The Bible: The Greatest Book Ever Written
Sixty-six books that can change your life. Why? Because they form the indestructible Word of God.
Voltaire, the famous French philosopher once called the “prince of infidels,” reportedly said in 1776 that within 100 years, the Bible would be a forgotten relic found only in museums. Fifty-eight years after Voltaire’s death, his house was being used by the Evangelical Society of Geneva, which distributed Bibles throughout Europe; and the printing presses on which he printed his revulsion of Christianity were printing the Holy Scriptures.
No other book is like the Bible. It was written by 40 men from all walks of life—kings, priests, prophets, fishermen, and farmers—over a period of 1,600 years (1500 BC to AD 100). Some writers were highly educated, like Moses and the apostle Paul, while others had no formal education. Yet, more than 3,000 times these men claimed what they wrote came directly from God.
What is it that makes the Bible different, continually relevant on a myriad of issues, and the bestselling book of all time? Simply put, the Bible is God’s Word. It is the Book of books—and it has been the wellspring of truth and accuracy for more than 3,500 years.
Integrity of Scripture
Jesus affirmed the Old Testament is God’s Word (Mt. 5:17–18; Lk. 24:44). He confirmed the authorships of Moses, King David, and the prophets Isaiah and Daniel; and He validated the truth of such historical events as God’s creation of Adam and Eve, Noah and the universal flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and Jonah being swallowed by a great fish.
When tempted by the Devil, Jesus countered each temptation by saying, “It is written” and quoting from the Hebrew Scriptures (Mt. 4:4, 7, 10). In Luke 4:25–27, He confirmed the Bible’s divine miracles and, concerning Old Testament revelation, stated, “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Mt. 5:18).
So, Jesus affirmed the inspiration, inerrancy, and accuracy of the Hebrew Scriptures and accepted its books as God’s Holy Word. He also confirmed and taught the authority, reliability, unity, clarity, sufficiency, historicity, inspiration, revelation, inerrancy, infallibility, and indestructibility of the Old Testament.
A sure way to prove the Bible’s accuracy is to analyze Old Testament prophecies, the Messianic ones in particular. More than one fourth of Scripture is prophetic. The Bible makes at least 1,000 predictions in specific detail, of which approximately 500 already have been fulfilled 100 percent.
For example, 25 Old Testament Jewish writers detailed the life and ministry of their future Messiah. The Messiah is the only Person in history to have had His ancestry, birth, character, teaching, career, reception, rejection, death, burial, and resurrection prewritten at least 500 years before His birth.
Jesus Christ clearly fits all the descriptions and fulfilled all the prophecies, including those that foretold of the Messiah’s birthplace (Mic. 5:2; cf. Mt. 2:1), manner of death (Isa. 53:8; cf. Lk. 23:46), and resurrection (Ps. 16:10; cf. Acts 2:29–32). Two of these amazing prophecies spoke of Christ’s death by crucifixion (Ps. 22; Isa. 53), written centuries before the event.
There are also many prophecies concerning Israel’s persecution and devastation (such as Deuteronomy 28:15–68) and its restoration (such as Ezekiel 36:25—37:28). Some have been fulfilled, and others will be fulfilled.
Authenticity of Scripture
Perhaps you’re wondering, How do we know the Bible we possess today is God’s Word?
First, Jewish scribes meticulously copied the Hebrew text and painstakingly counted every letter they wrote. This was their job, and they took it extremely seriously. If they made a mistake, the text was not corrected but destroyed. The nation of Israel collected and preserved these accurately copied manuscripts through the centuries (Dt. 31:26; 1 Sam. 10:25; 2 Ki. 23:24; Neh. 9:14; Dan. 9:2, 13).
Second, the Dead Sea Scrolls provide evidence of this extraordinary preservation. For example, in one of the Dead Sea Scrolls (dating from 125 BC to 100 BC), the book of Isaiah was discovered in its entirety and contains the identical Isaiah text we read in our Bibles today.
The same can be said about the accuracy of the New Testament, which was written after Jesus ascended to heaven. Jesus said the Holy Spirit would guide the apostles in writing the content (Jn. 14:25–26). The Holy Spirit superintended everything they wrote, providing the New Testament’s content and accuracy (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21).
What about variant readings in the New Testament? There are more than 5,000 Greek manuscripts and 9,000 versions and translations. New Testament critics have evaluated the text and pronounced it more than 99 percent pure. Not only has it survived in terms of number of manuscripts, but it has survived in a purer form than any other great book of antiquity.
Interpretation of Scripture
The apostle Paul wrote, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). The phrase rightly dividing the word of truth means students of Scripture must handle the text truthfully, without falsifying it. Thus, we must read our Bibles using a literal, grammatical, and historical method of interpretation to discover the original intent of the text.
Literal means we employ the plain, normal, common, everyday usage of the words in the text. We interpret each word using its primary, usual, literal, original, ordinary meaning, unless the context indicates otherwise. Certainly, the literal method also takes into consideration the use of types, symbols, figures of speech, parables, and allegories as stated in the context of the verse(s) being interpreted.
Grammatical means we apply rules of grammar to the words. We look at sentence structure, parts of speech (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, definite articles, and prepositions) in the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek languages to determine proper meaning. We give each word its literal or customary usage for the time in which it was written.
Historical means we diligently study the when and where of Scripture: the historical setting and culture of the day when the words were written. Doing so opens great vistas, helping us understand why an author used certain words, warnings, or customs. This method also safeguards us from misapplying words and misinterpreting Scripture.
Scripture also must be interpreted within the context in which it is written. A passage can have only one interpretation within the paragraph and cannot be interpreted accurately apart from the context in both the Old and New Testaments.
For a proper interpretation, we must compare Scripture with Scripture. The Bible is its own best commentary. The author’s meaning is what is important. In other words, the author—not the reader—determines what the text means.
Uniqueness of Scripture
Over the centuries, both Old and New Testaments have undergone extensive microscopic analysis by renowned scholars who specialize in biblical history, literature, grammar, and archaeology.
Although some textual critics have pointed out what they consider to be discrepancies, errors, and contradictions within the Bible, careful analyses have never conclusively proven the text to be in error. While variant readings exist, they are minor and relate to spelling and word order. They affect no major doctrine of Scripture.
To have 40 different authors over a span of 1,600 years write a unified book without error or contradiction is unique indeed in both ancient and modern history. The Bible is unique in its history, message, universality, influence, fulfilled prophecies, preservation, power to change lives, and testimony throughout history. God’s oversight and providential preservation of it give us assurance that today we possess the verbal, inerrant, and infallible Word of God. It stands alone as the greatest book ever written.
Jesus confirmed this fact when He said, “Your word is truth” (Jn. 17:17). And Jesus said of His own words, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Mt. 24:35). His Word is indestructible and will live forever.