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Is the Bible true?

Of all ancient documents, the Bible best meets scholars’ tests for reliability. So yes, the Bible can be trusted to provide accurate information about God, about us, and about the events it describes. Here are the first three of six good reasons to trust the Bible.

First, the Bible claims to be God’s written Word. God did not dictate it word for word, “but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21) Referring to the whole Old Testament, early Jesus follower Paul wrote: “All Scripture is inspired by God [literally “God-breathed”] and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” (2 Timothy 3:16) Jesus, quoting from the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy (8:3), described these same Scriptures as the “word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4b) He also said that the account of creation in Genesis chapter 2 was spoken by “the Creator.” (Matthew 19:4-5; Genesis 2:24)

The New Testament claims to be God’s Word as well. Paul, who wrote nearly half of the books of the New Testament, claimed that his words were given “by the Holy Spirit,” and that this Spirit-guided process was continuing in the writing by others as well. (1 Corinthians 2:13; Ephesians 3:4-5) Peter, another early follower of Jesus, refers to Paul’s books as “Scriptures.” (2 Peter 3:15-16) John warns against anyone adding or subtracting from his final book Revelation on pain of God’s punishment. (22:18-19)

Second, Jesus had much more to say about the reliability of Scripture. He said that it is true (Matthew 22:29; John 17:17); is historically accurate (Matthew 12:40; 24:37-38); “cannot be altered” (John 10:35); must be fulfilled (Matthew 5:17-18); and is far superior in authority to human tradition. (Matt 15:3, 6)

Third, the New Testament writers were aware of the need for accuracy, and most died as martyrs for the message they had written. John, a member of Jesus’ inner circle of disciples, wrote the Fourth Gospel, which bears his name. He was present at Jesus’ execution. After describing it, John refers to himself in the third person: “This report is from an eye-witness giving an accurate account. He speaks the truth so that you also can believe.” (John 19:35) Luke, a physician and scholar who is the only non-Jewish writer of the New Testament, introduces his Gospel in the style of ancient Greek historians:

Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us. They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples. Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I have also decided to write a careful account for you.…so you can be certain of the truth of everything you were taught. (Luke 1:1-4)

According to early Christian accounts, Matthew, Luke, Paul, James, and Peter—writers of most of the New Testament—died as martyrs to their Christian faith and message.