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All Can You Trust the Bible? Christian History Studying the Bible

When Was the Bible Written?

Author: Patrick Krentz Th.M., Managing Editor for Foundations by ICM

 

Bible Timeline

(all dates are approximate)
BC
1900-1600 – Job
1445-1405 – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
1405-550 – Psalms
1405-1375 – Joshua
1150-900 – Judges, Ruth, Song of Solomon, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, 1-2 Samuel
900-800 – Obadiah, Joel
800-700 – Jonah, Amos, Hosea, Micah
700-600 – Isaiah, Nahum, Zephaniah, Habakkuk
600-500 – Ezekiel, Lamentations, Jeremiah, Daniel, Haggai
500-400 – 1-2 Chronicles, Zechariah, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Malachi

AD
40-50 – James
50-60 – Matthew, Mark, Romans, Galatians, 1-2 Corinthians, 1-2 Thessalonians
60-70 – Luke, John, Acts, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1-2 Timothy, Titus, 1-2 Peter, Hebrews, Jude
90-96 – 1-3 John, Revelation

Most of the books you and I will ever read were written within the last century. Perhaps certain classics of literature date back two centuries. It is remarkable to realize, then, that the Bible is not just old, it is truly ancient. What is more, no other book in the history of the world can claim even a tenth of the span of years over which the individual documents in the Bible were written. Still, as long ago as that was, understanding these details is more than just an exercise in abstract history. Learning when, how, and why the Bible was written helps us to understand what God is doing. Looking back through the lens of history can teach us a great deal about what the Bible meant to its original audience, and, therefore, what it means for us today.  

The very simplest answer you can give to the question “When was the Bible written” is to say, “a very long time ago.” Even this seemingly useless answer can be helpful. You see, when we read the Bible as if it were written during our own time, we will read it wrongly. Knowing that it is an ancient text will help us to take a step back and think about details like, ‘to whom was this written?’ ‘What was happening at the time?’ ‘What did that mean in their culture, place and time?’ and so on. These are important questions to ask as you study the Scriptures. The Bible itself provides enough information to give context to the stories it tells. 

Now, if we stop with the simple answer, we will miss a great depth of truth. Therefore, we will spend some time among the details, answering the question specifically for each section of the Bible. 

The Old Testament

Let’s begin with the oldest book in the Bible. Perhaps you will be surprised to find out that it is not Genesis. No, the book of Job was written half a millennia before any other book in the Bible, making it the oldest by far. The events of Job take place somewhere around 2000 years before Christ. Unlike the rest of the Old Testament, we must use our best guess to come up with a date for Job, but it is likely that it was written between 20th and 17th century BC. 

With the details that God provides in His Word, we can reliably date the books of Moses, Genesis through Deuteronomy, to around the middle of the 15th century BC. The last books to be written are known as the post-Exilic books, written around the middle of the 5th century BC. So, we can say that most of the Old Testament was produced over the course of 1000 years, between 1445-400 BC, with Job being the lone outlier. 

The book of Psalms is also an interesting exception in that it has many authors who lived at different times. The Psalm of Moses, Psalm 90, was written during Moses’ lifetime in the 15th century. Most of the Psalms were written by David in the 11th and/or 10th century. Some may have been written as late as the 6th century BC. So the writing of the Psalms spans nearly the same length as of the Old Testament itself. 

Now, there is considerable debate about these dates, with two significant views emerging. The main difference between these views is whether Scripture itself is historically reliable. The dates given above assume that the events of the Old Testament happened in the way that the Bible says they happened. The other view relies on something called the Historical-Critical Method. It assumes that the stories in the Bible were written long after they happened through a process of gathering and compiling ancient source materials. According to this view, the stories of the Bible did not necessarily happen the way they are told, but they are included in Scripture to teach important lessons. It dates the final compositions of the Old Testament books to a much later time, asserting that the majority of it was produced during the 5th century, and assigning Daniel to a mere century and a half before Jesus. 

This is an important debate, but it is one that will have to wait for another time. For the purpose of the Foundations course material, we believe that the Bible is historically reliable. The older dates we provided up front are trustworthy. We also believe that, when the Bible attributes a book to a certain author, and discusses the lives of particular characters it is giving accurate information. 

For most books in the Bible, this means we can know when they were written if we know when the author lived. Moses, for instance, wrote during the 15th century. David wrote during the 11th century BC, followed by Solomon in the 10th. Many of the Prophets’ lives can be dated by their proximity to the Exile, with most writing between the 8th and 6th centuries. The post-Exilic books (those written after the Exile of Israel), including Ezra, Nehemiah, and Malachi, among others, were written between the 6th and 5th centuries, BC. The Bible gives us clear historical markers by which we can date nearly every book in the Old Testament. Take a look at the chart at the end of the page for a complete listing.

The New Testament

While dating the books of the Old Testament is not difficult, dating the New Testament writings is remarkably simple. This is because every book of the New Testament was written within the first century AD. If you go on to study this in greater detail, you will find that there is considerable debate over the exact year that many of the books were written, but these are most often differences of 1 or 2, maybe up to 5 years. 

Furthermore, we know that almost every book of the New Testament was written after Christ ascended to heaven, but before the year AD 70. This latter date marks an extremely significant event in the history of the Church: this is when the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. No book in the New Testament makes references to the destruction of the Temple or any of the events that followed, save for Revelation alone. So, we can date the writing of every book other than Revelation and John’s letters to between the years AD 35 and 70. In fact, the great majority were written in less than a 20-year time span, between the years 50 and 68. 

John is the one outlier. John, the Apostle wrote Revelation and his three letters when he was an old man. We also know from multiple early sources that John wrote Revelation while he was in exile near the end of the reign of emperor Domitian, who died in AD 96. With these bits of information, along with details from within the texts themselves, we can say that John wrote 1, 2, and 3 John, along with Revelation, between AD 90 to 95. 

As we conclude, let’s answer our original question; “When was the Bible written?” The Bible was written over the span of 2000 years, between the 20th century BC and the 1st century AD. As you read and study the Bible, take a moment to recall this information, and be amazed at the remarkable unity of a book that was written by around 40 different people through multiple millennia. Indeed, this book must be the Word of God.

Learn more about the bible by studying with our free bible study materials.

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All Can You Trust the Bible? Christian History Studying the Bible

Who Wrote the Bible?

Author: Patrick Krentz Th.M., Managing Editor for Foundations by ICM

 

There is no question that the Bible is a literary masterpiece. It is the most sold, most translated, most influential book in the history of the human race. This raises an important question. Who wrote such an important book? 

Most books list their author on the cover, but the Bible doesn’t make it this easy for us. While attempting to answer the question, “Who wrote the Bible?”, we will need to keep several important considerations in mind. 

First, we call the Bible the Word of God. What does that mean, and how does that relate to its authorship? 

Second, the Bible claims that many different people wrote the Bible. If so, how can we call it the Word of God? 

Third, if many people wrote the Bible, who decided to put it all together into a single book that is accredited to God Himself? How can we trust that they got the right books? 

Of course, each of these considerations deserves far more attention than we can give here, but let’s think of this as an introduction to these issues.

The Word of God

When we say that the Bible is the Word of God, we mean that the words we see on the pages of Scripture actually come originally from God Himself. The Bible attests to this, saying in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is inspired by God…” The word “Inspired” literally means “breathed-out.” The Greek word translated as ‘inspired’ is theopneustos. This combines two Greek words into one. We find theo meaning ‘God’, and pneustos meaning ‘to breathe.’ Thus, Paul, who penned 2 Timothy, believed that Scripture is the Word of God in a literal sense. 

So, we could answer the question, “Who wrote the Bible?” by saying, “God did!” 

If we stop there, however, we will run into some problems. How, exactly, did God write Scripture? Did a finger appear to write the words on a wall, as it did in Daniel 5? Or perhaps God carved it into tablets, as He did for Moses in Deuteronomy 10

Of course, He could have done those things, but God had a more specialized instrument in mind when He decided to write. Just as God uses people to accomplish His mission and build His Church, God used people to write His book. As an artist wields a paintbrush or an author a pen, God wields men as instruments to record His words. This process is known as “Inspiration.”

The Inspiration of Human Authors

As God inspired men to write the Scriptures, He empowered them by His Spirit to write the words that He wanted them to write. This task, however, was far more complex than simple dictation. God worked with His human instruments, allowing their experiences, personalities, and even attitudes to come across on the page. As we dig deeper to determine who wrote the Bible, we find that there are around 35 to 40 human authors. They came from almost every imaginable walk of life. There were kings, princes, priests, warriors, musicians, farmers, shepherds, fishermen, carpenters, housewives, tent makers, medical doctors, and even a once despised tax collector.

Indeed, it is not an insignificant fact that the greatest, most influential literature in the history of man did not come from the world’s great philosophers or even rise from its great civilizations. Rather, from the least likely of places and the least likely of people at the least likely of times, these people came forward from all walks of life claiming to have had a prophetic encounter with, and a divine message from, the creator of all.

Now, each of these backgrounds shaped the content of their writing. David’s interest in music greatly impacted his writing of the Psalms, whereas Luke’s career as a physician led him to include many details that other writers would leave out. God did not simply turn the authors of Scripture into puppets so that He could say He wrote it through human agents. So, the question is, if each of these authors wrote the words they wanted to write, how can we say that God was writing through them? Perhaps an analogy will help.

Have you ever seen an orchestra playing a piece of music? If not, just imagine any group of musicians coming together to play a song. Each member has an instrument which they have individually learned to play. Not only that, but they play it with a certain style or flair all their own. Yet, the composer dictates where and how each musician plays. Thus, the final composition is under the ultimate control of the composer; and yet, each individual musician contributes his own unique personality to it. In a similar way, God is the composer of Scripture. He is ultimately in control of everything that is written, yet each individual author contributes something unique and personal. Understanding this, we call Scripture a Divine-Human work. God brings free human agents into the process, but it is accomplished through His supervision and by His power. 

The Bible as We Know It

Now, it is one thing to believe that God wrote the Bible through men, but that happened a long time ago. How can we be sure that the Bible we have today is the actual Word of God? There are many other books written by some very holy people, but they are not considered Scripture. Who decided which books got in and which ones did not? 

While there is a great deal of depth to the discussion of how we got our Old Testament, the simple answer is that it was assembled by prophets, kings, and leaders over many centuries. The Pentateuch, which comprises the first five books of the Bible, were well established as Scripture from the very earliest days of the Hebrew nation. Through the centuries, other prophetic works of history, prophetic oracles, and poetry were added. The final collection of the books Christians label “the Old Testament,” came some 400 to 500 years before Christ. When Ezra the priest and prophet returned from exile to find that the Jewish people had forgotten the laws of God, he led a national revival. Part of this revival included the rediscovery of the Jewish scriptures and efforts to organize, expand, and preserve them. 

The New Testament, on the other hand, appeared suddenly. While the Old Testament recounts the entire history of the world from Creation through the Jewish return from exile, the New Testament is about the life and works of Jesus and His disciples. These events span years rather than centuries. The books that make up our New Testament are those written by men who were directly taught by Jesus or His inspired Apostles. These books were used as Scripture by the church almost immediately. We can see that, even while the New Testament was being written, the Church was recognizing the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In 2 Peter 3:15-16, we see Peter refer to Paul’s letters as “Scripture,” placing them on equal footing with the entire Old Testament. Thus, our New Testament came together organically as God directed men to write. 

In A.D. 325, Church leaders held a council where they recognized and canonized Scripture. The Council of Nicaea, as it was called, did not make editorial decisions about which books to include or exclude; rather, it made official and forever unalterable what the church had been practicing since its earliest days. They affirmed that these are divinely inspired works. 

As we conclude, remember: if we believe that the Bible is the Word of God, then it is ultimately God who we should trust to deliver His Word to us faithfully. God has gone to a lot of trouble to make sure that His Word has been written precisely the way that He wants it. Jesus says in Matthew 5:18 that “Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the law until all is accomplished.” So, we should not look to men like Ezra or the council of Nicaea to know whether Scripture is reliable. God has seen to it that it was faithfully written, faithfully collected, and faithfully preserved. If we can trust the God of the Bible, then we can certainly trust the Bible that is from God.

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How to Study the Bible

 

Welcome to the lesson on How to Study the Bible. In this lesson, we will learn that effective Bible study involves three careful steps: Observation, Interpretation and Application. This is not an academic study. The goal is not to make Bible scholars out of you. The vision for this study is to lead you to the passages of Scripture that show you God’s will for your life on a day-to-day basis. The interest is in the devotional message of the Scriptures. We thank God for this opportunity to study His Word.

In order to know what God has said in the Bible, one must first know how to study it. Having a trustworthy method for Bible study is important. There are three steps in good Bible study. They are 1. observation, 2. interpretation and 3. application.

Observation raises the question(s): “What does it say? What did the author of this passage of Scripture actually write? What is the context? What grammar did the author use? What literary structures and styles did the author choose in presenting the material?”

Interpretation raises the question, “What does it mean? What is the author of this passage of Scripture trying to teach the intended reader?”

Application raises the question, “What does it mean to me? What am I supposed to change about how I think or feel or act because of this passage of Scripture?” When you get to that section called “application” ask yourself some questions like these:

  • Are there any examples to follow?
  • Are there any warnings to heed or commandments to obey?
  • Are there any sins to forsake?
  • Are there any new truths about God or Jesus Christ or any new truths about my own life?
  • Are there any words of challenge and inspiration, any words of comfort and encouragement?
  • Are there any questions that I cannot answer?
  • Are there other Scriptures that relate to this Scripture?

These questions will help you to work out some of the application of the Scripture as you go through it.

12 Rules For Bible Study

With these three categories in mind, here are some general rules for Bible study. Worthwhile things tend to have rules. In formal training, like a Bible school, they call these rules “Hermeneutics,” the art and science of interpretation. Here are the 12 rules:

  1. First, for any passage of Scripture, there is one interpretation, but there can be many applications. It is important not to confuse interpretation with application. What the text intends to say to the reader is a single message, but the implications of that message for the life of any given reader may be many. An author writes to a single intended person or group, but those actually reading a text come from many places, times, cultures, and circumstances.
  2. Second, since the Bible is a book about Christ, look for a text’s significance for the Christ message as you read it. Always ask yourself, “How does this relate to the larger purposes of God in His salvation work through Christ?”
  3. Third, when you study the Old Testament, remember that you are looking for examples and warnings. Historical texts provide many examples both positive and negative. Believers are to emulate some people and take warning from others. Historical events in the Bible, in addition to being historical, can also have illustrative significance. In Galatians 4:22-24, the Apostle Paul notes that Abraham had two sons, but also declares these sons to be “allegories.” Abraham had two sons, Ishmael and Isaac. That is history. The story can, however, also have metaphorical significance, representing two different kinds of covenant. When the Apostle Paul says in I Corinthians 10:11 that all these things happened to the saints of old for examples, he used the Greek word for “type.” These saints, while real, were also types, which are like object lessons.
  4. Fourth, never come to a passage of Scripture with your mind already made up as to what the passage means. Study the meaning of Bible passages not assume their meaning without investigation. A pastor once shared some verses with a troubled woman. She then said to him, “Pastor, do not confuse me with Scripture. My mind is made up.” Some people read the Bible that way. They only hear Scripture telling them what they already believe. They tell the Bible what to mean rather than letting Scripture teach them.
  5. Fifth, once you learn the meaning of a verse of Scripture, ask yourself if you are willing to obey it before you teach it to someone else. Like James 1:22 teaches us, we must be doers of the word and not hearers only, all the more so if we are teachers and preachers. Come to this book as Samuel did in 1 Samuel 3:10, saying, Speak, Lord, thy servant is listening. That means a person should be able to say, “God, I am ready to do whatever You tell me to do.”
  6. The sixth rule is this, always remember that God speaks to us through His Word, so we must study the Word of God carefully, asking God to illuminate things to us through the Holy Spirit. You should come to the Scriptures trying to communicate with God.
  7. Seventh, there are some passages of Scripture that are hard to understand. Do not feel disillusioned if you come upon one of them, and do not become fixated on or obsessed with these obscure passages. Deuteronomy 29:29 says, The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.
    There are many basic things in Scripture that God has made quite clear that could take a lifetime to master, there is no reason to spend a lot of mental and spiritual energy trying to perfect your understanding of obscure things. Just so, you should interpret these obscure or puzzling Scriptures in the light of verses that have a clear meaning. Use easy to understand statements as guides to understanding difficult ones. Don’t build doctrines or special teachings on problematic passages and be cautious about preachers who do.
  8. Eight, the ultimate context for interpreting any Scripture is the rest of Scripture. The best commentary on the Bible is the Bible itself. Second Peter 1:20 says, But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation. Do not give any passage a private interpretation that contradicts clear teaching elsewhere in the Bible.
  9. Ninth, come to the Scriptures looking for truth for living life, and not just to add to your knowledge. Biblical knowledge is not virtue. Virtue results from a proper application of Biblical knowledge. It is the doing of the Scripture, the obedience to the Scripture that will make the Bible a power, a real power, in your life.
  10. Tenth, when you come to the Scriptures, look for truth to live by, without becoming preoccupied with contentions over side details. For example, when you mention the Book of Jonah some want to argue about whether or not whales can swallow people. Jonah, however, is about prejudice versus the love of God. Jonah hated the Ninevites, but God showed Jonah that His love extends even to enemies. That has nothing to do with whales swallowing people.
    When you come to the Book of Jonah or to the story of Adam and Eve or any other story in the Old Testament, come to that story asking these questions: “What does it say? What does it mean? What does that mean to me?” and “God, what truth are you trying to show me in this Scripture?” Get the big picture, get the big truth, get the central truth. What is God saying? What is His overall conclusive message here? Rest in what the Psalmist says in 119:160, The sum of Your word is truth.
  11. In that same spirit, the eleventh rule is this: come to the Bible, especially in the New Testament, looking for what we might call the argument or line of reasoning of the book. Books like Romans and Hebrews have a magnificent argument. There is a main point that runs all the way through the book, so, try to discover and logically follow the argument of the book.
  12. And lastly, number twelve, always consider the context of any passage of Scripture. One of the most common ways to misuse the Bible is to quote a passage out of context. The Scripture can be used to prove any point you want to prove if you take its words out of context and give them a meaning that violates that context. The word context literally means “with the text” interpreting a statement in light of the texts around it.

Conclusion

Finally, consider this prayer to close, that you will get into the Word of God and let the Word of God get into you. The Psalmist reminds us how significant that is, writing “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” (Ps. 119:11) Learning, studying, and applying God’s Word to our lives is the key to living a life that is pleasing to God.

We hope these rules were enlightening for you. The best way to learn them is through practice. The hope and prayer this session is that you are blessed and will plan to continue studying God’s Word in this study.

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All Can You Trust the Bible? Digging Deeper into the Word Studying the Bible

The Purpose of the Bible

This is a study of the most important book in the world, the Word of God. It is important to apply its truths to our lives. The goal today is to understand the central theme of this Holy Book —God’s redemption of sinful man. In this lesson the aim is to learn, “The Purpose of the Bible.”

The Singular Object of Scripture

In the Gospel of Luke, chapter 24, Jesus has been raised from the dead and is walking on the road to Emmaus with two disciples who don’t recognize him. They are depressed because the one they had hoped to be the Messiah had just been crucified. In verses 25-26 Jesus rebukes them for their weak knowledge of Scripture. He says: “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” This next part in verse 27 is important, so listen carefully: “Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” Later, in verses 44-45, after revealing himself to them, He said, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled. Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” What was the truth about the Scriptures that Jesus shared? It was simply this: All Scripture is all about Me.

In the Gospel of John, 5:39-40 Jesus says the same things to the religious leaders of His day. They are arguing with Him about His claim to be Messiah. Indeed, they had plenty of evidence if they would only accept it. John the Baptist was supportive of Jesus, the word of the Father came from heaven at His baptism, and He performed many miracles, some exceeding even Moses, but they would not believe. He says to them, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life” (John 5:39-40). “All the Scriptures point to Me” is the key verse to the whole Bible. The Bible is all about Jesus.

Four Purposes in Scripture

With Jesus as the central point of Scripture, there are four purposes to the Bible that need to be discussed. The first purpose of Scripture is to present Jesus Christ as the Savior and Redeemer of this world. Thus, The Old Testament says, “Jesus is coming” and The New Testament says, “Jesus came.”

The second purpose of the Bible is to present the history of the Redeemer and the salvation that came through Him. Thus, there is something to learn from the time and space given to specific parts of the story. For instance, there are 89 chapters in the four Gospels. Of these, four chapters cover the birth and the first thirty years of Jesus, leaving 85 chapters to cover the last three years of Jesus’ life. 27 chapters cover the last week of Jesus’s life. One might ask, “What aspect of Jesus’ life is more important to the Gospel writers? The first 30 or the last three? How important did they think Jesus’ last week was when He died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead? The Bible makes much of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Indeed, half of the Gospel of John is dedicated to discussing Jesus’ last week of ministry. Two of the Gospels do not even mention the birth of Jesus or His first thirty years. The Gospels are not written as biographies, but are written to preach something. They preach that Jesus came for that last week when he died for our sins and rose again to prove He was who he said He was—Incarnate God.

Just so, there are 1,189 chapters in the entire Bible. Eleven of these cover the history of the universe, the history of the earth, the history of people, the history of language, the history of evil. In Genesis 12, you meet a man named Abraham. Genesis twelve all the way through to Revelation twenty-two, 1,178 chapters, the subject is Abraham and his descendants, especially that one descendant through whom all the nations of the earth are blessed, the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The Bible is primarily interested in one thing and it gets to that one thing before it gets to its twelfth chapter. The Bible is interested in salvation; it is interested in demonstrating how salvation came, how the Savior came; so it gets to Abraham quickly. From Abraham to Christ, that is what the Bible is all about.

The New Testament has 260 chapters; the Old Testament has 929 chapters. Yet there are many people who say, “I am not interested in the Old Testament; that is the old Bible; just give me the New Testament.” The Old Testament is the pure Word of God and in these 929 chapters God says a great deal to his children.

The third purpose of the Bible, according to the Apostle Paul, is so that the servant of God might be completely equipped for every good work that God wants him to do. So, in one sense, the Bible was not written to the unbeliever but to the believer. Whether you are a man or a woman, God has a work that He wants you to do that will glorify Him; to equip you to do this work, God has given you 66 inspired little books that are filled with the truth that He wants you to know and reflect in life.

The fourth purpose for Scripture can be found emphasized in the Gospel of John, which is addressed to the unbeliever. In 20:31, John says, “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” In this way, the Gospel of John is the only book of the sixty-six books of the Bible that is addressed to the unbeliever.

The last purpose can be summarized this way: God only has one message to an unbeliever, according to the Bible, and that message is, “Repent and believe the Gospel.” After an unbeliever repents and believes the Gospel, God has sixty-six books filled with truth for that believer.

So, there are four purposes of the Bible: to present the person of Jesus Christ; to present the history of Jesus Christ and history leading to Him; that the unbeliever might believe in Jesus Christ; and that the believer might be completely equipped for every good work that God wants him or her to do.

The History of the Bible

Turning now to the history of the Bible, are you able to answer some of these questions:

  • Who were the people who wrote the books of the Bible?
  • When and where did they write them?
  • In what language did they write them?
  • Is there a record of the original documents?
  • Who preserved these books for us?
  • Who made the selection of these books and put them in this collection of holy books?
  • Who authorized men to make these selections and when were these selections made?
  • Who organized the Bible like it is today?

If you tell people that you surveyed the Bible and are a serious student of God’s Word, they will expect you to know how to answer these questions.

So, who did write the Bible? God wrote this book. What does that mean? The section on the word “inspiration” answers that. Through the miracle of inspiration, God moved men to write these books. So really, God wrote these books.

There are two terms that need established when learning about God writing these books. The first is the term “revelation.” Revelation is a general term that covers all the ways that God reveals truth to man. God reveals truth to man through nature. He also reveals truth personally through the Holy Spirit. The second term is “inspiration.” Inspiration refers to what theologians call “special revelation.” The Bible is the special revelation of God. Over a period of about sixteen hundred years God moved men to write these books. It has a beginning. It has an end. In about AD 90 when John wrote Revelation, and when he put a period to that revelation, he said that if anybody adds anything to this book, God will add to him the plagues in this book and he warned us not to take anything away from this book. (Rev. 22:18-19) Now, some have said that John was just referring to the content in Revelation itself when he wrote that but other have suggested that John’s warnings apply to the entire Bible. Either way, no one should remove or add anything to the Scriptures. It was a special miracle. That is why they call it a special revelation.

This raises the question, “Does God still reveal anything personally?” Yes, He does.

Personal vs. Special Revelation

This then raises another question, “Which is more important, personal revelation or special revelation?” Special revelation always has authority over personal revelation. If someone comes to a pastor and says, “I am going to leave my wife. She is impossible. I am going to leave her.” The Pastor can ask him, “Has she been unfaithful?” He says, “No, no, I just do not like her; I do not want to be married anymore God told me to leave her.” Then the pastor full of authority can say, “God did not tell you any such thing, because in the special revelation of Scripture, God does not permit you to leave her. God says cleave to her. Real personal revelation will never contradict special revelation.”

You have to be cautious about saying “God told me.” Many times when you say, “God told me,” He did not tell you. You do not want to credit God with personal opinions and desires.

The important thing about considering the words “revelation” and “inspiration” is that many in the world put exclusive emphasis on words like rationalism, reason, logic, humanism. They are saying, “I do not need a revelation. I have a mind.” When you become a Christian, you do not become irrational, illogical, unreasonable or inhuman, but according to the Scriptures, revelation is the main criteria by which right from wrong can be determined.

Who Wrote the Bible?

Now the question of “who?” Who were the people that wrote the Bible? God inspired men to write these books. These men were kings, fishermen, shepherds, generals, political leaders. One was a physician. One was a tax collector. All kinds of men were inspired by God to write His messages. The poet, Dryden, wisely asked, “Whence but from heaven could men unskilled in arts, in several ages born, in several parts, weave such agreeing truths, or how or why should all conspire to cheat us with a lie, unasked their pains, ungrateful their advice, starving their gain, and martyrdom their prize?”

Who Collected and Canonized these books?

It helps to research how this miracle took place. If you do, you will discover that the Old Testament books were selected by men like Ezra the Great Scribe. By about A.D. 100 at the Council of Jamnia the Old Testament books were completely settled, even though they had been officially

This is a poem that rhymes in English and may not rhyme in your language. However, the author is providing a very beautiful message concerning the powerful testimony of Scripture, considering all the different people that wrote, the different times and places, there is a united and coherent message throughout. It seems very unlikely that the Bible was manmade. There is too much that would have gone wrong along the way. Consider either including this in the lesson or adding something which sheds light on the meaning of this poem. recognized as sacred Scriptures and collected three or four hundred years before that. The New Testament books had been collected, selected and arranged by A.D. 692 at the Council of Trullan, though already settled at the Council of Rome in A.D. 382, and clearly enumerated almost a century before that. In the case of the Old Testament, selection focused on the author’s reputation as a prophet or a scribe. In the case of the New Testament, three questions were asked. Was this book written by an apostle or the close associate of an apostle? Did the book manifest spiritual content that equipped the believer for life and ministry? Finally, do all these books unanimously agree about this spiritual content? Many people ask about the Apocrypha which was placed in the canon of Scripture by the Roman Catholic Church in A.D. 1546 during the Reformation period. Those books were not chosen during the original selection of Scriptures.

Original Languages of the Bible

Another thing to consider is the language in which the Bible was written. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and Aramaic and the New Testament was written in Greek. Because the Bible was not written in your mother tongue, Bible scholars often study these original languages so that all can understand the Scriptures more accurately.

Now think about how long ago these books were written. The New Testament is almost 2000 years old, and the oldest books of the Old Testament are 3,500 to 4,000 years old. These books had to be copied and preserved. Since paper just does not last that long, none of the original manuscripts exist but there are trust worthy copies available. In order to get the Bible in [your language], it had to be translated by those who were committed to sharing God’s Word.

Conclusion

Hopefully this lesson has opened up the Scripture to you so you will understand it better and it will transform your life. Remember to carefully study these questions and the answers are quite important. These sorts of questions will help one to better understand the origin of the Scriptures. Knowledge will give us a confidence that the Word of God is true and reliable and relevant for us today.

Thank you for being a faithful student in this introductory study of the Bible. Continue to invite your family and friends to join in as we study God’s Word. The value of this study of scripture is eternal as it will help you learn and apply the eternal and spiritual truths of God’s Word.

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All Digging Deeper into the Word Studying the Bible

What Is the Bible?

Welcome to our study on the most important book in the world, the Word of God, the Bible. These lessons are an introduction or overview of the books of the Bible that fit all the parts together for better understanding and future study. Thank you for joining as we try to understand it and learn how to apply its truths to our lives.

Before studying the individual books of the Bible, a few questions need answering: First, “What is the Bible,” Second, “What is the purpose of the Bible,” and lastly, “How should we read it?

The Bible is divided into two halves, what Christians call “testaments.” These testaments are divided further into sixty-six books. Anyone who surveys each of these books needs to look for three things: first, observe the content of each book; second, observe the outline of each book; and third and most importantly, we want to discern the message of each book and how it relates personally to our lives.

Studying the Bible will help to equip every believer so that he or she can understand their faith and communicate it more effectively to friends, family and neighbors. There is a common belief that ministry is the work of pastors alone. Our relationship to the church can be focused on what we hope to get for ourselves from our leaders.

In Ephesians 4:11-13, however, the Apostle Paul envisions an entire church full of ministers who have been equipped by their leaders to do the work of ministry…an entire church full of people who are actively building the church, serving Christ, sharing their knowledge of Christ with others and helping them to become mature Christ-like Christians. He says, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”

To all those involved in the study of the bible, you are a valuable part of the church and have been called to do good works through the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul also says in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” The only way to really understand the Bible is to work – challenge yourself to commit to being equipped and become a faithful believer of Jesus.

Introduction to the Bible

Now, think about the definition of “the Bible.” What is the Bible? Christians often refer to the Scriptures as “The Holy Bible.” The English word “Bible” comes from the Greek word biblia, which suggests a collection of books. The Bible is a collection of sixty-six books, and yet it is one book with a single wonderful message from beginning to end – the story of God’s redemption.

The term “Holy Bible” means that this collection of books is a holy collection of books. The word “holy” means “that which is set apart, that which belongs to God,” or “that which is in some sense associated with God.” These books are related to God in a special way. This collection of books contains God’s message to humanity. This makes the Holy Bible not only the most influential, most read, most translated book in history, but also makes it the most important book in the world. Therefore, the study of the Bible is the most important study you can engage in.

The Bible is also referred to as “the Word of God.” What does it mean that the Bible is the “Word of God”? In II Timothy 3:16-17, The Apostle Paul wrote, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” This means the whole Bible was given by inspiration from God and is useful to teach what is true and to make you realize what is wrong in your life; it straightens you out and helps you to do what is right. It is God’s way of making you well prepared at every point, fully equipped to do good to everyone.

Paul is saying that God did have something to do with the writing of these books. God had a message that He wanted to communicate to you; in order to communicate that message, He inspired the writers of the Bible in such a way that the words they wrote were not their words, but God’s words. Over a period of 1500 to 1600 years, the writings of these prophetically empowered men were recognized as inspired writing and were collected to form what is the Holy Bible.

The Bible is Inspired

The process by which God moved men to write these books is called inspiration. Paul says that these books came from God by inspiration. The Greek word translated inspiration literally means “God Breathed.” The Holy Spirit of God breathed into these men, moving or inspiring them to write these books.

Second Peter 1:16 & 20-21 describes the Bible in these words: For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty…But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

So, while the Apostle Paul states that the miracle of the Bible came to pass through a process called inspiration in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Peter states what inspiration is. The message those men wrote in those books did not have its origin in those men. It originated with God. All of the messages written in these inspired books originated in the heart of God. God communicated these messages to men by carrying them along with the Holy Spirit. But at the same time, God’s Spirit used individual people to write the books and thus used their individual personalities and styles to write the Bible. God’s Spirit moved these people to write and guided them along the way but the message was not dictated to them. There was a dynamic relationship in place between God’s Spirit and man as the Scriptures were revealed and written.

Peter used a beautiful word in the Greek language to describe that “carrying along,” the word phero. In many places, where there is a lot of water, “ferryboats” are used instead of bridges to get across waterways, to carry people from one side to the other side. That is what the word phero in the Greek language refers to, “carrying along.” Just so, Peter says that God carried these people along to get them where He wanted them.

The Organization of the Bible

The books of the Bible are not placed in the Bible on the basis of when they were written or when their authors lived. The sixty-six books of the Bible are organized on the basis of the kinds of books they are.

The books of the Bible are in two divisions. One division is called the Old Testament with 39 books; the other division is called the New Testament with 27 books.

This has not always been the case. In the days of Jesus, for instance, there were no such things as an Old Testament and a New Testament. The New Testament had not yet been written, so the books that existed in the days of Jesus were simply called The Word of God or The Scriptures. It was after the New Testament had been written and brought together into a collection of books that the distinction was made between the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Essential Message of the Bible

The essential message of these Old Testament books is this: “Jesus is coming.” In the beginning, according to the Scriptures, God and man were in harmony with each other, but God made man a creature of choice, and man chose to turn away from God. Because God cannot look upon rebellion or disobedience, there was a separation between God and man. That separation between God and man is the fundamental problem with which the Scriptures deal.

In the Old Testament, God says to us, “I am going to do something about that separation?” In the New Testament, God is saying to us, “I have done something about that separation, will you believe? You see, the Old Testament books say that Jesus is coming, and that He is going to reconcile the broken relationship between God and His creatures. The New Testament tells the good news: Jesus has come and reconciled the broken relationship between God and man. Two words in the Gospel of Mark sum up the whole New Testament. They are in Mark 1:9, “Jesus came.”

Old Testament Literature Categories

The Old Testament books are categorized under four different headings.

First, there is the Torah, which is also called the Pentateuch, which means five books These tell the story of God’s dealings with man from the creation, fall of man into sin, and the great flood. They detail God’s promises through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (who is also called Israel) and his children. They tell the story of the rise of the great prophet Moses who delivers the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, establishes God’s law for them, and brings them to the border of the land God promised to give to Abraham and his children.

The five books of the Torah are followed by ten History books. These ten History books detail important events from the time that Joshua, Moses’ assistant, brought the Israelites into the Promised Land, through a period of trouble where judges rose to rule the people, on through the time period kings ruled the Israelites, right up until the Israelites were taken into exile into Mesopotamia. The people of God obeyed those five books of the Torah and sometimes they did not. When they did obey, they became examples to follow. When they disobeyed, their lives became warnings to heed.

The History books are followed by the Poetry books. The Poetry books are God’s message to His people as they try to live out His Word in this world. In the Poetry books, God speaks a message to the hearts of His people. For example, in the Book of Job, God has a message for God’s people when they are suffering. In the Book of Psalms, His message is about all of the things that go on in your heart when you are worshipping. In the Book of Proverbs, God teaches what it should look like to live in day to day relationships with other people.

Ecclesiastes is a message from God to His people when they are experiencing doubt and frustration about the world in their hearts. The Song of Solomon is a message to the people of God about the beauty and struggles of godly human love.

Finally, the fourth category is called “The Prophets.” There are two sections. First, The Major Prophets. Second, The Minor Prophets. The Major Prophets are called Major Prophets not because they are superior to the Minor Prophets, but because they are long, while the Minor Prophets are much shorter.

New Testament Literature Categories

In the New Testament there also four kinds of books.

First, there are four historical books about the life and mission of Jesus: The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Second, there is one historical book about the life and mission of the early church—The Acts of the Apostles, or the Book of Acts for short

Then there are a collection of letters from some of the Apostles to Christian churches, the Epistles. There are two collections — the Epistles of Paul and the General Epistles, which include the letter to the Hebrews, and letters from Peter, John, James and Jude

The New Testament closes with one highly symbolic or Apocalyptic book, called “The Revelation.” It is hard to understand.

Summary

So, in the Bible, there are sixty-six books. There are 39 Old Testament books telling about the promised restoration of man’s relationship with God in the coming of Jesus, which is made up of four kinds of books: Torah books, History books, Poetry books, and Prophetic books.

There are 27 New Testament books telling about the fulfillment of Jesus’ coming and restoration of relationship between man and God. It contains four kinds of books: The Gospels of Jesus, the historical book: the Acts of the Apostles, the Letters of the Apostles and the Apocalyptic book: Revelation.

Thank you for joining this study of the most important book ever written, the Bible. Teach others who are interested in knowing more and understanding the Word of God.