Why Can We Trust the Bible?

2 Thessalonians 2:17-18 – But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us.

In 1-2 Thessalonians, Paul’s enemies are trying to create fear bonds with the people – telling them their pastor was a con man who lied to them, stole from them, and abandoned them. Of course, these are all lies and not truth. Paul, in contrast, is focusing on joy bonds made possible by the Word of God as the source of all their joy bonds. 

There is joy in this section between the people and Jesus, the people and their pastor Paul, and the people and one another. This is because of God’s Word, as Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 2:13,20, “we…thank God constantly…that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers…you are our glory and joy.”

In a book I co-authored called Doctrine, we say the following about the Bible to help you read it, study it, believe it, obey it, and create joy bonds with the Holy Spirit, because this is the only book that you will ever read where the Author meets with you to teach it.

Scripture is God speaking his truth to us in human words. The New Testament writers claim that the Old Testament is sacred Scripture, which literally means “writing.” (Matt. 21:42; 22:29; 26:54, 56; Luke 24:25–32, 44–45; John 5:39; 10:35; Acts 17:2, 11; 18:28; Rom.1:2; 4:3; 9:17; 10:11; 11:2; 15:4; 16:26; 1 Cor. 15:3–4; Gal. 3:8, 22; 4:30; 1 Tim. 5:18; 2 Tim. 3:16; James 4:5; 2 Pet. 1:20–21; 3:15–16.) The word Bible comes from the Greek word for book. Holy Bible means “Holy Book.” It was written in three languages (Hebrew, Greek, and a bit in Aramaic) over a period of more than fifteen hundred years by roughly forty authors (of varying ages and backgrounds) on three continents (Asia, Africa, and Europe).

The Protestant Canon of the Bible contains 66 separate books. 39 books, approximately three-quarters of the Bible, are in the Old Testament, which is a record of God’s speaking and working in history from when he created Adam and Eve, up until about 450 BC. In the period between the two testaments, people waited for the coming of the Messiah into human history. The 27 books of the New Testament begin with the four Gospels, which record the life, death, burial, resurrection, and return to Heaven of Jesus, and then proceed to instruct Christians and churches about how to think and live for God.

The Bible is a library of books compiled as one Book, showing a divine unity and continuity. This point is illustrated by the fact that the New Testament has roughly 300 explicit Old Testament quotations, as well as upwards of 4,000 allusions to the Old Testament. In many ways, the Old Testament is a series of promises that God makes, and the New Testament is the record of their fulfillment, and the anticipation of the final fulfillment of the remaining promises at Jesus’ Second Coming.

The Bible is the best-selling book of all time. The Old Testament was originally written on papyrus—a form of paper made out of reeds. By the time the New Testament was written, parchments (prepared animal skins) were also used. (2 Tim. 4:13.) The pages were put together into scrolls. (Ezra 6:2; Ps. 40:7; Luke 4:17, 20.)

Chapters and verses were added to provide addresses (not unlike those on our homes) that help us find particular sections. In 1205, Stephen Langton, a theology professor who became the archbishop of Canterbury, began using Bible chapters. In 1240, Cardinal Hugo of St. Cher published a Latin Bible with the 1,189 chapter divisions that exist today. Robert Stephanus, a Protestant book printer, was condemned as a heretic for printing Bibles. As he fled with his family to Geneva on horseback, he arbitrarily made verse divisions within Langton’s chapter divisions. His system was used for the first English Bible (The Geneva New Testament of 1557) and became today’s system of 31,173 verses. The Bible’s chapters and verses were not applied with any consistent method and, while helpful, they are not authoritative. Because the Bible was not intended to be read in bits and pieces, reading verses out of context can lead to serious misunderstanding. Thus, rightly interpreting particular sections of Scripture requires paying attention both to the immediate context and the overall context of all of Scripture.

The opening line of Scripture introduces us to its Hero, God, who is revealed throughout the rest of the pages of Scripture. In the closing line of the New Testament, we are reminded that our hope is in “The grace of the Lord Jesus”. Thus, the written Word of God reveals to us the incarnate (“in human flesh”) Word of God, Jesus Christ. Without the written Word, we cannot rightly know the incarnate Word. 

The Old and New Testament are about Jesus Christ – anyone can read the Bible, but only someone who reads it in the Spirit comes to this rightful conclusion. Some prefer the New Testament to the Old Testament because they wrongly believe that only the New Testament is about Jesus. However, Jesus Himself taught that the Old Testament was primarily about Him while arguing with the theologians in his day. In John 5:39-40 Jesus says, “You search the Scriptures [Old Testament] because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” The Bible is not just principles to live by, but a Person to live with.

Following His resurrection, Jesus opened the Old Testament to teach about Himself: “Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27.) Likewise, in speaking to his disciples, Jesus said, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” (Luke 24:44.) We then read that he “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:45.) Jesus’ own words about Himself as the central message of the Old Testament are pointedly clear. He said in Matthew 5:17-18, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Jesus repeated this fact throughout his ministry by saying he “fulfilled” particular Scriptures. (e.g., Matt. 26:56; Luke 4:20–21; 22:37.) To correctly interpret Scripture, you will need to connect its verses, concepts, and events to Jesus.

What’s the most compelling reason you believe that the Bible is true?

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