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Is the Bible God's Word? - Part 3, Textually and Historically
Dan Stolebarger - December 28, 2003

Message Recap

In Miles' absence, (He's speaking at youth conferences in Buffalo and Charlotte) Pastors Dan Stolebarger and Justin Anderson finished our three week study titled, "Is the Bible God's Word?" This week's study focused on the history and text of the Bible.

This recap is from the morning services with Pastor Dan Stolebarger.

The study this week aims to answers the question, "How can we as Christian claim the Bible is better than the books other religions rely on?"

There are two areas we can base this claim on:

  1. reasons based on historical proofs (external evidence)
  2. reasons based on the text itself (internal evidence)

1. Historical Proofs

Can we prove Jesus is real without using the Bible? (External evidence)

In order to do this we need examples of external evidence. There are many, but for starters here are two:

Josephus (a Jewish historian, not a Christian, who lived from about 37 A.D. to 100 A.D.) documents:

Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

Tacitus, 115AD, (a Roman historian, not a Christian, who lived from 56 120 A.D.) documents:

Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators Pontius Pilatus.

These and other reports outside of Scripture confirm Jesus' existence and support Biblical claims made about Him.

2. The Text Itself

About the Printing Press

1450 was crucial for Christianity. It was the invention of the printing press.

Life before 1450 was radically different. People only wrote out things of the utmost importance. Before 1450, the only copies of the Bible were handwritten.

For the Jews, the Torah was the most important thing, so it was handwritten.

Confirming Moses as the author of the Torah (External evidence)

The Torah is the first five books in the Old Testament (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). It is important to Christians and extremely important to the Jews.

Exodus 24:4 states that Moses wrote the Torah.

To back this claim up, we can use the New Testament as external evidence.

There are ten New Testament verses (quotes from Jesus) affirming Moses as the author of the Torah. Matthew 8:4, 19:7, Mark 7:10, Luke 16:31, 20:37, 24:27, John 3:14, 5:39, 6:32, 7:19

The Hidden Meanings in the Torah (Internal evidence)

Hebrews is written from right to left. There are no spaces or vowels. According to the Jews, when the Messiah comes, He will interpret the scriptures, as well as the letters, as well as even the spaces between the letters.

If you look carefully, there are patterns in the Torah. View this page for more information:

The Dead Sea Scrolls (External evidence)

In 1947, a Bedouin shepherd boy, unknowingly found a cave containing ancient scrolls. Later archaelogical discoveries from this and surrounding cares unearthed nearly 600 scrolls dating back to the 1st century B.C.

In the Dead Sea Scrolls are fragments of every Old Testament book except for Esther (including two copies of the entire book of Isaiah).

Before this our oldest copies of Biblical text were from the 9th and 10th centuries AD. Compared to the Masoretic text, those from the 9th-10th centuries AD, the Dead Sea Scrolls match 95% verbatim. The other 5% can be attributed to slips of the pen and spelling alterations.

Can we Believe in the New Testament? (Internal evidence)

There are over 20,000 known manuscripts that document the New Testament text. This is the most reliable document from antiquity (before the printing press). Compared to Homer's Iliad (the second most documented book from antiquity) the New Testament has much more evidence. There are only around 600 manuscripts for the Iliad.

Also important to note is that the earliest copies of the New Testament that we have were written approximately 25 years after the original, whereas the earliest copies of the Iliad in existence today were written roughly 500 years after the original.

In Conclusion

Can we prove the Bible is True?

No, it's not possible. Despite all of the supporting evidence, it still takes faith.

We'll never argue anyone into God's kingdom. The Bible says, Without faith it is impossible to please God. Hebrews 11:6 You may be the only Bible people ever read.

Challenge for the Rock Church

We need to be the Bible people read. In order to be the Bible, we need to know it. Too many Christians have Bibles and don't read them. Make it a priority to delight in God's Word.

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

Final Notes

Next week we're beginning a great adventure. We will begin reading entirely through the Bible together as a church.

Genesis small groups start next week as well.

The devil realizes the Bible is the most powerful force in the universe. He'll do anything to distract you from learning from it. Don't let him.

As a church, we want to grow in numbers, but we also want to grow Spiritually so God can use us and so people will know us by our fruit.

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