The Bible IS the Word of God, pt. 1

Posted on May 12, 2011

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How can we trust the Bible, is it really the Word of God? Is it trustworthy, or just a bunch of fables written by fallible men. Skeptics constantly attack the Bible and try to cast doubt on it, if not utterly destroy it. throughout the centuries, millions of copies of the Bible have been burned, yet it still remains. Ingersoll once held up a copy of the Bible and said “in fifteen years I’ll have this book in the morgue.” fifteen years later, Ingersoll was in the morgue, but the Word of God lives on. In fact, Jesus said it would: Mark 13:31 (NKJV) “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” Votlaire said “within 100 years the Bible would be a forgotten book, found only in museums.” 100 years later, the house where Voltaire made that statement was owned and used by the Geneva Bible Society! Today, the Bible is attacked more than ever before, but it still lives on.

Fortunately, when evaluating Christianity, God has provided ample evidence for the validity of His word. Whether or not the Bible is the Word of God is of utmost importance, because if the Bible were proven false, then Christianity would fall with it. the Good news is that Christians have nothing to worry about, the Bible not only stands up to the scrutiny, it prevails! This post will deal with the general evidence that proves the reliability of the text from a historical standpoint. Since Christ is the foundation of Christianity, the focus of this post will be the New Testament, which records the life and words of Jesus Christ, but references will be made to the entire Bible as well.

What does the Bible say about itself? Does it claim to be the Word of God? the answer is a resounding YES! More than 2500 times the Bible uses phrases such as “God said. . .the Lord has said. . . thus saith the Lord,” etc. Consider the following Scripture:

2 Timothy 3:16 (NKJV)

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,

Proverbs 30:5 (NKJV)

5 Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.
2 Peter 1:20–21 (NKJV)

20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation,

21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

We also see the Word of God being directly given to the Old Testament prophets. The Bible certainly claims to be the Word of God, and it IS His infallible word, infallibly transmitted through His faithful servants. So. . . maybe it WAS His word, but surely it’s been corrupted over the centuries. What of this argument?

Let’s start with when the New Testament was written. Was it close to the time that Jesus lived, or was it a long time afterward? The shorter the timespan between the life of Christ and the writing of the New Testamnet, the less opportunity for error. The entirety of the New Testament was written within 60 years of the death of Christ, with the majority of it being written within 30 years. With the writers being the actual close companions and eyewitnesses of Christ, there is not much room for error. In fact, there is no evidence that the New Testament writers knew anything about the destruction of Jerusalem, which occurred in 70A.D. Therfore, the majority of the New Testament must have been written before that time. Furthermore, history records Paul’s death in the mid 60’s A.D., proving that his writings were finished before he died, and he wrote two-thirds of the New Testament. That puts at least two-thirds of the New Testament within 30 years of the death of Christ. The most recent book of the New Testament is Revelation, which was written by John around 90A.D.

Some people will undoubtedly say “well. . . we don’t have the originals, and the surviving manuscripts aren’t nearly that old.” In reality, manuscripts have been found which date pretty close to the first century. For example the “John Ryland Papyrus” is dated at 125A.D. and the “Chester Beatty Papyri” is dated between 120-150A.D. The latter contains most of Paul’s letters, the Gospels and Acts. These manuscripts put us within 100 years or less of the originals. Not to mention, early church fathers such as Clement and Ignatius were quoting many of the New Testament books by around 100A.D. the existing gaps are not at all big or worrisome.

Does all this matter, how does the Bible compare to other ancient literature? By way of example, The oldest surviving manuscripts of Aristotle only date back to 1400 years after he died. Of all the ancient literature the one that dates the closest to the original is Odyssey, and it is 500 years removed from the oiginal date! As you can see, the Bible fares very well in this area, within 100 years of the original. It is amazing to me that no one questions the accuracy of Aristotle, Odyssey, or any other ancient works. . . except the Bible.

Ok, so the timeframe is excellent, but are there enough ancient manuscripts to ensure that we have an accurate record today? Consider this, there are 7 ancient copies of Plato in existence, and the work that has the most surviving manuscripts (apart from the Bible) is Homer’s Iliad, weighing in at 643 copies. Certainly that’s enough to ensure an accurate record, and nobody questions the accuracy of those works. But wait. . . there are over 5700 ancient Greek manuscripts of the New Testament! That is an incredible number of copies that we can compare our Bible with, and among those 5700 manuscripts we find over 98% agreement. No other piece of literature can come close, yet people still doubt the Bible.

If all that is not enough, here are a couple of final points to ponder. The Bible was penned over a period of almost 1600 years by over 40 different authors. Many of them never knew each other, and lived in many different regions. Despite that, the entire Bible fits together seemlessly, without error or contradiction. The same team of scriptwriters can’t even write a movie sequal without some type of contradiction. The Bible is a collection of 66 books, each one being confirmed and supported by 65 others. The Bible must be the work of God, it must be His word.

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