If I am to prove that the Bible is the Word of God, I must first define what I mean by “the Bible,” “God” and “the Word of God.”
The Bible. I define “the Bible” as that compilation of sixty-six books that comprises the Protestant Bible, is included in the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Bibles, and includes all of the thirty-nine books held sacred by Jews.
God. I define “God” as the one true God of the Bible who eternally exists as three divine Persons in one Supreme Being. He is divine spirit, is everywhere present (omnipresent), knows all things past, present, and future (omniscient), and is all powerful (omnipotent). God has other attributes, but the ones I have noted include all of the attributes necessary for Him to have authored the Bible.
The Word of God. One of the biblical uses of “the Word of God” is in reference to the total content of the Bible itself. As such, “the Word of God” is the total message that God spoke to chosen men who, under His initiative, power and superintendence, wrote that message in the sixty-six books of the Bible infallibly (with unfailing accuracy) and inerrantly (without error).
Dr. Charles Ryrie said, "The Bible, . . . like any other witness, has the right to testify on its own behalf." (1) If the Bible declared that it was not the Word of God, then the matter would be settled out of hand. If it made no declaration at all, then its lack of testimony would lend no strength to any claim that it is the Word of God. But the Bible repeatedly and emphatically claims that it is the Word of God and contains in its narrative actual statements made by God. It even goes so far as to tell us how God conveyed the biblical narrative to us. These claims are repeated strongly and unwaveringly and need to be examined and reckoned with.
If you believe that the Bible has been authored by God, the scriptures that declare God’s authorship will serve as affirmation to you. If you do not (yet) believe that the Bible has been authored by God, you can be sure that I will not say to you, “Believe that the Bible is the Word of God because it says that it is, and the Word of God can be trusted.” To do so would be a begging of the question as the matter in question would be presented as a presupposition. If you are in the latter category, then accept these scriptures as the testimony of the defendant in your court of judgment. Then consider the evidence that will follow.
Before we examine extrabiblical evidence from various fields, please consider the Bible’s affirmation to believers and testimony to all:
Some examples are as follows:
a. Sections of the Old Testament
1) The Law of Moses
In Deuteronomy 1:6, Moses said, The LORD our God spoke to us at Horeb, saying, "You have stayed long enough at this mountain [Sinai].” The words spoken to Moses by God at Horeb, which were concluded by this declaration, constitute the Law of Moses, which comprises a major portion of the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Jesus referred to the Law of Moses as the commandment of God and the word of God (Matthew 15:3,6). He also quoted the Law of Moses three times when the devil tempted Him. In Matthew 4:4, He quoted Deuteronomy 8:3; in 4:7, He quoted Deuteronomy 6:16; and in 4:10, He quoted Deuteronomy 6:13.
2) The Entire Old Testament
Jesus held the entire Old Testament to be the Word of God. He spoke of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Berechiah [not the prophet Zechariah] (Matthew 23:35). Abel was killed in Genesis (4:8), the first book of the Old Testament, and Zechariah was killed in 2 Chronicles (24:20-22), the last book of the Old Testament according to the Jewish arrangement. Thus, by this declaration, Jesus declared the entire Old Testament to be the Word of God.
b. Sections of the New Testament
1) All of Paul’s Letters
In 2 Peter 3:15-16, Peter referred to all of Paul’s letters as Scripture:
15. just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16. as
also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand,
which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.
~ 2 Peter 3:15-16 ~
Paul wrote thirteen of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament. The apostle Peter called them Scripture.
2) The Book of Revelation
John declared the Book of Revelation to be the Word of God: The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must shortly take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John (Revelation 1:1).
2. The Bible Claims that It Is, in Its Entirety, the Word of God
In light of all the Old Testament scriptures quoted in the Book of Hebrews, and all the New Testament teachings alluded to in it (Hebrews 4:2, for example), it is clear that the phrase, the word of God in Hebrews 4:12 (For the word of God is living and active) refers to the entire Bible. Paul wrote to Timothy, All Scripture is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16). Peter referred to the Bible as the Word of the Lord :
23. You have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the
living and enduring word of God. 24. For, "All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers, and the flower falls off, 25. but the word of the Lord abides forever (Isaiah 40:6, 8)."
~ 1 Peter 1:23-25 ~
John recognized the entire Bible as the Word of God:
18. I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them,
God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book; 19. and if anyone takes away from
the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away from his part in the tree of life and from
the holy city, which are written in this book.
~ Revelation 22:18-19 ~
This book refers to the Book of Revelation, if not the entire Bible, and its dire warnings can only be predicated upon John’s belief that the Book of Revelation is the Word of God (He declared that it is prophecy); but inasmuch as the Book of Revelation alludes to hundreds of Old Testament prophecies and to the core teachings and prophecies of the New Testament, it is clear that John recognized the entire Bible to be the Word of God.
It stands to reason that, if the Bible is the Word of God, it would likely contain actual statements made by God. If all such statements were compiled, they would fill a large volume; but here are some examples:
1. From the Old Testament
In Genesis 1, the words God said appear eleven times and are followed by the words that the writer claims God said (Genesis 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14-15, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 29-30). Exodus 9:1 declares, Then the LORD said to Moses, "Go to Pharaoh and speak to him, 'Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, "Let My people go, that they may serve Me.'" In Joshua 1:1, The LORD spoke to Joshua . . . saying. . . . In 1 Chronicles 17:3, The word of God came to Nathan, saying . . . .
Exodus 24 refers to the Law of Moses as All the words which the LORD has spoken (vv. 3, 7) and all the words of the LORD (v. 4). In fact, God is said not only to have spoken the Ten Commandments (which appear in Exodus 20:2-17), but to have written them (Exodus 24:1, 32:16).
In numerous instances the prophets professed to record actual declarations made by God. Some examples: Thus says the LORD . . . (Isaiah 56:1); Thus says the LORD of hosts. . . . introduces a statement purported to be made by God forty-nine times in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 6:6, 9, et al); Then the word of the LORD came to me saying. . . (Ezekiel 12:1). Bible teacher Winkey Pratney writes, “‘The LORD spoke’ appears 560 times in the first five books of the Bible and at least 3800 times in the whole of the Old Testament!" (2)
2. From the New Testament
The New Testament contains numerous statements purported to have been made by God. For example, the four Gospels are filled with the words of Jesus, which He Himself recognized as divine: Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away (Matthew 24:35). In Acts 9:11 we read, the Lord said to him . . . . In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul testifies, And He has said to me . . . . In Revelation 1:8, John writes, as the oracle of God, “I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
We are told in 2 Timothy 3:16, All Scripture is inspired by God. The Greek phrase translated inspired by God is Theopneustos, which means “God-breathed” and emphasizes the exhalation of God. Inspiration, then, is really outspiration, the “outbreathing” of God. God “outbreathed” the Bible through human writers.
2 Peter 1:20-21 makes the concept and process of inspiration even clearer: 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.
Prophecy refers to the ability to receive direct revelation. God inspired some of His prophets to write down their revelation as Scripture. God also inspired some of His compilers of records and researchers to write down the results of their labors as Scripture (See Luke 1:1-4, for example). What Peter says about the prophecy of Scripture - that men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God - applies, as well, to the compiled records and research results of Scripture because God inspired the writing of them also.
But what does men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God mean? The Greek word for moved is the same word used in Acts 27:15 and 17 to refer to a ship being driven along the water by powerful winds. A prophet was one whom God moved upon in such a way that His Word was both heard and delivered by that prophet infallibly and inerrantly. We can therefore conclude that all who wrote the Scriptures - whether prophets, compilers or researchers - were driven along by the Holy Spirit of God as they wrote their revelations, compilations or research results. God “outbreathed” the powerful Word-bearing wind of His Spirit into the sails of His chosen vessels to drive them along in the writing of His Word.
So we see that the Bible not only declares that it is the Word of God, but explains how God delivered it to us.
Five more points need to be made about inspiration that serve the purpose of this study:
1. Inspiration applies only to the writing of Scripture, not the inerrant hearing of a word from God. The biblical term for inerrant hearing from God is revelation, though not all uses of revelation in the Scriptures have this meaning. Not all inspiration was preceded by revelation (Luke 1:1-4), but most inspiration was. An example of inspiration that was preceded by revelation is: Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel” (Exodus 34:27). So under the inspiration of God, Moses wrote the entire Law that God revealed to him - a major part of the Old Testament.
So, whether the human author compiled materials through strictly human means or whether he received revelation from God, God inspired him to write down what he compiled or received for the sake of producing an infallible and inerrant record.
2. Inspiration includes superintendence. God did not simply drive His writers to write: He superintended their writing so that they wrote exactly what He wanted them to write. He gave them free rein to write in their own styles and vocabularies, but His superintendence assured that they wrote exactly what He wanted them to write and not one concept or word more or less.
3. On certain occasions, biblical inspiration was accompanied by excited emotional or mental states; but inspiration is not, in itself, an emotional or mental state. It is solely the outbreathing of God upon His chosen writers to write exactly what He wanted them to write.
When we use the word inspiration colloquially, in every day speech - and I will be using it colloquially later in this study - we do refer to an elevated, excited, and even euphoric emotional state that often precedes or accompanies an insight into the natural world, an invention, the creation of a work of art, etc.; but it is important to remember that the Bible's use of the word is solely in reference to the writing of the sixty-six books of the Bible, that it carries in its meaning the sense of being superintended by God, and that the canon of Scripture is closed (Hebrews 1:1-2; Revelation 22:18-19). People may sense the presence of God as they paint, write music or preach the gospel, but their works or words must never be reckoned to be on a par with Scripture as an authoritative, supervised, infallible, inerrant word or work from God.
4. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, ALL Scripture is inspired by God. Inasmuch as God outbreathed all of the Scriptures, all of the Scriptures are inspired to the fullest degree. Therefore, all Scriptures are equally inspired: the despondent words of Solomon in Ecclesiastes as much as the words of Jesus in the Gospels. This does not mean that God wants us to be despondent, but that He moved and superintended Solomon to record his despondency infallibly and inerrantly.
5. Inasmuch as inspiration refers to the Lord’s direct work in and through the writers of the Scriptures, it is only the original writings that were inspired. Inspiration did not extend to copies of the original writings, nor does it extend to any translation or any other work. (Nevertheless, the Scriptures that we have today are accurate, as will be explained below.)
To sum up, the Bible’s testimony to its own divine origin is consistent, strong, unwavering and certain.
Some of the evidences that follow cannot stand on their own as proof of divine authorship, but add to the weight of evidence presented. Others, however, lend much weight to the claim that the Bible is the Word of God, while yet others are sufficient in themselves to stand as powerful proof that the Bible is the Word of God. We will now examine a representative number of them one at a time.
No other book was ever written as the Bible was written. It was written over a period of 1600 years in three different languages (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek) by about forty different men employed in at least eleven different occupations (kings, priests, prophets, soldiers, statesmen, shepherds, fishermen, a tax collector, a tent maker, a doctor, a farmer) and in at least six different countries (Israel, Babylon, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Arabia) spanning three continents (Asia, Africa and Europe). There are many compilations of books in the world, but the Bible is no mere compilation. It is a fully integrated unit of sixty-six books combining to form one Book. Consider the likelihood of the production of such a book over a period of 1600 years. One might think that only God could superintend such a project.
2. The Bible Is Unique in Its Subject Matter
The Bible is unique in much of its subject matter, particularly in its declarations concerning the fundamental issues of existence and life.
a. The Bible Alone Declares How the Universe Came to Be
According to Dr. Henry Morris, “There are only three creationist ‘religions’ in the world - Christianity, Islam and Judaism - and all three base their belief in creation on the record of Genesis [1:1-2:25]. Without exception,” writes Dr. Morris, “all the other religions and philosophies of the world have based their beliefs concerning origins on some form of evolutionism. That is, they all begin with the universe (space, time, matter) already in existence . . . . Only Genesis even attempts to tell us how the universe itself came to be." (3)
b. The Bible Alone Declares the Existence of Only One God
During the entire span of time in which the Bible was written, and throughout the lands in which it was written, the nations surrounding Israel worshiped pantheons of gods. Yet, the Bible declares the existence of but one God.
1) In the Old Testament:
Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one (Deuteronomy 6:4).
2) In the New Testament:
We know . . . that there is no God but one (1 Corinthians 8:4).
c. The Bible Alone Declares a Loving God
Paul declared that the so-called gods of the Gentile pantheons were actually demons: The things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God (1 Corinthians 10:20).
In contrast to the pagan gods, some of whom required child sacrifice of their worshipers, the Bible does not portray God as a monster given over to lusts and jealousies and treacheries, but as One who sacrificed His own Son, not only for His worshipers, but for the whole world.
1) In the Old Testament:
4. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him
stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. 5. But he was pierced through for our transgressions, He was
crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we
are healed. 6. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the
LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall upon Him.
~ Isaiah 53:4-6 ~
2) In the New Testament:
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).
d. The Bible Alone Identifies Sin as a Condition of the Human Spirit
Some religions identify evil in the deeds of men, but only the Bible identifies evil as an inherent (though not original) condition of the human spirit. Paul wrote,
9. Are we [Jews] better than they [the Gentiles]? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; 10. as it is written, "there is none righteous, not even one.” (Romans 3:9-10)
For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. (Matthew 15:19)
e. The Bible Alone Declares that Deliverance from Sin Is a Work of God
Whereas some other religions and holy books prescribe certain disciplines for the overcoming of evil, only the Bible declares that deliverance from the power of sin is a work of God.
1) In the Old Testament
And [a seraph sent from the Lord] touched my mouth with [a burning coal] and said, "Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is forgiven.” (Isaiah 6:7)
2) In the New Testament
He [the Father] saved us . . . by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior. (Titus 3:5-6) (Notice how all three Persons of the Godhead are active in the work of salvation.)
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20)
f. The Bible Alone Declares that One’s Favor with God Is Predicated on Faith in God, Not on Good or Penitential Deeds
I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to
the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith;
as it is written [in Habakkuk 2:4], "But the righteous man shall live by faith.”
~ Romans 1:16-17 ~
8. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9. not as a result of works, that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
In the midst of a pagan world with its wicked gods who required human sacrifice, what or who caused a book to be written that offers a reconciled, loving relationship with the one God on the basis of the sacrifice of His own Son? It is reasonable to believe that if there were such a loving, sacrificial God, He would let us know by means of a permanent written record how we might avail ourselves of the means that He provided for our salvation.
Scriptures chosen by the author are in the New American Standard version unless otherwise noted. Scriptures in quotes by others may be in different translations. Names, titles and other terms within quoted scriptures and elsewhere may have been changed from the English to the Hebrew form for the sake of cultural sensitivity.
1. Ryrie, Dr. Charles C., Basic Theology, Victor Books, Wheaton, Illinois, 1986, p. 67.
2. Pratney, Winkey, "The Holy Bible - Wholly True," Pretty Good Printing, Last Days Ministries, Lindale, TX., 1985.
3. Morris, Dr. Henry M., The Defender’s Study Bible, World Publishing, Inc., Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1995, p. 1498.