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Copying the Word of God (1)

Lesson #5

Victor M. Eskew




A.     When men were inspired by the Holy Spirit, they knew it.  They knew the words that they were speaking or writing were the words of God (II Sam. 23:2; I Tim. 4:1).


B.      There was only one original copy of every book of the Bible.

1.       Moses was inspired to write only one copy of Genesis.  Paul only wrote one letter to the Romans by inspiration.  John only penned the Revelation by inspiration one time.

2.       These originals are called “autographs.”


C.     At the time the books were written, there was no printing press.  The printing press would not be invented until 1440 by the German inventor Johannes Gutenburg.


D.     Thus, in order to have more volumes of the Word of God, they had to be copied by hand.

1.       Jewish kings were commanded to make a copy of the Law of Moses for themselves (Deut. 17:18).


And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests of the Levites.


2.       In the course of time, an office developed known as “the scribe.”

a.       These men were tasked with copying the law.

b.      They also became known as the “doctors” and “lawyers” because of their knowledge of God’s Word.

c.       These men were meticulous in the manner in which they copied the Holy Scriptures.

3.       There were times when personal copies of the Scriptures were made by individuals.  Most of the time, these were copies of copies.


E.      NOTE:  There are no autographs in existence today.  All we have are copies.  Most likely, many of the manuscripts are copies of copies.

1.       Question:  Can we really depend upon the copies?

2.       This is a good question because we all know that mistakes can be made as we copy something.

a.       Letters can be left off of words.

b.      Letters can be transposed.

c.       Words can be skipped.

d.      At times, an entire line might be skipped.

3.       Two points to keep in mind.

a.       Scribes were extremely serious about their responsibilities.

b.      The providence of God was at work in preserving the inspired Scriptures.

1)      Isaiah 40:8


The grass withereth, the flower fadeth:  but the word of God shall stand for ever.

2)      Matthew 24:35


Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.


3)      I Peter 1:25


But the word of the Lord endureth forever…