What Does the Bible Say About Itself?

Exploring key verses in God's Word that illuminate the nature of God's Word

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Photo (c) by stock.xchng user renaudeh.

There are three important claims the Bible makes about itself: 1) that the Scriptures are inspired by God, 2) that the Bible is true, and 3) that God's Word is relevant and useful in the world today. Let's explore these claims further. 

The Bible Claims to Be God's Word

The very first thing we need to understand about the Bible is that it definitively claims to have its source in God. Meaning, the Bible proclaims itself to be divinely inspired by God.

 

Look at 2 Timothy 3:16-17, for example:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Just as God breathed life into Adam (see Genesis 2:7) to create a living being, He also breathed life into the Scriptures. While it's true that a number of people were responsible for recording the words of the Bible over the course of thousands of years, the Bible claims God was the source of those words. 

The apostle Paul - who wrote several books in the New Testament -- clarified this point in 1 Thessalonians 2:13:

And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.

The apostle Peter -- another biblical author -- also identified God as the ultimate Creator of the Scriptures:

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21).

So, God is the ultimate source of the concepts and claims recorded in the Bible, even though He used a number of human beings to do the physical recording with ink, scrolls, and so on.

That's what the Bible claims.

The Bible Claims to Be True

Inerrant and infallible are two theological words often applied to the Bible. We'll need another article to explain the different shades of meaning connected with those words, but they both boil down to a similar idea: that everything contained in the Bible is true.

There are many Scripture passages that affirm the essential truth of God's Word, but these words from David are the most poetic:

The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous (Psalm 19:7-9).

Jesus also proclaimed that the Bible is true:

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth (John 17:17).

Finally, the concept of God's Word being true points back to the idea that the Bible is, well, God's Word. In other words, because the Bible comes from God, we can have confidence that it communicates truth. God isn't lying to us.

Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure (Hebrews 6:17-19).

The Bible Claims to Be Relevant

The Bible claims to come directly from God, and the Bible claims to be true in everything it says. But those two claims by themselves wouldn't necessarily make the Scriptures something on which we all should base our lives. After all, if God were to inspire an extremely accurate dictionary, it probably wouldn't change much for most people.

That's why it's vitally important that the Bible claims to be relevant for the major issues we face as individuals and as a culture. Look at these words from the apostle Paul, for example:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Jesus Himself claimed that the Bible is as necessary to a healthy life as food and nutrition:

Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God'" (Matthew 4:4).

The Bible has a lot to say about the practical side of concepts such as money, sexuality, the family, the role of government, taxes, war, peace, and so on.