What is the Bible?

So what is the Bible? What is it about? One of my more thoughtful readers has asked me to address that question. However, as I think about it, what I say doesn't matter. The questions is what does it say it's about? Here are a few excerpts:

19And he said to them, "What things?" And they said to him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was(U) a prophet(V) mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20and(W) how our chief priests and(X) rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21But we had hoped that he was(Y) the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now(Z) the third day since these things happened. 22Moreover, some women of our company amazed us.(AA) They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23and(AB) when they did not find his body, they came back saying that(AC) they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24(AD) Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see." 25And he said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26(AE) Was it not necessary that(AF) the Christ should suffer these things and enter into(AG) his glory?" 27And(AH) beginning with(AI) Moses and(AJ) all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

What I find interesting (seeing that we are approaching Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday when these vents took place) is that Jesus took the time to teach two disciples. He told them about himself. He didn't just tell them himself, but he used the scripture to tell them. Going to the Bible it tells us foremost about God and his Son.

John 5:39
You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me,

So helpful are they in telling us about God, that in the early days of the church Paul was able from the OT alone show who Jesus was (just like Jesus did on the road to Emmaus). We're told about the people:
Acts 18:28
For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.

Acts 17:11
Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

One of the most important things we find the Bible is about is in what it says about salvation.
1 Corinthians 15

1Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Peter,[b] and then to the Twelve. 6After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

9For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

Yet again Paul appeals to scripture. Indeed about the gospel he preaches he says

Romans 1:2
the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures

But it deals with real life as well. If God is the one who made us and knows us and can guide us (issues which necessitate another post if so desired) then his Word is practical. And it is. Paul states

Romans 15:4
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

Very practical value hope. It's what we are able to do that other creatures can't. A dog can't hope or have faith. We can. Paul also states
14But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Again, it tells us about salvation (note that it is good for a child to know them) and it teaches us what to believe, not believe, not do and do. Ultimately it is how we are made useful in God's hands. It is a cumulative effect. If it happens all at once for you that please show me your halo.

Overall, the Bible tells us about God. It even starts with Him, and then us. It's only in that context that we make sense. We see him dealing with people in history and in real time, and finally sending his son (many promises about his arrival are given) and ultimately his life and death and resurrection and what it means for us who will follow him.

Not to say that we will always get it (it is in our nature!). It can get messy, indeed Peter says about Paul

2 Peter 3:16
He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

He confirms Paul as a Scripture writer, and says he doesn't get him sometimes! Things don't change much I guess. But he says it is not good to mess around with it. Indeed he says of those who do that it is to their own destruction. Don't mess with this book I guess. But keep reading, learning and in my case memorizing.

1 comment:

  1. Frank, thanks for the work on this.

    I've been meaning to comment for several days, I just have had a hard time gathering my words for it.

    Your essay raises more questions in me (you got me thinking!). Can you tell me, when you said, "Overall, the Bible tells us about God," was your statement the summary of the texts you had just presented, or an additional tack-on to add to what the texts said?

    If I could have you change one thing about the essay, it'd be to format the text so that scripture would stand out from your own thoughts (indented, bold, italic, whatever). Sorry to be critical, I debated whether or not to tell you.

    Keep up the good fight!