The Bible—Is It From God?
JEHOVAH, a God of unlimited power and authority, certainly has the right to communicate with his human creation in whatever way he wishes. If he chose to communicate through the written word, he would also have to preserve his message through the ages. Has this been the case with the Bible?
About 1,500 years before Christ, when the writing of the Bible got started, there were many other religious writings in existence. However, all of these fell into disuse and eventually just vanished. Some have been unearthed by archaeologists and are now artifacts on display in museums. On the other hand, the portions of the Bible that were written over three thousand years ago were never forgotten, and copies have survived right up to our day. This is remarkable, especially when considering the hostility generated against the Bible throughout history. No other book has been the target of so much vicious opposition and hatred. Reading or distributing the Bible has been punishable with fines, imprisonment, torture, and often death.
How could a mere book survive under such circumstances? The Bible itself tells us: “The saying of Jehovah endures forever.” (1 Peter 1:25) The endurance and indestructibility of the Bible help to identify it as the holy Word of God.
Additionally, we should logically expect that God’s message to mankind would be available worldwide. Is this the case with the Bible? Indeed it is! No other book in history has come even close to the Bible in this. The Bible’s circulation has been estimated to be at the 3,000,000,000 mark. Moreover, no other book has been translated into so many languages. The Bible can now be read, in its entirety or in part, in more than 1,900 different tongues. The American Bible Society reports that it is now accessible to 98 percent of the world’s population. The New Encyclopædia Britannica calls the Bible “probably the most influential collection of books in human history.” It is not presumptuous, then, to describe it as the greatest book on earth.
The internal harmony of the Bible from beginning to end is in itself powerful evidence that it was indeed inspired by God. Would it be realistic to expect that the writings of some 40 different individuals over a period of 1,600 years could all prove to be harmonious and with one basic theme? This would be impossible if left to chance or to mere human direction. Yet, this is the case with the 66 books that make up the Bible. Only a superhuman, long-lived intelligence could effect such a remarkable production.
Not Just History
The historical contents of the Bible are remarkable. But a message from God consisting exclusively of historical data would prove of limited value to us. We need guidance and practical wisdom, and such can also be found in the Bible. For example, the Bible encourages us to cultivate “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control”—subjects on which much is written throughout its pages. (Galatians 5:22, 23; Colossians 3:12-14) The Bible recommends industriousness, cleanliness, honesty, marital faithfulness, respect and love for fellowmen; and it contains a vast wealth of advice on human behavior within the family and the community.
When applied, the Bible’s counsel stands out as truly beneficial. It sets us free from ignorance and superstition. (John 8:32) Its practical wisdom is unrivaled. Indeed, it contains, without question, divine wisdom.
The claim that “the word of God is alive and exerts power” fully harmonizes with the way the Bible actually changes people. (Hebrews 4:12) Millions today have overcome harmful personality traits and changed their destructive former course for the better as a result of taking to heart the Bible’s standards.—Ephesians 4:22.
What happens when Bible standards are ignored? The result is unhappiness and misery, wars, poverty, sexually transmitted diseases, and broken homes. Such things are only to be expected because disregarding the Holy Bible means rejecting the guidance of God, who created man and knows his needs.
The Bible also predicts the future, something impossible for humans to do. The rise of world powers from Babylon down through the centuries to our own day was prophetically announced in the Bible. (Daniel, chapters 2, 7, 8) Additionally, almost two thousand years ago, there was included in the Bible an accurate description of world conditions in this 20th century. (Matthew, chapters 24, 25; Mark, chapter 13; Luke, chapter 21; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; 2 Peter 3:3, 4; Revelation 6:1-8) The long list of fulfilled Bible prophecies assures us that the prospects for a happy future as described in its pages are genuine.
All of this is overwhelming evidence that God really has communicated with humans. True, God transmitted his message by the hand of imperfect men. But this is no reason to believe that the Bible is any less authentic than would be a word-of-mouth message from God, or one delivered through angels, or one miraculously written in heaven and hand delivered to men on earth.
However, acknowledging the holy, or divine, origin of the Bible imposes on us a responsibility. Jehovah rightfully expects us to read his Word regularly. (Psalm 1:1, 2) Fruitful Bible reading requires a proper attitude. One must keep in mind that the Bible is not to be read as if it were just any piece of literature. One must approach it, “not as the word of men, but, just as it truthfully is, as the word of God.”—1 Thessalonians 2:13.
Some things in the Bible may be hard to understand. But through frequent reading, a person grows in understanding and acquires a more complete picture of the will of God and of his purposes. (Hebrews 5:14) Perhaps you are not yet fully convinced that the Bible is the holy Word of God. But, consistently, how can you express belief or disbelief in the Bible if you have not carefully studied it?
Notwithstanding today’s skepticism regarding its divine origin, a careful examination of the Holy Bible has caused many thinking individuals to exclaim in the words of the apostle Paul: “Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar”!—Romans 3:4.
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The Bible is now accessible to 98 percent of the world’s population
No other book in history has come close to the Bible’s estimated circulation of 3,000,000,000. The New Encyclopædia Britannica calls it “probably the most influential collection of books in human history”
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The Bible has survived, while other religious writings became mere museum artifacts
Above: Assyrian account of the Deluge
Right: Prayers to the Egyptian god Ra
Both: Courtesy of the Trustees of The British Museum
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Written by some 40 different individuals over a period of 1,600 years, the Bible follows one basic theme from beginning to end. Only a superhuman, long-lived intelligence could effect such a remarkable production
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Right: Caesar Augustus
Museo della Civiltà Romana, Roma
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Almost two thousand years ago, the Bible accurately foretold world conditions today. (Matthew 24, 25; Mark 13; Luke 21; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; 2 Peter 3:3, 4; Revelation 6:1-8) The unerring accuracy of Bible prophecy assures us that God’s promise of a paradise earth is certain to be fulfilled