THE BOOK CALLED THE "BIBLE”
MILLIONS of people accept the Bible as the basis of their faith. For thousands of years, it touched the lives of many. No other religious books can equal the influence of the Bible regarding religion, literature, and civilization.
Let us first have an introduction to this book called the Bible.
What is this Book called the Bible?
The following describe what the Bible is:
- The Bible is a collection of sixty-six (66) books.
- Generally, the Bible is divided into two: the Old Testament and the New Testament.
- Others simply define the Old Testament as the collection of the biblical books written before the time of Christ or before the Christian era, and the New Testament as the collection of the biblical books written after the ascension of Christ or during the first century of the Christian era.
- The Old Testament is composed of 39 books.
- The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew, and a few parts were written in Aramaic.
- The New Testament is composed of 27 books.
- The New Testament was originally written in Greek (Koine Greek or “Common Greek”).
- These biblical books were written in different places and in different times by about forty men.
- The biblical books were written for a period of 1,500 years. The first five books (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) were written about 1447-1407 BC. While the last book of the Bible (the book of Revelation) was written about 90-100 AD.
- The biblical books are divided into chapters and verses.
- In addition, the biblical books were written in different literary form (e.g. historical narrative, biography, poetry, etc).
- The Bible was also translated into different languages and dialects (translated into about 2,200 languages and dialects). This is the reason why we have the English Bible and the Pilipino Bible.
- The Bible is also a book of:
- However, the Bible is also not an open book, but a mystery hidden in ages.
The Bible: A Book of History
The Bible is a book of history. The Old Testament contains the history from Creation to the return of Israel from captivity. The New Testament tells the story of the Savior and Founder of the Church, Jesus of Nazareth, and the history of the Church of Christ during the apostolic period (the first century A.D.).
The Old Testament history may be divided into ten periods:
- In the Beginning. The period from Creation to the Confusion of Tongues. It also includes the story of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Seth and his descendants, Noah and the Great Flood, and the Confusion of Tongues.
- The Patriarchs of Israel. The second period begins with Abraham and ended with Jacob and his household descent into Egypt. It also includes the story of Isaac, Esau ad Jacob, the twelve sons of Jacob, and the story of Joseph.
- The Sojourn in Egypt and the Exodus. This period also includes the forty years wandering of Israel in the wilderness.
- The Conquest of Canaan. The Bible tells the story of how Israel conquered Canaan through the leadership of Joshua, the successor of Moses.
- The period of the Judges. The Bible tells the history of Israel before the establishment of the monarchy, where the nation was led by those called the Judges.
- The United Monarchy. The Bible tells the story of the reign of Saul, David and Solomon.
- The Divided Kingdom. The Bible tells how the kingdom was divided into two: the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Israel. The period started with the reign of Rehoboam and ended with the Fall of Samaria in 722 B.C.
- The Survival of the Kingdom of Judah. This was the period after the Fall of Samaria where only the southern kingdom remained, the kingdom of Judah. The period ends with the Fall of Jerusalem in 587 B.C.
- The Babylonian Captivity. The Bible tells the story of the history of the Jews during the Babylonian captivity. It includes the story of Ezekiel, Daniel, the three Hebrews and Esther.
- The Return to Jerusalem. The Bible tells the story of the return of the Jews in Jerusalem, the rebuilding of the temple and the walls of Jerusalem.
The New Testament history may be divided into two periods:
- The ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible tells the story of the life of our Lord Jesus Christ from His birth to His ascension in heaven.
- The First Century Church of Christ. The Bible tells the history of the Church established by Christ in the first century.
Thus, the Bible tells the story of God’s Standing policy of Election – how God from the very beginning elect people to serve Him and be His chosen people (from Seth and his children, Noah and his children, Abraham and his children, the Nation of Israel, and the Lord Jesus Christ and His Church).
The Bible: A Book of Religion
The Bible is a religious book. It teaches who the true God is, the true worship of God, and God’s commandments. It is an inspired book and gives wisdom that will lead to salvation and useful for teaching the truth. This what Apostle Paul said in II Timothy 3:15-17:
“And you remember that ever since you were a child, you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the truth, rebuking error, correcting faults, and giving instruction for right living, so that the person who serves God may be fully qualified and equipped to do every kind of good deed.” (II Timothy 3:15-17, TEV)
Indeed, the Bible is where the words of God are written. Right understanding of this book brings about spiritual nourishment and enlightenment as underscored by Apostle Paul.
Unlike other books on religion, the Holy Scriptures or the Bible is inspired by God. It contains not only moral principles but also the right doctrines that will guide one toward becoming a complete man of God. The Bible is the only book that will lead man back to his Creator, and will bring men to salvation. For this reason alone, it can be said that it is the “book of books.”
The Holy Scripture or the Bible must be the only basis of our services to God. These what the Bible pronounce:
“Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.” (I Sam. 12:24, NKJV)
We must serve God in truth with all our heart. The truth referred to is the word of God that sanctifies (John 17:17, NKJV), the word of God is written in the Scripture that was inspired by God (cf. II Tim. 3:15-16). Apostle John attests that those who know God keep His commandments:
“Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.” (I John 2:3, NKJV)
Apostle John also attests that those who truly love God also keep His commandments:
“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” (I John 5:3, NKJV)
The beloved Apostle also attests that those who say that they know God, but does not keep His commandments are liars and the truth is not in them:
“He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (I John 2:4, NJKV)
Apostle Paul strictly prohibits us not to go beyond what is written:
“Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other.” (I Corinthians 4:6, NKJV)
Thus, the Bible must be the only foundation of our faith.
The Bible: A Book of Prophecy
The Bible is a book of prophecy. Revelation 22:18-19 clearly attests that this book is a book of prophecy:
“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” (Revelation 22:18-19, NIV)
Also in Revelation 1:3, the Bible further pronounces that this book is a book of prophecy:
“Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” (Revelation 1:3, NIV)
Why the Bible is said to be a book of prophecy?
“Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.” (Revelation 1:19, NKJV)
There are those written in the Bible about the things which will take place. The Bible is full of prophecies of the things to come. The fulfillment of these prophesied proves the divine authorship and origin of this book, the Bible.
THE BIBLE: NOT AN OPEN BOOK
The modern biblical criticisms regard the Bible as an ancient literature that can be understood through the studies of the oral tradition behind the document (Form Criticism); the studies of the document itself, its method, style, and purpose of the author, the written and oral sources he used (Literary Criticism); the study of the editing of Biblical books (Redaction criticism); and the comparison of manuscripts of the Bible in the original languages and versions, including quotations by ancient authors, to determine as nearly as possible the original wording (Textual Criticism).
These scholars believe that they can understand the Bible through the method they used to understand other ancient literary documents. However, unlike other books, the Holy Scriptures or the Bible is inspired by God (II Tim. 3:15-17). It contains not only moral principles but also the right doctrines that will guide one toward becoming a complete man of God. It is the only book that will lead man back to his Creator and to salvation.
But there is one thing about the Bible, which everyone must understand – that it is not an open book, as many believe it to be. This is attested by one of God’s inspired writers:
“Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began.” (Romans 16:25 NKJV)
The Bible or the word of God is a “mystery kept secret since the world began.” Thus, it is no ordinary book that could be understands or interpreted but just anybody who can read, nor even through methods of modern criticisms. This is why the apostle Paul quipped:
“Always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (II Tim. 3:7 NKJV)
So, it wrong to regard the Bible as an ancient document that can be understood through the methods use to understand other ancient literature. It is also wrong to think that the Bible can be understood by themselves. Even though a person knew the ancient Biblical languages, but let us always be reminded that according to the Bible, “Always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of truth.” How true indeed! There is only one Bible yet there are so many different and contradictory beliefs. Interpretations, and teachings spawned by these preachers and scholars.
Who then can understand the Bible? Our Lord Jesus Christ declared this to His disciples:
“And He said to them, "To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables,” (Mark 4:11 NKJV)
Without being given understanding or revelation, one can never know the truth. This compels us to ask further, “Who, then, is given understanding of God’s words and, therefore, can preach them?” The Lord Himself further clarified:
“For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure.” (John 3:34, NKJV)
Those sent by God – His inspired messengers – are the ones exclusively given the understanding of His words: they speak God’s words. On the contrary, those who are not sent cannot preach the true gospel. They cannot lead man to the true understanding of God’s words and, eventually, to salvation. Apostle Paul wrote:
“And how shall they preach unless they are sent?…” (Romans 10:15, NKJV)
Only those sent by God can preach His words for to them have been revealed His mystery. Those who are not sent will only lead man to his own destruction (II Peter 3:16).
SOURCE: Lopez, E. M. The Bible: Our Sacred Scripture, A General Introduction To The Bible. Quezon City, Philippines: 2010.
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SOURCE: Lopez, E. M. The Bible: Our Sacred Scripture, A General Introduction To The Bible. Quezon City, Philippines: 2010.