The treasure of the Bible
We are so fortunate to live in a time when Bibles are available in nearly every bookstore, variety store, and in most libraries. Most homes in America have several copies. It wasn’t always that way.

A person in Bible times was very fortunate if their family had managed to acquire any portion of the copies of Scripture that scribes from centuries before Jesus and much later had copied by hand. We owe a great debt of appreciation for these who were so loyal to accuracy in making copies from ancient scrolls. Later, some Jews in foreign lands were fortunate to get hold of the translation of the old Hebrew and Aramaic text translated into Greek. This translation from about 200-225 B. C. was called the Septuagint. Usually only wealthier people might have portions of these ancient scrolls. It appears from some quotes such as in Stephen’s sermon of Acts 7 that Jesus, the apostles, and other evangelists of the First Century often quoted Old Testament passages from the Septuagint /Greek translation.
Most folks didn’t have easy access to these Scriptures, especially since they were copied by hand and limited in number available. These folks had to wait for public readings of the sacred Scriptures in the Synagogues and the Temple: Acts 15:21 (KJV) ²¹”For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.”
Do you remember the day that Jesus went into his home village of Nazareth and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day? Luke 4:16-22 (KJV) ¹⁶ “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. ¹⁷And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, ¹⁸The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, ¹⁹To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. ²⁰And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. ²¹And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. ²²And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?”
I hope we can come to appreciate the importance of the reading of the Bible and the means by which God made His will known to Old Testament characters, early New Testament Christians, and then preserved them for us today. To illustrate the need for this awareness, consider the emphasis the Apostle Paul placed upon reading “holy scriptures,” 2 Tim. 3:15-17 (KJV) ¹⁵And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. ¹⁶All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: ¹⁷That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
So, we’ve illustrated that early Christians had access to the reading of Scriptures, but these were Old Testament Scriptures up to a certain point in time. The New Testament books started out as letters to individuals and to churches, plus the mid-first century writing of the biographies by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Primarily, the First Century Church was dependent upon inspired Apostles and those with spiritual gifts of discernment to make the message known and to confirm that this was the work of God’s Spirit and not the spirit of the Devil. We can take great comfort in realizing the tremendous consistency between the Scriptures we read today with the thousands of manuscripts from centuries gone by. God has preserved His Word for us, and many people gave their very lives to carefully making copies as illustrated by this amazing consistency.

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