Christmas treasure from St. Petersburg
I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. – Matthew 5:18
2 Timothy 3:16-17
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
On December 24, 1933, a unique and irreplaceable treasure arrived in Great Britain from St. Petersburg, Russia: Codex Sinaiticus. The Soviet Communist government desperately needed cash. They sold the Bible to the British government for £100,000, $129,138, an enormous sum in those days. Today £100,000 is equivalent to $2,476,620. But this treasure is absolutely priceless.
Codex Sinaiticus or “Sinai Bible” is one of the most important books in the world. It is the oldest consequential book to survive antiquity. Handwritten over 1600 years ago in the 4th century A.D., it contains the oldest complete copy of the New Testament. It also contains a portion of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament Scriptures. Of the estimated original 1400 handwritten vellum pages, 800 remain. It was written in uncial (all capital) letters without spaces separating the words.
It was discovered by the German Biblical scholar Constantin von Tischendorf at the Monastery of Saint Catherine in the Sinai Peninsula. Of all things, Tischendorf found some leaves of parchment in a wastebasket. To the monks, they were considered “rubbish which was to be destroyed by burning.”
He retrieved 129 leaves from the wastebasket. Tischendorf identified the pages as coming from the Septuagint. Tischendorf eventually convinced the monks to give the priceless manuscript to Tsar Alexander II of Russia in exchange for protection of their abbey.
It is thought that Codex Sinaiticus may have been one of the Greek copies of the Bible commissioned by the Roman emperor Constantine, after he converted to Christianity.
Codex Sinaiticus was unknown to the outside world for 1450 years. The Father had Tischendorf in the right place at the right time to preserve it from destruction. But it was virtually secreted away in various museums for another 150 years.
Finally in July 2009, this precious treasure was digitized and placed online. The Father’s priceless book was made accessible to the entire world.
REFLECT & PRAY
The Scriptures are true and dependable. They reveal all that the Father God intends for His children to know. They equip us to serve and to live lives that are pleasing to Him.
Father, thank you for loving us enough to reveal Your truth to us in the precious treasure, which we now call the word of God.
Can you imagine the utter incongruity and pathos of discovering that the word of God is being burned by devout, religious people who have dedicated their lives to His service as they understood it to be? And why? Because they didn’t know what they had.
Do we really know what we have? Is the Bible the very word of God? To answer that question, there are two other questions regarding the Father in Whom we believe that we must first settle in our own hearts. Is our Father love? Is our Father, all-powerful?
If our Father in Whom we believe is an all-powerful loving God, there are two more questions.
Would a loving Father God desire to communicate His truth to His sentient creation? Does our Father God have the power to accomplish His desire and purpose?
Our faith in the truthfulness and accuracy of the word of God is based upon our answers. When we answer yes, we have the self-evident foundation of our confidence.
The Bible unequivocally states that it is the word of God. It claims to be the Father’s communication to mankind
2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
In simple terms, the Bible is claiming to be the product of God. The Father is responsible for its creation. The Greek word translated inspired by God is theopneustos which can literally be translated “God-breathed.” Scripture was “breathed into by God” (Hughes and Chapell).
The Bible claims to be the “God-breathed” word of God. Either it is or it isn’t. There is no middle ground. It is self-evident that the Father who is Truth, would speak the truth and nothing but the truth. Our loving, all-powerful Father God would not mislead or deceive His children. His word is accurate and dependable.
The Father breathed out the Scriptures using people. The Father guided and guarded the human authors to record His message without dictating it. Employing human authors, the Father is the source, the creative intelligence, the driving force of the Bible (Ryrie).
2 Timothy 3:16 states three important facts about inspiration and inerrancy: All the Bible is included, all the Bible was breathed out from God, and all the Bible is, like God, without any defects (Ryrie).
Along with this claim is normally mentioned the word inerrancy. The word inerrancy is not found in the Scriptures. What does inerrancy mean? Inerrancy simply means that the Bible tells the truth (Ryrie). The Scriptures do not merely contain the truth, they are the Truth. When the original documents, scrolls, and parchments were written, they imparted the Truth without error.
The Father, who is Himself Truth and speaks truth only, has breathed out the Scriptures to reveal Himself. They are Father’s witness to Himself.
2 Peter 1:21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
God used human authors to produce the Bible accurately and without error. The Holy Spirit carried human authors along produce the Father’s message.
The human authors were “carried along,” what does that mean ?
The Greek word translated carried along is phero. Phero means to carry, to bring, to drive along, to guide, to direct, to lead, to bear or carry something from one place to another. This word is used to describe what the wind and tides do to a sailing ship (Acts 27:17).
The prophets did not concoct or invent their message. The impulse came from the Father. The human prophets did not create the message, they conveyed it. The prophets spoke as the Holy Spirit impelled them. The human authors were active in writing as the Spirit directed. Their individual personalities, training, life-experiences, vocabulary, education, talents, and abilities are reflected in their words.The Bible is the Father’s own Word, written by men prepared and superintended by His Spirit. It is accurate, truthful, and has divine authority in all matters upon which it touches. It is to be believed, as the Father’s instruction, in all that it affirms: obeyed, as the Father’s command, in all that it requires; embraced, as the Father’s pledge, in all that it promises (Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy).