The Bible

The Bible is the written word of God and therefore the supreme constitution of his covenant people.

God’s special revelation, the revelation of his saving purpose, takes many forms, some of them unwritten. But God also intends to give his revelation in permanent form. According to Genesis, the patriarchs erected memorials so that later generations could visit the places where God revealed himself to their ancestors. In the book of Exodus, when God consecrated Israel to be his special covenant people, he produced two stone tablets, on which were Ten Commandments, written by the very “finger of God” (Exod 31:18). Note that God was not only the author of these commandments (the commandments were his words, expressed in the first person) but the publisher as well, since he inscribed the commands by his own finger. The tablets then were placed in the holiest location in Israel, the inner court of the tabernacle (and later the temple), underscoring the fact that as his very word, these documents partook of God’s very holiness. This procedure was similar to the custom in other nations when a mighty emperor would make a treaty with a lesser king, putting it into writing and preserving it in a holy sanctuary.

God gave more holy words through Israel’s history. Words of God’s inspired prophets were written down and added to the holy document. In the New Testament we learn that Jesus and the apostles reverenced this document as God’s word and therefore as a document with ultimate authority. Further, Jesus appointed and equipped his apostles to speak with the same authority, an authority sometimes delegated by the apostles to others of their company, like Luke, James, and Jude. This authority extended to their writing. Today all branches of the Christian church accept the Old Testament covenant document together with the New Testament words of Jesus and the apostles as “the Bible,” indeed the holy Bible, the written word of God.

As God’s own word, the Bible is the supreme authority for all areas of human life. In both Testaments, God urges his people to reverence his holy written word as their ultimate criterion of truth.

Christian theology recognizes a number of subdomains of the doctrine of bibliology:

Inspiration is the divine action that creates an identity between a human word and a divine word.

• The Bible’s authority comes from its divine source; it governs all areas of human life.

• Because the Bible is the word of an absolutely truthful God, all of its teaching is truthful.

• The canon is the divinely authorized collection of books that God has given to govern his people.

• The doctrine of Scripture’s clarity teaches that the Bible is sufficiently clear to leave people no excuse for disobedience to their present duties.

• The doctrine of Scripture’s sufficiency teaches that the Bible contains all the divine words necessary for human decisions.

• The doctrine of Scripture’s necessity teaches that God’s written word in Scripture is an indispensable element of the believer’s covenant relation to Christ.

• Christians throughout the history of the church have seen the translation of Scripture as a necessary part of the work of interpreting and communicating it.

Interpretation, in turn, is the attempt to help readers and hearers of Scripture to understand and apply the biblical text.

• The rule of faith is is an outline of Christian beliefs, based in Scripture, that summarizes the apostolic proclamation about who God is and what God has done in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Passages

Key Verses

Ge 12:7; Ge 13:18; Ge 28:18; Ge 35:14 (Patriarchs’ memorials.); Ex 24:12; Ex 31:18; Ex 34:1; Ex 34:27–28 (Ten Commandments, written by God’s finger.); Dt 32:46–47; Jos 1:7–8 (God’s written words as Israel’s “very life.”); Mt 5:17–19; Jn 5:45–47; Jn 10:34–36 (Jesus’ reverence for the Old Testament as God’s word.); Ac 24:14; Ro 15:4; Jas 4:11–12; 2 Ti 2:15–17; 2 Pe 1:16–21 (The apostles’ regard for the Old Testament.); 1 Co 14:37–38; Col 4:16; 2 Th 3:14–15 (Writings of the apostles are regarded as Holy Scripture.)

Additional Verses

2 Ti 3:16

 Frame, J. (2018). The Bible. In M. Ward, J. Parks, B. Ellis, & T. Hains (Eds.), Lexham Survey of Theology. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

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