Matthew 2:11 & WCF 1.8

In Confessional Textual View by Chris ThomasLeave a Comment

As the Confessional Bibliology Facebook Group is a confessional group affirming the original intent of WCF/2LBCF 1.8 we have the following in our pinned post from Dr. Garnet Milne’s Has the Bible Been Kept Pure in All Ages?

A preserved purity

Finally, the divines also write of a preserved purity in their chapter on Scripture: WCF 1: 8. Like the purity ascribed to worship and the ordinances, this purity has no qualifier. Whereas God is ‘most pure spirit’, and churches are only ‘more or less pure’ so that even ‘the purest churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error’, WCF 1: 8 describes the Scriptures in their original languages as ‘by his singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages’[ emphasis added]. How are we to understand the significance of the term? There is no internal evidence to suggest that the concept of purity in this section was limited in any way. Could a ‘most pure’ omnipotent Spirit not preserve His own revelation in total purity if He so wanted? Indeed, the proof text Matthew 5: 18 was generally interpreted in the seventeenth century to signify the preservation of Scripture in both its internal and external form. As Westminster divine Anthony Burges[ s] (d. 1664) put it speaking of the extant Scriptures: ‘Divines doe well observe, that the Scripture may be considered, either quoad formale externum, in respect of the outward forme, as it is a writing; or quoad formale internum, in respect of the inward forme and sense of it, as it is the Word of God’.
That the divines chose Matt. 5: 18 as the only proof text for the clause suggests strongly that the jots and tittles of Scripture, meaning both the letters and the substance, were to be preserved until the day of judgement and beyond. The purity implied, therefore, is a purity of the text in words, matter and doctrine. That a perfect or total purity is in view must be on the basis of the One who kept the original language texts of Scriptures pure. They have been kept pure by the ‘singular care and providence’ of God himself. While God’s overruling providence does not imply that the autographic originals were to be reproduced perfectly in every copy down through the ages, the stress of God’s ‘singular care’ emphasises the personal nature of God’s intentions to preserve the original language texts for the use of His church in all ages. A special providence, not a general providence is in view.

In response to this, an attempt to undermine the historic view of 1.8 was attempted by appealing to Matthew 2:11 and the claim was made that the AV translators used a Greek text that had ειδον instead of ευρον.  The proof given for this assertion:  NONE.  Let us look at the Greek New Testaments of the Reformation on this issue:

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