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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Is the Bible the Authoritative Word of God?

Don Stewart :: What about All the Trivial Issues Which the Bible Covers?

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Question 14

What about All the Trivial Issues Which the Bible Covers?

One of the objections against the Scripture being the infallible, authoritative Word of God is the so-called trivial issues that the Bible records. There are a number of things recorded in the Bible that seemingly have no value. How can the Bible rightly be called the Word of God with such trivial things that it records?

Supposed Examples of Trivial Matters in Scripture

There are a number of passages that are often pointed to as being trivial in nature. The following are two of the many examples that are usually given:

  1. The Account of Paul’s Cloak: Is This Trivial?

    When Paul wrote to Timothy, he asked him to bring his cloak when he returned. He said:

    When you come, bring with you the cloak I left in Troas with Carpas and the scrolls, especially the parchment ones. (2 Timothy 4:13 NET)

    How can the Bible be considered the Word of God when such a trivial thing is recorded? Does this example not show that the Bible records things of no value?

  2. The Detailed Descriptions in the Book of Numbers

    There are also certain insignificant details that are recorded in the Book of Numbers. They are stated as follows:

    The one who presented his offering on the first day was Nahshon son of Amminadab from the tribe of Judah. His offering was one silver dish weighing three and a quarter pounds and one silver basin weighing one and three-quarter pounds, [measured] by the standard sanctuary shekel, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; one gold bowl weighing four ounces, full of incense; one young bull, one ram, and one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; one male goat for a sin offering; and two bulls, five rams, five male breeding goats, and five male lambs a year old, for the fellowship sacrifice. This was the offering of Nahshon son of Amminadab. (Numbers 7:12-17 HCSB)

    The entire chapter lists a number of different tribal leaders and the specific offerings they brought to the Lord. Does not all this seem rather trivial?

Accusation: How Can the Bible Be Regarded as Inspired of God with Such Trivial Things Recorded in It?

The accusation that is made against the Bible is simple. How can it be the Word of God when it contains many examples of such trivial matters? How can a book be God’s Word in any sense with such trivial things found in it? Does not the inclusion of these things show the Bible is merely an ordinary book?

Response to the Idea That Scripture Contains Trivial Matters

A number of points need to be made to this objection. They are as follows:

  1. Who Decides What Is Trivial?

    While this objection is often raised, it assumes something that is not in evidence—these things are truly trivial. The Bible is clear that all Scripture is useful or profitable. Paul wrote:

    All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)

    Consequently, there are truths that can be understood from the so-called trivial issues that the Bible records. Because some Bible critic does not recognize the value of a certain thing found in Scripture does not make that thing meaningless. How are we able to know whether something is profitable or not? Apart from God’s revelation, no human being is in a position to judge as to whether a particular passage of Scripture is profitable.

  2. The Details Are Important to the Overall Story

    In addition, the things that are assumed to be trivial by some are important to the overall story of God’s plan of salvation with humanity. Since God is the ultimate author of Scripture, everything that is recorded has some meaning in His overall plan.

  3. We Learn a Valuable Lesson—God Is Concerned about All Parts of Our Lives

    There are lessons that can be learned from these so-called trivial things that the Bible records. For one thing, God is concerned about the smallest of things. He takes an interest in every individual and their troubles—no matter how small.

    While no one else may have noticed a particular thing that occurred, it is reassuring to realize that God took notice. This is consistent with what Jesus taught us about the concern of God for humanity. Jesus said:

    Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:29-31 ESV)

    Therefore, the fact that God takes notice of the smallest of details should be an encouragement to us.

  4. It Is Not Always Easy to Say How Each Detail Recorded in Scripture Is Profitable

    While all Scripture is profitable, it does not mean that everyone will immediately understand how each passage is beneficial. God has declared that all Scripture is profitable. That should be sufficient for those who believe in Him. The key issue is, “Shall we believe Him or not?” Believers, therefore, are not required to point out how every passage of the Bible is profitable any more than they are expected to give a final explanation of every Bible difficulty. We believe that all Scripture is profitable because God says that it is. End of story.

Conclusion: Everything Recorded in Scripture Is There for a Reason

Therefore, we should conclude that everything recorded in Scripture is profitable for believers. Consequently, it is important that the totality of Scripture is to be studied. No part of the Bible, no matter how trivial it may seem to us, should be ignored. Everything contained in God’s Holy Word should be diligently studied.

Summary - Question 14
What about All the Trivial Issues Which the Bible Covers?

Scripture contains a number of details that some would consider trivial. This has led to the charge that the Bible cannot be the authoritative Word of God because of some of its trivial contents. However, the idea that each detail listed is trivial misses the point. Each instance where so-called trivial things are mentioned is important to the overall biblical story. It is the lack of understanding on the part of the biblical critic that would call these things trivial. All Scripture is profitable and all Scripture should be studied.

Are Some Parts of the Bible More Authoritative than Others? ← Prior Section
What about the Morally Repugnant Stories That Are Recorded in the Bible? Next Section →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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