Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 19, 1956
NUMBER 36, PAGE 5,10b,11a

To A Professor In Greek

Jack Holt, Bellaire, Texas

Brother J. W. Roberts, professor of Greek, in "our school" out in Abilene has recently favored us with a series of articles in the Gospel Advocate on the cooperation question. By various and sundry appeals to the Greek text, "able commentators," and tradition he justifies the sponsoring church type of cooperation. As I read his articles I could not help but reflect upon how wonderful it must be to be a professor in Greek, and to also have a thorough knowledge of tradition. When you are thus equipped, you may be able to find things in God's word never discovered by the readers of our two leading English translations. And it just might be that such knowledge will puff you up so that you will feel perfectly competent to sit in judgment on the translations of about 160 of the world's ripest scholars, and thereby assert that they failed to give us an accurate translation.

Here of late there has been a mad rush to the Greek on the part of some in an attempt to justify their positions. Debaters have long realized that when their opponents are forced to turn to the Greek their position is weak. In the Clubb-Boles debate, if memory serves me correctly, Brother Boles laid down the proposition that any position that cannot be proven by the English translations cannot be proven. I believe this position to be true.

Professor Leroy Garrett, whose knowledge (?) of the Greek has been oft displayed, allows as how the English translations do not set forth the truth on this matter of preaching to a church. For lo, these many years, I have not had any better sense than to believe the statement in Acts 20:7, "Paul preached unto them," or the one in Romans 1:15, "I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are in Rome also." And, I actually thought that Timothy did what Leroy says he couldn't do. Hence, all of this time these 148 "mis-translators," have kept me in the dark, and had it not been for professor Garrett, and his side kick, Carl Ketcherside, no one would have ever known that it is wrong to preach to a church.

Then along came another translator, professor Woods, laden with lexicons, and clearly proved (?) that Tipton's Orphan Home is right smack dab in the middle of James 1:27 — that is, in the middle of professor Woods' Greek translation. The Greek in James revealed that the visiting there could be done through a human institution. Of course when Jesus speaks of "visiting the sick," (Matthew 25:36) that visit does not give us authority to build hospitals — that is as yet it doesn't. But who knows what we will learn next? With the progress we are making, and with Woods and Garrett still foraging around in the Greek, there is no telling what we will discover next. I suppose it depends upon what new theory they will want to support.

Next in the passing parade of Greek professors is scholarly J. W. Roberts of the Ph.D. class. Until professor Roberts came along I believed that each local church was an autonomous unit; that each church had its own board of managers; that each church was free under God to conduct its own affairs; that New Testament churches were not organically tied together and that each church was to so order its affairs as if it were the only church in existence. But Brother Roberts, having returned from an expedition among the lexicons, "able commentators," and traditions, brings me out of darkness and informs us all that the early church virtually had diocesan elders; that the Jerusalem church was a sponsoring church, and that while Paul was at Corinth, the Philippian church only had fellowship with him in the bookkeeping business. Brethren, we are making progress.

Not too many years ago some of our brethren found from the very same sources that the instrument inhered in the word "psallo." This truth was joyfully received by many who could find no authority for the instrument in the English translations. Now if these brethren will just bide their time, it will not be too long till some in the church today catch up with them. In answering the digressives we often challenged them to produce just one recognized translation that rendered the Greek word "psallo" to play. They never have been able to do this. In meeting the digressives, many believe the translations we have to be sufficient, but when it comes to their own errors, they must resort to the Greek. History is indeed repeating itself and it looks as if one departure is the stepping stone for another.

Both the Catholics and the Jehovah's Witnesses have their translations of the Bible. Their translations supposedly uphold their peculiar teachings. Since it is evident that there is no authority for the sponsoring church in the King James or American Standard versions, I don't suppose it will be too long until the sponsoring church advocates bring out their translation.

A Professor Flunks In Exegesis

In his article our Abilene scholar first endeavors to show that our exegesis of Acts 11:27-30 is contrary to the established opinions of many commentators. Now if we grant that he did this, he has not till yet shown that our position is contrary to the New Testament. I accept the New Testament alone as infallible, and a New Testament statement alone as proof for a certain teaching, and New Testament silence as proof "agin" a doctrine. I refuse to bow and scrape before commentators "able" or otherwise. I still believe that Romans 10:17 is correct when it states that "faith cometh by . . . . the word of God." It is interesting to observe that Brother Roberts position on baptism is contrary to the established opinions of most commentators, but he is not having the "DT's" over that.

Brother Roberts, attempting to explain Brother McGarvey's "unaccepted and untraditional view," on this passage, asserts, "Brother McGarvey was overly anxious to find support for the scriptural position of a plurality of elders in every church and read this doctrine into the passage." In the first place the passage is not needed to prove that there was a plurality of elders in every church as Acts 14:23 does that right plainly. In the second place, Brother McGarvey was not so anxious to find a plurality of elders there as some are to find a "sponsoring church." And speaking of reading something into a passage! Our Abilene professor has sure, "gone and went and done it." Poor Brother McGarvey, he was not scholar enough to find a plurality of elders in other passages. Oh, no, he had to read it into this one. Of course Brother McGarvey was just the type to do a thing like that. But Brother Roberts wouldn't do a thing like that at all. Like Caesar's wife he is above suspicion.

An illustration by Brother McGarvey, revealing his attitude toward Bible critics fits in very well here. "But now that I see farther into the sophistries and follies of the critics, I laugh at some things which then kindled my wrath. I have experienced a change somewhat like the barnyard animals when, after the ass had come in clothed with the lion's skin and frightened them all, they saw his long ears stick out, and all broke out with a roar of laughter. I must be excused then, if I laugh at some of the ridiculous positions of the critics and their apologists." (Biblical Criticism, page 72.)

Now Brother Roberts may speak of some one reading something into the passage, but I know whose ears are sticking out! Then finally Brother McGarvey was one who had faith in the New Testament statement, rather than in the traditions and remarks of commentators. Which, I might add, is a very admirable quality that would be becoming in some professors today.

Acts 11:27-30

I do not claim to be a commentator, able or otherwise, but I do think I can read plain English, and sometimes I even understand what I read. Let us examine some statements in this passage.

"A great famine or dearth . . . ." This famine came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. It began in the fourth year of his reign (A.D. 44) and lasted till A.D. 48. (See Josephus, English Translation, who also states that the famine was peculiar to Judea.)

"And the disciples every man according to his ability determined to send relief . .. ." Without stopping to consult tradition I draw the conclusion that this determination was a set purpose or intention.

"Unto the brethren which dwelt in Judea ..." Judea, "one of the three provinces of Palestine." Jerusalem was the principal city. I make this explanation for it is evident that some professors do not know the difference between Jerusalem and Judea. I suppose such a one would think that Houston and Texas are the same.

"WHICH ALSO THEY DID ...." I put this in caps for it is obvious that some have never seen this statement. Now what did the brethren in Antioch do ? They determined to send relief. Where? To the brethren in Judea. Did they do it? Luke, the inspired historian, said they did — they did what they determined to do. While the voice of inspiration makes it plain that the relief was sent to Judea, "tradition, able commentators," and an Abilene professor, who is frantically trying to justify a sponsoring church testify that it was sent to Jerusalem. Brethren you see what a knowledge of Greek and tradition can do for you.

"Sending it to the elders ...." In his article Brother Roberts avers that these passages do not state who these elders were. Well, it is clearly implied who they were. Wherever the relief was sent is where these elders were. It seems, therefore, that if we can find where the relief was sent we find where these elders were, and if we find where they were, we know who they were. Luke said they "did" send to Judea — to the elders. Hence, these elders are the elders in Judea.

Brother Roberts, if you do not know the difference between Jerusalem and Judea, I am sure one of your freshmen students will help you. Of course you may be able to stir up a tradition somewhere which states that Paul and Barnabas not knowing the difference between Judea, and the elders there, and Jerusalem, and the elders there, failed to do what Luke plainly says they did, and took the relief to Jerusalem.

(More to follow)