What’s the Primary purpose of the New Testament? Is it to preach the Gospel to the lost or is it to enable believers to glorify God by their lives? The question might seem unnecessary but for the insistence upon the first option by some who do all they can to promote it and to debunk the latter view. So, it is necessary to consider the matter.
There are those who seem to think that option number one is the larger, more comprehensive one. However, the opposite is the case. Surely, 1 Corinthians, 1 Thessalonians, James—or most any other NT book you examine is written to believers about their lives.
“What of the Gospel of John?” you ask.
It was written to unbelievers to help them believe and be saved. But what of 1 John? It was written to believers to help them to come to an assurance of their salvation—and it states so. It was not primarily written to bring people to faith in Christ. That’s clear. And, as for Luke/Acts, these books were written to a Christian that he might know the historical certainty of what he believed. Many purposes. Eh?
Why are we so taken up with newness? It seems that since Spencer, the philosophy of the day has been progress—regardless of where it leads. When did you ever hear anyone ask, “What’s the oldest?” or words to that effect? But why not?
Is there nothing to be learned from the past?
That’s what many “moderns,” who in no time will be looked upon as “old fashioned,” seem to think. The old is not only passé; it is defunct. History in the schools—for what it’s worth these days—is rewritten in the light of social and political movements of more recent origin. In school, as a result, children are no longer even remotely aware of what really happened in the past. But there is much to be learned from the past and, in most cases, its loss is irreparable.
This penchant for the present bleeds over into a suspicion for the Scriptures which, obviously, are old writings. And, how much it hinders people today from studying the Bible is hard to discern. Surely, there is an unwanted influence of some sort, regardless of how strong. Christians need therefore, to do all that they can to counter this nefarious influence. What can we do?
“You know that stuff you were telling me about the Dead Sea Scrolls?”
Sure, what about them?
“Well, you happened to mention the Septuagint along the way.”
“You see, I don’t know much about it either. Especially about those Roman numerals—I think you call them—they don’t teach them in school any longer.”
Hard to read old clocks then—especially if you wanted to know the time when you found yourself in a square of some old world town in Europe.
“Yeah. Well I don’t expect to be going to Europe any time soon with the cost of things in Euros as high as they are. But what about the LXX—I think you said that was the abbreviation for the Septuagint—did I get that right?”
You sure did.
If they tell us anything, they make it clear that the critics were wrong—dead wrong.
“Now what are you talking about?”
The Dead Sea Scrolls.
“I’ve heard about them. They found them in some pots or something floating in the Dead Sea—right?”
Well, not exactly.
No. They were up in the hills overlooking the Dead Sea in caves. And they were enclosed in earthen vessels—pottery, for sure—but dry as could be in that dry community. The only reason that they are called “Dead Sea” Scrolls is that they were in the vicinity of the Dead Sea.
“Oh. Well, I was almost right, anyway.”
The manuscripts were written on parchment for the most part. One was engraved on copper. I saw the parts of them that they had when I was studying at Johns Hopkins in the 50s. Professor W.F. Albright, who taught at Hopkins, brought them there for a brief exhibition, and some of us students were able to get up close to them. There were more scrolls that they found later on in other caves. They are now housed in Israel in a special building. The manuscripts include parts of almost the entire Old Testament, plus a variety of other writings. And what they show is that the Hebrew text that we have been using for generations is almost entirely the same. That’s amazing, since the common text is basically from the Middle Ages.
“What sort of Bible should I get? I want something other than the King James Version.”
That’s a good question. How do you expect to use it?
“Read it, of course!”
I meant do you want one with all sorts of study helps, or a relatively simple one?
“The last sort.”
I’d suggest either the Holman Christian Standard Bible or the New American Standard. You wouldn’t go wrong with the English Standard Version, either.
“Why do you suggest these three?”