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Study Bibles for Beginners

Study Bibles for Beginners

For new believers, understanding and interpreting the Bible on their own could be a real challenge. I know many Christians who are very zealous in sharing the Word and also in encouraging others, and I do admire them for that.

The only issue I have is that they often take verses out of their contexts in support of a topic that is not in any way related to it. This is called “proof-texting,” one of the common errors of biblical interpretation.

How do we avoid committing this error? Having a good study Bible will help. If you are serious about the Word of God, it’s time you invest in a good study Bible that will help you to understand and properly interpret God’s Word.

Regular Bible vs. Study Bible

What is the difference between a study Bible and a regular Bible? They are the same in that they both contain the Word of God: 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 books in the New Testament.

The difference is that a study Bible has additional features such as book introduction, historical context, cross-references to other Bible passages, outlines or maps, extensive study notes and explanations of key doctrines, devotionals, and so much more.

But which study Bibles are recommended for beginners? In this post, I will be sharing with you a list of my recommended study Bibles.

Selecting a Study Bible

Choosing the best study Bible can be overwhelming because there are hundreds of great choices. So how can one possibly determine which one suits them best? Can we even say that one study Bible is better than the rest? I don’t believe so. But I would say that there are a few that are better than the rest.

Let me also mention that in selecting a study Bible, there are certain things you need to consider. First is the translation. We have the NIV, ESV, NASB, KJV, CSV, NLT, and numerous other options. How do you select which one is best for you from among them?

The Best Study Bibles 

If you are a beginner or new believer, I highly recommend that your first study Bible is one that focuses on interpretation rather than on application. You can always purchase an application study Bible later on.

So here we go.

NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible

Top Rated Study BiblesPublisher: Zondervan

Publishing Date: August 23, 2016

Editors: Craig S. Keener & John H. Walton

Description: The Bible was originally written to ancient people removed from us by thousands of years and thousands of miles. It includes subtle culturally based nuances, undertones, and references to ancient events, literature, and customs that were intuitively understood by those who first heard the texts read.

So, for us to truly understand the Scriptures as they did, we need a window into their world and language. This is what the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible provides. Every page is packed with expert insight into the customs, culture, and literature of biblical times.

These fascinating explanations will serve to clarify your study of the Scriptures, reinforcing your confidence and bringing difficult passages of Scripture into sharp focus.

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NKJV Spirit-Filled Life Study Bible (Third Edition)

What are the Best Study BiblesPublisher: Thomas Nelson

Publishing Date: September 4, 2018

Editor: Jack W. Hayford

Description: Take a deep and powerful look at Scripture — and experience the presence of the Holy Spirit as you encounter God in His Word.

This best-selling NKJV Bible draws on the expertise of an expanded team of respected, spirit-led scholars, led by Pastor Jack Hayford, founding pastor of The Church on the Way and chancellor of The King’s University.

With over 2 million copies sold, the NKJV Spirit-Filled Life Bible continues to equip God’s people to live in His kingdom, exercise the gifts of the Spirit, and lay hold of God’s promises.

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Quest Study Bible

Best Study Bibles for BeginnersPublisher: Zondervan

Publishing Date: November 19, 2011

Editor: Christianity Today Int.

Description: Get answers to the Bible questions you have … and questions you haven’t yet pondered!

The NIV Quest Study Bible features over 7,000 notes written in an engaging question and answer format that gives insight into the common, uncommon and sometimes perplexing passages from the Bible.

You will have the opportunity to consider questions like, “Why did God send angels to Jacob?” “What prevents God from hearing our prayers?” and “Why does God test us?” as you explore God’s Word using the many study helps.

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The Jeremiah Study Bible

What are the Best Study BiblesAuthor: Dr. David Jeremiah

Publisher: Worthy Books

Publishing Date: November 26, 2013

Description: Drawn from more than 40 years of study, Dr. David Jeremiah, one of America’s leading Bible teachers, has produced a deeply personal and comprehensive study Bible packed with features specifically focused to help you discover what Scripture says, what Scripture means and, most importantly, what Scripture means to you.

The Jeremiah Study Bible presents the best of biblical insight and study tools along with clear, practical application to bring about authentic transformation in your life.

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The MacArthur Study Bible

Top Rated Study BiblesPublisher: Thomas Nelson

Publishing Date: November 5, 2013

Editor: John F. MacArthur

Description: The NASB MacArthur Study Bible is a classic resource that is perfect for serious study.

Dr. John MacArthur has collected his pastoral and scholarly work of more than 35 years to create the most comprehensive study Bible available. No other study Bible does such a thorough job of explaining the historical context, unfolding the meaning of the text, and making it practical for your life.

Features: A 25-page concordance, including people and places, more than 20,000 study notes, charts, maps, outlines, and articles from Dr. John MacArthur, Overview of Theology, Index to Key Bible Doctrines.

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Best Study Bibles for BeginnersNIV Biblical Theology Study Bible

Publisher: Zondervan

Publishing Date: September 4, 2018

General Editor: D.A. Carson

Description: Biblical Theology allows you to ponder the individual stories and themes of Scripture while observing how they all fit together in God’s grand biblical narrative.

It answers the question, “How has God revealed his word historically and organically?”

With three articles introducing Biblical theology and 25 articles unpacking key themes of Scripture, the NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible equips you to follow the progressive unfolding of God’s story.

Features: Complete text of the accurate, readable, and clear New International Version (NIV), previously published as NIV Zondervan Study Bible, 28 theologically rich articles by authors such as Tim Keller and Kevin DeYoung, 20,000 verse-by-verse study notes, Hundreds of full-color photos, more than 90 maps, and over 60 charts, Comprehensive book introductions, Over 60 trusted contributors, Cross-references and the NIV Comprehensive Concordance, Single-column, black letter edition, Two ribbon markers, and more.

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The NKJV Prophecy Study Bible

What are the Best Study BiblesPublisher: Thomas Nelson

Publishing Date: November 10, 2015

General Editor: John Hagee

Description: The prophecies of the Bible assure us that God will prevail.

The NKJV Prophecy Study Bible, 2015 Edition has hundreds of pages of special features that offer a broad understanding of prophetic themes, salvation, covenants, and other important doctrines of the Christian faith.

Features: Introduction to Bible Prophecy, Index to Prophetic Passages, Top 20 Questions about Bible Prophecy, Diamonds for Daily Living, God’s Great Promises, God’s Great Salvation, Evidences, Spokesmen for God, Bible Insights, Bible Prophecy Charts, and Full concordance.

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NLT Life Application Study Bible (Third Edition)

Best Rated Study BiblesPublisher: Tyndale

Publishing Date: October 1, 2019

Description: Today’s number 1 selling study Bible, the NLT Life Application Study Bible, has been thoroughly updated and expanded, offering even more relevant insights and spiritual guidance for applying God’s Word to everyday life in today’s world.

This study Bible for women and men answers real-life questions and provides practical yet powerful ways to apply the Bible to your life every day.

Explore the stories and teachings of this NLT study Bible with verse-by-verse commentary. Gain wisdom from people in the Bible by exploring their accomplishments and learning from their mistakes.

Survey the big picture of each book through overviews, vital statistics, outlines, and timelines, and grasp difficult concepts using in-text maps, charts, and diagrams.

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Compass Study Bible

Best Study Bibles for BeginnersPublisher: Thomas Nelson

Publishing Date: February 11, 2014

Editor: Ecclesia Bible Society

Description: Do you want to start reading and applying the Bible to your life, but aren’t quite sure where to start? Let Compass point you in the right direction.

Packed with Bible-reading helps and using an energizing, new Bible translation, Compass is a Bible designed with you in mind.

Features: In-text notes that include cultural, historical, theological, and devotional thoughts, God’s Promises—Thomas Nelson’s bestselling guide to Scripture for your every need, Book introductions, Reading plans for every day of the year, Topical Guides to Scripture and notes, and In-text maps.

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Closing Thoughts

Why do you need a study Bible?

A study Bible is a great supplementary resource that will help you understand Scripture more clearly as you read it. It can also help you interact with God’s Word in a deeper and more meaningful way and to properly apply it in your life.

Jesus, the Fulfillment of God’s Promise

Jesus, the Fulfillment of God’s Promise

In the Old Testament, God made many promises to Abraham and to the nation of Israel as a whole. But if there is one promise that should make New Testament believers excited is the promise made by God to Abraham that He would make him a channel of great blessings not only to his own family and future descendants but to all the families of the earth.

Has this promise been fulfilled? Indeed! The Lord Jesus is the fulfillment of all the promises made to Abraham and to his spiritual descendants. In all that Jesus did and said He sought to please His Father in heaven and to bring Him glory.

Bible Verses: Genesis 12:1-3 & Matthew 17:1-3

Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great, and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you, and in you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:1-3).

Jesus is the Fulfillment of God's Promises

Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him (Matthew 17:1-3).

Reflection and Meditation

As we read in the verses quoted above, there is a condition to the promise. This shows that while God’s love is unconditional, all His promises come with a condition.

In the case of God’s promise to bless Abraham, his descendants and all nations of the earth, the condition for its fulfillment was simple and straightforward: “Go from your family and country to the land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1).

Abraham not only believed in God’s promise, he promptly obeyed and did as the Lord commanded him. God chose Abraham as His instrument of blessing – that through him and his descendants would come the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ who would reveal the glory and blessing of God’s kingdom, and bring salvation for all who would call upon His name.

Jesus, the Fulfillment of God’s Promise

The Lord Jesus came to fulfill all that Moses and the prophets spoke. Like Abraham, He was ready to part with anything that might stand in the way of doing the will of God. Jesus knew that the success of His mission would depend on His willingness to embrace His Father’s will no matter what it might cost Him personally.

On three occasions, Jesus told His disciples that He would undergo suffering and death on a cross to fulfill the mission the Father gave Him. As the time draws near for Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice on the cross, He takes three of His beloved disciples to the top of a high mountain. And there He was transfigured before them with Moses and Elijah, overlooking the summit of the Promised Land.

Matthew’s gospel tells us that Jesus’ face shone like the sun, and His garments became white as light (Matthew 17:2).

The Glory of Jesus Revealed

Why did Jesus appear in dazzling light with Moses and Elijah? The book of Exodus tells us that when Moses had met with God on Mount Sinai the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God (Exodus 34:29).

The apostle Paul wrote that the Israelites could not look at Moses’ face because of its brightness (2 Corinthians 3:7). After Elijah, the greatest of all the prophets had destroyed all the priests and idols of Baal in the land, he took refuge on the mountain of God at Sinai.

There God showed Elijah His glory in great thunder, whirlwind, and fire, and then spoke with him in a still quiet voice. God asked Elijah, “What are you doing here?” And then directed him to go fulfill the mission given him by God.

Jesus is the Fulfillment of God's Promises

Jesus, likewise, appears in glory with Moses and Elijah, as if to confirm with them that He, too, is ready to fulfill His mission. Jesus went to the mountain knowing full well what awaited Him in Jerusalem – betrayal, rejection, and crucifixion.

Jesus very likely discussed this momentous decision to go to the cross with Moses and Elijah. God the Father also spoke with Jesus and gave His approval: “This is My beloved Son; listen to Him” (Matthew 17:5).

The Father glorified His son because He was faithful and willing to obey Him in everything. The cloud which overshadowed Jesus and His apostles fulfilled the dream of the Jews that when the Messiah came the cloud of God’s presence would fill the temple again (see Exodus 16:10; 19:9; 33:9; 1 Kings 8:10).

Jesus Christ is the Way to Glory

The Lord Jesus not only wants us to see His glory; He wants to share His glory with us. And Jesus shows us the way to the Father’s glory. All we need to do is follow Him and obey His words.

Jesus fulfilled His mission of Calvary where He died for our sins so that Paradise and everlasting life would be restored to us. He embraced the cross to win a crown of glory; a crown that awaits each one of us, if we, too, will follow in His footsteps.

Jesus’ Followers are Partakers of His Glory

Luke’s gospel tells us that while Jesus was transfigured, Peter, James, and John were very sleepy, and when they were fully awake they saw His glory along with Moses and Elijah (Luke 9:32).

How much are we missing of God’s glory and action because we often get sleepy spiritually? Many things can keep our minds asleep to the things of God, such as mental lethargy, a very comfortable life, and even sorrow. These things can keep us from thinking things through and facing our doubts and questions.

Are you spiritually awake? Peter, James, and John were privileged witnesses of the glory of Christ. But as disciples of Jesus Christ, we, too, are called to be witnesses of His glory (2 Corinthians 3:18).

The Lord wants to reveal His glory to us, His beloved disciples. Do you seek His presence with faith and reverence?

Let us desire to see the glory of God and pray that the Lord Jesus will always keep us alert to Him, to His word, action, and presence in our lives.


Why Do Wicked People Prosper?

Why Do Wicked People Prosper?

In Psalm 73, Asaph expressed his struggles and doubts which are similar to those we find in the book of Job. Why do wicked people prosper and the righteous suffer? In the first verse (Psalm 73:1), the psalmist affirmed that “God is” so he was not an atheist or an agnostic, and he was certain that the God he worshiped was good.

Furthermore, he knew that the Lord had made a covenant with Israel that promised blessings if the people obeyed Him (Leviticus 26:1-13; Deuteronomy 28:1-14; Deuteronomy 30:1-20).

But it was these foundational beliefs that created the problem for him because he observed that the unbelievers don’t face problems “like everyone else” (Psalm 73:5). If the Lord was good and kept His covenant promises, why were His people suffering and the wicked prospering?

When the Wicked Prosper

How often do we see the ungodly shamelessly flaunting their perverted lifestyle during gay rights parades on the evening news? They neglect what God has to say about it (Romans 1:24-28). Take a look at this photo taken in Tel Aviv, Israel in a Gay Pride Parade. Yes, the very nation where Christianity started; God’s chosen nation. 

Why Do Evil People Prosper

And what about those who support abortion and claim that a woman’s right to choose is greater than the life of “unwanted tissue?” They too, neglect what God has to say about life in the womb (Isaiah 44:2). Worse, there are people in the government today who has gone to the extreme of legalizing late-term abortions. 

Yet they seem to be worry-free and are enjoying a wonderful life compared to those who choose to live in accordance with what the Word of God says. When our system of justice seems to abandon all standards of morality, where do God’s people make their appeal?

While we cannot deny the goodness of God in our everyday lives, it is also undeniable that God is good (perhaps too good) to the wicked and proud, thus making it easy for some of us to envy the wicked and their prosperity.

If God is good and just, the plans of the wicked should not succeed, they should be punished and only the righteous should prosper. But that is not what Asaph saw (Psalm 73:12), and it is not what we see either. We see the wicked enjoying the same prosperity, oftentimes more prosperous than God’s people.

This then can cause one to question what the reward of godliness is.

Doubt vs. Unbelief

There is a difference between doubt and unbelief. Doubt comes from a struggling mind, while unbelief comes from a stubborn will that refuses surrender to God. The unbelieving person will not believe, while the doubting person struggles to believe.

Based on the evidence he saw around him, Asaph came to the wrong conclusion that he had wasted his time and energy maintaining clean hands and a pure heart. If he had ever read the book of Job, then he had missed its message, for we serve God, not for what we get out of it but because He is worthy of our worship and service regardless of what He allows to come to our lives.

Satan has a commercial view of the life of faith and encourages us to serve God for what we can get from Him, and Asaph bought into that philosophy. Although he knew that what he said about God in the first verse of his Psalm is true, it has always been and will always be true, still, his feet almost slipped (Psalm 73:2).

But before going public with his unbelief and resigning his office, Asaph paused to consider the consequences. How would the younger believers in the land respond if one of the three sanctuary worship leaders turned his back on the Lord, the covenants and the faith (Psalm 73:15)?

To abandon the faith would mean undermining all that he had taught and sung at the sanctuary! The more he pondered the problem the more his heart was pained (Psalm 73:21-22). So he decided to go to the sanctuary and spend time with the Lord in worship.

Godly Life vs. Godless Life

Asaph got a new perspective on the problem when he considered, not the surrounding circumstances, but the destiny before him. He realized that what he saw in the lives of the prosperous, ungodly people was not a true picture but only pretense (Psalm 73:20).

As we continue to Psalm 73:23-28, we see the striking contrast between Asaph’s picture of godly life and the godless life described in Psalm 73:4-12). The ungodly impress each other and attract admirers, but they don’t have God’s presence with them.

The Lord upholds the righteous but casts down the wicked (Psalm 73:18). The righteous are guided by God’s counsel (Psalm 73:24) but the ungodly are deluded by their own fantasies. The destiny of the true believers is glory, but the destiny of the unbelievers is destruction (Psalm 73:19, 27).

Why does God let Evil People Prosper

True Riches Are Found in God Alone

The possessions of the ungodly are but idols that take the place of the Lord, and idolatry is harlotry (Exodus 34:15-16; 1 Chronicles 5:25).

Even death cannot separate God’s people from His blessing, for the spirit goes to heaven to be with the Lord, and the body waits in the grave for resurrection (Psalm 73:25-26; 2 Corinthians 5:1-8; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

Justice is Coming

Whenever we face problems and conflicts in our lives, we want to take control and make things happen. But we need to realize that God is just (Psalm 25:8) and vengeance belongs to Him (Psalm 94:1).

Do you feel bad seeing the wicked prosperous and they seem to get away with everything? Don’t fret! A day is coming when all will be set right. When we come before the Supreme Court of Heaven, there is no Fifth Amendment, no jury or evidence tampering, no deception, no fraud, and no dream team of lawyers.

In our Father’s Supreme Court, there is only truth and holiness. There, the Lord will be the defense and the Rock of refuge for the righteous or He will bring on the wicked their own iniquity and cut them off in their wickedness.

Will God be your defender and refuge? Or will He cut you off? Find rest from adversity by following the laws of our Supreme Court Judge.

How to Live in the Light of God

How to Live in the Light of God

In the Parable of the Lamp (Mark 4:21-25), our Lord used a common object (a lamp) in a familiar scene (a home). The lamp was a clay dish filled with oil, with a wick put into the oil. In order to give light, the lamp had to “use itself up,” and the oil had to be replenished. If the lamp was not lit, or if it was covered up, it did the home no good.

It’s the same thing with Christians, whom Jesus referred to as the light of the world; they are to let their light shine for all to see (Matthew 5:14-16). But to be a light of the world, we must live in the light. So how does one live in the light of God?

The Lamp and the Kingdom of God

What does the image of light and a lamp tell us about the kingdom of God? Lamps in the ancient world served a vital function, much like they do today. They enable people to see and work in the dark and to avoid stumbling or losing their way.

*Related Article: Out of Darkness into Light

The Jews also understood “light” as an expression of the inner beauty, truth, and goodness of God. We see many passages from the Old Testament Scriptures that describe how God’s light guides and helps us grow in our knowledge of Him and His truth and wisdom for our lives. (See Psalm 36:9 and Psalm 119: 105.)

How to Live in the Light of God

Living in the Light of God

Ever asked why the Lord calls us the light of the world? Why has Jesus compared us to a city on a hill? Are we not called to shine in the midst of darkness, and stand up high for those most sunk down?

If you hide your lamp beneath a bushel, you will soon notice that you yourself will be in the dark. You will find others bumping into you. So what can you do to illumine the world?

1. By being a light-bearer of God’s truth and love.

Having received the Light (Jesus) and His truth, we are not to hide, suppress, or destroy it. Rather, we must let it prevail. We have the solemn responsibility to spread it in whatever way as God gives us the opportunity. But then you may say, “I don’t think I can.”

Of course, it will not be easy if we are trying to do it on our own. But if we allow God’s grace, truth, and power to work in us, He will enable us to be a light-bearer without fear or reservation. God will also fill us with His Holy Spirit so that we may shine brightly with the radiance of His truth, love, and goodness.

Just as natural light prevails over the darkness around us and enables us to see clearly, so the light of Christ in us will shine in the hearts of all and enable them to hear and believe God’s Word. We just have to trust and obey God.

2. By being a witness for Christ.

Jesus called John the Baptist “a burning and shining lamp” (John 5:35) because he bore witness to God’s word and pointed others to Jesus, the true light and Savior of the world.

Our call and mission, like John the Baptist, is to be a witness for Christ so that many others may hear the Gospel (good news of Jesus Christ) and be set free from the blindness of sin, ignorance, and deception.

3. Let your faith produce good works.

Be a reflection of God’s light. The good is not preoccupied with darkness. It rejoices in being seen (John 3:21). It exults over the very pointing which are made at it. Christian modesty not only wishes to be modest but also wishes to be beheld as what it actually is.

No other than the apostle James said faith that does not produce good works is dead (James 2:26). However, I must clarify that the Bible does not teach we are saved by good works. Rather, good works come as a result of genuine faith, and it is genuine faith that saves.

Be Careful Little Ears What you Hear

How to Live in the Light of God There is a warning in Mark 4:24-25: “You must take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given. For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”

In other words, the more we hear the Word of God, the better we are able to share it with others. But we must pay close attention to what we hear as well as know what we hear (Luke 8:18). Because our spiritual hearing determines how much we have to give to others.

Christians should do well to put themselves under good teachers. We are to choose a spiritual family whose leaders teach the whole counsel of God. And upon hearing the Word, we must receive it with gladness.

When we have the godly habits of receiving God’s Word and living it, we will grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord.

Results of Living in the Light

Jesus remarks that nothing can remain hidden or secret. We can try to hide things from others, from ourselves, and from God. How tempting to shut our eyes from the consequences of our sinful ways or bad habits, even when we know what those consequences are.

How tempting to hide them from others and even from God. But, nonetheless, everything is known to God who sees all.

There is great freedom and joy for those who live in God’s light and who seek His truth and goodness. Those who listen to God and heed His voice will receive more from Him.

They will not lack what they need to live as Christ’s disciples. And they will shine as lights that show the wisdom and truth of God’s word. Do you know the joy and freedom of living in God’s light and truth?

What is the Good News of the Kingdom of God?

What is the Good News of the Kingdom of God?

In Mark 1:14-15, we read that after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee preaching the gospel of God, saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

The Gospel of God

John 3:16As soon as John the Baptist had finished his testimony, Jesus began His in Galilee, His home district. John’s enemies had sought to silence Him, but the gospel cannot be silenced.

What is the Gospel of God which Jesus came to preach? The word “gospel” literally means “good news.”

When a king had good news to deliver to his subjects he sent messengers or heralds throughout the land to make a public announcement – such as the birth of a newborn king or the victory over an invading army or occupied force.

God sent His prophets to announce the coming of God’s anointed King and Messiah.

After Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan and anointed by the Spirit He begins His ministry of preaching the Gospel – the good news that the kingdom of God was now at hand for all who were ready to receive it.

The Kingdom of God

Jesus proclaimed that the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand. Jesus takes up John’s message of repentance and calls His disciples to believe in the gospel – the good news He has come to deliver.

What is the good news?

It is the good news of peace (restoration of relationship with God as Ephesians 6:15 says), of hope (the hope of heaven and everlasting life – Colossians 1:23), of truth (God’s word is true and reliable – Colossians 1:5), of promise (He rewards those who seek Him – Ephesians 3:6), of immortality (God gives everlasting life – 2 Timothy 1:10), and the good news of salvation (liberty from sin and freedom to live as sons and daughters of God – Ephesians 1:13).

God sent us His Son not to establish an earthly kingdom but to bring us into His heavenly kingdom – a kingdom ruled by truth, justice, peace, and holiness. The kingdom of God is the central theme of Jesus’ mission. It’s the core of His gospel message.

God Rules over All

What is the kingdom of God? The word “kingdom” means something more than a territory or an area of land. It literally means “sovereignty” or “reign” and the power to “rule” and exercise authority.

The prophets announced that God would establish a kingdom not just for one nation or people but for the whole world. The Scriptures tell us that God’s throne is in heaven and His rule is over all (Psalm 103:19).

God’s kingdom is bigger and more powerful than anything we can imagine because it is universal and everlasting (Daniel 4:3). His kingdom is full of glory, power, and splendor or glory (Psalm 145:11-13).

In the Book of Daniel, we read that this kingdom is given to the Son of Man (Daniel 7:14, 18, 22, 27). The Son of Man is a Messianic title for God’s anointed King. The New Testament word for “Messiah” is “Christ” which literally means the “Anointed One” or the “Anointed King.”

Conditions for Entering the Kingdom of God

How does one enter the kingdom of God? In announcing the good news, Jesus gave two explicit things each of us must do in order to enter the kingdom of God: repent and believe.

A. Repent

Repentance is the first step. Repentance means to change – to change our way of thinking and our attitude, disposition, and life choices so that Christ can be the Lord and Master of our hearts rather than sin, selfishness, and greed.

If we are only sorry for the consequences of our sins, we will very likely keep repeating the sin that is mastering us.

True repentance requires a contrite heart (Psalm 51:17) and sorrow for sin and a firm resolution to avoid it in the future. The Lord Jesus gives us the grace to see sin for what it really is – a rejection of His love and wisdom for our lives and a refusal to do what is good and in accord with His will.

God’s grace brings pardon and help for turning away from everything that would keep us from His love and truth.

B. Believe

To believe is to take Jesus at His word and to recognize that God loved us so much that He sent His only begotten Son to free us from the bondage of sin and harmful desires. God made the supreme sacrifice of His Son on the cross to bring us back to a relationship of peace and friendship with Himself. He is our Father and He wants us to live as His sons and daughters. God loved us first (1 John 4:19) and He invites us in love to surrender our lives to Him.

When we submit to Christ’s rule in our lives and believe the gospel message, the Lord Jesus gives us the grace and power to live a new way of life as citizens of His kingdom. He gives us the grace to renounce the kingdom of darkness ruled by sin and Satan, the father of lies (John 8:44) and the ruler of this present world (John 12:31).

Do you believe that the gospel – the good news of Jesus – has the power to free you from the bondage of sin and fear?

What is the Good News of the Kingdom of God

Becoming Fishers of Men

Like fishermen, we are called to gather in people for the kingdom of God. When Jesus preached the gospel message, He called others to follow as His disciples and He gave them a mission “to catch people for the kingdom of God” (Mark 1:16-20).

What kinds of disciples did Jesus choose? Smelly fishermen! In the choice of the first apostles, we see a characteristic feature of Jesus’ work: He chose very ordinary people. They were non-professionals, had no wealth or position. They were chosen from the common people who did ordinary things, had no special education, and no social advantages.

Jesus wanted ordinary people who could take an assignment and do it extraordinarily well. He chose these individuals, not for what they were, but for what they would be capable of becoming under His direction and power.

God Chooses Ordinary People to Catch People

When the Lord calls us to serve, we must not think that we have nothing to offer. The Lord takes what ordinary people, like you and me, can offer and uses it for greatness in His kingdom.

Do you believe that God wants to work in and through you for His glory?

Jesus speaks the same message to us today: we will “catch people” for the kingdom of God if we allow the light of Jesus Christ to shine through us. God wants others to see the light of Christ in us in the way we live, speak, and witness the joy of the gospel.

Do you witness to those around you the joy of the Gospel? Do you pray for your neighbor, co-workers, and relatives that they may come to know the Lord Jesus Christ and grow in the knowledge of His love?

Answering Tough Questions About the Bible (Part Two)

Answering Tough Questions About the Bible (Part Two)

In part one of this article, we answered questions that have to do with the origin of the Bible, its nature, the authors, and how they got their message from God. As we continue with the tough questions about the Bible, we will be answering questions about the inspiration and authority of the Bible, its reliability and the reliability of the biblical witnesses.

The Inspiration of the Bible

What do we mean when we say that the Bible is inspired? 2 Timothy 3:16 (NIV) declares that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” In Matthew 4:4, Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

Combine this truth with 2 Peter 1:20-21, which affirms that the Scriptures were given by men who “spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit,” and we see that inspiration as a whole is the process by which Spirit-moved writers produced God-breathed writings.

Are the very words of the Bible inspired by God, or only the ideas?

Numerous Scriptures make it evident that the locus of revelation and inspiration is the written Word – the Scriptures (Greek gapha) – not simply the idea or even the writer, but his actual writing.

Notice the reference to revealed or divinely inspired “Scripture” (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21), “words taught by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:13), “the Book” (2 Chronicles 34:14), “His (God’s) word” (2 Samuel 23:2), “My (God’s) words” (Isaiah 59:21), and “the words that the Lord Almighty had sent” (Zechariah 7:12).

When referring to the Old Testament as the authoritative Word of God, the New Testament most often (more than ninety times) uses the phrase “it is written” (eg. Matthew 4:4, 7, 10). Jesus described this written word as that which “comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

So important were the exact words of God that Jeremiah was told, “Thus says the Lord: Stand in the court of the Lord’s house, and speak to all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the Lord’s house, all the words that I command you to speak to them. Do not diminish a word” (Jeremiah 26:2).

What does it mean when we say that the Bible is Inspired

So, it was not simply that men were free to state God’s word in their own words, the very choice of words was from God. Exodus 24:4 records, “And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord.”

In Deuteronomy 18:18, Moses writes, “I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.”

Sometimes God chose to emphasize even the tenses of verbs.

Jesus said, “But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Matthew 22:31-32). Paul based his argument on a singular versus a plural noun in Galatians 3:16, insisting, “Scripture does not say ‘and to seeds,’ meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed,’ meaning one person, who is Christ.”

Even one letter (the letter s, for example) can make a big difference. Jesus went so far as to declare that even parts of letters are inspired. In English, if a t is not crossed, it looked like an i. Thus, Jesus said, “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18).

Does the Bible claim to be inspired on all topics or just spiritual ones?

Inspiration does guarantee the truth of everything the Bible teaches, implies, or entails (spiritually of factually). Paul affirmed that all Scripture, not just some, is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). Peter declared that no prophecy of Scripture comes from man but it all comes from God (2 Peter 1:20-21).

Jesus told His disciples, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26). In this same discourse He added, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).

The church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ Himself as the chief cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:20). And the early church “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42), recorded for us in the pages of the New Testament, which was considered to be sacred Scripture along with the Old Testament.

The inspiration of God, then, extends to every part of Scripture. It includes everything God affirmed (or denied) about any topic included in Scripture. It is inclusive of not only what the Bible teaches explicitly but also what it teaches implicitly. It covers not only spiritual matters but factual ones as well.

The all-knowing God cannot be wrong about anything He teaches or implies. Jesus verified historical and scientific matters, including the creation of Adam and Eve (Matthew 19:4-5), the flood during Noah’s time (Matthew 24:37-39), and even Jona being swallowed by a great fish (Matthew 12:40-42).

Indeed, Jesus said, “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things” (John 3:12)?

Why do some people misunderstand what is meant by the inspiration of the Bible?

The Bible is inspired by God with regard to everything it teaches. There are, however, a number of common misunderstandings:

  • That every part of a parable has to convey a fact rather than help the parable illustrate its point (see Luke 18:2).
  • That everything it records is true rather than something merely taught or implied (Genesis 3:4).
  • That no exaggerations (hyperboles) are used (Psalm 6:6; Luke 14:26).
  • That all statements about God and creation are purely literal (Job 38:7; Hebrews 4:13).
  • That all factual assertions are technically precise by modern standards as opposed to a common observational standpoint (Joshua 10:12).
  • That all citations of Scripture must be verbatim as opposed to faithful to the meaning (Psalm 2:1 and Acts 4:25).
  • That all citations of Scripture must have the same application as the original (Hosea 11:1 and Matthew 2:15) rather than the same interpretation (meaning).
  • That the same truth can be said in only one way as opposed to many ways, as it is in the Gospels.
  • That whatever a writer personally believed, as opposed to merely what he actually affirmed in Scripture, is true (Matthew 15:26).
  • That truth is exhaustively revealed or treated as opposed to adequately presented in the Bible (1 Corinthians 13:12).
  • That quotations imply the truth of everything in the source it is citing rather than just the part cited (Titus 1:12).
  • That a particular grammatical construction will always be the customary one rather than an adequate one to convey the truth.

How do we know these misunderstandings aren’t part of what inspiration covers?

What the Bible says must be understood in view of what the Bible shows. What it preaches must be read in view of what it practices. The doctrine of Scripture is to be understood in light of the data of Scripture.

For instance, the Bible uses round numbers. Thus, when the Bible claims to be true, it does not mean to exclude the use of round numbers (2 Chronicles 4:1-22). The same is true of hyperboles, figures of speech, observational language, and literary genre (as poetry, parable, and the like).

In short, everything the Bible affirms is true, but what is meant by truth must be understood in the light of the phenomena or data of Scripture.

The Authority of the Bible

Does the Bible claim to have divine authority? The Bible uses many other words or phrases to describe itself in ways that validate its divine authority. Jesus said that the Bible is indestructible (Matthew 5:18); it is infallible (or completely reliable and authoritative) or “unbreakable” (see John 10:35); it has final and decisive authority (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10), and it is sufficient for faith and practice.

Jesus spoke of the sufficiency of the Jewish Scriptures, “‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead” (Luke 16:31). Paul added this: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

How far does this divine authority extend?

The extent of divine authority in Scripture includes all that is written, even the very words – including even the smallest parts of words and the tenses of verbs. Even though the Bible was not verbally dictated by God to humans, nonetheless, the result is just as perfect as if it had been.

For the biblical authors claimed that God is the source of the very words of Scripture, since He supernaturally superintended the process by which they wrote, using their own vocabulary and style to record God’s message (2 Peter 1:20-21).

The Reliability of the Bible

Evangelicals affirm the reliability of the biblical text from God to us. Can we trust the Bible historically? Is it really a reliable record?

Since the historical reliability of the Bible is a crucial link in knowing that the Bible is the Word of God, it is important to address these questions.

Answering Tough Questions About the Bible

Does the Bible have errors in it?

The original text of the Bible does not teach any error. The logic of the Bible’s errorlessness is straightforward:

1) God cannot err (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18).

2) The Bible is God’s Word (John 10:34-35).

3) Therefore, the Bible cannot contain errors.

Since the Scriptures are breathed out by God and God cannot breathe out falsehood, it follows that the Bible cannot contain any falsehood.

Are there errors in Bible Manuscripts and translations?

There are some minor copyist errors in the Bible manuscripts. A couple of examples will suffice. The Masoretic Text of 2 Chronicles 22:2 says Ahaziah was forty-two, yet 2 Kings 8:26 asserts that Ahaziah was twenty-two. He could not have been forty-two (a copyist error), or he would have been older than his father.

Also, 2 Chronicles 9:25 affirms that Solomon had four thousand horse stalls, but the Masoretic Text of 1 Kings 4:26 says he had forty thousand horse stalls, which would have been way more than needed for the twelve thousand horsemen he had.

It is important to keep these things in mind with regard to these copyist errors:

  • No original manuscript has ever been found with an error in it.
  • They are relatively rare.
  • In most cased we know which one is wrong from the context or the material found in parallel passages.
  • In no case is the doctrine of Scripture affected.
  • They vouch for the accuracy of the copying process since the scribes who copied them knew there were errors in the manuscripts but they were duty-bound to copy what the text said.
  • They don’t affect the central message of the Bible.

Someone, may, in fact, receive a message with errors in it, yet have 100 percent of the message come through clearly. For example, suppose you received a message from Western Union that read as follows: “Y#u have won 20 million dollars.”

No doubt you would gladly pick up your money. And if the telegram read in any of the ways that follow, you would have no doubt at all:

  • “Yo# have won 20 million dollars.”
  • “You #ave won 20 million dollars.”
  • You h#ve won 20 million dollars.”

Why would we be surer if there are more errors? Because each error is in a different place, and with it, we get another confirmation of every other letter in the original message.

Three things are important to note. First, even with one line, error and all, 100 percent of the message comes through. Second, the more lines, the more errors – but the more errors, the surer we are of what the intended message really was.

Finally, there are hundreds of times more Bible manuscripts than there are lines in the above example. And there is a greater percentage of error in this telegram than in all the collated biblical manuscripts.

Are the copies of the Bible reliable?

The biblical scribes were meticulous in how they copied Scripture. The overall reliability has been measured in several ways.

First, with regard to any major doctrine in the Bible, there has been no loss whatsoever. Every important truth of Scripture from the original text has been preserved intact in the Old Testament Hebrew and the New Testament Greek manuscripts.

Second, errors that exist in the copies are in minor matters, such as numbers that affect no major or minor doctrinal matter in the Bible. In fact, in most of these, we know either from the common sense of the text, the context, or other passages which ones are correct.

Third, not only is 100 percent of all the major truths and the vast majority of minor truth of Scripture preserved in the manuscripts we have (and in the translations based on them), but more than 99 percent of the original text can be reconstructed from the manuscripts we possess.

The reason is twofold: (1) we have thousands of manuscripts, and (2) we have early manuscripts. The proximity to the original text and the multiplicity of the manuscripts enable textual scholars to accurately reconstruct the original text with more than 99 percent accuracy.

Renowned Greek scholar Sir Frederic Kenyon affirmed that all manuscripts agree on the essential correctness of 99 percent of the verses in the New Testament. Another noted Greek scholar, A. T. Robertson, said the real concerns of textual criticism are on “a thousand part of the entire text” (making the New Testament 99.9 percent pure).

The Reliability of the Biblical Witnesses

Were the biblical witnesses reliable? Yes, they were very reliable for many reasons.

First, the writers of Scripture were by and large contemporaries of the events. Moses was a witness of the events in Exodus through Deuteronomy (see Exodus 24:4; Deuteronomy 31:24). Joshua was a witness of the happenings reported in his book (Joshua 24:26), as were Samuel (1 Samuel 10:25, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah after him.

The same is true in the New Testament. Matthew was a disciple of Jesus. Mark was a contemporary and associate of the apostle Peter (1 Peter 5:13). Luke was a contemporary who knew the eyewitnesses (Luke 1:1-4). And John was a disciple of Jesus and eyewitness of the events (1 John 1:1-2).

Second, in the case of the New Testament writers, all eight (or nine?) of them were either apostles or associated with the apostles as eyewitnesses and/or contemporaries: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, James, Peter, and Jude. These were all men who held the highest standards of ethics and were willing to die for their beliefs, as most of them did.

Third, these writers were credible as indicated by:

1. Their tendency to doubt whether Jesus rose from the dead (Matthew 28:17; Mark 16:3; Luke 24:11; John 20:24-29).

2. The inclusion of material that reflected badly on themselves (see Matthew 16:23; Mark 14:47).

3. The multiple accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, etc.) that establish their words by two or three witnesses as the court required (Deuteronomy 17:6).

4. The divergence in accounts that reveals they were not in collusion (see Matthew 28:5; John 20:12).

5. Confirmation of the accounts through hundreds of archaeological finds.

6. The evidence for early dates for the basic material about Jesus’ death and resurrection by A.D. 55-60.

Noted historian Colin Hemer confirmed that Luke wrote Acts by A.D. 62. But Luke wrote the gospel of Luke, which says the same basic things about Jesus that Matthew and Mark say before he wrote Acts (say, by A.D. 60)

Further, Bible critics admit that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 15:1-9, which tells of the death and resurrection of Jesus, by about A.D. 55. This was only twenty-two years after Jesus’ death, while more than 250 witnesses of His resurrection were still alive (see 1 Corinthians 15:6).

Would the New Testament witnesses have stood up in a court of law?

Simon Greenleaf, one of history’s greatest legal minds, former Harvard law professor, and author of a book on legal evidence, carefully applied the rules of legal evidence to the Gospel accounts in his book The Testimony of the Evangelists.

Greenleaf argued that if the Gospels were submitted to the scrutiny of a court of law, “then it is believed that every honest and impartial man will act consistently with that result, by receiving their testimony in all the extent of its import.”

He added, “Let the witnesses be compared with themselves, with each other, and with surrounding facts and circumstances; and let their testimony be sifted, as if it were given in a court justice, on the side of the adverse party, the witness being subjected to rigorous cross-examination. The result, it is confidently believed, will be an undoubting conviction of their integrity, ability, and truth.”

Here’s a 3-minute video presentation by Daniel B. Wallace explaining why we can still trust the New Testament even when the original manuscripts are different.

Conclusion

The Bible both claims and proves to be the Word of God. Both the internal and external evidence overwhelmingly reveal the accuracy of the Bible.

Having examined its origin, nature, and reliability, we may confidently assert that the Scriptures came from God through men of God who recorded it in the Word of God.

Here’ part one of Answering Tough Questions About the Bible.


*Reference:  Who Made God? (Answers to Over 100 Other Tough Questions of Faith)

*Recommended Resource: From God to Us: How We Got Our Bible
By Norman L. Geisler & William E. Nix

The Bible was written in multiple languages by dozens of authors whose lives spanned a period of more than fifteen hundred years. How did it all come together?

Best-selling authors Norman Geisler and William Nix thoroughly answer this question and many more in this revised and expanded edition of a classic which has sold more than 78,000 copies. Helpful charts, photos, and indices have been added, rendering this book ideally suited for Bible students, pastors, and professors.

Major topics addressed include: theories of inspiration, the process of canonization, major manuscripts and recent discoveries, textual criticism, Greek and Latin translations, and modern English translations. The entire field of general biblical introduction is covered.

This is a long-trusted resource for understanding why we can trust the Scriptures really are God’s word.

Answering Tough Questions About The Bible (Part One)

Answering Tough Questions About The Bible (Part One)

In today’s age of increasing cultism, agnosticism, and skepticism, Christians are called on all the more to get answers to the questions being asked about faith, God, and the Bible.

Admittedly, most church members (and even many pastors) are not formally trained in defending the faith and hence cannot always answer tough questions they’re asked. Nevertheless, Christians are commanded to “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear,” (1 Peter 3:15) and also to “let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:6).

These are commands not just to Christian leaders but to all believers as well. That is why the apostle Paul insisted that church leaders must “hold fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict” (Titus 1:9).

The Origin of the Bible

One of the areas that are mostly under attack is our belief in the Bible as God’s Word. And so, in this post, we will look at some of the tough questions being asked and give brief answers to them.

How and Where Did We Get the Bible?

How and Where Did We Get the Bible?

We believe that the Scriptures came from God through men of God who wrote down the very words of God. That is, the Bible has a divine origin, even though it was produced through human instrumentality. But this belief occasions many questions from our culture. How and where did we get the Bible?

The Bible claims to have come from God. Speaking of the whole Old Testament, Paul wrote, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

Even the New Testament is called Scripture. Paul cited the gospel as Scripture in 1 Timothy 5:18 and Peter referred to Paul’s epistles as Scripture in 2 Peter 3:15-16. So, both the entire Old and New Testaments, both Gospels, and Epistles are said to be writings that are “breathed out” by God.

Jesus used a similar expression when He referred to the Word of God coming out of the “mouth of God,” saying to the tempter, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

Who Wrote the Bible?

Not only does the Bible claim to be a God-breathed writing, but it comes from Spirit-moved writers. Peter referred to the Old Testament prophets as men who were “carried along” by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). David added, “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue” (2 Samuel 23:2).

So, the Bible claims to have come from God through men of God.

The Bible was written by prophets of God. The ultimate source of the Bible is God, but men of God called prophets were the instruments God used to record His words. The role of biblical prophets was unique. They were the mouthpieces of God, commissioned to speak His words, nothing more and nothing less (Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18-19).

The whole Old Testament was written by prophets, of which some of them were prophets by office, like Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15), who wrote the first five books of the Bible known as the Torah in Hebrew or Pentateuch in Greek.

Other Old Testament writers were prophets by gift, that is, they did not belong to the group or company of prophets. But God spoke to them and gave them a message to deliver to the people (Amos 7:14-15).

For instance, Daniel was a prince by profession (Daniel 1:3-6), but he became a prophet by calling and gift. Jesus Himself called him “the prophet Daniel” (Matthew 24:15). David was a shepherd boy, but God spoke to him (2 Samuel 23:2). Even Solomon, the author of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs, received revelations from God as a prophet does (1 Kings 3:5).

Likewise, all the New Testament writers were “apostles and prophets,” since the church was built on this foundation (Ephesians 2:20). They, too, claimed to receive their message from God. Paul, who wrote about half of the New Testament books, was considered to have written inspired Scripture in the same category as the Old Testament.

Matthew and John were among those Jesus promised to lead into “all truth” and bring to their remembrance whatever He taught them (John 16:13, 14, 26) while Peter, who was one of the chief apostles, wrote two books based on his credentials as an apostle and eyewitness of Jesus (1 Peter 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1, 16).

The rest of the New Testament writers were associates of the apostles and prophets by gift since God spoke through these servants of Jesus as well (James 1:1; Jude 1 – 3).

Biblical Authors: Mere Secretaries of the Holy Spirit?

How and Where Did We Get the Bible?
Photo Credits: Pinterest.co.uk

The authors of the Bible did not simply take dictation from God. They were not mere secretaries or automatons, but they were faithful to proclaim the whole message from God without adding to it or taking away from it (Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18-19).

God used the individual personalities, vocabularies, literary styles, and conscious desires of the biblical authors to produce the Bible. Thus, while being completely from God, the words of Scripture are also human words in particular human languages expressed in distinctive human literary forms.

Nonetheless, the final product is exactly as God-ordained and providentially superintended it to be – the divinely authoritative, infallible, and inerrant Word of God. For the Scripture “cannot be broken” (John 10:35) or “disappear” (Matthew 5:18).

The Word of God is the “truth” (John 17:17) that comes from a God for whom “it is impossible … to lie (Hebrews 6:18. In short, it is without error in whatever it affirms, not only on spiritual matters but also on science (Matthew 19:12; John 3:12) and history (Matthew 12:40-42; 24:37).

In short, the writers of the Bible were humans that God chose to be His mouthpiece through the use of human language and literary forms.

How Did the Prophets Get their Message from God?

The prophets received their message from God in various ways. Some received them in dreams (Genesis 37:1-11), others in visions (Daniel 7:1-28), and some even by audible voice (1 Samuel 3:1-14) or an inner voice (Hosea 1:1-11; Joel 1:1-20).

Others received revelations from angels (Genesis 19:1-29), some by way of miracles (Exodus 3:1-22), and others by way of the lot (Proverbs 16:33). The high priest used jewels known as the Urim and Thummim (Exodus 28:30). And still, God spoke to others as they meditated on His revelation in nature (Psalm 8:1-9; 19:1-6).

Whatever the means, as the author of Hebrews put it, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets” (Hebrews 1:1).

Could Prophets Change or Add to God’s Message?

No, they were forbidden to do so. Biblical prophets were not to add, subtract or tamper with the text of sacred Scripture (Deuteronomy 4:2; Jeremiah 26:2; Proverbs 30:5-6). God dealt severely with anyone who attempted to change His words (Jeremiah 36:28).

The nature of a biblical prophet guaranteed that he would not add his thoughts to God’s message, for he is one who speaks “everything the Lord has said” (Exodus 4:30). The very nature of a prophet also demanded that a prophetic writing is exactly what God wants to say to mankind.

And since the Bible is presented as a prophetic writing from beginning to end (Matthew 5:17-18; 2 Peter 1:20-21; Revelation 22:9), it follows that the written record of the prophets was considered inspired by God.

Take John’s warning about the words of prophecy in Revelation 22:18-19. This didn’t mean that they could not receive new revelations, but that they could not tamper with old ones.

The Nature of the Bible

Since the Bible claims to come from God, it asserts a divine authority. It claims to be the very word of God (John 10:34-35). But since the Bible was also written by human beings, what does it mean when we call it “God’s Word?”

What Does it Mean that the Bible is the Word of God?

Since God is the source of the Bible, it is appropriate to call it His Word. But since human writers composed every word in the Bible, it is also true that it is their word. Hence, one way to describe what is meant when the Bible claims to be “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16) is this: “What the Bible says, God says.”

This is manifested in the fact that often an Old Testament passage will claim that God said it, yet when this same text is cited in the New Testament, it asserts the “the Scripture(s)” said it. Consider these comparisons:

What God says          The Bible says

Genesis 12:3               Galatians 3:8

Exodus 9:13, 16          Romans 9:17


In Genesis 12:1-3, it is God speaking. But when this is cited in Galatians 3:8, it says it is the Scripture… preached the gospel to Abraham.”

Also, in Exodus 9:13-16, it is the Lord speaking. However, when the New Testament quotes this passage, it says, “For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, ‘For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth’” (Romans 9:17).

At times the reverse is true. For instance, in the Old Testament, it is the Bible that records it, but the New Testament declares that it was God who said it.

What the Bible says     God says

Genesis 2:24                  Matthew 19:4-5

Psalm 2:1                        Acts 4:24-25

Isaiah 55:3                     Acts 13:34

Psalm 16:10                   Acts 13:35

Psalm 2:7                       Hebrews 1:5


In Genesis 2:24, the Bible says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” But when this was cited by Jesus in the New Testament, He said, “Have you not read that He (God) who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’” (Matthew 19:4-5)?

Noted theologian B. B. Warfield made this observation:

“In one of these classes of passages the Scriptures are spoken of as if they were God; in the other, God is spoken of as if He were the Scriptures. In the two taken together, God and the Scriptures are brought into such conjunction as to show that in point of the directness of authority no distinction was made between them.”

How Else Does the Bible Claim to be the Word of God?

The Scriptures claim to come from God by means of phrases such as “says the LORD” (Isaiah 1:11, 18), “declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 2:3, 9), “God said” (Genesis 1:3, 6), “this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD” (Jeremiah 34:1), and “The word of the LORD came to me” (Ezekiel 30:1).

Such phrases are found hundreds of times in Scripture and reveal beyond question that the writer is affirming that he records the very word of God. In the book of Leviticus alone there are some sixty-six occurrences of phrases like “the LORD said to Moses” (Leviticus 4:1; 5:14; 6:1, 8, 19; 7:22).

*Related Article: The Different Forms of the Word of God

Ezekiel also records countless times phrases like “I saw visions” or “the word of the LORD came to me.” Five times in twenty-eight verses of chapter 12, Ezekiel says, “The word of the LORD came to me” (Ezekiel 12:1, 8, 17, 21, 26), and four times he writes, “This is what the Sovereign LORD says” (Ezekiel 12:10, 19, 23, 28).

And in verse 28 he uses the combination, “This is what the Sovereign LORD says” and “declares the Sovereign LORD.”

Isaiah (Isaiah 1:1, 11, 18, 24; 2:1), Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:2; 13; 2:1, 3, 5), and other prophets make similar statements. The overall impression leaves no doubt as to the confessed source in God Himself of the messages of the prophets.

Does the Bible Actually Claim to be the “WORD of GOD” in so Many Words?

Yes, it does! Many times, the Bible claims to be the “Word of God” in these very words or their equivalent Jesus told some of the Jewish leaders of His day, “Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition” (Matthew 15:6 NIV).

Paul speaks of the Scriptures as “the very words of God” in Romans 3:2 (NIV). Peter declares, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). And the writer of Hebrews affirms, “For the word of God is alive 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).

Jesus used the phrase “word of God” as equivalent to the Law (Torah) and Scriptures, asserting, “Is it not written in your Law … to whom the word of God came and Scripture cannot be set aside” (John 10:34-35).

Isn’t the Bible also a Human Book?

Yes, it is. In fact, one hundred percent human. The Bible was written by human authors, including Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, a number of other prophets, Ezra, Nehemiah, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, and others.

#1. The Bible was composed in human languages (Hebrew in the Old Testament and Greek in the New Testament). It is expressed in human literary styles including the exalted poetry of Isaiah, the mournful lamentations of Jeremiah, the parables of Jesus recorded in the Gospels, and the didactic presentation of Paul.

#2. The Bible uses different human literary forms, including the narrative of Samuel and Kings, the poetry of Job and Psalms, the parables of the synoptic Gospels, some allegory as in Galatians 4, the use of symbols as in Revelation, the metaphors and similes of James, satire (Matthew 19:24), and hyperbole (Psalms 6:6; Luke 14:26).

Like other human writing, the Bible uses a wide range of literary forms to convey its meaning.

#3. The Bible reflects different human perspectives. These include a shepherd’s perspective (David in Psalm 23:1-6), a prophetic vantage point in Kings, a priestly perspective in Chronicles, the historical interest of Luke and Acts (Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1), and the pastoral concerns of Paul (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus).

And unlike a modern book on astronomy, biblical writers speak from an observer’s perspective when they write of the sun rising or setting (Joshua 1:15; 10:13).

#4. The Bible reflects different human thought patterns. These include almost every dimension of finite thinking patterns, from a tightly-knit logical treatise like Romans to the polemics of Galatians, to the expression of a brief memory lapse in 1 Corinthians 1:14-16.

How and Where Did We Get the Bible?

#5. The Bible reveals different human emotions. The apostle Paul expresses great sorrow over Israel (Romans 9:2), great anger over the error of the Galatians (Galatians 3:1), melancholy and loneliness over his imprisonment (2 Timothy 4:9-16), depression over hardships (2 Corinthians 1:8), joy over victories (Philippians 1:4), and much more.

#6. The Bible manifests specific human interests. Luke had a medical interest, as indicated by his use of medical terms. Hosea had a distinct rural interest, as did Amos, the shepherd from Tekoa (Amos 1:1). James’ writing betrays an interest in nature (see James 1:6, 10-11).

The interests of shepherds (John 10:1-16), athletes (1 Corinthians 9:24-27), and farmers (Matthew13:1-43) are also reflected in the Bible.

#7. The Bible expresses human culture. As a Semitic book, the Bible is filled with expression and practices of its Hebrew culture, such as the common means of greeting by kissing (1 Thessalonians 5:26) and a woman’s use of a veil as a sign of respect for her husband (1 Corinthians 11:5)

Washing one’s feet upon entering a home (John 1:3), shaking off the dust of one’s feet as a sign of condemnation (Luke 10:11), and reclining (not sitting) at meals (John 13:23) are only a few of numerous other examples of human culture.

#8. The Bible utilizes other written human sources. The book of Jashar (Joshua 10:13) and the Books of the Wars of the LORD (Number 21:14) are examples. The records of Samuel the seer, the records of Nathan the prophet and the records of Gad the seer (1 Chronicles 29:29) may also fit in this category.

Luke referred to written sources about Jesus available to him (Luke 1:1-4). Paul quoted non-Christian poets three times (Acts 17:28; 1 Corinthians 15:33; Titus 1:12). Jude cited material from the non-canonical books, The Testament of Moses and the book of Enoch (Jude 9, 14).

These citations do not guarantee the truthfulness of everything in the source but only what is cited. Of course, ultimately all truth comes from God, whatever the immediate source maybe.

How Can the Bible be both God’s Word and Man’s Words?

The Bible is both the word of God and the words of man because God (the source) utilized human beings to convey His word. So, there is a concurrence between what the human authors wrote and what God prompted them to write.

The Bible is both divine and human at the same time in a way similar to the way Christians believe Jesus Christ is both divine and human at the same time.

Of course, as in any analogy, there are some differences. Unlike Jesus Christ who is God, the Bible is not God, and hence it should not be worshiped.


In part two of this article, we will answer questions in regard to the inspiration of the Bible, its authority and reliability as well as the reliability of the biblical witnesses. 

*Read part two here: Answering Tough Questions About the Bible (Part Two)


*Reference:  Who Made God? (Answers to Over 100 Other Tough Questions of Faith)

*Recommended Resource: From God to Us: How We Got Our Bible
By Norman L. Geisler & William E. Nix

The Bible was written in multiple languages by dozens of authors whose lives spanned a period of more than fifteen hundred years. How did it all come together?

Best-selling authors Norman Geisler and William Nix thoroughly answer this question and many more in this revised and expanded edition of a classic which has sold more than 78,000 copies. Helpful charts, photos, and indices have been added, rendering this book ideally suited for Bible students, pastors, and professors.

Major topics addressed include: theories of inspiration, the process of canonization, major manuscripts and recent discoveries, textual criticism, Greek and Latin translations, and modern English translations. The entire field of general biblical introduction is covered.

This is a long-trusted resource for understanding why we can trust the Scriptures really are God’s word.

What’s the Book of Revelation About?

What’s the Book of Revelation About?

With the increasing anti-Christian sentiment and the decline of economic and social stability, many Christians today are anxious about the future. In times like these, people tend to look even more closely at the book of Revelation because it encourages Christians to keep hope alive.

Background of the Book of Revelation

The apostle John wrote his great book while he was banished to Patmos – a small, rocky island in the Aegean Sea. While he was shut out from the world, he was shut into God and received the most extensive revelation of future events shown to any writer of the New Testament.

God very well may have allowed John’s banishment so he could be alone with Him and receive this monumental vision of the future. Sometimes the work God has for us requires removal from our normal environment. Abraham’s call, Joseph’s slavery, Moses’ flight from Egypt, and Daniel’s captivity are some instances.

What’s the Book of Revelation About

Many writers isolate themselves by getting away to a mountain retreat or stay in a hotel room so they can concentrate fully on their task. I tend to focus more on my thinking, planning and, writing when left alone in a quiet or remote place.

It becomes quickly apparent as we open the book of Revelation that we are about to encounter a message with a high purpose. Though it bears certain similarities to prophetic passages in Daniel, Ezekiel, and Matthew, Revelation is unique.

What Kind of Book is Revelation?

The book of Revelation tells us what kind of book it is in the first few paragraphs.

A Prophetic Book

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants – things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His servant John” (Revelation 1:1).

Revelation 1:1 displays the prophetic nature of what John wrote through the use of one keyword and one key phrase. The keyword is revelation, which is the translation of the Greek word apokalypsis or “apocalypse.” In the Greek New Testament, this is the first word of the entire book.

What comes to mind when you hear the word apocalypse? Horrible disasters associated with the end of the world, right? But in the Greek, the word simply means “an uncovering; an unveiling; a manifestation of.”

While most people believe that the primary purpose of the book of Revelation is to paint a picture of the end times, although it does do that, it was written primarily to unveil, or uncover, the majesty and power of Jesus Christ. This book is neither a puzzle nor an enigma but a disclosure of who Jesus is.

The key prophetic phrase used in Revelation 1:1 is translated “must shortly take place,” which describes something that suddenly comes to pass. It indicates rapid progression after something commences. The idea is not that the event may occur soon but that when it does, it will occur suddenly.

It’s more like an earthquake; we don’t know when the next will come, but we know that it will. And it will come suddenly and without warning.


Recommended Resource: Revelation (The John Walvoord Prophecy Commentaries) 

What's the Book of Revelation About?The book of Revelation has long fascinated and even confused readers and students of the Bible.

Yet the Bible is written to be understood, and Revelation is no exception. Who better to help you understand the seals, trumpets, vials, woes, and plagues than John F. Walvoord, one of evangelicalism’s most prominent leaders, and Mark Hitchcock, today’s leading Bible prophecy expert?

In this first in a renewed series of commentaries from Dr. Walvoord, he points out that much of the book’s symbolism can be interpreted literally. At key points, different views and approaches to interpretation are explored. Walvoord devotes special attention to textual and doctrinal issues while avoiding technical language.

Refined, updated with the English Standard Version (ESV), and streamlined, this classic text is set to help you interpret the last book of the Bible and gain a better grasp of current trends and the climax of history!


A Personal Book

“John … bore witness to the end of the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw” (Revelation 1:2).

The book of Revelation is cosmic and far-reaching in its scope, yet it is also very personal. This is a message that John received personally from the Lord (Revelation 1:1-2) and he writes to those with whom he is intimately acquainted, referring to himself as a “brother and companion” in tribulation (Revelation 1:9).

The Lord said to John, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea” (Revelation 1:11). The seven letters we find in chapters 2 and 3 were personal letters written to actual congregations in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) at the end of the first century AD.

Theologian John Stott said this, “The seven cities mentioned form an irregular circle, and are listed in the order in which a messenger might visit them if commissioned to deliver the letters. Sailing from the island of Patmos … he would arrive at Ephesus. He would then travel north to Smyrna and Pergamum, south-east to Thyatira, Sardis, and Philadelphia, and finish his journey at Laodicea.”

Notice how each of the letters begins with the phrase, “I know your works,” and each contains a promise to the one “who overcomes.” But each message between these bookend phrases was personally tailored to the needs of the church to which it was addressed. As such, the letters must be read in their own context.

However, let us not take these letters for granted as there are applications for us today. John may have written these letters with first-century churches in mind, but they accurately identify the kinds of Christians who show up in church in every age – including today.

Anyone who reads the letters will likely think of individuals or churches that fit some of the descriptions. I believe the Lord’s recommendations to these seven churches could solve all the problems modern churches face. The fact that all seven letters were contained in a single parchment meant that each of the churches was required to read the letters written to the others.

A Pictorial Book

“He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw” (Revelation 1:1a-2).

John indicated, on thirty-nine occasions, that he was recording things he saw. His word paint vivid pictures to reveal the future through memorable images and symbols.

Symbols occur throughout Scripture as vehicles for divine revelation, but this book contains more than any other. Sometimes the symbols represent people, such as in the first chapter where Jesus is seen as a judge with a two-edged sword coming out of His mouth.

The Antichrist is presented as a beast coming out of the sea, and the false prophet as a beast originating from the earth, in chapter 13.

You may ask, “Why is there so much symbolism in the book of Revelation?”

First of all, symbolism is not weakened by time. Well-chosen symbols span the centuries and allow us to apply them not only to ancient or future times but also to our own. They create a compelling drama that encourages persecuted and suffering saints throughout the ages.

Second, symbols impart values and arouse emotions. To call a tyrant a beast evokes a primal fear that the word dictator misses. It is also more colorful to refer to the corrupted world system as Babylon the Great than to dull it with a mundane list of descriptions.

This is what Eugene Peterson said about how the imagery in Revelation affects him: “The truth of the gospel is already complete, revealed in Jesus Christ. There is nothing new to say on the subject. But there is a new way to say it. I read the book of Revelation not to get more information but to revive my imagination.”

Last but not least, these symbols functioned as a kind of spiritual code that was generally understood by believers but not by outsiders. John’s book was circulated to the churches during the reign of Domitian (AD 81-96). If it had been written in more direct, prosaic language to fall into the hands of the Romans, those associated with the book would have been executed.

Reasons to Study the Book of Revelation

A Profitable Book

Revelation is the only book in the Bible that motivates its readers by promising a blessing for those who will read and obey it. The promise is made at the beginning and the end (Revelation 1:3 and Revelation 22:7).

Related Article: The 7 Blessings in the Book of Revelation

You may be surprised to know that the word blessed as used in the above-mentioned verses means joyous, blissful or happy. So it may seem strange to associate joys with the sometimes chilling drama of the book of Revelation.

But as Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones explained, “Revelation was written in order that God’s people who were passing through terrible persecutions and terrible adversity might still be able to go on rejoicing. This book was written to help men and women who are in trouble by showing them the ultimate victory of the Lord over Satan and all the forces of evil.”

1. Profitable for Personal Application

It often appears that the enemy is winning but the book of Revelation puts everything into perspective. It tells us of God’s plan for the future and assures us that we are on the winning side. Satan may win some present battles, but the outcome of the war has already been determined.

Knowing that this truth gives us the courage to press on and persevere through the downturns.

2. Profitable for Public Assembly

Public reading and exhortation were an integral part of gatherings in the early church. Paul told young Timothy, for example, to “give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:13).

The first-century church met in one place on the first day of the week and memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets were read as long as time permits. When the reader has finished, the president would urge and invite the people to imitate the noble things read.

3. Profitable for Prophetic Anticipation

Revelation 1:3 ends with the phrase “the time is near,” and Revelation 22:10 declares that “the time is at hand.”

The expression, “the time is near” does not necessarily mean the event will occur immediately. It does indicate nearness from the standpoint of prophetic revelation, which operates according to its own timetable. These events were near when John recorded them as they were the next major event on the calendar. And they are even closer today.

Prophecy is God’s way of giving us a fair warning so we can prepare our hearts and minds to be ready for what is ahead.

A Practical Book

More than a century ago, a book entitled, Jesus is Coming: God’s Hope for a Restless World written by William E. Blackstone was published, and interestingly, it had a significant impact on the Christian world that it spurred much of today’s interest in the study of prophecy.

In his book, Blackstone devotes an entire chapter to the practical benefits of studying Bible prophecy, which he calls the true incentive to a holy life. He writes, “No other doctrine in the Word of God presents a deeper motive for crucifying the flesh, for separation to God, to work for souls, and as our hope and joy and crown of rejoicing than this does.”

Three practical benefits that come to us from studying prophecy, especially the book of Revelation:

1. Studying prophecy motivates us to live productive lives.

Contrary to what some people think that a keen awareness of the second coming of Christ will turn us into lazy souls who stand around gazing upward in some kind of useless trance, knowing that Jesus is coming any minute will motivate us, even more, to work for Him to do the Father’s business in these last days.

2. Studying prophecy motivates us to live positive lives.

The book of Revelation promotes a positive mindset that as we study it; we begin to realize that everything that’s happening in our world today is heading somewhere. In Revelation, we see God’s sovereign hand upon affairs of the world, as in no other book, and we see Him in control even though so much here on earth seems out of control.

As the conditions of our world worsen, instead of hanging our heads on depression or shake our heads in confusion, we are to lift up our heads in expectation, for our redemption draws near (Luke 21:28).

3. Studying prophecy motivates us to live pure lives.

The third benefit of studying Revelation is that it fosters purity in our lives. The Bible says, “… when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:2-3).

A Purposeful Book

Revelation 1:7-8 presents the twofold purpose of the entire book, which is to affirm Christ’s return and His ultimate reign over the earth.

“Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen” (Revelation 1:7).

Daniel predicted that the Messiah would come through the clouds (Daniel 7:13). In His Olivet Discourse, Jesus spoke of His coming in similar terms (Matthew 24:30). John expanded on Jesus’ words to describe what every person will experience at His second coming (Revelation 1:7).

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8).

Alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet that point not only to the eternity of Christ but also to His all-inclusive power.

As the Alpha and Omega, Christ precedes the beginning of Creation and survives the end of humanity’s day. He is the eternal, omnipotent God. And when the time was right, Jesus began His campaign to regain His rightful sovereignty over the earth.

The book of Revelation is the account of that campaign. It tells of His appointment by the Father to the throne, His battle against the forces of evil, His final victory, and His relationship with the redeemed.

As a result of Christ’s triumph, His people are presented as overcomers. The simple meaning of the word overcome is “to conquer” or “to win the victory.” The promise of victory is certain, but its final reality awaits the return of Jesus Christ the King.

What’s the Book of Revelation About

Closing Words

It is in the heart of every believer to join with the saints of old in longing for that day as did John when he completed his scroll: “Even so, come Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20). Yet while we wait, let us remember that we still need the revelation that John received from Jesus.

In a world where we see Christian’s martyred for their faith each year, the church remaining terribly flawed, we need the Revelation which Jesus gave to John – a Revelation which changes everything; a Revelation that God is still on the throne working out His strategies from the control room of heaven.


Reference: Agents of the Apocalypse (A Riveting Look at the Key Players of the End Times) by Dr. David Jeremiah

Understanding the Book of RevelationWho Will Usher in Earth’s Final Days?

Are we living in the end times? Is it possible that the players depicted in the book of Revelation could be out in force today? And if they are, would you know how to recognize them?

In Agents of the Apocalypse, noted prophecy expert Dr. David Jeremiah does what no prophecy expert has done before. He explores the book of Revelation through the lens of its major players―the exiled, the martyrs, the elders, the victor, the king, the judge, the 144,000, the witnesses, the false prophet, and the beast.

One by one, Dr. Jeremiah delves into their individual personalities and motives, and the role that each plays in biblical prophecy. Then he provides readers with the critical clues and information needed to recognize their presence and power in the world today.

The stage is set, and the curtain is about to rise on Earth’s final act. Will you be ready?

The Olivet Discourse: Blueprint to the End Times

The Olivet Discourse: Blueprint to the End Times

The Olivet Discourse is a sermon that Jesus preached from the Mount of Olives, just east of Jerusalem, three days before His crucifixion. The Olivet discourse is recorded in its most complete form in Matthew 24:1-25, and in more abbreviated forms in Mark 13 and Luke 21.

Jesus preached this sermon to a select group of His disciples in response to their question about the destruction of the Temple and the end of the age (Matthew 24:1-3). Mark 13:3 says that Jesus’ audience consisted of only four men: Peter, James, John, and Andrew. Imagine what it must have been like to hear the Savior outline the blueprint of the end times in such an intimate setting.

Christ’s Return at the End of the Age

For clarification purposes, the return of Christ at the end of the age is different from His return for the Church described in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52. In essence, there are two phases of the “Second Coming.”

The first phase is when Christ returns in the air to “receive the believers unto Himself” (John 14:3) and the second phase will be when Christ returns to the earth with His saints (the believers) and He will stand on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem at the end of the Tribulation period to defeat the Antichrist (Zechariah 14:4; Revelation 19:19).

Going back to the Olivet discourse, we read that before Jesus delivered this sermon, He and His disciples had been in the Temple in Jerusalem. “Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down’” (Matthew 24:1-2).

As Jesus and the disciples crossed the Kidron Valley on the Mount of Olives, Jesus’ words must have been seared into the minds of the disciples. They must have wondered how this could be. When would this happen? When would the end come?

Matthew 24:1-2

So when they finally arrived at the Mount of Olives, the four men came to Him immediately for clarification (Matthew 24:3). The disciples were asking Jesus one big question with three parts. Clearly, the disciples’ question focuses on Christ’s return and the end of the age.

The disciples could not fathom the destruction of the Temple apart from the end of the age. For them, the destruction of the Temple, the coming of the Messiah, and the end of the world were tied together (Zechariah 14:1-11). This sermon, therefore, addresses the seven-year Tribulation period that will occur just before Christ returns.

While many futuristic scholars believe that a part of the Olivet discourse has already been fulfilled in 70 AD, particularly the destruction of the Temple, they say that the remainder of the discourse is yet to be fulfilled. They’re saying that Jesus began by speaking events that would be fulfilled in 70 AD, but then looked ahead to events that would be fulfilled near the end of human history.

The Olivet Discourse: The Mini Apocalypse

The Olivet discourse of Jesus is often called “The Mini Apocalypse” because it provides a concise yet comprehensive overview of the end times. In this sermon, Jesus gives us the basic blueprint for the end – a checklist of the signs of the times for Christ’s Second Advent. In twenty-seven verses, Matthew 24:4-31 moves from the beginning of the future Tribulation to the second coming of Christ.

Looking at Matthew 24:4-14, Jesus lists eight key signs He likens to birth pains that will be the signs of His coming: false Christs (v. 5); wars (vv. 6-7); famines (v. 7); earthquakes (v. 7); persecution (vv. 9-10); false prophets (v. 11); lawlessness (v. 12); and worldwide preaching of the gospel (v. 14).

The comparison with birth pains indicates that as the time of Christ’s coming draws near, the judgments will increase immensely in frequency and intensity.

In Matthew 24:15, Jesus directly appeals to the prophecies of Daniel and specifically to Daniel 9:27. Jesus goes on to describe the terrors of that time. Matthew 24:15-20 marks the midpoint of the Tribulation when the Antichrist breaks his treaty with Israel, invades the nation, and desecrates the Temple.

The Olivet Dsicourse Explained

Beginning in Matthew 24:21, the final 3 ½ years of this age are graphically outlined. The terrors will be so great that God will shorten the time for the sake of His people (Matthew 24:22). There will be people pointing here and there, claiming to have identified the Messiah, but Jesus warns against believing such claims (Matthew 24:23-26).

After the Tribulation, the second coming of Christ is presented (Matthew 24:29). He describes the signs in the heavens that will indicate that the Son of Man is coming, and finally His coming and gathering of His elect from around the world. He describes it as being “like the days of Noah” (Matthew 24:37).

Jesus encourages the disciples to look for the signs, like leaves on a fig tree (Mark 13:28), even though the day of His return is unknown. Nonetheless, He encourages them to keep watch and remain faithful (Mark 13:35-36; Matthew 24:42; Luke 21:36).

The Generation that will Not Pass Away

Some scholars argue that the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 fulfilled Jesus’ predictions in Matthew 24. This view is based primarily on Matthew 24:34, which says, “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.”

Proponents maintain that “this generation” must refer to the generation that originally heard the words of Jesus. The chief problem with this view is that the destruction of Jerusalem did not fulfill all the events described in Matthew 24, so Jesus could not have been referring to that time period

In the context, “this generation” probably refers to those living during the Tribulation who will personally witness the events described in Matthew 24:4-31. Jesus is emphasizing that those who see the signs that He listed, and experience the Great Tribulation, will also witness the Second Coming.

Jesus is saying that those who are alive to see the beginning of the birth pangs will also witness the birth.


Matthew 24 is Futuristic

Reading the passage more carefully, there are two key points from the surrounding context that strongly suggest that all the conditions and characteristics in Matthew 24-4-28 are future events that will occur during the Tribulation, immediately preceding the return of Christ.

First, Jesus established the time frame for this sermon in Matthew 23:39, “For I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” Jesus was telling His disciples that He was going to leave this world but that He would come again only when the Jewish people would repent and receive Him as their Messiah.

This statement is very significant as it forms the backdrop and context for what Jesus says in Matthew 24. Jewish repentance, which has never occurred and certainly didn’t occur in AD 70, is the ultimate event that will trigger His return. At the end of the Tribulation, the Jewish people will repent, and their Messiah will return to rescue them from the Antichrist (Zechariah 12:10).

Matthew 24:3

Second, when the disciples asked Jesus about the end of the world, they were thinking of when the Messiah would come to establish His glorious Kingdom in Israel. In fact, Jesus Himself used this exact terminology, “the end of the world (or age),” twice before to refer to the final judgment (Matthew 13:39, 49).

John Mac Arthur summarized it this way:

“It seems more sensible and more consistent, therefore, to take a futuristic approach with respect to the Olivet Discourse – to interpret the entire discourse as a prophetic picture of a “generation” and events that would take place long after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. These are events that will immediately precede Christ’s coming to establish His kingdom, and therefore they are events that are yet future even today.”

Conclusion

Jesus used the prophetic sermon known as the “Olivet Discourse” to outline the events that will lead up to the return of Israel’s Messiah to establish His Kingdom on earth and to call His people to faithfulness in view of that coming.

Although the events in Matthew 24 – 25 are futuristic, the parables encourage us to love Christ’s appearing, to look for His appearing and to labor faithfully until He comes. We should be watching, witnessing, and working. We may not be successful in many people’s eyes or even popular with others. But if we are faithful and profitable, we shall receive our reward.

And no matter what view of prophecy we take, we know that Jesus is coming again. As Christians, we must be alert and ready. We must not waste our opportunities. We may not have a great deal of ability or a great many gifts, but we can still be faithful in the calling God has given us.


*Reference: The End: A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days
By Mark Hitchcock

The first comprehensive overview of biblical prophecy and the end times in more than 50 years. Presenting various eschatological viewpoints, Hitchcock offers a solid biblical foundation to guide you in exploring the essential truths surrounding this often misunderstood topic – and the earthly and celestial events that will mark Christ’s second coming.

Includes helpful charts. (520 pages, hardcover from Tyndale)

The Abrahamic Covenant Explained

The Abrahamic Covenant Explained

The Bible mentions several covenants that God made with certain individuals or a group of people, such as the covenant in Eden (Genesis 2:15-17), the covenant with Adam (Genesis 2:14-21, the covenant with Noah (Genesis 9:1-9), the covenant with Abraham, etc.

But unlike the first three which were God’s general provisions for the entire human race in their existence on earth, God’s Covenant with Abraham is the first of God’s covenants to establish a spiritual relationship with a called, believing people (Genesis 12:1-3).

The Call of Abram

Genesis 12:1-3

Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

God's Covenant with Abraham ExplainedAbram was seventy-five years old when God called him out of idolatry (Joshua 24:2), while he was in Ur of the Chaldeans (Genesis 11:28, 31; 15:7; Nehemiah 9:7), a city devoted to Nannar, the moon-god. God spoke to Abram, and the Word brought about the miracle of faith (Romans 10:17).

Abram did not know the true God and had done nothing to deserve knowing Him, but God graciously called him. Abram did not choose God, but God chose him. In the same way, we Christians did not choose God but He chose us and appointed us (John 15:16).

The call was to separate himself from the corruption around him, and Abram obeyed by faith (Hebrews 11:8). True faith is based on the Word of God and leads to obedience. God would not bless and use Abram and Sarai unless they were in the place of His appointment. That principle still holds true today.

The fact that Abram was well-advanced in age when God called him tells us that age does not need to be an obstacle to faith. He trusted God for one hundred years (Genesis 25:7), and from his experience, we today can learn to walk by faith and live to please the Lord.

Three Areas of Blessings

God’s covenant with Abraham provides for blessings in three areas: national, personal and universal.

1) National Blessing

The covenant anticipated that Abraham and his descendants would not only dwell in a land that they can call their own but that he will become a special nation in the work of God – “I will make you a great nation” (Genesis 12:2a).

So first, God promised to give Abram a land for him and his descendants (Genesis 12:7). But at the time of the call, Abram did not know where this land was. Only when we get to chapter 15 that the full description of the land was given:

On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates” (Genesis 15:18).

Although the land never belonged to Abram in his lifetime and had to buy a portion of the land for a burial site when his wife Sarai died, the title deed to the Promised Land was passed to his son Isaac (Genesis 26:3) and then from Isaac to Jacob (Genesis 28:13). Later on, Israel, under the leadership of Joshua went into the land of Canaan, possessed it and captured major cities.

*Related Article: God Promised a Land to the Jewish People

The second promise was that of a great nation coming from Abram. This promise demanded faith on the part of Abram because they were the least likely candidates to have a family and build a great nation. Abram was already aged and his wife Sarai was incapable of having children (Genesis 11:30).

But God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9), and by calling and blessing a barren couple, the Lord revealed the greatness of His power and His glory. Abram would be named “Abraham,” which means “father of many nations.”

2) Personal Blessing

The covenant also promised that Abraham would accomplish great things – “I will bless you and make your name great and you shall be a blessing” (Genesis 12:2b).

God made marvelous promises to the patriarch of the chosen nation. He would be the father of a famous nation; his name would be great because his life would be marked by God’s personal blessings and would be the channel of God’s blessings to many people.

Genesis 13:14-16

While much of Abram’s blessing was to come in the form of his offspring, there was also the blessing that would come in the form of the Messiah, who would bring salvation to God’s people.

God also promised to make Abram’s name great. No one is probably more honored in history than Abraham, who is honored not only by Christians and Jews but also by Muslims.

3) Universal Blessing

Finally, God promised Abraham that He was going to start a spiritual movement through him that would influence every nation of the earth – “And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3c).

God’s covenant with Abraham reached beyond him to humanity in general. Those people and nations which treated Abraham well and the nation which would descend from him would know God’s favor. On the other hand, those people and nations who mistreated Abraham and his descendants could expect the curse of God to rest on them (Genesis 12:3).

The final universal aspect of God’s covenant with Abraham as implied by the promise that “in him all families of the earth will be blessed” would be Abraham’s most important descendant – the Messiah. The sacrifice and atoning death of the Messiah would make available forgiveness and salvation for the entire world.

This promise made more specific the prophecy in God’s covenant with Adam that the Seed of the woman would bruise the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:16).

Christ and the Abrahamic Covenant

God’s covenant with Abraham was more than a personal agreement between a godly man and the Lord; it promised blessings for “all the families of the earth.”

Paul wrote the church in Rome that believing Gentiles, like branches from “a wild olive tree, were grafted in among {believing Israel}, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree” (Romans 11:17). The “root” from which God’s people draw their rich spiritual life is God’s covenant with Abraham.

If You are in Christ, You are Abraham’s Seed

In Galatians 3:17, Paul reasoned that God’s covenant with Abraham was foundational to spiritual life on two bases. First, it predated the Mosaic Law by 430 years. The law must always be understood in light of the covenant with Abraham.

More importantly, Paul insisted that God confirmed His covenant with Abraham “in Christ.” God had made His covenant with Abraham “and his seed” (Genesis 13:15; 15:18, “descendants” literally reads “seed”). Paul contended that God looked through all the generations of Abram’s “seed” to Christ, “the Seed,” as the means of guaranteeing the unconditional provisions of the covenant (Galatians 3:16-17).

Paul wrote, “If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29). The covenant made in Genesis 12:1-3 applied just to the physical descendants of Abraham. In Christ, the blessings promised to the heirs of Abraham find spiritual application to all people of faith (Romans 4:16).

Paul further reasoned that physical descendants of Abraham who rejected Jesus as their Messiah could be compared to Ishmael, Abraham’s son by Hagar (Galatians 4:23-25). People who respond to Jesus with the kind of faith Abraham pioneered could be compared to Isaac, Abraham’s son of promise by Sarah (Galatians 4:28).

Paul called these people “the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16).

All Israel will be Saved

By identifying people of faith in Christ as the heirs of blessings of God’s covenant with Abraham, the New Testament does not deny any future role to the Jewish people in the outworking of that covenant.

As mentioned earlier, the Book of Romans pictures native branches of the domesticated olive tree being broken off to make room for wild branches to be grafted in and draw fruitful life from the roots of Abraham’s covenant (Romans 11:17).

God's Covenant with Abraham Explained

That process is reversible as we read in Romans 11:23. Indeed, the New Testament anticipates a time of spiritual renewal among the physical descendants of Abraham when their ancestry and faith in Christ will align. “Hardening in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:25-26).

Conclusion

Other than being the first theocratic covenant (pertaining to the rule of God) and the basis of all the other theocratic covenants, the Abrahamic covenant was unconditional.

This means it was dependent solely upon God who obligates Himself in grace, indicated by the unconditional declarations, “I will,” without corresponding “you must” demands on Abraham. Though it was given in broad outline in Genesis 12:1-3, it was later confirmed to Abraham at various times in greater detail (Genesis 13:14-17; 15:1-7, 18-21; 17:1-8).

The Abrahamic covenant contained all that God then began to do, has since done throughout history, and will continue to do. All of God’s plans for humanity grow out of this covenant.


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