Is the Bible Really from God?
1. Why is it reasonable to believe that God would give us information about himself?
HAS JEHOVAH GOD given us information about himself? Has he told us what he has done and what he yet purposes to do? A father who loves his children tells them many things. And from what we have seen, Jehovah is indeed a loving father.
2. (a) What is a fine way for Jehovah to tell us about himself? (b) What questions does this raise?
2 How could Jehovah give information to humans living in many parts of the earth and in different periods of time? A fine way would be for him to have a book written and then see to it that it was made available to all. Is the Bible such a Book from God? How can we know if it is?
NO OTHER BOOK LIKE THE BIBLE
3. What is one way in which the Bible is an outstanding book?
3 If the Bible really is from God, we should expect it to be the most outstanding book ever written. Is it? Yes, and for many reasons. First, it is very old; you would not expect God’s Word to all mankind to have been written a short time ago, would you? The writing of it began some 3,500 years ago in the Hebrew language. Then, over 2,200 years ago, it began to be translated into other languages. Today almost everybody on earth can read the Bible in his own language.
4. How does the number of Bibles produced compare with that of other books?
4 Also, no other book comes close to the Bible in the number of copies that have been made. A book may be called a “best-seller” when only thousands of copies are produced. Yet every year many millions of Bibles are printed. And over the centuries thousands of millions have been made! There is hardly a place on earth, regardless of how isolated it may be, where you cannot find a Bible. Is this not what you would expect of a book that really is from God?
5. What efforts have been made to destroy the Bible?
5 What makes this great distribution of the Bible even more outstanding is the fact that enemies have tried to destroy it. But should we not expect that a book from God would come under attack by agents of the Devil? This has happened. Bible burnings once were common, and those who were caught reading the Bible were often punished with death.
6. (a) What important questions does the Bible answer? (b) From where do Bible writers claim they received their information?
6 You would expect a book from God to discuss important matters that all of us should want to know. ‘Where did life come from?’ ‘Why are we here?’ ‘What will the future bring?’ are some of the questions it answers. And it plainly says that the information it contains is from Jehovah God. One Bible writer said: “The spirit of Jehovah it was that spoke by me, and his word was upon my tongue.” (2 Samuel 23:2) Another wrote: “All Scripture is inspired of God.” (2 Timothy 3:16) Since the Bible so definitely states that it is the Word of God, would it not be wise to examine it to see if it is?
HOW THE BIBLE WAS WRITTEN
7. (a) Who wrote the Bible? (b) How, then, can it be said that it is God’s Word?
7 ‘Yet how could the Bible be from God when it was written by men?’ you may ask. True, about 40 men shared in writing the Bible. These men did the actual writing of the Bible with the exception of the Ten Commandments, which were written personally by God on stone tablets by the direct action of his holy spirit. (Exodus 31:18) However, this does not make what they wrote any less the Word of God. The Bible explains: “Men spoke from God as they were borne along by holy spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21) Yes, just as God used his powerful holy spirit to create the heavens, the earth and all living things, he also used it to direct the writing of the Bible.
8, 9. What examples today can help us to understand how God had the Bible written?
8 This means that the Bible has only one author, Jehovah God. He used men to write the information down, much as a businessman uses a secretary to write a letter. The secretary writes the letter, but the letter contains the thoughts and ideas of the businessman. So it is his letter, not the secretary’s, even as the Bible is God’s Book, not the book of the men who were used to write it.
9 Since God created the mind, he surely did not find it hard to get in touch with the minds of his servants to provide them with the information to write. Even today a person can sit in his home and receive messages from a faraway place by means of a radio or a television set. The voices or pictures travel over long distances by the use of physical laws that God created. It is, therefore, easy to understand that Jehovah, from his place far away in the heavens, could direct men to write down the information that he wanted the human family to know.
10. (a) How many books make up the Bible, and over what period of time were they written? (b) What main theme runs throughout the Bible?
10 The result has been a marvelous Book. Actually, the Bible is made up of 66 little books. The Greek word biblia, from which the word “Bible” comes, means “little books.” These books, or letters, were written over a period of 1,600 years, from 1513 B.C.E. to 98 C.E. Yet, because of having just one Author, all these Bible books are in harmony with one another. The same theme runs throughout the whole, namely, that Jehovah God will bring back righteous conditions by his kingdom. The first book, Genesis, tells how a paradise home was lost because of rebellion against God, and the last book, Revelation, describes how the earth will be made a paradise again by God’s rule.—Genesis 3:19, 23; Revelation 12:10; 21:3, 4.
11. (a) What were the languages used to write the Bible? (b) Into what two main sections is the Bible divided, but what shows their unity?
11 The first 39 books of the Bible were written mainly in the Hebrew language, with very small parts in Aramaic. The last 27 books were written in Greek, the common language of the people when Jesus and his Christian followers walked the earth. These two main sections of the Bible are properly called the “Hebrew Scriptures” and the “Greek Scriptures.” Showing their agreement with each other, the Greek Scriptures quote from the Hebrew Scriptures more than 365 times, and make about 375 additional references to them.
MAKING THE BIBLE AVAILABLE TO ALL
12. Why did Jehovah have copies made of the Bible?
12 If only the original writings were available, how could everyone read God’s Word? They could not. So Jehovah arranged that copies of the original Hebrew writings be made. (Deuteronomy 17:18) The man Ezra, for example, is called “a skilled copyist in the law of Moses, which Jehovah the God of Israel had given.” (Ezra 7:6) Also, many thousands of copies of the Greek Scriptures were made.
13. (a) What was needed so that most people could read the Bible? (b) When was the first translation of the Bible made?
13 Do you read Hebrew or Greek? If not, you cannot read the early handwritten copies of the Bible, some of which are still in existence. Therefore, for you to read the Bible, someone had to put the words into a language you know. This translating from one language to another has made it possible for more persons to read God’s Word. For example, about 300 years before Jesus lived on earth, Greek became the language most people began to speak. So the Hebrew Scriptures were put into Greek, beginning in 280 B.C.E. This early translation was called the “Septuagint.”
14. (a) Why did some religious leaders fight to keep the Bible from being translated? (b) What shows that these lost the fight?
14 Later, Latin became the common language of many people, so the Bible was translated into Latin. But, as the centuries passed by, fewer and fewer people spoke Latin. Most people spoke other languages, such as Arabic, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German and English. For some time the Catholic religious leaders fought to keep the Bible from being put into the language of the common people. They even burned at the stake persons possessing the Bible. They did this because the Bible exposed their false teachings and bad practices. But, in time, these religious leaders lost the fight, and the Bible began to be put into many languages and distributed in large numbers. Today the Bible can be read, in its entirety or in part, in over 1,700 languages!
15. Why are newer Bible translations good to have?
15 As the years went by, many different translations of the Bible were produced in the same language. For example, in English alone there are dozens of Bible translations. Why? Would not just one be enough? Well, over the years a language will change a great deal. So if you were to compare older Bible translations with newer ones, you would note changes in the language. While they almost always give the same thought, you will notice that the translations printed in more recent years are generally easier to understand. So we can be thankful for new Bible translations, since they put God’s Word into the common, easy-to-understand language of the day.
HAS THE BIBLE BEEN CHANGED?
16. Why do some people believe that the Bible has been changed?
16 But you may ask: ‘How can we be sure that our Bibles today have the same information that the Bible writers received from God?’ With the copying and recopying of the Bible books over hundreds and even thousands of years, have not mistakes crept in? Yes, but these mistakes have been discovered and corrected in modern translations of the Bible. Today the information is the same as God provided to those who first wrote it down. What proof is there of this?
17. What evidence is there that the Bible has not been changed?
17 Well, between 1947 and 1955 what are known as the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. These old scrolls include copies of books of the Hebrew Scriptures. They date from 100 to 200 years before Jesus was born. One of the scrolls is a copy of the book of Isaiah. Before this was found the oldest copy of the book of Isaiah available in Hebrew was one that had been made nearly 1,000 years after Jesus was born. When these two copies of Isaiah were compared there were only very small differences in them, most of which were small variations in spelling! This means that in more than 1,000 years of copying there had been no real change!
18. (a) How have copyist mistakes been corrected? (b) What can be said about the accuracy of the Greek Scriptures?
18 There are more than 1,700 ancient copies of the various portions of the Hebrew Scriptures available. By carefully comparing these many very old copies, even the few mistakes copyists made can be found and corrected. Also, there are thousands of very old copies of the Greek Scriptures, some of which copies date back nearly to the time of Jesus and his apostles. Thus, as Sir Frederic Kenyon said: “The last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed.”—The Bible and Archaeology, pages 288, 289.
19. (a) What is an example of an attempt to add to the Bible? (b) Why does 1 John 5:7 as it appears in certain Bible versions not belong in the Bible?
19 This does not mean that there have not been attempts to change God’s Word. There have been. A notable example is 1 John 5:7. In the King James Version of 1611 it reads: “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” Yet these words do not appear in any of the very early copies of the Bible. They were added by someone who was trying to support the Trinity teaching. Since it is clear that these words are not really part of God’s Word, corrections have been made and the words do not appear in newer Bibles.
20. Why can we be sure that the Bible has been kept in a pure form?
20 So anyone who says that the Bible does not contain the same information as when it was originally written simply does not know the facts. Jehovah God has seen to it that his Word has been protected not only from mistakes copyists made but also from attempts of others to make additions to it. The Bible itself contains God’s promise that his Word would be kept in a pure form for us today.—Psalm 12:6, 7; Daniel 12:4; 1 Peter 1:24, 25; Revelation 22:18, 19.
IS THE BIBLE REALLY TRUE?
21. How did Jesus view God’s Word?
21 Jesus Christ said in prayer to God: “Your word is truth.” (John 17:17) But do the facts support this? When the Bible is carefully examined, do we find that it really is the truth? Students of history who have studied the Bible are often amazed at its accuracy. The Bible contains specific names and details that can be confirmed. Consider some examples.
22-25. What are a few examples that show that the Bible contains true history?
22 Look at the pictures and writing on this temple wall at Karnak, Egypt. They tell of the victory, almost 3,000 years ago, of Pharaoh Shishak over the kingdom of Judah during the rule of Solomon’s son Rehoboam. The Bible tells about the same event.—1 Kings 14:25, 26.
23 Look also at the Moabite Stone. The original can be seen in the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. The writing tells of the rebellion by King Mesha of Moab against Israel. This event is also reported in the Bible.—2 Kings 1:1; 3:4-27.
24 The Pool of Siloam and the entrance of a 1,749-foot-long (533-meter-long) water tunnel in Jerusalem are seen here at the far right. Many modern-day visitors to Jerusalem have waded through this tunnel. Its existence is further proof that the Bible is true. How so? Because the Bible explains that King Hezekiah had this tunnel built over 2,500 years ago to protect his water supply from an invading army.—2 Kings 20:20; 2 Chronicles 32:2-4, 30.
25 At the British Museum a visitor can see the Nabonidus Chronicle, a copy of which is seen to the right. It describes the fall of ancient Babylon, even as the Bible also does. (Daniel 5:30, 31) But the Bible says that Belshazzar was then king of Babylon. Yet the Nabonidus Chronicle does not even name Belshazzar. In fact, at one time all known ancient writings said that Nabonidus was Babylon’s last king. So some who said the Bible is not true claimed that Belshazzar never existed and that the Bible was wrong. But in recent years ancient writings have been found that identified Belshazzar as a son of Nabonidus and coruler with his father in Babylon at the time! Yes, the Bible really is true, as so many, many examples prove.
26. What evidence is there that the Bible is scientifically accurate?
26 Yet the Bible does not contain only true history. Everything it says is true. Even when it touches on matters of science, it is marvelously accurate. To give just two examples: In ancient times it was commonly believed that the earth had some visible support, that it rested on something, such as on a giant. Yet in perfect agreement with scientific evidence, the Bible reports that God is “hanging the earth upon nothing.” (Job 26:7) And rather than saying that the earth is flat, as many believed in the past, the Bible says that God “is dwelling above the circle of the earth.”—Isaiah 40:22.
27. (a) What is the strongest proof that the Bible is from God? (b) What things did the Hebrew Scriptures truthfully foretell about God’s Son?
27 But the greatest proof that the Bible really is from God is its perfect record in foretelling the future. No book by men accurately reports history before it happens; yet the Bible does. It is filled with accurate prophecies, yes, of history actually written in advance. Some of the most remarkable of these are regarding the coming to earth of God’s Son. The Hebrew Scriptures accurately foretold hundreds of years in advance that this Promised One would be born in Bethlehem, that he would be born of a virgin, that he would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver, that he would be counted in with sinners, that not a bone of his body would be broken, that lots would be cast for his garments, and many, many more details.—Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:3-9; Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:22, 23; Zechariah 11:12, 13; Matthew 27:3-5; Isaiah 53:12; Luke 22:37, 52; 23:32, 33; Psalm 34:20; John 19:36; Psalm 22:18; Matthew 27:35.
28. (a) Why can we be confident that even those Bible prophecies that have not yet been fulfilled will be? (b) Of what will a continued study of the Bible convince you?
28 As was said in the first chapter of this book, the Bible also foretells that this old system of things will soon end and a righteous new one will replace it. (Matthew 24:3-14; 2 Peter 3:7, 13) Can we rely on such yet-to-be-fulfilled prophecies? Well, if someone told you the truth a hundred times, would you suddenly doubt him when he told you something new? If you had never found him wrong, would you now begin to doubt him? How unreasonable that would be! Likewise, there is no reason for us to doubt anything that God promises in the Bible. His Word can be trusted! (Titus 1:2) By continuing to study the Bible, you, too, will become ever more convinced by the facts that the Bible truly is from God.
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God used men to write the Bible much as a businessman uses a secretary to write a letter
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Some religious leaders fought to keep the Bible from the common people, even burning at the stake those who possessed it
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Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah
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Temple wall at Karnak, Egypt
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Entrance to Hezekiah’s Tunnel and Pool of Siloam