Malankara World

The Bible / Errors in Translations / Interpretations

by Rev. Dr. Curian Kaniyamparambil
Translated By Mr. Paul Philipose

The Orthodox Churches and the Bible

How does our church (Syrian Orthodox Church) treat the Holy Bible? It considers the Bible as the most authoritative source of doctrines. Our church has the utmost respect for the Bible.

While the Syrian Orthodox Church and other ancient churches treat the Holy Bible with great reverence, using it in all their prayers, ministry and sacraments, they also hold the apostolic traditions equally important (more details later). The Church has no doctrine that could not be proven by the Bible. The Bible is not to be degraded by independent interpretation by anyone according to their will and pleasure.

[In the Syrian Orthodox and Coptic Churches every ministry is, as taught and done by the apostles. The church was not created out of a vacuum. Each generation learned from the previous generation, from the time of the apostles to the present. The Syrian Orthodox Church still uses Aramaic as it's official language, the language used by Jesus Christ and the apostles]

Frequently Asked Questions About Syrian Orthodox Church and the Bible

1. Why should one accept the Bible as the basis?

2. In the various translations of the Bible, are there significant deviations from the original. If so why?

3. What is its significance for a true believer?

4. Why this difference in translations?

5. Since most translations are distorted, which version is the original?

6. How different are the views of various Protestant groups who argue that the 'Bible is the only the basis of faith?'

7. During the Apostolic times were there people who interpreted the Bible in their own ways?

8. But some people argue that St. John has permitted one to interpret by themselves and that 'no one needs to teach anything.' (1 John 2:27)

9. What are the dangers of self-interpretation?

10. The traditional Churches discourages its members from going to Protestant Churches. Is this because they want their people to remain in their faith?

11. Isn't it good to hear the Lord's words from anyone? Why ban people?

12. What is wrong in saying that faith and belief is based only on the Bible?

13. How does the Syrian Orthodox Church and modern Christian communities treat the Bible?


1. Why should one accept the Bible as the basis?

1) Its authors were guided by the Holy Spirit.
2) The Church from its origin taught that the Holy Spirit has written the Bible.

Early historians (pre-Nicean leaders) have stated about the genuineness of the it's authors.
The most notable of them are:

St. Papiyas, (AD 130),
St. Irenaeus (AD 140-202),
St. Clement of Alexandria (AD 202),
Tertullian (AD 140-260).

For more details refer to, The faith of the Early fathers Vol. 1, Vol. 2, Vol. 3. All of the early fathers and the councils also taught in the same manner. Some of them are:

Arles (AD 314),
Constantinople (381),
Elvira (300),
Laodicea (300)
Neocaesarea (314),
Nicea (325),
Sardica (342)

3) The councils also taught that the Gospels are by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They also taught that Luke authored Acts of the Epistles. Romans, 1 Cori, 2 Cori, Gala, Eph., Philippians, Cola, Thess 1 and 2, Timothy 1 and 2, Titus, and Philemon are all written by Paul. James, John 1,2,3, Jude, Revelations (John).

4) Even modern Scholars proclaim that it was the early church that codified the Bible, by virtue of its authority. At length, a decree was issued respecting the contents of the sacred books at the Council of Carthage (AD 397) and the books of the New Testament as we have them were settled by the authority of the church (Helps to the study the Bible-Oxford). Some later scholars were successful in creating doubts regarding their authenticity, authors, and contents.

A few examples, from the very popular 'Interpreters one volume commentary' will shock the believers!

a)  The article by Jude is written not by Jude but by someone who used his name. (meaning Jude didn't write the article) Page 942
b)  1 Peter is written by someone in AD 112, or may be written in by someone before AD 64. (i.e. Peter did not write his article). Page 924
c)   Scholars of even the Orthodox churches don't believe that the epistle II Peter is written by St. Peter. (Page 931)
d)  Though the arguments against James are not complete, it is widely accepted and could be concluded that it is written by someone who used his name.
e)  Epistle to Timothy - was not written by St. Paul (Page 883)
f)  The Epistle to Colossians - was not written by Paul, but later by someone who knew his ideas (page 857)
g)  A disciple of Paul wrote Ephesians. i.e. This too is not written by St. Paul (P835)
h) St. Paul may not have written 2 Corinthians (page 746)
i)   Similarly a bizarre interpretation is given about Acts 2:4 (about the disciple talking in tongues). Although Luke interprets this phenomenon as a miracle of linguistics, the original was probably an outburst of emotional babbling and the description of the disciples as filled with new wine fits the emotional speech and not proficiency in foreign languages. Actually no miracle was necessary as everybody in the audience spoke of either Aramaic or Greek (page 731)
 
In the same manner, many new teachings or interpretations are aimed to evoke disbelief among the Church members. How should we understand the authors who wrote such views? Was it written with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit? This is precisely what St. Paul warned us about. (II Cori 11:3) But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived eve by his cunning, your thoughts may be corrupted from a sincere [and pure] commitment to Christ. For if someone comes and preaches another Jesus than one we preached, i.e. if you receive a different gospel from the one you received, you put up with it well enough It is astonishing that all these scholars can believe in all these modern interpretations, but refuse to believe what was passed on from the apostles from one generation to the next till the present. The church showed us what inspired writing is, The Bible, the word of God!

It is dreadful that 'scholars of this kind are the foundations of modern churches.


2. In the various translations of the Bible are there significant deviations from the original. If so, why? What is its significance for a true believer?

 Below are a list of some of the variations. The list is from some popular versions. This encouraged many new interpretations and caused heresy. See below how two translations differ. Of all the Protestant English translations, King James Version (of all I have seen) has the least errors.
 

 

CHAPTER AND VERSE

GOOD NEWS BIBLE

(1927)

KING JAMES VERSION

1

Acts 1:14

Brothers

brethren

2

Acts 1:20

place of service

bishopric

3

Acts 1:22

must join us

must be ordained

4

Acts 2:42

learning from Apostles

Apostle's Doctrine

5

Acts 2:47

to their group

to the church

6

Acts 2:47

fellowship meals

breaking of bread

7

Acts 2:27

Servant

Holy one

8

Acts 2:38

God's Gift

Gift of Holy Spirit

9

Acts 2:48

who were being saved

such as should be saved

10

Acts 3:13

Servant

Son

11

Acts 4:30

Servant

Holy Child

12

Acts 6:6

Helpers

Deacons

13

Acts 14:23

appointed

Ordained

14

Acts 19:18

publicly admitted

confessed

15

Acts 20:7

Saturday evening

1 St. day of the week ( Sunday)

16

Acts 20:7

Fellowship meal

breaking bread

17

Acts 20:28

flock which the Holy Spirit

has placed in your care. Be shepherds of church of God

which he made his own through the death of his son

Flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers to feed the church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood

18

Acts 22:14

Servant

The just one

19

Acts 22:16

Get up and be baptized and have your sins washed away by praying to him

Arise and be baptized and

wash away thy sins calling  on the name of the Lord

20

Rom 15:16

Like a priest-

Minister Of Jesus Christ

21

Rom 16:21

My fellow Jews

My Kinsmen - relatives

22

1 Cori 1:18

Who are being saved

Who are saved

23

1 Cori 4:1

Servant

Ministers

24

1 Cori 5:13

As the scripture says

these words are not found

25

1 Cori 7:5

For Prayer

For fasting and prayer

26

Acts 7:17

I teach

I command

27

Acts 10:16

The cup we use in the Lord's and which we give thanks to God when we drink from it we are sharing in the blood of Christ

The cup of blessing which we bless is it not the communion of the blood of the Christ?

28

Acts 11:2

Teachings

ordinances I delivered

29

Acts 11:3

God is superior over Christ

note: In Living N.T. - they use ? Christ is responsible to God?

The Head of Christ is God

30

2 Cori 2:17

We are not like many others who handle God's message as if it were cheap merchandise but because God has sent us, we speak as servants of Christ

We are not?? which corrupt the word of God?.. we speak in Christ

31

2 Cori 5:20

We are speaking for Christ? we pleaded on Christ's behalf let God change you from enemies to his friends

We are the ambassadors for Christ as though God did beseech you by us we pray in Christ's stead you be reconciled to God

 

 

 

 

32

Gala 4:19

Until Christ's nature is formed in you. I wish that people who are upsetting you ..let them go and castrate themselves

Until Christ is formed in you .. I wish they were even cut off which trouble you

(St. Paul did not say to castrate)

33

Eph 1:7

by the death of Christ we are set free that is our sins are forgiven

In whom we have redemption through his blood  for the forgiveness of sins

34

Phili 1:1

Church leaders and helpers

Bishops and Deacons

35

Phili 3:3

We do not put any trust in external ceremonies

We have no confidence in the flesh

36

Colo 1:2

By his son's death on the cross

the blood of his cross

37

Colo 1:25

Servant of the Church

Ministers of the Church

38

2 Tess 2:15

those truths

The traditions which have been  taught

39

1 Tim 3:1

A Church leader

Bishop

40

1 Tim 4; 6

Good teaching

Good Doctrine

41

1 Tim 4:11

Give them these instructions

Command them

42

Tim 1:5

to appoint

to ordain

43

Heb  2:12

meeting

Church

44

Hew  13:7

former leaders

The rule over you

45

James  5:16

Confess your sins

Confess your faults

46

1 John  1:9

If we confess our sins to God

If we confess our sins

47

I John 2:20

But you had the Holy Spirit poured out on you by Christ

You have an unction from Holy One

 

Note: Unction - an anointing ointment that which is used for anointing. more details later

48

1 John 5:7

Three witness the Spirit, the water and blood

There are there that bear record in Heaven - the Father , the Word, and the Holy Spirit

3. What are the significance of these changes?

For the time being this is enough, as there are hundreds like this, enough that books may be written on it. This proves the point that translators have made their own changes from the original version! [I recently went to a Christian Book store and was amazed by the title of Bibles I found there. Bible for Man, Bible for Woman, Bible for Afro-Americans, Bible for kids, KJV, All American, Bible for Modern Man and so on. There is only one Bible that is inspired, and the others are man made.]

4. Why this difference in translations?

To answer this question, we have to analyze two points.

1) Who codified the Bible and when was it codified?

2) Who made the changes, when, and why?

Ever since the Bible was codified, the church owned it; because the church codified it in the Council of Carthage in AD 397. And thus the Church was its custodian. This is why St. Augustine said, Since the Church owns the Bible, I believe it. Its interpretation also belonged to the church. During those days the Church stood as a mighty pillar of the true faith, the body of Christ and as one against which the gates of Hell could not prevail. Later reformist groups began to make changes to the Holy Bible. Thus people like Luther, Calvin, Single, Matthew etc. brought different versions and different interpretations of the Bible into the English and other languages.

Even Luther who started the reformation, became uneasy about this trend [painfully heartbroken to see God's words modified, twisted and changed] and wrote, "Now there are so many sections as there are heads. Some do not need Baptism, some reject Sacraments, some others teach that there is a third world life for a person between this world and the end of the world. Some says Christ is not God. One person says it in one way and another person another way. It has come to this situation that if one sees a dream or one feels so, he decides that it was a revelation to him by the Holy Spirit and declares himself as a prophet." (Rebuilding the Lost Faith - Pg. 386 Griser, Luther IV).

The Bibles by Wycliffe (AD1382), Tyndale (1535) came out and many copies of the early editions were burned by order of Cuthbert Tunstall, the Bishop of London who was offended by Tyndale's translations of various ecclesiastical terms, such as Congregations for Church and Senior for priest or Elder.

Then came the Coverdale Bible, (1535) and Matthew's Bible (1537). This was the first Bible that was printed with the Royal permission.

Some of the other translations are:

Travaners Bible (1539)
The Great Bible (1539)
Wittim Graham (1557) - This bible was the first one, which formatted the Bible into separate sentences.
Ganeva Bible (1569) - became popular among the Puritan Party.
Bishops Bible (1568)
Raim's New Testament (1582)
Authorized Version (1611)
Revised Version (1881, 1885). This had the most significant changes, compared to the prior ones. Mistranslation again have been corrected where ever necessary? [Helps to study of the Bible]

It is obvious that from the 16th century, many translations came and each translator made considerable changes during the process.

Those responsible for the Authorized Version Translation submitted a request to King James which was, "We shall be maligned by self conceited Brethren, who run their own ways and give liking unto nothing, but what is framed by themselves and hammered on their anvil." This proves that so many translators did their works as they pleased.

Even the early Protestant scholars were of the opinion that the early translations were full of mistakes. Dixon says, unless one is a fanatic Protestant, one will agree to the fact that early translations were full of serious errors. Ward in his book Errata proves that these errors were not accidental, but purposely introduced. Bishop Eikot in his book says that the translated versions have many additions which were not found in the original Bible. Blunt, another Biblical scholar, in his book says that? The personality of the translators were such that, it was easy for them to get the respect of the public. (Keys to the knowledge and use of the Bible)

Robert Gell, who was a member of the revising committee and who was a chaplain to Arch Bishop Abbot tells - as many times the truth has taken a back seat to the interest of many sections and voted out (truth), as required by different sections of people.

We have seen lots of differences between translations and most of the translations did not do justice to the original. Now let us see how some of these changes affected the true faith. Please refer to the above table ( question 2) and see how each of these changes were used to twist the original church teachings.

Refer to Numbers From the above Table

(Question 2)

CHANGES TO THE ORIGINAL BIBLE AND HOW THEY ARE USED TO CHANGE THE INTERPRETATION OF THE BIBLE

 

(How changes mentioned in question 2 are used to change the teachings of the original Church)

1

They had to prove that Mary had other children too, and so to prove that she is not a virgin. Hence they use brothers

2

To prove that there is no position of Bishop or episcopacy

3, 42

To prove that Ordination (of Priests) is not  necessary

4

To prove that there were only teachings from Apostles and no Doctrines

5

To prove there is nothing like church, only groups

6, 16

To prove that there was no breaking of bread, but just fellowship meals

9, 22

To prove that for salvation, no Church is necessary or that one need not be a member of the church.

10

To satisfy the section of people who believes that Jesus is not Son of God and there for not equal to God

12

To prove that there was no Deacon positions in the early church

13

To prove that there was no ordination, but just appointment

14

To prove no one confessed to the apostles and they have no right to absolve your sins

15

To prove that there is no importance to Sunday

16

To prove that those elders who were given position were not guided by the Holy Spirit

19

To give the impression that baptism does not absolve one's sins.

20, 21

To prove that Christ has no ministers or priests

25

To prove that fasting (and lent) is not required - they left the word fasting

26,28

Apostles has no right to command, but only to teach

27

The cup of blessing is not the communion of the blood of Christ

29

To satisfy the section who believes that Christ is not God

30, 32,33

Faulty translations

31, 41

To prove that the Apostles or their successors are not the representatives of Christ

34,39

To give impression that there were no deacons or Bishops in the early church

35

Proves that there is no need of external ceremonies

38 ? 40

In early church there were no Doctrines or traditions

43

Church means just a fellowship

45

Added a word to prove that anyone can confess to anyone

46

Added a word to support another view

47

To prove that to receive Holy Spirit, no unction is necessary

  

Yes, it is shocking for any independent scholar to see all these changes in the different translations. All these changes were made for ones own selfish gains.

The "Soul Winners New Testament Bible" has substituted the word baptize with immerse. This book also uses the word immerse in Holy Spirit. In the Good News Bible, they use Holy Spirit poured on you.

Again in Mark 11:3, it is written The Lord has need of it [Colt]," In Good News Bible it is written He will return it soon ie. Christ will return the colt!

Ruthor Ford established the Jehovah Witness, in 1870. He was 29 years old at that time. They have their own New Testament. In 1954 F.W. France, this group's president, revealed how they received their interpretation of the Bible. They are passed by Holy Spirit who invincibly communicates with Jehovah's witness. This section does not consider the Son and the Holy Spirit as God.

Again, The Church of Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the fastest growing religion in the U.S., is based on a revelation to Joseph Smith in 1820. They have their own Bible and their own interpretations. Orson Prat, a famous scholar in that church, asks, whether if there is a single sentence in their Bible now, that is original? (The cults page 88).

These 'churches' have their own New Testaments and their own interpretations.

5. Since most translations are distorted, which version is the original?

The Books

Dummalow Commentary

Helps to the study of Bible

Biblical Encyclopedia

Scofield Bible

Matthew

70  AD

AD  50-60

AD 66-70

37

Mark

AD 60

AD 63-70

Before AD 65

AD 57-63

Luke

AD 59-74

AD 58-60

AD 57-65

AD 63-68

John

 

AD 85 -90

End of 1st century

 

As you have seen from the above table, the different books of the New Testament were written during the period AD 60-100. It is widely accepted that some of the books were written in Aramaic and some in Greek (but used lots of Aramaic words), which was also the prominent language in Palestine at that time. [Some scholars are of the opinion that nothing was written in Greek, as no one knew Greek there. Jesus Christ taught in Aramaic, as common man understood no other language. So it is unlikely that anything would have been written in Greek. What is the use of writing in a language not understood by the people?]

Josephus wrote (AD 42): I have taken a great deal of pain to obtain the learning of the Greeks and understand the elements of the Greek language; although I have accustomed myself to speak our own tongue, that I cannot pronounce Greek with sufficient exactness. There have been many who have done their endeavors, with great patience, to obtain this Greek learning, there have yet been hardly two or three that have succeeded herein. (Antiquities XX, X1 2) (George Lamsa's Translation)

Many scholars believe that it is very unlikely that the Epistles targeted for common man, were written in a language understood only by a few.

Aramaic was the language of the of the common people during the time of Jesus Christ. It is certainly the language of the Semetic culture, the language of the Hebrew Patriarchs and in the older days, the lingua franca of the Fertile Cresecent. The term Hebrew was derived from the Aramaic word Abor or Habor, which means to cross over. This name was given to Hebrews because Abraham and the people who were with him crossed the river Euphrates and went to Palestine. Therefore they were known by those who lived east of the river Euphrates as Hebrews, that is the people across the river (Lamsa's Peshitta Translation). Another view is Aramaic was the mother-tongue of the region comprising of present Eastern Syria and Northern Iraq. This region was called Aram, after Aram, Sem's fifth son. Aramaic is the oldest of the semantic languages. Aram, the father of Armenians, was the grandson of Noe, while Heber the father of the Hebrews was the great great grandson of Noe.

The earliest manuscripts of the Bible are in Aramaic, and different versions are available which dates back to 2nd, 5th and 7th centuries. Astonishingly enough, all of the Peshitta Texts in Aramaic agree. There is one thing the eastern churches can boast about. They copied their holy books diligently, faithfully and meticulously. Sir Frederic Kenon, the curator of the British Museum, in his book Textual Criticism of the New Testament speaks highly of the accuracy of the copying and of the antiquity of Peshitta MSS. The versions translated from sematic languages into Greek and Latin were subject to constant revisions. Learned men who copied them introduced changes trying to simplify the obscurities and ambiguities, which were due to the work of first translators. The present translators and Bible revisers does the same, when translating the Bible.

The Scriptures in the Church of the East, from the inception of Christianity to the present day, are in Aramaic and have never been tampered with or revised as attested by the present Patriarch of the Church of the East. The Biblical manuscripts were carefully and zealously handed down from one generation to another and were kept in the massive stonewalls of the ancient churches and caves. They were written on parchments and many of them survive to the present day. When expert scribes copied these texts, they (the copies) were carefully examined for accuracy before they were dedicated and permitted to be read in churches. Even one missing letter would render the text void. Easterners still adhere to God's commandment not to add or omit to a word from the Scripture. The Holy Script condemns any addition, subtraction or modification to the Word of God.

"You shall not add to the commandments which I command you, neither shall you take form it, but you must keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you." (Deut. 4:2)

"Everything that I command to you, that you must be careful to do; you shall not add nor take from it." (Deut. 4:2)

"Do not add to his words; lest he reprove you, and you be found a liar." (Prov. 30:6)

"And if any man shall take away form the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his portion from the tree of life and from the holy city and from the things which are written in this book." (Rev 22:19)

The term Peshitta means straight, simple, sincere and true, that which is the original. The name was given to this ancient and authoritative text to distinguish it from the other Bible revisions and translations which were introduced into some of the Churches of the East after the division at Ephesus and Chalcedon in 431 and 451 AD respectively. This Peshitta is still the only authoritative text of the Old and New Testament of all the Eastern Christians in the Near East and India, the Roman Catholic Church in the East, the Monophysites and Indian Christians. This was because this text was in use for 400 years before the Christian Church was divided to several sects. (George Lama's translation)

The originality of the Peshitta Text is strongly supported by the early evidence. Aphraates quoted it. St. Ephraim wrote a commentary on it and the doctrine of Addi placed it at apostolic times.

The names Aram, Aramaeans and Aramaic were changed, during the course of time into Syria, Syrians and Syraic. The Greeks were responsible for this change. And Aramaic Christians gradually became reconciled with this change of name (Syro-Chaldaic grammar by Fr. Gabriel)

Peshitta version of the Bibles existed in the 2nd Century.  The Peshitta version of the Bible was made about the first or second century. (Helps to the study of the Bible Oxford page 7)

These isolated manuscripts were collected, examined, and approved by the early church fathers only in AD 389; and thus the New Testament became part of the Holy Bible. Soon after the New Testament was translated into Latin, this New Testament was in use till the 14th century. From the 15th century (see the list below) onward, different protestant groups began to make their own Bibles through distorted translations to suit their arguments.

6. How different are the views of various Protestant groups who argue that the Bible is the only basis of Faith?

Some of the Arguments by Different Groups

Child Baptism allowed

No, only baptism by faith (belief)

Offering only by priest

No

Baptism, marriage, anointing with oil etc by priest

No priest is necessary

Can offer incense

No

Bishop to be unmarried

Can marry

Jesus Christ is God

No

Sunday has special importance

Saturday is important or no special importance to any day

Should use consecrated oil, chrism

No

Laying hands is necessary for ordination

No. No such thing as ordination

Can burn candles

No

Offer of Holy Communion

No

Both Baptism and Communion are Sacraments

No - they are just symbolic representations

Should respect cross

No

Accepts episcopacy

No

The episcopacy have uniform or specialized garments

No

Can use gold

Can use gold colored, but no gold

Believes in Baptism for remission of the sins

No it is just symbolic

Can pray for the dead

Can't pray for the dead

Can pray to the saints

No you cant

Priests can absolve sins

No priests at all, and no one has the right for it

Church may contain good and bad people

Church contains only people who are saved

Anointing oil should be applied on sick people

No anointing oil

Can use written prayer

No

Can use Palms 51

No, not needed

 

From the above the following facts can be inferred:

Those who say that the Bible only and nothing else is the basis of Christianity', forget the fact that the Bible is a book written by the Holy Spirit's inspiration. As in the Interpreters Bible, some claim that some one other than the apostles wrote it.

Others, in order to prove their teachings, made changes to the Bible in a way that suited them.

From the same Bible, they quote sentences to prove different conflicting ideas. If their interpretation is Holy Spirit inspired, why then these differences?

So what caused this?

These individuals forget or purposefully ignore the fact that the church owns the Bible and that the Church only has the power to interpret the Bible. Some relied on personal or individual interpretation of the Bible. This is why so many new churches were formed. Let's look at the list of a few modern fellowships.

 

CHURCH       ESTABLISHED BY    YEAR
Protestant    Martin Luther 1524
Presbyterian John Knox 1560
 Baptist      John Smith   1600
Congregational  Robert Brown  1600
Quackers   George Fox  1647
Methodist   John Wesley   1739
Brethren    1800
Disciples of Christ   1827
Salvation Army  William Booth   1865
Sabbath William Miller 1844
Pentecostal   G. Spirling 1884
Christian Science  Mary Eddy  1879
Jehovah's witness  C.T Russell  1870
God's Church Daniel Vernan 1884

(Source: The Pears dictionary)

What St. Peter, the head of the disciples said is very relevant then and now. "And consider that long-suffering of our Lord is salvation - as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you. As also in all his epistles speaking in them of these things hard to understand which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also rest of the Scriptures." (2 Peter 3:15,16). St. Paul has issued similar warnings in 2 Cori 11.

7. During the Apostolic times were there people who interpreted the Bible in their own ways?

Yes. St. Paul says (in Gal 1: 7) Which is not another, but there are some, who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. If one goes through his epistles, he instructed against these kinds of teachings. Here are some extracts from the Good News Bible, in the introduction to the epistles by St. Paul.

From this we can infer that false teachers were church members, who chose to go out of the church. Some of them like Sirinthos (contemporary St. John) preached that Jesus was not God. Essenenes, a sect of Jews, (that existed before Christ) propagated that, it is not possible to have a man who is God and complete man. They also insisted, to observe Sabbath, not to marry, not to eat the forbidden foods or meat, wine etc.

Another sect of people (who believed in a form of gnosticism) adopted similar teachings (Helps to study of the bible). Simon (Simon referred in Acts 8:9,18) was a Gnostic and was the author of a book titled, "The Great Revelation." (Justin Martyr). Their false teaching rejected the fact that Jesus was the Son of God (refer to 1 John 2:22, 5: 1, 5 to see what St. John says about it). They also rejected the Father Almighty and the Son of God. They did not believe that the Word took the body (1 John 2:22, 4:2,3). They also propagated that Christ was not crucified. They also believed that the Son is not needed for access to God, (John 2:23) and that they have no sins (2 John 1:7, 5:6 2:23, 1 John 1:9).

Another sector of people (a form of Docetism) propagated that it is impossible for God to become man. So Jesus was in fact not a man but created a feeling that He was man (1 John 3: 3). He was like a ghost and when He walked His legs did not touch the earth. He did not eat or drink. Cirenthis members of this sect said that Christ was a man and not Christ. He was born an ordinary child from Joseph and Mary and during his baptism, the Holy Ghost came to him and hence he was able to do miracles and during the time of crucifixion Christ left him.

So docetism denied His human embodiment and Cirenthis denied His Crucifixion (and hence the salvation). John called them anti-christs (1 John 2:22) and these people were church members. But they interpreted in their own manner and fell into false teachings.

8. But some people argue that St. John has permitted one to interpret by themselves and that no one needs to teach anything? (1 John 2:27)

What St. John says is this:

"And you also, if the anointing which you have received from him abides among you, no one need to teach you; that same anointing which is of God will teach you all things; it is the truth, and there is no lie in it; and even as I have taught you, abide in it."

Let us analyze this:

1)  You do not need any one to teach you- it means nobody needs to teach you anything against what we (the apostles) taught you.

2)   We have seen the very purpose of John's epistles. The heresy that these articles counter, is of the type, which was difficult for even the present day scholars to counter. All throughout these epistles, it is an exhortation to defeat those heretics and their teachings. If one was anointed and if St. John had not written the epistles, what would have been the situation? Even the anointed would have been lost. This is because even the people who brought the heresy were also anointed. St. John specifically says that the purpose of his epistles were to counter the heresies, by the people who learned the teachings and interpreted themselves. So it is obvious that the purpose of these epistles is to teach the anointed people again. ie. written to the people who were anointed to teach them again.

3)  Again in the articles to Hebrews "Therefore, we must give the more earnest heed to the things we heard, lest we drift away." (Hebrew 2:1) and again in Hebrew 2:3 "How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him." (We have to understand that Hebrews were anointed, yet they have to learn). Again in Hebrew 5:12, "For through by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again, the first principles of the oracles of God and you have come to need milk and not solid food."

The anointed people should be taught again and again. He thanks God, because the Corinthians (who were anointed) obeyed the doctrines given by Paul in the form of teaching. "For this reason, I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church." (1 Cori 4:17). Remember that the Corinthians were anointed people and Paul says, they will be taught again. So if one says that he is anointed and hence need not be taught, it is wrong. Some Christian fellowships argue this way!

4)  In a letter written to the people who were sanctified and could be called saints (1 Cori 1:2) St. Paul suggests that wicked persons be removed from them. Here Paul teaches the anointed ones. Note that if the anointing-unction were to teach them all, Paul need not teach. But we see that Paul is teaching again!

5)  Again in Gala 3:1-3, Paul calls the Galatians foolish and says they were bewitched (the Galatians, who were the anointed ones). What should we understand from this? The anointed need to be taught again. If anointing-unction' would have taught them, why should Paul write to them? Therefore it is obvious that they were not allowed to interpret by themselves.

6)   Even the anointed ones could be wrong and could teach incorrectly. See below what St. Paul writes.

a)   In 2 Tess 2:1-2 Paul says, "Now brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled either by Spirit or by word or by letter as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come."

b)  In Thess 3:6 Paul exhorts, "But we command you brethren in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us."

c)  In 1 Timothy 19-20 Paul says that some people have rejected good faith and conscience and are not faithful anymore. Both Hymenaeus and Alexander were people of this type and were delivered to Satan that they may learn not blaspheme.  And again in 2 Timothy 1:15, This you know that all those in Asia have turned away from me among whom are Phygeleus and Hermogenes. Again in 2:18, And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort." We have to remember that all these people were, not only anointed ones but were also working with St. Paul. Still they became heretics.

d)   In Titus 3:10 - "After first or second warning, break off contact with a heretic.

e)   Not only the anointed ones, but even the people in the position of Elders (or Presbyters) may be misguided or influenced by false teaching. That is why Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 5:19-20 Do not receive an accusation against an elder, except from two or three witness. Those who are sinning, rebuke in the presence of all that the rest may fear. From this we understand that Elders can sin and if so, he should be corrected.

From all these quotations what we can infer is that:

The argument that if one is anointed he should not be taught or advised is incorrect. This is because all of the above quotes show that the Apostles wrote the epistles to people who were anointed but also were wrong in their interpretations.

The apostles taught the interpretations of the doctrines of the Church to the anointed ones.

There were heretics even among the anointed ones.

One should reject them outright from the church and house.

To hold the ordinary people in the church, the church leaders should always teach them and make them conscious of the true interpretations of the churches doctrines.

What should the anointed people do?

"Therefore let that abide in you which you heard form the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father." (1 John 2:24)

They should believe in Jesus Christ.

Those who abide in God should be careful to maintain good works (Titus 3:8)

The argument that 'if one is anointed, nobody needs to teach him anything', was put forth by Decenters. This argument is against the teachings of God, and could not be justified based on what Decenters themselves practiced. Let's look at what they practiced:

1)   They started the Bible society whose primary objective was to teach the 'anointed people.'

2)   This group had Gospel sermons, Sunday schools, and Bible colleges. They all basically taught the anointed people.

3)   If one of their community member comes with an interpretation against that fellowship's interpretations, and claims he too is anointed and has the power to interpret, he was excommunicated. If anointing-unction taught a member, why not accept his argument?

4)   We have seen that there are so many Christian communities with different interpretations and teachings. To say that the Holy Spirit will teach one community one way and another community another way is a sin against the Holy Spirit itself. What is most horrifying is the fact that sins against the Holy Spirit will not be pardoned.

9. What are the dangers of self-interpretations?

Here is an interesting study from a book authored by DE Stanton in 1972.

In 1969 a survey was conducted among 10,000 Protestant pastors and 7,441 people responded to the questions asked. These questions asked if they believed in the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. Here are the responses:

What should we infer from all this? Self-interpretations has caused many to turn away from Jesus Christ.

But some people quote Paul saying -And no man shall teach his neighbor, neither his brother, saying Know the Lord; for all shall know me, from youngest to the oldest (Hebrew 8:11). They argue that since Paul wrote this, why teach others? If one reads a few sentences prior to this, he will understand what Paul means! Paul has quoted this sentence form Jeremiah 31:34. It is a prophecy for the Israelites. This has nothing to do with Christians (ie. if you read the whole chapter, you will understand it). Hebrews 10:16, says, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their Hearts, and in their minds, I will write them?

In Eph 3:5 Paul writes, Which (mystery of Jesus) in other ages was not made known to the sons of men as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets. Since Paul says that it was revealed only to the apostles and prophets, we have to study from them alone, and not from anyone else.

We now know that the argument that the anointed need not be taught again is unjustified. We have to learn the true teachings from the apostles and prophets. So obey what they ordered, and learn from what they taught. (ie. learn their interpretations)

10. The traditional churches discourages its member from going to Protestant Churches. Is this because they want their people to remain in their faith?

Yes, this is correct. Like the traditional churches, the Protestant churches also does the same (for they discourage people from going to Orthodox churches). The Church is justified in its position towards this issue. The Apostles always urged not to attend false teachings and heretics (Gala 1:6-9). Jesus himself ordered not to listen to the Pharisees and Sadducees though they were Jews (Matt 16:6-8). St. Paul said that those who object his teachings were to be cursed.

11. Isn't it good to hear the Lord's words from anyone? Why ban people?

It is good to learn the Lords words from anyone, as long as the person teaching refrains from giving his or her self-interpretation.

Unfortunately this is not the case most of the time. They add, alter, and interpret the Lord's words for their own gain. Apostles barred these kinds of teachers and barred people from going to listen to these people's teachings. This is because of the fact that believers can easily be misguided. For example, the serpent that entered Eden never told Eve that there was no God or that one should not obey nor worship Him. All he did was to give a small lecture that if one eats the fruit, he or she will be like God. Eve listened thinking that God asked them not to eat the fruit because God feared of them becoming like Him (Her own interpretation). Subsequently she made a decision to eat the fruit without thinking about the consequences. She even enticed Adam to eat the same fruit. Today's heretics and modern day teachers do the same thing - i.e. create doubts and confusion in the minds of people. This will create doubts regarding the truth. If people who stayed with the Holy Trinity were swayed by a small lecture, what would be the fate of ordinary people, if one were exposed to false teachings?
Lets us again see what the apostles ordered the church members to do:

"I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who create dissension's and obstacles, in opposition to the teaching that you learned; avoid them. For such people do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites, and by fair and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the innocent." (Roman 16:17)

Please read 2 Cor. 11: 4-15. ?But I am afraid that just as the serpent through his deceitfulness misled Eve, so your minds should be corrupted from the sincerity that is in Christ. For if he who has come to you preaches another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if you have received another spirit, which you had not received or another gospel, which you had not accepted, you might have listened to him (2 Cor. 11:3-4). For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, who masquerade as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan masquerades as an angel of light. So it is not strange that his ministers also masquerade as ministers of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds (2 Cor. 13-15). Paul gives us such strong messages. If Paul felt that, listening to anyone preaching would not be a problem, he would not have issued such strong messages. From the above advice from Paul, we should understand that many of the preachers or ministers could be false apostles and deceitful workers. John also has issued similar warnings. Now the question is who is telling the truth? Is it the new advisers and interpreters that have mushroomed recently or that which was taught (and) practiced from the time of the apostles?

12. What is wrong in saying that faith and belief is based only on the Bible?

For a book to be the sole reference it should be: 1) complete and 2) true.

We have seen from the earlier questions that only the Bibles of the First and Second centuries were genuine and that it was altered extensively from the 15th century onwards for the translator's own personal gains. Therefore it is dangerous and misleading to accept such books (the altered ones) as the sole reference.

By saying that the book should be complete, I mean:

1)  It should contain all the faith-related reference; this doesn't mean that it should be an Encyclopedia.
2)  It should contain all that Jesus Christ and the Apostles taught. (and none of their teaching should be interpreted contrary to each other!)

If we apply these criteria's we see that:

John 21:25, "And there are also many other things that Jesus said, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world could not contain the books that would be written. They obviously did not write everything Jesus taught (But we should obey everything Jesus taught written or oral)."

2 John 12, "Having many things to write to you, I do not wish to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face."

And again 3 John 13, 14. "I have many things to write but I do not wish to write. But I will hope to see you shortly and we shall speak face to face."

So it is obvious that he went and taught many things that he did not write. Besides, to say that John, who died in AD 99, did not teach or preach anything except these Epistles which he wrote in AD 90, is foolishness. Additionally, his disciples such as Ignatius and Polycarp have recorded some of his teachings and many of those books are available even today. They have written about John's teachings that were taught orally. (Refer to Faith of Early fathers Vol. 1). The teachings, which were passed from the apostles (which they did not write), are called apostolic tradition. The Chamber's dictionary defines the word tradition as ?Oral transmission from generation to generation - a tale, belief or practice thus handed down.

2 Thess. 2:15, "Therefore, brethren stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or by our epistle." This shows that the apostles taught in both written and oral forms and that the people have to obey both!

1 Cor. 11:34 " And the rest I will set in order when I come." So Paul sets in order certain matters, which he did not write.

2 Timothy 2:2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also."

And most importantly in Acts 1:2; 3, "Until the day in which He was taken up, after He, through Holy Spirit, had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen. To whom He also presented Himself alive after His sufferings by many in fallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God."

From this we can infer:
1)  Christ taught the apostles before and after his resurrection.
2)  Some (not all) of what was taught before the crucifixion is in the Bible
3)  Since Christ taught before and after, both are equally important and one cannot reject what is taught after the resurrection.
4)  The only means for us to learn them is through the apostles and their disciples writings or oral teachings. This is called apostolic tradition.

As I had discussed at the start, there are many things, which Jesus taught that are not written. By arguing that one will do or obey only what is written, one is saying that he will not listen to other matters, which were commanded by Jesus. Isn't this disobedience to our Lord?
 
Christ never gave anyone a reference book. He could have done that! What was given was the permission to teach (Matthew 28: 18-20). St. Paul accepted this same methodology (1 Tim 4:11, 2 Tim 11:13). But some people quote John 5:39 You search Scriptures.. and these are which they testify of Me, and teach that the Bible is comprehensive. But this scripture suggests referring to the Old Testament, where it talks about Jesus Christ. The first council in Jerusalem demonstrates that the authority to teach, interpret, and decide is for the church alone (Acts 15), and not for anyone else.

13. How does the Syrian Orthodox Church and modern Christian communities treat the Bible?

'The traditional Churches' (like the Syrian Orthodox Church) has only one Bible, and is the version from the first and second century. They treat it as Holy and calls it the Holy Bible.

But the modern Christian Communities differ in beliefs among themselves:

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