Can we trust our modern Bible?
There are many ways God builds our faith so we can know and trust what he said. The preservation and accuracy of the bible is one of those ways. Here is a list of reasons why we can trust our current bible:
1) Quantity and quality of manuscripts. There are over 5,800 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament and over 10,000 Hebrew manuscripts of the Old Testament.¹ If we include other languages such as Coptic, Latin and Slavic etc. we have over 24,000 manuscripts of the New Testament alone. This is more than fourteen times as many manuscripts as any other ancient book, the second being the Iliad with about 1,800 manuscripts. As for quality, we have found copies, of the majority of the New Testament, dating around 100 years after the originals were written. Compared to other ancient books, this is significantly better. The other earliest copy of an original being Virgil’s work, which dates 300 years after the original. Due to the biodegradable nature of most writing materials, no original works have been found in the time period the Bible was written.²
2) The Accuracy of the Manuscripts. Within the 5,800 copies of the new there are about 400,000 differences between manuscripts, this includes word order, misspelled words, additions, and other such mistakes. This is an average of 71 differences per manuscript, but in all these differences, leading textual critic Daniel Wallace says none of them affects any key doctrine. On top of no main doctrine being in question, Daniel Wallace says, less than 1% of the 400,000 differences between manuscripts, have any impact on anything at all. Because the differences either don’t change the meaning of the sentence, or they are in such unreliable sources, that it can’t possibly be an original reading (either because they are very poor transcriptions or they are dated thousands of years after the original).³ There are so few sentences in the Bible with a possible alternate Greek reading, that most modern study bibles will add a footnote explaining any alternative Greek readings.
3) Geology, archeology and historical accounts. The Bible is full of large-scale events, names, locations and objects, which can easily be verified or discredited by looking at archaeology, history or geology. Some of the events that show up in geology include, the young age of creation, the global flood and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and sulfur.⁴ Some of the archeological finds mentioned in the Bible include: the Rosetta Stone, showing ancient Hebrew writing; the city of David; Hezekiah’s Tunnel;⁵ or a bronze inscription mentioning trade between Sheba and the towns of Judah, from around 600 B.C. In the biblical account, the Queen of Sheba traded with King Solomon around 950 B.C.⁶ Some of the biblical names that have been verified by historical accounts include: Artaxerxes (King of Persia), Ben-Hadad (King of Aram Damascus), Hezekiah (King of Judah), Nebuchadnezzar (King of Babylon), and Xerxes (King of Persia).⁷
4) It’s God’s will to preserve the Bible. God said “not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”⁸ One of the ways God does his will on earth is to choose and equip men with specific skills and abilities.⁹An example of this is when God wanted Moses to build the tabernacle. God chose Bezalel and said, “I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship…”¹⁰ In the same way, God has called and equipped scholars and scribes throughout history to copy his word and figure out what parts are original and what parts should not be included in the Bible. And like in the building of the tabernacle God has preserved and provided the needed material to accomplish his will.
5) The Bible says it is the word of God. There are many verses in the bible that declare they are the words of God.¹¹ Peter grouped Paul’s letters in with “the other scriptures”.¹² Peter also called his own message “the word of the Lord”.¹³ And Paul called his own message the “word of God”.¹⁴ Many of the old testament prophets quote the exact words God told them, so there really isn’t any question whether or not they are part of the Bible. Daniel affirmed that Jeremiah the prophet received the “word of the Lord”.¹⁵ And Isaiah quotes from Genesis calling it, “the book of the Lord”.¹⁶
6) Jesus accepted the Old Testament, and the New Testament was chosen in the same way. Jesus quoted from 24 of the 39 books in the Old Testament. And 34 of the 39 Old Testament books are referenced to in the New Testament¹⁷ The remaining 5 books of the Old Testament were included in the Septuagint, which was the complete Greek Old Testament, created around 300 B.C. Jesus’ and the Apostles’ quotes were often word for word from the Septuagint, so it’s likely they accepted it as the word of God.
Some of the ways the books of the New and Old Testament were chosen are:
1) It has to agree with all other scriptures.¹⁸
2) All prophecies must be accurate.¹⁹
3) The writer has to be a reliable witness or prophet.²⁰
4) It had to be approved of by the people of God, when it was written.²¹
5) God often did miracles to authenticate the writer.²²
6) If it's the word of God it must have power to change lives.²³
7) It testifies about Jesus.²⁴
7) The Old Testament prophecies prove they were the words of God. There are many prophecies about Jesus and future events, that God foretold long before they happened. Here are just a few. God told David, “I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood… and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever”.²⁵ In the New Testament it says Jesus came from one of David’s children and Jesus will “reign forever and ever.”²⁶ Isaiah prophesied that, “the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel”.²⁷ In Hebrew im means with, and el means God, so Immanuel means, with us is God. The New Testament says that Jesus was born by the virgin Mary, and that he is God.²⁸ Later in Isaiah 53, there is such a detailed Prophecy about Jesus’ life and death, that I will just summarize the main details. Isaiah talks about a man who will be “despised and rejected by men”, which came true when the synagogue rulers and other Jews crucified Jesus. It says this same man will be “pierced for our transgressions” and “by his stripes we are healed”, This speaks of Jesus being stabbed by a spear as he bore the punishment for our sins, and it speaks of the heavenly bodies, his flogging by the romans, will grant us. Isaiah also said, “he was cut off out of the land of the living… and they made his grave with the wicked”, but “when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” This speaks of Jesus death and resurrection, and how faith in him will make us children of God.
8) 40 authors wrote a perfectly unified message over 1500 years of history. The Bible was written by men who never met each other, and they spoke of things they didn’t fully understand or see fulfilled.²⁹ Yet when all their writings are compared, there are no contradictions. Instead, when we compare their writings, they help us understand the unified message of God.³⁰
9) Creation and nature. God said “his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”³¹ Whether we study through a microscope or a telescope, there is incredible proof of divine design, beauty, power, tenderness, wisdom, and knowledge, which are attributes of the God described in the Bible.
10) There are testable promises in the Bible. God said, “I am watching over my word to perform it.”³² So we can test and see if these are truly the words of God. Some of the easier promises to test are, “seek, and you will find”.³³ Or, “in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”³⁴ Or “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”³⁵
11) We can get to know the God of the Bible. We know Adom and Eve walked with God, but after they sinned God left, right? Actually by faith our relationship with God can be restored, which is why the Bible said, “Enoch walked with God”.³⁶ Jesus said “I am with you always”, but more than that he said, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.”³⁷ We can communicate with God, and as we draw near and obey him, God will draw near and communicate more intimately with us.³⁸
① New Testament Manuscripts / Old Testament Manuscripts ② FaithSearch Video ③ Textual Criticism Video ④ Timeline From Adom To Jesus / Genesis 7:19–21 / Genesis 19:24-25 ⑤ 2 Chronicles 32:2-3 / 2 Chronicles 32:30 / 2 Kings 20:20 ⑥ 1 Kings 10:1 / 1 Kings 10:10 / 1 Kings 10:13 ⑦ Historic Biblical Names ⑧ Matthew 5:18 ⑨ Hebrews 13:21 / 1 Corinthians 12:7 ⑩ Exodus 31:1-11 ⑪ Judges 6:8 / Exodus 11:4 / Mark 13:31 / 1 Thessalonians 2:13 / 2 Peter 1:15–21 / 1 Thessalonians 4:8 ⑫ 2 Peter 3:16 ⑬ 1 Peter 1:25 ⑭ 1 Thessalonians 2:13 ⑮ Daniel 9:2 ⑯ Isaiah 34:16 ⑰ Old Testament References ⑱ Hebrews 4:3 / 2 Timothy 3:16 / Numbers 23:19 ⑲ Deuteronomy 18:22 ⑳ 2 Timothy 2:2 / 2 Peter 1:20-21 ㉑ 1 Corinthians 14:33 / 1 Corinthians 4:17 ㉒ Romans 15:19 / Hebrews 2:4 / 1 Corinthians 2:4-5 ㉓ 2 Timothy 3:16-17 / Romans 12:2 / Hebrews 4:12 / Titus 1:1 ㉔ 2 Timothy 3:15 / Luke 24:27 ㉕ 2 Samuel 7:12–13 ㉖ Matthew 1:1 / Revelation 11:15 ㉗ Isaiah 7:14 ㉘ Luke 1:35 / John 1:1 & John 1:14 ㉙ 1 Peter 1:10-12 ㉚ Psalm 143:5 / Psalm 119:15 / 1 Timothy 4:15 / 2 Timothy 3:16-17 ㉛ Romans 1:20 ㉜ Jeremiah 1:12 ㉝ Matthew 7:7 ㉞ Philippians 4:6-7 ㉟ James 4:8 ㊱ Genesis 5:24 / James 2:23 ㊲ Matthew 28:20 / John 15:14-15 ㊳ 1 John 1:3 / James 4:8 / Hebrews 12:14
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