WCF 1.8 — Pastoral Comments

Posted on Nov 29, 2017 by admin

1.8 The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which, at the time of the writing of it, was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and, by His singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical;1 so as, in all controversies of religion, the Church is finally to appeal unto them.2 But, because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who have right unto, and interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded, in the fear of God, to read and search them,3 therefore they are to be translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come,4 that, the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship Him in an acceptable manner;5 and, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, may have hope.6
1 Mt 5:18; 2 Isa 8:20; Acts 15:15; Jn 5:39, 46; 3 Jn 5:39; 4 1 Cor 14:6, 9, 1112, 24, 2728; 5 Col 3:16; 6 Rom 15:4.

The Holy Scripture was originally written in Hebrew and Greek. Hebrew was the common language of the people of God in Old Testament times, so the Old Testament was largely written in Hebrew (apart from Dan 2:4b-7:28; Ezra 4:8-6:18 and 7:12-26 which were written in Aramaic which slowly became the language of the people after the Babylonian exile). Since Greek became the language of commerce, education and correspondence during New Testament times, the New Testament was written in Greek.   Now, the Scripture does not give us any reason why these two languages were used, but we must not think that they just happened to be so by historical necessity. No, no; history, we must remember, is really the unfolding of Gods providence according to His decrees. Besides, if we consider the different purpose and emphases of the two testaments, we would be able to see wisdom of God in the choice of the two languages. The Old Testament is intended to point to Christ in pictures, shadows and types, and Hebrew is eminently suitable for doing so! The New Testament looks back to the work of Christ and explains the theology of redemption with precise details, and Greek is exceptionally suited for that purpose!

Now, since Gods inspiration of the Scripture is not only in terms of ideas, but in terms of sentences, words and even letters (cf. Mt 5:18), it is essential that the Scripture be passed down accurately in their original languages. This is so that the church can appeal to them directly in case of any controversies. This is also, so the Scripture may be translated accurately to the vernacular languages of Christians down the ages. Think of how much errors can be multiplied when Bibles are translated from previous translations with all their flaws. We believe the process of transmission down the ages, was sovereignly and providentially superintended by God so that the two testaments are by His singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, [and] therefore authentical.”
Its true that there are slight differences between the thousands of copies of both Testaments in their original languages still extent. But we believe that what is available to us is very close to the original. We may liken the Authorised Version which we use to a meter ruler which we can buy off the shelf. These rulers are not as minutely precise as the International Prototype Metre, platinum-iridium alloy bar, kept at zero degrees in the International Bureau of Weights and Measures located in Sèvres, France. But for all intents and purposes they may be used and regarded as authentic.

Westminster Confession of Faith — With Brief Pastoral Comments
© 2017 by Pilgrim Covenant Church