  Jewish  habit has been  to  
prefer  the  newer, as  being  the  most perfect and  free   from  damage.
The  old-est  copies, once  consigned to the  "Gheniza,"  naturally  perished,
either  from neglect  or  from  being   deliberately  burned when  the  
"Gheniza"   became  over¬crowded.

The  absence of very old copies of the  Hebrew  Bible  need  not,   
therefore,   either surprise or disquiet  us.   If,   to the  causes  already  
enumerated,   we  add the repeated persecu-tions (involving  much  
destruction of property)  to which the  Jews  have  been subject,  the
disappearance of  the  ancient  manuscripts   is   adequately   accounted for,
and  those  which   remain  may  be   accepted as  preserving  that  which   
alone they pro-fess to preserve  —  namely,   the  Massoretic  text. The   
same   type   of care was taken  by  the  Massoretes   (500-900    a.d.),  who    
prepared    the manuscripts from which    our text  is  taken.

Sir Frederic Kenyon says of the  Massoretes:

Besides recording  varieties  of  reading,   tradition,  or conjecture, the
Massoretes  under-took  a number of calculations  which  do  not  enter   
into the ordinary   sphere  of textu-al  criticism. They numbered the verses,  
words,  and  letters  of every book. They calculat-ed  the  middle word and
the middle  letter of each.   

They  enumerated verses which  contained  all  the letters  of  the  alphabet,
or  a  certain number  of them;   and  so on.   These trivialities,   as we  may  
rightly  consider  them, had yet  the effect of  securing  minute  attention to
the  precise transmission  of  the text;   and they are but  an excessive  
manifestation  of a   respect for the sacred Scriptures  which   in  itself  
deserves nothing but praise.   The Massoretes were indeed anx-ious  that
not  one  jot  nor  tittle, not one smallest letter  nor one  tiny  part of  a   
letter, of the Law should  pass away  or be lost.

The discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls verify that the text of the Old
Testament   transcribed by the  Massoretes   from the Talmudlsts is the
same text found in manuscripts a thousand years before. The Dead Sea
scrolls consist of approximately 40,000 fragments from which in excess of
500 books have been reconstructed.

The scrolls were discovered in 1947 by a Bedouin shepherd boy searching
for a lost goat. He threw a stone in a cave, heard something break, and
discovered pottery jars filled with leather scrolls. They had been placed in
this cave, west of the Dead Sea, about eight miles south of Jericho, around
68 a.d. The sealed jars had wonderfully preserved the manuscripts.
An example of the great care taken in the preservation of the Old Testament
is seen in the book of Isaiah. A complete scroll of Isaiah, dating from 125 b.c.
was found by the Dead Sea: 1,000 years older than any other manuscript of
the book. Geisler and Nix note:

Of the 166 words in Isaiah 53,  there  are  only seventeen  letters   in  
question.   Ten  of these  letters are simply  a  matter  of  spelling,   which  
does  not affect  the  sense. Four more letters are minor stylistic changes,
such as conjunctions.  The  remaining three let-ters  comprise  the  word
"light,"  which is  added in  verse   11,   and  does  not affect the meaning
greatly.   Furthermore, this word is supported by the LXX and   IQ Is. Thus,
in  one chapter  of  166  words,  there  is  only  one  word (three letters)   in
question after  a  thou-sand years of transmission  —  and  this  word does   
not significantly change the  mean-ing  of  the  passage. (A General  
Introduction to the Bible;   Moody Press: Chicago;   1968)

Another partial manuscript of Isaiah, agrees even more closely with the
Masoretic manu-scripts. After 1,000 years more than ninety-five percent of
the text of Isaiah was exact¬ly the same. Most of the variance were obvious
slips of the pen.

God, in his wondrous mercy and grace, has preserved to us the words of
Moses and the prophets.

THE PRESERVATION OF THE NEW TESTAMENT

The same individuals who questioned the validity and authenticity of the Old
Testament, have also doubted the New Testament; but, with even less
reason. Peter had specifically stated the gospel preached in the first century
would live and abide for ever (1 Peter 1:23,24).

The New Testament was accepted as the word of God from the time it was
first written. The early church "received it not as the word of men, but as it
is in truth, the word of God, which effectually works also in you that
believe" (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Paul commanded the church at Corinth: "If
any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that
the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord" (I
Corinthians 14:37). Peter referred to Paul's writing as "scripture," a term
reserved only for those writings accepted as inspired of God (2 Peter 3:
15,16). Therefore, the same care ex-ercised in copying and preserving the
Old Testament was to be expected, especially by those converted from
Judaism, in the copying and preserving of the New Testament.

The evidence for the preservation of the New Testament is overwhelming.
There are approx-imately 300 uncial manuscripts (that is, manuscripts
written in all capitals, or block letters) in the Greek, over 2700 minuscule
manuscripts (that is, manuscripts written in small letters in a cursive or
running hand) in the Greek, over 2100 lectionaries (that is, books
containing special readings of scripture selected for the churches on
particular days) in Greek, and ap-proach¬ing 100 papyri in Greek, for a total
of over 5300 Greek manuscripts. In addition to this, there are manuscripts of
early versions: over 10,000 Latin version manuscripts; over 2,000 Ethiopic
version manuscripts; over 4,000 Slavonic manuscripts; over seventy-five Ar-
abic manuscripts, as well as manuscripts in Anglo-Saxon, Gothic, Sogdian,
Persian and Frankish. This means there are over 24,000 manuscripts of the
New Testament bearing record to its validity and authenticity that date back
to within possibly twenty-five years of when the New Testament was written.
Compare that to only 643 manuscripts of Homer's Iliad separated from the
time it was written by a minimum of 500 years. Or, compare it with the ten
copies of Caesar's Gaulic Wars separated from his time by a minimum of
1,000 years.

Add to the manuscript evidence the fact that there exist over 86,000
quotations of the New Testament by early writers from which all but eleven
verses can be reproduced; and, there remains no doubt whatsoever of the
validity and integrity of the New Testament. In fact, to deny the validity and
integrity of the New Testament, one would have to deny all that we know of
ancient history and the writings of Plato, Tacitus, Thucydides, Suetonius,
Herodotus, Sophocles, Euripedes and Aristotle.

It is true that there are variations in the existing manuscripts of the New
Testament. In fact, they number over 200,000. However, these 200,000
variants represent only 10,000 places since every time a variant occurs (let
us say a word is misspelled 4,000 times) it is consid-ered a different variant
(thus, 4,000 variants). It is also important to realize that most of these
variations occur in less than 15% of the manuscripts. Over 85% of the
manuscripts are in virtual agreement with one another in all particulars.
The variations themselves, for the most part, are accidental in nature. They
are due to: 1) a difference in Greek orthogra-phy (spelling); 2) different
forms of words (not affecting their meaning), 3) insertion or omission of
words, 4) use of synonyms, and 5) transportation of words. Of these five, the
insertion and omission of words is the most notable in an English translation
(although or-thography, synonyms, and transposition of words can and do
affect an English translation).