Friday, July 04, 2014

Are Accurate Copies and Translations of Scripture-Such as the KJV-Inspired? A Study of 2 Timothy 3:16, part 2

This is part 2 of this study; note part 1, which was posted last Friday.
1.) Accurate copies of the Greek and Hebrew words are inspired, since inspiration, in 2 Timothy 3:16, refers to a product.  Paul instructs Timothy that the product of the written Scripture itself is both “inspired/God-breathed” and “profitable.”  Neither “God-breathed” nor “profitable,” in 2 Timothy 3:16, refer to the process of the giving of the autographs.  Both adjectives describe the noun “Scripture” and attribute a quality to it.[v]
2.) Anything that we can properly call “God’s Word” is inspired, because, by definition, if God breathes out some words, He has inspired those words. “All Scripture is inspired,” 2 Timothy 3:16.  The verse equates what is “Scripture” with what is “inspired.”  The two categories are identical—if something is “Scripture,” then it is “inspired.”[vi]  Had the verse referred to the process of revealing Scripture it would have stated, “All Scripture was given by inspiration of God.” Since 2 Timothy 3:16 refers to the product of that process, inspired words, it states, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.”  The breath of God is an inherent quality of all that is Scripture, all that is the Word of God.
3.) Scripture shows us that accurately translated words are still Scripture. 1 Timothy 5:18, for example, refers to both the untranslated gospel of Luke (10:7) and the translated book of Deuteronomy (25:4) as “Scripture.”  Indeed, 1 Timothy 5:18 is the only other reference to Scripture (graphe) in Paul’s epistles to Timothy, so it is natural for one to consider 2 Timothy 3:16 in light of this previous reference.  The same Paul who tells Timothy that everything that is Scripture is inspired calls both the untranslated and accurately translated Word of God Scripture.
4.) Therefore, accurate translations are Scripture.
5.) Since accurate translations are Scripture, they are inspired, since all Scripture is inspired.  All Scripture has the breath of God upon it.
Therefore, since the Authorized Version is an accurate translation of the perfectly preserved Hebrew and Greek Words dictated by the Holy Ghost, it is Scripture, and it is inspired.
To avoid this conclusion one would need to say that the King James Bible is the uninspired Word of God, and it cannot produce faith (Romans 10:17), it is not quick, powerful, sharp, and so on, and believers are not to live by it (Matthew 4:4).[vii]
Furthermore, Timothy was commanded in 2 Timothy 4:2 to preach the inspired Scripture of 2 Timothy 3:16.[viii]  Since the originals were not available to him, but the copies or translations he was to preach—and certainly he would have preached the Old Testament in Greek translation to the church at Ephesus—were still God-breathed, inspiration must refer to the product revealed by God, the canonical words of Scripture, and thus accurate copies and translations of the autographs are inspired.

[v]           Compare the connection between the adjectives qeo/pneustoß and wÓfe÷limoß made by Clement of Alexandria, ta«ß grafa«ß  o˚ ∆Apo/stoloß qeopneu/stouß kalei√, w˙feli/mouß ou¡saß.  Similarly, Origen, pavsa grafh\ qeo/pneustoß ou™sa w˙vfelimo/ß e˙sti. (citations from pg. 208, The Revision Revised, John Burgon. Elec. acc. Fundamental Baptist CD-ROM Library. London, Ontario: Bethel Baptist Church, 2009.).  Many other patristic texts evidence the use of qeo/pneustoß as a quality of Scripture.  For example, Eusebius refers to the Hebrew copies employed by the LXX translators as “inspired (qeo/pneustoß) Scriptures” (Church History V:8:10), employing Theopneustos as a quality of the written Word that remained upon apographs, rather than making a reference to the one-time process of the giving of the autographs—the copies actually in the hands of the translators, Eusebius affirmed, were qeo/pneustoß.
[vi]          Thus, the equative relation pasa graphe Theopneustos establishes that all that is graphe is alsoTheopneustos.  The reader who does not know Greek should note that the KJV is, although italicized, is clearly the correct verbal form in the Greek equative clause.  The word was simply cannot be properly supplied.  The related adjective-noun-adjective equative verb constructions in the pastoral epistles support this affirmation.  Note that a present tense form of to be must in each case be supplied:  1 Timothy 1:15, This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, pisto\ß oJ lo/goß kai« pa¿shß aÓpodochvß a‡xioß; 1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, ei–ß ga»r Qeo/ß, ei–ß kai« mesi÷thß Qeouv kai« aÓnqrw¿pwn;1Timothy 4:4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, o¢ti pa◊n kti÷sma Qeouv kalo/n, kai« oujde«n aÓpo/blhton; 1 Timothy 4:9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, pisto\ß oJ lo/goß kai« pa¿shß aÓpodochvß a‡xioß; Titus 1:12 The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies, Krhvteß aÓei« yeuvstai, kaka» qhri÷a, gaste÷reß aÓrgai÷.
[vii]         Compare the following instances of graphe [Scripture] + modifying adjective in the NT:
Romans 1:2 (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,); (o§ proephggei÷lato dia» tw◊n profhtw◊n aujtouv e˙n grafai√ß aJgi÷aiß);
Both accurate copies and accurate translations can be called “holy scriptures,” or else believers had better scratch out “holy” from the phrase “Holy Bible” in the copies they carry with them.
Rom. 16:26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: (fanerwqe÷ntoß de« nuvn, dia» te grafw◊n profhtikw◊n, kat∆ e˙pitagh\n touv ai˙wni÷ou Qeouv, ei˙ß uJpakoh\n pi÷stewß ei˙ß pa¿nta ta» e¶qnh gnwrisqe÷ntoß)
Notice that the “Scriptures of the prophets/prophetic Scriptures” are used to give the gospel to all nations—so, since all nations certainly do not have the original copies, nor do they know Hebrew and Greek, accurately translated Scripture is still “prophetic Scripture.”
2 Peter 3:16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. (wJß kai« e˙n pa¿saiß tai√ß e˙pistolai√ß, lalw◊n e˙n aujtai√ß peri« tou/twn: e˙n oi–ß e¶sti dusno/hta¿ tina, a± oi˚ aÓmaqei√ß kai« aÓsth/riktoi streblouvsin, wJß kai« ta»ß loipa»ß grafa¿ß, pro\ß th\n i˙di÷an aujtw◊n aÓpw¿leian.)
False teachers do not have the original manuscripts, but they twist both copies and the translated Word to their own destruction.
Consider the related language in Hebrews 4:12:
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. (zw◊n ga»r oJ lo/goß touv Qeouv, kai« e˙nergh/ß, kai« tomw¿teroß uJpe«r pa◊san ma¿cairan di÷stomon, kai« diiœknou/menoß a‡cri merismouv yuchvß te kai« pneu/matoß, aJrmw◊n te kai« muelw◊n, kai« kritiko\ß e˙nqumh/sewn kai« e˙nnoiw◊n kardi÷aß.)
Both accurate copies and accurately translated Bible is “the Word of God.” Here, then, accurate copies and translations of Scripture have the adjectives “living,” “powerful,” “sharper,” “piercing” (adjectival participle), and “discerner” applied to them.
In another related text, James 1:21 speaks of the “engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (to\n e¶mfuton lo/gon, to\n duna¿menon sw◊sai ta»ß yuca»ß uJmw◊n), where “engrafted” is an adjective and “which is able to save” is an adjectival participle.  Certainly people can be saved from hearing accurate copies and accurate translations of the original manuscripts, or nobody who is alive today would be truly regenerate—nor would Timothy himself have been saved (2 Timothy 3:15).  (While it is cannot be proven without any doubt, it is very likely that Timothy’s mother and grandmother taught him the Scriptures in what was almost surely his first language, Greek, so the “scriptures” he knew from his infancy were not even original language copies, but the Word translated;  cf. 2 Timothy 1:5;  Acts 16:1-32 Timothy 3:15.)
Consider, then, 2 Timothy 3:16:
All scripture is . . . profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (pa◊sa grafh\ . . . wÓfe÷limoß pro\ß didaskali÷an, pro\ß e¶legcon, pro\ß e˙pano/rqwsin, pro\ß paidei÷an th\n e˙n dikaiosu/nhØ)
Certainly the description here pertains to accurate copies and translations of the Word.  Both are unquestionably profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction.  If copied and translated Scripture are not “profitable,” believers today are in real trouble!
So, copied and translated Scripture has the adjectives “holy,” “prophetic,” “able to save,” “living,” “powerful,” “profitable,” etc. properly applied to it.
Consider then 2 Timothy 3:16a:
All scripture is given by inspiration of God (pa◊sa grafh\ qeo/pneustoß)
Accurate copies and translations properly have the adjective Theopnesustos, “God-breathed,” applied to them as well as all the other adjectives listed—including the adjective “profitable” later on in 2 Timothy 3:16.
[viii]         Note the anaphoric article in ton logon in 4:2, referring back to the graphe of 3:16.


Thomas Ross said...

By the way, note that I will make a distinction between how original language copies are inspired and accurate translations are inspired in a different, derived way in part 3. Please keep this fact in mind when making comments on this part. Thanks.

Jim Camp said...

In a somewhat similar vein, I've always appreciated what another man once told me concerning the translation of Scripture. I don't even remember who told me this, but he said roughly that "the great commission contains an obvious injunction to translate the Scriptures"
With the gospel, & thus the Bible, going into every nation, there was never a command to "teach all nations Hebrew"; but teach all nations we must - Therefore, translation.

Good article, thanks
Jim Camp

KJB1611 said...

Dear Jim,


I believe that it is unfortunate that the Dean Burgon Society is unwilling to call translations "inspired" in any sense. It appears to be an over-reaction to Ruckmanism that cannot be justified with exegesis. While I would far, far rather take the DBS position than a Ruckmanite one, just going with what the passages actually affirm is certainly the best thing.

Jon Gleason said...

Certainly the Great Commission implies the translation of Scripture. Perhaps an even more direct implication is in Romans 16:26, which tells us that according to the commandment of God, the Gospel is made known to all nations >by the Scriptures of the prophets<. That, to me, necessarily means God commands translation. The Gospel, by Scripture, to all nations. Impossible without translation.

The whole topic of the relation of translation to inspiration is one that is very important, and another where Warfield went wandering, with the result of undermining the confidence of believers in their Bible in hand.

If we believe that the end of II Timothy 3 sets the context for the beginning of chapter 4, then when Paul said that all Scripture is God-inspired, he was referring to the Scriptures which Timothy was to preach. In Ephesus, that would have meant Greek Old Testament Scriptures, not Hebrew ones. Timothy was to preach the Word because it is inspired and profitable -- the parts that were original language (any of the Greek NT that they had at Ephesus) and the parts that were translated (Greek translation of the Old Testament).

There's a lot more to be said, of course.

KJB1611 said...

While I have read a number of volumes by Warfield and two books by Zaspel on Warfield, I would certainly not claim to be a Warfield expert. At the same time, I believe that sometimes ideas are attributed to him that he did not actually believe. Warfield did accept lower criticism and the critical/eclectic/Westcott-Hort text--which is bad, very bad.

However, I would be interested in seeeing a quote by him denying that inspiration can in any sense be ascribed to translations or copies. He was certainly well aware that Theopneustos was a predicate adjective in 2 Tim 3:16. I wrote the following, for example, in connection with some material he had in chapter 7 of his book Revelation and Inspiration:

Compare also the uses (which are loose but relevent for comparison) of Theopneustos as product in the Sibylline Oracles 5:308, “God-breathed streams” (na¿masin toi√ß qeopneu/stoiß) Pseudo-Phocylides 129, “God-breathed wisdom” (qeopneu/stou sofi÷hß) and Testament of Abraham (Recension A) 20:11, “God-breathed ointments and perfumes” (muri÷smasi qeopneu/stoiß kai« aÓrw¿masin). In each of these instances a divine quality is ascribed to the noun modified by Theopneustos. The God-breathed ointments and perfumes” of the Testament of Abraham is parallel to the “God-woven linen cloth” (sindo/ni qeou¨fantwˆ◊) mentioned immediately previously. (Of course, a simply linguistic point is being made here, namely, that Theopneustos is a designation for a product—by no means must the verbal, plenary giving of each word of the Scriptures by God be reduced to the level of allegedly divine quality unknown Koiné writers ascribe to perfume or ointment.) Note the detailed and careful discussion of these texts (and others, such as Nonnus’ “theopneustic sandal,” a Bostran inscription speaking of an arjciereu\ß qeopneu/stoß, etc.) by Warfield in Revelation and Inspiration chapter 7.

To get non-Garbled Greek, see the PDF here:

Jon Gleason said...

Warfield and Hodge (

"We do not assert that the common text, but only that the original autographic text, was inspired."

In "God-Inspired Scripture" he wrote of theopneustos, "From all points of approach alike we appear to be conducted to the conclusion that it is primarily expressive of the origination of Scripture, not of its nature and much less of its effects." Thus, since only the autographs were the origination of the Scriptures, only the autographs were theopneustos.

In his ISBE article on inspiration, "Inspiration is, therefore, usually defined as a supernatural influence exerted on the sacred writers by the Spirit of God, by virtue of which their writings are given Divine trustworthiness." In other words, he's turned inspiration into an act, rather than a quality of Scripture. As such, then, it can only apply to the autographs.

Again, same source. "The term “inspiration” is too firmly fixed, in both theological and popular usage, as the technical designation of the action of God in giving the Scriptures, to be replaced; and we may be thankful that its native implications lie as close as they do to the Biblical conceptions."

Action, not quality, which can only refer to the autographs. And again (same article):
"What gives it its place among the modes of revelation is, however, specifically the culminating one of these Divine operations, which we call “inspiration”; that is to say, the action of the Spirit of God in so “bearing” its human authors in their work of producing Scripture, as that in these Scriptures they speak, not out of themselves, but “from God.”"

Again, action. And because the action of giving the Scriptures was only applied to the autographs, he said, "Only the autographic text, not the common text."

He wasn't consistent. He did talk about it as the nature of the Scriptures, sometimes, too. But as far as I have found, he was the first to define theopneustos as the action. The Westminster Confession and many others called the action "immediate inspiration", but used "inspiration" alone, theopneustos, as the nature / quality of the Scriptures, not the act. Thus, it could equally apply to an accurate copy. Warfield could not apply it to an accurate copy, because accurate copies didn't have that action of the Holy Spirit to produce them.

Thus, Warfield was the father of the "only the original autographs are inspired" error. Perhaps others took it farther than he did, but he (and A.A. Hodge) were the ones who started that ball rolling, by turning it into the action of giving the Scriptures, rather than the nature of the words of Scripture.

KJB1611 said...

Thanks for the quotes.