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2 Thessalonians 2:1a, 3 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
2 Now we request you, brothers, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ … 3 Let no one deceive you in any way, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,
On this text, New Testament scholar Knute Larson writes, “Before that great day comes, Paul declared, the rebellion must occur. The word used here is apostasia or apostasy. Before the day of the Lord, there will be a great denial, a deliberate turning away by those who profess to belong to Christ. It will be a rebellion. Having once allied themselves with Christ, they will abandon him. Within the recognized church there will come a time when people will forsake their faith. Throughout history, there have been defections from the faith. But the apostasy about which he wrote to the Thessalonians would be of greater magnitude and would signal the coming of the end.” (Larson 2000, 105)
The apostle Paul says to the Ephesian elders; there is but “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” (Eph. 4:5) Paul penned those words about 60 C.E., and he was informing them that there was but one Christian faith. Yet, today we see more varieties of Christian faith than we care to count, all claiming that they are the truth and the way. Whenever a brave soul dares to be truthful and bring up that there are doctrinal differences, different doctrinal position, and different standards of conduct, he is shouted down as an alarmist. They claim that most of these denominations are the same on the essential doctrines, i.e., the salvation doctrines. Well, this actually is not true and is an attempt at hiding the truth, because even the salvation doctrines have anywhere from three to five different interpretations. Regardless, we must concern ourselves with a crucial question from Jesus Christ, “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lu 18:8) This is a whole other discussion. We concern ourselves with how these divisions came about in the first place.
As has already been stated in another blog article, but bears repeating, the blame lies with Satan. He attempted to have Jesus killed as a baby, he tempted Jesus in the wilderness after his baptism, and he attempted persecution right from the start. Peter wrote, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Pet. 5:8) Initially, the persecution of this young Christian body came from Jewish religious leaders, and then from the Roman Empire itself. With “all authority in heaven” (Matt. 28:20) Jesus watched on, as the Holy Spirit guided and directed them, this infancy Christian congregation endured the best that Satan and his henchman had to offer. (See Rev. 1:9; 2:3, 19) As we know from Scripture, Satan is not one to give up, so he devised a new plan, divide and conquer. Yes, he would cause divisions within the Christian congregation. Satan broke out the ultimate weapon― the apostasy. We need not believe that all of a sudden, the apostasy came into the Christian congregation. No, Jesus was watching from heaven, and he made sure that he warned them while he was here on earth of what was to come, and he made the young Christian congregation aware of what was coming and when it was getting started.—Colossians 1:18
“[Jesus] Be Aware of False Prophets . . .
[Peter] There Will Be False Teachers Among You.”
Matthew 7:15 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
Jesus was well aware of what Satan would try to accomplish step-by-step, and that divisions through those from within were on the list. New Testament scholar Stuart K. Weber says, “Jesus had an important reason for inserting the wolf metaphor (Acts 20:27–31)—to alert his listeners to the danger of a false prophet. If the false prophets were thought of as a source of bad fruit, then the disciples might think it was enough simply to recognize and ignore the false prophet, refusing to consume his bad fruit, and awaiting God’s judgment on him. But the wolf metaphor attributes a more active and malicious motive to the false prophet. He is actually an enemy of the sheep, and, if not confronted, will get his way by destroying the sheep.” (Weber 2000, 101)
Weber mentions Acts 20:28-30, where Paul, about 56 C.E., warned the Ephesian elders,
Acts 20:28-30 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the congregation of God, which he obtained with the blood of his own Son. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.
Yes, these, who standoff from the Truth and the Way, would not be seeking their own disciples, but rather they would be seeking, “to draw away the disciples after them.” i.e., the disciples of Christ. Jesus was well aware that the easiest way to defeat any group is to divide them, and so was Satan, who had been watching humanity for over 4,000 years, and especially the Israelites (Isaac and Ishmael / Jacob and Esau / Israel and Judah), as “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So, it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.” – 2 Corinthians 11:14-15.
The apostle Peter also spoke of these things about 64 C.E., “there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies . . . in their greed they will exploit you with false words..” (2 Pet. 2:1, 3) These abandoned the faithful words, became false teachers, rising within the Christian congregation, sharing their corrupting influence, intending to hide, disguise, or mislead.
These dire warnings by Jesus and the New Testament Authors had their beginnings in the first century C.E. Yes, they began small, but burst forth on the scene in the second century.
“[Paul says it] Is Already at Work”
About 51 C.E., some 18-years after Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension, division was already starting to creep into the faith, “the mystery of lawlessness is already at work.” (2 Thess. 2:7) Yes, the power of the man of lawlessness was already present, which is the power of Satan, the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:3-4), and his tens of millions of demons, are hard at work behind the scenes.
There were even some divisions beginning as early as 49 C.E., when the elders wrote a letter to the Gentile believers, saying,
Acts 15:24 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
24 Since we have heard that some went out from among us and troubled you with words, unsettling your souls,[*] although we gave them no instructions,
[*] This means that some, who left the Christian faith and were not trying to subvert (undermine) the faith of others.
Here we see that some within were being very vocal about their opposition to the direction the faith was heading. Here, it was over whether the Gentiles needed to be circumcised, suggesting that they needed to be obedient to the Mosaic Law. (Ac 15:1, 5)
What Does the Bible Really Say About Apostasy? What Are Some Identifying Characteristics of Apostates?
As the years progressed throughout the first-century, this divisive “talk [would] spread like gangrene.” (2 Tim. 2:17, c. 65 C.E.) About 51 C.E., They had some in Thessalonica, at worst, going ahead of, or at best, misunderstanding Paul, and wrongly stating by word and a bogus letter “that the day of the Lord has come.” (2 Thess. 2:1-2) In Corinth, about 55 C.E., “some of [were saying] that there is no resurrection of the dead. (1 Cor. 15:12) About 65 C.E., some were “saying that the resurrection has already happened. They [were] upsetting the faith of some.” (2 Tim 2:16-18)
Throughout the next three decades, no inspired books were written. However, by the time of the Apostle John’s letter-writing days of 96-98 C.E., he tells us “Now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.” (1 John 2:18) These are ones, “who denies that Jesus is the Christ” and ones who not confess “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.” (1 John 2:22; 4:2-3) John had said that there were many antichrists (instead of; against), not just one and that they were some already there in his day. His reference to “the last hour” is a reference to his dying and the end of the era of the apostles of Jesus Christ, for he was the last. John would die two years later in 100 C.E.
From 33 C.E. to 100 C.E., the apostles served Christ as a restraint against “the apostasy” that was coming. Paul stated in 2 Thessalonians 2:7, “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he [Apostle by Christ] who now restrains it [the apostasy] will do so until he [apostles] is out of the way.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3 said, “Let no one deceive you in any way [misinterpretation or false teachers of Paul’s first letter]. For that day [presence, parousia (second coming) of Christ] will not come, unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness [likely one person, or maybe an organization/movement, empowered by Satan] is revealed, the son of destruction.”
We must keep in mind that the meaning of any given text is what the author meant by the words that he used, as should have been understood by his audience, and had some relevance/meaning for his audience. The rebellion [apostasy] began slowly in the first century and would break forth after the death of the last apostle, i.e., John. As a historian, Ariel Durant informs us, by 187 C.E., there were 20 varieties of Christianity, and by 384 C.E., there were 80 varieties of Christianity. Christianity would become one denomination again, a universal religion, i.e., Catholicism. But the oneness of Catholicism was the very Great Apostasy that the apostles and Jesus warned about. It was not by evangelism but rather by the edge of the sword. But before looking at Catholicism, let’s look at the small breakaways that took place after the death of the restraints, the apostles.
Marcion (85-c.160) was a semi-Gnostic, who believed that the teachings of Jesus were irreconcilable with the actions of the God of the Old Testament. He viewed the God of the Old Testament, Jehovah, to be vicious, violent, and cruel, an oppressor who gave out material rewards to those worshiping him. In contrast, Marcion described the New Testament God, Jesus Christ, as a perfect God, the God of unadulterated love and compassion, of kindness, and quickness to forgive.
Montanus (late second century) was a “prophet” from Asia Minor, who believed that their revelation came directly from the Holy Spirit, which superseded the authority of Jesus, Paul, Peter, John, James, anyone really. They believed in the imminent return of Christ and the setting up of the New Jerusalem in Pepuza. He was more concerned about Christian conduct than he was Christian doctrine, wanting to get back to the Christian values of the first century. However, he took this to the extreme, just as John Calvin would some 1,300 years later in the 16th century. Montanism was a movement focused on prophecy, especially the founder’s views, being seen as the light for their time. They believed that the apostle and prophets had the power to forgive sin.
Valentinus (c.100-c.160) was a Greek poet, who founded his school in Rome, and most prominent early Christian gnostic theologian. He claimed that though Jesus’ heavenly (spiritual) body was of Mary, he was not actually born from her. This belief came about because Gnostics viewed all matter as evil. Therefore, if Jesus had really been a real human person with a physical body, he would have been evil. Another form of Gnosticism was Docetism, which claimed that Jesus Christ was not a real person, i.e., it was a mere appearance and illusion, which would have included his death and resurrection.
Manes (c. 216-274) was the prophet and the founder of Manichaeism, a gnostic religion. He sought to combine elements of Christianity, Buddhism, and Zoroastrianism, based on a rigid dualism of good and evil, locked in an eternal struggle. He believed that salvation is possible through education, self-denial, fasting, and chastity. He also believed that he was an “apostle of Jesus Christ,” (Ramsey 2006, 272) although, strictly speaking, his religion was not a movement of Christian Gnosticism in the earlier approach.
Beginning with the Council of Nicaea in 325 C.E., Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity in an attempt at reunited the empire. He fully understood that religious division was a threat to the continuation of the Roman Empire. However, it was Emperor Theodosius I (347 – 395 C.E.), who banned paganism and imposed Christianity as the State religion of the Roman Empire. The Roman Catholic Church can trace its existence back to the council of Nicaea in 325 C.E. at best. Protestantism had its beginnings in the Reformation of the 16th century. However, there were dissensions within Catholicism for a thousand years.
Outline of Christian Divisions
Start of Apostasy In Earnest – 2nd Century
Roman Catholic Church
- 4th Century (Constantine)
- 5th Century Coptic
- 1054 C.E. Eastern Orthodox
- Romanian and others
- 16th Century Reformation
- American and others
- Salvation Army
- Reformed Churches
- Bishop Agobard of Lyons, France (779-840), was against image worship, churches dedicated to saints, and church liturgy that was contrary to Scripture.
- Bishop Claudius (d. between 827 and 839 C.E.)
- Archdeacon Bérenger, or Berengarius, of Tours, France (11th century C.E.), excommunicated as a heretic in 1050
- Peter of Bruys (1117-c. 1131), left the church because he disagreed with infant baptism, transubstantiation, prayers for the dead, worship of the cross, and the need for church buildings.
- Henry of Lausanne (who died imprisoned around 1148), spoke out against church liturgy, the corrupt clergy, and the religious hierarchy.
- Peter Waldo (c. 1140–c. 1218) and the Waldenses, rejected purgatory, Masses for the dead, papal pardons and indulgences, and the worship of Mary and the saints.
- John Wycliffe (c. 1330-1384) preached against corruption in the monastic orders, papal taxation, the doctrine of transubstantiation (doctrine that the bread and wine of Communion become, in substance, but not appearance, the body and blood of Jesus Christ at consecration), the confession, and church involvement in temporal affairs.
- Jan Hus (c. 1369-1415) preached against the corruption of the Roman Church and stressed the importance of reading the Bible. This swiftly fetched the anger of the hierarchy upon him. In 1403, the church leaders ordered him to stop preaching the antipapal notions of Wycliffe, whose books they had openly burned. Hus, nevertheless, went on to pen some of the most hurtful impeachments against the Church and their practices, such as the sale of indulgences. He was condemned and excommunicated in 1410.
- Girolamo Savonarola (1452-98) was of the San Marcos monastery in Florence, Italy, who spoke out against the corruption in the Church.
- Martin Luther (1483-1546) was a monk-scholar, was also a Doctor of Theology and a professor of Biblical studies at the University of Wittenberg. He took issue with papal indulgences, power, purgatory, plenary remission of all penalties of the pope, among many other issues.
- Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531) was a Catholic priest, who agreed with Luther in many doctrinal areas, in addition to the removal of all vestiges of the Roman Church: images, crucifixes, clerical garb, and even liturgical music. However, he disagreed with Luther’s literal interpretation of the Eucharist, or Mass (Communion), as he said it “must be taken figuratively or metaphorically; ‘This is my body,’ means, ‘The bread signifies my body,’ or ‘is a figure of my body.’” This one issue caused them to part ways.
- Anabaptists (i.e., rejected infant baptism, so rebaptized adults, ana meaning “again” in Greek), Mennonites (Dutch Reformer Menno Simons), and Hutterites (Tyrolean Jacob Hutter), felt that the Reformers did not go far enough in rejecting the failings of the Catholic Church.
- John Calvin (1509-64) published Institutes of the Christian Religion, in which he summarized the ideas of the early church fathers and medieval theologians, as well as those of Luther and Zwingli. His theological views would take too much space. John Calvin had Michael Servetus burned to death as a heretic. Calvin defended his actions in these words: “When the papists are so harsh and violent in defense of their superstitions that they rage cruelly to shed innocent blood, are not Christian magistrates shamed to show themselves less ardent in defense of the sure truth?” Calvin’s religious extremism and personal hatred made him unwilling to see and understand the radicalness of his judgments and choked out and Christian principles.
- William Tyndale (1494-1536) had to flee from England, published his New Testament in 1526, and completed most of the Old Testament after his betrayal and arrest, in a dungeon. He would be strangled at the stake, and his body was burned. The 1611 King James Version was actually 97 percent Tyndale’s translation. He denounced the practice of prayer to saints. He taught justification by faith, the return of Christ, and mortality of the soul.
- Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609), graduated from Holland’s Leiden University, after which he spent six years in Switzerland, studying theology under Théodore de Bèze, the successor to Protestant Reformer John Calvin. Rather than support Calvinism, he went against it, especially the doctrine of predestination, which was at the core of Calvinism.
Roman Catholicism has tainted itself with its history of immorality and bloodshed, as well as its pagan-tainted religious ideas and practices. The centuries-long oppression, torture, rape, pillage, and murder of tens of millions of men, women, and children cannot come from true Christianity. They were the biggest offenders of the apostasy that Paul said had to come before the return of Christ.
The Reformation gave us a return to the Bible in the common man’s languages, which the Catholic Church had locked up in the dead language of Latin for 500-years. The Reformers brought the common folk freedom from papal authority but also from many erroneous Bible doctrines and dogmas that had gone on for a thousand years. However, the Protestant denominations have found themselves so fragmented and divided; one can only wonder where the truth and the Way lie.
Over eighty percent of Protestant Christianity is liberal-progressive as to their biblical and social beliefs, which began in the late 18th century up until the present. This covers too much area for a summary, but to mention just a few, they treat the Bible as being from man, not inspired and fully inerrant. They prefer to explain away the Bible accounts of miracles as myths, legends, or folk tales. They do not believe in the historicity of Bible characters such as Adam and Job. They say that Moses did not write the first five books of the Bible but that they were written by several writers from the tenth to the fifth centuries B.C.E., and were compiled after that. They say Isaiah did not author the book bearing his name in the early eighth century B.C.E., but that two or three writers penned it, centuries later. They claim that Daniel did not pen his book in the sixth century B.C.E., but rather it was written in the second-century B.C.E. They claim that the Bible is full of errors, mistakes, and contradictions, as to history, science, and geography. Higher criticism has opened Pandora’s Box to an overflow of pseudo-scholarly works whose result has been to weaken, challenge and destabilize people’s assurance in the trustworthiness of the Bible. Who needs enemies like agnostics and atheists, when we have liberal Bible scholars? We have not even delved into their unbiblical views of social justice, gay marriage, homosexual priests, women in the pulpit, and far more.
Some may ask what about the remaining twenty percent of Christian denominations. Most of those are moderate in beliefs, which cast doubt on the trustworthiness of the Scriptures and give fodder to the liberal-progressive denominations. These are fence-riders, who have abandoned the truth and the Way of true, pure Christianity. Before delving into the so-called conservative parts of Christianity, let us look at the charismatics.
We have charismatic Christianity, the fastest-growing segment, which emphasizes the work of the Holy Spirit, spiritual gifts, and modern-day miracles, speaking in tongues and miraculous healing, even snake handling in some areas. All of this is unbiblical and based on emotionalism.
Those who believe that charismatic Christianity is false Christianity, persons such as myself, are said to be overly critical. Supporters of Charismatic Christianity say we “should be focusing on the fact that while many in the church continue to abandon our Christian faith, the Pentecostal/Charismatic community continues to offer the church a legitimate growth mechanism.” I would respond that a denomination founded on, grounded in unbiblical beliefs is not true Christianity, and are the false teachers and prophets that we were warned were coming by Jesus and the New Testament writers. Therefore, charismatic Christianity is no Christianity at all, and all who are being brought in, are being obscured from finding the path of true Christianity.
So-called conservative Christianity is so minuscule that it barely gets press. We should not confuse radical Christianity, such as the Westboro Baptist Church, with truly conservative, fundamentalist Christianity. However, even here we find differences doctrinally, and yes, even in the so-called salvation doctrines. Are all of the 41,000 different varieties of Christianity just different roads leading to the same place? Are all of the various conservative churches the truth and the Way? The answer is no, as far as this writer is concerned. We need to return to the question that Jesus asked, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lu 18:8) Jesus would not find faith on earth, not at the level that one might expect, not at present. However, do not lose hope, because Jesus was able to
- found Christianity,
- lead the apostles to maintain its purity as one form of Christianity, and
- restrain the apostasy as it grew from 120 disciples to over a million within 70-80 years. It is not beyond his authority and power of merging and solidifying those who have a receptive heart into the faith, the truth and the Way of the 21st
The reader may be disappointed that I did not identify some of the Bible scholars of moderate and liberal Christianity, or the truly conservative denominations or churches, but that was done on purpose. It is up to each reader, to wade through these different forms of false/true Christianity, and find the path that best fits the first century Christianity example. How I best do that, one may ask. To personalize this, I will move to the second person pronoun, you because it is all about you.
- Be willing to buy out the time. If you do not have the time; then, all is for not. If you cannot invest a decent amount of time in your short life now, knowing that an eternity of time is on the horizon, you cannot see the forest for the trees.
- You need particular kinds of knowledge, which will enable you to make wise decisions.
- You need to have a good understanding of hermeneutics and exegesis, big words for biblical interpretation rules, and their application. How can you identify a form of Christianity plagued with unbiblical doctrines, without the knowledge of how to interpret the Scriptures correctly? Yes, it is the same Bible scholars explaining these rules. Thus, we ask, ‘how can we trust them to give us rules that do not lead us astray?’ Generally, they do give the rules correctly but violate them at times in their own commentary books. Below are the best books for such a venture.
- You need to have a decent understanding of Bible translation differences and the translation process. Below are books that will help you in this venture.
- You need to have a decent understanding of old and New Testament textual criticism. Below are books that will help you in this venture.
- You need to have a decent understanding of the Bible as a whole. Below are books that will help you in this venture.
- You should get a book on Bible difficulties as well. You should study it along with the commentary volumes, as you are doing your Bible reading.
- Once you have invested a couple of years in getting some foundational understanding, it is time to pay better attention.
- The apostle Paul went by his Jewish name “Saul” before he started using Paul. He was a Pharisee in Judaism. To him, the truth was natural Israel, which was actually the truth and the way to Good for 1,500 years. Saul/Paul saw Christianity as a sect of Judaism, a cultish-sect, and he persecuted them. Once he had a correct understanding of the Old Testament, he was better able to see that Christianity was now the truth and the Way. He had to humble himself and leave Judaism, who had lost favor with God. Then he had to join what he had formerly viewed as the enemy. Humility!
If ever we see that our variety of Christianity is not the truth, we need to be like Paul and find the truth, or the closest thing to it. Moreover, we need to keep our eyes open to Jesus’ transitioning some of Christianity to be the faith that he will be looking for upon his return. If we fail to arm ourselves with knowledge, understanding, thinking ability, and wisdom, we are subjecting ourselves only to other people’s interpretations and our 21st-century opinions as to who has the truth.
Please Help Us Keep These Thousands of Blog Posts Growing and Free for All
SCROLL THROUGH DIFFERENT CATEGORIES BELOW
BIBLE TRANSLATION AND TEXTUAL CRITICISM
BIBLICAL STUDIES / INTERPRETATION
CHRISTIAN APOLOGETIC EVANGELISM
CHURCH ISSUES, GROWTH, AND HISTORY
 Presence; Coming: (Gr. parousia) The Greek word literally means,” which is derived from para, meaning “with,” and ousia, meaning “being.” It denotes both an “arrival” and a consequent “presence with.” Depending on the context, it can mean “presence,” “arrival,” “appearance,” or “coming.” In some contexts, this word is describing the presence of Jesus Christ in the last days, i.e., from his ascension in 33 C.E. up unto his second coming, with the emphasis being on his second coming, the end of the age of Satan’s reign of terror over the earth. We do not know the day nor the hours of this second coming. (Matt 24:36) It covers a marked period of time with the focus on the end of that period. – Matt. 24:3, 27, 37, 39; 1 Cor. 15:23; 16:17; 2 Cor. 7:6-7; 10:10; Php 1:26; 2:12; 1 Thess. 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:2.
 Or seduce
 Apostasy: (Gr. apostasia) The term literally means “to stand away from” and is used to refer to ones who ‘stand away from the truth.’ It is abandonment, a rebellion, an apostasy, a refusal to accept or acknowledge true worship. In Scripture, this is used primarily concerning the one who rises up in defiance of the only true God and his people, working in opposition to the truth. – Ac 21:21; 2 Thess. 2:3.
 B.C.E. means “before the Common Era,” which is more accurate than B.C. (“before Christ”). C.E. denotes “Common Era,” often called A.D., for anno Domini, meaning “in the year of our Lord.”
 In the Greek New Testament, the noun “apostasy” (Gr., apostasia) has the sense of “desertion, abandonment or rebellion.” (Acts 21:21, ftn.) There it predominantly is alluding to abandonment; a drawing away from or abandoning of pure worship.
 Gr ekklesia (“assembly;” “congregation, i.e., of Christians”)
 Lit with the blood of his Own.
 (1) Basic Guide to Interpreting the Bible by Robert H. Stein; (2) Basic Bible Interpretation by Roy B. Zuck; (3) INTERPRETING THE BIBLE: Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics by Edward D. Andrews (4) Protestant Biblical Interpretation: A Textbook of Hermeneutics By Bernard Ramm; (5) EVANGELICAL HERMENEUTICS: The New Versus the Old by Robert L. Thomas; and (6) HOW TO INTERPRET THE BIBLE: An Introduction to Hermeneutics by Kieran Beville
 (1) The Word of God in English: Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translation By Leland Ryken; (2) Understanding English Bible Translation: The Case for an Essentially Literal Approach By Leland Ryken; (3) Do We Still Need a Literal Bible?: Discover the Truth about Literal Bibles Authored by Don Wilkins [Coming Soon]
 (1) THE EARLY CHRISTIAN COPYISTS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT: The Making and Copying of the New Testament Books by Edward D. Andrews (March 16, 2018); (2) THE TEXT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT: The Science and Art of Textual Criticism by Don Wilkins and Edward D. Andrews (May 04, 2017); (3) Encountering the Manuscripts: An Introduction to New Testament Paleography & Textual Criticism By Philip Comfort
 (1) Holman Old Testament Commentary Series- 20 volume set [buy them one at a time, as you are doing your Bible reading]; (2) Holman New Testament Commentary (12 volume set). Note: Use your understanding of how to interpret Scripture, to see when the author gives a meaning that is not what the author meant. Holman is very good.
 (1) The Big Book of Bible Difficulties: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation By Norman L. Geisler, Thomas Howe; (2) New International Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties By Gleason L. Archer Jr. (3) THE OLD TESTAMENT BIBLE DIFFICULTY COMMENTARY: The Trustworthiness of the Hebrew Scriptures by Edward D. Andrews [Coming soon]; (4) THE NEW TESTAMENT BIBLE DIFFICULTY COMMENTARY: The Trustworthiness of the Greek Scriptures by Edward D. Andrews [Coming Soon]