Friday, December 1, 2023

The Living Bible(s)

As you can see, I never have my morning Bible time without the Living Bible by my side. 

The Living Bible was first published in 1971. It's the personal paraphrase of Kenneth Taylor, who used the ASV of 1901 as his base text. I use it alongside other paraphrases like those of Wuest and Williams. Occasionally I also glance at the Greek text (wink, wink).

However, did you know that Kenneth Taylor's version wasn't actually the first Living Bible to be produced? Eph. 2:20 says that the church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Remember, believers in the early church had no New Testament in their hands. The apostles and the prophets were, effectively, their Scriptures. They were their "Living Bible."

If you or I had lived in the earliest days of the church, what would we have wanted to know first of all? What did Jesus say? How did he live? How did he teach? Tell us more about Jesus! The apostles themselves were eyewitnesses to these things. They had spent time with Jesus. They had the apostolic revelation from him. The prophets, for their part, were the disseminators of this truth, sometimes as itinerant teachers, sometimes as part of local churches. They disseminated, not an independent teaching, but one that branched off from the teaching of the apostles -- apostolic truth if you will. They were therefore indispensable to the apostles' witness. 

Today we don't need prophets to teach us the word of God. We have the result of that in the New Testament. The foundational truths of the apostles and prophets are right here in our hands -- and thank God for that! We don't have to guess at what Jesus said. God has established that for us. This means that our first, major, and primary responsibility is to read, study, learn, think about, expound, hunger after, and apply the word of God as established for us by the apostles and prophets. What they taught they expected the church to believe, preserve, and obey. The church stands or falls by its loyalty to the truths God revealed through his apostles and prophets. 

This is the great task of the church. And it is the great need of every member of the church.