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I’m Confused. What is the Bible?

Who wrote the Bible? What’s it about? Is it accurate?

Doug Britton, MFT

Page Summary
Summary: What is the Bible? Who wrote the Bible? What’s the Bible about? Is it accurate?

Part 1 of a 4-part series on “Understanding the Bible”

Part 2      Part 3      Part 4


We live in an age of countless and ever-changing opinions and theories about life, God, and human relationships. Yet there is a dependable source to which we can go for truth. The one who created us tells us in his word, the Bible, about himself and his plan for our redemption. In it he inspires us, encourages us, and warns us.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

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)

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever. (Isaiah 40:8)

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Joshua 1:8)

Make it personal

1. According to Hebrews 4:12, what does the word of God do? How does it accomplish this?

2. Why does Hebrews 4:12 use the image of a sword?

What’s the Bible about?

The Bible contains history, the Jewish laws given by God, prophecies about the future, poetry, proverbs (advice for daily living), and psalms (the words of songs). It tells us how to be born again, how to grow closer to God, and how to love others. And it has many parables—stories that illustrate important points. (Jesus spoke in parables a lot.)

Let’s look at three key themes in the Bible:

The Bible tells about God’s relationship with humanity and his desire for a relationship with us.

The Bible tells us about many key events in history, including God’s creation of the heavens and the earth, his creation of Adam and Eve, their fall, and God’s subsequent dealings with humankind. In it we learn of God’s relationship with the Jewish people and his desire to enjoy a close friendship with us.

Related: God’s love for you

The Bible introduces us to Jesus.

The Bible paints a clear picture of our sinful nature, but it also tells us about God’s love and his plan of redemption. Prophecies in the Old Testament promise the future coming of a Savior (Jesus), while other Old Testament passages help us understand more about him.

The New Testament tells us about Jesus and how to be born again. It describes some of the miracles he performed so we may believe he is the Son of God and have eternal life with God.

Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31)

Related: How to become a Jesus follower

The Bible gives us cross-cultural truths for daily living.

These truths range from helping us trust God and understand how much he loves us to showing us how to love others, raise children, and develop healthy communication patterns.

What do you think?

5. Why is it important to read the Bible?

6. How much of the Bible have you read?

Related: Bible study on many aspects of our daily life

What are the “books” of the Bible?

Many people think of the Bible as one book, but it is really a collection of sixty-six separate “books” and letters inspired by God. These books are separate documents, ranging from one to many pages, compiled into one large book—the Bible. They include history, prophecies, a love song, hymns, and letters written by early church leaders.

What are the Old and New Testaments?

The Bible is divided into two parts. The first is the Old Testament. It was written before Jesus was born. It consists of thirty-nine books.

The second part is the New Testament. It was written after Jesus rose from the dead and went into heaven. It consists of twenty-seven books.

Who wrote the Bible?

God is the author of the Bible. Although he used many different people to do the writing, he inspired what they wrote.

One way to think of this is to imagine the general of an army giving instructions to the top commanders who in turn write these instructions as memos to soldiers under them. Although the commanders write the memos, they contain messages from the general.

For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:21)

I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles. (2 Peter 3:2)

Who were the people who did the actual writing? They came from a wide variety of backgrounds, ranging from fisherman to doctor to prophet. Many of the writers were alive at the time of the events they described, and they gave eye-witness accounts. They wrote in three languages—Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.

What do you think?

3. When people wrote the Bible, were they doing it because they decided to write about God, or because God prompted them?

4. Why is this an important question?

How can we be sure the Bible is accurate?

Some people think that since the Bible was copied by hand over many centuries (before the printing press was invented), mistakes must have been made. Others think that as the Bible was translated into various languages, it is inevitable that mistakes were made and the original message was lost.

However, the proof that the Bible we have today is faithful to the originals is overwhelming. The Old Testament, which was painstakingly transcribed for centuries by Jewish scribes (who had an extremely detailed quality-control system), has been proven accurate by multiple ancient documents such as the Dead Sea scrolls.

Likewise, the accuracy of the New Testament has been confirmed by many ancient manuscripts as well as passages of Scripture found in fragments of letters and prayer books going as far back as the second century.

I don’t have space in this study to go into the evidence that the Bible is historically accurate, or to describe some of its prophesies that have already taken place. However, if you would like to dig deeper into these fascinating topics, many books cover them in depth.

Don’t people disagree about what the Bible says?

Those outside the faith attack the Bible from many fronts. Whenever one of their arguments is demolished, they come up with another one.

Even sincere people of faith have a different understanding about what the Bible says in some areas. That’s often because different translators sometimes translate some words or phrases differently.

However, there are foundational truths (or “doctrines”) about which the Bible is crystal clear, truths that are essential to understanding God and entering into relationship with him. Some of these key truths, accepted over the centuries by Bible-believing Christians from a wide variety of backgrounds, deal with our fallen nature, salvation through faith in Jesus, and the authority of Scripture.

In addition to “doctrinal” truths, the Bible gives us many straightforward commands for daily living. Although some people choose to disobey them, there is no question about what the Bible actually says in numerous areas of life.

Memory verse

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Personal application

1. What is the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament?

2. Read 2 Timothy 3:16-17. What does this passage say Scripture is useful for?

3. What is the goal of the training we read about in 2 Timothy 3:16-17?

4. What are some key themes found in the Bible?

5. Why is it important to read the Bible?

6. How can we be sure the Bible is accurate?

7. Is the Bible true in any culture or society? Explain your answer.

8. What is the message in Joshua 1:8?

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About Doug Britton, MFT

Doug Britton, Bible-based Marriage and Family Therapist, has helped hundreds of thousands of people as a therapist, clinical director of a treatment center, seminar speaker, radio cohost, and author of over twenty books that show how to apply God's truths in your daily life. (Visit www.dougbrittonbooks.com.)

Copyright © 2020 Doug Britton. Permission granted to print for personal use. (Scripture verses are from the New International Version, copyright © 1984.) See reprint policy.

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