Report to subscribers of the New Matthew Bible Project

Ruth Magnusson Davis, Editor

April 15, 2015
The book of Revelation is now completed, the last of all the New Testament books – a
significant milestone! The only thing remaining to update in the New Testament is
Tyndale’s prologue to the book of Romans.
As always, here is a brief comparison of bible versions:
Revelation 10:6 Here modern bibles introduce a different slant: will time be no more, or?
Tyndale reads:
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And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea, and upon the earth, lifted up his hand
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to heaven, and swore by him that liveth for evermore, which created heaven, and the
things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which therein are: that there
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should be no longer time: but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when
he shall begin to blow: even the mystery of God shall be finished as he preached by
his servants the prophets.

I understand this to mean that time will be no more when the 7th angel begins to blow his
trumpet; that is, creation and time will be swallowed up in eternity, as the mystery of God
is finished. A similar rendering is found in older bibles through to the KJV. However,
beginning with the RSV, the sense is changed. Modern bibles have here that “there will be
no more delay.”
Bible commentator Matthew Henry observes that the verse could mean either (1) time will
be no more at the sounding of the seventh trumpet, which will signal the end of all things,
or (2) there will be no further delay in fulfilling the predictions of the book, but that all
things would be put into “speedy execution” at the sounding of the seventh trumpet.
Apparently this verse has been revised in later bibles in order to accommodate modern
dispensationalism, in particular the belief in a coming literal 1,000 year reign of Christ on
earth. If after the 7th trumpet there is to be a 1,000 year kingdom on earth – 1,000 years in
time, that is – then of course it could not be said that time would be no more.
Today’s belief in a literal 1,000 year reign is one of several teachings that many
evangelicals increasingly have in common with Jehovah Witnesses.1 It is, in fact, the old
doctrine of Chiliasm under a new name, and was held by not a few church fathers until
Augustine, with his teaching and interpretation of the scriptures, effectively put it to rest. It
is said that the words “whose kingdom shall have no end” were inserted in the Nicene
Creed in opposition to Chiliasm.
The belief in a literal millennial reign of the saints was not part of the doctrine of Tyndale
or Coverdale, but apparently re-surfaced in the 16th century among the Anabaptists, and
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since then has spread extensively. I have not found it in Chrysostom, whom I often read.
When I read Augustine, I was confirmed in my understanding, which I had independently
come to, that the 1,000 year period is symbolic of this present long age, which began with
the first coming of Christ. During this age, the saints reign spiritually with the resurrected
Christ. Our Lord will then return at the end of the age to gather in His saints and
inaugurate His eternal kingdom, which will have no end.
In this understanding, the first resurrection of 20:5 is the time when the believer puts his
faith in Christ and passes from death to life – and to come to true faith is indeed to pass
from death to life, and is to live with Christ. Therefore Christ’s kingdom during this age is
in the hearts and consciences of believers, who, with and by and through him, reign over
sin and death. A serious problem with Chiliasm is that it misunderstands the nature of the
first resurrection, being born again. When this is lost to the understanding, much is lost.
Augustine also says that the book of Revelation is not to be read as a chronologically
linear unfolding of events; rather, it is that the author frequently returns to the same events
and describes them under different figures.2
Of course, I realize that this understanding is not in accordance with much popular
modern teaching, and I respectfully let each person decide for himself or herself on the
question.
Following for interest’s sake is a comparison of bible versions. As is so often the case, the
shift begins with the bibles that come after the King James Version.
Wycliffe 1380: that time shall no more be
Cranmer 1539: that there should be no longer time
Geneva 1557: that time should be no more
Rheims 1582: that there shall be time no more
KJV 1611: that there should be time no longer
RSV 1946: that there should be no more delay
Jerusalem Bible 1968: the time of waiting is over
NEB 1970: there shall be no more delay
Living Bible 1971: there should be no more delay
NIV 1973: there will be no more delay
New King James 1988: that there should be delay no longer
New Matthew Bible: that time shall be no more
We note that the Matthew Bible contained very few interpretive notes on the book of
Revelation, and then only on minor points, such as the meaning of ‘angel.’3 Thus the Holy
Spirit may open our understanding of this mysterious book as and when He so wills.
R Magnusson Davis
New Matthew Bible Project

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Other JW doctrines I have heard taught among evanglicals include conditional immortality and the
denial of eternal retribution, that Christians ought not to concern themselves with politics, and that
Christians ought not to celebrate Christmas.
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Augustine writes in City of God, Book XX, that the first resurrection occurs when a person hears
the voice of the Son of God and passes from death to life (John 5:25). This passing from death to
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life has been taking place since Christ’s first coming, and will end at this 2 coming, at which time
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all the dead will arise in their bodies in the 2 resurrection. Then all will face the final judgment.
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Anyone who has not come to life during the millennial period will, at the 2 resurrection, pass into
the second death with his or her body. The figure 1,000 is symbolic. It represents a totality, or the
fullness of a long period, in accordance with the frequent allegorical use of numbers that we find in
the bible.
The foregoing represents also the understanding that I came to after years of study, when I believe
the Holy Spirit opened to me the meaning of verses 20:5 and 6.
Augustine has more to say, on which I reserve judgement. One interesting comment is that during
the 1,000 year period, it is possible to understand that Satan is cast into unbelievers, who are the
“abyss” or bottomless pit of verse 20:3. Satan is then bound so that he cannot (fatally) deceive
those people who take part in the first resurrection. However, he will be loosed for a brief period at
the end of time. Augustine would not speculate definitively on the final “loosing” of Satan.
My own observation is that the belief in a literal worldly reign of Christians can be likened in some
ways to the Jews looking for a Messiah to restore a worldly kingdom to them, the belief prevalent
when Jesus first came. But the true Jew is the Jew that is “hid within,” and one ought not to look for
anything but a spiritual kingdom until Christ returns and brings in a new heaven and a new earth.
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The genuine Matthew Bible contains only a handful of interpretive commentaries on the book of
Revelation. However there is in circulation a “Matthew Bible,” also called “Matthew’s Version,”
which is the pirated work of a Calvinist named Edmund Becke. He published his own “Matthew
Bible” in 1549, the same year that John Rogers republished the genuine work. The bible sellers at
Great Site.com have sold a facsimile of Becke’s edition as “The Tyndale Bible: Matthew Thomas.”
Also, I believe Becke’s version has also been posted on-line as the Matthew Bible. Becke’s bible
added copious notes to the book of Revelation, largely taken from John Bale’s 1547 book “The
Image of Both Churches.” Bale’s running commentary on Revelation is not easy to read due to its
scurrility, but it does contain some interesting insights.
Becke’s bible contains the infamous “wife-beating” note on 1 Peter 3, which advises men to beat
their wives if they will not do their duty. Becke’s notes, where he departs from the Matthew Bible,
are often railing and unpleasant, and give a very wrong impression of the real thing.

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