What is the Bible?

The Holy Bible is a book. But it is not just any book – it is a book with a message that comes from God. It records the will and purpose of its great Author. The Bible is God’s great revelation to man.

The layout

The Bible is made up of sixty-six books. They are divided into two sections – the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew which is the language of the Jewish people. The New Testament was written in Greek. In the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries the Bible was translated into European languages such as English.

The Old Testament covers the history of mankind from creation (around 4000 BC) to just before the birth of Jesus Christ. The New Testament starts with the birth of Jesus Christ, then his life, his death and resurrection (recorded in the Gospels). After the Gospels comes a book called “The Acts of the Apostles”. This book tells what happened as the followers of Jesus started to spread his message around the world. Also, we learn about the first Christian churches that were formed, and how the Christians organised themselves. The rest of the New Testament has letters written by the followers of Jesus, giving more information about how we should live as followers of Jesus. The final book is the Revelation, a book of prophecies that take us all the way to God’s Kingdom soon to be set up on earth.

The author

The word “Bible”: means “book” and the word “Holy” means “separate”. It therefore is a Book which is separate from all other books. Why is it separate? Because it’s author is God. You can go to the library or to a book store and find many books –but they all have one thing in common – they are written by men and women – they are written by humans. The Bible is the only book with God as the author.

Did God physically write the Bible? No he didn’t. The Bible is the inspired Word of God.

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

Although the Scriptures were written by different men during the ages, what they wrote was what God wanted written. In other words, God guided the writers as they wrote. God was writing through them.

Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David… Acts 1:16

Note how it says that Holy Spirit spoke through the mouth of David. It was God message not David’s. God had his message written by shepherds, kings, fishermen, a doctor, a tent-maker and others. Nearly all the writers were Jewish. All the writers combine to give us one complete book which we know as “The Holy Bible” – the information about God’s purpose with men and women.

The inspiration of the writers seems to have taken different forms. Sometimes the writers wrote almost the exact words that God spoke to them. Whereas at other times, the writers understood the thoughts and message of God and were given freedom to express it in a way that they saw fit. Paul had a unique way of expressing himself and that can be seen in his writings, yet, his words were still inspired by God. God’s thoughts, motives and works were often recorded which the man writing the words could only have known by revelations from God.

As mentioned above, the Bible records many actual words of God. Sometimes it quotes what God spake. In the first five books of the Bible, it is recorded “The Lord said” or “The Lord spoke” many times.

In summary….

The inspiration of the Bible is summarised this way by the Apostle Peter:

no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 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 1:20-21

Peter is explaining that God chose holy or God-fearing men to make known His will. These men wrote down the message that they received from God. When these writings were combined they became the book known as the Bible.

Evidence of inspiration in the Bible’s detail

As mentioned above, there are 66 books which were written by many different authors living in different ages. These men came from different classes in society. Some of writers lived at different times and would have had no contact with each other. The books and writing were written over a period of approximately 1600 years. The first books were written in about 1500BC by Moses. The last book (Revelation) was written by John the Apostle towards the end of the first century.

In addition, the writers wrote the books at different locations. Most of the writers were in Israel. However, there were some who wrote elsewhere. Daniel and Ezekiel wrote in Babylon. The apostles wrote in different province in the Roman Empire.

Despite the differences in writers, there is one uniform plan from start to finish of the Bible. The plan is God’s redemption of the human race. The plan revolves around one man – Jesus Christ. This perfect harmony throughout the page of the Bible demonstrated that the Bible is the Word of God.

No person who believes in God can fail to see the hand of Him on every page of the Bible. The Bible is not only inspired but it inspires. It has the power to change lives by building its readers character.

The Word of God – a double-edged sword

As the Scriptures were inspired by God, they can influence the reader in a powerful way.

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

The word of God as found in the Bible is energetic and exerts a powerful influence in our lives.

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
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; I t shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11

The word of God is often likened to a two-edged sword because against such a weapon there can be little resistance. It cuts through to our inner most thoughts and feelings. It can see and understand the decisions to which the mind and the heart come to. Therefore, the Word of God is at work inside us if we choose to believe. If we truly seek God, then he will guide us and teach us through His Word.

The message of the Bible to each one of us

God wants men and women to know that they can share a coming kingdom with the Lord Jesus Christ when he returns. This message of hope to each one of us is called the Gospel. The word Gospel means the good news of the coming Kingdom of God. There is the offer of salvation from sin and death through the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the message that Christ and his disciples preached to those around them.