Our reliance on the Good News in our modern world depends on whether we can trust the Biblical record. Many refer to the Bible as God’s word. Is that true? The Apostle Paul, in writing to the disciple Timothy about the usefulness of scripture, he wrote:
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
– 2 Timothy 3:16-17
This answer has satisfied millions and led them to conclude that the Bible is reliable as the word of God Himself. However, an in-depth examination of the Bible reveals that the answer is far more complex and requires maturity of thought, a reflective attitude and an open and receptive mind. Unless these things are present in the examiner, such a person could be stumbled. It would be like giving a premium steak to an infant. While there is nothing wrong with eating a steak, an infant would choke on it. He has not developed the teeth to chew it, nor the stomach to digest it. In the common vernacular, ‘he will have bitten off more than he can chew,’ and the result could be fatal. So for our readers who are not quite ready for such an examination, we encourage you to focus on the summary answer given to Timothy, and return to these more complex ideas when you are ready.
For those who are ready for a mature examination of the authorship, reliability and content of the Bible, we invite you to consider the following ideas.
The Bible is a collection of 66 little books. The first 39 books, from Genesis to Malachi, are referred to as the “Old Testament” or the “Hebrew Scriptures;” the remaining 27 books, from Matthew to Revelation, are referred to as the “New Testament” or the “Christian Greek Scriptures.” Some have been taught to refer to the two sections as the Hebrew and Christian Greek Scriptures rather than the Old and New Testament. However, the distinction of “Old” and “New” helps us to more clearly identify the author, assess its credibility, understand its content, and discern its meaning. So in the remainder of this chapter, we will refer to the two sections of the Bible as the Old and New Testament.
Though both sections are considered one united book, they each cover a distinct period in human history and the distinction is highly relevant. We can simply state the distinction like this: the Old Testament contains the Jewish revelation of God, whereas the New Testament contains the Christian revelation of God.