Relentless War on the Bible
By Pastor Hal Mayer
Welcome to Keep the Faith Ministry once again. It is a wonderful privilege to spend this time with you. I hope that you will be greatly encouraged and blessed by this month’s message.
Before we begin however, I want to encourage you to share these CDs with others. We send you a pink card every month so that you can offer it to someone else so that they too can join the free subscription list and receive the monthly CDs.
Also, don’t forget to go to our website often to read our Prophetic Intelligence Briefings. You will also find our sermons posted there in text and in audio. You can check our sources so that you can see for yourself the original material we have used. Also, we have sermons posted there in Spanish and Portuguese text as well as audios in Portuguese.
Thank you too for your gifts and prayers for Keep the Faith. They mean a lot to us as we expand the spread of our monthly CDs to more homes and families who hunger to hear more of the truth for this time. We provide families all over the world with consistent, reliable and credible resources on current events in light of Bible prophecy. Your support is vital to what we do and we appreciate it very much indeed.
Speaking of expanding, I have some thrilling news to share with you. Keep the Faith Ministry has just expanded in the South Pacific, otherwise known as Oceana. Amazingly, God has opened the door for Keep the Faith to have a ministry footprint in Australia from which to reach out and minister to souls through out all of that enormous region. The place is called Highwood.
Highwood Health Centre has been operating for a number of years now, and is offering lifestyle programs for a range of diseases or disorders in one of the most beautiful places in all the world. It is nestled in a mountainous region outside of the great city of Melbourne, Victoria in the midst of tall eucalyptus trees with their healing characteristics, classic Australian wildlife, beautiful flowers, astounding views and the serenity of peaceful surroundings. It is an ideal place for a health and education center.
Recently through God’s amazing providences, Keep the Faith was asked to assume the ownership and leadership of Highwood. Highwood’s founder Dr. Russell Standish started this work, but his untimely death left the ministry without its founder and visionary leader. Highwood has a dedicated building for its health center with 13 guest rooms, treatment areas, offices, a dining hall and kitchen. It also has several staff homes, a classroom and office building, and a small dormitory. Go to our website and look at the pictures of the campus.
God has placed this important center of ministry right there near Melbourne to reach out to souls hungry for healing and restoration. There is a small, but dedicated staff, including a full-time physician, therapists, cooks and other staff to minister to those who come for healing. Highwood has already won souls to the truth for this time who are fellowshipping and worshipping with God’s people on his Holy Sabbath day. There was once a school on campus that is not currently operating, but we hope that one day we will be in a position to redevelop this too.
I’m awed at this opportunity to expand the work of Keep the Faith in this huge region of the world. Oceana includes Australia, New Zealand, and the islands of Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, the Cook Islands, Fiji, and other island chains throughout the region.
As you know, Keep the Faith continually urges our listeners to share their faith, and reach out to souls. Though we have done these ourselves through our monthly CDs, we have long desired to do more to reach lost men and women with the truth for this time. For some years we have even desired to have a way to expand our work specifically in the South Pacific. Now, amazingly, God has opened a way, which we would have never imagined.
We are living in the last days and medical missionary work is so very important. It is going to be the last work anyone can do for the Lord. How fitting for Keep the Faith to be able to work in this way. Moreover, when God opens the way, we plan to start educational programs for people who want to be trained to be medical missionaries, Bible workers and soul winners.
Though Betsy and I will not be moving to Australia, I will work with the team there to build up and strengthen the existing work, and as we see God’s leading, we will develop the educational side of this work and reach out to other parts of the region. Our vision is large, but we must take it step by step. We need your prayers and support to make this work. We can only move ahead as we see God’s hand in opening providence. If you would like to partner with us in this important work, please let us know. What a great missionary opportunity!
Right now, we have a bit of remodeling, marketing and ministry work to do. We have had some initial expenses to restructure the ministry so that it will be positioned to make a powerful impact for God’s truth throughout Oceana. So if you feel impressed to partner with us to help us take care of these expenses, we would like to hear from you. Mark any gifts for this work in the memo “Highwood.” Please feel free to email, or write or call us. And stay tuned for future reports and developments. And if by chance, you are ever to visit Australia, please plan a visit to Melbourne and come out to see the campus. It is only about an hour and a half drive from the main airport up the beautiful Maroondah Highway. But most of all, please pray for us as we expand our efforts under the guidance of the Lord in the South Pacific.
This year is the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. I believe that it is vital to understand how God used it to finally overthrow the power of papal tyranny, and restore the nation of England to a prosperous country, and how it helped the British Empire to spread it’s colonies around the world, and how it defended the Protestant faith against papal errors and superstitions. This is the fascinating story of how the Protestant Bible shook the very foundations of the Papacy, and stole her opportunity to rule the world.
But before we begin, let us pray. Our Father in Heaven, Through Jesus Christ we come to You seeking a blessing as we study Your hand in history and the amazing story of the King James Bible and its impact on the whole world. Send Your Holy Spirit as we study a portion of sacred History today, in Jesus name, Amen.
If you aren’t driving in your car, or occupied in some other dangerous activity, please open your Bible to the book of Hosea 4:6. The lack of understanding has caused many of God’s people to become confused and insecure about the message of salvation that God has given us, and is giving the Papacy the opportunity to undermine the Protestant faith. Here it is. Listen carefully. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.”
Behind the veneer of sanctity, the purpose of the Roman Church is to take people away from the true knowledge of God and distract them from keeping His Ten Commandments, especially, but not exclusively the Sabbath commandment. God condemns this and warns that He will turn His back on those who lose the knowledge of God. Perhaps most of God’s people have little realization that the version of the Bible they use for their personal spiritual life and growth in Christ is directly related to their knowledge of God, and their practice of the Ten Commandments. Most people think that it doesn’t really matter what version they use. They believe that they can find the full message for these last days from any version of the scriptures. And because they are ignorant of the history behind the versions of scripture, they are perishing for lack of knowledge, and they reject the truth because they have been instructed in the wrong ideas.
For instance, many of the modern translations change the words of the fourth commandment from “Remember the Sabbath,” to “Remember a Sabbath,” which is quite a difference and opens the door for people to observe whatever day of the week they want. There are many other examples of how modern translations have diminished the truth of God, especially concerning salvation, but also prophecy and history. God condemns those who keep the people in ignorance and he will reject them. That is why God rejects the Roman Catholic Church. Her priests and pope cannot represent God to the people because He has turned from them.
If ever there is a gift of God to His true people it is the King James Bible. Even in many languages other than English, Protestants have relied on translations taken directly from the King James Version. Most Christians however, have no idea how important the Authorized Version of the English Bible really is. And the reason is because they don’t know the history behind it. There has been a raging war going on over the Bible versions that has been waged for hundreds of years. Satan does not want the truth to be understood clearly. Therefore he has had to go to extreme lengths to get people reading Bibles that come from corrupt sources and which obscure the principles of righteousness.
Though the Bible has always been at the center of the controversy between Christ and Satan, it is especially significant that in these last days as the struggle is nearing its climax that the fight over the Bible has also entered its final stages. Subtle forces have supplanted the King James Version and undermined the great principles of faith and salvation in the process. The Vatican has offered a multitude of its own translations of the Bible to the ecumenical swarm of churches that she is wooing back into her bosom. As a result, they are confused and insecure about their Protestant message and heritage, and have compromised their principles and are now in ecumenical dialogue with the Papacy.
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Without a true understanding of the force and impact of the King James Bible, how and why it came about, you can never appreciate the key role it played in defending the truth against the errors and superstitions of Rome.
Perhaps in our modern times, when ecumenism has eroded a clear understanding of the Protestant faith, when new Bible translations proliferate like baby rabbits, and when seminaries and Bible schools teach a limited and superficial gospel, we have forgotten our Protestant heritage and the blood that was shed to give it life.
Most people never learned, or have forgotten the history of the Bible that paved the way for God’s last message to our fallen planet to be given. Most have never understood the importance of the grand old book and its key role in some of the most important events in modern history. Especially are people unaware of the powerful influence of the King James Bible on both the English-speaking world, and on many non-English languages as well.
Europe was spiritually dark in the early 13th century. England was out on the periphery of the Holy Roman Empire and was controlled by Rome. However, forces were at work to topple papal tyranny. England was about to make the pope tremble and the Vatican to stumble. John Wycliffe keenly saw the corruptions of the Catholic Church, and thundered against them. The monks and their corrupt lives especially exercised him. He also saw that the people were steeped in spiritual darkness and yearned to bring them light.
One of the ways that Rome was able to keep the people in darkness was by keeping the Greek language out of Western Europe. The church and all the centers of learning in the West were almost entirely devoted to Latin. Latin was a language that most of the peasants or common people could not understand. They were told that Latin was a holy language and that the church used Latin so that it would not defile the faith. The people went to church, but they could not really understand what was being said. The Latin language was one of the tools that the Papacy used to separate the people from a personal experience with God. If they could not understand Latin, how could they read the Bible? The priests could interpret the scriptures any way they wished. And they certainly did.
It was in Rome’s self-interest to keep the people ignorant of God and His word. The Church kept them occupied in round after round of ritualism that was devoid of any true power. Roman Catholicism emphasized ritual and ceremony as the means of salvation, not a personal walk with Christ. Because of the Augustinian doctrine of original sin, the Catholic Church taught that there was no possibility of being free from sin in this earthly life, so, all they needed to do was have “absolution” from a priest. They also taught that no man could approach Christ, except through an earthly priest, or a saint as they do today and therefore the people would always need an earthly priest to do the rituals for them and give them forgiveness.
So, the people were deceived into thinking that their only hope of salvation was through the Catholic Church. Though Rome taught pagan Greek philosophy, she kept the Western empire alienated from the East, which contributed to the lack of Eastern pure Bibles in the West. By the exclusive use of Latin the Papacy kept virtually all the learning, historical records, literature and science out of the West. And since the people were kept in ignorance, and since there were no Bibles for them to read, no wonder the era was called the “Dark Ages.” (44)
But God had a plan by which to enlighten the West with the Bibles that would lay the foundation for the Reformation. He had set it in motion hundreds of years before. God is always at work in the shadows, keeping watch above His own. He is looking ahead, way down the centuries and He sees what needs to be done and how it will bear fruit for His kingdom. He is not slack when men oppose Him. But He sets in motion forces that will undo all their hard work, and their strongest efforts to oppose the truth. He has to let Satan manifest himself. But He is ever working to undo the very things that the Prince of Darkness, the true father of the Dark Ages, sets in motion to smother the truth and keep it from the people.
Just before and during the Reformation, a very important series of wars took place. They were known as the Crusades. God permitted the Turks to threaten the Eastern Byzantine Empire as well as the Western Latin Empire so that refugees from these conflicts would be directed to the relative safety of the West. And as they came west they brought their Bibles, their much purer Bibles than what was generally available in the West.
You see, out in the East the churches had bibles that were quite different from the Bibles in the West. They came from different source manuscripts. On one hand, in Alexandria, Egypt, the Gnostic Christians were essentially unhappy with certain doctrines of Christ and the apostles. They had corrupted the scriptures in the name of correcting them. They thought they knew better than God, and that they could eliminate or change anything they didn’t like about the writings of the apostles. These Bibles from Alexandria, known as the western manuscripts, had become the Bible of choice for the Roman Catholic Church, or Latin Christianity.
On the other hand, the Bibles of the East, which had been compiled by a man named Lucian in a place called Edessa, now known as Irfu in Turkey, were carefully preserved in the original language and protected from corruption by Lucian and his colleagues. They made sure that these Bibles were circulated to the churches in the Byzantine Empire, and that they were unchanged from the original letters of the apostles.
These pure Bibles had been kept out of the West by design. Satan didn’t want the pure Bibles available so that he could more effectively develop the great mystery of iniquity. But the Bibles that came west during the time of the crusades were not small, and they were not easy to read since they were in the eastern languages like Syriac. So they were put in the university libraries, and certain other key places where the scholars who could read these ancient languages could study them.
Meanwhile, God was not left without witnesses. During the darkest times, and for 1000 years, He had a secret arsenal that was consistently undermining the papal errors with Bibles from the pure Eastern manuscripts. While Rome was insisting on her exclusive authority to interpret scripture, the Waldenses were busy secretly giving the people portions of the uncorrupted Bibles and explaining to them what the Bible really said. This greatly helped the people to see that the Catholic Church was teaching false doctrines and alienated the loyalties of many from Rome.
From where did the Waldenses get their Bibles? They got them from the great Syrian Churches in the East and translated them into the Itala language, which was the most common language of the Roman Empire. Missionaries had brought these Syrian Bibles from Judea and Asia Minor in the second century, long before the corrupted Greek manuscripts from Alexandria ever saw the light of day. It was known as the Peshitto, and later became known as the Received Text in the time of the Reformation. These Bibles were also distributed to the Celtic Christians in Ireland and Scotland, as well as the Gallic churches in what is today Southern France. These uncorrupted Bibles also found their way into Northern Italy where the Waldenses lived and also among the ancient Greek Catholic Churches in Asia minor. All these churches, at one time or another opposed the Roman Catholic Church, some earlier and some later. Even Chinese Christians used this uncorrupted Bible. (23-37)
But the Itala was an early Latin language and was quite different from the language of the Latin Vulgate Bible that the Catholic Church used for centuries. The famous Jerome had translated the Vulgate from the corrupted Gnostic Bibles of the West, which came from Alexandria, Egypt. The Itala on the other hand was a low Latin that was the language of the peasants in that time. Scholars in the Universities did not use it. It was the “heart-language” or the cultural language of the people, and the Waldenses used it mightily to undermine Rome’s corruptions by translating these pure eastern manuscripts into the common Itala language.
Though they had relatively complete Bibles, the Waldensian missionaries could not carry so many of these because it was too dangerous and they were too heavy since they were all handwritten. However, there were some that were very small that the Waldenses could use and could pack in their baggage. But mostly they could only copy relatively small portions of scripture to carry with them in their clothing or in among their wares. Generally, they chose to copy texts or small portions of the scriptures to give to the people that confronted the key errors of Rome in order that the people would be undeceived and accept the truth. (38-39)
Many Waldenses sacrificed their lives so that the poor peasants could understand the word of God. Their purpose was to undermine the teachings and authority of the priests, just as Jesus had done in His day by many of his teachings and miracles. And you can be sure that the church hierarchy was very unhappy with this. But this was God’s way of stirring hunger for truth and for something more meaningful than the church had to offer. God was using the Waldenses to foment discontent with the existing religious order in the Holy Roman Empire and they were doing a very successful job of it.
The fact that the Waldenses were using a Bible that was from a pure manuscript source. They were using the Bibles that had come to them from Judea in the second century when missionaries of the Gospel, successors of the apostles, brought them the message of salvation in Christ. Throughout the centuries of medieval darkness, the Waldenses faithfully taught that the papal Bible, the Latin Vulgate was depraved and corrupted by Rome.
Waldensian missionaries were hated and hunted and they had to disguise themselves and their agenda. But it was their Bibles that made such a powerful impact and unseated Rome in the hearts of the people. It is fascinating to learn that though the Reformers translated their Bibles from the pure eastern manuscripts, in what became known as the Received Text, it was not without the help and substantial influence of the Waldenses. Listen to this.
One of the Bibles that Martin Luther had by his side as he translated the German Bible in isolation at the castle of Wartburg, was a Bible called the Tepl Bible. This was a Waldensian Bible from Bohemia. Martin Luther used it to help him translate the pure eastern manuscripts of the Received Text into the German language. (38-39) Incidentally, the Received Text had been compiled by a man named Erasmus who collected all the eastern manuscripts he could and put together a New Testament which the Reformers then used to translate their Bibles into the various languages of the people.
Luther was no friend of the Waldenses, but when it came time for him to do his German Bible translation, he apparently appreciated their Bible very much because it made his job much easier. The Catholic Church chastised Luther for following the Waldenses in his translation. This was a very negative condemnation, and Luther felt it keenly. But he was guilty as charged. (38-39)
Here is another example. Olivitan, a cousin of Calvin, was a Waldensian himself. He translated the eastern uncorrupted Bible into French. Calvin himself edited the second edition of Olivitan’s Bible. This edition also became the basis of the Geneva Bible translated later by English exiles living in Geneva. As a result the Geneva Bible was also heavily influenced by the Waldenses. It actually became the most popular Bible in England during the time when the translators were working on the translation of the King James Bible.
Do you remember William Farel who fled Paris under the pressure of persecution and came to Geneva? He was the one who later convinced Calvin to stay in Geneva and conduct the Reformation from there since it was already a Protestant city. Apparently he had Waldensian connections. He and Theodore Beza, the successor to John Calvin published an edition of the Received Text in French too. Remember that the Geneva translators were good friends with Olivitan. (37)
Then there was Giovanni Diodati, who succeeded Theodore Beza as the head of the theology department at the University of Geneva. Diodati translated the Received Text into Italian. The Waldenses adopted this version even though they had their own Bibles. By then, however, the Itala language was falling into disuse and the Waldenses knew they needed a new Bible translation that would be in the more current language, one that was consistent with their Itala Bibles. Diodati was certainly aware of the Waldensian Bibles that had influenced the other translations in Geneva.
Do you see the powerful influence of the Waldenses on the Reformation? They had seeded Reformation principles for 1000 years by their missionaries who scattered their Bibles or portions of their Bibles everywhere. Then through their direct influence, they helped the reformers prepare translations of the pure eastern manuscripts that overthrew the power of Rome. God used the faithful Waldenses and their pure Bibles as the ancestors of the King James Bible as well as the other Protestant Bibles. They laid the foundation for its rise in the early 17th century.
We owe a great debt of gratitude to the Waldenses and their earnest and persevering efforts against all odds, to bring the truth to the people of God bit by precious bit. We also have to thank the Waldenses for providing Bibles that assisted the Protestant reformers to prepare their great translations.
Listen to this statement from the book Great Controversy, page 248-249. “The grand principle maintained by these reformers—the same that had been held by the Waldenses, by Wycliffe, by John Huss, by Luther, Zwingle, and those who united with them—was the infallible authority of the Holy Scriptures as a rule of faith and practice. They denied the right of popes, councils, Fathers, and kings, to control the conscience in matters of religion. The Bible was their authority, and by its teaching they tested all doctrines and all claims.” So the Reformers adopted the teaching of the infallibility of scripture that the Waldenses had taught for 1000 years. They may not have liked the Waldenses, but they could not but be greatly influenced by their singular and effective work.
Let us go back now to 13th century England again. John Wycliffe saw the corruption of Rome and denounced it powerfully. He was well educated and had been a member of Parliament, and for a time an ambassador to France and Italy. He had also been a lecturer at the university and was also the rector of the Lutterworth Chapel. He was well-connected. When he studied the scriptures, he realized that the corruptions of Rome were a result of disobeying the Bible. He also knew that the reason for the corruptions of the priests and monks, and the vices of the people were a direct result of a lack of understanding the scriptures. They were not being read.
Listen to this from the book Great Controversy, page 81. “Like after-reformers, Wycliffe did not, at the opening of his work, foresee whither it would lead him. He did not set himself deliberately in opposition to Rome. But devotion to truth could not but bring him in conflict with falsehood. The more clearly he discerned the errors of the papacy, the more earnestly he presented the teaching of the Bible. He saw that Rome had forsaken the Word of God for human tradition; he fearlessly accused the priesthood of having banished the Scriptures, and demanded that the Bible be restored to the people, and that its authority be again established in the church.”
Back then there were very few complete Bibles in England to be had. So John Wycliffe used what was available to him to translate a Bible into English, the Latin Vulgate of the Catholic Church. Though this version was from the corrupted Western manuscript source, Wycliffe’s English Bible brought great light to the people. There were no printing presses, so he had to have them copied by hand. He established a school for copyists and colporteurs that would copy the English translation and then bind them and distribute them wherever they could.
This shocked the Vatican. This was not supposed to be. Yet it was their own Bible that Wycliffe had used. And Wycliffe had done this without their permission. The priests were horrified that the people now had a Bible that they could read in their own language, and they condemned Wycliffe’s translation. But it was a great help in awakening the English people to the truths of God’s word, even though it was from a corrupted source manuscript. That does not mean that there was a lot of virtue of the Latin Vulgate however. It simply shows us how dark the dark ages really were because of Rome’s superstitions and teachings. Even a corrupted Bible brought great light.
The time was still 200 years too early for the protest Bibles to make their entrance into the battlefield. But Wycliffe’s Bible laid the foundation for something else to happen that directly influenced the King James Bible. His translation of the Latin Vulgate was done early enough, and in time for a major development to take place concerning the English language. The people were mostly peasants who could not read or write. But there was a deep desire for the word of God. Many were willing to do whatever they could to hear the Bible. So they would gather around those who could read, and listened as the scriptures were read. It created a greater hunger for the word of God that would bear fruit in the coming Reformation 200 years later. Some of the people also started to learn to read. This began a long process that would develop the intellect of England and would also raise up the middle class, and which would eventually open the way for an intellectual break from Rome in England and the whole British Empire. Wycliffe’s Bible was the foundation of this great shift.
When Tyndale’s English translation was published in Belgium where the best printing presses were, it was smuggled into England in sacks of wheat. Imagine that, the bread of life smuggled in sacks of wheat for table bread. It was a hit. Again, people wanted to learn to read so that they could understand the Bible. This again elevated the language of the people further to the point where it reached the quality of Shakespeare. This added another stone to the foundation for the magnificent edifice of the King James Bible.
Learning to read the Bible did something for England that nothing else could do. It set Great Britain on a course that would change the world. Once the people were able to read, they could also think more clearly and carefully. This led to all sorts of inventions, which led to economic development, and the rise of a middle class. It also gave rise to a more educated class and with it greater intellectual and literary achievements. Now they could question the priests, which made the clerics very uncomfortable. By the time of the 17th century, the language of the English people had greatly improved from their simple speech to a world-class language with all the power of intellect to support it. In fact, the English language was to rule the world for a while under the British crown, which was the sole superpower.
God knew that the English language needed to reach its peak just at the time of the translation of the 1611 Authorized Version. So, way back in the time of Wycliffe, He used His servant to set the process in motion that would elevate the language gradually to its maximum performance. He knew how long it would take, and He, no doubt, timed it so that process would be complete just in time for the great translation project.
But there was something else that God had planned for the English language. He knew that He needed the whole world to be linked to a language that would be a long way from Rome’s language. The Latin languages were all tied to the Catholic Church and Catholic teachings. But since Great Britain was going to eventually become Protestant, God was preparing for it to take the Protestant faith around the world. This was no small task, but in the shadows God was working through powerful agencies to overcome the controlling forces of evil. Once Great Britain broke from Rome, Britain went out and colonized all over the world, taking her English language and English Bibles with her.
Perhaps the most important place for the English language to be planted was in the North American Continent, because from there the advent message, the message of the soon return of Jesus was to spread its wings and fly to every corner of the globe. The last message to the world had to be born in a Protestant land far from the geographical reaches of Rome. It had to be nurtured in the English language, which was far from the language, literature and thinking of Rome. And it had to be matured by the most widely accepted Protestant Bible, which was spiritually a long distance from Rome. The principles of God’s last message had to have pure sources for its doctrines and teachings. And God made sure of it, so that there would be a security and confidence in the message as the full truth of God for our times. The Advent message was nurtured and developed in Protestant America and from there spread to every nation, kindred, tongue and people.
But now we are getting ahead of ourselves again. In the 16th century, William Tyndale laid another stone on the foundation of the formidable Protestant structure, the soon coming King James Bible. An exile, he worked diligently on his English translation in Worms, Germany where he had Protestant friends. From there he could translate from the valuable compilation that Erasmus had published. He most certainly had access to the Waldensian Bibles. He could consult other Protestants in his work. His Bible made a powerful impact on England and the people were thrilled. But Rome was not at all enthusiastic about the new English Protestant Bible.
Satan knew that the Tyndale Bible had to be confronted. So he instigated the Jesuits to translate an English Bible from the Western corrupted manuscripts, the same ones used to translate the Latin Vulgate. The Catholic Church did not want the Bible in the languages of the people. But the Reformation had done so much damage to her power and authority, and the Tyndale Bible in English was so well received by the people that she was desperate to find a way to overthrow the mighty force of the Protestant Reformation.
Think about it. The Lutheran Reformation had shaken Rome to the core. But it didn’t stop there. Wave after wave of reform had swept over the nations of Europe, freeing the people from the grip of Rome through the distribution of the Received Text in the languages of the people. Now they could read it for themselves and didn’t have to have a priest to tell them what it said. Rome trembled when the Word of God had entrance into the hearts of the people. But the Reformation did not come about just because Rome had a corrupt Bible. Without a better alternative, there could not be any lasting changes. It was the fact that the Received Text was now available, and that it had been translated into the languages of the people that turbo charged the Reformation and shook the Papacy from stem to stern.
The Papacy realized that she would have to bring all her subtle arts and cunning strategy into operation to overcome her powerful enemy, the Received Text, now in the form of Protestant Bibles in the common languages. She developed a three-pronged attack.
The first assault on the Protestant Bible was the Council of Trent, which lasted eighteen years from 1545 – 1563. It was mainly intended to overthrow the Reformation Bibles. Keep in mind that the Protestant Reformers had strongly denounced the abuses of the church; and also against her exactions, and her shocking immoralities. You would think that the Council of Trent would have addressed these matters. But instead the Catholic Church focused on matters relating to scripture and doctrine, especially as it related to her authority.
For instance, at the Council of Trent the Bishop of Reggio clearly pointed out that the Protestants were still under the authority of Rome because they kept Sunday, which, he said, had no scriptural authority, but rested on a change made solely by the authority of the church. Therefore, if the Protestants agreed with Rome and continued to keep Sunday, they were actually yielding their position to the authority of the Catholic Church.
Reference: Council of Trent, by Paolo Sarpi, page 439. On the 18th day of the council, a sermon was preached by the Archbishop of Reggio, Gasparo del Fosso. Sarpi writes, “His subject was the authority of the Church, Primacy of the Pope, and the Power of the Councils. He said, that the Church had as much Authority as the Word of God; that the Church hath changed the Sabbath, ordained by God, into Sunday, and taken away Circumcision, formerly commanded by his Divine Majesty, and that these precepts are changed, not by the preaching of Christ, but by the Authority of the Church…”
The Jesuits dominated the Council of Trent and influenced its decisions. They were especially concerned with the efforts of the Reformation to remove the authority of the Pope. To refute them, the council reaffirmed that the Latin Vulgate was the inspired translation of scripture, and that scripture alone was not sufficient for salvation. They also reaffirmed that tradition is equal with scripture, that the apocrypha was inspired, and that the lay members of the church had no right to interpret the Scriptures by themselves. They needed the priests and the pope to understand them. (p. 64-65).
You can see that these decisions all defended papal authority and were intended to subvert Protestant loyalty to the authority of scripture. The Roman Catholic Church had not changed as a result of the Reformation, but reaffirmed her doctrines and especially her corrupted Bible. The Council of Trent is still considered to be a key defining moment of the Roman Catholic Church.
But the Protestants rejected the Council of Trent and its principles. The Reformation had been built on the principle of “sola scriptura,” or “scripture alone” as the basis of their faith. Though they did not throw off all error (such as Sunday observance) they knew that the Latin Vulgate was corrupted with thousands of errors and corruptions of God’s word. And they believed that every man could study the Bible and learn the way of salvation for himself without the help of a priest or pope if he had it in his own language. And they rightly placed the authority of scripture above the authority of the church or tradition.
To follow up with a second assault on the Protestant Bibles, the Jesuits in Rheims, France were commissioned to translate an English Bible from the Latin Vulgate. This was intended to compete with the translation of William Tyndale and other English translations of the eastern uncorrupted Received Text. The old axiom, “if you can’t beat’em, join, em” came into play. The pope could not forbid the people to read the scriptures any longer, so he had no choice but to try to get the people to accept a papal translation. And so the 1582 Jesuit English New Testament was launched against the translation of Tyndale, and for that matter against the Geneva Bible. The goal of the Jesuits in releasing the 1582 New Testament was to overthrow if possible these magnificent Bibles by their competing and corrupted rendition of the word of God.
Keep in mind the Jesuit mission has always been to overthrow the Protestant churches and regain the lost papal supremacy. The Jesuits were scholars and they hoped that their Bible would be well respected by the common people. They hoped to regain their hearts. But they published a Bible that was too difficult to read. Besides, it had marginal notes that were clearly promoting Catholic theology and tradition. The Protestants quickly recognized that this Bible was merely the Latin Vulgate translated to English, which they knew was of the corrupted Gnostic sources. They had deliberately avoided using these western manuscripts in their translations because of their serious and countless errors and omissions.
But when the 1582 Jesuit New Testament was released in England, the Protestants avoided it and accused the Jesuits of publishing a flawed Bible. Both Anglicans and Puritans rose up to refute the work of the Jesuits. They systematically and methodically discredited the 1582 Jesuit Bible showing its errors and condemning its theology. The people also refused to accept it as genuine and wouldn’t read it. So the Jesuits had to withdraw it from circulation and re-translate it closer to the Tyndale Bible. But the next edition didn’t work either. In fact, several editions were published and then withdrawn. (58-71)
In 1588, only six years after the publication of the Jesuit New Testament, Rome leveled her third attack on the British Protestants. This time it was the Spanish Armada of Phillip II of Spain.
England was beginning to show signs of becoming a global power. The Protestant Reformation and its Bible had inspired new life and energy throughout the land. Spain, the long time defender of the Catholic faith, and ruler of the seas at that time was now governed by Phillip II who was eyeing England’s growing strength with concern. So was Pope Sixtus V.
Phillip’s half sister-in-law Elizabeth I of England was strongly promoting Protestantism and finding ways to restrict or even remove Roman Catholic forces influencing Britain. For instance, she had imprisoned and eventually executed her cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots a loyal and fanatical Roman Catholic.
Now, Phillip II, encouraged by Pope Sixtus who offered him money, and plenary indulgences for any men lost in battle, commissioned the Spanish Armada to sail against England in a powerful effort to overthrow the Protestant monarchy, restore Catholic rulers and return the nation to Rome. The Vatican no doubt was aware of Britain’s ambitions to become a world power. She could see the forces at work and knew that unless something was done to stop the Protestant advance, and overthrow those English Bibles, then Catholic Spain would have serious competition to it geopolitical dominance. The Church would have a difficult time maintaining her spiritual control.
The mighty Spanish Armada sailed into the English Channel in the spring of 1588. The English knew they were coming, but trembled. After several unsuccessful skirmishes against the Spanish galleons, the English knew that they had to do something to break up the defensive formation of the Spanish ships. They decided to sacrifice a few of their own ships and sail them directly into the Spanish fleet – on fire. In the dead of night, the English ships, loaded with explosives and painted in tar, approached the Armada as if to run right into them. But as the ships came close, suddenly they burst into flames, which threatened the whole Spanish fleet with a destructive conflagration. The captains of the Armada panicked and scrambled to flee these infernos. In the chaos, and desperation to escape, some of the ships were lost, but once out of protective formation, the English ships, which were faster and more maneuverable, inflicted heavy damage.
After pursuing them all the way up near Norway, the Spaniards tried to escape back to Spain along the Atlantic coast of Britain. Powerful storms drove many of the ships into the shoals and destroyed them. 20,000 crewmen and soldiers died from disease, starvation, drowning or slaughter. Only about 67 of the Armada’s original fleet of 151 ships managed to get back to Spain, but they were greatly damaged. Pope Sixtus had offered to assist in this project with a million gold crowns to induce Phillip II to sail against England. But when the Armada returned, he refused to pay one single ducat. This broke the power of Spain and ensured its decline as the master of the seas and global superpower. The absence of Spanish competition paved the way for Protestant England to rise into a global superpower. Perhaps Pope Sixtus did not realize that his lack of support for Phillip II meant that the Spanish Armada could not be restored and Spain would lose her dominant position.
By 1611 the British Empire was well under construction, including the first of the American colonies, which would eventually champion religious liberty. The power of the British Navy and merchant marines made Great Britain a center of global commerce, trade and economic might. The emerging empire would ensure that the sun never set on her territories. The English language was at its pinnacle of quality. And the new American Republic, carved out from the wilderness as prophecy had predicted was also speaking the English language. Industrial and mechanical achievements were advancing quickly making ready to accelerate the spread of the Bibles and the Protestant message everywhere. Linguistic scholarship so necessary for biblical scholarship was also at its peak in 1611, creating a superb foundation for the new translation. 170 years of printing had developed the technology to a good quality and efficiency. (72)
The opportune time had arrived for God to bring out a Bible that would be the sum of all the work that had been done for ages to preserve the Received Text. The conditions were perfect for the rise of the most scholarly, cleanest and simple translation of the Bible ever published.
Speaking of scholarship, there is the assumption that biblical scholarship today is better than what was available in 1611 and therefore the KJV is not as good as the modern translations. But there can hardly be found a better time in history when biblical scholarship was at its zenith. The King James translators had the very best material available to them, the best sources of information. And they themselves were of the highest quality in scholarship. New information has not added to the quality of information they had then, neither has there arisen any better scholarship. What is today considered biblical scholarship is often tainted by an unscholarly bias or even an agenda to deceive, just as in science, journalism or politics.
Speaking of the English language being at its peak, it is important to note that the words were broad, simple and generic. In other words, they were capable of containing in themselves a central thought, but also many shades of meaning, which were attached to that central thought. This made the words very pliable. One or two could convey large and complex concepts quite easily. This meant that future generations would find the words of scripture very adaptable to multiple circumstances. Though words have become less generic today and much more specific, there is still a power in the King James Bible that provides the student with tremendous adaptability, especially since the KJV uses mostly simple words, words with only one or two syllables whenever possible. Now, however, words and word combinations are more fixed in their meanings. (74-75). So in 1611, the English language had arrived at its most effective and efficient quality.
After the life and death struggles of the Reformation, the contest with the Jesuit English Bible of 1582 and the war with Spain, victorious Protestantism was in a position to organize a new era, not just in world politics, but in matters of faith. England would be at the helm of laying the foundation for the last warnings of God to the fallen planet just before Jesus comes again in the clouds of heaven. The last message to the world needed a pure, uncorrupted and mature Bible in English. It needed to have a Bible translated systematically and widely accepted by all Protestants. Without the King James Bible, there would be no opportunity to understand the clearest principles of Christ’s last work in the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary and the message of preparation for the coming of the Lord. Those planning and conducting the King James Translation had no idea that their work was essential to a mature understanding of Christ and His mission in the last days.
A thousand ministers, it is said, sent a petition, called the Millenary Petition, to King James who had now succeeded Elizabeth to the crown, which asked for “a new translation of the Bible, without note or comment.” Prior to this time, the Bibles were printed with wide margins, which had notes in them explaining the texts. But the Puritans in England were unhappy with this. They had a very clear understanding of how to study the Bible at that time, and believed that the Holy Spirit can teach the student the truth of God by the Bible itself, by comparing scripture with scripture, here a little, there a little (Isaiah 28:10). They did not want a Bible that had human explanatory notes in the margins.
So in reality, the greatest impetus for the new Bible came from the Puritans who felt that the corrupted Jesuit version was now spreading just as much poison among the people as Rome had starved the people by withholding the scriptures from them for centuries. (77)
Forty-seven learned men were assigned the task of translating the new version. They were divided into three companies, one at Oxford, one at Cambridge and the third at Westminster. Each of these companies were divided into two committees, making six committees overall. As the translators worked on their assigned portions of scripture, they would submit their work to the committees to which they belonged, and then after review and any edits, they would submit their combined work to their company and then to the other companies for review and criticism. These other companies and their respective committees would send their criticisms back to the original company for review again, and if there was still any disagreement, they would resolve these at a general meeting of all the companies at the end of the project. Thus each verse through the various members and committees involved in the project was reviewed at least 14 times. (85)
Furthermore, the project was open to all learned men of the realm to make observations as the work progressed. Furthermore, if there was difficulty with a particular text, the translators could consult learned men anywhere, even outside Britain. (85-86)
The birth of the King James Bible was the death-knell to the supremacy of the Roman Catholic Church and its Bibles. The King James Bible translators certainly could not see the global influence of this simple, yet magnificent book. They could not have known that for 300 years, their translation would form a strong bond of union among Protestants all over the world against papal tyranny. (88)
One traitor to the Anglican Church, a clergyman, who tried to bring that church back to Rome, and who eventually converted to the Catholic Church remarked in frustration, “Who will say that the uncommon beauty and marvelous English of the Protestant Bible is not one of the great strongholds of heresy in this country.” Truly the King James Bible was a stronghold of Protestantism in England and other English-speaking nations of the world. But it also erected a gigantic barrier against the spread of Romanism globally. (88)
Rome could only gain a foothold in the Protestant churches by overthrowing the King James Bible. Now days it is clear that the Papacy has been successful in overthrowing the King James Bible and replacing it with all manner of versions, but especially the New International Version, all translated according to the corrupted western manuscripts from which the Vatican, through the Latin Vulgate had maintained her spiritual supremacy during the dark ages.
Rome worked for 300 years to overthrow the King James Bible, waging a continuing war on the Protestant Bible. The spiritual giants of 1611 placed before the world a Bible that would stand as the final authority in all matters of faith and practice for any true Christian. The King James Bible overthrew the notion that tradition was necessary for salvation. The King James Bible overthrew the notion that the individual needs a human priest other than Christ to find forgiveness of sins and cleansing from unrighteousness. The King James Bible overthrew the idea that the sinner needed penance, pilgrimages and rosaries to atone for his transgressions. The Jesuits tried to unseat the King James Bible many times, but could not succeed until 1881 when the Revised Version New Testament, one in harmony with the Roman Catholic Latin Vulgate, was finally able to find some credibility among Protestants.
The era surrounding the translation of the King James Bible was the most important era in English literature. Shakespeare was perfecting drama and bringing it to its highest poetic point in the history of the word. Poetry found its most supreme expression during this time. Essays, books and other literature made a fine contribution because of the quality of the English language during this period, never to be outshined in any other era. But the crowning achievement of those grand times was the King James Bible. Three centuries of English literature followed, but though they have been crowded with poets, novelists and essayists, and though many good men and women are engaged in teaching the English language to millions, yet the art of the English language has never surpassed the finesse of the 1611 King James Bible. (90)
Not only is the King James Bible the “best example of English literature the world has ever seen,” but it is also the simplest and easiest in which to understand the way of salvation. In spite of some words that are rather archaic, the King James Bible offers the easiest version by which to memorize scripture. The mind can easily adjust to them if one is willing. (89)
The beautiful language of the King James Bible has been woven into the English language. Take for instance the words “apple of his eye,” or “a city set on a hill,” or “a house divided,” or “reap the whirlwind,” “scapegoat,” and a “two-edged sword.” These and many more continue to have parlance in our modern language. This represents the influence of the King James Bible on the English language. The fact that the Authorized King James Bible was the undisputed sovereign of the Protestant churches and nations ensured that its language, its phrases, words and concepts would pervade the culture and mentality of the people of those lands. It guaranteed that any effort to overthrow its supremacy would be a long and difficult road, and would require much effort and expense to undermine and then eventually supplant it with lesser, more ecumenical versions. The economy, balance and force of the language used in the magnificent Authorized Version are unparalleled both in its influence and in its defense of Protestant teaching. Without it, Protestants loose their spiritual footing. With it, the Papacy is held at bay.
Though there is much more that could be said concerning the history and impact of the Authorized Version, there is no doubt that it is superior to the modern translations from the corrupted sources. As you think about the grand heritage of the King James Version of the Bible, remember that in order to have a pure message, in order to have a pure faith, and in order to have the most mature experience with the Lord, you need a pure Bible, a Bible from a pure source manuscript.