Vol.IV No.II Pg.4
April 1967

Story Of The Text2

Robert F. Turner

The fact that many original "books" of the N. T. were actually written as letters (epistles) with immediate application to the addressee does not rule against a general use of this material today as "Scriptures."

When Paul wrote to the church at Colossae he said, "And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea." (Col.4:16) Such a passing about of letters indicates a common cause; and the use of the Apostle's writings as truth for all. Peter wrote two general epistles, endeavoring "that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance." (2 Pet.1:13-f) He intended his writings to be a part of a record "of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandments of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour." (2 Pet. 3:1-2)

Peter classes "Paul's writings with "the other Scriptures" which unlearned and unstable men wrest (twist) "unto their own destruction."(2 Pet.3:16) Although Luke addresses his works to "Theophilus" (God-lover) the biography of Christ and history of the early church (Luke and Acts) are obvious records for posterity. (Lu.1:1-4) John wrote to the public at large, "that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name." (Jn. 20:30-31)

Recognizing the vehicle of divine N. T. revelation to be, in many cases, personal letters, or writings having direct and immediate application in the first century, actually helps us to make accurate interpretation. Many false doctrines have arisen because some have a so-called "spiritual" or mystical, allegorical interpretation for plain and simple N.T. statements.

For many years excellent Bible scholars believed a special N. T. nomenclature existed. Long lists of words were compiled that were supposedly used nowhere except in the N. T. But continued research is rapidly proving this untrue. Words formerly believed used only in the N.T. are being found in first century tax receipts, secular letters, comic poetry, and other common writings of the day. (See Grammar of Greek N. T., A.T. Robertson; P. 76-f) AND WHY NOT?? The message was for the common people and would most logically be given in the vernacular of the day.

If N. T. words (and I speak of the Greek, of course) have a "special" meaning or significance, it is one given them by context. An excellent question to ask oneself when studying a N. T. word, is, "What would this mean to the ordinary Greek-speaking man-on-the-street at the time when this statement was written?" The task of the translator is to put this meaning into comparable English, Spanish, French, or whatever people he now wishes to reach -- and this is not a job for "smatterers." The King James and American Standard versions, although not beyond criticism, are far in advance of one-man and/or "modern English" translations of our day, and will remain so for years to come. OUR CRYING NEED IS TO STUDY AND PRACTICE!