Friends, I love Jesus.
I am so thankful that He left the many to find me when I didn’t even know He existed.. that He smiled His quickening smile on me despite the hardness of my stony heart and my pretentious sin.. that He loved me into life — real, technicolor life.
I can remember reading the Bible with this sort of perspective, fresh eyes, even as a kid — hanging on every word! “‘God so loved the world that He gave’? Whoa!” Reflecting on His written truths and promises has always been an esteemed treasure for me, a fertile source of meditation, insight, and being.
Judging by the facts, I suppose I’m not the only one. The Bible is the most widely read and published book in history — easily regarded as the best-selling book of all time. With billions upon billions upon billions of publications of the Bible (surpassing 5 billion), the second closest in publication is likely the Chinese Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung, a selection of writings by the former Chairman of the Communist Party of China, with roughly 1 billion. Overall, the circulation of absolutely no other book even begins to compare with the Bible. (On a slightly different note, I think I remember reading somewhere a few years ago that, with all her books’ sales combined, Agatha Christie was the most published author, including her masterpiece And Then There Were None — one of my favorites — which currently ranks within the top 10 most read books of all time… just a small plug! haha)
The New Testament portion of the Bible is presently translated into a staggering 1,329 languages of the world’s 7,000 languages, with 2,195 new language translations currently in progress. According to my studies, the second most-translated book is likely the Qu’ran with roughly a generous estimate of less than 150 languages.
Hy Pickering of the British and Foreign Bible Society said once that to meet its demands, it has to publish one copy every three seconds day and night, 22 copies every minute day and night, 1,369 copies every hour day and night, and 32,876 every day in the year!
You see, Truth is always appealing, especially in today’s world that is starving for straight answers and a stable foundation to build upon. And one of the refreshing beauties of Truth is that it is unchanging. Truth is not bound by a culture or era. How compelling to build one’s life on stability, peace, Truth.
But let’s explore a bit deeper. (The next idea I’ll present I owe in large part to The Best of Josh McDowell: A Ready Defense — and my good friend Josiah Smith who suggested the book.) We do not have the original manuscripts of Scripture; what we have are ancient copies, which I will prove are astoundingly reliable. In McDowell’s words: “There are now more than 5,300 known Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. Add over 10,000 Latin Vulgate and at least 9,300 other early versions and we have more than 24,000 manuscript copies…of the New Testament in existence. No other document of antiquity even begins to approach such numbers and attestation. In comparison, the Iliad by Homer is second with only 643 manuscripts that still survive.” Fascinatingly, these 24,000 are faithful to each other! In fact, the shortest timespan between the original manuscript of any work of antiquity (besides the Bible) and any copy is 500 years (quite a frightful jump), and that also happens to be the Iliad. Copies of Aristotle’s originals are dated 1,400 years apart (and only 49 copies exist), and copies of Plato’s originals are dated 1,200 years apart (and only 7 copies exist).. and still, we regard those highly. The New Testament, on the other hand, finds its earliest copy of an original manuscript at simply 25 years from the original — again, with more than 24,000 copies that are faithful to each other.
What unique qualifications the Bible has! Even skeptics must marvel at its impressive weight and extraordinary rarities!
Now, to look at the Bible’s reliability — in no brevity, I warn you… As a compilation of numerous ancient letters and lyrics, hymns and histories, the number of fulfilled prophecies, or divine predictions, is astonishing. For example, in Isaiah 44:28, Isaiah prophesies that a king named Cyrus will rebuild the Temple foundations. At the time, in 700 BCE, the city of Jerusalem was actually fully built and the entire temple was standing, but in 586 BCE, King Nebuchadnezzar invaded the city and destroyed the temple. Around 539 BCE, a Persian king named — you guessed it — Cyrus gave the decree to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem… a prophecy fulfilled roughly 106 years since it was given! Another fascinating example: Ezekiel (in Ezekiel 26) prophesies against the city of Tyre seven details, including (1) many nations will come against Tyre, (2) it will be leveled flat like a bare rock, (3) fishermen will spread nets over the site, (4) Nebuchadnezzar will destroy the mainland city of Tyre, (5) the debris will be thrown into the water, (6) it will never be rebuilt, and (7) the beauty and influence of the city will never be found again. Each one of these was fulfilled in (1) there was a succession of destructive force with repetition from numerous nations; (2) Alexander the Great scraped the old site of Tyre clean when he made a causeway out to the island, leaving a bare rock; (3) what modern historians and archeologists believe to be present-day Tyre is literally a place to dry fish nets; (4) Nebuchadnezzar did in fact destroy Tyre; (5) Alexander the Great threw the debris of Tyre into the water in order to make his causeway (see number 2); (6) Tyre has never been rebuilt; and (7) because Tyre has never been rebuilt, it has lost the beauty and influence it may have once had. Historian Peter Stoner concluded the miracle thusly: “If Ezekiel had looked at Tyre in his day and had made these seven predictions in human wisdom, these estimates mean that there would have been only one chance in 75,000,000 of their all coming true (emphasis mine). They all came true to the minutest detail.” And one more example: a simple prophecy of Jesus’ in Luke 20:43-44 regarding the decimation of Jerusalem literally came true in 70 AD when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem.
I could go on and on with the strangely accurate fulfilled prophecies filling the pages of the Bible in your nightstand drawer — and for as many extra-biblical prophetic fulfillments that have found their origin in the Bible, there is just as much continuity within the Bible as well.
For those critics who would suggest that there are contradictions in the Bible, let’s investigate a bit. The law of non-contradiction, which is the basis of all logical thinking, states that a thing cannot be both a and non-a at the same time, in the same place, and in the same manner. For example, if the Bible said — and it does not — that Jesus was crucified both at Jerusalem and at Nazareth at the same time, this would be a provable error. Tracking so far? So, for example, when Matthew relates how two blind men met Jesus, and both Mark and Luke mention only one, this is not actually a contradiction, for no account denies the other; rather they are complementary. Differences do not equate discrepancies. Too often I speak with those who point out so-called contradictions, and it is in fact telling of their inadequate knowledge of the text’s cultural or historical context — or unfortunately, sometimes their bias.
I promise, I’m wrapping up.
God’s Word, the Bible and no other, is Truth. As I hope to have (non-exhaustively) pointed out, it is divinely inspired… strategically crafted… exquisitely breathed… by the Holy Spirit. Wearing my theological cap now, the Bible is without error, authoritative, and applicable to our lives. How unfortunate that many iron this unassailable book down to a religious lesson on cultural morality, when to understand it for what it is, is to have a revelation of a God who profoundly loves the people He breathed into existence, and who desperately longs to have relationship with each of us, as demonstrated by the sacrifice and death of Jesus on the cross.
Thank You, God!
In light of all this information, if you need clarity or want to understand something a bit more, please let me know. I’m sincerely so happy to help.