I continue the series of messages on Authorship of the Bible. Today I will discuss, Who were the authors of the books of the Bible?
Authorship of the Bible
“Who were the authors of the books of the Bible?”
Ultimately, above the human authors, the Bible was written by God. Second Timothy 3:16 tells us that the Bible was “breathed out” by God. God superintended the human authors of the Bible so that, while using their own writing styles and personalities, they still recorded exactly what God intended. The Bible was not dictated by God, but it was perfectly guided and entirely inspired by Him.
2 Timothy 3:16
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God….”
The word “Scripture” in the above passage is another name for the book that today we call the Bible. What the above verse tells us is that all the Bible (“all Scripture”), was given by inspiration of God. The phrase “by inspiration of God” is actually one word in the Greek text, the word “theopneustos”. This word is composed by the word “theos” that means God and the word “pneustos” that means breathed. Therefore, when the Bible says that it is “theopneustos” what it means is that it is “God-breathed”, it is God’s conception, God’s idea, God’s inspiration. Hence: Author of the Bible is God who breathed it, inspired it, conceived it, authored it.
The Bible is unique inasmuch as it maintains consistency, harmony, and continuity from cover to cover. It has one message from Genesis to Revelation. Nothing outstanding about that you say… After all most books have one ‘theme’, story line or subject. True! But perhaps the Bible’s uniformity is more than a little curious considering that …
Forty independent writers were used in its compilation.
They wrote over a 1,500 year time span.
They lived in three different continents.. Asia, Africa and Europe. Moses wrote in the desert of Sinai, Paul wrote in a prison in Rome, Daniel from exile in Babylon, and Ezra in the ruined city of Jerusalem.
They spoke and wrote in three different languages
They had twenty different occupations, which included a couple of kings, a general, at least two fishermen, a musician, a priest, a tax collector, a physician etc.
It has a cast of 2,930 characters in 1,551 places.
It covers a huge number of different subjects. Isaiah wrote to warn Israel of God’s coming judgment on their sin, Matthew wrote to prove to the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah, Zechariah wrote to encourage a disheartened Israel who had returned from Babylonian exile, and Paul wrote addressing problems in different Asian and European churches.
It was written under many different circumstances. David wrote during a time of war, Jeremiah wrote at the sorrowful time of Israel’s downfall, Peter wrote while Israel was under Roman domination, and Joshua wrote while invading the land of Canaan.
Its message is expressed in all literary forms (poetry, prose, etc.).
Without possible concert or collusion, they produced a book which, in all its parts, is pervaded by one spirit, one doctrine, one design, and by an air of sublime authority which is its peculiar characteristic. It is amazing that with such diversity, there is such unity in the Bible. That unity is organized around one theme: God’s redemption of man and all of creation. Hundreds of controversial subjects are addressed and yet the writers do not contradict each other.
Such a Book is a Literary Miracle. It is Impossible to Account for its Existence Upon Ordinary Principles.
No other book in history can make the same claim!
Could You Write The Bible?
Say you were going to write a book, and this was how you had to write it: For a start find 40 different writers – totally different writers. Get some who are highly educated, even doctors – then get some farmers. Go dig a guy off a ranch somewhere and say, “I’d like you to help me write a book.” Then find some fishermen. Go down to the wharf and find a couple of guys from San Francisco and say, “Hey! listen help me write a book.” And they say, “Sure, fine… we’ll help you.” And then you get all of them to write on the following things: religion, poetry, ethics, science, philosophy, the creation of the universe and where it’s going – and ask them to throw in a few things about where they think it will all end.
Next, you need to collect all that information, and then… oh, by the way, you have to separate these people so they can’t communicate by phone or telegraph… only possibly word of mouth, passed down over the years. Ah yes, years… you collect all this stuff over about one and a half thousand years, and compile the whole thing in one book. What would you have? I know what you’d have – you’d have the most motley junk you’ve ever seen in your life, with people totally contradicting each other! I suggest you take a biology textbook from 60 years ago, and compare it with one today. And that’s just 60 years! But that’s not what you have when you read your Bible. The more you read this book, the more you see the incredible unity of it. Because the more you get into it, the more incredibly detailed it is, and you find there are not 40 people who wrote it, but One Person.
The Christian’s Charter
This book reveals the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable.
Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy.
It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you.
It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s charter.
Here, too, heaven is opened and the gates of hell disclosed.
Christ is its grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end.
It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet.
Read it slowly, frequently, prayerfully.
It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure.
It is given you in life, will be opened at the judgment, and be remembered forever.
It involves the highest responsibility, will regard the greatest labor, and condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents.
Owned it is riches; studied it is wisdom; trusted it is salvation; loved it is character; and obeyed it is power.
Humanly speaking, the Bible was written by approximately 40 men of diverse backgrounds over the course of 1500 years. Isaiah was a prophet, Ezra was a priest, Matthew was a tax-collector and of the tribe of Levi, John was a fisherman, Paul was a tentmaker, Moses was a shepherd, Luke was a physician. Despite being penned by different authors over 15 centuries, the Bible does not contradict itself and does not contain any errors. The authors all present different perspectives, but they all proclaim the same one true God, and the same one way of salvation—Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). Few of the books of the Bible specifically name their author. Here are the books of the Bible along with the name of who is most assumed by biblical scholars to be the author, along with the approximate date of authorship:
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy = Moses – 1400 B.C.
Joshua = Joshua – 1350 B.C.
Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel = Samuel/Nathan/Gad – 1000 – 900 B.C.
1 Kings, 2 Kings = Jeremiah – 600 B.C.
1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah = Ezra – 450 B.C.
Esther = Mordecai – 400 B.C.
Job = Moses – 1400 B.C.
Psalms = several different authors, mostly David – 1000 – 400 B.C.
Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon = Solomon – 900 B.C.
Isaiah = Isaiah – 700 B.C.
Jeremiah, Lamentations = Jeremiah – 600 B.C.
Ezekiel = Ezekiel – 550 B.C.
Daniel = Daniel – 550 B.C.
Hosea = Hosea – 750 B.C.
Joel = Joel – 850 B.C.
Amos = Amos – 750 B.C.
Obadiah = Obadiah – 600 B.C.
Jonah = Jonah – 700 B.C.
Micah = Micah – 700 B.C.
Nahum = Nahum – 650 B.C.
Habakkuk = Habakkuk – 600 B.C.
Zephaniah = Zephaniah – 650 B.C.
Haggai = Haggai – 520 B.C.
Zechariah = Zechariah – 500 B.C.
Malachi = Malachi – 430 B.C.
Matthew = Matthew – A.D. 55
Mark = John Mark – A.D. 50
Luke = Luke – A.D. 60
John = John – A.D. 90
Acts = Luke – A.D. 65
Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon = Paul – A.D. 50-70
Hebrews = unknown, mostly likely Paul, Luke, Barnabas, or Apollos – A.D. 65
James = James – A.D. 45
1 Peter, 2 Peter = Peter – A.D. 60
1 John, 2 John, 3 John = John – A.D. 90
Jude = Jude – A.D. 60
Revelation = John – A.D. 90
This article may seem a bit heavy but I believe that we must lay a proper foundation and begin with the basics in order to be based upon the same “rock.”
Jesus is the chief cornerstone. “… built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.” Eph. 2:20-21
Romans 10:9 says: “…if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
First, I want to make it very clear that The House of the Nazarene is a believer’s church asking everyone to “confess” that Jesus is Lord.
Second, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” 2 Tim. 3:16-17
I have said that I do not like to refer to the events recorded in the Bible as stories. To me, the word “stories” carries with it the idea of myths, fiction, nursery rhymes, and fables. We even use the word to refer to telling lies – “Johnny told a story.” I much prefer to speak of “events” or “historical accounts” when we talk about the happenings of the Bible. Now, I’m not going to get mad at you if you continue to use the word “stories” when referring to the Bible. There may even be times that you catch me using that word. But just remember that the stories recorded in the Bible are unlike any other story in the libraries of the world. You can be 100% sure that they are true to the smallest detail.
I must admit though that if I did not know that the Bible was God’s Word, I would have a hard time believing some of the events that are recorded in it. The Bible records that the whole universe was created in a period of 6 days, and that it was created with nothing but the words of God. It also says that God got so disgusted with the people in His world that He sent a great world-wide flood to destroy it. It says that the water was so deep that it rose 20 feet higher than the tallest mountain. Floating on top of that water was a boat that contained the last 8 people on the face of earth and at least 2 of every kind of land animal on the planet.
The pastor of another church announced that on the following Sunday, he was going to be speaking on Noah and the ark. A couple of mischievous boys noticed something interesting about the passage and decided to play a prank on their pastor. They glued two pages of the pastor’s Bible together. The next Sunday morning, the pastor got up to read his text, but because two pages were glued together, it read a little bit different than he expected. It went something like this: “And Noah took a wife, and she was” – page turn – “450 long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet tall.” The old pastor stood there stunned for a minute, and then he said, “I have been reading this Bible for 50 years, and there are still some things that I read that are hard to believe.”
The Bible is full of things that are hard to believe: the 10 plagues on Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, the fall of the walls of Jericho, the day the sun stood still, the strength of Samson, Jonah and the great fish – all things that would fit well into a science fiction movie except for the fact that God said that they happened and that they happened just the way that they are recorded in the Bible. But the hardest story of all to believe is the story of Jesus because it is the one that is the most ridiculous. To think that Jesus, who is Almighty God, would leave behind the splendor of heaven, be born of a virgin, live as fully God and fully man, heal the sick, raise the dead, walk on water, feed the hungry, teach those who would listen, be rejected by those He created, die on a cross as payment for the sins of people who lived 2000 years later, rise from the dead the third day, and be taken back up into heaven – that’s foolishness! (1 Cor 1:23-25 NIV) but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. Whether the pages of the Bible sound foolish to you or not, they are true. You can believe them. You MUST believe them for they are your only hope.
While I was learning the history of the Covenant, the common question of the early founders of the church was repeated many times. It was the question “Where is it written?” The Covenant was founded on the principle that what we believe about God is based upon the scripture rather than tradition, cultural influences or feelings.
The problem comes in where people will take the same passage of scripture and believe it says seemingly diametrically opposing things. This really isn’t the “big” problem. Often in scriptural interpretation the difference is really over our presuppositions. We can come to the text and try to “use” it to make the point of our belief rather than coming to the text and allow it to speak.
In order to avoid the “conflict of interest” between our presuppositions and what the text actually says Biblical teachers develop a list of principles that they use in looking at the Bible. Often the meaning of a Bible passage is plain and obvious. When it is not, a few logical principles can be used to help in understanding the passage.
We call this “exegesis.” The Greek word exegeomai means basically “to lead out of.” When applied to the Biblical text, it carries the sense of “reading out” the meaning. The meaning comes from the text. The noun, therefore, could refer to “interpretation” or “explanation.” So whenever we read a passage of scripture we seek to understand and interpret.
Hermeneutics takes this process to the next level and seeks to apply the text into our lives today. Many people use these terms interchangeably.
Stage One: UNDERSTAND:
What does the passage actually say?
Setting: When and where was the book or passage written?
Purpose: Why was it written?
Context: What is the book as a whole about?
Form: How, or in what form, was it written?
Words: What is the meaning of individual words?
Stage Two: EXPLAIN:
What does the passage mean?
What did the passage mean to its original readers?
What is the main point or teaching of the passage?
How does it compare with other, perhaps clearer, Bible passages?
Stage Three: Apply
What does the passage mean today?
What is an equivalent situation today to that of the original readers?
Does the passage have some specific teaching about God, man, the world, the church…?
Is there any action to be taken in the light of the passage?
Does it lead to prayer or praise?
When common sense makes good sense look for no other sense.
These two points of doctrine (believers’ church and Biblical basis) seems basic because it is. This is what the Covenant is founded upon. The Bible was recorded by man, but it was authored by God. It can be trusted in every word and for every need.
Search me O God and know my heart
Test me and know my anxious thoughts
See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.
Forgive us for not trusting your word.
Forgive us for not studying your word as we ought..
Make us real. With a Circumsized and a heart after you!
In Jesus Precious name, Amen.