Section One: What Is The Bible?

Section One: Survey

What Is The Bible?

In the right margin, write "true" or "false" after each of the following statements:


The Bible consists of edited writings, collected and put together at one point in history.



Part of the Bible is wise instruction from men, and part is from God.



The entire Bible is inspired.



We find the writings of John in the Old Testament.



The four Gospels are Psalms, Proverbs, Isaiah, and Daniel.



The Book of Acts gives the history of the early Church.



Jesus Christ is the central figure in Scripture.



The New Testament has no relation to the Old Testament.



Many books in the New Testament were letters to different Churches and groups.



God's record of the creation of the world is found in the Book of Genesis.


Section One: "What Is the Bible?"

Key/Memory Verse: 2 Timothy 3:16

"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness."


The Bible can be read as great literature, or as a history of Israel, or as a source book of theological information. It is all of these things. But none of them does full justice to the purpose of Scripture as set forth by the Bible writers themselves. This amazing book, the Bible, is the source of truth, the standard for meaningful life, the revelation of Jesus Christ, the key to true freedom and liberty, and true food for man's soul.

May our eyes be opened, our hearts enlarged, and our lives changed by this Book of all books!

  1. Definition of Terms


    2. The Bible:

      The word "Bible" comes from the Greek word biblion which simply means "book."

    3. The Scriptures:

      This word is the word we use in our translation of the Greek word graphai, which can also be translated as "writings."

    4. Testament:

      This word is derived from the Latin word testamentum, which was used in early Latin translations of both the Greek and Hebrew words for a "will" or "covenant."

      (For further study: Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia, "Bible," vol. 1, pp. 554ff; A General Introduction to the Bible, by Geisler and Nix, pp.l7ff.)

  2. Introductory Facts About The Bible:
    1. The Indestructible Book DVD SetThe Bible is the most remarkable book ever written. About 40 men of several countries and many occupations did the writing. They wrote over a period of approximately 1500 years and in three languages - Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Yet the Bible is an well-organized unity with one great theme and central figure - Jesus Christ. All of this would be impossible unless the Bible had one supreme Author - and it did - the Holy Spirit of God.

    2. The Age Of The Bible

      The earliest portions of Scripture date back more than 3,300 years. However, its message has been fresh and relevant to men of every age and generation. Its pages are still producing new gems of truth, even to those who study them the most.

    3. The Demand For The Bible

      It is by far the most widely circulated book in the world. Since 1804, more than 800 million Bibles and portions of Scripture have been issued. These figures are from the British and Foreign Bible Societies alone. Every year more than 22 million copies of the complete Bible and New Testament are circulated around the globe.

      The Bible has been translated more than any other book. Each year we see an increase in the number of translations. The following figures reflect this steady growth.

      • In 1500 A.D. it had been printed in 14 languages.
      • In 1600 - about 40 languages.
      • In 1800 - about 72 languages.
      • In 1900 - about 567 languages.
      • In 1937 - about 1,000 languages
      • In 1970 - about 1500 languages.
      • In 1997 - to date, at least partially translated in more than 2100 languages.

      (Wycliffe Bible Translators are currently working on an additional 1000 languages.)

  3. The Uniqueness Of The Bible
    1. (This material and more information under this topic can be found in Evidence Which Demands A Verdict. Josh McDowell, pp. 16-25)

    2. Unique In Its Continuity -
    3. The Bible has an unique continuity when you consider that...

      • it was written over a 1500-year period;
      • written over 40 generations;
      • written by over 40 authors from every walk of life including kings, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, poets, statesmen, scholars, etc.;
      • written in many different places.
    4. Unique In Its Survival -


      1. Survival through Time -

        Being written on material that perishes, having to be copied and recopied for hundreds of years before the invention of the printing press, did not diminish its style, correctness or existence. The Bible, compared with other ancient writings, has more manuscript evidence than any 10 pieces of classical literature combined.

      2. Manuscript Evidence for Ancient Writings



        Earliest Copy

        Time Span

        # Mss.


        100-44 B.C.

        900 A.D.

        1,000 yrs



        427-347 B.C.

        900 A.D.

        1,200 yrs



        460-400 B.C.

        900 A.D.

        1,300 yrs



        100 A.D.

        1100 A.D.

        1,000 yrs



        75-160 A.D.

        950 A.D.

        800 yrs


        Homer (Iliad)

        900 B.C.

        400 B.C.

        500 yrs


        New Testament

        40-100 A.D.

        125 A.D.

        25-50 yrs


        Manuscript variation from copying:

        1. Old Testament: 95% of the texts are identical with only minor variations and a few discrepancies between the Dead Sea Scrolls (dated to the 1st century) and the Masoretic text (dated to around 800 A.D.).

        2. New Testament: New Testament manuscripts agree in 99.5% of the text (compared to only 95% for the Iliad). Additionally, the New Testament can be put together from the writings of the early church fathers, since they extensively quoted from it.


      3. Survival Through Persecution -

        The Bible has withstood vicious attacks of its enemies as no other book. Many have tried to burn it, ban it, and "outlaw it from the days of Roman emperors to present-day Communist or Islamic-dominated countries."

      4. Survival Through Criticism -

      "Infidels for eighteen hundred years have been attempting to refute and overthrow this Book, and yet it stands today as solid as a rock. Its circulation increases, and it is more loved and cherished and read today than ever before. Infidels, with all their assaults, make about as much impression on this Book as a man with a jackhammer would on the Pyramids of Egypt. When the French monarch proposed the persecution of the Christians in his dominion, an old statesman and warrior said to him, ‘Sire, the Church of God is an anvil that has worn out many hammers.' So the hammers of infidels have been pecking away at this Book for ages, but the hammers are worn out, and the anvil still endures. If this Book had not been the Book of God, men would have destroyed it long ago. Emperors and popes, kings and priests, princes and rulers have all tried their hand at it; they die and the book still lives." (H.L. Hastings cited in Josh McDowell's, Evidence that Demands A Verdict p. 21)

  4. The Supernatural Origin Of The Bible
  5. How did this amazingly unique book come about? A look at the following two terms will help us understand the divine origin of the Bible.

    1. Revelation -

      God has disclosed or revealed Himself to man. We can learn about God through these revelations.

      God has revealed Himself in a general way through nature/creation. In the beauty and wonder of creation we see the signature of God (Psalm 19:1, Romans 1:20).

      However, a more complete disclosure or revelation of who God is, what He is like, etc., is found in the Bible. God revealed Himself in a variety of manners to His chosen authors that they might record a permanent testimony concerning God. What the authors wrote were not their own ideas - but rather God's ideas.

      God used various methods and instruments to reveal the Scriptures to His chosen authors:

      • Direct Voice - God spoke in an audible voice to some of them, telling them what to write down. (Exodus 33:1)
      • Direct Writing - God visibly wrote certain of the truths Himself. (Exodus 31:18)
      • Dreams - God used the dreams of men as a channel through which He revealed prophetic truths. (Daniel 2:1-49)
      • Men - The personal experiences and spiritual lives of individuals were used by God. (Psalm 51)
      • Natural World - The universe, which God created, declares Him. (Psalm 19:1 and Romans 1:19-23)
      • Historic Events - God used the events of men to reveal His will (the Old Testament Books of Genesis and Esther).
      • Holy Spirit - The Spirit of God guided men as they penned His words (2 Peter 1:21)
    2. Inspiration

      The key verse is 2 Timothy 3:16. The word "inspiration" means "God-breathed." "Every Scripture is God-breathed." The Bible claims that on the original parchments every sentence, every word, every line was placed there in complete agreement with the will of God. The veritable author of the Bible is God. God used human authors to write down the words He wanted in the Bible. He watched over them as they wrote, so no errors could creep in.

      How do we know when writings are inspired by God? The Bible itself tells us what characteristics writings must have to be considered inspired by God. They must:

      1. Be spoken from, and in the name of, the Lord (Jeremiah 30:2, 1 Peter 1:21).

      2. Exalt and glorify God (John 5:39 &; 17:4-10; Ephesians 1:13-14).

      3. Direct the love of men toward God (Colossians 3:16; Revelation 19:10).

      4. Draw men to repent of their rebellion against God and to submit fully to Him (Psalms 19:7; 2 Timothy 3:16).

      5. Prophecies come to fulfillment with 100 percent accuracy (Deuteronomy 18:21-22).

      6. Support the laws, precepts, and principles set forth in the rest of Scripture-without contradiction (Isaiah 8:20; Matthew 5:17; John 10:35).

      7. Communicate truth, and only truth, in all disciplines of knowledge (Psalms 119:160; Hebrews 6:18).

      Summary Of Terms

      • Revelation - is God's activity in giving truth to the human mind.
      • Inspiration - is God's activity in producing a record of his revealed truth.


  6. Survey Of The Bible


    1. The Old Testament


      1. The first five Books of the Old Testament were written about 1440 B.C. by Moses. These are called the "Five Books of Moses", or the "Pentateuch" (five writings). List them below in the order you find them in your Bible.




        The Book of beginnings (creation, man, sin, redemption, God's nation Israel)



        The record of God's deliverance of His people from the land of Egypt.



        Priestly laws of holiness and worship through sacrifice and purification.



        The record of the continual disobedience of God's people and their wandering through the wilderness for 40 years.



        Moses' great discourses to prepare the people to enter the Promised Land.


      3. The next twelve Books in the Old Testament are historical. They were written about 1100-600 B.C. and describe God's dealings with His chosen people, Israel, the Hebrew nation. Note these Books and their titles.

      4. The following five books are poetical, describing in poetry and song God's greatness and His dealings with men. List these in order below.

      5. a.


        The suffering and loyal trust of a man who loved God.



        Songs of praise and instruction.



        God's practical wisdom for successful living.



        The emptiness of earthly life without God.


        Song of Solomon

        A portrait of God's love for His people.


      6. The five books of major prophets follow. A prophet is one who is commissioned by God to deliver His message to men. These books are called "major prophets" because they are generally longer than the writings of the "minor prophets". These five books were written from about 750-550 B.C.

      7. The last twelve books of the Old Testament are called "minor prophets." These books were written from about 800-400 B.C. Note the names of these books in your Bible.


    3. The New Testament

      The New Testament (or New Covenant - God's present agreement with men) reveals Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of men. In it we find the life of Christ, the beginning of Christianity, the way of salvation, instruction for Christian living, and God's plan for the future.

      1. The first five books of the New Testament are historical As you list them in order below, study their descriptions on the right.

      2. a.


        The life of Christ written especially for the Jews, revealing Jesus Christ as their long-awaited Savior-King.



        The life of Christ revealing Jesus as the obedient Servant of God.



        The life of Christ revealing Jesus as the perfect Man, emphasizing His humanity.



        The life of Christ revealing Jesus as the Son of God, stressing His deity.



        The beginning and spread of the Christian Church. This book could well be called the "Acts of the Holy Spirit."

        Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are referred to as "The Four Gospels." Look up John 20:31 and record two reasons given for the writing of John's Gospel.


        that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God


        and that believing you may have life in His name


      3. The next 21 Books are letters (epistles). They are written to individuals, to churches, or to believers in general These letters deal with every aspect of Christian faith and responsibility. Notice the titles of these epistles.

      4. The last book of the New Testament is a book of prophecy. It tells of future events - including the return, reign, and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ and the future state of believers and unbelievers.

        This book is called



  7. Conclusion
    1. The Bible At A Glance (66 Books)
    2. (Open in New Window)
      The Bible At A Glance (66 Books)

      OLD TESTAMENT (39 Books)

      "The New is in the Old concealed.
      The Old is in the New revealed."

      NEW TESTAMENT (27 Books)


      17 books


      1. Genesis
      2. Exodus
      3. Leviticus
      4. Numbers
      5. Deuteronomy

      History and

      1. Joshua
      2. Judges
      3. Ruth
      4. 1 Samuel
      5. 2 Samuel
      6. 1 Kings
      7. 2 Kings
      8. 1 Chronicles
      9. 2 Chronicles
      10. Ezra
      11. Nehemiah
      12. Esther


      5 books

      1. Job
      2. Psalms
      3. Proverbs
      4. Ecclesiastes
      5. Song of


      17 books

      Major Prophets

      1. Isaiah
      2. Jeremiah
      3. Lamentations
      4. Ezekiel
      5. Daniel

      Minor Prophets

      1. Hosea
      2. Joel
      3. Amos
      4. Obadiah
      5. Jonah
      6. Micah
      7. Nahum
      8. Habakkuk
      9. Zephaniah
      10. Haggai
      11. Zechariah
      12. Malachi
      400 years


      5 books


      1. Matthew
      2. Mark
      3. Luke
      4. John


      1. Acts


      21 books

      Paul's letters

      1. Romans
      2. 1 Corinthians
      3, 2 Corinthians
      4. Galatians
      5. Ephesians
      6. Philippians
      7. Colossians
      8. 1 Thessalonians
      9. 2 Thessalonians
      10. 1 Timothy
      11. 2 Timothy
      12. Titus
      13. Philemon

      General Letters

      1. Hebrews
      2. James
      3. 1 Peter
      4. 2 Peter
      5. 1 John
      6. 2 John
      7. 3 John
      8. Jude


      1 book


      God used 40 different men over a period of 1,500 Years (about 1400 B.C. to 90 A.D.) in writing the Bible- (2 Peter 1:20-21)

      Frequently, sections of the Bible will be referred to in an abbreviated way. For example, 2 Timothy 3:16 refers to the book, Second Timothy, Chapter three, verse sixteen. Until you familiarize yourself with your Bible, you can use the table of contents at the front of your Bible to locate the order and page number of the book for which you are looking.

    3. Who is the central figure of all the Scriptures according to John 5:39 and Luke 24:25-2 7?

    4. Jesus Christ

    5. According to 2 Timothy 3:16, which of the following is the correct answer?

      1. Some of the Bible is inspired by God.

      2. There are a few parts that are not inspired.

      3. The entire Bible is inspired by God.

      4. Only the parts that speak to us in a personal way are inspired by God.


    6. This Book of all Books is an amazing record of history, great literature, and theology; but more importantly, it is the source of truth, the standard for meaningful life, the revelation of Jesus Christ, the key to freedom and liberty, true food for man's soul!

What have you discovered about the Bible from our study?

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