Jot And Title Inspiration

By Pastor George C. Bruns

Psalms 16:8, “I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at
my right hand,
I shall not be moved.”

       The battle for the Bible appears to be just warming up. You would have thought that the Bible version question would have been settled in 1883 with the publishing of The Revision Revised by John Burgon. Certainly no critical writer that this writer knows has ever successfully refuted Burgon's arguments. So why does the battle yet rage? It still rages because most evangelicals, and yes, a growing number of fundamentalists refuse to believe in jot and tittle preservation (Matthew 5:18). The question is this, has God preserved His word as He promised or has He not?

The God of the Bible does not lie (Titus 1:2). His word is to be trusted (Psalm 19:7-11). If He says something we are to accept it and obey it (John 15:10). It is Satanic to question God's holy word (Genesis 3:1; John 17:17), because when you do you question His very character - you challenge His right to be God! Who is man that men should do this (Job 38: 2-40:1)? Now, this can sound very scary to have someone tell you that it is wrong to question the Bible, but this writer did not say that you are not to question Bible teachers. In fact the Bible commands you to question them (Acts 17:10-11; 1 John 4:1), yet at the same time you have a responsibility as a Christian to thoroughly study the Bible and accept it as truth (2 Timothy 2:15; 3:14-17)

God, in His word, makes it perfectly clear that He intended to preserve His word so that every believer, whether he be an Old Testament believer or New, would have His word in his generation up to one thousand generations or approximately 40,000 years (Psalm 105:8)! Now there are many precious and godly men who err in claiming that God has only inspired the original writings as Floyd Barackman suggests in his third edition of Practical Christian Theology,

"The diversity of texts among the translations and editions of the Scriptures that we have among the original language copies that are extant raises questions about their accuracy. In our consideration of this theme, we must distinguish between the original Scriptures, all of which were inerrantly produced by divine inspiration and none of which we have today, and the copies and translations of the original Scriptures, which we have in abundance.... Both inerrancy and infallibility were rooted in the divine inspiration of the original Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21).... Since divine inspiration relates only to the original production of God's Word (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21), absolute inerrancy can be asserted only of the original writings of Scripture."
1

When one reads this statement it is not surprising to find that the very next paragraph of his book is entitled, ERRORS IN PRESENT EDITIONS OF THE BIBLE, because ultimately that is where that kind of logic would lead us. If only the originals are inspired, and if only they are inerrant and infallible, then what we have must contain error. And which editions does Barackman mention, only one, the King James Version. And has he really found errors in the King James Version? No! What he has found is questions in the text that he was unable to answer, like the apparent discrepancy in the age of King Jehoiachin as recorded in 2 Kings 24:8 and 2 Chronicles 36:9. Is this a scribal error? No, not when you understand that 2nd Kings and 2nd Chronicles were written from two different perspectives. Here's an excerpt from Wilkinson and Boa's book Walk Thru The Bible that explains this,

"While Second Samuel and First and Second Kings give a political history of Israel and Judah, First and Second Chronicles present a religious history of the Davidic dynasty of Judah. The former are written from a prophetic and moral viewpoint, and the latter from a priestly and spiritual perspective."
2

If Wilkinson and Boa are correct, then from a purely political perspective Jehoiachin was considered the king when he took the throne at age 18, but from a purely spiritual perspective Jehoiachin was considered king at the time of his anointing at age eight, which is why his mother ruled for him until he came of legal age (Jeremiah 13:18).
3 The problem is not with the text, it is with the critic of the text (Hebrews 4:12 where the Gk. "kritikos" is rendered "discerner"). It is the word that should be critiquing us, not we it. If we find a problem in the Scriptures our renewed minds should call out to the sin nature which still resides in our flesh "watch out, the problem is not with the Bible, it is with you!"

The false assumption that only the original autographs were inspired is a result of pure and simple unbelief in Gods ability to supernaturally watch over His inerrant and infallible word down through the centuries. Norman Geisler and Ronald Brooks reflect this unbelief in their book When Skeptics Ask, while at the same time trying to defend biblical accuracy. They write,

"Nowhere in the Bible is there a promise of purity of the text of Scripture throughout history...." 4

What an incredible statement! Have they not read Psalm 12:6-7; Matthew 24:35, or 1 Peter 1:25? Did God "move" His holy men to write inspired words only to have those very same words, with the wearing out of the originals, be questioned and doubted because all that remained were mere copies of the originals? Did God inspire the paper, pen and ink that these holy men used or did He inspire the very words? And if He inspired those words could He not preserve them for us as well? When Paul wrote to Timothy in his second letter to the young pastor was it the original manuscripts he was referring to in chapter 3, verses 14-16? Had Timothy access to the originals or only mere copies? When Jesus said to the Pharisees, "Ye do err not knowing the Scriptures...," in Matthew 22:29 could they have excused themselves by saying "Yes that's true, but only because we don't have the originals?"

If the inspiration of Scripture extends to every jot and tittle, and it must as we shall see, then it must also extend to the preservation of Scripture. According to a paper entitled The Bible-How Firm A Foundation!! that comes out of George Zeller's Middletown Bible Church, Middletown, CT, the author writes,

"A jot is the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet and a tittle is a tiny mark which enables one to distinguish between two Hebrew letters which look very similar. Every jot and tittle is inspired and will be fulfilled (Matthew 5:18; Luke 16:17). Or as we might say in English, every dotting of the 'i' and crossing of the 't' is important in God's Word. Thus, inspiration extends even to the smallest details of the sacred text as originally given when 'Holy men of God spoke (and wrote) as they were moved by the Holy Spirit' (2 Peter 1:21).

Some examples of the importance of 'jot and tittle' inspiration:

  1. In Matthew 22:44 Christ's masterful argument is based on the fact that David said, 'MY Lord.' This observation prepared the way for the unanswered question, "How can David's Son be David's Lord? [This perplexing question finds its answer in Romans 1:3-4]. It is interesting to note that the word 'MY' in Psalm 110:1 is not a separate word in the Hebrew. It is simply a 'jot' added to the end of the word 'Lord' as a suffix. Thus we see that one little 'jot' is very important. Our Lord's argument hinged on it.

  2. In Galatians 3:16 Paul's argument rests upon the difference between singular and plural. The one letter 's' is very important!

  3. How did the writer of Hebrews know that Abraham believed that God would raise Isaac from the dead (Hebrews 11:17-19)? The Key is found in Genesis 22:5 where Abraham said, 'WE will come again to you' (or to paraphrase: 'even though I am going to sacrifice Isaac, we both will return alive'). The difference between 'we will come' and 'I will come' (which would have suggested that Abraham would return alone) in Hebrew is one letter.

  4. In Matthew 22:32 our Lord's argument rests on the fact that God said, 'I am the God of Abraham' and not 'I was the God of Abraham' (cf. Exodus 3:6). Here the overall context of the passage and even the TENSE OF THE VERB is highly significant in our Lord's skillful argument." 5

From what we have just read we must then conclude that if God thought it important enough to inspire every "jot and tittle" because of the major part they would play in explaining the minute details of God's mind to man, then certainly He must have preserved every "jot and tittle" for the same reasons. To do otherwise would not make sense for obvious reasons. God preserved His word because it was important for us to have it intact, unblemished and pure. To have it any other way would open the door to doubt and uncertainty. God would never leaves us in that condition, only Satan would.

The only question that remains then is this, if God preserved every jot and tittle of His word in what Bible version do we find it. The answer is simple, in the only version that does not take away from the word of God, the King James Version. All other versions, with the exception of the New King James Version which adds 13 words in violation of Scripture (Revelation 22:18), take away from the Bible text (Revelation 22:19). The King James Version is the only translation that is based on the correct Jacob Ben Chayyim Hebrew and Beza's 1598 Greek Texts as their primary authority, the New King James does not.
6

END NOTES

1 Floyd H. Barackman, Practical Christian Theology, Grand Rapids, MI, Kregel Pub., 1998, pp. 28, 29.
2 Bruce Wilkinson and Kenneth Boa, Walk Thru The Bible, Nashville, TN, Thomas Nelson Pub., 1980, p. 100.
3 David Cloud, Things Hard to Be Understood, Oak Harbor, WA, Way of Life Literature, 1996, pp. 54, 55.
4 Norman Geisler and Ronald Brooks, When Skeptics Ask, USA, Victor Books, 1990, p.157.
5 George Zeller, The Bible-How Firm A Foundation!!, Middletown, CT.
6 D. A. Waite, The New King James Version compared to The King James Version, Collingswood NJ, the Bible For Today, 1987.


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