FORTY THINGS WE ALL NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE BIBLE
1. The word “Bible” is from the Greek word “byblos/biblos” and means “book.” Because of its divinely inspired contents the Bible is rightfully known as “the Book.”
2. The Bible is a divine library of sixty-six books.
3. The Bible consists of two divisions—the Old Testament (consisting of 39 books) and the New Testament (consisting of 27 books).
4. The books of the Bible were written over a period of some 1600 years, from Moses (c. 1500 B.C.) to the apostle John (100 A.D.).
5. In all, some forty writers were engaged in the writing of the Bible, with eight of these (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, James, and Jude) being responsible for the writing of the New Testament. The apostle Paul wrote at least thirteen of the New Testament books.
6. The Bible covers three major epochs (large time frames, sometimes referred to as dispensations) of God’s dealings with mankind: a) The Patriarchal Age in which the fathers (patriarchs) of families ruled (from Adam to Moses); b) The Jewish Age in which the Law of Moses governed the Hebrew/Israelite/Jewish people (from Moses to the death of Christ); c) The Christian Age in which the New Testament sets forth the will of God for all mankind (from the day of Pentecost [Acts 2] until the end of the world). Thus, the Christian Age is spoken of as “these last days” (see Hebrews 1:1-2).
7. The Bible also covers fifteen periods (smaller time frames) of God’s dealings with mankind: from the Ante-Diluvian (Pre-Flood) period (from the creation to the world-wide flood) all the way to the Early Church period (from the establishment of the church in Acts 2 to the close of the New Testament).
8. In reading the Bible, it is important to know in which of the above epochs (dispensations) and time periods one is reading.
9. The Old Testament consists of four major sections: a) Law (5 books: Genesis-Deuteronomy); b) History (12 books: Joshua-Esther); c) Wisdom Literature/Poetry (5 books: Job-Song of Solomon); Prophecy (17 books: Isaiah-Malachi).
10. The New Testament consists of four major sections: a) Gospels/Life of Christ (4 books: Matthew-John); b) History of the Early Church (1 book: Acts of the Apostles); c) Letters to Christians (21 books: Romans-Jude); d) Prophecy/The Ultimate Victory of God’s People (1 book: Revelation).
11. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew (with some small portions being written in Aramaic, a dialect related to Hebrew). The New Testament was written in Greek.
12. From its original languages, the Bible has been translated into 2546 languages and dialects (as of 2009). (See Once Delivered Forever Established: The Certainty of the Holy Scripture, Dr. Doug Burleson, p. 83, a book I highly recommend for all who have an interest in learning more about the authenticity and reliability of the Bible.)
13. Some of the better known English versions of the Bible are the King James (1611), the American Standard (1901), the Revised Standard (1946, N. T.; 1951, entire Bible), the New International (1973, N. T.; 1978, entire Bible), the New King James (1972, N. T.; 1982, entire Bible), the New American Standard (1963, N. T.; 1971, entire Bible), the New Revised Standard (1989), and the English Standard (2001). The Douay-Rheims Version (1508, 1609, 1610) was long held as the standard English version for members of the Roman Catholic Church, but Catholic editions of some of the above English versions are used by many Catholics.
14. The books of the Bible were divided into chapters by Archbishop Stephen Langton, an English scholar, though Cardinal Hugo also has been given credit for doing this, both in the 13th century.
15. The chapters of the Bible books were divided into verses by a French printer by the name of Robert Estienne (Latin name, Stephanus) in 1551 for the New Testament and 1555 for the Old Testament. (Note: Chapter and verse divisions facilitate the location of particular passages, e.g., “John 3:16,” rather than, “The Bible says in John that God so loved the world . . .”
16. Year after year, the Bible remains the world’s best-seller. 100 million Bibles are printed every year and 20 million of these are sold in the United States.
17. The Bible is comprised of “all Scripture . . . given by inspiration of God” (II Timothy 3:16-17).
18. Though men were the human instruments used by God for writing the Bible, the Scriptures exist because “holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirt” (II Peter 1:21).
19. The writers of the Bible were conscious of the fact that they were writing the word of God (Exodus 17:14; II Samuel 23:2; Jeremiah 30:2; I Corinthians 2:13; I Corinthians 14:37; I Thessalonians 2:13; II Peter 3:15-16; et al.)
20. There are literally thousands of manuscripts and ancient versions that verify the accuracy of the Bible (more than 5300 Greek manuscripts for the New Testament alone), so that “The Christian can take the whole Bible in his hand and say without fear or hesitation that he holds in it the true word of God, handed down without essential loss from generation to generation throughout the centuries” (Sir Frederic Kenyon [1863-1952], British biblical and classical scholar, as cited by Dr. Neil Lightfoot, How We Got the Bible, Abilene, TX: ACU Press, 1986, p. 126).
21. Being the word of God, and because it is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18), the Bible is absolute truth (John 17:17).
22. Jesus relied on Scripture to resist Satan’s temptations (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13).
23. Jesus read and quoted the Old Testament Scriptures and recognized them in their entirety as being the authoritative word of God (Matthew 5:17; John 10:35; Matthew 19:1-9; Matthew 23:34-35 [the equivalent of saying “from Genesis to Malachi”]; Luke 4:16-21; Luke 24:44-47).
24. During His personal ministry Christ referred to and gave credence to the creation of man in the image of God (Matthew 19:4-6), the flood (Matthew 24:38-39), the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah (Luke 10:12; 17:28-29), the story of Jonah and the great fish (Matthew 12:39-41), the writings of Moses (John 5:46), the writings of Isaiah (Mark 7:6-8), the writings of Daniel (Matthew 24:15), and other Old Testament prophets and events. He did not view them as folklore, fairytales, myths, or legends.
25. Being comprised of “all Scripture . . . given by inspiration of God,” the Bible “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” (II Timothy 3:16-17).
26. In the Bible God has given us “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (II Peter 1:13).
27. The Bible sets forth the “one faith” (Ephesians 4:5), “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). There is no authentic revelation from God outside of the Bible.
28. The Bible sets forth commands to be obeyed (I Corinthians 14:37; John 14:15; I John 5:3), examples to be followed (I Peter 2:21; I Timothy 4:12; II Timothy 1:13), warnings to be heeded (Acts 20:31; Colossians 1:28), and promises to be enjoyed (II Peter 1:2-4).
29. The Bible is not to be tampered with by addition, subtraction, substitution, or modification (Deuteronomy 4:2; Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18-19; Galatians 1:6-9; Psalm 119:89).
30. As the word of God, the Bible is “a lamp to [our] feet and a light to [our] path” (Psalm 119:105).
31. We should love the Bible, read and study it, memorize great portions of it, laying it up in our hearts so that we will not sin against God (Psalm 119:97, 11).
32. The word of God is the sword of the Spirit with which we are able to conquer all moral and spiritual foes (Ephesians 6:17).
33. God’s word (the Bible) is “living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword . . . and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
34. The Bible is like a mirror into which one may look to see what changes he/she needs to make in order to be right with God (James 1:18).
35. God’s word is “like a fire” and “like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces” (Jeremiah 23:29).
36. The word of God “is able to build [us] up” spiritually (Acts 20:32).
37. It is through the word of truth (the Scriptures/Bible) that one is “brought forth” (born again) to be “a kind of firstfruits of His (God’s) creatures” (James 1:18; cf. I Peter 1:22-23; John 3:1-5).
38. The Scriptures are to be studied and searched diligently to see if the things that are taught and believed religiously are so (Acts 17:11; cf. I Thessalonians 5:21; I John 4:1).
39. The word of God is indestructible (Matthew 24:35) and will be the standard by which all will be finally judged—not our opinions or what we have always felt, thought, believed, or been taught (John 12:48; Romans 2:16).
40. In summary, the Bible is not a self-help book designed to make its readers healthy, wealthy, happy, or successful (though within its overarching purpose there are broad principles that contribute to these matters). It is not a book of “codes” and “prophecies” as to when the second coming of Christ will occur and the world will end. Neither is the Bible a disjointed book of disconnected and unrelated documents. Rather, it is a book that gradually and systematically, from beginning to end, sets forth God’s grand scheme of human redemption from the time of its conception in the mind of God before the foundation of the world (Titus 1:1-3; II Timothy 1:8-11; Romans 16:25-27), through its being made known by Christ, the gospel, the church, and the New Testament (Ephesians 3:1-12; I Corinthians 2:1-13), to its ultimate fruition of the redeemed in heaven—“receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls” (I Peter 1:9).
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