By Dan L. Cox
One of the last written statements of Paul to Timothy must before his martyrdom was II Timothy 4:13: “The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.” The “books” here refers to papyrus scrolls, probably Old Tesatment books. “The “parchments” were vellum sheets made of treated animal hides, and thus very expensive. The parchments may have been copies of letters he had written or possibly blank skins for writing other letters. That he would ask for them at this point in his life – weak, imprisoned, without proper clothing or physical care, and facing impending martyrdom – demonstrated how committed he was to the written Word. He loved to read it and to write it. He knew he was inspired to do so and allowed himself to be an instrument of the Lord to defend the Gospel.
Paul gave admonishment to Timothy, that would well fit our day as well, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15).
God in His infinite wisdom saw the need to provide four different views on the life and person of Jesus Christ. The majesty and greatness of Christ could not have been captured by one set of eyes nor all of His lessons grasped by one pair of ears. Each writer seemed to bring out unique insights and focus on different aspects of Christ’s ministry. They did not contradict each other, which is an amazing fact in itself. They provide differing perspectives on the same event in a complementary fashion. This is why many study Bibles include a section called “A Harmony of the Gospels.”
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is His life, death, burial, and resurrection. An in the defense of this Gospel the New Testament writers stood firm in their faith, both in what they saw and heard. The writings of the New Testament letters were meant to have a unifying influence on the churches, bringing them together in belief and lifestyle (I Corinthian 2:23; Romans 16:4; Philippians 3:16; Revelation 2:23). It also ought to be our purpose to allow the Word of God to unify us in the faith so that we may all “speak the same thing” (I Corinthians 1:10).
When we read or preach from the Bible, let’s say, the King James Version – who decided what writings would be considered sacred Scripture? On what basis? How did they defend the Word of God to be true? The process by which we have the Bible was neither simple, or painless.
The men who made these decisions on what to defend as truth would have to sort out and evaluate what is inspired and what was not. These men had to face scriptures like Deuteronomy 4:2: “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” And Revelation 22:18, 19: “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” When we pick up the Bible and reach out to share the message of hope to people around us, we must make sure we defend the Word, and at the same time not add anything to it that is not written therein.
We can be assured of this: For the word of the Lord is right; and all his works are done in truth” (Ps 33:4). God’s Word will endure when all the works of men have been burned up: “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away” (Luke 21:33).
Rev. Dan L. Cox is the Pastor of the United Pentecostal Church in Warsaw, Indiana, Presbyter of Section One, and Editor of the Indiana Apostolic Trumpet.