How Can We Know the
Bible Is the Word of God?
A Religion Profile from International Students, Inc.
The Question Posed
Characteristics That Must Be True of
God’s Word, But Could Also Be True
of a Human Book
Christians claim the Bible is God’s Word. That means that they believe the Bible is a verbal revelation from God that makes it unique from every other book. But how can such a claim be
1. The Bible Claims to Be God’s Word
A. The Authors Claimed to Speak God’s Words
Much of the Bible was written by prophets of God. The
prophet was someone who was to say exactly what God told
him to say, no more and no less. Jeremiah was commanded:
“This is what the LORD says: Stand in the courtyard of the LORD’s house and speak to all the people. . . Tell them
everything I command you; do not omit a word” (Jer. 26:2). The prophet was to speak “everything the LORD had said”
First, we would expect certain things to be true about a book from God. Such characteristics might also be true about
humanly-authored books, but we would expect that, at the very least, they would be true about God’s book. Such characteristics would include the following: • It would claim to be God’s Word.
• It would be historically accurate when it speaks on historical matters.
• Its authors would be trustworthy.
• It would be thematically unified and without
• We would have received accurate copies of the original
Throughout the Scriptures, moreover, the authors, whether they were called prophets or not, claimed to be under the direction of the Holy Spirit: “Prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by
the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21; cf., 2 Sam. 23:2; Matt. 22:43).
Second, because God is unique, His book would bear
characteristics that could be true of it alone. Such
characteristics would distinguish God’s book from all other books in such a way that it could not be counterfeited. These characteristics would include the following:
B. The Bible Claims to Be “Breathed Out” By God
Writing about the entire Old Testament, the apostle Paul
declared: “All Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16; emphasis added). Jesus described the Scriptures as the very
“word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4;
• It would make statements that would reveal knowledge
about the way things work beyond the knowledge of its day.
• It would make predictions about the future that could not be known through natural means.
• The message would be unique.
• The messengers would be confirmed by miracles.
• The words would have a transforming power.
C. The New Testament Was Seen As Being Revealed
Scripture As Well
When the New Testament authors used the word “Scripture” they usually had the Old Testament in mind, since the New
Testament was still in the process of being written.
Nevertheless, they were also well aware that Jesus had told
the apostles that the Holy Spirit would continue the process of inspiring new Scripture (John 14:26; 16:13). Paul, for
example, understood that his writings were “words taught by the Spirit” (1 Cor. 2:13; see also Gal. 1:11-12; 1 Thess. 2:13; 2 Peter 3:15-16), and he taught that God was continuing the
process of revelation in others as well (Eph. 3:4-5).
Now let’s look at the characteristics listed to see if they are true about the Bible.
word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).
• He said that the Bible is imperishable (Matt. 5:17-18).
• He asserted that the Bible cannot be broken, or fail in its purpose (John 10:35).
• He affirmed the ultimate supremacy of the authority of the Bible over human tradition (Matt. 15:3,6).
• He considered the Bible to be without error (Matt.
22:29; John 17:17).
• He considered the Bible to be historically reliable (Matt. 12:40; 24:37-38).
D. What the Bible Says, God Says, and Vice Versa
Another way the...
Bibliography: Bible. (Philadelphia: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1948).
(Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 1982).
Wilson, Clifford. Rocks, Relics, and Biblical Reliability. (Grand
Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1977).
Barfield, Kenny. Why the Bible Is Number 1. (Grand Rapids,
Mich: Baker, 1988).
Scripture references, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the
Holy Bible, New International Version, © 1973, 1978, 1984 by
Burrows, Millar. What Mean These Stones? (New Haven,
Conn.: American Schools of Oriental Research, 1941).
(Dallas, Tex: Word, 1991).
Montgomery (ed.). (Dallas, Tex.: Word, 1991).
Geisler, Norman L., ed. Inerrancy. (Grand Rapids, Mich.:
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