Ancient manuscripts are texts “written” (Latin: scripta) “by hand” (Latin: manu) that date far back into the past. Where biblical manuscripts are concerned, ancients manuscripts are very important because the older they are, the closer they tend to be to the original text.
This is vital if we want to know what was actually said by the authors. Through the years, as the paper on which biblical texts were written grew old and deteriorated, efforts were made to copy the texts in order to preserve them.
When they were being rewritten, texts frequently underwent some changes due to mistakes in recopying or difficulty in understanding because of religious bias. Scribes would sometimes add words to clarify a passage which seemed difficult or simply mistranslate it altogether when it appeared not to conform to their religious views.
A classic example is the verse in Philippians 2:6: the King James Bible reads, “Who, (Christ) being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal to God.” In other words, our Lord being a spirit like God, didn’t think it wrong [robbery] to be equal to God. This would appear to be thumbs up for the doctrine of the Trinity!
However, if we look at the ancient Greek text in the old manuscripts, the words give a totally different meaning: Christ, “though being in God’s form (a spirit) yet did not meditate a usurpation to be like God…” In other words, Christ wouldn’t even consider taking God’s place and becoming like God. No equality means no Trinity.
For this reason, when biblical passages seem unclear, it is always wise to go back to the original ancient manuscripts and consider what is actually said.