This phrase isn’t supposed to be here. There are a lot of ancient pieces of the Bible floating around. They give them all names: the Alexandrian copy, the Vulgate, the Syriac, the Ethiopic, the Complutensian and some others. Unfortunately, we don’t have the actual piece of parchment that John or Paul wrote on for their contributions to the Bible, so all the various translators have had to rely on these pieces of copies that are scattered about. The phrase “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and” is not in any of the above mentioned manuscripts. I looked at 26 Bible translations. 4 of them were various King James Bibles. Two others (Jubilee Bible 2000 and Young’s Literal Translation) had this phrase. The other 20 did not.
This might be a good place to argue about the accuracy and dependability of today’s Bibles. I have read more than one article arguing that the King James Version is the only God Ordained English translation and all others are Satan’s tools to deceive us. I have heard several people argue that the original words written by the prophets were probably inspired but you can’t rely on any translation available today, so why even bother?
I’ll tell you why: God went to an awful lot of trouble to make His Word available. There had to be a reason. Do you really think He wouldn’t watch over it through the centuries?
Matthew 24:35 - Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
If you are searching for God, read the Bible. Any Bible you can get. God will meet you where you are, if you diligently and sincerely seek Him. Jeremiah 29:13 - You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. This would also include a lot of praying. Praying and reading God’s Word is how you seek God.
Without the help of the Holy Spirit, you could read the original scrolls and tablets and still not make any sense out of it. With the Holy Spirit, God can reach you even if you are tending sheep in the wilderness with nothing to read at all.
After you submit your life to God, you are going to want to obey the voice of God. What I find amazing are the number of people, and even random thoughts, that will claim to be the voice of God as soon as you make that commitment. A constant and thorough study of God’s Word, using every resource at your disposal, will reduce the chances that you could be fooled into letting all these voices confuse you. A thorough study of God’s Word also allows you to come across all these little treasures of information, and start figuring out that what you had always been told about the Bible, isn’t necessarily what the Bible actually says.
In my last post, I brought up the possibility that John was having more than visions. That he could have been physically taken into another realm where he could actually be there at the second coming of Christ. Right here I start to have a problem with that idea because John is told to write what he sees in a book. That would actually be a scroll, and the language used in the Greek right here would indicate that he was told to write it right now. Not later when he gets back to the cave. Scrolls are kind of awkward. Trying to picture anybody attempting to write into a scroll on the fly like that is kind of difficult. It’s a lot easier to imagine an old man at a desk of some sort, with glorious visions from God passing before his eyes while he does his best to describe those visions on the scroll on his desk. Then again, I’ve never written in a scroll...so what do I know. I honestly don’t know which is the right way to look at this.
“Which are in Asia” is another phrase that was added somewhere along the line by helpful scholars who didn’t think we could find these churches if they didn’t tell us what district they were in.
That backfired, didn’t it? You could go blind trying to find any of these churches in Asia, and it wouldn’t be your fault. They moved Asia!
Well, you know where Asia is. This ain’t it, and the phrase “which are in Asia” isn’t in the oldest manuscripts, so let’s just forget we ever saw it.
unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.
By the time this book was written, there were churches all through the Mediterranean. John knew full well these letters were going far beyond these seven churches. He had already labeled this work as prophecy back in the third verse. So why did Jesus name these seven churches, in this order? Oh, let me count the speculations…
Any ship headed East from Patmos is going to land in Ephesus. The churches listed would have been visited in the order they are listed if you took the logical route. It’s about 260 miles all the way around from Ephesus to Laodicea. These seven churches could have formed a little network where they regularly shared information and resources. Please allow six to eight weeks for delivery.
There are those that want to point out these were real churches with real issues that Jesus wanted to address. I have read that every church contends with each of these same issues to varying degrees. Some have preached that these issues are not just issues in the church. People live with these very issues to some extent or another on a personally level.
I have also read where these churches, in this order, represent a sort of panorama of church history. Some other commentators take great issue with this idea, which to my way of thinking lends a certain credence to the idea. Nothing draws more intense opposition than the truth.
I believe all of the above. Why not? Churches are made up of people. Any instruction that would be good on an individual level would be just as good on a corporate level. As for the history of the church, history is full of critical lessons. Lessons we , as humans, too often refuse to learn.