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The Uniqueness of the Bible, Part 1

By John Ankerberg
Ankerberg Theological Research Institute

Part 2 | Part 3 – Excerpted from Taking a Stand for the Bible

Is the Bible really the most unique book in the world? What makes it special among all other writings throughout history? The facts of the Bible cannot be explained solely by human theories concerning its origin. The Bible itself claims that it is unique among all books and is God’s Word to humanity. The God of Scripture has revealed himself as a God of truth, so errors in the original manuscripts of the Bible’s books would prove that God was not their author.

In fact, some would argue that because no other religion offers genuine evidence for belief in their deity or gods, apart from the Bible we are forced to remain agnostic about God. He might exist, but beyond hints of God based on the complexity of the universe around us, we would know little about who God is. In this chapter, we’ll discuss seven key concepts for understanding what sets the Bible apart as unique from other books or spiritual writings throughout history.

1. The Bible Claims to be Inspired by God

The Bible claims to be the inspired Word of God. We may argue that it is not, but first we must come to grips with the fact that it claims this for itself. When we speak, our words can be said to be the product of our breath. In the Bible, the words from God are said to be God-breathed. The apostle Paul wrote that “all Scripture is God-breathed [Greek, theopneustos] and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

The theologian Benjamin Warfield made this observation about these verses:

The Greek term has, however, nothing to say of inspiring or of inspiration: it speaks only of a “spiring” or “spiration.” What it says of Scripture is, not that it is “breathed into by God” or is the product of the Divine “inbreathing” into its human authors, but that it is breathed out by God, “God-breathed,” the product of the creative breath of God. In a word, what is declared by this fundamental passage is simply that the Scriptures are a Divine product, without any indication of how God has operated in producing them. No term could have been chosen, however, which would have more emphatically asserted the Divine production of Scripture than that which is here employed.

What is the meaning of biblical inspiration? Biblical inspiration is…

  • Verbal: extending to the very words, not just the ideas, of Scripture. Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’ ” (Matthew 4:4).
  • Plenary: extending equally to every part of Scripture. “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Matthew 5:18).
  • Clear: sometimes called “perspicuous,” meaning sufficiently clear for the average person to understand without scholarly or technical training. “The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7).

Directly or indirectly, the Bible claims or implies divine inspiration on numerous occasions. Here are several examples:

This word came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Take a scroll and write on it all the words I have spoken to you concerning Israel, Judah and all the other nations from the time I began speaking to you in the reign of Josiah till now” (Jeremiah 36:1-2).
Prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21).
I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it… whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say (John 12:49-50).
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place (Revelation 1:1).

In addition, we find an abundance of references throughout the Bible that prophets spoke “the word of the LORD.” For example:

  • In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways (Hebrews 1:1).
  • The word of the LORD that came to Hosea…(Hosea 1:1).
  • The word of the LORD came to Ezekiel…(Ezekiel 1:3).
  • Moses then wrote down everything the LORD had said (Exodus 24:4; see also 31:24).
  • …you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles…[Our] beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you…letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do the rest of the Scriptures (2 Peter 3:2,15-16 NASB).

From these and many other similar references found throughout the Bible, we can clearly illustrate that the Bible repeatedly claims to be inspired from God. This alone does not prove that its words are inspired, but it does reveal what the Bible claims for itself.

2. The Bible Is Powerful

The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah quoted these words from God: "'Is not my word like fire,' declares the LORD, 'And like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?'" (Jeremiah 23:29). If the Bible is the Word of God, it is the most important work of literature on the planet. It is important for both what it says and what it does. Other statements in Scripture echo this same principle:

[God said] "My word that goes out from my mouth…will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it" (Isaiah 55:11).
The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

Because of the Bible's divine nature, ignorance of it can have a spiritually negative impact on our lives. Its information divinely strengthens our lives; likewise, being unaware of its information weakens our lives. As Jesus told the hypocritical religious leaders of his day, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God" (Matthew 22:29).

Interesting Facts about the Bible
The Bible is the world's best-selling and most translated book, but what is it?
Books in the Bible: 66
Books in the Old Testament: 39
Books in the New Testament: 27
Shortest book in the Bible: 2 John
Longest book in the Bible: Psalms
Chapters in the Bible: 1189
Chapters in the Old Testament: 929
Chapters in the New Testament: 260
Middle chapter of the Bible: Psalm 117
Shortest chapter in the Bible: Psalm 117
Longest chapter in the Bible: Psalm 119
Verses in the Bible: 31,173
Verses in the Old Testament: 23,214
Verses in the New Testament: 7,969
Shortest verse in the Bible: John 11:35
Longest verse in the Bible: Esther 8:9
Words in the Bible: 773,692
Words in the Old Testament: 592,439
Words in the New Testament: 181,253


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