The Bible is a book unlike any other book. It came to us from the breath of our Creator (2 Timothy 3:16). While other volumes contain the thoughts of man, the Bible shares the thoughts of God. While many cherish the Bible, few are aware of the process by which it was delivered to us. Contrary to what some may think, God did not dictate the Bible and drop it from the sky perfectly outfitted with a leather cover, ribbon bookmarks, and colorful maps. Though the Word of God has existed since pre-history (Psalm 119:89 and Proverbs 8:22-36), the Lord used several means to deliver it to us in written form.
God used different people.
Peter spoke of how various individuals recorded God’s special revelation: “Men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). The author of Hebrews said the Lord “spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways” (Hebrews 1:1). To be more exact, God used around 40 different individuals to write the Bible. Mostly all of these authors were men, but it seems that the Lord did use some women as contributors (Proverbs 31:1-31 and Matthew 28:1-4). In utilizing such human instruments, God did not override human personalities, cultures, languages, or intellects. Instead, He sanctified and used such things for His purposes. Through a process known as inspiration (2 Timothy 3:16), He miraculously moved ordinary people to deliver His Divine decrees to humankind.
God used different materials.
When the biblical authors received communication from God, they were prompted to write it down. Jesus often spoke of this process, using the popular declaration “It is written” (Matthew 4:6-10 and Mark 7:6). The Bible mentions the way in which authors utilized numerous substances for recording inspired Scripture. Moses wrote on stone (Exodus 31:18) and plaster (Deuteronomy 27:2-3). Ezekiel recorded his messages on clay (Ezekiel 4:1) and wood (Ezekiel 37:16-17). Jeremiah carved words into leather (Jeremiah 36:23). New Testament authors wrote on papyrus (2 John 12). They glued sheets of the material together to make large scrolls (Revelation 5:1). Eventually, devotees copied the original manuscripts and distributed copies of them to the people of God. Today we hold a book in our hands that is the result of years and years of copying, safekeeping, and translating. Through a marvelous process, God has graciously given us the Good Book for our benefit and blessing (Revelation 1:3)!
God used different times.
The pages of the Bible were produced over a span of time that lasted over 1,500 years. Its authors witnessed the rise and fall of kingdoms. Some lived in a Mesopotamian dominated world (Genesis 14); others lived during the times of the Pharaohs (Exodus 5:1), Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 1:1), or the Romans (Matthew 2:1). Despite the generations that spanned between the transmission of the books of Genesis and Revelation, the Bible has a consistent message of redemption. It is truly a marvel that God could produce such a unified volume from such diverse authors. The Bible is truly a gift to us! May we make it a lamp for our feet and a light for our paths (Psalm 119:105)!
Dr. Patrick Latham