THE gracious providence of God has seldom been more signally
evident than in the discovery of the Sinaitic manuscript by Constantine Tischendorf about
the middle of the last century. The story how he found some of its leaves in a waste
basket, and how he tried nearly ten years later to recover the rest of it but failed, and
how he finally stumbled on it six years later, is full of interest. The eagerness with
which scholars have heralded its readings and incorporated them into their texts gave
promise of a speedy realization of the fruits of this great find.
But the results, so far, have hardly come up to our expectations. They
have lacked the vital touch, they have failed to add living energy to the body of
revelation. Like every gift from above, however, the failure is found in its use rather
than in the gift itself. There is one reading found in this manuscript which, in itself,
ought to make us profoundly thankful to God for its recovery in these last degenerate
days. It alone contains the answer to the heart breaking cry of the miserable man in the
seventh of Romans. So far as we are aware, this has never been made known. The reason for
this lies in the fact that the printed editions issued by Tischendorf did not follow the
manuscript, but were "edited." Sometimes he included the corrections in his
text, yet he often omitted them. What we need is the whole manuscript, corrections and
all. This will be given in the CONCORDANT VERSION.
Salvation, in all of its aspects, is of God. Deliverance, past, present
and future is through His grace. Why is justification by faith? That it may accord with
grace (Rom.4:16). And He who spares not His own Son, but gives Him up for us all, how
shall He not, together with Him, also, grace us with all things (Rom.8:32)? Indeed,
it is God's purpose, in the oncoming eons, to display to the celestial spheres the
transcendent riches of His grace by his kindness to us in Christ Jesus (Eph.2:6,7)
Being, then, the objects of His grace in the past, and the exponents of
its overwhelming redundancy in the future, the question arises, why have we so meager an
enjoyment of it in the present? Is it withheld in the interim? Are we indeed "in the
seventh of Romans" now? Shall we go about bemoaning our own misery? It is a sad fact
that there are many whose experience has never led them beyond the wretchedness detailed
in this chapter. If there is a way out they have not found it. And the significant fact
remains that in our Bibles the vital question at the close of the seventh of Romans is
unanswered. "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death" (Rom.7:25
RV)? There is no reply. We are left in the dark!
It is evident that the Adversary has done his utmost to adulterate and
destroy the grace of God. Witness his attacks on justification by faith as recorded in the
Galatian epistle. Our blessed expectation was also made a matter of works, so the apostle
reminds the Thessalonian saints that future salvation is also founded on grace. It is
because Christ died that we shall live together with Him, whether we watch
or are drowsy (1 Thess.5: 10). Here the translators have allowed themselves to
become adversaries of grace (perhaps through inadvertence) for they render the word watch
by wake, and drowsy by sleep. There is no reference to death. In a
similar way, we believe, the vital word of the seventh of Romans, which is the answer to
its appeal and the stepping stone into the eighth chapter, has been taken from us. This
word is Grace.
The seventh of Romans is one of the most unsatisfactory passages in our
Bibles. Some declare boldly that it is the experience of the believer. And, as to fact,
they are right! Are not the great majority of the saints in this slough where they do what
they condemn? Are not many having their divine aspirations dampened by their inability to
carry out the desires of the spirit which has been given them? Some have emerged with a
shout of victory, but even they are not at all clear how the victory was won, and hardly
know how to impart the permanent blessing to others.
As the CONCORDANT VERSION is the only translation (so far as we are
aware) that has seized this precious gem and set it in its place, we take the following
from the unpublished manuscript.
"A wretched man am I! What will rescue me out of this body of
death? Grace! Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord."
GRACE! This is the key to deliverance from the law and from self and
from sin! It is not struggling: it is standing still to see the salvation of God. It
is not fighting the flesh, but, putting it in the place of death, finding ourselves alive
beyond its sphere in resurrection. Those who enter into conflict with the flesh will not
find victory but defeat. In Romans we die to sin, to the law, and seek deliverance from
the body of death. Nothing will avail us but the undiluted, unadulterated grace of God.
Grace is the door that leads us out of Romans seven into Romans eight.
It ushers us out of misery into the realm of pure delight. It transfers us from
unsatisfactory, distressing self- inspection, where we are harassed with doubts and
condemned by ourselves, into that marvelous realm which greets us in the opening of the
eighth chapter. "Nothing, consequently, is condemnation now..." Instead
of continual condemnation grace absolutely defies all condemnation. Even where sin
abounds, grace superabounds, so that sin itself is submerged in the redundancy
superfluity of grace.
All sorts of remedies have been suggested to cure the wretched man but
none of them compare with this divine prescription. The eighth chapter is based on this
reply and cannot be comprehended apart from it. The wretched man is continually condemned
by an inward weakness and waywardness with which he has no sympathy. Grace steps in, and,
as a consequence, nothing is condemnation to those in Christ Jesus, for the
spirit's law of life in Christ Jesus frees us from the law of sin and death. God's grace-gift
is eonian life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom.6:23). The life abides on the same terms on
which it was received-- nothing down, nothing forever.
But some will ask, how do we know that such is the true reading? What
right have we to add to the Bible? This opens up a most interesting and profitable line of
evidence which is of tremendous importance to all who value God's truth today. The word
which we have added to the seventh of Romans is a correction found in the Codex
Sinaiticus, one of the most ancient copies of the Greek scriptures in our possession. Its
discovery by Tischendorf reads like a successful hunt for buried treasure, with gold
enough for us all.
The three most ancient manuscripts which have come down to us vary
considerably in regard to the matter of corrections. Alexandrinus and Vaticanus are quite
free from changes, but Sinaiticus is full of them. At first sight the presence of so many
corrections lowers our confidence in the text, and it certainly seems just to say that the
original scribe was not as careful as his compeers. A closer study of the corrections,
however, has convinced us that this manuscript, as corrected, is probably the most
valuable witness which God has providentially preserved for us.
In collating the text for the CONCORDANT VERSION, which is founded on
the three most ancient witnesses, the question arose whether to follow the primary text of
Sinaiticus, as is usually done, or to give the correctors the preference. Many of the
corrections seem to have been made almost as soon as the vellum was written, hence, they
are practically as ancient as the underlying text. An extended comparison with the
companion texts developed the fact that the corrector's readings are often sustained by
the best evidence especially Codex Vaticanus. Tischendorf at one time thought that the
scribe who wrote Vaticanus corrected Sinaiticus, because the readings so often agreed and
the handwriting seemed the same. There are, however, sufficient points of difference to
make them independent witnesses. It is possible that both Vaticanus and the first
corrector of Sinaiticus had copies which were taken from one ancient manuscript in some
cases. The result of a comparison with other manuscripts gives the correctors of
Sinaiticus a higher place than the basic text. The later corrector seems, indeed, to have
been more than a mere corrector. He was an editor of the ancient text, endeavoring
not merely to correct the mechanical slips of the scribe, but to conform the text to the
best ancient evidence. It is supposed that this editorial work was done at Caesarea by
comparison with Pamphilius' manuscript which in turn had been compared with Origen's
Hexapla. If this be true, it is of the utmost importance that we recognize it and accord
their readings the place they deserve.
The readings of Sinaiticus are of two classes. First there are the
corrections made at the time the manuscript was written or soon afterwards. These are
sometimes called the A or B readings. They are shown in the CONCORDANT VERSION as s*. The
second class of corrections are editorial in nature and were made some centuries later.
They are sometimes called the C readings. The CONCORDANT superlinear gives them as s2, s3,
s4, and s5. A very few alterations were made much later and are known as F readings
It is important to note that the early corrections, like the addition
to Romans seven which we are studying, were subjected to the scrutiny of the later
editors. Thus they are not only the deliberate additions of the early scribe, but are
confirmed by the later editorial revision.
Another point is of principal importance. Many of the mistakes in the
ancient manuscript are omissions. Only those actually engaged in transcribing will
realize how easy it is to leave out a few words or a line. A compositor on the CONCORDANT
VERSION recently skipped from one line of his copy to the next, because the same word
occurred in each. The principle hitherto followed that the ancient scribes were anxious to
add to the text and thus gave rise to spurious additions must be abandoned. Just as an
ancient sculpture does not gain, but rather loses in the course of time, and must be
restored, so with the writing which is copied many times. There can be no doubt that the
scribe of Sinaiticus skipped many words which were restored by the corrector. The
Alexandrian manuscript has thus lost quite a few whole sentences and almost always the
reason is apparent from the text itself.
As the corrector of Sinaiticus restores many omissions, in which it is
supported by the other manuscripts, the question arises whether it may not be the sole
remaining source of some readings which have fallen out of all the other
manuscripts? This can be determined only by internal evidence. As the particular passage
in which we are interested, Romans 7:25, is in this class, we shall enlarge on this point
and leave it to our readers' candid judgment. We feel sure all who investigate will come
to the conclusion that, in the providence of God, the corrector, and later editor, of
Sinaiticus have preserved for us the true reading in this notable text, and that grace
(which has been largely absent from the lives of God's saints as well from this passage)
may now be restored to its place in the seventh of Romans and in our hearts and lives.
In an exhaustive survey of the various readings occurring in the first
epistle to the Corinthians it was found that there are about three dozen places where the
later editor of Sinaiticus supplies something absent not only from the first draft of
Sinaiticus but from Vaticanus and Alexandrinus as well. We will examine these to see what
motive prompted their addition. Did this editor try to force some of his own teachings
into the text? Are the additions as good or better than the text without them? Is there
any apparent reason why they might have been dropped in the transcription? We have sorted
the passages into five classes. The first fourteen additions are all alike in character,
in that they make no change in the sense of the passage, but are more precise and
accurate--points which are highly commendable in the Scriptures. In each of the subjoined
passages the word added by the editor is in italics. It is omitted by the other evidence.
The renderings are from the manuscript of the CONCORDANT VERSION as other translations are
not sufficiently exact to show some of the distinctions.
1 Cor. 1:20 the wisdom of this world
2:10 through His Spirit
3:12 this foundation
4: 6 not to be disposed above what is written
4: 9 for I suppose that God demonstrates
5: 7 then clean out the old leaven
7:21 and those using this world
9:22 I became to the weak as weak
10:13 To enable you to undergo it
10:23 All is allowed me (twice)
11:26 and drinking this cup
12:12 yet all the members of the one body being many
12:26 or one member is being esteemed
14:26 each of you has a psalm
Try the experiment of going over each of these, leave out the
italicized word. The sense remains but its point is blunted. In fact, it is not strictly
true that God makes the wisdom of the world stupid. The wisdom of the world to come will
be in harmony with His wisdom. It applies only to the wisdom of this world. And God
reveals it to us not merely through the spirit, but it is through His spirit. And
so, in almost every case there is a distinct gain in accuracy and emphasis. In no case can
we charge the editor with the introduction of his own ideas.
We next present a list of fifteen more passages in which the editor of
Sinaiticus adds to the sense yet never alters it. In almost every case the addition is not
only undoubtedly true, but is demanded by the context. How lacking is the statement
"This is My body which is for you," spoken as the Lord is breaking the
bread for His disciples! Is it not much more likely that the true reading is "Which
is broken for you?" True no bone of Him was broken but not so His body.
The three other additions to this passage all appeal to our spiritual
perception of the fitness of things. "Let him be testing himself first,"
adds point to the exhortation, "He who is eating and drinking unworthily"
is surely demanded by the words which follow. Eating and drinking do not in themselves
call for judgment. "Not discriminating the body of the Lord" gives
definiteness to an otherwise vague expression. So with "Is anyone planting a vineyard
and not eating of its fruit?" The planter could hardly eat all of its fruit
himself. Rather he ate of it and supplied his household as well. Love never falls
is a usage of the word "falls" unknown elsewhere. It is weak. "Love never
falls out, or lapses" is eminently fitting.
1 Cor.5: 1 such prostitution which is not being named among the
5: 7 Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for our sakes
7: 5 have leisure for fasting and prayer
7:38 giving in marriage (out-marrying)
7:39 A wife is bound by law for
8: 4 that there is no other (different) God except One
9: 7 is any one planting a vineyard and not eating of its fruit
9:10 he who is threshing in expectation of sharing in the expectation
11:24 this is My body which is broken for you
11:28 let him be testing himself first
11:29 for he who is eating and drinking unworthily
11:29 not discriminating the body of the Lord
13: 8 love never lapses (or falls out) for "falls"
16:15 Stephanas and Fortunatus
16:23 fond of the Lord Jesus Christ
That Christ our Passover was sacrificed for our sakes, none will
deny, and it is far from trite to introduce it into the apostle's argument. So with the
bonds of wedlock. They are legal bonds. It is likely that the sin spoken of in this
epistle was committed among the nations though they probably refrained from
mentioning it. The addition of Fortunatus' name was done deliberately and must have been
based on earlier evidence. So also with the name and title of our Lord. The character of
these additions impresses us as genuine attempts to restore the text to its original
completeness and vigor.
Our next group of passages is such as only one can appreciate who is
acquainted with Greek or has an exact sublinear such as is given in the CONCORDANT
VERSION. Greek is very rich in participles and connectives which appear redundant to
1 Cor. 5:10 And not absolutely, as to the
6:19 from the God
8:11 is being destroyed also
11:34 Now if anyone is hungry
13:11 Yet when I have become a man
14:13 Wherefore let even him who is talking languages
15:38 its own the body
"Yet when I have become a man" shows a disjunctive
turn of thought better than if it were omitted. The same is true of "Now if
anyone is hungry."
We next present two cases in which the particle AN is added by the
editor of Sinaiticus. This interesting little word is seldom translated in our versions.
It is the sign of indefiniteness, represented by EVER in the sublinear of the CONCORDANT
SCRIPTURES. In the Version its presence is usually acknowledged by changing may to should.
It is the key to that passage which has caused so much controversy (Matt.24:34):
"Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass till all these things be
fulfilled." All difficulties are removed if we render it concordantly "Verily, I
am saying to you, `This generation may by no means pass by till all these things should
occur.'" It is not merely subjunctive may, but "may ever,"
which, in English, is should. Our Lord was careful to qualify His statement which
shows that, far from being positive that these things would be fulfilled, He evidently
knew they would not. The two passages follow:
1 Cor.11:26 till He should (for may) be coming
11:25 until He should (for may) be placing
Except the strengthening of the word not (9:12), but one passage
remains, the only one which seems to mar the text and quarrel with its context.
Nevertheless we give it so that all the evidence will be before us and nothing hid.
1 Cor.14:10 not one of them is soundless (for "nothing is
The apostle seems to be speaking of voices or sounds. To say that no
sounds are without sound seems senseless. To say that nothing is without sound is
doubtless true though rather trite. Perhaps the root of the difficulty lies in the word
"soundless." Our Common Version renders it "without signification,"
which the Revisers modernize to "without significance." While there is no
external evidence for this rendering, it certainly responds to the context, for the
apostle has been speaking of a variety of natural sounds, and he is pleading against
senseless speaking in the ecclesia. Now if we insert a letter, p, which is the equivalent
of our R, and read aphroonos for aphoonos, then the whole difficulty is
solved and the corrector of Sinaiticus is right even in this passage. It would then read,
"many voices in the world and not one of them is senseless." But there is no
documentary evidence for this, so we cannot stake anything on it.
We trust that the proof we have presented will convince all that we are
justified in treating the readings of the editor of Sinaiticus with a grave measure of
respect. There is not the slightest reason to impugn his motives, for in no case could he
gain any doctrinal advantage by his additions. Most of his contributions strengthen or
develop the sense already present and are supported by the context. As he very often
agrees with the best manuscripts such as Vaticanus or Alexandrinus (where internal
evidence is not needed to confirm his changes), we may readily come to the conclusion that
the edited Sinaiticus is far superior to its first draft. Furthermore, even when the
editor of Sinaiticus seems alone, his additions to the text are of such a solid,
unbiased and helpful character, that they demand recognition far beyond what has been
accorded them in the past.
When we remember, then, that the word "grace" added in the
margin of Romans seven, is not only the correction of the contemporary scribe, but was
passed as correct by the later editor, we have ample grounds for including it in the text
without appealing to the strong prejudice created by the demands of the context.
Every ancient work of art comes to us mutilated by the hand of time.
When we find one in which there was an ancient attempt to restore it to its pristine
perfectness we do not rid it of the restorer's work but rather rejoice that one has been
before us, and carefully preserve and guard his efforts. So with the Scriptures. The many
corrections which seem to deface the Sinaitic text are its greatest glory. Speaking
generally, they probably give us the best evidence as to the original scriptures which
We shall now return to the Seventh of Romans and the reading of which
prompted this digression. Without an acquaintance with the facts we have presented we
would probably pass over the added word grace, as the answer to that chapter, as it
is based almost entirely on this manuscript. It will be of more than ordinary interest to
note the various ways in which this text has appeared in Greek manuscripts and other
ancient sources as well as modern editors. "I am thanking the God" is the
reading of one set of witnesses, which includes Sinaiticus uncorrected, Alexandrinus, two
Syriac versions, the Peshitto and the Harkleian, the Gothic version of Ulfilas, and most
other Codices. Origen has it so twice out of three instances and Chrysostom quotes it so
once. "Thanks (or grace) to the God" is the reading of Vaticanus and is followed
by the Coptic Sahidic version, Origen one out of three instances, Methodius, a Bishop of
Olympus, and Hieronymus, once out of two occurrences. "Yet thanks (or grace)
to the God" is the reading of c2 (Codex Ephraemi), a few other Codices, a few
of the Boharic and the Armenian versions, and is so quoted by Cyril of Alexandria.
"The grace of God" is found in D (Codex Claromontanus), 32, a twelfth century
manuscript in Paris, the latin version, Hieronymus, once in two instances, and Orien's
latin in both of its occurrences. Weymouth gives the consensus of modern editors as
favoring "Thanks (or grace) to the God," but most of them put "I am
thanking," in the margin. Alexander Souter's recent edition reverses this, putting,
"I am thanking" in the text, and "Thanks to" in the margin. The
CONCORDANT Greek text will combine these readings. Once this is done the solution of the
whole matter appears as clear as noonday. Probably a very early scribe, in copying this
passage, came to the word grace, XAPIC charis and lifted his eyes from the copy.
Then turning to it again, his eyes fell on the same combination of letters XAPIC in
"l am thanking," a little further on. In this way, his copy skipped the word grace,
for he had lost it in the word "thanking." This shifting from grace to thanks,
in English, will be clearer if we explain that thanks, gratitude, grace, rejoice
and bounty are all from the same element XAP, in Greek, which means JOY. Sometimes
we must translate grace gratitude (1 Cor.10:30). Thanks is WELL-JOY. Surely
all who are acquainted with the grace of God can see that there is a much deeper
connection than a mere etymological one, for grace is the purest and most inexhaustible
source of joy and thanksgiving.
The habit of skipping words found between recurring combinations of
letters accounts for many of the omissions found in our modern texts. They should be
restored. The compositor of the Greek text of the Unveiling had an experience of this kind
in setting up the repetition "out of the tribe of...twelve thousand," and, he,
like the scribe of Sinaiticus omitted two tribes by skipping, but was able to correct it,
as it was in moveable type.
The key to the sixth and seventh chapters of Romans lies in the fact
that they are an expansion of the conclusion of the fifth chapter. "For even as
through the disobedience of one man the many were constituted sinners, thus also, through
the obedience of one, the many shall be constituted just. Yet law crept in that the
offense may increase. Yet where sin increases, grace superexceeds, that, even as Sin
reigns in death, thus grace, too, may reign, through righteousness, for eonian life,
through Jesus Christ our Lord." Then comes that superlative insistence on grace which
is rejected by almost everyone today. "What, then, shall we assert? That we may be
persisting in sin that grace may increase?" It is evident from this that, even under
such a supposition, grace would exceed. Who believes this today?
Next comes the question of sin. We are not satisfied to sin and allow
grace to exceed in that way. We desire deliverance from sin. How can it be obtained? In
our loose, unscriptural phraseology we talk of victory over sin. Scripture speaks
of victory over the world (John 16:33 and 1 John 5:4) and over the wicked one (1 John
2:13). Yet even this is for the Circumcision. It is not ours to wrestle with blood and
flesh, but with the sovereignties, with the authorities, with the world mights of this
darkness, with the spiritual forces of wickedness among the celestials. Our panoply
includes the readiness of the evangel of peace where we have contact with the
world. There is no conflict, hence no victory. But, you will say, are we to have no
victory over sin? Accurately speaking, No. We are to die to Sin, and this is more like
defeat than victory. Ours is to be resurrection life. By death to sin we are justified or
acquitted from sin. If we allow ourselves to come under law, as Paul does in the seventh
of Romans, we will soon find that ours is far from a victorious life, for the law changes
the character of sin into offense. I cannot put my will into practice. I do things
that I hate to do. Sin takes control. Law puts Sin in control. "A wretched man am I!
What will rescue me out of this body of death? Grace!" Death to Sin and death
to Law is the only escape from their clutches. They can never be conquered by us. But if
we, through death to them, escape from their jurisdiction, their power over us is gone and
we are free.
Law and grace are opposites in their effects. All failures and
short-comings as well as flagrant misdeeds are sin. The Law tells me that God is against
all such things, but law does not help me to avoid them. Grace tells me that God, in
Christ, has fully provided for all, and gives me power over the flesh so that this very
body of death must obey my will. The Law said, "Do or be condemned!" but I could
not. Grace says, "There is no condemnation possible now whatever you do." And lo!
I am endued with power to fulfill the just requirements of the law by ignoring it
O, the potency of grace! In material things men do not despise God's
gifts but grasp them eagerly though thanklessly. The power He has deposited in the coal
strata and which flows in the streams is seized by man for his comfort and blessing. The
mellifluous influence of the sun furnishes all the physical energy on which our very lives
depend. God gives it freely with unstinted measure and we take it because we must. This is
but a parable of the spiritual forces which are ours as freely as the sunlight. Occupation
with ourselves or our sin is futile. Attempts at self reformation are fallacious. We are
not simply forgiven our past sins: we are justified. Those whom He justifies He glorifies
also. And in between our justification and glorification, our path is illuminated and
resplendent with that supreme expression of God's love, His undiluted, unbounded,
transcendent, undeserved, overwhelming grace.