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 Vol. 9, No. 3 

March 2007

Since You Asked

~ Page 20 ~

Image Names may be included at the discretion of the Editor unless querists request their names be withheld. Please check our Archive for the answer to your question before submitting it; there are over 1,000 articles in the Archive addressing numerous biblical topics. Submit a Question to GGO.

Image In Flaming Fire

By Louis Rushmore

Good morning: I worship with the West Olive Church of Christ in Peoria, AZ. We are starting a study of 2nd Thessalonians on Wednesday I studied several Bible translations and discovered that verses 7 & 8 are not translated the same way: Young's Literal Translation, the ESV and NKJV do not include "in flaming fire" but has this phrase at the beginning of verse 8. The NIV, RSV and NASB has the terms "blazing fire" and "flaming fire" as the last phrase in verse 7. I have reviewed several commentaries and only Tyndale's makes mention of this. Any ideas on why the diversity of translations? Thank you, Ken Heflin

The questions respecting the placement of references to "flaming fire" ["blazing fire," same thing] appearing in the last of 2 Thessalonians 1:7 or the first of the following verse is essentially a matter of punctuation. The original manuscripts of the Bible, with punctuation (if any), have not survived. Punctuation, which also affects the placement of words in one verse or another, was placed in Scripture by well-intentioned translators as a vehicle to more easily access Scripture. For the most part, separation of Scripture into chapters and verses, also a part of the underlying circumstance relative to the questions respecting 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8, is of uninspired, human invention to facilitate easier use of Scripture.

Regarding the Greek New Testament, one source observes many manuscripts appear "without any punctuation or division of words. …[W]e may reasonably believe that the apostolic originals were thus written" ("New Testament," McClintock and Strong). Many manuscripts were written:

…without intervening spaces between the words, and with no marks of punctuation. How Paul's letter to the Romans appeared in uncial [capital, printed letters] characters may be illustrated as follows:


…Of course, Paul wrote in Greek instead of English. Notice also that in uncials an unfinished word was completed on the line below in order to keep the columns straight. (Lightfoot 17)

Summarized, "[i]t is scarcely necessary to observe that the punctuation of the Bible possesses no authority, and that no critic hesitates to dissent from it" ("Verses, In Bible," McClintock and Strong). "The present numeral division of the Scriptures into chapters and verses is, in some respects, of comparatively recent origin" ("Chapter of the Bible," McClintock and Strong). "Neither in the O.T. nor in the N.T. did the verse-division appear in any earlier edition than that of [the] Geneva [Bible of 1560]" ("English Versions," McClintock and Strong).

The modern Chapter Divisions were probably made by Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, England, who died in 1228, although sometimes they have been attributed to Cardinal Hugo (died in 1263)… The modern Verse Divisions were first made by Robert Stephanus (Stephens) of Paris, a printer, for his Greek New Testament, published in 1551. The first entire Bible in which these chapter and verse divisions were used was Stephen's edition of the Latin Vulgate (1555). The first English New Testament to have both chapter and verse divisions was the Geneva Bible (1560).

These divisions are convenient for reference and quotation purposes; how could we do without them? Yet it must be remembered that they are man-made, sometimes haphazard, sometimes arbitrary, and they sometimes interfere with the sense of the passage. …"The first step in interpretation is to ignore the modern chapters and verses." (Miller 10-11)

An example of how sometimes benign chapter and verse divisions complicate comprehension of the biblical text is the Acts Chapter Two heading. Acts 2:1-4 identifies the recipients of the baptism of the Holy Spirit through the use of pronouns. However, the noun to which these pronouns refer is in Acts 1:26, "the eleven apostles." The teaching, though, is not distorted as long as a sufficient amount of context is considered, including Acts 1:26-2:4. Likewise, in which verse "flaming fire" appears in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8 is inconsequential and no teaching is at stake.Image

Works Cited

"Chapter of the Bible." McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 2000.

"English Versions." McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 2000.

Lightfoot, Neil R. How We Got the Bible Revised Ed. Abilene: ACU P., 1986.

Miller, H.S. General Biblical Introduction Houghton: Word-Bearer P., 1960.

"New Testament." McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 2000.

"Verses, In Bible." McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 2000.

Listening Music

By Louis Rushmore

Hello Brother Rushmore, I have a question for you. If it is not good to listen to Contemporary Christian Music because of the unscripturalness of it, what kind of music should I listen to? I have abandoned secular music because of the sexual and drug content of the music. I used to enjoy Black Sabbath, AC/DC, KISS, Bad Company, and other music of its sort until I came back to the Lord's church 2 years ago. I do not wish to fill my head with this nasty secular music anymore. It glorifys sex, violence, rape, marijana and alcohol. Country music has the same messages. What kind of music should I listen to? I enjoy singing along with it, it has to have words. Thank you, brother, for your answer. I am so confused! Doreen

It is admirable that you have opted to remove from your life the type of music that in many instances is counterproductive to successful Christian living. You are correct, that the lyrics associated with various genres of music often contain themes that are unproductive to the lives Christians are to live. Doubtless, though, there are individual songs in most if not all genres of music that do not promote ungodliness. In addition, several recordings of hymns are available along with you could sing; one source of such is the McCoy Family Singers. Of course, you could also sing hymns (James 5:13) or secular songs without accompanying taped music (i.e., make your own music).Image

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