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Don Stewart :: What Is the Bible?

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Don Stewart

The English word Bible means, "book." It is derived from the Latin word biblia and the Greek words biblion and biblos meaning, "scroll" or "book." Christians use the term Bible to refer to the sixty-six books that they hold to be sacred Scripture. Consequently the Bible has been called the "Divine Library."

There Are Two Testaments In Scripture

The Bible is made up of two testaments, the Old and the New. The Old Testament is about three times larger than the New Testament. There are thirty-nine books in the Old Testament and twenty-seven in the New Testament. The Old Testament was composed from about 1,400 to 400 B.C. Thus it took about one thousand years to complete the various books of the Old Testament.

The New Testament was written during a much shorter period of time. The various books were composed from approximately A.D. 40 to A.D. 80. The earliest New Testament book written is most likely one of three (Galatians, 1 Thessalonians, or James). The last book written was most likely the Book of Revelation.

Some of the sacred writings were not originally written with the idea of publication or public distribution. For example, Philemon is a short private letter to an individual. The writings of 2 and 3 John are also too short to properly be called books. However all of them have now been collected and published into one book - the Bible.

The Bible Shows Both Unity And Diversity

From a human standpoint, about forty different authors wrote the books of the Bible. While made up of sixty-six separate books the Bible is, in actuality, one book. Consequently it shows both unity and diversity. It is a unity because one author (God) is behind the books. It is diverse because many human authors were used to compose the various books.

The term "Bible" also has the idea of preeminence - it is the final authority on all matters of faith and practice. The Bible is not merely one of many books that have been written; it is the Book!

The Bible Was Not Written In Systematic Form

The Bible is the record of God's revelation of Himself to humanity. It is not written in the form of a systematic theology. Instead the Bible consists of a number of historical and personal writings that reveal God's Person and plan to humankind.

The Bible Was Written In The Third Person

Although the Bible claims to be God's Word it is written in the third person rather than the first person. For example, the first verse of Scripture reads.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).

We do not find the personal pronoun "I" used. God did not say, "In the beginning I created." Instead God used human writers to compose his word. Consequently the Scriptures are a divine/human product.

The Bible Is True But Not Exhaustive

The Bible claims to reveal truth about God. However, it does not tell us everything we would like to know about God, only the things that we need to know. The Apostle John told his readers that he did not record all the acts of Jesus that he witnessed.

And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written (John 21:25).

However Scripture testifies that God has provided everything necessary for us. Peter wrote.

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires (2 Peter 1:3,4).

The Bible Was Written For Everyone

The Scripture has been written in a way that it can be read and understood by everyone - not just a select few. The message of the Bible is for all people in all countries, for all time. Jesus told His disciples to go out into the entire world and teach and preach His message.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:19,20).

The Bible, The Scripture, The Word Of God

While the term Bible (biblos), in the singular, is not found within the pages of the sixty-six sacred books to describe the collection of Holy Scripture, we find the terms "Books," "Scripture," the "Scriptures," and the "Word of God" used to refer to God's authoritative writings. Today the terms Bible, Scripture, Scriptures, and Word of God are used interchangeably by Christians to refer to the sacred writings of the Old and New Testament.


The Bible is one large book made up of sixty-six smaller books. It is the divine library - the Word of God to humanity. God revealed His truth in these books over a fifteen hundred year span. The Bible was not written in any systematic form of doctrine or teaching but rather consists of God's revelation throughout history. Although the Bible does not contain everything we would like to know about God it does contain everything that is necessary. Scripture was written for everyone to read and understand.

The terms Bible, Scripture, Scriptures, and the Word of God can be used interchangeably to refer to this one Book that has collected all of the sacred writings that God has given to humanity.


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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