Where do Bible manuscripts come from?
Most existing manuscripts of the Bible are divided into two “families”. These families are generally represented by the cities of Alexandria, Egypt and Antioch, Syria.
There are only two Bibles, God’s and the devil’s. There are only two views of the Bible. It is totally perfect or it is imperfect.
The two Bibles, in manuscript form, and their corresponding ideologies originate in two vastly different locations in the Mid East. Alexandria, Egypt and Antioch, Syria. Discerning which location gives us the perfect Bible and the correct ideology and which gave us the devil’s bible and incorrect ideology is one of the easiest tasks imaginable. This pursuit is made childishly easy due to one source, the Bible.
As we have stated so many times, yet shall again, we accept the Bible as our final authority in all matters of faith and practice. Therefore, all anyone need do is to explore the Bible and discover what GOD thinks of Alexandria, Egypt and what He thinks of Antioch, Syria.
When studying Scripture a fundamental rule that is followed is called “the law of first mention”. This means that it is generally true that the context in which someone or something is first mentioned sets the Bible attitude for that person or place.
In our study of Alexandria and Antioch we find it impossible to ignore the Bible’s attitude toward Egypt itself.
(1) Egypt is first mentioned in Genesis 12:10-12.
10 “And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there: for the famine was grievous in the land.
11 And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon:
12 Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive.”
In Genesis 12:1-3 we find Abraham is given what is known as the Abrahamic Covenant. Literally it is God’s promise to deliver the world to Abraham and his seed as their own private possession.
In Genesis 12:10 Abraham goes down into Egypt to escape a famine in his homeland. In verse 12 we find Abraham’s fear that the Egyptians might kill him and steal Sarai his wife. NOT exactly a positive context. We see then that the first mention of Egypt is negative.
(2) In Exodus 1:11-14 we find that the Jews were slaves in Egypt.
11 “Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses.
12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.
13 And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour:
14 And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour. ”
In fact, Pharaoh decrees that all male Jewish babies are to be killed in verses 15 and 16.
15 “And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah:
16 And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live.”
Obviously a negative connotation.
(3) In Exodus chapter 20, after He had brought the children out of Egypt, God, with His own voice, tells what He thinks of Egypt in verse 2 where He describes it as a “house of bondage” “I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”
Again, a negative comment and this one directly from God’s lips.
(4) In Deuteronomy 4:20 Moses refers to Egypt as “the iron furnace. ”
“But the LORD hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day.”
(5) In Deuteronomy 17:16 Israel is told that, in the future, when they have a king he is not to carry on commercial trade with Egypt.
“But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way.”
(6) And finally in Revelation 11:8, when God wants to denounce Jerusalem, He compares it to Sodom and Egypt.
“And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.”
This brief study has shown what most Christians already know. The Bible has a negative outlook on Egypt.
We find that Alexandria is mentioned only four times in Scripture and that each mention is bad.
(1) Alexandria is first mentioned in Acts 6:9.
“Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.”
It was Jews from Alexandria who were in the crowd that disputed with and eventually killed Stephen.
(2) The second mention of Alexandria is in Acts 18:24.
“And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.”
Here we find a Jew from Alexandria named Apollos who though fervent in spirit was misinformed concerning the gospel. Not knowing the true gospel of Jesus Christ he preached, in Ephesus, the baptism of John the Baptist. (Acts 18:25, 19:3) Apollos was not saved and neither were his converts.
Later, Apollos is led to Christ by Aquila and Priscilla (verse 26) and gets his message straightened out (verse 28).
But in its second mention, Alexandria is synonymous with bad Bible teaching.
(3) The third and fourth mentions of Alexandria are very similar. After Paul is arrested in Acts 21 and appeals his case to Caesar he is sent to Rome, and eventual death, on a ship from, of all places Alexandria (Acts 27:6).
“And there the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing into Italy; and he put us therein.”
(4) While sailing to Rome, Paul’s ship is sunk in a tempest. After spending three months on the island of Melita he is sent on his way to eventual death on another ship. And where is this second ship from that is so ready to carry Paul to his death?
Acts 28:11: “And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and Pollux.”
We see then that all four Bible references to Alexandria are negative. No one with any honesty could pretend that the Bible’s representation of Alexandria is good.
It must also be noted here that Alexandria was a center of education and philosophy (Colossians 2:8) which it received from Athens in about 100 B.C. (Acts 17:16) There was a school of the Scriptures founded there by one Pantaenus who was a philosopher. Pantaenus interpreted scripture both philosophically and allegorically. That is to say that philosophically he believed truth to be relative, not absolute. He did not believe that the Bible was infallible. By looking at the Bible allegorically he believed that men such as Adam, Noah, Moses, and David existed only in Jewish poetry and were not true historical characters. He was succeeded as head of the school by Clement of Alexandria and later by Origen. Men who shared his skepticism.
It was Origen, deceived by the duel intoxicants of education and philosophy who upon receipt of pure copies of scripture altered them to parallel his twisted thinking. He is the father of all Bible critics and is not only responsible for the physical manuscripts which delete such verses as Luke 24:40, Acts 8:37 and I John 5:7, but he is also responsible for the Alexandrian philosophy parroted by so many of our fundamental scholars who claim that “The Bible is perfect and infallible” with one breath and then state “The Bible has mistakes and mistranslations” with the very next. It is this demented ideology that gave birth to the corrupt Alexandrian manuscripts in the first place. Thus we see that not only are the physical manuscripts of Alexandria corrupt and to be rejected, but the Alexandrian philosophy, that the Bible has mistakes in it and must be corrected, is even more subtle and dangerous and must be forsaken by true Bible believers.
Ironically the first mention of Antioch is found in the very same book and chapter as Alexandria, Acts chapter 6, but in a radically different context.
(1) When the Apostles saw a need for helpers, helpers whom today we know as “deacons”, they gave instructions for what kind of men should be chosen for the position.
Acts 6:3,4: “Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.”
The seven men chosen are listed in Acts 6:5.
“And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:”
Please notice that one of the first deacons, Nicolas, was of Antioch. Is this a mere coincidence? Certainly not! Neither is it coincidental that Nicolas is the only deacon whose home town is given. Neither is it coincidental that Antioch is mentioned for the first time in Scripture in the same chapter in which Alexandria is mentioned. And it is certainly no difficult feat to see that one, Antioch, is first mentioned in a positive light and the other, Alexandria, is first mentioned in a negative light.
The next few pertinent appearances of Antioch start as a trickle and end as a flood of testimony to God’s choice of Antioch for the center of His New Testament church.
(2) Antioch appears next in Scripture in Acts 11:19-21.
19 “Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen traveled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.
20 And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus.
21 And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.”
Here we find that certain of the Christians who had taken flight during the persecution preached the gospel as they fled.
Upon arrival in Antioch they, not knowing what had happened in Acts 10 with Peter opening the door of the gospel to the Gentiles, preached the gospel to the Grecians. Verse 21 tells us that God’s Holy Spirit worked mightily in Antioch and that a “great number” were saved.
We see then that the first great gentile awakening occurred in Antioch.
(3) In Acts 11:22-24 we find that Barnabus, (the son of consolation Acts 4:36) was sent to Antioch to see what was happening in Antioch.
22 “Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.
23 Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.
24 For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.”
Through the ministry of this great man of God, many more people were added to Christ,
(4) In Acts 11:25,26, two important facts are revealed.
25 “Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch.
26 And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”
First, we find Barnabas departing for Tarsus to seek the young convert Saul. It was Barnabas who defended Paul’s conversion to the doubting disciples in Acts 9:26,27. Doubtless he was grieved to see the zealous young convert shipped off to Tarsus (Acts 9:30), and oblivion. Upon finding Saul, Barnabus does not bring him back to Jerusalem. (And certainly not to Alexandria.) He returns with him to Antioch, the spiritual capital of the New Testament church. All that Paul ever became, he owes to the gracious act of this godly old saint.
(5) In Acts 11:26 we find that born again believers were called “Christians” for the first time at Antioch. Thus every time we believers refer to ourselves as “Christians” we complete a spiritual connection to our spiritual forefathers in Antioch. Antioch is to the Christian what Plymouth Rock is to the American.
(6) In verses 27 and 28 we find that God has now packed up His prophets and sent them north to Antioch.
27 “And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch.
28 And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.”
Jerusalem is left spiritually abandoned. Home only of the disciples, who were told to leave it years earlier in Acts 1:8.
(7) In Acts 11:29,30 we find that the saints who God is blessing in Antioch, must send monetary aid to the saints who God is not blessing in Jerusalem.
29 “Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea:
30 Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.”
Yet these are not the final Biblical references to the capital of God’s New Testament church.
(8) When God decides to send missionaries out into the world to preach the gospel, He never even glances in the direction of Jerusalem. (And most assuredly not Alexandria, Egypt) He looks instead to His faithful servants at Antioch.
Acts 13:1-3: “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.”
Thus, it is evident that the first missionary journey mentioned in Scripture originated in Antioch, with “Christians” from Antioch. And when this great work was fulfilled, no one wasted any time sightseeing or sending reports to Jerusalem. They simply returned to Antioch.
Acts 14:25-28: “And when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down unto Attalia:
26 And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled.
27 And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.
28 And there they abode long time with the disciples.”
Our last two glimpses of Antioch give evidence that to be in Antioch is to be in the middle of the will of God.
(9) In Acts chapter 15 the disciples in Jerusalem feel a need to send a pair of envoys to Antioch with their decrees concerning Gentile believers.
Acts 15:23-27: “And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia:
24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:
25 It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
26 Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
27 We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth.”
Following the completion of the mission, Judas returns to Jerusalem, and oblivion. Silas elects to stay in Antioch, and it is Silas who we find gaining a prominent place in Scripture as Paul’s missionary partner on his second missionary journey.
(10) Of course, the second missionary journey did not originate in Jerusalem. It originated in the only place that it possibly could have, Antioch, as Acts 15:40 illustrates.
What was it about Antioch that was so attractive to God that He chose it as the center of New Testament Christianity?
It might be noted that, Antioch although it was a cultural center, had not abandoned itself to pagan religion, pagan education and pagan philosophy as had such prominent sites as Rome, Athens, and Alexandria.
It might also be weighed that Antioch, unlike the above mentioned cities, or even Jerusalem, was located almost exactly in the middle of the known world, and was built at the crossing of the East-West trade routes. It even boasted a sea port, via the Orontes River. These are all important attributes for the capital of Christianity, which is known for it’s mobility.
It may be that many of the original autographs of Paul’s epistles were penned in Antioch.
In the second century, a disciple by the name of Lucian founded a school of the Scriptures in Antioch. Lucian was noted for his mistrust of pagan philosophy. His school magnified the authority and divinity of Scripture and taught that the Bible was to be taken literally, not figuratively as the philosophers of Alexandria taught.
So Antioch is not only the point of origin for the correct family of Bible manuscripts, but is also the source for the ideology that accepts the Bible as literally and perfectly God’s words. Today many well meaning, but “Alexandrian” educated preachers are uplifting the Antiochian Bible (King James) but with the Alexandrian conviction that it cannot be perfect. In fact, this Egyptian conviction states that there cannot be a perfect Bible on earth, in spite of God’s promise in Psalm 12:6,7.
To accept the proper Book with an improper attitude will only predestine one to make the same mistakes and corruptions that their Egyptian forefathers did.
Can anyone ignore a Bible admonition and not fall?
Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, ignored the Biblical admonition to avoid Egypt and not go down to Egypt to multiply horses (Deuteronomy 17:16). In I Kings 3:1 he married Pharaoh’s daughter. In I Kings 10:28 he had horses brought up out of Egypt. What was the result? By I Kings 11:3,4 we find that his heart had been turned away from following God. In verses 5-9 he began worshipping other gods. And by verses 9-43 God has pronounced judgment on him. If God doesn’t want His people to go down to Egypt for horses, do we dare go there for a Bible or an ideology?
Solomon could not get away with ignoring the Bible’s view of Egypt. Are you wiser than Solomon?