Since creation, God has been speaking to humanity. He has given us instructions for living, guidance in confusing times, and the truth about who He is. God spoke to a variety of people. He spoke to farmers, prophets, shepherds, priests, and kings. In order to pass the message to the next generation, these men wrote it down in books. These books were compiled to form one book known as the Bible. The Bible is inspired by God and is therefore free of error ( 2 Tim. 3:16 ).
The books of the Bible contain the history of the Israelites, the speeches of the prophets, the story of Christ, and instructions from the apostles. There are 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. There were certain criteria that each book had to meet to be included in the Bible. These five questions were asked:
Was it written by an apostle, prophet, or someone associated with one?
( 2 Peter 1:20-21, Hebrews 1:1 )
Were the writers confirmed by acts of God?
( Acts 2:22, Hebrews 2:3-4 )
Does it tell the truth about God? Does it contradict truths about God revealed in other Scriptures?
( Deuteronomy 18:22, Galatians 1:8 )
Does it have the power to change lives?
( Hebrews 4:12 )
Was it accepted by the people of God at large?
( Daniel 9:2, 1 Thessalonians 2:13, 2 Peter 3:15-16 )
The original texts of the Scripture were written in Hebrew and Greek. Because Hebrew and Greek can’t be translated word for word into English, there are multiple ways to say what was written in the original text. Because English speakers talk in different dialects, there are multiple versions of the Bible to help different people understand. Though there are many translations, the message remains the same.
The Bible is the most remarkable ancient document. Its authenticity stands up to scholarly scrutiny. There are now over 5,300 manuscripts of the New Testament dating as early as 60AD with minimal variation in the texts. Early church fathers such as Clement of Rome (95 AD), Justin Martyr (150 AD), and Irenaeus (170 AD) quoted from the New Testament scriptures dating them to the time of the apostles. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and early first century historians give more reliability to the authenticity of the Bible.
The Bible has survived scholarly debate. People have tried to destroy it and discredit it with no success. Through the generations, God’s message remains clear: that in His love God has given His son as a sacrifice for our sins.