Weekly Devotion – Footnote
By Mike Caton
The earliest manuscripts and many other ancient witnesses do not have John 7:53—8:11. A few manuscripts include these verses, wholly or in part, after John 7:36, John 21:25, Luke 21:38 or Luke 24:53.
Have you ever noticed this footnote in your Bible? That will depend somewhat on which version you read. (And personally, as long as you read a faithful translation, I have no problem with that. As I once told someone, I don’t care what version you read, as long as you read your Bible and live it.) Honestly, each version has strengths and weaknesses, but God inspired men to write his word and he has protected his word throughout history.
When the original authors wrote their books, what they wrote is called an autograph. We do not have any of the originals, the autographs of any Bible book. However, we have thousands of manuscripts and documents with citations of the Bible in them. With all of that information, we can compare and get pretty close to the original. Far and away, the vast majority of differences in the manuscripts we have are simple things; word order (Jesus Christ vs. Christ Jesus), differences in spelling, and so forth. But remember, there were no copiers back in the day, scribes would literally write every word down to make a copy. And the Bible was originally written in three different languages; Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. It has the been translated into virtually every language on earth. So, how can we trust what we have to be the Bible God intended for us to have?
Since there are so many manuscripts and sources available to us today, we can compare them with each other. And the more we compare, and the more the agree, the more certain we can be that is the message God intended us to have. None of the “errors” people point to make one bit of difference in a Biblical doctrine. As I said, they are mostly spellings or word orders or such as that. If God took the time, effort and interest to inspire men to write his message to mankind, doesn’t it make sense he would protect that message throughout our history?
As far as this passage, it certainly sounds like something that could have happened to Jesus. There is no contradiction with any other Bible passage. Jesus does not tell the woman caught in adultery what she did was OK. He does as he does with other sinners, forgives her and tells her to leave her life of sin. Isn’t that what Jesus does for us? So, let’s be sure to follow Jesus’ teaching.
Father, thank you for providing and protecting your word. In Jesus’ name, amen.
If you have any other questions, please as always, feel free to contact me.
Mike Caton is the preacher at Mount Olive Church of Christ in Belhaven. He volunteers at the Ponzer Fire Department and works part time with Hyde County EMS. If you would like to receive daily devotions in your inbox, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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