Lesson #4 - The Unity of the Bible

Bible student

"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."

2 Timothy 3:16-17

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In lessons 2 and 3, we noted that God has revealed Himself in His creation (Rom 1:20). We have more than sufficient evidence of His existence. Yet creation is insufficient in telling us what the purpose of our life is, what God expects from us, and what, if anything, happens to us after death. There must be some type of special revelation to reveal these things.

The Bible claims to be this special revelation (1 Cor 2:9-13; 2 Tim 3:16). But is this claim true? Just because the Bible makes the claim doesn’t make it true. Many books claim to be from God, but does that mean they are? There must be evidence to back up the claim!

But the claim does invite serious consideration. If the Bible is not God’s revelation, then it is one of the biggest lies ever written and we need not pay attention to it. However, if the Bible is God’s word, then we must pay attention to it and obey it for it says that the words of Jesus will be our judge (Mt 7:21-27; John 12:48).

If God is indeed the author of the 66 books we call the “Bible” (from a Greek word meaning “book”), we should be able to find evidence of one mind behind the writing. In addition it must be obvious that this mind is more than human and is, in fact, Divine. If the Bible is from a Divine author, then its content will show harmony and consistency. If the Bible is not a book of harmony and consistency, then its claim must be false.

Unity Unexpected If Bible Written By Men

Let’s suppose we gathered 40 men from different walks of life and we had each independently write a section of a book that is to be one story. Do you think that their material would fit together? Do you think that all of the writings would agree with each other? What would be the odds?

Yet the Bible was begun by Moses in the deserts of Sinai and finished by John on the island of Patmos about 15 centuries later. In this time, about 40 men of different times, cultures, and occupations wrote 66 different pieces of literature. Some authors did not have access to the books others had written and many died long before other books were written. The 66 books were written in three different languages (O.T.: Hebrew and Aramaic; N.T.: Greek) and in several styles of writing (history, narrative, law, prophecy, poetry, biography, and letter).

If the Bible was just an anthology (a collection of literature), we would not expect any agreement among the authors in common subjects discussed or any common storyline. But, the Bible, as we shall see is much more that an assorted collection of literature. Let us look at three types of unity that are found in the Bible.

Unity of Simplicity

Men have written seemingly endless volumes on subjects ranging from the important to the trivial. From what is typical in the writings of men, there is little doubt that if men were to write on such things as the creation, the birth of Jesus, or other great events, many more pages, even volumes would have been included in the Bible. Moses wrote just two chapters about the creation. Matthew wrote 8 verses on the birth of Jesus, while Luke wrote only 20 verses. Of the life of Jesus, John wrote, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.” (Jn 21:25)

In all of the Bible there is a consistent brevity in the accounts. No time is spent on trivial details. The authors get straight to the point and write what they do with purpose.

Simplicity is also seen in the language of the Bible. For example, the N.T. was written in Koine Greek (the common language of the people) instead of Classical Greek (the language used by most literary writers). So, just as with Jesus’ teaching on earth, His teaching by way of the N.T. also could be received gladly by the common people (Mk 12:37).

Unity of Doctrine

Nave’s Topical Bible lists more than 20,000 topics that the Bible covers. You may pick any subject that you like and study all of the references on it and you will find that all of the Bible writers agree on that subject- whether it is Moses, Isaiah, Luke, or Paul they teach the same doctrine. Most Bible subjects are touched on by several authors, yet with no proven contradictions. There are some alleged contradictions. Certain passages may appear to contradict, but on closer examination they do not. (To help you in your study of alleged discrepancies, see Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible by John W. Haley.)

Jesus said in a prayer to the Father, “Sanctify them in the truth, Your word is truth." (Jn 17:17) Truth is by definition unified, absolute, and without contra-diction. The more subjects that you examine over years of study, the more you will be impressed by the fact that the Bible meets the definition of “truth” and that it therefore qualifies as the word of God and could not be the word of mere men.

Unity of Theme

Although composed of 66 books, the Bible is one story, the story of God’s plan to save man. It is a mystery story, one where the problem is told, clues are given as to the solution, and finally the solution is revealed. The problem is revealed in Genesis 3- sin. The rest of the Bible gives clues to the solution- a coming Savior and Christ (King). Finally, Jesus is revealed to be Savior and Christ- all of God’s plan and His revelation is summed up in Him (Eph 1:9-10).

Here is a brief outline of the Bible story, as centers in Christ:

  1. Promise of Christ (Gen 12:1-3)
  2. Predictions of Christ (Acts 3:22-26;1 Pet 1:10-12)
  3. Preparation for Christ (Mk 1:1-8)
  4. Perfection of Plan in Christ (Acts 10:36-43)
  5. Preaching of Christ (Acts 1:8; Rom 16:25-27; Eph 3:1-11)
  6. Perfecting of Men in Christ (Col 1:23-29)

Here is a brief summary of the one theme of the Bible and how the various books of the Bible relate to this theme:

God promised Abraham He would bless all nations through His seed. God made of Abraham a great nation (Israel) and gave them Caanan to live in (Genesis through Joshua). God continued to care for them, despite their frequent disobedience, promising that the Christ (King) would come into the world through them. The prophets of Israel, by way of their predictions, gave various detailed clues about this Christ (Judges through Malachi). Finally, John the Baptist came to prepare the way for the Christ. Then Jesus, the Christ, was born, lived, died, and was raised as predicted by the prophets (Matthew through John). The good news of salvation from sin in Christ was then preached throughout the world (Acts). Letters were written to Christ’s disciples so that they might grow to spiritual maturity (Romans through Revelation).

Conclusion

Is the Bible just another book written by men? Certainly not. How could man be responsible for the amazing unity of the Bible? Many have sought to explain away this amazing unity by asserting that there were simply some greatly talented human editors. There is absolutely no evidence of this. There is however abundant evidence that “no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God" (2 Pet 1:21)

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True or False?
By observing creation, we can get all the answers we need to know about God and about our life.
True
False
If the Bible is not the word of God, it is still a good book.
True
False
If the Bible is the word of God, we must obey it or else face eternal punishment.
True
False
We should find evidence of One Divine Mind behind the authorship of the Bible if it is His word.
True
False
If the Bible authors disagree with each other, it is still reasonable to believe that the Bible is the word of God.
True
False
It is reasonable to expect that 40 men could independently write parts of a story and then we could put them together in one unified book.
True
False
Many of the Bible writers did not live in the same time period and culture.
True
False
Every single detail about Jesus and other people in the Bible has been recorded for us to read.
True
False
Throughout the Bible, we find that the writers are consistently brief in their accounts, leaving out unimportant details.
True
False
God wanted some of the Bible to be written in a way that it could not be understood.
True
False
The N.T. was written in Classical Greek.
True
False
Some parts of the Bible just don’t fit in with the rest.
True
False
If a proven contradiction could be found in the Bible, the Bible would still be “the truth”.
True
False
Christ is the center of God’s plan and the Bible story.
True
False
God promised Abraham that He would make him a great nation, give the nation Caanan to live in, and also bless all nations through his descendants.
True
False
When Jesus came, the Jews had no way of knowing that He was the Christ.
True
False
The good news of Jesus has never been preached throughout the world.
True
False
Most of the New Testament is made up of letters to Christians to instruct them how to grow to spiritual maturity.
True
False
The Bible is just a selected collection of religious literature put together by some great human editor.
True
False
The Bible is result of God revealing His will to different men who wrote it down.
True
False
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