How to study the Bible - God's Word
Lesson One - God's Word
PART ONE: Inspiration
translated "inspired" in the King James Version of the Scriptures is the
Greek word "theopneustos" - a combination of the word "theos" meaning "God"
( where we get our word "theology") and the word for wind, air or breath
(from which we get the English word "pneumatic" "pneumonia" etc.).
The Greek word in II Tim. 3:16 literally means "God-breathed". This
"inspiration" is much different than the inspiration an artist may receive
to paint a great painting or the inspiration an author may feel to write
As Jesus Christ is both HUMAN and DIVINE so the Bible is also. It has both a HUMAN and DIVINE element. Some sections of the Bible are so "human" that it makes you wonder if the Bible really is inspired. Then there are the sections that are so obviously inspired it thrills you. The Bible is a miracle book
There are two main words used by theologians to define inspiration. Don't let these words scare you. They are the words "verbal" and "plenary" and are used this way: "We believe in the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Scriptures." Now, let me define them for you.
means every word in the original languages is inspired by God. Why
would we believe such a thing? There are several reasons:
The Biblical argument: "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, til all be fulfilled." (Matt. 5:18 KJV)
Jesus being quoted here in Matthew says that the smallest part of the Hebrew alphabet will not be destroyed or left out of the Scriptures (the "jot" and the "tittle"). And here, as in other places, Jesus referred to the Scriptures as "God's word".
The logical argument: In many places in the Scripture, the meaning of the verse or passage depends completely on a single word. The very words are important. Compare Galations 3:16 where Paul's argument rests upon the fact that the word in question was singular and not plural in the original writings.
Gal 3:16 (KJV) Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
"Plenary" means THE WHOLE BIBLE is inspired. The inspiration extends to concepts, numbers, names, and everything that makes up the Scriptures in the original writings.
TWO: Transmission - How the Bible has come down to us through time.
The story of the Bible coming down through the centuries is a story of Divine protection. The number of hand-copied manuscripts of the New Testament is overwhelmingly greater than the copies of any other ancient book. The ancient literary works of Greece and Rome are represented by as few as one surviving manuscript to as many as several hundred. Of the New Testament however there are more than 4800 manuscripts in Greek, 8000 in Latin, and over 1000 in other languages. So many manuscipts assures the reliablity of the text. Comparisons can be made from one century to another as well as between languages and thus the text can be shown to be accurate.
The finding of the Dead Sea scrolls only confirmed what the Scripture has told us and what Jesus had said about the Bible. The accuracy of the Bible as we have it, even the Old Testament, is proof of the Divine inspiration of this Book.
THREE: Canonicity - the Standard
of the Old Testament
Christian scholar R. Laird Hams writes, "what was prophetic was regarded as the Word of God. What was not prophetic was not regarded as the Word of God. The canon grew as the prophets succeeded one another in their ministry; it was finished, as Josephus says, when the Holy Spirit ceased speaking through the prophets in Israel. Moses, the great precursor of the prophetic line, specified tests to be applied in determining the reality of prophecy... when all these tests were applied and the prophet was acknowledged to be true, his words and writings were received by the faithful as from God."
of the New Testament
Another Christian scholar, Pache, writes, 'The fact is that, right from the start, the writings incontestably apostolic were considered as being themselves the Scriptures, and then were added to the already existing sacred books (of the Old Testament) .... The church was providentially kept from accepting any illegitimate books throughout the whole two and a half centuries while the canon was coming into being. They examined freely and unhurriedly the books presented to them. At times, certain ones hesitated for a while before coming to complete agreement, but never did the believers as a whole make a definite choice which they later had to repent of.... One can therefore see an astonishing fact emerge: the church definitely and firmly accepted as divine some books unfavorable to its own inclinations, and everywhere it rejected as merely human others which would favor its inclinations the most.
What about the Apocrypha, those "extra" books in Catholic Bibles? (1) All were written after prophecy was recognized to have departed from Israel, that is, after Malachi (2) Not once are they quoted by Christ or the other NT writers. (3) Jesus did not receive them as God's word. (4) With the exception of Augustine, no leader of the early church accepted them. (5) There is no 'thus saith the Lord' in any or them. (6) Even the Roman Catholic church did not accept them as God's word until after Martin Luther in the 1500's, and they did so more or less as a reaction to the new Protestant movement which was 'protesting',"Only the Bible! Only the Bible!" The Catholic church had some doctrines that could not be proven without using these extra books. (7) They are interesting, informative, and even inspirational, but they are not 'God-breathed.'
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