Authenticity and Authority of the Bible
The Bible is the most remarkable book ever written because the Bible is God’s written revelation of His will to men. Its central theme is salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord. The Bible is the only rule and standard by which Christians find direction and God’s will for their lives.
The Bible is really an anthology of books. There are 66 books separated into two major sections: the Old Testament and the New Testament. The word Testament means covenant or promise. In the Old Testament there are 39 books and in the New Testament there are 27. They are broken down into several categories.
The Old Testament
The Old Testament is broken down into four major categories or sections. The first category is called the Law or Torah. The Torah consists of the first five books of the Bible, which is also called the Pentateuch. The books of the Torah are: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Genesis is the book of beginnings describing how God created the world and the first humans. This book shows the journey of humanity as it walked away from God. It is also here that Abraham was called and the Hebrew people were born. From Abraham came the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob). The patriarchs carried the promise of God to their children. The promise was that God will increase his people who will live in a land flowing with milk and honey.
The books of Exodus through Deuteronomy describe how the Hebrew people survived under slavery in Egypt for several centuries were miraculously and wonderfully delivered and set free by God. They journey from Egypt through the desert for forty years while God revealed the law to his people through Moses. The book of Deuteronomy was made up of Moses’ three major sermons reminding the people before they enter the Promised Land to obey God and live according to his statutes.
The second category is called history. There are twelve books in this section: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1, 2 Samuel, 1, 2 Kings, 1, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther. The history books describe how the Hebrew people took control of the Promised Land (known as Canaan) in the book of Joshua and their subsequent history in that land. The history revealed the story of how the Hebrew people although warned several times mostly by prophets and some by kings of staying true to God and following his word end up losing the land. In this section of books particularly in Kings it described how the one kingdom became two: the Northern tribes (Israel) and the southern tribes (Judah). The Northern kingdom was exiled first, then 150 years later the southern kingdom. The land was taken away since the Hebrew people refused to live for God forgetting God had given them this land. The books of Chronicles describe the acts of the southern kings, no mention of the northern kings. The book of Esther describes the Jews while under the rule of a Persian king. Ezra and Nehemiah told the story of the Jews returning to the land after a 70-year exile. The word Jew comes from the southern kingdom Judah.
The third category is called poetry or wisdom literature. There are six books: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs and Lamentations. These books of poetry discuss life people experience God through difficult, trials, celebrations and victories. Job told the story of the man name Job of how wealthy he is and yet how he lost everything. His friends do not really help him, as there are several cycles of dialogue between Job and his friends. This book deals with the question of suffering and God’s character.
Psalms is a collection of songs over a 1000-year period. There is a song from Moses (Ps 90); Several songs of David (Ps 20-23); and a song from the time of the exile (Ps 137). There are different types of songs. There are lamenting songs (Ps 3, 22). There are Thanksgiving songs ((65, 107); songs of praise and worship (Ps 145-147); a recitation of the Hebrew’s history (Ps 78, 105, 106). There are royal or coronation Psalms (Ps 2, 18, 144). There are wisdom Psalm (Ps 36,37,133) and there are angry Psalms (Ps 109).
Proverbs is a wisdom book of wise short and pithy sayings. It is mostly King Solomon’s words revealing the wisdom given to him by God (see 1 Kings 3:4 – 15). In 1 Kings 4:32 we are told that Solomon spoke 3,000 proverbs, it is in this book we get a sampling of those proverbs. The book of Ecclesiastes was also written by Solomon. Ecclesiastes is king Solomon’s private journal. Ecclesiastes means teacher or even preacher. It is here that Solomon looked at life seeing it as pointless and meaningless unless it is centered on God. It is his wisdom again demonstrated. The book of Song of Songs is another work by Solomon, this is his best song that he wrote which is about love between a man and a woman. It is said in 1 Kings 4:32 that he wrote 1,005 songs.
Lamentations is also part of the wisdom literature although it is found after the book of Jeremiah. This book is about the Jeremiah’s grieving as he looks at Jerusalem having been destroyed by the Babylonians and its inhabitants sent away to exile. It described his grief and sadness over the loss of life and promise. Although God will restore his people to the land, the tragedy and devastation was overwhelming.
The fourth category is called prophecy. There are sixteen books of prophecy but there are two sections of prophetic books. The first four books are called Major Prophets because they are larger books and the prophet is more influential in the history of Jews. They include: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel (they are in chronological order). Isaiah speaks primarily to the Southern kingdom but also to the surrounding nations. He is the most prominent of prophets and one of the most quoted in the New Testament. Jeremiah prophesied how Judah would be exiled by the Babylonians, but how God would restore them. He also saw the destruction of the Jerusalem. Both Ezekiel and Daniel were prophets who prophesied while in exile. These books look to the hope of restoration and renewal.
The less influential prophetic books are call the Minor Prophets. There are twelve of them and they include: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. They too are in chronological order. The prophetic books described and illustrated the theological signs of the times for the nations of Israel and Judah. These are probably the least read and understood by Christians today.
The New Testament
The New Testament continues the story of the Jews after a 400 years of silence since Malachi. Similar to the Old Testament the New is broken up into categories. The first major category is called the Gospels. There are four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These four books tell the story of Christ, primarily his three-year ministry, his sermons, parables, miracles and challenges with the Jewish leadership. The primary focus of all four Gospels is the death and resurrection of Christ. Matthew, Mark and Luke are similar in how they tell the story of Christ with certain differences. They are called the Synoptic Gospels. John is different both in style events, and tradition.
The second category is called history. There is only one book: Acts. The book of Acts is the story and events of the early church after Christ ascended to heaven described in chapter 1. Acts is about the Holy Spirit working in the life of the early church showing how it grew radically and significantly. The early church challenged the power structures of the day and spoke without equivocation the Gospel of Christ, regardless of what it cost the disciples. In Acts, we are introduced to a man named Paul, who came to Christ through a vision and became one of the church’s most vocal evangelist and hard-working church planter.
The third category is called teaching. This category makes up the majority of the New Testament with twenty-one books. The teaching section consists of letters, where men wrote letters to churches. Paul is the main character in this section because we have thirteen of his letters: Romans, 1,2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1,2 Thessalonians, 1,2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon (the books are in order of length and prominence). The non-Pauline letters (also called General or Catholic letters) are: Hebrews, James, 1,2 Peter, 1,2,3 John and Jude (the books are in order of length). These letters are usually filled with commands, theology, teaching and promises.
The fourth category is called prophecy. There is only one book: Revelation. This book consists of the apostle John’s visions of the last days. Revelation described the coming of Christ, the end of evil and the future and eternal heavenly home. This book is also a book of worship.
The Bible is unique
Here are some interesting facts concerning the uniqueness of the Bible:
- The Bible was written over a 1500 year span and over 40 generations
- It was written by over 40 authors from every walk of life including kings, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, poets, statesmen, and scholars.
- It was written in different places. It was written in the wilderness, dungeon, prison, and on an island.
- It was written in times of war and peace.
- It was written on three continents: Asia, Africa and Europe.
- It was written in three languages: Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.
- It has one theme: God redeeming man and woman.
In the following verses describe how careful the writers were in putting together Scripture and how the Bible is its own witness.
2 Peter 1:16
1 John 1:3
The Bible has Authority
In the following verses describe where the Bible originated.
2 Timothy 3:16,17
2 Peter 1:20-21
In the following verses describe where the authority of the Bible resides and the responsibility of those who speak the word of God.
What did Jesus think of the Bible?
How do we know the Bible is truthful?
How do we know the Bible is without error?
How do we know that the Bible is the Word of God?
1 Corinthians 2:13,14
What is the purpose of the Bible?
2 Timothy 3:16,17