You want to know things like:
The truth is that the Bible isn’t like most books. There’s no author listed on the cover, no original publication date, and no introduction that tells you the overall purpose of the book. When you read the Bible, you encounter people and places and concepts that are very unfamiliar.
These things can make the Bible seem complicated or confusing.
The good news is that, in many ways, the Bible is actually pretty simple. There are straightforward answers to all of the above questions, and those answers shed a lot of light on the Bible itself.
So, to help you gain a fuller understanding of the book, we’re going to answer the question: What is the Bible?
Ready? Let’s dive in.
There is no single answer to the question, “What is the Bible?” Depending on what you mean by the question, it can be answered in a variety of ways. To answer the question, let’s look at the Bible from a variety of angles.
Above all else, the Bible is the word of God. It is not merely the writings of people.
It is from God Himself. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says:
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
When you open the Bible, you hear the very words of God. God is speaking to you, and the word of God cannot be ignored. It must be believed, obeyed, and treasured. Psalm 119:14-16 shows us the kind of attitude we must have about the Bible:
I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches.
I will meditate on Your precepts,
And contemplate Your ways.
I will delight myself in Your statutes;
I will not forget Your word.
The Bible is one big book made up of 66 smaller books. The smaller books were written by 44 authors from many different walks of life. For example, the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) were written by Moses, who was raised in Egyptian royal family. The book of 1 Peter was written by Peter, who spent most of his life as a fisherman. Galatians was written by Paul, who was trained by elite Jewish scholars.
The fact that so many different people said the same things about God is just one amazing aspect of the Bible. If you were to ask 44 random people to tell you their opinions about God, you would get 44 different answers. But the authors of the Bible all point to the same God.
They wrote on so many different subjects. And they wrote from different backgrounds, in at least three different languages. On all of these subjects and yet when they come together they don't make sixty-six books. From Genesis to Revelation, it reads as one book. There is an incredible unity to the Bible...How do you explain the fact that the Bible has this unity? Try to write any other piece like the Bible came together and try to have that unity when you're dealing with the kind of subjects the Bible deals with.
In addition to being written by numerous authors, the Bible also contains many different genres of literature. The books of the Bible aren’t all the same. Generally speaking, it can be broken down in the following manner:
To understand the meaning of each book, you need to read it in light of its genre. Because the Psalms are poetry, they contain a lot of figurative language. For example, in Psalm 1, the person who regularly studies God’s word is compared to a tree planted by streams of water. Obviously, this doesn’t mean the person is literally a tree. It means that they’ll be sturdy even in the midst of the storms of life.
The epistles were, essentially, letters written to groups of people. To understand them, you need to have a basic grasp of the author, the audience, the circumstances in which it was written, etc.
The Bible wasn’t written in a month or a year or a decade. It was written over the course of many centuries! It’s estimated that Moses wrote the first books of the Bible sometime around 1400 B.C. and that the other books of the Old Testament were written over, approximately, the next 1,600 years. The books of the New Testament were written over the last half of the first century A.D.
The Bible is a record of God’s activity through history. It takes us from the creation of the world in Genesis until the very end of time in Revelation. It shows us what God has done, what He is doing, and what He will do.
Not only does the Bible show us God’s activity, but it also shows us God Himself. The Bible reveals things about God that we couldn’t know any other way. For example, Deuteronomy 7:9 says:
Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments.
We can’t know that God is faithful by looking at the world around us. The oceans and mountains and planets and stars don’t show us that God is faithful. That wonderful truth only comes from the Bible itself.
This means that if we want to truly know God, it is essential that we study the Bible. There is no other way to gain a deep understanding of God.
Scripture also teaches us God’s plan of salvation. It shows us how we can know Him, have our sins forgiven, and have a close relationship with Him. John 3:16-17 tells us:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
In the Bible, we learn that God sent Jesus to live a sinless life in our place, die the death we deserve, and then rise from the dead. Someday soon, Jesus will return and He will create a new heavens and new earth that are free from sin and death. When we believe in Jesus as our Savior, we are brought into the family of God.
The Bible has been instrumental in transforming millions of people over the years. Men and women have had their lives radically changed as a result of reading the Bible. Addicts have been freed from the things that enslaved them. Those bent under the weight of suffering have found incredible hope and joy. The guilty have found forgiveness and the anxious have discovered peace.
You couldn't be a pastor the years that I've been and not seen people in such torment and such trial and such pain and such agony. But I have seen them go to the Word of God and find comfort that they could not find comfort in any other place or any other way. As they've crossed the chilly waters of death, they pillowed their head upon the word of God. And they've held it to their bosom when they needed help and strength, because there is power in the Word of God and the promises of God's Word.
Love Worth Finding has complied a list of trusted resources that provide reading plans for reading the Bible in a year or part of a year. These sites are not affiliated with Love Worth Finding Ministries.
What is the Bible? It is God’s book, and because it is from God it is just as relevant today as it ever was.
If you want to know God, read the Bible. If you want to live in a way that pleases God, study His word. If you want encouragement in the midst of challenges, rely on His promises. If you desire peace in the storm, sink your roots down deep in the Bible.