“It just feels like a lot of weight to put into one book.” That’s the way my friend responded when I told him about Jesus. I’m not sure why the truth of what they said had never struck me before, but it hit me like a ton of bricks that they were right. I base the way I live and what I believe about eternity based on what the Scriptures say. I really do believe that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” (2 Tim. 3:16) However, that is a lot of weight to put in one book.

What gives us such bravado to make the claim that Scripture is worthy of such weight? Is it blind faith? Is it the fact that we have more and better manuscripts (by a long shot) than any other ancient writing? Is it simply the perspective that we have been handed? What is it that gives Jesus followers such confidence in this ancient collection of writings? As I was reading the end of John 7, I was struck by one of the things that gives me confidence – and it initially might seem ironic, so hear me out.

At the end of John 7, there is a non-inspired sentence inserted by the translators that reads:
“The earliest manuscripts do not include 7:53–8:11.”

You might be wondering why telling me that an upcoming section was not in the earliest and best manuscripts instills more confidence in Scripture. Shouldn’t it inspire less? No. One of the things that gives me such high confidence in Scripture is the integrity with which it was assembled. I absolutely love that we know that the story in John 8:1-11 wasn’t in the earliest manuscripts because our Bible tells us that it wasn’t. The Scriptures and the translators are not trying to hide anything. They’re not trying to pull the wool over our eyes; they are not disingenuous in any way. The translators are telling us in a very upfront manner that for the first 350+ years of church history, this section was not included in John’s gospel.

I’m not suggesting any conclusions about whether or not we should have it in our Bibles, I’m only pointing out the intellectual integrity to state that it was not in the earliest manuscripts. That gives me confidence that we can trust the Scriptures we have. Sure, we have to decide how much weight we give to John 8, but we can have confidence that the people who have compiled and translated Scriptures have done so in an honest way… and that gives me confidence in the rest of the “book” as well.

As I read the translator’s editorial note, it made my heart soar with confidence. I pray that it does the same for you and that it persuades you that when you hold the Scriptures, you are holding a collection of writings that you can have confidence in. So much confidence that you can base your life on it.

Pastor Ryan Paulson

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