You’ve been going through the Gospel according to Mark for a few years, perhaps real time through Jesus’s ministry, two or three years and you’ve come to an end as of last week and Jason preached his final message on Mark as I understand it and said, “We’re done. We have finished the book.”
But you’re probably looking at it thinking, “But we stopped in verse eight and my Bible seems to have 12 more verses.” And he probably briefly addressed the thought you had. Why does it continue for those 12 verses? Is someone trying to take away from the scriptures? Can I trust what I believe the Bible that I have actually says? Can we be sure that we have everything God wants us to know? No more, no less. So to answer those questions in our time today we’re going to do three things. We are going to understand briefly the history of our Bible, how it came to be from when Mark pinned it to how we hold it today. We’re going to examine the scholarly work that goes into the translations that we use and we’re going to rest on the promises that God himself makes about His Word.
So history, the Bible, the book we hold in our hands and uses our starting place to understand the Lord and what he expects from us, it’s our beginning, but it’s actually the end of a lot of work by faithful Christians throughout the century. So a lot of work has gone into and decisions have been made about what we start to use when we come to understand the Lord. So let’s consider Mark. He likely wrote in about mid 60s AD in the Greek language and when he wrote the gospel that now bears his name, his words were also the words of God. This is the doctrine of inspiration. Pastor Allen read this verse to us this morning that men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. The scriptures are God breathed, right? So the words that mark pinned are simultaneously the words of man and of God. There’s a dual authorship to scripture. Paul says that “All scripture is breathed out by God.”
So Mark writes and in so doing God speaks, but then what? Well other people and likely Mark himself have copies of his gospel made and copies are made from those copies and copies are made from those copies. And some copies are probably also still made from the original because people want to know what did Mark write? What was this story? What was this biography of Jesus? What does the Lord have for us to hear? So these copies start to travel across the globe. Churches receive them, read them, study them, copy them, pass them on. And in this process of copying errors occur, mistakes are made. A word gets omitted or added here or there, a name with a few probable spellings gets spelled different ways at different points. Someone in studying the gospel makes a note in the margin like we make notes in our margins. And then when that copy is copied, that note might get accidentally included in the text.
Or perhaps as scribe is copying Mark but it’s a section of Mark that’s really similar to Matthew and he has in mind that Matthew also adds this other point and so he accidentally just adds it or perhaps he writes it in the margin, like we have cross-references in our margin. But the next time it gets copied, someone says, “Oh, well that was probably meant to be here.” And they copy it and add it in. And at some point someone adds 12 verses to the end of Mark. Now there are actually a couple different ways that Mark ends. It ends at verse eight. There’s a shorter ending of a couple verses that got added at some other point and then there’s the longer 12 verse ending that happens as well at a point in time. Now at this time, writing materials are expensive. You couldn’t just go down to Walmart and pick up a huge box of paper for $10 or whatever and hints they were reused because they were expensive.
So someone might write part of Mark on the front and back of a piece of papyrus, which is kind of like a paper made from reeds but part of it might also have been used for an invoice for selling some land. Actually ancient documents were often reused or they’d be scraped off the front of and then written some on again and scraped off and reused and perhaps the back would be a contract. And then you’ve got part of John after that. It’s pretty interesting how that happens. And because writing materials are expensive, scribes start to abbreviate common words like divine names. So Lord, Jesus, Christ, God, all of these get abbreviated with a single letter. They occur a lot so this saves a lot of space. And in the first several hundred years of the church, people start to write commentaries on the Bible and they include part of the Bible and the commentary they write.
So we can actually read those commentaries and say, what was the text like when this commentary was written? And what did early Christians, our forefathers in the faith think about the very words of God that we interact with today. And early on we see that there were discussions recorded about how manuscripts and copies differed. Now, if we fast forward in history to the 13th century, the Bible gets divided into chapters. If we go forward a couple hundred more years into the 15th and 16th centuries, the Bible gets further divided in verses. Now these chapter and verse numbers can be helpful, right? I could tell you turn to Isaiah 55:10 and we all did that. That would’ve been much more difficult without chapter and verses. And yet chapter and verse numbers are not inspired. They’re in our Bibles and the text we hold, but they’re not God breathed.
They also can force us to chop up the text that God delivered as a whole, leading to worse understanding, sometimes, not better. And the same thing is true of paragraph titles in our Bible. So I have a paragraph title in Isaiah 55 that says “The compassion of the Lord.” Some person helpfully added that, but that wasn’t God breathed out to us. Once again, sometimes helpful, sometimes not. And at this point in time around the 15th, 16th century, there are some sharp disagreements about what books should be in our Bible. So just consider Catholics have about an extra seven books in their Bible. And also around this time, Mark’s Gospel has been translated into Latin, Coptic, Syriac, English, German and other languages. And as much as these translations like our translations accurately represent the original, they’re helpful and true. But strictly speaking, no translation is God breathed.
God breathed out what Mark wrote, dual authorship. We have helpfully maintained accurate translations of that today but it is important that we maintain a distinction there. And if we do fast forward to today in the Bibles we hold, we likely have many different translations. I’m holding an ESV here, you have CSB Pew Bibles, we probably have the KJV represented, NLT, NIV, lots of Vs, right? Lots of different translations today. And I’ve used different translations in my life. I grew up memorizing the KJV and today I use and benefit from a different translation. So to end this brief history of the Bible, a lot has happened in the many centuries since Mark pinned his gospel. And there are a few categories to consider when we think about the trustworthiness of God’s word, how do we know? The first is do we have the right books?
We have 66 of them in here. Do we have the right ones? A second question, have the right books been preserved? And a third question, have those preserved books been translated well? Now I just bring those three categories up for completeness, but we’re only really going to focus on number two today. Have the right things been preserved? Have the words that God in breathed out, inspired, been preserved for us to read and benefit from today? So to help answer that question, we’re going to examine the scholarly work that goes into the translations we hold. And this is where I want us to consider how we think about the Mark that is in our Bible. How do we think about the content that we have and what about those last 12 verses? So if you think back to our history, Mark wrote copies and then copies were made and copies were made.
And for the entire Greek New Testament, we have about 5,300 full and partial manuscripts, 5,300. That’s, we don’t have that many for Mark, but for all of the manuscripts we have that speak to the text of the New Testament, 5,300 full and partial manuscripts. Now some of those are for the entire New Testament. Some of those are for some books like Paul’s Epistles or the Gospels. Some of those are for and perhaps more of them actually are for parts of individual books some date to within a 100 years that the original was written and some date a 1,000 years later. And no two manuscripts fully agree and I hesitate to bring this up, but it is worth us considering here today as Christians where we’re going to look at God’s promises as well. But many atheists excitedly like to bring up that there are over 400,000 differences and the manuscripts we have for the Greek New Testament. To put that in context, there are only about 130,000 words in the Greek New Testament.
So 400,000 manuscript, 400,000 differences for 130,000 words. Now on the face of it, you might think, how can that be? What do we do with that? And that’s why we’re going to consider that claim here because if you just heard that and someone was weaponizing that against you, that might very well put you back on your heels. But as we unpack it, I think you will see that there’s a lot of flash and there’s not a lot of substance in that number, but it is something we want to consider today together. So there are a lot of differences, but the vast majority of differences like a mile high compared to the foot for the other categories are differences of spelling of word order and word order matters much less in Greek than it does in English. There are differences in how names occur. There are differences that are noticeably and easily identifiably wrong.
So if we put a sentence up on the screen, if we put that sentence up on the screen and we had everyone in the room write it down and we had you write it down again and had you write it down again and at something like that and we collected all those, there would be mistakes. You might think, really? How many words is that? Five words, eight words, something. Really, there going to be mistakes. There would be, especially if we brought the children back in. But here’s the thing, I don’t think at the end of that when we looked at all those copies anyone would be confused. We would all be very confident in saying, I can know what the original said because the word that Jason gets wrong, Allen’s not going to get wrong. And so we’re able to see that they’re actually much more similarity in these copies we have than differences.
So you have that 400,000 number, which is almost three times as many differences as there are words, but the reality is 95, 98, 97% of the words we have no questions about, at all. Not even let’s stop and consider because that number doesn’t tell the whole story. So the vast majority are spelling word order differences and then there are some large differences, which is perhaps the smallest category. Here’s an example of a large difference though. One manuscript of Matthew 22 says that what happened occurred and was spoken of through the prophet. Spoken of through the prophet. Another says, “It was through the mouth of Isaiah the prophet” and yet another says, “Through Isaiah the prophet.” That’s a large difference. And yet this large difference is obviously not that impactful at all. The meaning is the same and we can still, through some processes we’ll talk about in a minute, determine what the original reading would have been.
So there are many of those kinds of differences. Is this the word? Is this the word? There are reasonable words and they differ, but there are a couple handfuls of larger differences than that. The kind that you could list on a piece of paper that are that much disagreement around and one of them is this long ending of Mark. This is one of two places in the entire Bible where there are 12 verses that seem to have been added. It’s this passage and the woman caught in adultery passage, which starts in John 7:53. And there are a couple other places in the Bible where we see, hey, that sentence seems to have been inserted, but by far not many at all. So of those 400,000 differences and I should add that number is hard to calculate, none affect any important Christian doctrine. It’s not like we’ve got one that says, “Hey, Jesus was just a guy” and all the others are like, “He was God.”
It’s not that kind of difference. The kind of errors we find in copying are the kind of good faith errors people would make if they sat there and laboriously copied things all day long and they don’t affect any of the doctrines we hold and confess that you have in your church constitution that we as Christians have affirmed through the ages. And you’ve actually already encountered, whether you knew it or not, some of these kinds of issues in Mark already. So for instance, when you went through Mark chapter 15, did anyone notice that your Bible likely skips verse 28, the verse numbers? And most recent translations, though not all, go straight from verse 27 to 29 and there are other examples of this in Mark as well. Now why is that? Because it’s likely, very likely, that verse was not actually a verse, it was added later.
It’s not part of what Mark ins wrote and the spirit breath out. So how does this work? How can I say this? How do we know things were added? Well, when a new translation of the Bible is made, scholars at every point, whether it was in the 15th century or whether it’s today, go back to the oldest and best manuscripts and then they use those original language manuscripts to read, to understand and translate into whatever language they’re working in, English. So it doesn’t happen how many atheists want to say on YouTube comment sections or videos or perhaps how other people of other religions unfairly caricature how it works. We don’t make translations of translations, of translations, of translations. So the ESV is not a translation of the RSV, which was not a translation of the ASV, which was not. It doesn’t work like that.
When the ESV was made, when your CSV, choose a translation when it was made, scholars faithful Christians went back and said, what are all of the manuscripts we have for this section of text? Let’s look at them and let’s understand what are the differences involved? What can we determine are the errors that might have occurred in copying? And they use some principles to help them determine what the original readings would’ve been. So generally older manuscripts are better. It seems reasonable, right? If you make a copy of something and you make a copy, at some point errors are going to creep in and the further something’s been copied, likely the more errors it has. So the further back, the closer to the original we get, generally, you would expect to find something with less errors. That’s kind of how the telephone game works, right?
Now the telephone game is not a great example for how biblical manuscript transition or transmission went, but nonetheless, the further something is copied, if you only had the last thing, the resulting copy you would expect to find more errors. But if we go back earlier and we do have manuscripts that are earlier, we would expect to find something without those errors. So older manuscripts are generally, but not always, better. Scholars also consider the type of change. It’s usually more likely that a word is omitted than added. Then once again there are exceptions to this. Sometimes a manuscript might be missing eight words, you might say, “How would you just miss eight words?” Well consider, I’m sitting here, I’m copying, I’m looking, I’m coming back and when I look back at the manuscript I’m copying from, I see a word that ends exactly the same way as the word I just finished writing, but it happens to be on a different line and I don’t realize that and I just keep going.
And so we have two words that end the same way, but they’re eight words in the middle and those are missing. Well, that’s really easy to identify and make sense of. No one’s trying to corrupt the text, it’s a good faith error and mistake. Additionally, scholars care about the number of manuscripts that read a certain way, but less than you would think. Differences are weighed, not counted. So a mistake can be copied a lot. I could write a lie on a copy machine and Xerox it and hand you a box of them, but that doesn’t make it more likely to be accurate. And at this point it’s worth considering again, Mark and his long ending or the long ending that got appended to his gospel. There are more manuscripts that contain the long ending than those that don’t. There are actually only a few Greek manuscripts that do not have the long ending, but they are all the oldest and best ones. And we can see that they’re the best preserved.
And like I mentioned earlier, there are actually a couple different longer endings that got appended at different points in time, all not original. And we can even see this that there was discussion about this in the third to fourth century. So there was a Christian named Eusebius and someone writes to him asking him, “What do we do at the end of Mark?” And he says, “I think Mark ends at verse eight,” what we would call verse eight, he didn’t call it verse eight. But he knew that there had been additions that had occurred.
So this is not a new discussion and it’s likely your Bible today has a note over these verses that say something like the oldest and best manuscripts lack these verses or something like that. And actually many translations for about 1,500 years have said the same thing. There are Greek manuscripts that say something very similar. There are Latin manuscripts that say something very similar. So we today might be unaware of this or might have been surprised when we got to verse eight and saw that note, but Christians throughout the centuries, some of them at least, have known. So I want to separate out, this might be new to us, but it’s not new to the faith.
So some questions you might be thinking. Are we sure this section was added? I mean, could it be original? Well, are we a 100% sure? No, there’s a very small chance that it could be original to what Mark wrote, but the vast weight of the evidence, both from earlier and better manuscripts and other things point to it being added. The earliest Latin and Syriac manuscripts we have don’t contain this section. The style and vocabulary that Mark uses and the way he uses language are very different than the rest of the book. Not to mention the content is somewhat different than the rest of the book or the rest of the New Testament. It seems to teach baptismal regeneration. It seems to teach some guaranteed signs of the spirit at conversion which you might struggle to fit into the rest of the New Testament.
Another question you might be thinking. If this isn’t the ending Mark wrote, did Mark write an ending? It is possible Mark wanted his gospel to have a sense of unfinishedness. He begins saying, “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the son of God.” The beginning and then he doesn’t have an end, perhaps. As if to say this is not done, it is begun, it is still occurring. Perhaps he died, perhaps he fell ill. But what we can know is the Gospel without the long ending is what Christians have received and what the spirit inspired and what we can hold onto and trust that in God’s providence he has preserved for us.
“Why is this passage in my Bible,” you might ask, “if it’s not original?” You might think, “Okay, you’re convincing me, but then why is it in there?” That’s a very good question. For a large chunk of church history there were more manuscripts that had the long ending of Mark than those that didn’t. And sermons were preached on it, commentaries were written on it, there was discussion about it. And so it’s in there today, not because scholars think this is most likely to be original because they don’t that’s why they put the note, but because of the history Christians have with these 12 verses. And the same thing is kind of at play with that other verse I mentioned, so Mark 15:28. You might think, “Okay, well why is that not there?” Same thing, but that text is actually missing and that’s the common practice today when we have basically zero doubt that something is not original, we don’t include that section of text, but we’re not going to change the verse numbers.
That would be incredibly confusing if your Bible had different verse numbers than your Bible and there would be chaos. Now remember the verse numbers were added in the 15th and 16th centuries. That’s very late. And so it stands to reason that if things got added, they would’ve had verse numbers added for them. And then when we determine that those sentences are not original, well they still have a number and that’s how that works. Perhaps you’re wondering, “Are there other passages like this that aren’t original?” And there are some, there’s long ending of Mark, the woman caught in adultery passage, a section of 1st John. There’s some individual verses in Mark like 7:16, 9:44, 9:46, 11:26 and 15:28. There are about a couple handfuls in the New Testament and once again, you’re going to have a footnote on those and it’s common practice, like I mentioned, for the translation to just skip it.
So you very well may have just read through Mark and not realized it. And I would say, “That’s a good thing, that we didn’t get hung up on something that wasn’t there to start with.” And yet we should know our history in the history of the Bible that we use. So I want to tease out a distinction here. You might find this to be jarring. You might not have heard this before. I don’t expect this is going to settle the matter today if that’s the case, but I hope to begin you thinking about it. But what I want to make clear is Christians have known and studied this kind of dynamic and specifically the long ending of Mark for a long time basically since it occurred. So it might be new to us, but faithful, evangelical deity of Christ affirming scholars labor in the text to bring us the accurate preserved word of God.
So there’s a lot of work, once again, that goes into this that we are the recipients of and in some ways it’s allowed us not to have to think about it. So it might be new to us, but it’s not new for Christianity. Another question next to last one. Is this just theological liberalism trying to take things out of the Bible? Sometimes this is an accusation people make when they don’t realize what I just mentioned, that there are faithful evangelical scholars laboring to bring us what God actually said. It’s not more spiritual to have more verses in our Bible if those verses are not actually God breathed. We want no more than God gave us and we also want no less than God gave us.
So how do I know there won’t be other passages that I currently trust and find out are not original? It is incredibly unlikely that we would ever find another passage like the long ending of Mark. We have known about the long ending of Mark for over 1,500 years. So in principle there almost can’t be that kind of thing. We have good reason to believe that the original readings of the books we have in our Bible have also been preserved. Due to how copying worked, the original readings are preserved, the errors are preserved. Think back to our example of copying what was on the screen. We are going to be able to recreate the original from the readings that have been preserved. The situation is kind of like this. Say we had a puzzle that had 52 pieces and we needed to put it together, but what we actually had was 65 pieces.
We have all the pieces we need to put our puzzle together. We also have 13 additional pieces and we can determine through the processes we’ve talked about that those are not actually part of our puzzle. So almost in principle, there can’t be this kind of discovery today. However or perhaps I should say and, scholars are still faithfully looking at original language manuscripts to bring us the best understanding of what God breathed out. Consider Jude 5. This is a small example. If you have a more recent translation, it likely says that Jesus saved a people out of Israel, which is actually really cool, right? So, okay, the Christ of the New Testament is the Yahweh of the Old Testament. In John 12, John says that when Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up he saw the Christ of the New Testament, the God of the Old Testament, very cool, not what I’m here to talk about, but Jude 5, “Jesus saved people out of Israel.”
Well, older translations actually say the Lord saved a people out of Egypt. This isn’t a contradiction, but the best and older manuscripts point to Jesus, Christ, sorry, not Lord being the right word. And I think how can you get those two words mixed up? Well, in most Greek manuscripts, the difference in the how these two words were written was one letter and those two letters look very similar. It’s a very understandable kind of mistake. So as scholars continue to work through the massive amount of data we have on the text and as we find new manuscripts, it is possible that our understanding of individual words will better over time. But in principle, there really can’t be something like the long ending of Mark that would occur. So we can be confident that we won’t encounter this kind of issue. We’re going to continue to learn from the manuscripts we have.
We’re going to continue to discover new ones. There are new manuscripts discovered all the time, but what they do is actually confirm what Christians have believed for 2,000 years, not disprove it. The vast majority of manuscripts are thoroughly uninteresting because they’re like, “Yep, we know that. Yep, same thing, same thing, same thing.” There are differences, I don’t want to oversimplify it, but it’s not like every new manuscript we find is somehow thoroughly exciting. Most of them are thoroughly boring because they accord with what we already know. So we’ve considered history today, we’ve considered how scholars approach making the translations we hold and we’ve talked a lot about the Bible, but we haven’t actually read and considered the Bible together. And so I’d like for us to do that together now. The Lord says of His Word in Isaiah 48, “The grass withers, the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” And standing has the sense of still remaining in force. It’s not primarily a verse about the fact that God preserves His Word.
It’s actually much more than that. Everything else might fail and not be trustworthy. It might go away, but the Word of God, it will still be in force. It will still be true, which also requires God to preserve it. Unlike a flower past its prime, the Word of God will continue forever. Jesus in Mark 13:31 says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” He’s echoing what we just read in Isaiah. Jesus often echoes Isaiah. His Words will still be in force. Everything else might fall, His Words will still hold validity and be true and be binding. Well, why? Well undergirding that is He will preserve His Word. When Allen said that we can trust the Word of God because we trust its author. That’s exactly right. The same God that providentially breathed out His exact words that He wanted through men such that His Words are the words of Him and the words of men, also providentially preserves His text.
When Paul writes to the Jews and holds them accountable for not following the law of God in Romans, he says that they were entrusted with the Oracles of God. Now, if God hadn’t preserved His Word, how could He hold them accountable and say, “You’ve actually been given these oracles.” No, he doesn’t think they’ve been given shabby garments that have holes in them that we can’t trust. He thinks, “No, you have been entrusted with the words and oracles of God. When Jesus is confronted by the Sadducees in Matthew 22 and they try to trip him up with this riddle about marriage and the kingdom of heaven, He says to them, “Have you not read what was spoken to you by God?” Which is a very interesting combination of words. He doesn’t say, “Have you not read what was written?” And He doesn’t say, “Have you not heard what was spoken?”
He says, “Have you not read what was spoken?” And then He goes on to quote the Old Testament. So He’s saying the words of the Old Testament are the words of God. He doesn’t say, “Well, if we actually have them and…” No, Jesus consistently held people accountable for what had been revealed for the very breathed outwards of God. The passage we read together this morning, Isaiah 55:10, “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth. It shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Now I read those two verses together because they’re one complete thought and this passage often is abused, misused, misunderstood.
Sometimes we’ll read a verse and say, “Well, God’s word doesn’t return void” as if to say whatever I want to use God’s word for, it’s going to accomplish that. But God makes a different kind of claim about His Word. It will accomplish His purposes and as much as our purposes align with His purposes and a given time, amen, that thing will happen. But this is a promise that God’s word will be the tool that He expects it to be used for in his hands. So consider the great commission, “Go into all the world and teach them everything I’ve commanded you.” Well, how could Jesus expect them to teach everything He has commanded and The Word accomplished that work if it hadn’t been preserved. The Word would have to be preserved. 2 Timothy 3:16 through 17, “All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness that the workman of God may be complete and equipped for every good work.”
When Paul writes this, he’s primarily speaking of the Old Testament, but the principle he gives us very much applies to the New Testament. And he lists several things, the God breathe Word is profitable for, teaching, reproof, correction, training in righteousness. And then he says that the man of God may be complete and equipped for every good work. That means in order that. So God breathed out His Word in order that as in so it will accomplish a purpose that men will be equipped, that the church will be equipped and built up. Once again, that requires God to preserve His Word or this simply couldn’t happen. So in some ways we actually struggle to find verses that just say the simple perhaps uninteresting point, God will preserve His Word. I’m not saying there isn’t one. I’m saying that’s not really what the Bible seems to be concerned with, but it’s the assumption of the Bible.
It’s the assumption of every text we just read. In order for the word to do something, it has to be preserved. The writers, as they write the books we hold in our hands and rightfully cite as scripture often know their writing scripture and they presume that God will sustain and preserve His Word so that those they’re writing to can receive and benefit from it. It’s the assumption of the text. Paul says this in Romans 15, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction that through endurance and through the encouragement of the scriptures we might find hope.” And we can rest in this today. This verse actually applies to itself. Think about it. For whatever was written in former days like the Old Testament, like Paul’s letter in Romans where he writes this like Mark and so on, was written for our instruction that through endurance and through the encouragement of the scriptures, we as believers today might have hope.
In the same way that God has ordained a set of means that he uses in bringing people to faith, the Gospel is shared, heard, believed. He uses means to bring us His preserved word as well. This preservation is not opposed to the use of evidence and research and a process like we discussed earlier. It’s not at odds with looking at manuscripts and considering and using the minds God has given us to find what are the original readings here. In fact, it is through that purpose and process that God has preserved and brought us His Word. So as Christians we should know our history.
The history of the Christian church is our history, right? We’re a part of the family of God. That’s our family history. That’s our family lineage. The song that we often say for children, right? “Father Abraham had many sons, many sons had father Abraham, I am one of them and so are you,” right? And then we shake our legs or something. That’s not just a kid’s song, there’s a profound spiritual truth there, that from Abraham to us and all the believers in God, followers in between, that’s our history. We should know our history. We should know the history of the book we hold and use to understand the Lord. We should know the work that goes into it. Far from leading to less trust, it should actually lead us to trust it more because we know more about it and we can see how God has been faithful to the promises that we read together, this morning.
The scriptures were breathed out by men. I’m sorry, breathed out by God, a little heresy in there, breathed out by God. And everyone’s paying attention, that’s good. That was a test. We’re breathed out by God and written by men and preserved by the Word and by the Lord so that we would read them, hear them, have faith in the Lord through them and then hope in Him through them. And the Lord preserves both His Word and his people. As the Lord says, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God stands forever.” May we trust it, read in it and hope in him through it.