Can I Trust the Bible
If the Bible is truly God’s Word, then we should cherish it, study it, and fully trust it. If the Bible is the Word of God, then to dismiss it is to dismiss God Himself. The fact that God gave us the Bible is an evidence and illustration of His love for us. The question we must ask ourselves is how can we know that the Bible is the Word of God and not just a good book? What is unique about the Bible that sets it apart from all other religious books ever written? Is there any evidence that the Bible is truly God’s Word? These types of questions must be seriously examined if we are to determine the validity of the Bible’s claim to be the very Word of God, divinely inspired, and totally sufficient for all matters of faith and practice.
The manuscript evidence we have for the New Testament is far beyond other manuscript evidence for other literature from antiquity.
Author Written Earliest Copy Time Span #Manuscripts
Caesar 100-44 B.C. 900 A.D. 1,000 yrs 10
Plato 427-347 B.C. 900 A.D. 1,200 yrs 7
Thucydides 460-400 B.C. 900 A.D. 1,300 yrs 8
Tacitus 100 A.D. 1100 A.D. 1,000 yrs 20
Suetonius 75-160 A.D. 950 A.D 800 yrs 8
Homer (Iliad) 900 B.C. 400 B.C. 500 yrs 643
Bible(NT) 40-100 A.D. 125 A.D. 25-50 yrs 24,000
The manuscript evidence we have is accurate by looking at several other eyewitness accounts in the Bible: The New Testament eyewitness events also bear witness to the accurate manuscript evidence as
- Luke says that he “carefully investigated everything” ( Luke 1:1-3).
- Peter concurred when he reminded his readers that the disciples “did not follow cleverly invented stories…but were eyewitness of [Jesus’] majesty” (2 Peter 1:16).
- The apostle John stated, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life- the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us--that which we have seen and heard we declare to you.” (1 John 1:1-3)
(Even secular historians can confirm many of the customs, people, places, and events that are contained within the Bible)
Scripture is Intimately Identify with Jesus
The most important key to identifying and recognizing the divine nature of the Bible is to learn that God's word is intimately identified with the person of Christ. Christ is referenced to be the Word of God as far back as before creation:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-3, 14)
The Word is received as having authority
The authority of God's written word is further confirmed by the reception it received from its earliest audiences,
. In Exodus 24:7 the people responded to the written word just as though the Lord was speaking: "Then [Moses] took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, "We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey."
In the New Testament, Paul commends the church at Thessalonica for having received the spoken Gospel as the word of God (1 Th. 2:13)
Christ and the apostles used the Word as having authority
When one man asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus directs him to the Word by responding: "What is written in the Law?" (Luke 10:26).
When Jesus was three times tempted by Satan, he responded each time by quoting Scripture: "It is written..." (Mat. 4:1-11).
Jesus also confirmed to his disciples that "everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled," (Luke 18:31).
Paul's preaching was also done on the basis that Scripture has authority, and on the basis that his listeners accepted the reliability and authority of Scripture: "For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures," (1 Cor. 15:3-4).
The authority of Scripture, and our responsibility to it, is something of which Jesus frequently spoke.
• of the importance of knowing Scripture: "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God," (Mat 22:29)
• of our dependency upon Scripture: "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God," (Mat. 4:4)
• of the responsibility we have towards Scripture: "My mother and brothers are those who hear God's word and put it into practice," (Luke 8:21)
• and on the wisdom of exercising that responsibility: "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock," (Mat. 7:24).
WANT MORE ?
- Creation is made of particles, indiscernible to our eyes (Hebrews 11:3). Not until the 19th century was it discovered that all visible matter consists of invisible elements.
- The sun goes in a circuit (Psalm 19:6). Some scientists scoffed at this verse thinking that it taught geocentricity - the theory that the sun revolves around the earth. They insisted the sun was stationary. However, we now know that the sun is traveling through space at approximately 600,000 miles per hour. It is literally moving through space in a huge circuit - just as the Bible stated 3,000 years ago!
- The Bible specifies the perfect dimensions for a stable water vessel (Genesis 6:15). Ship builders today are well aware that the ideal dimension for ship stability is a length six times that of the width. Keep in mind, God told Noah the ideal dimensions for the ark 4,500 years ago.
- Sanitation industry birthed (Deuteronomy 23:12-13). Some 3,500 years ago God commanded His people to have a place outside the camp where they could relieve themselves. They were to each carry a shovel so that they could dig a hole (latrine) and cover their waste. Up until World War I, more soldiers died from disease than war because they did not isolate human waste.
- Healthy dietary laws (Leviticus 11:9-12). Scripture states that we should avoid those sea creatures which do not have fins or scales. We now know that bottom feeders (those with no scales or fins) tend to consume waste and are likely to carry disease.
- Oceans contain springs (Job 38:16). The ocean is very deep. Almost all the ocean floor is in total darkness and the pressure there is enormous. It would have been impossible for Job to have explored the "springs of the sea." Until recently, it was thought that oceans were fed only by rivers and rain. Yet in the 1970s, with the help of deep diving research submarines that were constructed to withstand 6,000 pounds-per-square-inch pressure, oceanographers discovered springs on the ocean floors!-
There are mountains on the bottom of the ocean floor (Jonah 2:5-6). Only inthe last century have we discovered that there are towering mountains and deep trenches in the depths of the sea.
- The Bible states that God created life according to kinds (Genesis 1:24). The fact that God distinguishes kinds, agrees with what scientists observe - namely that there are horizontal genetic boundaries beyond which life cannot vary. Life produces after its own kind. Dogs produce dogs, cats produce cats, roses produce roses. Never have we witnessed one kind changing into another kind as evolution supposes. There are truly natural limits to biological change.
- Light can be divided (Job 38:24). Sir Isaac Newton studied light and discovered that white light is made of seven colors, which can be "parted" and then recombined. Science confirmed this four centuries ago - God declared this four millennia ago!
- Chicken or egg dilemma solved (Genesis 1:20-22). Which came first, the chicken or the egg? This question has plagued philosophers for centuries. The Bible states that God created birds with the ability to reproduce after their kind. Therefore the chicken was created first with the ability to make eggs! Yet, evolution has no solution for this dilemma.
- The first three verses of Genesis accurately express all known aspects of the creation (Genesis 1:1-3). Science expresses the universe in terms of: time, space, matter, and energy. In Genesis chapter one we read: "In the beginning (time) God created the heavens (space) and the earth (matter)...Then God said, "Let there be light (energy)." No other creation account agrees with the observable evidence.
- Origin of the rainbow explained (Genesis 9:13-16). Prior to the Flood there was a different environment on the earth (Genesis 2:5-6). After the Flood, God set His rainbow "in the cloud" as a sign that He would never again judge the earth by water. Meteorologists now understand that a rainbow is formed when the sun shines through water droplets - which act as a prism - separating white light into its color spectrum.
- Sexual promiscuity is dangerous to your health (1 Corinthians 6:18; Romans 1:27). The Bible warns that "he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body," and that those who commit homosexual sin would "receive in themselves" the penalty of their error. Much data now confirms that any sexual relationship outside of holy matrimony is unsafe.
- Reproduction explained (Genesis 1:27-28; 2:24; Mark 10:6-8). While evolution has no mechanism to explain how male and female reproductive organs evolved at the same time, the Bible says that from the beginning God made them male and female in order to propagate the human race and animal kinds.-
The number of stars, though vast, are finite (Isaiah 40:26). Although man is unable to calculate the exact number of stars, we now know their number is finite. Of course God knew this all along - "He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name" (Psalm 147:4). What an awesome God!
- The continents were created as one large land mass (Genesis 1:9-10). Many geologists agree there is strong evidence that the earth was originally one super continent - just as the Bible said way back in Genesis.
- Life begins at fertilization (Jeremiah 1:5). God declares that He knew us before we were born.
(Exodus 21:22-23). Today, it is an irrefutable biological fact that the fertilized egg is truly an entire human being. Nothing will be added to the first cell except nutrition and oxygen.
- God fashions and knits us together in the womb (Job 10:8-12; 31:15). Science was ignorant concerning embryonic development until recently. Yet many centuries ago, the Bible accurately described God making us an "intricate unity" in the womb.
- God has created all mankind from one blood (Acts 17:26; Genesis 5). Today researchers have discovered that we have all descended from one gene pool. For example, a 1995 study of a section of Y chromosomes from 38 men from different ethnic groups around the world was consistent with the biblical teaching that we all come from one man (Adam)
- Origin of the major language groups explained (Genesis 11). After the rebellion at Babel, God scattered the people by confounding the one language into many languages. Evolution teaches that we all evolved from a common ancestor, yet offers no mechanism to explain the origin of the thousands of diverse languages in existence today.
- God has given us the leaves of the trees as medicine (Ezekiel 47:12; Revelation 22:2). Ancient cultures utilized many herbal remedies. Today, modern medicine has rediscovered what the Bible has said all along - there are healing compounds found in plants.
- The Bible warns against eating birds of prey (Leviticus 11:13-19). Scientists now recognize that those birds which eat carrion (putrefying flesh), often spread disease.
- Avoid swine (Deuteronomy 14:8). Not so long ago, science learned that eating undercooked pork causes an infection of parasites called trichinosis. Now consider this: the Bible forbid the eating of swine more than 3,000 years before we learned how to cook pork safely.
.- Radical environmentalism foreseen (Romans 1:25). Two thousand years ago, God's Word stated that many would worship and serve creation rather than the Creator. Today, nature is revered as "Mother" and naturalism is enshrined.
- The Second Law of Thermodynamics (Entropy) explained (Psalm 102:25-26). This law states that everything in the universe is running down, deteriorating, constantly becoming less and less orderly. Entropy (disorder) entered when mankind rebelled against God - resulting in the curse (Genesis 3:17; Romans 8:20-22). Historically most people believed the universe was unchangeable. Yet modern science verifies that universe is "grow(ing) old like a garment" (Hebrews 1:11). Evolution directly contradicts this law.
- Incest laws established (Leviticus 18:6). To marry near of kin in the ancient world was common. Yet, beginning about 1500 B.C., God forbid this practice. The reason is simple - the genetic mutations (resulting from the curse) had a cumulative effect. Though Cain could safely marry his sister because the genetic pool was still relatively pure at that time, by Moses' day the genetic errors had swelled. Today, geneticists confirm that the risk of passing on a genetic abnormality to your child is much greater if you marry a close relative because relatives are more likely to carry the same defective gene. If they procreate, their offspring are more apt to have this defect expressed.
- Genetic mixing of different seeds forbidden (Leviticus 19:19; Deuteronomy 22:9). The Bible warns against mixing seeds - as this will result in an inferior or dangerous crop. There is now growing evidence that unnatural, genetically engineered crops may be harmful.- Hydrological cycle described (Ecclesiastes 1:7; Jeremiah 10:13; Amos 9:6).
Four thousand years ago the Bible declared that God "draws up drops of water, which distill as rain from the mist, which the clouds drop down and pour abundantly on man" (Job 36:27-28). The ancients observed mighty rivers flowing into the ocean, but they could not conceive why the sea level never rose. Though they observed rainfall, they had only quaint theories as to its origin. Meteorologists now understand that the hydrological cycle consists of evaporation, atmospheric transportation, distillation, and precipitation.
- Circumcision on the eighth day is ideal (Genesis 17:12; Leviticus 12:3; Luke 1:59). Medical science has discovered that the blood clotting chemical prothrombin peaks in a newborn on the eighth day. This is therefore the safest day to circumcise a baby. How did Moses know?!
- God has given us just the right amount of water to sustain life (Isaiah 40:12). We now recognize that if there was significantly more or less water, the earth would not support life as we know it.
- The earth was designed for biological life (Isaiah 45:18). Scientists have discovered that the most fundamental characteristics of our earth and cosmosare so finely tuned that if just one of them were even slightly different, life as we know it couldn't exist. This is called the Anthropic Principle and it agrees with the Bible which states that God formed the earth to be inhabited.
- The universe is expanding (Job 9:8; Isaiah 42:5; Jeremiah 51:15; Zechariah 12:1). Repeatedly God declares that He stretches out the heavens. During the early 20th century, most scientists (including Einstein) believed the universe was static. Others believed it should have collapsed due to gravity. Then in1929, astronomer Edwin Hubble showed that distant galaxies were receding from the earth, and the further away they were, the faster they were moving. This discovery revolutionized the field of astronomy. Eisntein admitted his mistake, and today most astronomers agree with what the Creator told us millennia ago - the universe is expanding!
- Law of Biogenesis explained (Genesis 1). Scientists observe that life only comes from existing life. This law has never been violated under observation or experimentation (as evolution imagines). Therefore life, God's life, created all life.
- Air has weight (Job 28:25). It was once thought that air was weightless. Yet 4,000 years ago Job declared that God established "a weight for the wind." In recent years, meteorologists have calculated that the average thunderstorm holds thousands of tons of rain. To carry this load, air must have mass.
- Jet stream anticipated (Ecclesiates 1:6). At a time when it was thought that winds blew straight, the Bible declares "The wind goes toward the south, and turns around to the north; The wind whirls about continually, and comes againon its circuit." King Solomon wrote this 3,000 years ago. Now consider this: it was not until World War II that airmen discovered the jet stream circuit.
- Medical quarantine instituted (Leviticus 13:45-46; Numbers 5:1-4). Long before man understood the principles of quarantine, God commanded the Israelites to isolate those with a contagious disease until cured.
- Each star is unique (1 Corinthians 15:41). Centuries before the advent of the telescope, the Bible declared what only God and the angels knew - each star varies in size and intensity!
- The Bible says that light can be sent, and then manifest itself in speech (Job 38:35). We now know that radio waves and light waves are two forms of the same thing - electromagnetic waves. Therefore, radio waves are a form of light. Today, using radio transmitters, we can send "lightnings" which indeed speak when they arrive.
- Laughter promotes physical healing (Proverbs 17:22). Recent studies confirm what King Solomon was inspired to write 3,000 years ago, "A merry heart does good, like medicine." For instance, laughter reduces levels of certain stress hormones. This brings balance to the immune system, which helps your body fight off disease.
- Intense sorrow or stress is harmful to your health (Proverbs 18:14; Mark 14:34). Researchers have studied individuals with no prior medical problems who showed symptoms of stress cardiomyopathy including chest pain, difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, and even heart failure - following a stressful incident.
- Microorganisms anticipated (Exodus 22:31). The Bible warns "Whatever dies naturally or is torn by beasts he shall not eat, to defile himself with it: I am the LORD" (Leviticus 22:8). Today we understand that a decaying carcass is full of disease causing germs.
- The Bible cautions against consuming fat (Leviticus 7:23). Only in recent decades has the medical community determined that fat clogs arteries and contributes to heart disease.
- Do not consume blood (Leviticus 17:12). A common ritual in many religions in the ancient world was to drink blood. However, the Creator repeatedly told His people to abstain from blood (Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 3:17; Acts 15:20; 21:25). Of course, modern science reveals that consuming raw blood is dangerous.
- Life is more than matter and energy (Genesis 2:7; Job 12:7-10). We know that if a creature is denied air it dies. Even though its body may be perfectly intact, and air and energy are reintroduced to spark life, the body remains dead. Scripture agrees with the observable evidence when it states that only God can give the breath of life. Life cannot be explained by raw materials, time, and chance alone - as evolutionists would lead us to believe.
- A seed must die to produce new life (1 Corinthians 15:36-38). Jesus said, "unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain." (John 12:24). In this verse is remarkable confirmation of two of the fundamental concepts in biology: 1) Cells arise only from existing cells. 2) A grain must die to produce more grain. The fallen seed is surrounded by supporting cells from the old body. These supporting cells "give their lives" to provide nourishment to the inner kernel. Once planted, this inner kernel germinates resulting in much grain.
- The order of creation agrees with true science (Genesis 1). Plants require sunlight, water, and minerals in order to survive. In the first chapter of Genesis we read that God created light first (v.3), then water (v. 6), then soil (v. 9), and then He created plant life (v. 11).
- God created "lights" in the heavens "for signs and seasons, and for days and years" (Genesis 1:14-16). We now know that a year is the time required for the earth to travel once around the sun. The seasons are caused by the changing position of the earth in relation to the sun. The moon's phases follow one another in clock-like precision - constituting the lunar calendar Evolution teaches that the cosmos evolved by random chance, yet the Bible agrees with the observable evidence.
- The Bible speaks of "heaven and the highest heavens" (Deuteronomy 10:14). Long before the Hubble Space Telescope, Scripture spoke of the "heaven of heavens" and the "third heaven" (1 Kings 8:27; 2 Corinthians 12:2). We now know that the heavens consist of our immediate atmosphere and the vast reaches of outer space - as well as God's wonderful abode.
- Olive oil and wine useful on wounds (Luke 10:34). Jesus told of a Samaritan man, who when he came upon a wounded traveler, he bandaged him – pouring upon his wounds olive oil and wine. Today we know that wine contains ethylalcohol and traces of methyl alcohol. Both are good disinfectants. Olive oil is also a good disinfectant, as well as a skin moisturizer, protector, and soothing lotion. This is common knowledge to us today. However, did you know that during the Middle Ages and right up till the early 20th century, millions died because they did not know to treat and protect open wounds?
- Beauty understood (Genesis 1:31; 2:9; Job 40:10; Ecclesiastes 3:11; Matthew 6:28-30). Beauty surrounds us: radiant sunsets, majestic mountains, brightly colored flowers, glowing gems, soothing foliage, brilliantly adorned birds, etc. Beauty is a mystery to the evolutionist. However, Scripture reveals that God creates beautiful things for our benefit and His glory.
- Strong and weak nuclear force explained (Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3). Physicists do not understand what binds the atom's nucleus together. Yet, the Bible states that "all things consist" - or are held together by the Creator – Jesus Christ.
- Atomic fission anticipated (2 Peter 3:10-12). Scripture states that "the elements will melt with fervent heat" when the earth and the heavens are "dissolved" by fire. Today we understand that if the elements of the atom are loosed, there would be an enormous release of heat and energy (radiation).
- Safe drinking water (Leviticus 11:33-36). God forbade drinking from vessels or stagnant water that had been contaminated by coming into contact with a dead animal. It is only in the last 100 years that medical science has learned that contaminated water can cause typhoid and cholera.
.- Pest control (Leviticus 25:1-24). Farmers are plagued today with insects. Yet God gave a sure-fire remedy to control pests centuries ago. Moses commanded Israel to set aside one year in seven when no crops were raised. Insects winter in the stalks of last year's harvest, hatch in the spring, and are perpetuated by laying eggs in the new crop. If the crop is denied one year in seven, the pests have nothing to subsist upon, and are thereby controlled.
- Animal instincts understood (Job 39; Proverbs 30:24-28; Jeremiah 8:7). A newly hatched spider weaves an intricate web without being taught. A recently emerged butterfly somehow knows to navigate a 2,500-mile migration route without a guide. God explains that He has endowed each creature with specific knowledge. Scripture, not evolution, explains animal instincts.
- Animals do not have a conscience (Psalm 32:9). A parrot can be taught to swear and blaspheme, yet never feel conviction. Many animals steal, but they do not experience guilt. If man evolved from animals, where did our conscience come from? The Bible explains that man alone was created as a moral being in God's image.
- Pseudo-science anticipated (1 Timothy 6:20). The theory of evolution contradicts the observable evidence. The Bible warned us in advance that there would be those who would profess: "profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge (science)." True science agrees with the Creator's Word.
- Human conscience understood (Romans 2:14-15). The Bible reveals that God has impressed His moral law onto every human heart. Con means with and science means knowledge. We know it is wrong to murder, lie, steal, etc. Only the Bible explains that each human has a God-given knowledge of right and wrong.
- The real you is spirit (Numbers 16:22; Zechariah 12:1). Personality is non-physical. For example, after a heart transplant the recipient does not receive the donor's character. An amputee is not half the person he was before loosing his limbs. Our eternal nature is spirit, heart, soul, mind. The Bible tells us that "man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7).
- Man is "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14). We are only beginning to probe the complexity of the DNA molecule, the eye, the brain, and all the intricate components of life. No human invention compares to the marvelous wonders of God's creation.
- When Noah was instructed to build the huge barge that would preserve his family and two of each kind of land creature, the Lord specified for him the perfect dimensions for a stable water vessel (Genesis 6:15). Ship builders today are well aware that the ideal dimension for ship stability is to have the length about six times that of the width. Dr. Werner Gitt demonstrated that the ark had the ideal dimensions to optimize both stability and economy of material. Yet God gave Noah these ideal dimensions over 4,500 years ago!!
Time and time again, archaeology has confirmed people, places, events and customs that are mentioned in the bible as historical and reliable.
Consider the following quotes from Biblical and archaeological experts:
◦ The late Nelson Glueck (1900-1971), archaeologist and president of the Jewish Theological Seminary, said, “It can be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible…Proper evaluation of Biblical descriptions has often led to amazing discoveries.”
◦ Bible scholar William F. Albright said, “Discovery after discovery has established the accuracy of innumerable details, and has brought increased recognition of the value of the Bible as a source of history.” Here are a few of many Examples of archeological evidence:
Dead Sea Scrolls
Archaeologists were able to track down the origin of the first scrolls and together with the Bedouins ended up finding a total of 972 manuscripts from 11 different caves. All 11 caves are in the southeastern Dead Sea area of Israel. The area receives almost no rainfall making it a perfect climate for ancient manuscripts to last thousands of years without decomposing. The scrolls contain verses from every Old Testament book except for one.
Significance of the Discovery
The scrolls are still, after decades, a discovery still being digested. The 972 manuscripts have shed great light on the accuracy and reliability of the Old Testament. More articles and books have been written about the Dead Sea Scrolls than any other archaeological discovery with biblical significance. The scrolls are generally showing the modern-day Old Testament to be an extremely accurate representation of the original writers.
House of David Inscription
Without question the two greatest kings of Israel were David and Solomon. The Bible is full of rich stories recounting these two remarkable lives.
David burst onto the scene as a small boy who could play a musical instrument beautifully enough to calm the nerves of his king. The larger than life prophet Samuel secretly anoints David as the new king to replace the unfaithful King Saul. As a young man David shows fierce courage. He steps up, while all the men of the nation cower, and cuts the head off the giant Goliath. David then goes on to eventually become the greatest King of Israel. He is a poet, a warrior, a musician, a leader, a lover and so much more. David had substantial flaws but through it all God deemed him a man after His own heart. His influence is still felt today with the modern nation of Israel using the “Star of David” as their national emblem.
This inscription is fascinating on many levels, but what makes it an amazing discovery in archaeology is the way one of the kings is described. The Aramaean king refers to the kingdom of Judah by its dynastic name, a name frequently used in the Hebrew Bible as well: The House of David. This not only indicates that the family of David still sat on the throne of Jerusalem, but this inscription represents the oldest textual reference to the historical King David ever discovered!
Significance of the discovery
The House of David inscription is significant on many levels. First, there is now proof of a historical king of Israel named David. Second, an Aramaean king would not brag about killing a king who was the relative of a guy who led a backwoods hick town. In order for Hazael to brag about killing a king descending from the House of David, David must have been a well-known and influential king even 150 years after his death.
Who is Jesus? You and I are sitting down, enjoying a delicious vanilla bean Latte. We’re talking about the important questions of life and I lean forward asking you that simple question, “Who is Jesus?” What do you think about him? Is He everything the Bible communicates? Did He actually live, die for the sins of humanity, and rise from the dead? Do you consider Him your Lord? Is He the ultimate King of the Jews? Is He the King of Kings? These are important questions for all of mankind to consider.
One man, according to the Bible, was uniquely called upon to wrestle with the identity of Jesus. His name: Pontius Pilate. Pilate was the Prefect (governor) of the Roman province of Judea from 26-36 AD. The Jewish high priests at the time were unable to legally sentence a man to death. Most of the leading Jews wanted Jesus killed. In order for Jesus to be killed the death sentence had to be carried out under Roman law. The Jewish leaders needed Pontius Pilate to condemn Jesus to death. Early one morning a mob drives Jesus to Pilate. Pilate becomes responsible for deciding the fate of Jesus.
John 18 describes the scene:
So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world – to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” (John 18:33-38)
Wow, what an amazing dialogue. Jesus forces Pilate to wrestle with his identity. Where does the conversation go from here? Pilate tells the crowd he believes Jesus to be innocent. The crowd finds a loop-hole in the system asking for a criminal, Barabbas, to be released from prison and for Jesus to be found guilty. Pilate appeases the crowd by sending Jesus away to be flogged. After experiencing the horror of flogging, the Bible tells us Jesus is sent back to Pilate. Pilate and Jesus have another conversation described in John 19:
He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.” (John 19:9-11)
Jesus speaks with determined clarity. Pilate continues to move in the direction of releasing Jesus. Those seeking the death of Jesus cry out to Pilate, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar. (John 19:12)” Pilate eventually gives in and agrees to have Jesus crucified. Interestingly, the Bible explains, Pilate places on sign of the cross of Jesus which read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”
Pilate Outside the Bible
What we know about Pontius Pilate comes primarily from the Bible. Three men named Tacitus, Josephus and Philo all lived around the time of Jesus and mention Pilate in their writings.
To dispel the rumor, Nero substituted as culprits, and treated with the most extreme punishments, some people, popularly known as Christians, whose disgraceful activities were notorious. The originator of that name, Christus, had been executed when Tiberius was emperor, by order of the procurator Pontius Pilatus. But the deadly cult, though checked for a time, was now breaking out again not only in Judea, the birthplace of this evil, but even throughout Rome, where all the nasty and disgusting ideas from all over the world pour in and find a ready following.
About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, for he was a performer of wonderful deeds, a teacher of such men as are happy to accept the truth. He won over many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. When Pilate, at the suggestion of the leading men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those who had loved him at the first did not forsake him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct to this day.
Philo, more than the other men, speaks to the character of Pilate.
He explains Pilate as, “a man of inflexible, stubborn and cruel disposition.” Philo explains several situations where Pilate provokes and is cruel to the Jewish people. The Bible and these three men speak plainly about Pilate, the world of Pontius Pilate, and the man from Nazareth whom He sentenced to be crucified. Pontius Pilate is seen by Tacitus, Philo and Josephus as the real governor of Judea and the real man who sentenced Jesus to be crucified.
In 1961 the archaeological world was taken back to the first century Roman province of Judea. A group of archaeologists, led by Dr. Antonio Frova were excavating an ancient Roman theater near Caesarea Maritima. Caesarea was a leading city in the first century located on the Mediterranean Sea. A limestone block was found there with a surprising inscription. The inscription, on three lines, reads:
The inscription is believed to be part of a larger inscription dedicating a temple in Caesarea to the emperor Tiberius. The inscription clearly states, “Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea.” The inscription is significant on several levels.
It makes sense for Pilate to be dedicating a temple in Caesarea Maritima. The prefect (governor) usually lived in Caesarea and only went to Jerusalem for special purposes. An inscription of Pilate found in Caesarea fits with the first century world described in the Bible. The dating of the inscription, in connection with its mention of Tiberius (42 BC-37AD) places the governor Pontius Pilate at the same place and time as the Bible’s information about Jesus. The vast significance of the Pilate Inscription is attached to the significance of the crucifixion of Jesus. The inscription does not prove the conversations between Pilate and Jesus. The inscription does not prove Pilate condemned Jesus to be crucified. The inscription does not prove the forgiveness of mankind’s sin through the death of Christ. The inscription does, however, support the historical reliability of the cross, by supporting the existence of one of its central characters.
One of the most compelling and strongest cases for accepting the trustworthiness of the Bible as the inspired Word of God is predictive prophecy. Before certain events took place, God would tell us about them so that when they took place, we would have no reason to doubt His existence and authority over history.
The purpose of predictive prophecy can be seen in the following two verses:
◦ Isaiah 46:9,10 says, “Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done.”
◦ Isaiah 48:3-5 says, “I have declared the former things from the beginning; they went forth from My mouth, and I caused them to hear it. Suddenly I did them, and they came to pass....Even from the beginning I have declared it to you...Lest you should say ‘My idol has done them, and my carved image and my molded image have commanded them.’”
The Bible records many events that were given, not as vague prophecies but specific in nature. God, who is outside our time-space existence, has infinite knowledge and He is able to accurately and consistently reveal the future.
Here are just a few of many examples of the predictive prophecy contained in the Bible:
1. Cyrus Decrees Rebuilding Jerusalem - In Isaiah 44:28 – 45:1, written about 700 BC, Isaiah writes that a man named Cyrus will declare to the destroyed city of Jerusalem “You shall be built,” and to the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid.”
• What is amazing is that at the time of this writing, Jerusalem and the temple were still standing. It was around 100 years later that both were destroyed at the hand of Babylonian armies.
• Babylon was then conquered by the Persians in 539 BC and shortly after, a Persian King named Cyrus gave the decree to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple 160 years after Isaiah wrote this prophecy.
2. The Destruction of Tyre – Tyre, an important Eastern Mediterranean sea port, was a great city in its day yet Ezekiel prophesied her doom and entire demolition hundreds of years in advance in Ezekiel 26:3-14.
• “Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Behold, I am against you, O Tyre, and will cause many nations to come up against you, as the sea causes its waves to come up. And they shall destroy the walls of Tyre and break down her towers; I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock. It shall be a place for spreading nets…They will plunder your riches and pillage your merchandise; they will break down your walls and destroy your pleasant houses; they will lay your stones, your timber, and your soil in the midst of the water…I will make you like the top of a rock; you shall be a place for spreading nets, and you shall never be rebuilt, for I the Lord have spoken,’ says the Lord God.”
• The prophecy was first partially fulfilled by King Nebuchadnezzar when he destroyed the city on the mainland and the people fled to their island, a half mile off shore. The debris was left on the mainland and the rubble was not thrown into the sea.
• It was completely fulfilled 250 years later when Alexander the Great, infuriated at their response after requesting supplies, attacked the island city by taking the debris left from King Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion and built a causeway out to the island and destroyed the city.
• The city was never rebuilt, and today, it literally is used by local fishermen for “spreading [their fishing] nets.”
The Bible has a lot to say about Jesus, the coming Messiah in the Old Testament. In fact, the Old Testament contains around three hundred references or prophecies to the Messiah. Here are a few of these and the statistical probability that one man could fulfill even a few of them.
It is statistically preposterous that any or all of the Bible’s specific, detailed prophecies could have been fulfilled through chance, good guessing, or deliberate deceit. Indeed, anybody with a statistical background or an understanding of the odds involved in the following statistical probabilities would be hard pressed to shrug off the following evidence. For example, if we look at just eight of the Old Testament prophecies fulfilled by Jesus Christ, we can conclude that the odds of their coming to pass are 1 in 1017 or 1 with 17 zeros after it or 100,000,000,000,000,000 chances in one!
The Old Testament Messianic prophecies:
“These include where he would be born (Micah 5:2), how he would die, (Isaiah 53), when he would die (Daniel 9), that he would rise from the dead (Psalm 16). The odds that forty-eight of these prophecies were fulfilled in one man are about 1/10157. That is 1 with 157 zeros after it.
Here are a few of many of the prophecies that even an ordinary person would not have control over such as where they were born, from which tribe and family line.
1. Born of the seed of woman (Genesis 3:15; Galatians 4:4)
2. Born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18, 24, 25)
3. Son of God (Psalm 2:7; Matthew 3:17)
4. Seed of Abraham (Genesis 22:18; Matthew 1:1)
5. Son of Isaac (Genesis 21:12; Luke 3:23, 34)
6. Son of Jacob (Numbers 24:17; Luke:3:23, 34)
7. Tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10; Luke 3:23, 33)
8. Family tree of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1; Luke 3:23, 32)
9. House of David (Jeremiah 23:5; Luke 3:23, 31)
10. Born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:1)
11. Presented with gifts at birth (Psalm 72:10; Matthew 2:1, 11)
12. Herod kills the children (Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:16)
When Jesus talked about the Bible, he talked about it as if the people and events in it were real. He talked about all the prophets being real. He talked about Daniel being real. Jesus believed in Noah and everything that happened with the flood. He believed in Adam and Eve. Jesus believed in the tragedy of Sodom and Gomorrah. He believed in Jonah and him being swallowed by a large fish. Jesus believed in some of the most disputed stories in the Bible, particularly Noah, Adam and Eve, Sodom and Gomorrah, and Jonah. People who think that the Bible is mostly good stories that didn’t really happen always point to those four stories. If Jesus really believed in Jonah, then I should, too. I don’t know how God created a fish who could swallow a guy, but he did. I trust in the Bible because Jesus trusted in it.
- The Bible is about Jesus; it is God’s testimony concerning His Son. Jesus put it this way: “These are the Scriptures that testify about Me” (John 5:39). We are to read the Bible to know Jesus and discover all that He has done for us. That is what I missed. I was reading to ascertain the rules and regulations I was to live by in order to be God’s guy. For some reason I was trying to make the Bible about me. But the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, points us to Jesus. The Bible is His story, and when we read it with that understanding, we grow in our knowledge of Him.
- God’s Spirit teaches us the meaning of the Bible. We cannot figure out the mind of God through human intellect, logic or reason. Our finite minds are not capable of such an enormous undertaking. Paul made this point to the Corinthians: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”– 1 Corinthians 2:9. God wants us to know what He has prepared for us. He never intended for His love and grace to be unlocked mysteries. He sent His Spirit to us so that we can understand what He has “freely given us.” Apart from God’s Spirit, we cannot comprehend the meaning of the Scriptures. When reading the Word of God, do so with a dependent attitude, a teachable spirit, trusting God’s spirit to open your heart and mind to the meaning.
Jesus said, "Your Word is truth." Because Jesus said the Word is truth, we can rest confidently in the fact the Bible holds all the answers to life's problems. The real question we need to ask concerning God's Word is, "Who is Jesus?"