So why should you trust the Bible? I hear two primary objections, or arguments, for people not believing. First, they say “How can you trust a book that was written so long ago?!” Second, they say “The Bible has been translated so many times, we don’t really know what it said back then, so why should I trust the Bible?” And you know what? That is a great question! And since the Bible claims to have such important implications for our lives and for potential life after death, it is a question that deserves a response!
Let’s start with the concern that the Bible was written “thousands of years ago”. It’s true. The Bible was written a long time ago. The Old Testament goes back about 3400 years ago, the New Testament was written about 2000 years ago. But in the year 2020, in our modern day and sophisticated times, can we trust anything written so long ago?
One thing to understand is that for historical accuracy and credibility, it’s not important how long ago an event occurred. What is important is how long it was between when the event occurred and when it was recorded. The shorter the time between when the event occurred and when it was recorded, the more credibility it garners in the eyes of historians. The amount of time since an event was recorded has no impact or relevance on whether the event actually occurred. Again, what is relevant is the amount of time between the event and when it was recorded. And from a historical standpoint, the Bible is written extraordinarily early after the resurrection of Jesus!
So, in this regard, the Bible fares extremely well! In fact, it is the most credible and best attested writing in all of ancient history. Nothing else even comes close! To give you an idea, consider one of the most famous people in all of ancient history, and one of my personal favorites, Alexander the Great. Historians consider the stories, the conquests, and the historical events surrounding Alexander the Great to be fairly accurate and reliable. But did you know the very first writings concerning his life were written 400 years after his death?
Now compare that to the New Testament. The Gospels were written, not 400 years after Jesus, but within one generation of the life of Jesus, while the apostles were still alive. That is extremely early! It is also important that they were written that early because there were still eyewitnesses around… they were still alive! In the eyes of historians and scholars, this is crucial, and with the bible, they’ve struck gold. Again, nothing else in all of ancient history even comes close.
The second point, or argument, concerns the number of times the Bible has been translated. “Well, nobody really knows what the Bible originally said because it has been translated so many times”. I hear that so often! And, honestly, it simply reveals a complete misunderstanding of how the bible we have today was translated. There is a thought out there that the bible of today was translated from one language to another to another and so on, and that with each translation, we somehow lose more and more of the original meaning. But this isn’t a game of “telephone” at a 6-year old’s birthday party! Today, we translate from the original Hebrew and Greek directly into English! So, how many translations has our modern Bible been through? One!
We have over 5000 surviving manuscripts of the Greek New Testament alone, which historians and scholars have called “an embarrassment of riches”. Why do they say that? Because again, nothing in all of ancient literature even comes close. We now know with 99% accuracy what the Bible said in its original language. That is a fact, and even skeptical scholars agree.
There are a little over 138,000 words in the New Testament. Only about 1400 of those words are in dispute, and none of those impact any Christian doctrine. These are simply spelling errors, or the difference in singular versus plural, or, for example, “ours” versus “yours”.
The bottom line is this: the Bible is trustworthy. Even though it was written over 2000 years ago, and even though you are reading an English translation, understand that what you are reading was written very early after the events described, which remember, is the most important thing for historical credibility. And we know for a fact we are reading with 99% precision what was originally written. Look, these aren’t secrets! This is common knowledge among scholars and historians, both believing and non-believing.
But you also need to know this; even though we have a reliable, credible, and trustworthy source for the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and a book that claims to be the Word of God, it doesn’t do you any good if you don’t read it for yourself! It doesn’t do you any good if it’s just a centerpiece on your coffee table, or just another household decoration you have to periodically dust off with the rest of your furniture and knickknacks. It only does you good if you actually read it!
Look, if you are struggling, or have doubts about whether you can believe the bible, take these two reasons of the table, because they no longer even have a seat at the table! Concerning these two objections, the verdict is in. The Bible is trustworthy! Now it is up to you to decide what you are going to do with that information.
2 Tim 3:16 says “All Scripture is breathed out by God…” And Jesus himself said “If you abide in my word (stay, continue), you are truly my disciples, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
To learn more about Bible, please take a listen to my Verse By Verse Bible Study podcast.