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01
Jun

Can We Trust the Bible?

Posted by on in The Upward Call
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Bible manuscripts 4I often get questions as I study with people about the Bible. Questions like: How do we know the Bible is the one and only true Word of God? How do we know that it is truly inspired by God? Since it was written by men, how do we know it is trustworthy? Why do we only use the 27 books that are in the New Testament when there are others left out?

 

All of these are good questions. In fact, I think they are some of the most important questions we can answer because they deal with a foundation that is very important for belief in God and Jesus Christ—the Bible. If the Bible is the message of God for mankind, how do we know that we can trust what is in it? I will over the next few weeks try to answer some of these questions about the Bible in concise ways that give the answers that are needed to help clarify this issue of trustworthiness.

 

First of all, let’s start with the text of the Bible. God, for a long time, communicated to man orally. He progressed to revealing Himself to mankind through a written record which grew into the Old Testament and was assembled into a collection by the time of Ezra about 400 B.C. God replaced this old covenant with a new one represented in the New Testament that was made through Jesus Christ. The writer of Hebrews states, “But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates if better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second” (8:6-7). There was a need to replace the first covenant, represented by the Old Testament, with a new covenant: one that was better, that has a better mediator, and better promises for you and me through Jesus Christ.

 

The New Testament was written in the first century in a “common” Greek that was a “universal” language for the day, much like English is today. So how do we know that what we have in the New Testament is what we should have? How do we know that there aren’t books that were left out that have yet to be discovered?

 

We have ample evidence of our modern New Testament, 5,686 manuscripts (copies of parts of the New Testament in the original Greek language) in all making the New Testament the most reliable and accurate ancient manuscript we have in the world. In comparison, we have only 7 copies of Plato’s Republic, but the earliest copies we have are dated 1,200 years from the time of the original manuscript. In relationship, the New Testament has 50 copies dated from the 2nd-4th centuries (beginning less than 100 years from the original manuscript) and 250 manuscripts from the 4th-9th centuries. The New Testament has more early manuscripts than any other ancient text, meaning the accuracy of copies is at 99.5% that all manuscripts of the New Testament agree with each other. This is higher than any other ancient text (with Homer’s Iliad being the next highest percentage at 95% while only having just over 600 manuscripts instead of 5,686 like the New Testament). If you include manuscripts in other languages besides the original Greek, the number of New Testament manuscripts jumps to over 24,000.

 

This testifies that the text of the New Testament is what God intended to be preserved. It is reliable as far as what we have is what we should have. It is intact; no personal commentaries have been added in as copies were made through the years. We have ample early copies to compare later manuscripts to, and the text remains accurate. This evidence should begin to build our trust in the Bible as the Word of God. Next week I will talk about the text of the New Testament and why we only have 27 books and not any more than that.

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