There has never been another book like the Bible. It is the best-selling and most impactful book in human history. Furthermore, the Bible has been translated into more languages than any other book. What makes the Bible so special?
1. The Bible’s Claim
2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:20-21, 2 Peter 3:2, 15-16
2. Reasons to Believe
A. Historically Accurate
a. Old Testament characters - Over 60 have been either historically or archaeologically identified.
b. Ebla Tablets – This relatively recent discovery lists many Old Testament cities, civilizations, and names.
c. Sodom and Gomorrah – The geological record shows evidence of an ancient earthquake. In addition, the layers of sedimentary rock were melded together by intense heat.
d. New Testament events and characters – The existence of Pontius Pilate, Caiaphas, Nazareth, and many others have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
B. First hand witnesses
a. Prophets and apostles – They were martyred without any material gain for their witness. Why? 2 Peter 1:16
b. The audience – It is one thing to say, “I saw.” It is another thing to say, “You saw.” - Acts 2:22
c. Jewish historian - “At this time there was a man who was called Jesus. His conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified, and he died. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive. Accordingly, he was thought to be the Messiah.” – Josephus
d. Roman historians - In total, nine early non-Christian secular writers mention Jesus as a real person within 150 years of his death. Interestingly, that is the same number of secular writers who mention Tiberius Caesar, the Roman emperor during Jesus’ time.
C. Extraordinary Insight
a. Moses’ prophecy concerning Israel - Deuteronomy 30:1-5
b. Daniel’s prophecy of world empires - Daniel 5:28, Daniel 8:20-22
c. Prophecies of the crucifixion - Died a humiliating death (Psalm 22; Isaiah 53) involving: rejection (Isaiah 53:3; John 1:10-11; 7:5,48), betrayal by a friend (Psalm 41:9; Luke 22:3-4; John 13:18), sold for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12; Matthew 26:14-15), silence before His accusers (Isaiah 53:7; Matthew 27:12-14), being mocked (Psalm 22: 7-8; Matthew 27:31), beaten (Isaiah 52:14; Matthew 27:26), spit upon (Isaiah 50:6; Matthew 27:30), piercing His hands and feet (Psalm 22:16; Matthew 27:31), being crucified with thieves (Isaiah 53:12; Matthew 27:38), praying for His persecutors (Isaiah 53:12; Luke 23:34), piercing His side (Zechariah 12:10; John 19:34), given gall and vinegar to drink (Psalm 69:21, Matthew 27:34, Luke 23:36), no broken bones (Psalm 34:20; John 19:32-36), buried in a rich man's tomb (Isaiah 53:9; Matthew 27:57-60), casting lots for His garments (Psalm 22:18; John 19:23-24).
d. Jesus’ prophecy of the fall of Jerusalem - Luke 21:5-6, Luke 21:20-24
e. Prophecies of the restoration of Israel - Jeremiah 23:3
D. Moral Superiority
The Bible describes the sinful nature of man, lists flaws of prominent characters, demands love and concern for others, and emphasizes the essentiality of God’s mercy. (2 Peter 1:19)
E. Confirmed by Jesus
a. The Old Testament - Luke 11:50-51, Luke 24:44-45
b. The New Testament - John 17:17, 20
a. Dead Sea Scrolls – They are 1,000 years older than the previous earliest manuscripts, yet they confirmed the faithfulness of the transmission of Scripture. - Psalm 12:6-7
b. New Testament manuscripts – There are about 6,000 early New Testament manuscripts, 18,500 early translations, and 36,000 early quotations. The earliest fragment discovered has been dated within 50 years of the original autograph.
3. The Bible and You
Hebrews 4:12, James 1:23-25, Psalms 119:105-106