THE BIBLE: THE WORD OF GOD
The word Bible comes from the Greek ta biblia, which simply means “the books”. In fact, the Bible is a collection of sixty-six books, divided into two main sections: Old and New Testament.
The Old Testament is the collection of the Jewish sacred writings, completed long before the birth of Jesus.
The New Testament is the official collection of the writings of the disciples of Jesus.
The Bible is the Word of God, inspired by God.
Paul writes: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
The Bible is indeed more than just a book. It was written by men – no-one denies this fact. But those same men were not collecting their ideas or thoughts, or just telling some nice stories. They were inspired, led by the Holy Spirit in a supernatural way and whatever they wrote was in a unique and special way the Word of God.
“For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21)
The traditional Christian view understands and explains the Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures to have affected the very words of the text so that the Bible is entirely, wholly and truly the Word of God.
Like Jesus, who was the Word incarnate, (John 1:1-14), also the written Word has, in a sense, both a human and a divine nature.
The human is evident by the fact that men actually and materially authored the books collected in the Bible. They also wrote in a human language. Furthermore, the books had to be preserved through a copying process in the past, through print today – like any other book.
The divine is evident by the fact that the Scriptures are the Word of God, which implies a unique authority concerning God’s Revelation to man.
Theologians and scholars have come up with different conclusions and definitions concerning the implications of the inspiration of the Bible and the direct consequences of it. But I still like the devastating, straight forward simplicity of the Bible itself. Let us read what it says about itself.
Jesus says: “For David himself said by the Holy Spirit:` The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” (Mark 12:36)
In the Psalm quoted by Mark, it was David who spoke. But Jesus says those words were spoken by the Holy Spirit.
This is what we read in other significant passages.
“Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David…” (Acts 1:16)
“But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.” (Acts 3:18)
“So when they did not agree among themselves, they departed after Paul had said one word: “The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers …” (Acts 28:25)
“But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” (Hebrews 10:15-17)
On the one hand, I believe it is unacceptable to consider the Inspiration of the Scriptures as an automatic dictation which completely emptied the writer of the book of his personal contribution. On the other hand we cannot neglect to point out that the guidance of the Holy Spirit must have been essential to contribute to the final result: God actually speaking through men.
With this in mind, those who approach the Bible, can be rest assured that it is indeed, and for all purposes the Word of God.
Paul writes to the church in Thessalonica: “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.” (1 Thessalonians 2:13)
The Bible is the only reliable witness to the Truth of the Gospel, proclaimed by Jesus and the Apostles, the Gospel we must believe in order to be saved and to grow as Christians.
Paul wrote to the church in Colosse: “Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea …” (Colossians 4:16)
And also, to the church in Thessalonica again: “I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read to all the holy brethren.” (1 Thessalonians 5:27)
The words we find in the book of Revelation, can be applied to the whole Scripture: “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.” (Revelation 1:3)
In conclusion, the Bible is a collection of 66 books: 39 in the Old Testament, 27 in the New.