C.R. Nichol and R.L. Whiteside
“Bible” is from the Greek word biblos, meaning a book. Since the Bible is a revelation from Jehovah to man, it may well be called “The Book.”
Names Found in the Bible by Which it is Called
Word of God (Heb. 4:11, 12; Eph. 6:17), The Book (Heb. 10:7), The Scriptures (John 5:39; 2 Tim. 3: 16), Oracles of God (Rom. 3:2; Heb. 5:12; 1 Pet. 4: 11), Living Oracles (Acts 7:38).
Symbolic Names Applied to the Word of God
Lamp and Light (Psa. 119:105; Prov. 6:23). Ignorance is darkness; sin is darkness. The sinner is represented a being under the “power of darkness” (Col. 1:13), and the world could not create its own spiritual light. “We have the word of prophecy made more sure; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a lamp shining in a dark place” (2 Pet. 1:19).
Mirror (2 Cor. 3:18; Jas. 1:23-25). The Bible is a mirror, in that it reveals man to himself. By reading it thoughtfully and prayerfully you will see yourself just as you are with all your spiritual and moral imperfections and blemishes as plainly as you can see your natural face in a mirror.
Fire (Jer. 23:29). Fire is the greatest purifying agency known. “Seeing ye have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth” (1 Pet. 1:22). Fire is also an energizing agent. When one becomes full of the word of God it is like fire within him so that he cannot hold his peace; he must speak. David said: “The fire burned; then spake I with my tongue” (Psa. 39:3). Also Jeremiah said “And if I say, I will not make mention of him, or speak any more in his name, then there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with fore-bearing, and I cannot contain” (Jer. 20:9). When we all become filled with the word of God there will be no complaint about a scarcity of preachers. A man must speak what is in his heart. When the church at Jerusalem had been scattered by bitter persecution, they went everywhere preaching the word, because they had been filled with the word by the preaching of the apostles, and were unable to hold their peace (Acts 8:4).
Hammer (Jer. 23.29). The heart is sometimes represented as hard and stony. Inasmuch as God’s word subdues the hard and rebellious heart, it is called “a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces.”
Sword (Eph. 6:17). Sword is a symbol of war. Christians are soldiers, and their weapon of warfare is the word of God. It is called the “sword of the spirit.” This does not mean that the word is the sword which the Spirit uses, any more than “armor of God” means the armor which God wears. “Armor of God” means the armor which God furnishes his soldiers to wear, and “sword of the Spirit” means the word which the Spirit furnishes. We are to take the sword as a part of our equipment. Certainly then we are to use it. It is sharper than any two edged sword (Heb. 4:12).
Seed (Luke 8:11). The heart is the soil into which the word of God, as the seed of the kingdom, is sown. As there can be no life in the natural soil till seed is planted, so there can be no spiritual life in the heart till the word of God, the seed of the kingdom, is sown.
Divisions in the Bible
The Bible contains 66 books, and is divided into two great sections, namely, the Old Testament and New Testament. The Old Testament contains 39 books. The New Testament contains 27 books.
Classifying Books of the Old Testament
The books of the Old Testament may be classed as follows:
Law. The first five books of the Old Testament, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, are generally called law, because in them the law of Moses is found; yet much of the space is taken with a concise history of God’s dealing with man, from creation to the death of Moses.
History. The next twelve books—Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther—are history.
Poetry. There are six poetical books—Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and the Lamentations of Jeremiah.
Major Prophets. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel are major prophets.
Minor Prophets. The minor prophets are: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obediah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.
Classifying Books of the New Testament
The books of the New Testament may be classed as follows:
Life of Christ. The first four books—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
History. The fifth book—Acts of the Apostles—is history. This book contains the history of the first preaching under the Great Commission, as well as the history of the conversion of many thousands in the apostolic age.
Special Letters. Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, 2 John, and 3 John.
General Letters. Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, Jude, and Revelation.
Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament. These books are called The Pentateuch, from pente, five, and teuchos, a volume, and means the five-fold volume. These five books are referred to as the “Book of the Law of Moses” (Neh. 8:1), “The Book of the Law of Jehovah” (Neh. 9:3).
The Old Testament gives the history of the Patriarchal and Jewish dispensations, while the New Testament gives the history of the Christian dispensation.
Patriarchal Dispensation. Patriarchal means the rule of the father. In this system of worship the father was the priest or ruler of the family or tribe. This seems to have been the only system of worship till the giving of the law of Moses. The Patriarchal dispensation covered about 2,500 years. Among the Gentiles, this dispensation, or system of worship, evidently continued till the inauguration of the Christian dispensation.
The Jewish Dispensation covered about 1,500 years—from the giving of the law from Mount Sinai (Ex. 20) to the death of Christ. It was the national religion of the Jews, and with them superseded the Patriarchal system.
The Christian Dispensation began on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ (Acts), and will continue till the end of time. Its laws and regulations are found in the New Testament.
Collecting the Books of the Old Testament
The books of the Old Testament were collected by Ezra, nearly 500 years before the birth of Christ, with the exception of Nehemiah and Malachi. These two books were written after the death of Ezra. The books of the New Testament were collected and their names published in A.D. 397, if not before that date.
So far as we know there is not in existence any of the original manuscripts; that is, manuscripts written by the hands of inspired men.
The fact that we do not have the manuscripts written by the hands of the inspired men does not give ground for alarm, for there are in existence, many thousands of Hebrew and Greek manuscripts which were copied from earlier manuscripts. These are the documents now referred to as “original manuscripts.” We have a Greek translation of the Old Testament, which was made from the Hebrew about 100 years after the close of the Old Testament canon. It is known as the Septuagint. This version of the Old Testament was well known in the days of Josephus, and was used extensively in the days of the apostles. The New Testament began to be written about A. D. 50, and was completed about A.D. 68-96. We have a complete copy of the New Testament which was translated into the Syriac in A.D. 373.
Quotations by Early Writers
The early church fathers, beginning immediately after the close of the New Testament canon, wrote extensively, and were so profuse in their quotations from the original manuscripts that it is claimed the entire New Testament can be compiled from their writings. Some of them in their early lives were companions of the apostles.
Many translations of the Bible have been made, each with a desire to express the real thought of the inspired text. It is lamentable that so many have been unconsciously biased in their work of translating by some theory. But none of the translations are necessarily misleading. The Authorized Version was published in 1611. This translation is the one most usually found in our homes. It is sometimes called the King James Version, because it was made under the authority and patronage of King James III. In many copies of the King James Version you will find the title page reads, “The Holy Bible Containing the Old and New Testaments: Translated Out of the Original Tongues: and with the Former Translation Diligently Compared and Revised by His Majesty’s Special Command. Appointed to be Read in the Churches.” When the work of translating was complete, the translation was dedicated “To the Most High and Mighty Prince, James, by the Grace of God, King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c. The Translators of the Bible Wish Grace, Mercy, and Peace Through Jesus Christ Our Lord.” The king, being head of the Church of England, authorized this translation to be read in the churches, hence it was called the “Authorized Version.” Many of the members of the Primitive Baptist Churches refuse to accept any other than the King James Translation; some of them insisting that it is an inspired translation. The Revised Version was published in 1885. The American Standard Edition was published in 1901.
Chapters and Verses
The division of the Bible into chapters and verses was the work of uninspired men, and it was wholly for the convenience of the student. The division into chapters was made in 1250. It was divided into verses in 1560.
The Bible Printed in English
The New Testament was printed in English in 1525. The entire Bible was printed in English in 1535.
Use of Italic Letters in the Bible
It is almost impossible to translate one language into another without supplying words occasionally to give the correct thought. These supplied words in the Bible, for which there is no corresponding word in the Greek text, are printed in italics.
Men who Wrote the Bible
About 40 men were engaged in writing the Bible, beginning with Moses about 1,500 years before Christ, and closing about 64-68 A.D. Some of the men who were engaged in writing the Bible were not regarded as educated men. It should be remembered, however, that they were not compelled to rely on their own literary attainments, training, or mental ability in making known the will of the Lord, for they “spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit” (1 Pet. 1:21).
From the following considerations it will be seen that the Holy Spirit selected the very words which inspired men used:
On no other ground can some statements in the Bible be explained. It is expressly stated that the apostles “began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). The Holy Spirit not only selected the idea, but gave utterance to the idea. “Which things also we speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth” (1 Cor. 2:13). This plainly declares that the inspired men did not rely on their own wisdom to select words, but used such words as the Holy Spirit taught them.
Inspired men frequently spoke and wrote things which they themselves did not understand. “Therefore have I uttered that which I understood not, things too wonderful for me, which I knew not” (Job 42:3). When the Holy Spirit said through Peter, “For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off” (Acts 2:39), Peter did not fully understand what was meant. The prophets sometimes searched diligently trying to find out the meaning of their own words (1 Pet. 1:10, 11). It is a certain fact that one cannot select words and frame a sentence to express a thought which he does not understand.
Inspired men frequently spoke in languages which they did not understand. In such instances it was utterly impossible for them to select the words.
Whence Came the Bible?
The Bible is here. If it did not come from Jehovah, whence did it come? It is unlike the product of any human being. It points out man’s defects, and pronounces maledictions on the wicked. It cannot be ascribed to Satan, for it constantly strikes at the very foundations of his kingdom. It is the world’s most wonderful library. It differs from all other books in that it gives true history. It does not fail to record the shortcomings of its heroes. It tells of Noah’s drunkenness (Gen. 9), as well as his faithfulness (Heb. 11); of Abraham’s faith (Rom. 4), then of his weakness and lack of courage when he represented his wife to be his sister (Gen. 20); of the meekness of Moses (Num. 12), then his presumption (Num. 20:7-12); of David’s wonderful power, then his criminality; of Solomon’s incomparable wisdom, then his foolishness; of Peter’s boldness, then his denial of Christ.
Is not the indestructibility of the Bible proof of its inspiration? It began in a small country with a despised and persecuted people, but it has found its way into every corner of the earth. It is the most widely read book in existence. It is the forerunner of civilization, and the foundation of every enduring government. Through the ages many have made attacks on the Bible. These critics have passed and are almost forgotten. Voltaire, possessed with a most wonderful brain power, predicted that in 100 years from his day there would not be a Bible. How short-sighted was this French infidel! The very press which was used to print his infidel criticism of the Bible was afterwards used to print the word of God; the very house in which he lived was used as a warehouse and filled with copies of the Bible.
Let us encourage you to read this wonderful book. It contains counsel and condemnation or approval for man regardless of his relationship or station in life. If you are a rebel against Jehovah, you will find warnings, admonitions, entreaties; forgiveness is within your reach. If you are a Christian, work is outlined by which you can enrich your life, bless humanity, and have fellowship with the Infinite. The Bible makes known to man his sins, reveals God’s love, and shows the way to life and happiness. You should form your life, shape your character and seal your destiny in keeping with the teaching of the Bible. Would you like to live in a country where they do not believe the Bible? If no, why? If yes, why? (Sound Doctrine, Vol. 1, pp. 5-14).