To the Seeker with Intellectual Questions
Is the Bible the Inspired Word of God?
Six Major Evidences Identifying the Bible as the Inspired (and Reliable) Word of God
by M. Tyner, M.A., Christian Apologetics
The question of whether the Bible is divinely inspired is of utmost importance to everyone. If the Bible is NOT the very Word of God, then the Christian faith is in vain. However, if the Bible IS the very Word of God to mankind, then it reveals absolute Truth about God, life, death, and eternity! Historians agree as to the authenticity of both the Old Testament and New Testament writings. So the real question is:
Is the Bible divine in origin (inspired by God) and reliable (trustworthy)?
Presented below is an overview of evidence concerning the Bible's divine authorship and reliability. The first paragraph contains “internal evidence” (what the Bible says about itself), followed by “external evidence” (based on objective sources of information and independent analyses).
I. The Bible Itself Claims to be the Word of God.
The Bible consistently claims to be divine in origin, the “God-breathed” Word of God. Key scriptural teachings are:
1.) The Bible is entirely inspired by God. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God...” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
2.) The Holy Spirit is the Author of the Bible. “... but holy men spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21).
3.) The Bible is eternal and unchanging. “... the Scripture cannot be broken,” declared Jesus Christ (John 10:35).
4.) The Bible is providentially preserved. “But the Word of God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8).
5.) The Bible contains living words. “The word of God is alive and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword...” (Hebrew 4:12).
6.) The Bible is highly valued by God. “[God] honors His Word above His name” (Psalm 138:2).
7.) The Bible is complete (2 Peter 1:3, Hebrews 1:1-3, Jude 3).
II. The Manuscript Evidence for the New Testament.
A. Prolific manuscript evidence - There are over 24,000 manuscripts of the New Testament in existence, of which 5,300 are the original handwritten Greek manuscripts. In addition, there are 18,000 manuscripts in other languages. Comparison of these numerous manuscripts, using the art and science of textual criticism, has established the reliability of the text as well as the integrity of its transmission.
B. The Bibliographical Test - When applied to the New Testament, this test concluded that no other documents of antiquity are as well attested bibliographically. That is, there are more manuscripts preserved, they were more accurately copied, and less time elapsed between the original manuscript and its earliest copy in existence. (The next most accurate document of antiquity is the Iliad by Homer, which has far less attestation.) (3/285)
C. Patristic Quotations - The writings of Early Christian Fathers, which are dated within 150 to 250 years of Jesus' life on earth, contain extensive quotations from the New Testament. In fact, if all other sources of knowledge of the New Testament text were destroyed, these writings “would be sufficient alone for the reconstruction of practically the entire New Testament.” (8/86)
III. The Manuscript Evidence for the Old Testament.
A. Comparisons of Manuscripts - The integrity of the Old Testament (Torah) is confirmed after examination and comparison of the existing texts from Palestine, Syria, and Egypt. The reliability of the Hebrew Scriptures is further supported when compared with the “Septuagint,” a complete Greek translation initiated in Egypt about 250 B.C. (by 70 scholars from Jerusalem according to tradition).
B. The Dead Sea Scrolls - In l947 thousands of manuscripts were uncovered, containing portions of every book of the canonical Old Testament except one. Most significantly, it included a complete manuscript of Isaiah from 100 B.C. (1,000 yrs. earlier than the previously known manuscript). Amazingly, these Isaiah manuscripts proved to be identical in more than 95% of the text, with the 5% variation consisting mostly of slips of the pen and spelling. (3/261)
C. Fidelity of the Scribes - The Masoretic (Jewish) scribes evidenced profound reverence for the text and exercised extreme care in copying the Scriptures. Rules governed the kind of ink to use, and the spacing of words, even the letters, were counted methodically. If a manuscript was found to contain even one mistake, it was destroyed. (3/252)
IV. Archaeological Confirmation of the Bible.
Documented archaeological discoveries have confirmed much of biblical history as actual history. In fact, the renowned Jewish archaeologist, Nelson Glueck, concluded: “It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted [disputed] a biblical reference.” (5/31)
(1) Old Testament example: the disputed existence of the Hittites. The l9th century scholar and archaeologist, A. H. Sayce, first identified the ancient Hittite people from a non-biblical source. Today, there are hundreds of extra-biblical references to this civilization.
(2) New Testament example: the disputed facts concerning Quirinius. Critics argued that there was no census at the time of Jesus and that Quirinius was not the governor of Syria, as recorded in Luke Chap. 2. However, specific archaeological discoveries have confirmed that the Romans held a census every 14 years and that Quirinius was governor of Syria twice.
V. Fulfilled Bible Prophecy Is Indisputable Evidence.
“Predictive prophecies” are unforeseen events revealed by God to Old Testament prophets, who recorded them in Scripture. No other written religious authority has such extensive prophecy -- and fulfilled with 100% accuracy!
(1) Example of historical prophecy fulfilled: In approx. 700 B.C., while Jerusalem and its temple were still standing, the prophet Isaiah prophesied that a man named “Cyrus” would sign a decree for Jerusalem and its temple to be rebuilt (Isaiah 44:28, 45:1). It came to pass in 539 B.C. (Ezra 1:2-4). Thus, the Bible named this Persian king and his decree l60 years before the king or his kingdom ever existed! (2/237, 7/381)
(2) Examples of Messianic prophecies fulfilled: The historical Jesus of Nazareth exactly fulfilled all 330 predictions from the Old Testament concerning the coming Messiah (“the Christ”) -- hundreds of years later. And 61 of them were major Messianic prophecies such as:
Birth: Born of a Virgin
- O. T. Prophecy - Isaiah 7:14
- N.T. Fulfillment - Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 1:26-35
Birth: Born in Bethlehem
- O. T. Prophecy - Micah 5:2
- N.T. Fulfillment - Matthew 2:1-6, John 7:42
Triumphal entry into Jerusalem
- O. T. Prophecy - Zechariah 9:9
- N.T. Fulfillment - Mark 11:7-11; Luke 19:35-38
Substitutionary sacrifice (crucified)
- O. T. Prophecy - Isaiah 53:5
- N.T. Fulfillment - Romans 5:8, Matthew 27:26-35
Cry of anguish, forsaken by God
- O. T. Prophecy - Psalm 22:1-2
- N.T. Fulfillment - Matthew 27:46
Declaration to be the Son of God
- O. T. Prophecy - Psalm 2:7
- N.T. Fulfillment - Matthew 3:17
Healing of the brokenhearted
- O. T. Prophecy - Isaiah 61:1-2
- N.T. Fulfillment - Luke 4:18-21
NOTE: When using the modern science of probability, the chance of just eight of these prophecies being fulfilled in one person would be 1 in 1017(a “1” followed by 17 zeros). The chance that any one man could fulfill forty-eight of them would be 1 in 10157. Hence, coincidence is entirely ruled out! (9/100-110)
VI. The Bible's Supernatural Harmony and Unity.
The Bible is one continuous story of God's redemption of mankind, through the Messiah. It demonstrates perfect harmony and unity (without contradiction) from beginning to end. This is phenomenal when considering that: (a) the Bible contains 66 individual books, (b) it was written over a period of 1,500 years, (c) by forty different authors (from diverse backgrounds), (d) on three different continents (Africa, Asia, Europe), (e) in three different languages (Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic), (f) on hundreds of different subjects (with many of them controversial). Such wonders of the Bible can only be explained by the Biblical claim that the Holy Spirit was the divine Author (2 Peter 1:21)!
Sample Prayer to Receive Jesus:
“Father God, thank You for the inspired Word of God. Thank You that it teaches us of Your sacrificial love, sending Your Son (the Messiah) to provide the way for us to get to heaven. Lord Jesus, thank You for redeeming us by taking our punishment on the cross. Please be my personal Lord and Savior. I want to follow You! In Jesus' name, Amen.
1. Bruce, F. F. The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? Inter Varsity Press, © l943, 2000.
2. Free, Joseph P. Archaeology and Bible History, Scripture Press, © l969.
3. Geisler, Norman and Nix, William. A General Introduction to the Bible, Moody Press, © l968.
4. Geisler and Nix. From God to Us: How We Got Our Bible, Moody Press, © l974.
5. Glueck, Nelson. Rivers in the Desert, Jewish Pub. Society of America, © 1969.
6. Lockyer, Herbert. All the Messianic Prophecies of the Bible, Zondervan Pub. House, © l973.
7. McDowell, Josh. The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, Thomas Nelson Pub. © l972, '99.
8. Metzger, Bruce M. The Text of the New Testament, Oxford Univ. Press, © l992.
9. Stoner, Peter W. Science Speaks, Moody Press, © l963.
10. Walvoord, John F. Every Prophecy of the Bible, Cook Communications, © l990, '99.