How the Bible Came to Us.
1. The Bible is the written Word of God. God inspired the words in the Bible and used approximately 40 different men to write down His words over a period of about 1500 years.
a. Some of the writers wrote down exactly what God said. Jer.36:2
b. Other writers wrote what they experienced or what God showed them. Rev.1:19
2. The Purpose of the Bible is to reveal God to man. There are three ways that God reveals himself to man.
a. Through Creation. Rom.1:20
b. Through Conscience: There is a hunger in man to worship something. Rom.2:14-16
c. Through the word of God. The purpose of the Bible is to help you live right and equip you to walk with God and work for God. 2Tim.3:16-17
3. The Bible is divided into two major sections called the Old Testament and the New Testament. Testament means agreement or covenant.
a. The subject of both testaments is restoring man to a right relationship with God.
b. God made a law that sin can only be forgiven through the shedding of blood. Under the Old Testament animal sacrifices were used to satisfy this law as a symbol of Jesus Christ who came in the New Testament to satisfy this law by his death and resurrection. Heb.9:22, 11-15;
c. Both testaments are the Word of God and must be studied in order to understand God's message. The terms "old" and "new" testaments are used to distinguish between God's agreement with man before and after the death of Jesus Christ. We do not disregard the Old Testament simply because it is called "old.
4. The Bible is further divided into 66 books. The Old Testament has 39 books. The New Testament contains 27 books. Each book is divided into chapters and verses. Although the content of each book is the Word of God, the division into chapters and verses was made by man to make it easy to locate specific passages. It would be very difficult to find a passage if the books were all one long paragraph.
5. The Bible is united in content and theme.
a. By unity of content, we mean the Bible does not contradict itself theologically, morally, ethically, doctrinally, scientifically, historically, or in any other way.
b. By unity of theme, we mean the bible is united by a major theme and a central character; Jesus Christ. Eph.1:9-11; Lk.24:44-45, 46-48;
c. The Old and New Testaments both tell the story of Jesus. The Old Testament prepares us for its happening and the New Testament tells how it happened. This unites the Bible in one major theme.
6. Scholars have also spoken about the diversity of the Bible. By that we mean the Bible has variety;
a. It records different ways in which God dealt with people and the different ways in which they responded to Him.
b. The Bible is written in different moods. Some portions express joy while others reflect sorrow
c. The Bible includes different types of writing. It contains history, poetry, prophecy, letters, adventure, parables, miracles, and love stories
7. The Old Testament was written over a period of 1000 years in the Hebrew language by various authors except for certain verses in Ezra, Jeremiah, and Daniel which was written in Aramaic; the market dialect of the Hebrew spoken in exile that gradually replaced the original Hebrew language. The Old Testament is further divided into 5 sections. Law, History, Poetry, Major Prophets, and Minor Prophets.
a. The Law also known as the Pentateuch or the Torah is made up of 5 books all written by Moses at about 1400 BC.
b. The Historical Books: There are 12 books in this category which focus more on the history of Israel as follows:
i. Joshua, - Joshua 1350-1375 BC
ii. Judges, - Samuel 1000 BC
iii. Ruth, - Samuel 1000 BC
iv. 1 & 2 Samuel, - Samuel, Gad and Nathan 1000 - 900 BC
v. 1 & 2 Kings, - Jeremiah, 645-570 BC
vi. 1 & 2 Chronicles, - Ezra 450 BC
vii. Ezra, - Ezra 450 BC
viii. Nehemiah - Nehemiah 450 - 430 BC
ix. Esther - Mordecai - 470 BC
c. The Poetic books: These are books written in verse like poetry. There are 5 books as follows:
i. Job, - Moses 1400 BC
ii. Psalms, - David and others 1000 - 450 BC
iii. Proverbs, - Solomon 900 BC
iv. Ecclesiastes, - Solomon 900 BC
v. Song of Solomon - Solomon 900 BC
d. The Major Prophets: There are 5 prophetic books written by major prophets as follows:
i. Isaiah, - Isaiah 700 BC
ii. Jeremiah, - Jeremiah 600 BC
iii. Lamentation, - Jeremiah 600 BC
iv. Ezekiel - Ezekiel 560 BC
v. Daniel - Daniel 530 BC
e. The Minor Prophets: There are 12 books written by minor prophets as follows:
i. Hosea, - Hosea 755 BC
ii. Joel, - Joel 835 BC
iii. Amos, - Amos 750 BC
iv. Obadiah, - Obadiah 840 BC
v. Jonah, - Jonah 750 BC
vi. Micah, - Micah 700 BC
vii. Nahum, - Nahum 650 BC
viii. Habakkuk, - Habakkuk 600 BC
ix. Zephaniah, - Zephaniah 625 BC
x. Haggai, - Haggai 520 BC
xi. Zechariah, - Zechariah 518 BC
xii. Malachi - Malachi 430 BC
8. The silent Years; Between the last book of the Old Testament (Malachi) and the period of the first book (Matthew) of the New Testament were 400 years in which no prophet arose in Israel and there was no prophetic word. Considering that Israel has always had a prophet during any time period whether in exile or not, this period was referred to as the silent years. Some theologians believe that God's silence during this period was to make the coming of the messiah more remarkable.
9. The Old Testament Apocrypha. During the silent years, certain books emerged which the Catholic Church about 1600 years later (they were first added about AD 300 but finally accepted by the Catholic Church in AD 1546 ) claimed should be treated as scripture and added it into their version of the Old Testament. They are not accepted as scriptures by Protestants and Jews. These books are collectively referred to as the Old Testament Apocrypha. They include
i. the books of Wisdom, 1 & 2
vi. 1 & 2 Esdras,
viii. Bel and the Dragon (additions to Daniel),
ix. Epistle of Jeremiah,
x. Prayer of Azariah (addition to Daniel),
xi. the prayer of Manasseh (additions to 2 Chronicles),
xii. book of Susanna,
xiii. additions to the book of Esther
Why we reject the Old Testament Apocrypha as part of the Holy Scriptures
i. It was not accepted in the original canon of the Old Testament compiled by the Jews. Canon means the rule by which certain books are accepted as divinely inspired. Ancient Jewish rabbis, writers, and prophets did not recognize the Apocrypha as scripture
ii. Most were written in Greek, not in Hebrew (the language in which all other Old Testament books were written) and most were written during the silent years when direct revelations from God had stopped until the time of Christ.
iii. The last Old Testament prophet Malachi, prophesied that the next messenger to the Jews will be the forerunner of Christ. Mal.3:1; Matt.11:7-10
iv. Neither Jesus nor His apostles quoted from any of these books in all their ministry or writings. Jesus and His apostles quoted extensively from the ordinary Jewish canon which is the same as the Protestant Old Testament that we use today but not from any of the Apocrypha books.
v. The authors did not claim direct divine revelation or authority in their writings. Most of the books were historical, motivational, and inspirational books as well as unconfirmed accounts of divine encounters and testimonies of established prophets.
Father in the name of Jesus. Help me and every member of this Church to make your word a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path in the name of Jesus. Ps.119:105