The Truth Regarding Whether The New Testament Is Reliable
For the average person, when they hear that the New Testament narratives are not reliable because there are many Textual Variants; people believe that the story of Jesus has been changed and is not reliable.
In reality, when we investigate this alleged problem, we find that in every surviving manuscript copy of the New Testament, the story has never been changed. The claims of Jesus to be God and Messiah; His miracles as proof that He is God and Messiah; His crucifixion and His resurrection from the dead, have never been changed, despite these textual variants.
What we do find in the surviving Manuscript copies is that some words were changed, omitted, misspelled, or added, but none of these changes affect the principle and important facts that we should be concerned with. What you will discover as a reader of these texts is that the slight variations are really different translations of the same text, much like our modern translations of the New Testament today. We have several translations of these same texts in the NKJV, NLT, NIV, TLB, and ESV versions.
Read the following verse of scripture from the Gospel of John and you will see that they both communicate the same meaning, but use slightly different words and arrangement of words in their sentences:
John 3:16 (NLT) “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 (NKJV) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Does a different arrangement of the text, or different words, make these verses unreliable? Of course not. Critics of the New Testament state that variants in the ancient copies of the New Testament texts, disqualify these narratives of Jesus as reliable.
This Is Precisely What You Will See In The Text Of Matthew’s Gospel That Follows:
These variations happened over the course of history as the text was copied, commented upon, and spread throughout the world. None of these changes affect the story of Jesus or invalidates who He is or what He has done.
Then she will bring forth to you a son
Then she will bring forth a son
you will call his name
they will call his name
the children of Jerusalem
all of Jerusalem
into the Jordan
in the Jordan
throw yourself down from here
throw yourself down
for the sake of my name
for the sake of righteousness
open your mouth
Lord, lord, did we not eat and drink in your name? And did we not prophesy in your name?
Lord, lord, did we not prophesy in your name?
away from me, all of you
away from me
But he was entering into Capernaum
But when he was entering into Capernaum
When Jesus was entering into Capernaum
But after these things, then he [went] into Capernaum
she was serving him
she was serving them
How come you are eating and your teacher is drinking with tax collectors and sinners?
Why are you eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?
Why is he eating with tax collectors and sinners?
Why are you seated with tax collectors and sinners?
Why is your teacher eating with tax collectors and sinners?
Thaddaeus who is surnamed Lebbaeus
Lebbaeus who is surnamed Thaddaeus
Judas the Zealot
Judas who is also Lebbaeus who is surnamed Thaddaeus
Moreover, why did you go out? To see a man…
Moreover, what did you go out to see? A man…
in delicate garments
Why do your disciples
Look, your disciples
they ate he ate
it was restored healthy
it was restored, like the other
his hand was restored, healthy like the other
it was restored, healthy like the other
against the Holy Spirit, it will not in any way be forgiven to him.
against the Holy Spirit, may it not in any way be forgiven to him.
against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven to him.
The one having ears must listen
The one having ears to hear must listen
But he does not have root within
But it does not have root in him
But he does not have root in himself
into prison and put away
and put in prison
and put away into prison
and put away into prison
and put away in prison
speaking, the crippled healed
speaking, and the crippled healed
hearing, the crippled healed
hearing and speaking, the crippled healed
leaven of bread
leaven of bread of the Pharisees and Sadducees
leaven of the Pharisees
In Matthew 17-25, there are no significant variants regarding Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, Parables about the kingdom, or the events of the last days
Go therefore, make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the father and of the son and of the holy spirit.
Go make disciples of all the nations in my name.
As you can see for yourself, these variants serve only as slightly different translations of the same text, while telling the reader the same story. Despite these variants, we see that in every surviving copy of the New Testament, dating back to the first century, there are seven important principles that are established:
What The New Testament Does Prove:
- Jesus claimed to be God.
- Jesus provide us with any proof that He is God.
- Jesus perform miracles.
- Jesus claim to be the Messiah.
- Jesus provide proof of fulfillment for the Messianic Prophecies.
- Jesus was crucified and died.
- Jesus rose from the dead.
None of these facts above have been altered by the variants in the texts of the New Testament during the past 2,000 years. None of these important facts that are communicated to us regarding Jesus are affected by a variant of spelling, or arrangement of the sentences.
There is no ambiguity; the seven principles listed above are documented in the entire New Testament. None of these variants affect these important principles.
These same types of variants observed in Matthew’s Gospel, continue in all four Gospels. These variants act as nothing more than slightly different translations of the same text.
What we notice by seeing these variants is that they do not change the primary narrative of Jesus, that He came to earth and claimed to be God and Messiah, performed miracles to prove these claims, as the Old Testament prophecies demand; was crucified and rose from the dead, also required of the Old Testament prophecies, and was seen by more than 500 eyewitnesses.
Not one of these important precepts that are necessary for eternal life by Christ, are changed in the slightest by any or all of these textual variants.
See The Next Article: The Historical Documentation For Jesus’ Death And Resurrection.
Categories: Claims of Interpolation, Exegesis and Hermeneutics, Literary authenticity of the New Testament, Principles of Biblical Interpretation, Reliability of the New Testament, Robert Clifton Robinson, The Four Gospels, The Historical Jesus, The Importance of the Bible, The Miracles of Jesus