What does God have to say concerning Syria?
In Two Lines of Bible Manuscript Evidence Part 1 we examined Egypt & Alexandria.
The purpose of these articles is to look at the Biblical Evidence of the countries and city that our two lines of Bible manuscript evidence come from. In our chart above on the right, you have Alexandria from which all the New Age Bibles spawn from. On the left, you have the Traditional text from Antioch where our King James Bible was given.
In this second part, we are going to look at the Biblical evidence regarding Syria & Antioch.
However before we look at what the Bible says about Syria and Antioch we must understand why examining what the Bible says about Egypt, Alexandria, Syria and Antioch is important.
The New Testament was an enigma. It was unlike anything the world had understood. Before Jesus Christ, the world was divided into two groups of people. Jews & Gentiles.
The Jews were known as God’s chosen people. The Jewish religion is founded on the Old Testament also known as The Law, Prophets, and the writings. The Jews lived separated from the gentile world conforming to Scripture, and they were awaiting their Messiah.
Proverbs 30:5 (KJB) Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.
Gentiles were referred to as “Greeks”. The Greeks were very religious but heathens in practice. Paul, when he was in Athens, says that the entire city was “given wholly to idolatry.”
Acts 17:16 (KJB) Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.
Paul made this statement after seeing Athens – Acts 17:22 (KJB) “Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. ” The gentile world was living in a religious world without Jesus Christ and full of philosophy & religion not much different than our world today.
Athens was not the only religious center of its day. Rome was another religious center of pagan religion full of temples to worship many pagan gods and goddesses. Many of these are simply extensions of the original pagan religion founded in Babylon and still practiced in Rome today by the Roman Catholic Churches.
As we discussed in part one of this article Alexandria, Egypt was another center of education and philosophy.
The Christian church was looked on as a fairly strange group of people. Jews rejected it because Christians claimed that Jesus Christ was the Jewish Messiah. Gentiles rejected Christianity because the Christians claimed that salvation was complete and that you could know without any doubt that you have eternal life. This was the opposite of the teaching of the pagan religious philosophy that nothing could be known for certain. Christianity also rejected idols and images for worship. This, of course, made the profitable business of selling idols worthless, as well as other pagan practices.
The New Testament Church needed its own unique location to establish itself and grow far away from the pagan & Jewish religious centers. A location that lend itself to the spread of the gospel. Such a location was realized after the death of Stephen in Acts 7, as believers were spread through out the world.
Acts 11:19 (KJB) “Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. “
Antioch’s location was very important to the spread of the gospel because it was located at the crossroads of major trade routes. It had a major seaport on the Orontes River. History states that by the end of the first century there were over 100,000 Christians living in Antioch.
We need to look at not only the secular history of Alexandria and Antioch but most importantly we need to examine what the Bible says about them. We have as mentioned looked at what the Bible says about Egypt and Alexandria in Part 1. Christians claim to accept the Bible as our final authority in all matters of faith and practice. What the Bible says then should be more important than what any human says.
The first time a thing is mentioned in the Word of God you will find the truth that will carry it all the way through scripture. In hermeneutics, this is called the Law of First Mention. Let us see what the Bible has to say about Syria and Antioch.
In Genesis 24 Abraham sends his servant Eliezer back to his family to find a bride (a type of Christ’s Gentile bride) for Isaac. The bride is found with Laban the Syrian. So the first mention is a positive context.
Genesis 25:20 (KJB) “And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan-aram, the sister to Laban the Syrian.”
Jacob who became Israel is referred to as a Syrian in Deuteronomy 26:5
Deuteronomy 26:5 (KJB) “And thou shalt speak and say before the LORD thy God, A Syrian ready to perish was my father, and he went down into Egypt, and sojourned there with a few, and became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous: “
Let’s look at the first mention of Antioch in the Bible.
Acts 6:5 (KJB) “And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: “
Nicolas from Antioch was chosen to be one of the first deacons. This is a positive mention.
Acts 11:19 (KJB) “Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.”
Antioch is mentioned as a safe place for the Christians who were fleeing persecution mentioned in Acts 8:1. In Acts 10 God is clearly calling out a following from among the Gentiles.
Acts 13:1-4 (KJB) “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. 3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. 4 So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. “
Antioch is away from the pagan centers of Alexandria, Athens, Rome and the Jewish center of Jerusalem. After Acts 12 the other apostles are only mentioned one last time in Acts 21:18.
Acts 11:20 (KJB) “And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus.”
The first time that Gentiles are reported as getting saved in public preaching was in Antioch.
Acts 11:22 (KJB) “Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.”
Here Barnabas who is a very important figure of the New Testament moves from Jerusalem to Antioch. Barnabas is the man who is responsible for Paul being in the ministry. Barnabas went to Tarsus to get Paul in Acts 11:25 and brings him back to Antioch (Acts 11:26). Paul, the primary figure of the New Testament begins his ministry in Antioch. Paul’s ministry to Gentiles really began from Antioch in Acts 13.
Acts 11:26 (KJB) “And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”
The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. The connection for anyone calling themselves a Christian is to the disciples at Antioch. It’s kind of ridiculous that today we have Christians (Antioch) using Alexandrian bibles. What a true contradiction of terms. This I can only compare to someone who claims to be an American burning the American Flag.
Acts 11:27 (KJB) “And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch.”
Here we see that the prophets from Jerusalem left it to settle in Antioch. If anyone knew where God was working you’d have to believe it was the prophets.
Acts 11:29 (KJB) “Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea:”
The Christians of Antioch are sending help to the Jerusalem. Jesus had given instructions to the disciples in Jerusalem – Acts 1:8 (KJB) “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Had the Jerusalem church fulfilled this commission? God will leave a church that doesn’t obey and take His prophets with Him.
Acts 15:1 (KJB) “And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. ”
Judaizers came to Antioch to corrupt the teachings of the Christians. Paul & Barnabas confront them. This lead to the Jerusalem Council and they returned to Antioch with a letter stating that Judaism had no control over the New Testament Church.
Alexandria was not the only location that had a school of the scriptures. In the second century, a disciple named Lucian founded a school of Scriptures in Antioch. Lucian was noted for his lack of trust of pagan philosophy. In contrast to Philo’s school in Alexandria, Lucian’s school magnified the authority and divinity of Scripture and taught that the Bible was to be taken literally, not figuratively as the philosophers in Alexandria taught.
Antioch is not only the correct origin for the correct family of Bible manuscripts, it is also the source for the correct ideology that accepts the Bible as literally and perfectly God’s Word.
The Alexandrian Mentality – “The Bible is not perfect and can be improved on.”
The Antiochan Mentality – “The Bible is perfect and cannot be improved on.”
Egypt is a type of this world, a type of our old life, Antioch is a type of a Christian’s new life in Jesus Christ. Which one do you think God would use to preserve His perfect, infallible, inerrant Word?