Articles » BU Blog

separator

What is the Bible?

What is the Bible?

Introduction to the Bible

Definition: Bible (bi-b?l) — the sacred scriptures of Christians comprising the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Since the early 1960s, astronomers, biologists, and engineers have been involved in SETI — a project with the goal of making contact with beings from another part of the universe.

Millions have been spent trying to get a message — or even just a peep — from some distant part of creation that would reveal the existence of intelligent life elsewhere in the cosmos.
But here on earth, Christians believe we already have such a “message” from beyond creation and that it’s been with us for thousands of years. That message is found in the 66 books of the Holy Bible, through which the Creator has spoken to humanity.

So while scientists continue to aim their elaborate radio telescopes toward the far corners of galaxy looking for something extraordinary, we have the Word of God. No, it wasn’t written by little green men from Mars or some other planet. Instead, it was written by people like us who were inspired by the Holy Spirit to communicate powerful truths about life and how to find lasting joy and peace.

But who were the people whom God used to write the Bible? What does the Bible say about itself? How unified is the Bible’s message? How has the Bible impacted people throughout time? And why should be trust it?

These are some questions that we will now explore.

What is the Bible?

Throughout human history, no book has been more influential, more read, more studied, and more talked about than the Bible. Considering the claims made about it and the claims it makes about itself — it’s no wonder.
Here are some incredible facts about the Bible
  • It was written over a 1,500-year time span. It’s as if someone finished a book today that someone else started in A.D. 510!

  • The Bible is composed of 66 books written by more than 40 different people of all different backgrounds — from Moses, writing about 1,400 years before Jesus, to the apostle John, writing toward the end of the first century A.D. The writers included a king of vast wealth, a lowly shepherd, a tax collector, a prime minister, a captive in a pagan kingdom, a Pharisee (a rabbi), a physician, and a fisherman.

  • It was written by authors living on three different continents (Africa, Asia, and Europe), in three languages (Aramaic, Greek, and Hebrew), and in many different circumstances. The apostle Paul, for instance, wrote some of his letters from prison; Daniel wrote while living in a palace in Babylon.

Yet these authors were also a lot like us, people who were “subject to like passions as we are” (James 5:17). In the Bible, we can read the laments of Jeremiah, the confession and sorrow of King David, and about the squabbles between leaders in the early church who disagreed over certain religious practices. Though directly inspired by the Holy Spirit, these authors wrote out of their own experiences that are often so similar to our own. No wonder then that, for thousands of years, the Bible has spoken to hearts of so many people.

The Unity of the Bible

Yet despite the diversity of the Bible writers and languages, another astounding feature of the Bible, one long considered as evidence for its divine origin, is its amazing unity of thought found within its pages.

Remember, the Bible is 66 individual books written over a period of 1,500 years by dozens of authors, most of whom never knew each other. It’s hardly the ideal formula of unity, yet that’s exactly what we have in the Bible, a tight and unified body of thought expounding on what are otherwise controversial themes.

From the first page to the last, the Bible reveals the workings of God. From the creation of the world — as depicted in Genesis (the first book of the Bible) — to the promise of a new world — as depicted in Revelation (the last) — the Scriptures unfold the reality of the God who seeks to bring every soul into a closer relationship to Him.

Of course, some books of the Bible emphasize one theme more than another, while some focus on certain points simple don’t touch on. Yet one key thread is clearly and tightly woven through its pages. And no matter if that theme is found in the poetry of David or in the deep theological expositions of Paul, that theme is the same — God’s work of redemption for the fallen human race.

From the time Adam and Eve, in the history of Israel and the sacrificial services in the sanctuary, through the “the mark of the beast,” the theme of the “everlasting gospel” (Revelation 14:6) ties the whole Bible together into a single whole.

For instance, after resurrection of Jesus, He appeared in disguise to two downhearted followers who recounted with great sorrow the events surrounding Christ’s death. How did Jesus respond to them? The Bible says that from the “beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:25-27). According to Jesus, “all the prophets” spoke about Him — His life, His death, His resurrection. Talk about unity of thought!

Over the years, God has spoken in progressive truth to His people. For example, those who accepted Jesus as the Messiah understand better how the plan of salvation worked than those who, coming before them, saw the plan of salvation revealed on in the symbols of the sanctuary service. The apostle Peter, in the context of all the light revealed through Jesus, wrote about “present truth” (2 Peter 1:12). “Present truth,” however, was still based on all the truth that came before it.

What does the Bible say about itself?

Some of the most fascinating things about the Bible are the claims it makes about itself. All through the Bible, time and again, the writers declare that they are speaking what was revealed to them by God Himself.
  • “The word of the LORD came to Solomon, saying …” (1 Kings 6:11).
  • “The word of the LORD came unto me, saying …” (Ezekiel 22:7).
  • “The LORD said to Hosea …” (Hosea 1:2).
Perhaps the clearest expression in Scripture about itself was penned by Paul, who wrote: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). For Paul, the entire Bible was given by the “inspiration of God.” That is, every word — whether letters, poetry, history, memoirs, biography, parable, or prophecy — was written under the power of the Holy Spirit. That is, the Bible claims that its origins are divine.

Jesus, time and again, showed just how much authority He invested in the Bible. When speaking to a group of people in Nazareth, He read from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah and then said, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:21). When tempted by Satan in the wilderness, Jesus quoted Scripture. He “answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). For Jesus, there was no question of the Bible’s divine authority. Indeed, He declared, “The Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35).

No question, the Bible makes claims about itself that any reasonable person should check out. If it is indeed the Word of God, and God is speaking to humanity through it, how foolish it would be to not see what exactly God is saying to us.

The Bible’s Relevance Across Cultures

The Bible was written, originally, in three languages. The bulk of the Old Testament comes in ancient Hebrew, the language of the Israelite nation, which God had chosen to spread the truth about Himself to the world. Small parts of the Old Testament (sections of Daniel and Ezra, with one line in Jeremiah) were written in Aramaic, a cousin to Hebrew that was spoken in ancient Babylon. The New Testament was written in Greek, the international language spoken at the time of Christ, and thus the perfect vehicle to help spread the gospel in those first centuries of the early church.

But whether in Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek, whether in the poetry of Isaiah or the vivid and colorful visions of John the Revelator, the Bible’s relevance to all people and to all times comes from the message it proclaims — answering the deep questions every human being shares with one another.

For instance, humans have long looked at the universe and wondered where it all came from. Some think that one god smashed another god flat and used the body to create the earth itself. Others believe that through natural selection and random mutation, we’ve evolved over billions of years into what we see today. In contrast, the Bible reveals that in the beginning, God created the earth in six days and rested on the seventh (Genesis 2:1-2, Exodus 20:8-11). This is not something that one could learn from studying the natural world itself, but the Bible is bold enough to proclaim its message as truth — helping people through all times find the truth about why we are here.

Still, others have asked, “Why is there so much evil, pain, and suffering?” The Bible reveals the answer almost matter-of-factly: a created being, called Lucifer, rebelled in heaven and brought his anger to the earth (Isaiah 14:12-14; Revelation 12:7-9, 12), and human beings have been suffering ever since. Without the Bible dictating these truths to us, we could have no way of knowing this information that impacts us every day.

All people in all places struggle with the question of death. Is the death the ultimate end? In this area too, the Bible in unafraid to speak. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18). This life-affirming message bring comfort to millions in ways that science and consumerism never could.

Can we trust the Bible?

But can we really trust the Bible to speak truthfully about these issues? Where is the evidence that it is true — and even if it is true, what difference does it make? For starters, through the long centuries, millions of people have trusted God’s Word, and their lives have been incredibly blessed as a result. Alcoholics and drug addicts have been freed from their addictions, criminals have turned away from crime, and the worst of sinners have been transformed into respectable citizens — all from the study of the Bible and allowing the God revealed in the Scriptures to changes their lives. It also offers salvation and eternal life.

Proof in Prophecy
One of the most powerful proofs of the divine inspiration of the Bible comes from the amazing fulfillment of its prophecies. The apostle Peter wrote, “He received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:17-19).

In other words, though Peter was a witness to many of these things, he encourages his readers by pointing to “the sure word of prophecy.” What are some of the prophecies in the Bible that have been fulfilled?

  1. In Daniel 2, the Bible gives a sweeping picture of world history, from the days of ancient Babylon, more than 600 years before Christ, up through Media-Persia, Greece, and Rome (Daniel 2, 7, 8). When most of the world’s greatest intelligence agencies didn’t see the fall of the Soviet Union coming even one year before it happened, the Bible predicted the rise and fall of great empires years, even centuries, before the events occurred.
  2. The Bible mentions “Cyrus” by name as the one who would capture Babylon more than a century before he was born! (See Isaiah 45:1-3)
  3. While Babylon was a great world empire, the Bible predicted that it would be destroyed and never inhabited again. That’s exactly what happened (Isaiah 13:19; 20; Jeremiah 51:37).
  4. From the 1700s through the early years of the 20th century, many intellectuals were predicting that through science, humanity would continually improve and that wars would cease. Meanwhile, back in the first century A.D., the Bible said that wars, fighting, and natural disasters would occur right up until the end of the world (Matthew 24). Who was right?
  5. Jesus, in Matthew 24, predicted that many false christs would come in His name. All through history we have seen this prediction filled, and many people have come and done just as Jesus said—a powerful fulfillment of prophecy.
Proof in Science and Health
Another proof of the Bible’s divine inspiration are the health and scientific principles found in it that could not have been known scientifically by the people who wrote them.
  1. For instance, the ancient Egyptians used human excrement in some of their medical concoctions. The Jews, following instructions from the Bible, buried theirs outside the camp (Deuteronomy 23:12, 13). How fascinating that many centuries before germ theory the Bible revealed this important hygienic truth.
  2. The Bible clearly warns against various kinds of sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 10:8; Leviticus 18), a truth that has both a moral and health component. In a day and age of AIDS and venereal disease, the Bible’s position on human sexual conduct makes a great deal of health.
  3. Centuries before scientists understood the full extent of the damage that alcohol could have on our bodies, the Bible warned against it (Proverbs 23:29-32). Think of the devastation over the years that could have been avoided had people admonished the warning given in the Word of God more than 2,500 years ago!
  4. Before the invention of electron microscopes, science claimed that life on earth existed purely by chance. Today, however, the vast complexity of even a single cell and fine-tuning of human life speaks otherwise. The Bible, in Genesis, gave the answer to life’s origin thousands of years ago: Life was created by God.
  5. Job 26:7 reads, “He hangs the earth on nothing.” A pretty good scientific explanation of the earth’s position in the cosmos — and it was written more than 3,000 years ago!
  6. When people even 500 years ago were still wondering if the earth were round or flat, the Bible said, “He . . . sits above the circle of the earth” (Isaiah 40:22).
  7. The Bible says “to establish a weight for the wind” (Job 28:25). An interesting observation, because only in the last century or two has science shown that air itself has weight!
Proof in Historical Accuracy
The Bible is also filled with powerfully accurate historical information. Though for years critics have argued that the Bible was historically wrong in many of its assertions, archaeological findings have proved the Bible right and the critics wrong.
  1. For years the critics argued that the Hittite nation, mentioned in Deuteronomy 7:1, did not exist. Archaeology proved the Bible right and the critics wrong.
  2. For years the critics claimed that the cities of Nineveh (Jonah 1:1, 2) and Sodom Genesis 19:1) never existed; thanks to archaeology, we now know now that they once did exist, just as the Bible said.
  3. Critics argued that the writings of Moses were not trustworthy because Moses mentioned writing (Exodus 24:4) and the wheeled chariots of the Egyptian army (Exodus 15:25), advances that supposedly did not exist at the time of Moses. We know now that they did.
No matter how much critics have tried to argue against the Bible’s prophetic, historical, and scientific accuracy of the Bible, time and again the Bible is shown to be correct. With the Bible repeatedly shown to be a trustworthy source of truth, is it possible that it might be true when it speaks about morality and Jesus Christ?

The Choice to Believe Is Ultimately Yours
In the end, however, the answer to “Can I trust the Bible?” is something only you can answer for yourself. And you can answer it for yourself only through studying the Bible — learning what it teaches, understanding the prophecies and promises of God, and, most important, by applying its teaching to your life. This website is here to help you find your way through the Bible so you can answer this question with the best information available.

Interesting Facts About the Bible

Here are some interesting facts about the Bible that might surprise and inform you. We aren’t all that sure if every single one of them is true, but they sure can make an interesting discussion about God’s Word.
  • The word “Bible” was formed from the Greek term “Biblia,” which means books.

  • The first book printed on movable type was the German Bible by Johannes Gutenberg in 1456.

  • Between 1815 and 1975, 2.5 billion Bibles were printed.

  • The Bible contains 66 books — 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament.

  • The King James Version contains 3,586,489 letters — 773,692 words — 31,173 verses — and 1,189 chapters. The word “and” occurs 1,855 times.

  • In the English language, the longest verse of the Bible is Esther 8:9 and the shortest is John 11:35.

  • The Bible remains the most widely distributed book in the world. Its ultimate influence on history and culture, including literature and the other arts, is incalculable. It has had more written about it than the 20 greatest classics of world literature have had combined.

  • The first English versions of the entire Bible were made by John Wycliffe (1380-93) and his associates, who used the Latin text as their basis.

  • William Tyndale, an early English Protestant reformer, completed an English translation of the Bible in 1526. In 1535 he was arrested, imprisoned, and condemned for heresy and then executed for his faith.

  • At least one book of the Bible has been translated in nearly 2,000 languages of the world.

  • A full-sized Bible was standard equipment for every Pony Express rider, despite stringent weight limits imposed on them.

  • A microfilm packet containing Genesis 1:1 in 16 languages was placed on the moon by Apollo 14.

  • It takes 70 hours and 40 minutes to read through the Bible at an average reading speed.

  • The Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary contains the greatest number of biblical definitions for any reference volume. Webster, who believed “education useless without the Bible,” believed that the Bible played an important role in the lives of a free people.
 Comments
NOTE: If you have a Bible question, please submit it by clicking here. We cannot guarantee answers to Bible questions posted in the comments. Please limit your comments to 500 characters. Also, please be kind to each other!

Free Bible School

Bible School
Enroll in our Free Online Bible School Today!
Start your first lesson now!


Bible Search



Christian Hymns



Freebie!

Ultimate Resource
Request your free book, Ultimate Resource, today and learn how to study the Bible
Get It Now!


Back To Top