In an attempt to defend the Bible as God’s word, I wanted to write an article regarding the unity of Scripture, which contends that the entire Bible, from beginning to end, advances one central theme: that Jesus is the promised Messiah. The idea that the Bible is unified is not intended to be “proof” that the Bible is indeed the inspired Word of God, but is one of many evidences to support this claim. I posted two related articles (Christmas 2016 & Who Wrote the Bible), and this is a continuation on that theme.
The sixty-six books of the Bible (39 Old Testament and 27 New Testament) were written by more than 40 different persons from diverse backgrounds, dating as far back as 1500 BC (possibly the book of Job), and written over the course of about 1,600 years. If there’s any truth to the Bible being God’s word, then all the books should be consistent and unified. But if the Bible was simply made up by humans to advance a religious belief, then the Bible should lack consistency and unity.
The Old Testament was written mostly in Hebrew and some Aramaic, and the New Testament was written in Greek. The Old Testament refers to God’s covenant (or contract) before Jesus, and the New Testament is God’s covenant after the death and resurrection of Jesus. Both testaments are thoroughly consistent, revealing God’s eternal plan of salvation through his Son, Jesus Christ.
A second reason why I’m writing about the divine inspiration of Scripture is to provide further evidence that the Biblical creation account is historical and accurate, while the evolutionary, naturalistic explanation of our origin, void of God or gods, is false. If God does exist, and he did create mankind and the universe, then there should be evidence, and I believe we have an overwhelming wealth of evidence.
To that end, I believe the Bible provides revelation of God’s creation, which he proclaimed to be very good. Over the course of six days he created the heavens and earth and all that is in them. He designed the earth as a perfectly habitable home for man and animals, complete with self-sustaining natural resources and an abundant food supply. He created man to work the land and care for it. Adam and Eve were without sin and lived in paradise, free of death, disease and suffering, and they had only one command- they were not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, or they would surely die. But Eve was deceived by the serpent, and she and her husband ate from the tree God commanded them not to, and this brought death into the world. But God provided hope by promising a Savior and Messiah, and this revelation provides a foundation for the rest of the Bible.
Certainly, if one is raised in a secular society and only exposed to evolutionary beliefs, this Biblical story sounds mythological, perhaps unbelievable. But I contend that the unity of Scripture ties it together as real history. For example, 1 Chronicles 1 provides a genealogy that begins with Adam, runs through Noah, Abraham, and Isaac, and continues with Israel’s descendants. Note that all these people are considered real, historical figures. Adam is mentioned eight times in the Bible outside of Genesis, and he’s included in the genealogy of Jesus, who is also recognized as a historical figure. Further, other books, such as Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 affirm that Adam’s disobedience brought sin and death. So, the entire Bible is in agreement that Adam and Eve and Noah were real people, and the events described in Genesis really happened and provide a basis for the rest of Scripture.
Biblical unity can be found in Old Testament prophecies that were fulfilled in the New Testament. Psalm 22, for example, speaks of the kind of death the Messiah would face, complete with mocking and insults (Matthew 27:27-44), his bones out of joint, hands and feet pierced (John 20:24-28), given gall (Matthew 27:34) and vinegar (John 19:28-29), his garments divided (Matthew 27:35), lots cast for his clothing (John 19:23-24), and forsaken by God (Matthew 27:46). Psalm 34:20 tells us that not one of his bones will be broken (John 19:31-37). According to Isaiah 53:9, he would be buried with the rich (Matthew 27:57-60), and Psalm 16:10 says he would rise from the dead (Matthew 28:2-7). The Messiah would come from the seed of a woman (Genesis 3:15), be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14) in the town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), called out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1), and would be a Nazarene (Isaiah 11:1). He’d come from the line of Abraham (Genesis 12:3), be a descendant of Isaac (Genesis 17:19) and Jacob (Numbers 24:17), from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10), a root of Jesse, and from the line of David (2 Samuel 7:12-13), and would sit on David’s throne forever (Isaiah 9:7). He would be called Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14). According to Zechariah 11:12-13 he would be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver, which would be thrown into the house of the Lord and used to buy the potter’s field. All of these Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled by Jesus in the New Testament.
The Bible consistently recognizes certain characteristics of God, such as his holiness and righteousness. God is just, perfect, almighty, faithful, good and great. And because of these attributes, God hates sin, and the only judgment great enough to satisfy the penalty is death. Throughout the Old Testament we see examples of mankind’s sin and disobedience, and God’s judgment. But the good news is that there would be a coming Savior and Messiah who would guide history to culminate in his arrival and eventual triumph over sin and death by faith. We can see beginning in Genesis God’s redemptive plan set in motion as he orchestrated all the events in history that would follow.
Hebrews 5-7 connects Jesus to the Old Testament, explaining that he is a priest forever, and this is in contrast to the human priests in the Old Testament who had to offer sacrifices for their sins day after day. Jesus lives forever and has a permanent priesthood because he is holy, blameless, pure and set apart from sinners. He didn’t need to offer sacrifices, but instead offered himself as a perfect sacrifice. Jesus destroyed the barrier separating us from God by setting aside the law with its commands and regulations. He brought peace and reconciliation to God through the cross. And Romans says that Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
The Old Testament points to the coming Messiah, and then the New Testament identifies that Messiah as Jesus, describing God’s plan of salvation.
One statistic I find interesting is that the Bible cross references itself over 2,800 times, demonstrating unity.
Jesus upheld the unity of Scripture, explaining to the Jewish leaders what had been written about him by Moses and the prophets. In John 5:31-47, Jesus identifies John the Baptist as one who testified that Jesus was the Christ whom the prophets wrote about. He even said Scripture testifies about him, with Moses writing about him. And Jesus points to the work God gave him to finish as evidence that God sent him. Another great passage is in John 8:48-59, where Jesus is arguing with the Pharisees, and he tells them that Abraham rejoiced at seeing his day and was glad. But the Pharisees scoffed, saying, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” And Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” Upon saying that, the Pharisees picked up stones to kill him because Jesus had just claimed to be God. He declared that it was he who was the angel of the Lord who spoke to Moses from the burning bush in Exodus 3. He revealed himself as “I Am Who I Am.”
Other examples of the unity of Scripture comes from Old Testament appearances of Jesus. The angel of the Lord appears throughout the Old Testament, and many of these are considered to be Jesus (as John 8:48-59 illustrates). Repeated references to prominent places, such as Sodom and Gomorrah, Nineveh and Bethlehem provide unity, as do the doctrines of communion and baptism.
Again, my intent for this article is to provide evidence that Scripture is from God. None of what I’ve written is intended to be proof, but is meant to substantiate these claims by a line of reason. If the Bible really is from God, then unity of the Bible is a necessary requirement, and we find that to be true.
Now, a skeptic would certainly challenge these claims. They may claim that the writers were simply referencing what had already been written and were careful to make sure what they wrote matched other writers. Or that any writings that weren’t unified were discarded. But these criticisms assume all the writers had access to all the writings prior to them, or they conspired with the other writers. But it’s likely that none of the writers had access to all the other books of the Bible. Job, for example, may not have had the writings of Moses. And a conspiracy isn’t likely because ten of the apostles died martyr’s deaths, being tortured and executed for their belief in the deity of Jesus and his resurrection. And as for non-canonical writers, many of them do contain contradictions, therefore they’re not considered part of God’s word.
Indeed, skeptics may claim the Bible does contain errors and contradictions. However, none of their examples have been successfully upheld. Upon closer inspection, what may be perceived as a contradiction to some, turns out to be nothing of the sort. Christian apologists, including myself, have successfully refuted these time and time again.