Is the Bible really God’s Word?

In this Podcast episode Katie and I talk about the nature of the Bible and ways to engage and love it more. I’ve added these notes from seminary classes and other resources to serve as an companion to the podcast. I recommend listening to the podcast first.

What is the Bible? God’s revelation of Himself to us. 

  • God’s Word: Inspiration 
  • Completely true: Inerrancy 
  • Vital to your life: Necessity 

Goal: That you become so convinced that the Bible is God’s Word that you spend the rest of your life treasuring and obeying it. 

Does the Bible claim to be God’s Word?

  • 2 Timothy 3:16All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 
  • Greek work: theopneustos — “God-breathed/ breathed out by God/ God’s creative breath”

Doctrine of Inspiration: “The inspired Word of God” 

  • General meaning: The Bible is from God Himself. 
  • Doesn’t mean “all “writers” were inspired”, but “all “scripture” is inspired”. Not everything Paul said was inspired. “writings” not “writers”.  
  • Inspiration as: Verbal, Plenary, inspiration: “Every Word, Whole bible”
  • Verbal: The actual Words that were written down were breathed out by God
  • Plenary: Refers to whole of the Bible. (Plenary session at conference)

Other views: The Bible in general is inspired, but not every word. There are nuggets of truth, general truth, but not every word is true. 

  • Problem: What things are true and what things are not? 
    • We decide! 
    • Who’s the authority? We are, not the Bible. 
      • Boils down to we reject what we don’t like and accept what we like. 

OT claims and NT witness:  

  • OT – Jeremiah 1:9 Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.
  • “Thus says the Lord (Common phrase in Bible – God speaking). 
  • Jesus – Luke 24:44-45 – OT is scripture and tells about Him.  
  • NT – 
    • Disciples knew they would be writing scripture: 
  • John 14:26 – But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

Peter knew Paul’s letters were scripture

  • 2 Peter 3:15 -16 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

Paul quotes both OT and NT as Scripture: 

  • 1 Timothy 5:18 – For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” (Deut. 25:4) and, “The laborer deserves his wages”  (Luke 10:7).

How was the Bible written?  

  • 2 Peter 1:19-21 –And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 
  • Notice —  The Bible is more sure and certain then Jesus being transfigured!

1 — Scripture is from God.

  • No prophecy of scripture was ever produced by the will of man
    • Scripture is not of human origin, but Divine origin. God’s Word! 

2 — Scripture is spoken through man.

  • Men spoke from God as they were carried along or moved by the Holy Spirit. 
  • Scripture is the words of men, while at the same time the words of God. 
  • Not dictation: Writers wrote with their own personality and style. 
  • All wrote their words, while the Holy Spirit carried them so they wrote exactly what God wanted them to write. 
  • Great example of God’s sovereignty 
    • He is control of the things we are responsible for. 

Do we have the right books in our Bibles

Canon: “Rule or measurement.” How do we know we have the right books?

  • Church didn’t create the canon. Church recognized it. 
  • Church did not say let’s put these writings together and call it God’s Word. 
  • Instead they recognized these writings were inspired by God.  
  • Jesus acknowledged 39 books of OT as scripture. Confirmed by counsel in 70AD. 

Apocrypha? Catholic Bible. 

  • Never viewed in Judaism as scripture, though often bound with OT because they were useful in understanding the OT. Written between testaments. 
  • Only during reformation did the Catholic church canonize them as scripture. 
  • Apocrypha is historical writings but NOT scripture! 

Criteria for books included in the canon 

1- Written by recognized prophet or apostle

  • Vast majority of OT and NT books. 
  • Paul, Peter, John, Jeremiah, Moses, etc. 

2- Written by those associated with recognized prophet or apostle

  • Luke – associated with Paul 

3 – Truthfulness (Deut. 18:20-22)

  • God speaks truth! Falsehood cannot be from God

4 – Faithfulness to previously accepted canonical writings

  • Spanned over generations, and still consistent. One voice. 

5 – Confirmed by Christ, prophet, apostle (e.g. Luke 24:44; 2 Pet. 3:16)

6 – Church Usages and Recognitions

  • Dominate factor. Christian people read the Bible and confirms this is the Word of God. 

Close of Canon: 

1.No revelation contrary to the gospel 

  • Excludes all other religious “revelations”. 

2.Jesus is the Final Revelation

  • Hebrews 1 – no revelation will surpass Christ! 
  • No further prophets! Jesus is the culmination (Muslims) 

3.Jesus commissioned apostles to convey His revelation

  • NT writings are commissioned by Jesus to tell truth about Him. Still revelation of Him. 
  • John 16:12- Spirit will reveal to them so they can record them down. Explanation and interpretation of Jesus.

Does the Bible have errors? No, the Bible is inerrant. 

  • Inerrancy VS infallibility: 
  • Infallibility – True in a big picture sense, but not in the details
  • Inerrancy – without errors.  

Inerrancy: If Scripture is “The Word of God” it MUST be entirely true!

  • Inerrancy means: The Bible is inerrant in what it teaches as true and affirms as true. 
  • Here is where you will get to college and be told the Bible is full of errors. 

Common so-called errors: 

  • Science – Sun does not rise the earth spins. Rabbits don’t chew cud. 
  • Rounded numbers – Battles, days, etc. 
  • Quotes: Don’t have to be exact word for word quote in Biblical times. 
    • Can’t hold Biblical writers to our standard, standards change! 

Reliability of NT Manuscripts 

  • 5,700 Greek copies are still in existence. 
  • 25,000 total including translated language 
  • Over one million quotes from church fathers of Bible (Whole bible could be reproduced by quotes alone.)
  • Other classic text: average of less than 20. Bible has more then 1,000 times that. 
  • Have copies very close to NT times. Within 100 years.
  • Other average classics works have copies 1,000 years out. 

Textual Variances

  • 138,000 NT Words
  • 400,000 variants 
  • Every word, at least 3 variations. (Sounds bad, but not) 

Four categories of textual variance: 

  • 1. Spelling and non sense errors 
    • most removable Nu (v). Like an before apple. 
    • Misplaced words. 
    • These are easily noticed when compared with earlier manuscripts. 
  • 2. Minor changes, including synonyms and alterations that don’t effect translation at all. 
    • Most include definite article before names or not. 
      • The Barnabas verse Barnabas. 
    • Word order account from most of these minor variations.
  • 3. Meaningful changes that are not viable
    • 1 Thess. 2:9 – “Gospel of God” 
    • Later manuscripts “Gospel of Christ” 
      • Obvious which one is correct. 
  • 4. (Smallest) Meaningful and viable (1%) 
    • Changes meaning of text to some degree. 
    • Most are just one word
      • Romans 5:1 “We have peace” “Let us have peace”  
    • Bible provides footnotes when this happens. 

Close: 

  • The Bible is God’s Word – Verbal, Plenary, Inspiration – breathed out by Him
  • The Bible is true – Inerrant, without errors. 
  • Application: We must read and obey the Bible! 

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