{5}           Scriptures (1): Reliability of the Bible


Ø       The Bible is not accurate and not reliable.

Ø       The Bible is written by humans and is not from God and is not the Word of God.

Ø       Archaeology and the Dead Sea Scrolls prove that the Bible is not accurate.

Ø       Science contradicts the Bible.

Ø       Some historical facts and events reported in the Bible were fabricated and never happened.

19.            Is the Bible the Word of God?

a.  Based on evidences from the Bible, the Scriptures are the Word of God:

(1)  The Bible is claimed to be the “Word of God”. The Scriptures are described as inspired by God (2Ti 3:16) and involved the activity of the Holy Spirit on the human author, so that their words are not only human words but also the words of God (2Pe 1:21; Heb 1:1; 1Co 2:13).

(2)  “God said” is used over and over again; the Bible also includes God’s stern warning that the Bible must be regarded seriously (Dt 18:20; Rev 22:18-19).

(3)  “God said” and “Scripture said” are used interchangeably (Gal 3:8; Gen 12:3).

(4)  When David was inspired by the Spirit, what he said (Ps 2) is what God said (Ac 4:25).

b.  Based on objective facts, the Bible is an unique book, unsurpassed by any other.

(1)  Moral superiority of teachings: The Bible contains a complete teaching on life and morality. It is ethically high and logically consistent.

(2)  Unique concept of salvation: The Bible discloses man’s nature of sin and offers a method of salvation. Other books deal only with issues not vital to life, such as suffering in Buddhist writings

(3)  Accuracy of prophecy: Many prophecies in the Bible were fulfilled. It is impossible to have all these occurrences by chance.

(4)  Unity: In the Bible, there is a unity of subject (about sin and salvation) and a total agreement in doctrine. Despite being written by over 40 authors from 1500 years apart, from different countries and different occupations, there is no contradiction and inconsistency at all.

(5)  Universality: The Bible accessible to almost all national groups, and has been translated into over 1000 languages and dialects.

(6)  Indestructibility: The Bible withstood numerous attacks (Mk 13:31; 1Pe 1:25) and is never out-of-date.

(7)  Influence on mankind: The Bible possesses the power of transformation that causes complete moral conversion of individuals as well as brings beneficial effects to human societies, eg. abolition of slavery.

c.  Based on logical deduction, the Bible is the Word of God. There are 3 alternative possibilities. The Bible is written by either:

(1)  Good man or angels — This is not possible because since the Bible claims to be God’s words, they would then be telling lies and became bad men or devils.

(2)  Bad men or devils — This is not possible because the Bible tells man to forbid sin.

(3)  God — This is the only reasonable answer.

20.            How reliable is the text of our present Bible?

A.  Importance of reliability: The reliability of the Bible is extremely important. Belief in the Bible as inspired revelation from God has been at the heart of historic Christianity (Matthew 5:18; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:16-21; 2 Peter 3:15-16). If the Bible is not reliable, then Christianity is a hoax.

B.  Questions of Reliability: There are two questions:

(1)  External reliability: (consistency between the Bible and other knowledge) [1] Is what the Bible recorded being confirmed by archeology? [2] Are the prophecies in the Bible fulfilled in history? [3] Are there contradictions between the Bible and science?

(2)  Internal reliability: (consistency within the Bible) [1] Are there contradictions between different parts of the Bible? [2] Is the Bible we use today the same as the the original autographs? [3] Are the translations we use today accurately represent the original Hebrew and Greek?

C.  Common attacks on the reliability of the Bible:

(1)  Questionable assumptions. Some view Bible as a myth. They believe that all supernatural knowledge and events are impossible. This is naturalism, not science.

(2)  Undue significance placed on insignificant details. Some attack rounded numbers as inaccurate.

(3)  Unwarranted expectations placed on the text. Some attack things like “the sun’s rising” as unscientific. But the Bible uses common idioms of the day to communicate, not scientific language.

(4)  Overstatement. Some attack traditional views of the authorship and dating of the Biblical books. But there are much evidence supporting the traditional view.

21.            Are the facts in the Bible borne out by discoveries in archaeology?

a.  Limitations of archeology:

(1)  Archaeology only can address a limited kinds of questions. For example, archaeology can address the question whether Jericho’s walls collapsed, but it cannot prove whether this was the result of divine intervention.

(2)  Archaeological evidence is only fragmentary, not comprehensive. The information collected is limited to the discovery of the extremely small percentage of artifacts that have survived the centuries and only those that have been discovered. Archeology can only present a partial picture, yet sometimes archeologists assume the picture is complete when in fact a vital piece is still missing.

(3)  The conclusions based on archaeological data are mostly subjective as human interpretation plays a key role. Further, the conclusions of archaeologists cannot be tested.

(4)  Archeological conclusions are tentative. Sometimes long-held conclusions must give way in the face of new evidence.

B.  Archeology helps to authenticate the Bible:

     The Bible is a book about God’s plan of salvation for humans. It is not intended to be a history book. Yet, overall, archaeology has progressively affirmed the historical and geographical details of the Bible and undermined many of the specific claims of Bible skeptics.

     Many skeptical scholars have increasingly regard the Bible as simply a collection of legends divorced from any historical fact. But as archaeological information has accumulated, it repeatedly has overturned many of the historical theories and substantiated the biblical record.

     Until now, archaeology has found nothing to invalidate the historical facts recorded in the Bible. In fact, some historical events recorded in the Bible alone (but not recorded on any other historical documents) have been validated by recent archaeological discoveries.

     Both Old and New Testament have been shown repeatedly to contain extremely accurate references to the events, customs and geography of the times they describe.

C.  Archeology validating the OT:

(1)  The world of the patriarchs. The Hittites were confirmed by five temples unearthed in 1876. The existence of many places and civilizations mentioned in the patriarchal narratives, such as Ur where Abraham lived (Gen 11:31). The implication is that the stories in the OT were written earlier than some speculated.

(2)  The Jericho conquest (Jos 6:20). Archeologists discovered that the wall of Jericho had in fact fallen outward and that the city had been destroyed by fire around 1400 B.C. This was exactly Joshua 6 describes. Excavations also confirmed other details: the siege of the city was short; conquerors burned the city, but grain was not plundered.

(3)  Hezekiah’s reform and victory (2Ki 18—20; 2Ch 29—32). Hezekiah determined to rid his country of pagan worship and return to the one true God. Sennacherib, the Assyrian king, retaliated against Hezekiah and attacked Judah but he did not conquer Jerusalem.

(4)  Jeremiah’s scribe. Baruch was the personal secretary and confidant of the prophet Jeremiah. An assortment of clay document seals found in 1975 confirmed the fact.

(5)  Darius and Xerxes. The historicity of these kings is confirmed by names in ancient writing on a huge mural carved into the cliff 300 feet above the road in Iranian mountain.

D.  Archeology validating the NT:

(1)  Census taken at the birth of Jesus (Lk 2:1) is confirmed.

(2)  Crucifixion techniques. The remains of a crucified man were discovered in 1968. They confirm that crucified victims were secured to the cross with nails instead of ropes.

(3)  The reliability of Luke and Acts. The records of 32 specific countries, 54 cities, and 9 islands were found without any mistakes. Even the titles for officials were correct.

(4)  Erastus, Corinth’s director of public works (Rom 16:23). Excavations of Corinth in 1929 confirmed the name, indicating the NT is correct even to the tiniest details.

E.  Proof that NT books were written not long after the events:

     Acts says nothing about the deaths of Paul and Peter who were martyred around AD67, or the death of James, Jesus’ brother around AD62. The fall of Jerusalem in AD70 was also missing. Therefore, the book of Acts must be composed no later than AD66.

     Most scholars believe that the Gospel of Mark was the first gospel written, followed by Matthew and Luke. Acts was clearly written after Luke (Ac 1:1). Therefore, the synoptic gospels were all written before AD66, no more than 35 years after the death of Jesus.

     Most historians accept that First Corinthians was written about AD53-57, 25 years after the death of Jesus.

     The importance of this is that the books record real life history, not myths. If the history is not accurately recorded after so short a time, some people would come forward to object the historicity of the books.

22.            Are the prophecies in the Bible fulfilled in history?

A.  A full 27% of the Bible’s text is prophetic material. All prophecies (except those not yet happened) have been fulfilled. A study of the 8,352 prophetic verses in the Bible shows that none was left unfulfilled.

     In comparison, a study performed by The People’s Almanac shows that out of 72 predictions by 25 top psychics, only 6 were fulfilled (66 unfulfilled).

B.  Specific fulfilment of Biblical prophecies in history:

(1)  Israel’s Incredible History: Over 2,500 years ago the Bible foretold that the Jewish people would encounter war, captivity and exile and that they would cease to exist as a nation and be scattered throughout the world, after the destruction of Jerusalem (Dan 9:26). But it also claimed that despite all this they would continue to survive as a distinct people group and that one day they would be brought back together as a nation in their own homeland (See Jer 30:1-11; Ezek 37:21-22; Zeph 3:19-20).

(2)  Fate of cities and nations: destruction of Edom (Oba 1:18), Babylon (Jer 51:58), and Assyrian empire (Zep 2:13), decline of the cities of Tyre (Eze 26:4-5) and Sidon (Eze 28:23)

        There are other prophecies about many nations, including Ammon, Assyria, Egypt, Babylon, Edom, Greece, Moab, Philistia, Phoenicia, Rome, Syria.

        The city of Tyre was the Phoenician capital and a powerful trading city on the east coast of the Mediterranean. The prophet foretells that there will come a time when the city of Tyre is no more (Ezek 26:14,21).

(3)  Sequence of empires: succession of Babylonian empire, Medo-Persian empire, Greek empire, Roman empire (Dan 2:37-45; 7—8).

        Daniel’s accuracy in naming Belshazzar as the last king of Babylon was also ridiculed by Bible critics in previous years, until a new archaeological finding revealed that it was modern historians, not Daniel, who were incorrect.

(4)  Messiah: over 90 OT prophecies fulfilled: virgin birth (Isa 7:14), birthplace (Mic 5:2), crucifixion (Zec 12:10; Ps 22:1–2,14,18; Ps 69:21; Ps 34:20), resurrection (Ps 16:10; Hos 6:2; Ps 30:3,9; Is 53:10; Ps 40:1-2), ascension (Ps 110:1; Ps 68:18; Pr 30:4; Ps 16:11; Ps 24:3-10)

(5)  Last days: regathering of Israel (Isa 11:11), sign of second coming (Mt 24:3-8), corruption of morals (Lk 17:26; 2Ti 3:5; Ro 1:28-31), religious apostasy (2Pe 3:3; 2:1; 2Ti 3:7; 4:4), rapid rise of demonism (1Ti 4:1; Mt 24:24; Rev 13:4,8; 9:20). Many of these phenomena have appeared in the world today.

23.            Are there any contradictions between the Bible and science?

a.  The Bible is not a science document. The language of the Bible in relation to natural phenomena is intended to be understandable for common people at that time, so it is not written in scientific language.

b.  Yet, there is no definitive proof that science contradicts the Bible. Criticisms of the Bible are usually in 3 forms:

(1)  Many critics pronounce a general, sweeping statement like “science contradicts the Bible.” This is very vague and unscientific. We must ask: “Which science? Which idea? Is that idea a proven fact? What proves it? Which statement in the Bible does it contradict? Is the statement properly interpreted?” Once these specific questions are asked, many general challenges dissipate.

(2)  Some critics raise the supposed contradiction between Biblical miracles and scientific laws, and between creation and evolution. However, these are originated from disbelief in the existence of God.

(3)  Some critics object the unscientific language of the Bible:

        such as the “flat earth” with 4 corners (Rev 7:1), but in Greek, it means 4 quarters (Rev 20:8)

        motions of sun, moon, and stars (Jos 10:12; Ps 19:6), but so is our ordinary language, like “sunrise”; but ordinary language used in the Bible should not be interpreted as a claim to scientific accuracy.

        mustard seed is said to be the smallest seed (Mt 13:32) but orchid seeds are smaller; but the language used was relative to the experience and environment of the audience.

c.  Furthermore, some verses in the Bible demonstrate anticipatory scientific insights:

(1)  innumerable number of stars (Gen 15:5; 22:17; 26:4; Ex 32:13): For most of human history, scientists insisted there were only about 6,000 stars. Only in the 20th-c that astronomers estimate a total of 7x1022 stars.

(2)  round shape of earth (Isa 40:22), free floating of earth in space (Job 26:7)

(3)  gravitation (Job 26:7)

(4)  circulation of atmosphere (Ecc 1:6)

(5)  hydrologic cycle of the earth (Ecc 1:7; Isa 55:10)

(6)  rock erosion (Job 14:18-19)



Supplement to Q.19: Principles used in deciding books of the Bible (Geisler & Nix)

(1)  authoritative (Mk 1:22): “God spoke”

(2)  prophetic, written by man of God (such as apostles) (2Pe 1:20, Gal 1:1)

(3)  authentic: historical accuracies and moral congruities

(4)  dynamic: transforming force for edification (2Ti 3:16) and evangelization (1Pe 1:23)

(5)  received by the people of God, confirmed by church councils: subjective testimony of the Holy Spirit


Supplement to Q.20: Authentication of NT (Boyd & Paul)

The Bible met or exceed the standards used in the authentication of ancient texts:

(1)  Early evidence: the short span of time between the events and the written record assures that mistakes or exaggerations will be corrected by living witnesses.

(2)  Eyewitness accounts: NT books were all written by eyewitnesses.

(3)  Independent attestation

(4)  Principle of embarrassment, negative report

(5)  Antagonistic source

(6)  Dissimilarity or discontinuity: such as a saying that cannot be attributed to other contemporary sources.

(7)  Presence of Aramaic words: higher possibility that the saying was from Jesus

(8)  Coherence: fitting well

(9)  Diverse historians: accepted by the majority of scholars


Supplement to Q.21: Alleged contradictions of the Bible with archeology (Kreeft & Tacelli)

     Archaeology has found nothing to invalidate the claims of the Bible.

     In every single case where the two overlap, the results have been that some biblical claims have been proved, some rendered probable, and none simply disproved by archaeology.

     All claims of contradictions have suffered the fate of the walls of Jericho and come tumbling down.

     There are unanswered questions, not disproofs. [eg. Why didn’t the Jews leave any physical remains as evidence of the exodus?]

     No prophecy has ever been disproved and many have been proved by history. Jesus fulfilled at least thirty specific and distinct OT messianic prophecies. Was this by chance?

     One problem: Mt 24, in Jesus’ apocalyptic prophecies, he assures his disciples that “all these things” will come to pass in “this generation” (24:34). But the end of the world has not yet occurred.

        One explanation supposes the “this generation” is not meant biologically but spiritually and world-historically; that is, this era, this age. A second explanation is that the prophecies of the destruction of Jerusalem and the prophecies of the end of the world are mixed together in this chapter. Perhaps one is meant as a symbol and forewarning of the other; or perhaps Matthew or a later editor just juxtaposed two discourses. The destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 did happen in the lifetime of Jesus’ hearers.


Supplement to Q.22: Fulfilment of Biblical prophecy (Morris)

Fulfilment of prophecy:

        Claim of prophecy (Isa 46:9-10, 2Pe 1:19)

Histories of nations:

        backwardness and weakness of Egypt (Eze 29:15), continuous existence until end of age (Isa 29:15);

        disappearance of Edom (Oba 18);

        destruction of Babylon (Jer 51:58);

        destruction of Assyrian empire (Zeph 2:13);

        decline of Tyre (Eze 26:4-5) and Sidon (Eze 28:23)

Sequence of empires:

        succession of Babylonian empire, Medo-Persian empire, Greek empire, Roman empire & two legs (Rome and Constantinople) (Da 2:37-45)

Messianic prophecy:

        There are over 90 OT prophecies which are specifically quoted by NT writers in a Messianic sense.

        lineage of Messiah (Gen 3:15), Shem (9:26), Abraham (22:18), Isaac (26:4), Jacob (28:14), Judah (49:10), David (2Sa 7:12-16)

        virgin birth (Isa 7:14), birthplace (Mic 5:2), forerunner (Isa 40:3, Mal 3:1)

        teaching and healing ministries (Isa 61:1-2, 42:1-2, 9:1-2, Ps 40:7-10)

        triumphant entry riding upon an ass (Zec 9:9-10)

        rejection of His coming (Ps 118:22-24)

        date of His coming (Da 9:24-26): 70 weeks

        crucifixion: piercing of His side (Zec 12:10), the darkness (Ps 22:2), vinegar (Ps 69:21), mocking (Ps 22:6-8), nakedness (Ps 22:17), gambling for His vesture (Ps 22:18), unbroken bones (Ps 34:20), great cry from the cross (Ps 22:1), broken heart (Ps 22:14)

        substitutionary and sacrificial nature of His death (Isa 53:4-6,10,12), rich man’s grave (Isa 53:9)

        resurrection (Ps 16:10, Hos 6:2, Ps 30;3,9, Is 53:10, Ps 40:1-2)

        ascension (Ps 110:1, Ps 68:18, Pr 30:4, Ps 16:11, Ps 24:3-10)

Prophecies of the last days:

        destruction of Jerusalem (Lk 21:24)

        return of the Jews (Zec 12-14)

        alignment of gentile nations (Eze 38:1-16, Rev 16:12, Da 7:19-24)

        sign of second coming (Mt 24:3-8)

        economic and social realms (Jas 5:1-6), uprising of labourers (Da 2:41-43, Rev 18:1-19)

        moral conditions (Lk 17:26, 2Ti 3:5, Ro 1:28-31)

        religious apostasy (2Pe 3:3, 2:1, 2Ti 3:7, 4:4)

        rapid rise of demonism (1Ti 4:1, Mt 24:24, Rev 13:4,8, 9:20)


Supplement to Q.23: Alleged scientific inaccuracies in the Bible (Kreeft & Tacelli, Morris)

Problem with some critics:

1.   Many theologians have misused the Bible to try to establish or disestablish a scientific theory in a most unscientific way.

2.   Many scientists have misused a theory in science to try to discredit the Bible in a most unphilosophical way.