The Uniqueness of God’s Word
The Bible is unique. There is no book in the world like it. It covers a period of 1,600 years (1500 B.C. to A.D. 100) and was written by 40 different men from all walks of life. Some were kings, priests, and prophets; others were simple fishermen and farmers. Some were highly educated, like Moses and the apostle Paul; others had no formal education.
More than 3,000 times, these men claimed what they wrote came directly from God (Moses: Ex. 17:14; 24:4; 34:27. Paul: 1 Cor. 14:37. Peter: 2 Pet. 1:16–21. John: 1 Jn. 4:6.) As utterly impossible as these facts seem, the record speaks for itself.
Jesus stated that the Old Testament is God’s Word (Mt. 5:17–18; 24:15; Lk. 24:44; Jn. 10:35). He confirmed the authorships of Moses, King David, and the prophets Isaiah and Daniel. 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, He did not answer with His own words of wisdom but countered each temptation with “It is written,” followed by quotations from the Hebrew Scriptures (Mt. 4:4, 7, 10).
In Luke 4:25–27 Jesus confirmed the divine miracles recorded in the Hebrew Bible 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). In other words, Jesus affirmed the inspiration, inerrancy, and accuracy of the Hebrew Scriptures.
The books in the Old Testament were canonized throughout Israel’s history and divided into three sections: the Pentateuch (Five Books of Moses), Prophets, and Writings. Jesus accepted these three divisions and the books contained therein as God’s Word (Lk. 24:44); and He taught the authority, reliability, unity, clarity, sufficiency, historicity, inspiration, revelation, inerrancy, infallibility, and indestructibility of the Old Testament.
One sure way to prove the Bible’s accuracy and veracity is to analyze the Hebrew Scriptures’ prophecies. The number of events foretold by the prophets is enormous, and the events themselves are so specific they could only have been known and revealed by God.
Pastor and theologian Mark Hitchcock wrote,
Unlike the self-proclaimed prophets of yesterday and today, such as Nostradamus, Edward Cayce, or Jeanne Dixon, Jesus and the biblical prophets did not peddle predictions that were so vague and general they could be adjusted to any situation. The prophecies recorded in the Bible are very precise and so specific that when they are fulfilled, it’s very clear there’s something unique and special about them….More than one-fourth of the Bible was prophetic at the time it was written. The Bible is a book of prophecy. It contains about 1000 prophecies, about 500 of which have already been fulfilled down to the minutest detail. With this kind of proven track record—500 prophecies fulfilled with 100 percent accuracy—we can believe with confidence that the remaining 500 yet-to-be-fulfilled prophecies will also come to pass at their appointed times….Prophecy is the most credible proof of the uniqueness and divine inspiration of the Bible….Fulfilled prophecy also demonstrates that the Bible’s content is not man-made, but rather has its origins outside our own time-space continuum.1
For example, 25 Jewish writers provided prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures detailing the life and ministry of the 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 fit all the descriptions and fulfilled all the prophecies, including those that foretold of the Messiah’s birthplace (Mic. 5:2; Mt. 2:1), manner of death (Isa. 53:8; Lk. 23:46), and resurrection (Ps. 16:10; Acts 2:29–32).
There are also numerous prophecies concerning Israel’s ruin (Dt. 28:15–68) and restoration (Ezek. 36:25—37:28). Some have been fulfilled, and others will be fulfilled.
How do we know the Bible we possess today is God’s Word?. First, Jewish scribes were meticulous in copying the Hebrew text and counted every letter they wrote. If a mistake was made, the text was not corrected but, rather, immediately discarded. The nation of Israel collected and accurately preserved manuscripts of the Law of Moses and the Prophets through the centuries (Dt. 31:26; 1 Sam. 10:25; 2 Ki. 23:24; Neh. 9:14, 26–30; Dan. 9:2, 6, 13).
Second, the Dead Sea Scrolls provide evidence of this extraordinary preservation. For example, the book of Isaiah—discovered in its entirety with-in the ancient Dead Sea Scrolls that date from 125 B.C. to 100 B.C.—contains the same Isaiah text we possess in our Bibles today.
The same can be said about the inspiration and inerrancy 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 of the New Testament (Jn. 14:25–26). The Holy Spirit superintended the revelation the apostles wrote, providing the New Testament’s content and accuracy.
How was each book selected to be in the New Testament canon? There were at least four basic questions that had to be answered with a yes:
- Was it written by an apostle, or was the writer in close relationship with an apostle, as were Mark and Luke?
- Was the content of high spiritual character that merited it being included with the other books written by apostles?
- Did the church universally accept the book?
- Did the book provide internal evidence of being inspired?
What about variant readings in the New Testament? Wrote Bible scholar Norman L. Geisler:
When a comparison of the variant readings of the New Testament is made with those of other books which have survived from antiquity, the results are little short of astounding….In light of the fact that there are over 5,000 Greek manuscripts, some 9,000 versions and translations, the evidence for the integrity of the New Testament is beyond question….Thus, the New Testament has not only survived in more manuscripts than any other book from antiquity, but it has survived in a much purer form than any other great book, whether or not they are sacred works, a form that is over 99 percent pure.2
Over the centuries, both the Old and New Testaments have undergone extensive microscopic analysis conducted by renowned scholars who specialize in biblical history, literature, grammar, and archaeology. Although some textual critics have pointed out what they consider discrepancies, errors, and contradictions within the Bible, centuries of careful analyses have never conclusively proven the Bible text to be in error. While variant readings exist within the copies, they are minor and relate to spelling and word order. They affect no major doctrine of Scripture.
To have 40 different authors over a period 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 give us assurance that today we possess the verbal, inerrant, and infallible Word of God. It stands alone as the most unique Book of all time. And it will stand forever.
- Mark Hitchcock, The Amazing Claims of Bible Prophecy (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2010), 8.
- Norman L Geisler and William E. Nix, From God to Us: How We Got Our Bible (Chicago: Moody Press, 1972), 180–181.