The Reliability of the Bible

29 Apr

The believability of the Bible as a reliable divine revelation is vital to our appreciation of the Bible’s grand theme. We believe the Bible is absolutely reliable as a guide for our lives and for our religious practices. However, in a world with so many choices in so-called divine revelation, it is more important than ever that we prepare ourselves (1 Pet. 3:15) to explain why we believe the Bible is God’s final and adequate revelation (2 Pet. 1:3 cf. Jude 3).

Let there be no doubt: we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Bible can be trusted. Furthermore, we can prove that the Bible can be trusted exclusively without additional revelations from other sources. However, there are those who are scoffers (Prov. 1:22) who hate knowledge and do not want to believe the truth. To these people we have nothing to offer. Our only hope is that through the examples of changed lives through God’s plan their hearts will be touched with the truth.

To those who are honestly seeking a better understand of God’s plan and want the truth, the reasonable evidence for the reliability of the Bible has a strong draw and will strengthen the faith of some and will convince others.

 Is it necessary for Christians to offer this proof?

 Some may argue that it is not necessary for Christians to attempt proving the reliability of the Bible. However, the Bible itself argues that providing reasonable proof is appropriate. Expecting people to follow us blindly without some amount of critical thinking will lead to mindless drones simply being carried about by every wind of doctrine (Eph. 4:14).

Luke did not expect Theophilus to blindly follow what he had been taught. He thought the effort of setting forth an orderly account of events was perfectly reasonable (Lk. 1:1-4; Acts 1:1-3). It is interesting that Luke offered “proof”. He appealed to eyewitnesses to backup what he had taught Theophilus. Demanding proof does not make one cantankerous or one of these scoffers and will produce a stronger faith in someone. We should not shy away from someone’s hard questions about what we believe—we should welcome and embrace questioning provided it is coming from an honest source and honest motives.

Saul of Tarsus could “prove” that Jesus was the Christ (Acts 9:22). Again, Saul took the time and effort to provide adequate reasons why Jesus was the Christ. The fact that he believed this was important should show us the importance of this task. Providing proof for belief has worth!

The apostles used signs, wonders, and miracles to prove that the brand-new gospel message was something to be believed. Paul spoke of having done the signs of an apostle among the Corinthians (2 Cor. 12:12).           He did this to prove his authority as an apostle but also to certify the gospel message (Heb. 2:1-4).

Can Christians proof the reliability of the Bible?

This is a fair question. To a certain extent, it goes back to our audience. To some, we will never prove the Bible is reliable. There are many things about the Bible we are incapable of proving. We were not there and can provide no current eyewitnesses to the events recorded therein. Furthermore, we are not able to corroborate many of the historical facts with third-party secular accounts. Because of this, the proof we offer is not adequate to some. However, as time marches on, more Biblical facts are strengthened by archaeological evidence and are found to be somewhat factual. With this being the case, we would expect that a whole line of scoffers would be waiting to repent. This is not the case—many of these never wanted to believe to begin with. Again, we have nothing to offer these people.

The internal unity of the Bible as evidence for its inspiration

The Bible is a collection of books compiled over 1500 years by 40 authors from three different continents and writing in three different languages. One would expect a variety of themes, doctrines, and concepts being taught considering how many people were involved in this compilation. However, this is not the case. The same morality, character of God, teachings and commandments, and blessings and curses are throughout the Bible.

One case study in this fact is the fulfillment of the prophecy of the return of the Jews from Babylonian captivity. In approximately 750BC, the prophet Isaiah said  that Cyrus would serve as God’s shepherd and ensure that Jerusalem and that Jerusalem’s temple would be built (Is. 44:28). Over 200 years later, Cyrus, King of Persia, directed that the temple be rebuilt (2 Chr. 36:22-23). The power of this prophecy cannot be overlooked.

Another case study is the many prophecies Jesus fulfilled during His work. The table below shows many of the prophecies and their fulfillment.


Old Testament Scriptures That Describe The Coming Messiah

The Messianic Prophecy (paraphrased)

Where the prophecy appears in the Old Testament (written between 1450 BC and 430BC)

Jesus’ fulfillment of the prophecy in the New Testament (written between 45 and 95 AD)

The Messiah will be the offspring (descendant) of the woman (Eve)

Genesis 3:15

Galatians 4:4

The Messiah will be a descendant of Abraham, through whom everyone on earth will be blessed

Genesis 12:3; 18:18

Acts 3:25,26

The Messiah will be a descendant of Judah

Genesis 49:10

Matthew 1:2 and Luke 3:33

The Messiah will be a prophet like Moses

Deuteronomy 18:15-19

Acts 3:22,23

The Messiah will be the Son of God

Psalm 2:7

Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22

The Messiah will be raised from the dead (resurrected)

Psalm 16:10,11

Matthew 28:5-9; Mark 16:6; Luke 24:4-7; John 20:11-16; Acts 1:3 and 2:32

The Messiah crucifixion experience

Psalm 22 (contains 11 prophecies—not all listed here)

Matthew 27:34-50 and John 19:17-30

The Messiah will be sneered at and mocked

Psalm 22:7

Luke 23:11,35-39

The Messiah will be pierced through hands and feet

Psalm 22:16

Luke 23:33 and 24:36-39;
John 19:18 and 20:19-20,24-27

The Messiah’s bones will not be broken (a person’s legs were usually broken after being crucified to speed up their death)

Psalm 22:17 and 34:20

John 19:31-33,36

Men Will Gamble for the Messiah’s clothing

Psalm 22:18

Matthew 27:35; Mark 15:24; Luke 23:34; John 19:23,24

The Messiah will accused by false witnesses

Psalm 35:11

Matthew 26:59,60 and Mark 14:56,57

The Messiah will be hated without a cause

Psalm 35:19 and 69:4

John 15:23-25

The Messiah will be betrayed by a friend

Psalm 41:9

John 13:18,21

The Messiah will ascend to heaven (at the right hand of God)

Psalm 68:18

Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9; 2:33-35; 3:20-21; 5:31,32; 7:55-56; Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20,21; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Pet 3:22

The Messiah will be given vinegar and gall to drink

Psalm 69:21

Matthew 27:34; Mark 15:23; John 19:29,30

Great kings will pay homage and tribute to the Messiah

Psalm 72:10,11

Matthew 2:1-11

The Messiah is a “stone the builders rejected” who will become the “head cornerstone”

Psalm 118:22,23 and Isaiah 28:16

Matthew 21:42,43; Acts 4:11; Ephesians 2:20; 1 Peter 2:6-8

The Messiah will be a descendant of David

Psalm 132:11 and Jeremiah 23:5,6; 33:15,16

Luke 1:32,33

The Messiah will be a born of a virgin

Isaiah 7:14

Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 1:26-35

The Messiah’s first spiritual work will be in Galilee

Isaiah 9:1-7

Matthew 4:12-16

The Messiah will make the blind see, the deaf hear, etc.

Isaiah 35:5-6

Many places. Also see Matthew 11:3-6 and John 11:47

The Messiah will be beaten, mocked, and spat upon

Isaiah 50:6

Matthew 26:67 and 27:26-31

The “Gospel according to Isaiah”

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Matthew, Mark, Luke, John

People will hear and not believe the “arm of the LORD” (Messiah)

Isaiah 53:1

John 12:37,38

The Messiah will be rejected

Isaiah 53:3

Matthew 27:20-25; Mark 15:8-14; Luke 23:18-23; John 19:14,15

The Messiah will be killed

Isaiah 53:5-9

Matthew 27:50; Mark 15:37-39; Luke 23:46; John 19:30

The Messiah will be silent in front of his accusers

Isaiah 53:7

Matthew 26:62,63 and 27:12-14

The Messiah will be buried with the rich

Isaiah 53:9

Matthew 27:59,60; Mark 15:46; Luke 23:52,53; John 19:38-42

The Messiah will be crucified with criminals

Isaiah 53:12

Matthew 27:38; Mark 15:27; Luke 23:32,33

The Messiah is part of the new and everlasting covenant

Isaiah 55:3-4 and Jeremiah 31:31-34

Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; Hebrews 8:6-13

The Messiah will be our intercessor (intervene for us and plead on our behalf)

Isaiah 59:16

Hebrews 9:15

The Messiah will come at a specific time

Daniel 9:25-26

Galatians 4:4 and Ephesians 1:10

The Messiah will be born in Bethlehem

Micah 5:2

Matthew 2:1 and Luke 2:4-7

The Messiah will enter Jerusalem riding a donkey

Zechariah 9:9

Matthew 21:1-11

The Messiah will be sold for 30 pieces of silver

Zechariah 11:12,13

Matthew 26:15 with Matthew 27:3-10

The Messiah will forsaken by His disciples

Zechariah 13:7

Matthew 26:31,56

The Messiah will enter the Temple with authority

Malachi 3:1

Matthew 21:12 and Luke 19:45




When you look at the unity of this awesome book,  it shows that there was a hand working to ensure that it was revealed with a common message.

 Textual evidence as evidence of the reliability of the original texts

 We have all played the game where we repeat something to the person beside us and see if it makes its way around the circle reliably. Inevitably, someone changes the message slightly, usually as a joke.

 This is one of the charges laid against the reliability of the Bible. The argument is that since we cannot produce the original manuscripts of the Bible (called the autographs) then we cannot prove that the Bible we currently have is the same one they had back in the old or new testament times. However, this same standard is not put to other texts, such as the ancient Greek writings or the ancient Babylonian writings. The Bible is held to a different standard.

 The fact is that there is a larger number of manuscripts available for the Bible than for many similar texts. Over 5,000 Greek NT manuscripts exist, over 10,000 Latin, and 9,000 in other languages. This totals over                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      manuscripts, many of which date from 100-300 years after the originals were written. There are fragments, such as the John Rylands manuscript estimated to have been produced around 130AD, just 30 years after the end of the new testament period. To provide some perspective, Caesar’s writings enjoy just 10 copies, and with these there is a gap of 1000 years. With Tacitus, there are only 20 copies with a 1000 year gap as well. Plato enjoys just 7 copies, and the gap between his life and the production of these copies is 1200 years.

 The Old Testament enjoys similar reliability. Until 1947, the copies of the Hebrew Old Testament were over 1000 years removed from the time of their writing. The Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in 1947, were produced from 300BC until the first century AD. These copies of the Old Testament vary from the newer Hebrew manuscripts by approximately 5%, and this variance is not in doctrine or in overall theme—it is simply slips of the pen and other such errors.


The proof available for the reliability of the Bible’s transmission is strong enough for the reasonable person to have their faith strengthened. After all, such a uniquely preserved book deserves a closer look.


There is much to be said about the reliability of the Bible, but the information provided herein is sufficient to give one a starting point for a serious in-depth conversation on this subject. Again, as Christians we must always be prepared to give answers for what we believe, and so knowing some of these basic facts can help us to that end.

Leave a comment

Posted by on April 29, 2011 in Uncategorized


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: