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As the Scripture Hath Said

He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water, John 7:38.


I recently received a phone call from my son Michael who had been looking at that verse. He catagorically stated that the last phrase of that verse, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water, was not a quote from the Old Testament. He had just finished an extensive look at all quotes in a King James Bible and saw conclusively that all quotations begin by capitalizing the first letter of the quote.

He was of course right about that. The first letter of the first word (out) in that last phrase was not capitalized. All too often people reading that verse assume that the last phrase is telling us what the scripture hath said. It is not saying that if you have a King James Bible. If you read an ESV you can never understand that verse. The ESV makes that last phrase to be a quote.


ESV: Whoever believes in me, as[a] the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”


Note the use of the apostrophes around the last phrase. That is to indicate a quote within a quote. The entire verse is part of a quote of what Jesus said, and so the quote within a quote is set off with the apostrophes. What is truly bizzarre about that is that there is no such phrase in the bible to quote. The ESV just reaches into thin air to make up a quote.

Then if the last phrase is not a quote, to what does the middle phrase relate? The middle phrase, as the scripture hath said, modifies the first phrase. Jesus is talking about people whose belief in him is a belief in accordance with what the scripture says.

This goes hand in hand with another statement by Jesus Christ, Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me, John 5:39. Once again we are reminded that until the gospels were completed, the main source of information about Jesus Christ was the Old Testament Scriptures. In every synagogue where the Apostle Paul preached, he convinced his hearers using the law, the prophets, and the Psalms. That distinguishedd Paul's gospel.

Herein is an example of just how important punctuation is in our bible. By just adding a pair of apostrophes to a statement by Jesus Christ, the ESV editors confounded a great truth.

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