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The Angel at the Bethesda Pool
In the Gospel of John, it is recorded:
“In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had” (John 5:3-4).
Let me ask some questions regarding this passage. Do you believe the story here? Have you never wondered about the strangeness of it? Does God dangle the carrot or play ‘cat-and-mouse’ or tease the weak and helpless? Does He take pleasure in watching physically handicapped people awkwardly trying to jostle their way to the pool to get healed, where only the fastest one wins?
Did you know that the words “waiting for the moving” in verse 3, and all of verse 4 are not found in the more original manuscripts? This was a piece of superstition inserted by some unbelieving scoundrel. It is the stuff of a carnal perception of Jesus Christ. It is the stuff of Lourdes, Fatima, and Catholic occultish heresy.
Consider God’s character, if you know anything of Him. Would He do such a thing? Does He display similar cruelty and callousness anywhere else in Scripture? This is a contradiction of the testimony of the Scriptures concerning the character of God.
Yes, He judges; yes, He destroys; He does not toy with men, however; He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, and He is no sadist.
Translations based on the oldest available manuscripts omit portion of verse 3 and all of verse 4. The NIV commentary explains, “Verse 4 was doubtless inserted by a later copyist to explain why people waited by the pool in large numbers.” This may be the reason people were waiting by the pool, inasmuch as the people visiting there could have had a superstition about an angelic visitation, but stating there was such a visitation is false, for the reasons cited. The copyist didn’t heed the admonition found in both Old and New Testaments:
“Every word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him. Add you not unto His words, lest He reprove you, and you be found a liar” (Proverbs 30:5-6).
“You shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall you diminish ought from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:2).
“For I testify unto every man who hears the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18-19).
Has not this copyist done much harm? Yes, he has, both to himself and to his readers. Nevertheless, we are all tried. As Paul said to some saints:
“For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you” (1 Corinthians 11:19).
Think about it. This threefold (heavenly) admonition is only there because the possibility exists that one can add or take from His Word. Any possibility for evil that has existed has been fulfilled, according to the purpose and wisdom of God Who creates all things (Isaiah 45:5-7) and has subjected all to vanity (Romans 8:20-21).
Now here’s a “Catch 22” if there ever was one! The Bible is to be believed as the Word of God. This Word of God warns against adding to, or subtracting from, its words. Which means it is possible to do, otherwise it is a vain warning and the Bible is not perfect after all. So then men, disregarding the solemn admonition of the Bible, add to it or subtract from it, and we, by God’s grace and discernment, must now watch out for imperfections in a perfect Bible.
If we were to grant Bibliolaters that the Bible is complete and perfect, how could they deny that men’s words could be added to, or subtracted from, the Bible, as it warns against such? And, clearly, the Bible proves itself reliable in counsel because men have, in fact, altered it. Ah, the Lord is the only escape route here, is He not?
Bibliolaters, our own preferred version declares your folly! Do you not contradict yourselves, saying the Bible is complete and perfect?
Take that passage of John 5 in context of the entire Bible testimony. Be honest. “Examine yourselves whether you be in the faith.” Stop being unbelieving, idolatrous fools; repent; begin to believe the Lord Jesus Christ, and not some fictional character, some angel of light coming in His Name!
The Three Witnesses of First John
“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one” (1 John 5:7-8).
Did you know that the latter part of verse 7 and the first part of verse 8 were not found in any Greek manuscripts before the 16th Century? (The words that were not originally there are those in red.) That portion is said to have come from the Latin copies and the Catholic Vulgate.
My NIV commentary says, “At the end of verse 7, some older English versions add the words found in the NIV text note. But the addition is not found in any Greek manuscript or NT translation prior to the 16th century.”
If that is so, where do the KJV and other versions get off, adding to the original Word of God? Are the translators justified? If your answer is “yes,” then you must allow that the Catholic Church may also have the right to include the Apocrypha and its “sacred traditions,” and change the Law of God, as they did in changing the Sabbath to Sunday, when the Bible gives no support whatsoever for this.
The passage ought to read:
“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one” (1 John 5:7-8).
Are the King James Bible and other translations perfect? I do not think so.
What is wrong with the added doctrine in this instance? Plenty. It is the preaching of a triune God, a doctrine of the Catholic Church inherited from pagan mythology. It is a carnal description and understanding of God that serves the power and tyranny of man.
There is only one Lord, one God, one faith, one baptism. To break God into three individuals is a tactic that dilutes and destroys His singular authority and majesty. In the ensuing confusion, power is transferred to corrupt man, the self-appointed “keeper of the secrets” of God. Corruption and death follow. And this is in your “perfect” Bible.
There are several other, though far less significantly questionable, portions in the Gospel of John (speaking primarily of the KJV and other Textus Receptus-based versions) with which we have not troubled ourselves. As well, we have addressed John 7:53-8:11, which is not found in the most original or “more reliable” manuscripts, but our take on this portion may surprise you: The Woman Caught in Adultery – Did It Really Happen?