Is the Bible from God or Men?
Is the Bible from God or from Men?
Written revelation is one of the ways in which God has revealed himself to mankind. In God’s love and wisdom he has given us direction for living in the form of the Bible. This collection was written over a period of about 1500 years, from the time of the Exodus (c. 1440 B.C.) to the end of the first century A.D. It contains 66 books with about 40 different human authors and evidences an amazing unity. The Holy Spirit guided this process as the message of God progressively unfolded.
The claim of inspiration is constantly found within Scripture itself. Concerning the Old Testament, the apostle Paul wrote, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).
The apostle Peter wrote, “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20, 21). For this reason, Old Testament prophets often prefaced their message by the words “This is what the Lord says.” During Jesus’ ministry he continually emphasized that the Old Testament was the authoritative word of God (Matthew 22:29; Luke 16:16, 17; 24:44; John 10:35).
Concerning the inspiration of the New Testament, Jesus promised his apostles that after his ascension into heaven he would send the Holy Spirit to “guide [them] into all truth” (John 16:13). Therefore, the message of Christ was “revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 3:5). The apostle Paul wrote, “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words” (1 Corinthians 2:13).
Some have charged that the Bible is simply a fallible book written by men and has no authority for people’s lives today. There are many responses to this false notion:
1) The Unity of the Bible. As has already been stated, the Bible was written over a 1500 year-period by numerous authors. Yet it shows unity of theme and purpose, declaring that there is one supreme Author.
2) The Message of the Bible. The Bible answers the most difficult questions of life: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going? These are questions that the greatest of human thinkers cannot answer without the Word of God.
3) Prophecy in the Bible. The Bible records many prophetic statements, sometimes several centuries prior to their fulfillment. The greatest prophecies concern Jesus’ sacrifice for sinners (Psalm 22; Isaiah 53), the establishment of Christ’s church / kingdom (Daniel 2:44), and the promise of the second coming of Jesus (Acts 1:11).
4) The Preservation of the Bible. The Bible is the best-preserved book of antiquity. It has survived the many attempts of those who tried to destroy it. God, by his divine providence, has preserved his message for us even today.
5) Scientific Observations in the Bible. The Bible was not written as a scientific textbook, but there are scientific principles within it that were unknown by man at the time they were written. For example, many of God’s commands to Israel concerning cleanliness, bodily waste, diet, and quarantine served to prevent disease from spreading among the people.
6) Historical Accuracy of the Bible. The Bible accurately records the customs and history of the Ancient Near Eastern people as well as those in the Greco-Roman world of the first century. Archaeological discovery has refuted many of the charges skeptics have made against the Word. These discoveries have served to beautifully illustrate the times in which the people of the Bible lived.
7) The Impact of the Bible. The gospel message contained in the Bible has brought salvation and life-changing power to countless thousands (Romans 1:16). It has brought hope to the downcast, peace to those in conflict, and love to those overcome with hate. In addition, the Bible’s moral ethics have made a great impact on the world for good. Such principles as respect for human life, forgiveness, self-sacrifice, and justice served as a foundation for American democracy. The Bible has also inspired the world’s greatest paintings, sculptures, and music.
There is a human side to the Bible. It was written down by men in the common languages of their times (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek). These authors used their own vocabulary to express God’s divine truth. In some cases, these men investigated events that had already occurred in order to provide orderly accounts (Luke 1:1–4; Acts 1:1). Sometimes writers expressed personal greetings and requests (Romans 16:3–16; 2 Timothy 4:13). None of these facts, however, diminish from the Bible’s authority. The Holy Spirit supervised all of these processes. The Bible ultimately is the Word of God.
(Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society.)