|How Much Change
… (c) Holy Scripture is too unique and precious to admit of the study of the
several words of it being interesting rather than important; (d) many of the
passages which Modern Criticism would erase or suspect – such as the last
twelve verses of Mark, the first Word from the Cross, and the thrilling
description of the depth of the Agony, besides numerous others – are valuable
in the extreme; and, (e) generally speaking, it is impossible to pronounce,
especially amidst the thought and life seething everywhere round us, what
part of Holy Scripture is not, or may not prove to be, of the highest importance
as well as interest. [Edward Miller; THE TRADITIONAL TEXT OF THE HOLY
GOSPELS VINDICATED AND ESTABLISHED]
It has been the position of several individuals that the discussion over the
text of the New Testament is “much to do about nothing.” The over 8,000
changes that have been made in the text since the publication of the first
Greek text by Erasmus (not concerning typographical errors) has been
seen as not important.
Does it make a difference if someone adds or subtracts words, phrases,
verses or whole passages in the text of the New Testament?
Deuteronomy 4:2 KJV 2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command
you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the
commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
Deuteronomy 12:32 KJV 32 What thing soever I command you, observe to
do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.
Proverbs 30:5-6 KJV 5 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them
that put their trust in him. 6 Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove
thee, and thou be found a liar.
Revelation 22:18-19 KJV 18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the
words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things,
God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19 And if
any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God
shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and
from the things which are written in this book
One instance comes to mind immediately: Does Mark 16:9-20 belong in the
New Testament? Is this passage inspired? Was it written by Mark? Are the
things which are taught by this passage precious and important? Yet, this
passage is questioned or removed by most Greek texts in the last 150
This is a true story.
One time a preacher was making his point on Mark 16:16 – He that
believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be
damned. He forcefully cried out to the audience on hand, “If you don’t
believe me, I’ll come and show it to you in your own Bible!”
“It’s not in my Bible!” cried a woman in the back.
Immediately the preacher strode to the back, took the Bible from the lady’s
hand, turned to the sixteenth chapter of Mark, and, lo and behold, the
passage was not there! She had taken a pair of scissors and cut it out!
When I was a boy, I remember hearing this illustration used in a sermon to
show the disrespect which some people had for the Bible, and how they
removed certain unwanted passages from the Scriptures in one way or
What the woman did in this story is unconscionable. But, pray tell, what is
the difference between a woman taking a pair of scissors and cutting
passages she does not like out of her personal Bible, and an editor taking
an exacto knife and slicing the same verses out of a Bible he is preparing
for publication? Is it not of far greater import when the editor does it;
because the Bible he so mutilates will not only be for his own private
reading and study, but is prepared to be used by thousands, or even
The same principles that are used to make the majority of changes in the
New Testament are the same principles that are used to cast doubt upon
and remove these verses from the Gospel of Mark. It is inconsistent to
oppose the removal of Mark 16:9-20 upon these principles, but to accept
the changes elsewhere.
Proverbs 26:7 KJV 7 The legs of the lame are not equal: so is a parable in
the mouth of fools.
2 Corinthians 2:17 KJV 17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word
of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in
Corrupting the word of God is condemned by Paul. He speaks of the
watering down of drinks so prevalent in the inns of his day (and the bars of
our own); he insinuates that certain people had done the same thing with
the word of God. Look at the accumulative effect of the omissions that are
exercised by those using an eclectic text. Does their work “water down”
and corrupt the word of God?
2 Corinthians 4:1-2 KJV 1 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we
have received mercy, we faint not; 2 But have renounced the hidden
things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of
God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to
every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
Certain people in the New Testament had not been honest with their
hearers in how they conducted themselves, nor in how they utilized the
word of God. Paul declares he was not of this number, but had in sincerity
and truth both conducted himself and handled the word of God in their
presence and at all times. There was a reverence for the word of God that
was characteristic of Paul, and should be characteristic of every child of
God. Can the work of those who make over 8,000 changes to the Greek
New Testament, utilizing principles that are questionable, said to be
handling the word of God with the proper reverence?
Luke 4:4 KJV 4 And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall
not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
Every word of God is important. If some of those words are removed, is it
Hebrews 4:12 KJV 12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and
sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder
of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the
thoughts and intents of the heart.
There is a power in the words of the Holy Spirit. When some of those words
are omitted or removed, does it weaken that power?
Romans 10:17 KJV 17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the
word of God.
Faith is instilled by hearing the word of God. If the word which is heard is
changed, will it change the faith?
How much of the New Testament can be changed and it still be acceptable?
How do you reverence the word of God?