Miscellaneous Information Concerning the Bible


What The Bible Says About Itself | What The Old Testament Says About The Messiah | The Psalms and the Messiah

The Use of Numbers in the Bible | Some Common Symbols in the Bible | Some Types in Scripture | The Apocrypha

The Names of God

The Authority of the Word (by Ray Stedman)

What The Bible Says About Itself

"All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16)

"Is not my word like fire, says the LORD, and like a hammer which breaks the rock in pieces?" (Jeremiah 23:29)

"Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress; he sent forth his word and healed them, and delivered them from destruction." (Psalm 107:19-20)

"How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to thy word. With my whole heart I seek thee; let me not wander from your commandments! I have laid up thy word in my heart, that I might not sin against thee." (Psalm 119:9-11)

"You have been born anew, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for, 'All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the LORD abides forever.' That word is the good news which was preached to you." (1 Peter 1:23-25)

"Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away." (Matthew 24:35)

"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)

"And take...the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God." (Ephesians 6:17)

"Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all those who take refuge in him." (Proverbs 30:5)

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and snow come down from heaven and return not thither but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it." (Isaiah 55:8-11)

"Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman who needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15)

"And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers." (1 Thessalonians 2:13)

"For the word of the LORD is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD. By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and all their host by the breath of his mouth. He gathered the waters of the sea as in a bottle; he put the deeps in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD, let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood forth." (Psalm 33:4-9)

What The Old Testament Says About The Messiah

The First promise of a Redeemer (the protoevangelium): God speaking to Satan (and Eve) in the Garden, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." (Genesis 3:15)

Messiah to be in the line of Judah. Jacob's prediction: "You are a lion's cub, O Judah: you shall return from the prey my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness---who dares to rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he (Messiah) comes to whom it belongs, and the obedience of the nations is his. He will tether his donkey to a vine, his colt to the choicest branch; he will wash his garments in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes. His eyes will be darker than wine, his teeth whiter than milk." (Genesis 49:9-11) (Paraphrased KJV)

Messiah in the line of Seth, Genesis 4-5; The line of Shem, Genesis 11:10-26; Messiah in the line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Genesis 12ff.

A prophet to be raised up like Moses: "The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me (Moses) from among you, from your brethren-him you shall heed--just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, 'Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, or see this great fire any more, lest I die.' And the LORD said to me, 'They have rightly said all that they have spoken. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brethren; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not give heed to my words which he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.'" (Deuteronomy 18:15-19)

Job's Testimony: "For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then from (without) my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another..." (Job 19:25-27)

Balaam's Fourth Blessing and Prophecy: "...The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor, the oracle of the man whose eye is opened, the oracle of him who hears the words of God, and knows the knowledge of the Most High, who sees the vision of the Almighty, falling down, but having his eyes uncovered: I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not nigh: a star shall come forth out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; it shall crush the forehead of Moab, and break down all the sons of Sheth." (Numbers 24:15-17)

Messiah as the Servant of Yahweh: "Behold, my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights. I have put my Spirit upon him, he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not fail or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law." (Isaiah 42:1-4)

The Branch out of Jesse: "There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him...And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Righteousness shall be the girdle of his waist, and faithfulness the girdle of his loins...In that day the root of Jesse shall stand as an ensign to the peoples; him shall the nations seek, and his dwellings shall be glorious." (Isaiah 11:1-5,10)

Permanency of the line of King David, and of the Land of Israel: 2 Samuel 7:11ff; 2 Samuel 23; Ezekiel 37:24-28; Jeremiah 30-31.

The work of Messiah described: "The Spirit of the LORD God is upon me (Messiah), because the LORD has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion-to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they might be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified." (Isaiah 61:1-3)

Messiah's Fiery Coming: "Who is this that comes from Edom, in crimsoned garments from Bozrah, he that is glorious in his apparel, marching in the greatness of his strength? 'It is I, announcing vindication, mighty to save.' Why is thy apparel red, and thy garments like his that treads in the wine press? 'I have trodden the wine press alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger, and trampled them in my wrath, their lifeblood is sprinkled upon my garments, and I have stained all my raiment. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and my year of redemption has come. I looked, but there was no one to help; I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold; so my own arm brought me victory, and my wrath upheld me. I trod down the peoples in my anger, I made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood upon the earth." (Isaiah 63:1-6)

Messiah's Constant Availability: " I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, 'Here am I, here am I,' to a nation that did not call on my name. I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices." (Isaiah 65:1, 2)

Messiah, the Branch and His future reign over Israel: "In that day the branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and glory of the survivors of Israel. And he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, every one who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem, when the LORD shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning. Then the LORD will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory there will be a canopy and a pavilion. It will be for a shade by day from the heat, and for a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain." (Isaiah 4:2-6)

Messiah to be born of a virgin: "Therefore the LORD himself will give you a sign. Behold a young woman shall conceive and bear a son and you shall call his name Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:14)

Birth of the Messiah as King of Israel: "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called 'Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.' of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this." (Isaiah 9:6-7)

Safety and Fulfillment for Israel under Messiah: "Your eyes will see the king in his beauty; they will behold a land that stretches afar...Look upon Zion, the city of our appointed feasts! Your eyes will see Jerusalem, a quiet habitation, an immovable tent, whose stakes will never be plucked up, nor will any of its cords be broken. But there the LORD in majesty will be for us a place of broad rivers and streams, where no galley with oars can go, nor stately ship can pass. For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our ruler, the LORD is our king; he will save us." (Isaiah 33:17,20-22)

Future Restoration of Israel under Messiah: "For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or teraphim. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and they shall come in fear to the LORD and to his goodness in the latter days." (Hosea 3:4,5)

Messiah from Bethlehem: "But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be the ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days...And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth." (Micah 5:2,5)

Messiah to Ride into Jerusalem on a donkey: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass...and he shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River (Euphrates) to the ends of the earth." (Zechariah 9:9-10)

Coming of Messiah to the Mount of Olives: "On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives which lies before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley; so that one half of the Mount shall withdraw northward, and the other half southward...Then the LORD your God will come, and all the holy ones with him...And the LORD will become king over all the earth; on that day the LORD will be one and his name one." (Zechariah 14:4-9)

Israel to look upon Messiah who was pierced: "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of compassion and supplication, so that, when they look on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a first-born." (Zechariah 12:10,11)

Rejection of Messiah as Good Shepherd and the false shepherd, Zechariah 11:4ff. Messiah betrayed at the house of his friends, Zechariah 13:6.

Messiah the Righteous Branch of David: "Behold, the days are coming says the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: 'The LORD is our Righteousness.'" (Jeremiah 23:5,6)

The Branch, Both King and High Priest of Israel: "...behold, I will bring my servant the Branch...and I will remove the guilt of this land in a single day. In that day, says the LORD of hosts, every one of you will invite his neighbor under the vine and under his fig tree." (Zechariah 3:8-10): "Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: for he shall grow up in his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD. It is he who shall bear royal honor, and shall sit and rule upon his throne. And there shall be a priest by his throne, and peaceful understanding shall be between them both." (Zechariah 6:12,13)

Messiah, the son of man:"As I looked, thrones were placed and one that was ancient of days took his seat; his raiment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames, its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and came forth from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened...I saw in the night visions and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed." (Daniel 7:9,10; 13,14)

The Psalms and the Messiah

For thorough documentation of sources for Jewish belief in the Messiah see Glenn Miller's Messianic Expectations in 1st Century Judaism ---Documentation From Non-Christian Sources

See also Modern Jewish Beliefs concerning the Messiah"

Common Christian Symbols

IXOYE is the Greek word "ichthys," which means fish. It often appears as IXOYE because those are the English characters that resemble it the closest in the uncial (uppercase) form. The IXOYE is neither a good representation or transliteration of the actual word. The I = iota; X = chi; O = theta; Y = upsilon; E = sigma. The ichthys is also represents the term "Jesus Christ, Son [of] God, Savior."

Iota = Jesus (iêsous)
Chi = Christ (christos)
Theta = God (theos)
Upsilon = Son (huios)
Sigma = Savior (sôtêr)

The words inscribed on the cross were written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin (John 19:20). The Hebrew language represented the Jewish religion in Palestine, Greek was the cultural and common language in the Roman Empire, and Latin was the language used by Roman government and legal documents. In Greek it would have appeared as "iesous ho nazoraios ho basileus ton ioudaion." In Latin it would have appeared as "iesus nazarenus rex iudaeorum." The reason you see INRI on catholic crosses is because that is the acronym of the Latin inscription. The inscription on the cross simply means, "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" (John 19:19). (Brandon Wasson, brandonwason@blueletterbible.org).

The Use of Numbers in the Bible

In reading the Bible, it soon becomes apparent that certain numbers (such as 3, 7, 12, 40, etc.) occur more frequently than we would expect. From the context it is soon apparent that some of these numbers have symbolic as well as literal meaning. This is not the same thing as assigning numerical values to the Greek and Hebrew letters that comprise the text. The latter approach does allow useful computer analysis of the structure of the Bible from which authorship of various books can be confirmed and certain obscure passages (manuscript errors) clarified.

The number ONE stands for unity. "There is ONE God, and ONE mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for many." A second example is the S'hma, "Hear O Israel the LORD your God is ONE God..."

TWO stands for union. "For this cause (marriage) a man shall leave his father and his mother and the TWO shall become one flesh." Man, created as Adam/Eve, was separated into Adam and Eve so the two could complement one another in a new kind of unity. Basis of the BINARY system of counting.

THREE is the number of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The THIRD Day is the day of resurrection in scripture.

FOUR is the number of the world system (cosmos). Thus, we have the FOUR winds, the FOUR seasons, the FOUR corners of the earth, and the FOUR living creatures (angels) around the throne of God.

FIVE is the number of division. Thus, there were FIVE wise and FIVE foolish virgins invited to the marriage feast.

SIX is the number of man because man was created on the SIXTH day. The number 666 is the number of the antichrist, the man who proclaims himself to be God. SIX days are appointed for man to work. The seventh day (the Sabbath) is to be devoted to rest.

SEVEN is the number of completeness in the old created order, (4+3=7). There are seven days of creation and in Revelation this number occurs 54 times.

EIGHT is the number of new beginnings. Jesus rose from the dead on the Eighth Day of the week, a Sunday. Basis of the OCTAL system of counting.

TEN is the number of worldly completion (4+6=10). Ten virgins total. Ten toes on the image in Nebuchadnezzar's dream, ten horns on the beast of Revelation 17:2. Basis of the DECIMAL System.

TWELVE is the number of eternal perfection as in the TWELVE Tribes of Israel and the TWELVE apostles of the church (12+12=24 elders). There are TWELVE gates to New Jerusalem, its walls measure 12 X 12 cubits high and the sides are 12,000 furlongs in length.

FORTY is the number of testing. Jesus was tempted in the wilderness FORTY days and nights. Israel wandered in the wilderness FORTY years. During the flood of Noah, the rain fell FORTY days and nights.

FIFTY is the number of the Jubilee Year in Israel. The land was to rest every seventh year and after 7X7+1=50 years to revert to original owners with debts being forgiven. Pentecost occurred seven Sabbaths plus one day after the death of Jesus, on a Sunday morning.

SEVENTY is the number of years the Jews spent out of the land during the Babylonian captivity. SEVENTY "weeks of years" were given to Israel (See Daniel) for the completion of their national destiny.

Some Common Symbols in the Bible

METALS: Various metals are mentioned in the Bible-including gold, silver, brass, iron, lead, and tin. GOLD is a symbol of deity prominent in the Tabernacle of Moses and the First and Second Temples. SILVER stands for redemption and was used in quantity in the tabernacle. BRASS stands for judgment, as in the altar of sacrifice, or Moses' Serpent of Brass. LEAD and TIN are baser metals removed by refining as dross to yield silver and gold. IRON stands for military (or industrial strength), and IRON mingled with CLAY (Daniel) represents the weakness of modern Western democracies which combine rule by the common people with military and industrial strength. WOOD represents humanity.

COLORS: SCARLET represents natural life in man since "the life is in the blood." This is the color of "life poured out" to ransom us. WHITE stands for purity; BLUE, for the heavens; BLACK, for death; GREEN, for new life in nature; PURPLE, for royalty and PALE GREEN, for famine. GARMENTS stand for righteousness. Imputed faith is represented by white garments and filthy rags represent self-righteousness, or defilement by the world.

HONEY represents natural sweetness (a characteristic of the flesh; hence, not a positive symbol). LEAVEN (yeast) is a universal symbol of sin in scripture.

ANIMALS: HORSES are always "war horses" (imported from Egypt) and represent reliance on the world's resources rather than on God in spiritual warfare. DOGS are unclean animals and refer to the lowest forms of behavior by men. WOLVES are false teachers who prey upon the SHEEP. The latter represent believers who are helpless, dumb, prone to wander, and always in need of a shepherd. BULLS and RAMS represent masculine strength. LIONS and LEOPARDS can represent spiritual enemies in the heavenly places ("...your adversary the devil goes around like a prowling lion..."). On the other hand, Jesus is the "Lion of the Tribe of Judah." GAZELLES, HINDS and DEER represent youthful energy and vitality as seen in the Song of Solomon. The BEASTS in Revelation (and Daniel) are men (world leaders) as seen by God, except that the "four living creatures" in Revelation are mighty angels known as cherubim.

BIRDS: The DOVE is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The EAGLE pictures the serene sovereignty of God. (God took Israel out of Egypt "on eagles' wings." BIRDS of PREY represent forces of destructiveness. Animal HORNS picture power in a ruler.

The SEA stands for the masses of mankind. The "great sea" is the Mediterranean and the "eastern sea" or "salt sea" is the Dead Sea. MOUNTAINS are symbols of human government. The STARS frequently represent the angels. The SUN is a symbol for Christ who rules the earth by day; and the MOON, the church who rules the earth by night", and has no light of its own.

The NECK symbolizes the will (as in "stubborn and stiff-necked"). The LOINS represent masculine virility and strength. The FEET indicate activity: "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who preach the gospel..." or, "Their feet are swift to shed blood." The EYES represent spiritual insight and inner beauty. A KISS is a symbol for intimacy.

INCENSE symbolizes prayer; and MYRRH, suffering. FAT stands for the natural richness of life; hence, the fat of the sacrifices belongs to God alone.

GRASS represents the ephemeral life of man. Good FRUIT is the result of living in dependence on Christ, and bad fruit, the natural result of self-life. THORNS and THISTLES stand for the works of the flesh.

MILK is spiritual food for new-born babes in Christ; BREAD for growing young men, and the MEAT of the Word, deeper truth for the maturing believer.

A WOMAN typifies every believer in such passages as Romans 7:1-4. A HARLOT symbolizes fallen mankind (men as well as women), and the GREAT HARLOT, the apostate church and the final state of the world system under the dominion of evil. The true church and the false church are both symbolized by the figures of a woman and by a city.

The VINE represents Israel's national influence among the nations. The FIG TREE stands for Israel's religious history; and the OLIVE TREE, Israel's true spiritual history apart from outward religious appearances.

The HOLY SPIRIT is symbolized in Scripture by (a) a dove, (b) water, (c) oil, (d) fire, (e) wind or breath, (f) light.

The seven-fold attributes of the Holy Spirit are described by Isaiah along with a clear description of the Messiah:

There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. His delight is in the fear of the LORD, And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, Nor decide by the hearing of His ears; But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, And decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, And faithfulness the belt of His waist." (Isaiah 11:1-5)


(1) Psalm 118 is the middle chapter of the entire bible.

(2) Psalm 117, before Psalm 118 is the shortest chapter in the bible.

(3) Psalm 119, after Psalm 118 is the longest chapter in the bible.

(4) The Bible has 594 chapters before Psalm 118 and 594 chapters after Psalm 118.

(5) If you add up all the chapters except Psalm 118, you get a total of 1188 chapters.

(6) 1188 or Psalm 118 verse 8 is the middle verse of the entire bible. Should the central verse not have a fairly important message?

"It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man." - Psalm 118:8

Is this central verse not also the central theme of the entire Bible?

Note: The original manuscripts of the Bible are in Hebrew and Greek without any chapter divisions. Where is the center verse in the original manuscripts? When these manuscripts are put into English, each English different version (KJV, NASB, NKJV, NIV, etc.) has a different number of words. Also the Jewish Bible (the OT) has its books grouped very differently. So what works in most of our English Bibles will differ in the original manuscripts and in different translations.

Some Types in Scripture

Without denying the historical validity of the Old Testament in any way,

CROSSING THE RED SEA is a picture of leaving the world (Egypt) under the domain of the god of the age (Pharaoh) to be baptized into Christ at the Red Sea crossing.

The WILDERNESS stands for Christian living under the law in the power of the flesh.

CROSSING THE JORDAN stands for the truth of Galatians 2:20, entering the land, (the Spirit-filled life); by renouncing self and living thereafter in the power of the Spirit.

The ENEMIES in the LAND: CanaanITES, HivITES, JebusITES, EdomITES, MoabITES are pictures of the flesh.

JACOB represents the average believer, deceiving and deceived.

ISRAEL is the man who wrestled with God (the Angel of the LORD), and becomes changed as a result, a picture for us of sanctification.

ESAU, the brother of JACOB is the father of the EDOMITES, hence a picture of the flesh. Agag, Haman, and Herod are notable among the descendants of Esau.

ASSYRIA represents lawlessness,

BABYLON, religious confusion and error.

The Old Testament pictures every believer as a king over the kingdom of his (or her) life. Power to rule in righteousness is given only as we subject ourselves to the King of kings, Jesus.

The Apocrypha

The difference between the Catholic and Protestant versions of the Old Testament has to do with the Protestants accepting the version of the Hebrew Scriptures that the Jewish rabbis decided upon at two councils at Jabne and Jamnia in 90 and 118 AD, respectively, and the Catholics accepting what they considered to be the Septuagint version that the early Church used. Essentially, the difference boils down to the seven Greek books of Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, and I and II Maccabees, which makes the Protestant/Jewish version consist of 39 books and the Catholic version consist of 46 books.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

"Canon of The Old Testament"

On the basis of the Septuagint, Catholics advocate what is known as the "larger" canon of the Jews in Alexandria; Protestants, on the other hand, deny the existence of an independent canon in Alexandria in view of the "smaller" canon of the Jews in Palestine The actual difference between the Catholic and Protestant Old Testaments is a matter of 7 complete books and portions of two others: namely, Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, 1 and 2 Maccabees, together with certain additions to Esther (Esth 10:4-16:24) and to Daniel (Dan 3:24-90; Three; Sus verse 13 and Bel verse 14). These Protestants reject as apocryphal because there is no sufficient evidence that they were ever reckoned as canonical by the Jews anywhere. The fact that the present Septuagint includes them is far from conclusive that the original Septuagint did, for the following reasons:

(1) The design of the Septuagint was purely literary; Ptolemy and the Alexandrians were interested in building up a library. (2) All the extant manuscripts of the Septuagint are of Christian not Jewish origin. Between the actual translation of the Septuagint (circa 250-150 BC) and the oldest manuscripts of the Septuagint extant (circa 350 AD) there is a chasm of fully 500 years, during which it is highly possible that the so-called Apocryphal books crept in. (3) In the various extant manuscripts of the Septuagint, the Apocryphal books vary in number and name. For example, the great Vatican MS, which is probably "the truest representative which remains of the Alexandrian Bible," and which comes down to us from the 4 th century AD, contains no Book of Maccabees whatever, but does include 1 Esdras, which Jerome and Catholics generally treat as apocryphal. On the other hand, the Alexandrian MS, another of the great manuscripts of the Septuagint, dating from the 5 th century AD, contains not only the extra-canonical book of 1 Esdras, but 3 and 4 Maccabees, and in the New Testament the 1 st and 2 nd Epistles of Clement, none of which, however, is considered canonical by Rome. Likewise the great Sinaiticus MS, hardly less important than the Vatican as a witness to the Septuagint and like it dating from the 4 th century AD, omits Baruch (which Catholics consider canonical), but includes 4 Macc, and in the New Testament the Epistle of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas; all of which are excluded from the canon by Catholics. In other MSS, 3 Maccabees, 3 Esdras and Pr Man are occasionally included. The problem as to how many books the original Septuagint version actually included is a very complicated one. The probability is that it included no one of these variants.

(4) Still another reason for thinking that there never existed in Egypt a separate or "larger" canon is the fact that during the 2 nd century AD, the Alexandrian Jews adopted Aquila's Greek version of the Old Testament in lieu of their own, and it is known that Aquila's text excluded all Apocryphal books. Add to all this the fact that Philo, who lived in Alexandria from circa 20 BC till 50 AD, never quotes from One of these Apocryphal books though he often does from the canonical, and that Origen, who also resided in Alexandria (circa 200 AD), never set his imprimatur upon them, and it becomes reasonably convincing that there was no "larger" canon in Alexandria. The value of the evidence derived from the Septuagint, accordingly, is largely negative. It only indicates that when the translation of the Old Testament into Greek was made in Alexandria, the process of canonization was still incomplete. For had it been actually complete, it is reasonable to suppose that the work of translation would have proceeded according to some well-defined plan, and would have been executed with greater accuracy. As it is, the translators seem to have taken all sorts of liberties with the text, adding to the books of Esth and Dan and omitting fully one-eighth of the text of Jer. Such work also indicates that they were not executing a public or ecclesiastical trust, but rather a private enterprise. Our necessary conclusion, therefore, is that the work of canonization was probably going on in Palestine while the work of translation was proceeding in Alexandria.

According to the traditions preserved in the Mishna, two councils of Jewish rabbis were held (90 and 118 AD respectively) at Jabne, or Jamnia, not far South of Joppa, on the Mediterranean coast, at which the books of the Old Testament, notably Ecclesiastes and Canticles, were discussed and their canonicity ratified. Rabbi Gamaliel II probably presided. Rabbi Akiba was the chief spirit of the council. What was actually determined by these synods has not been preserved to us accurately, but by many authorities it is thought that the great controversy which had been going on for over a century between the rival Jewish schools of Hillel and Shammai was now brought to a close, and that the canon was formally restricted to our 39 books. Perhaps it is within reason to say that at Jamnia the limits of the Hebrew canon were officially and finally determined by Jewish authority. Not that official sanction created public opinion, however, but rather confirmed it.

The Integrity and Trustworthiness of the Bible

By Pastor Steve Greenberg
Blue Letter Bible

The Holy Spirit within you will testify of the Word of God. You must be born again Jn 3:3

How Do We Know The Bible Is The Word of God?

How do we know the Bible is what is claims to be -- the Word of God?

The Bible claims to be God's communication to humanity; but is this claim true?

There Are Two Basic Approaches

There are two different approaches that are taken when it comes to arguing for the Bible to be the Word of God. First, there are those who believe that the Scripture is self-authenticating. The Bible is true because it says it is true and the Holy Spirit bears witness to this truth. No other argument is necessary.

A second approach believes that the claims of Scripture have sufficient evidence to back them up. Those who hold this view believe there is overwhelming evidence to convince anyone that the Bible is what it claims to be -- the Word of God.

Approach 1: The Bible Is Self-Authenticating

To many people the issue of the Bible's authority is something that should not be debated. The authority of the Bible must be believed because the Scripture says so. This is usually argued in the following ways.

1. Let The Bible Speak For Itself

The Bible should be allowed to speak for itself. It clearly claims to be God's Word. It doesn't need defending. If we attempt to defend the Bible, then we are placing some other standard as the ultimate judge. Whether it is scientific or historical accuracy, human reasoning, or some other standard, what we are doing is placing Scripture under that standard. What Scripture says should be our ultimate standard and everything should be judged by its claims.

The problem with humanity is that sinful, finite human beings still must evaluate any evidence offered for the truthfulness of the Christian faith. Again, it places some sort of human standard as the final authority. Evidence gathered from other sources may be useful but it has nothing convincing to say about the truth of Christianity.

2. The Bible Can Testify On One's Own Behalf

In a court of law people have a right to testify on their own behalf. Since the Bible is the Word of God, the author, God, should be allowed to testify what sort of Book the Bible is. This is particularly true because the Bible says that God cannot lie. His testimony should be received as final.

3. The Witness of The Holy Spirit Demonstrates Its Truthfulness

However, the Bible does more than merely claim to be God's Word. The witness of the Spirit shows the reader that the Bible is the Word of God. When the truths of the Bible are personally applied, the credibility of the Bible is demonstrated. Paul wrote.

You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all (2 Corinthians 3:2).

Paul said that people would see the Bible at work in the lives of the people. This was its testimony. When the truths are lived out in one's life we find that they work.

As a person reads the Bible they find the Holy Spirit giving confirmation that what they are reading is God's Word. Therefore we not only have the claim of Scripture we also have the witness of the Holy Spirit that these things are true.

This Is Arguing In A Circle

Those who criticize this approach say that it is circular reasoning -- it is assuming what it should be proving. By quoting the Bible to prove the Bible does not prove anything. Why should the claims of the Bible be believed? There are many religious books that claim to convey truth. In addition, adherents can be found who will testify as to the power of the truths in these books to change their lives. How can anyone know which claims, if any of them, are right and which claims are wrong? Religious experience alone is not a valid test.

Approach 2: Examine The Evidence

A second approach to the truth of the Bible's claims is to examine the evidence about the truthfulness of Christianity. The Bible's claim to authority is not in and of itself proof of its divine authority. Arguing that the claims of the Bible are more persuasive than the claims of all other religious writings does not always work in real life. There will be those who are not convinced of the Bible's claims. What should we do with these people?

There Are Three Lines of Evidence

The Bible never argues for the existence of God -- it takes it for granted. But the New Testament does argue about the truth of its claims through three lines of evidence. They consist of miracles, fulfilled prophecy, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. When the evidence is considered the verdict become clear -- the Bible is the Word of God.

Do What Jesus' Followers Did

Because the claims of Scripture do not constitute any type of convincing proof we should argue the same way in which Jesus disciples argued. They presented compelling proof to the people that Jesus was the Christ. For example, on the Day of Pentecost Peter told the crowd.

'Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through him in your midst, just as you yourselves know - this man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put him to death. 'But God raised him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for him to be held in its power. 'For David says of him, ÔI saw the Lord always in my presence; for he is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken. ÔTherefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted; moreover my flesh also will live in hope; Because you will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow your Holy One to undergo decay. ÔYou have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence' (Acts 2:22-28).

In this one passage we find Peter appealing to the three different lines of evidence - the miracles of Jesus Christ, the fact that He came back from the dead, and that his resurrection was a fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Since this is the way that the New Testament writers argued the claims of Christ, we should do the same.

Taste And See For Yourself

A person can know the Bible is God's Word by first examining the claims of Scripture, considering the evidence for those claims, and then personally accepting the challenge of Scripture to 'taste and see' if these things be true. The psalmist gave the following challenge.

O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the one who takes refuge in him (Psalm 34:8).


While the Bible claims to be the authoritative Word of God there have been two basic approaches as to how anyone can know these claims are true. One approach believes that the Bible should be taken at its Word and not defended. The Holy Spirit will show the truth of its claim to anyone who is interested in knowing. Nothing else is necessary. This way the Bible is not made subject to any other type of authority.

On the other hand, there are those who point to evidences that God has provided to argue for the truth of Scripture. These include miracles, fulfilled prophecy, and Jesus' resurrection from the dead. Taken together they constitute overwhelming evidence for the truth of God's Word. Christians employ both methods in defending and proclaiming Scripture.

Does The Bible Claim To Be God's Inerrant Word?

In dealing with the subject of Bible difficulties, and so-called contradictions in Scripture, we must first address the general question of the nature of the Bible. What type of book does the Bible claim to be? Our first task, therefore, is to look at what the Bible says about itself.

God's Inerrant Word

As we examine the pages of Scripture we find that it claims to be the inspired, inerrant Word of God - it is correct in everything that it records.

This being the case, Christians believe there will ultimately be no contradictions between what Scripture says and between the known facts of history, science, and theology.

Claims of Scripture

The idea that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God is the claim of Scripture itself - it is not something the church has invented. This can be clearly seen as one examines both the Old and New Testament.

Old Testament

The Old Testament itself claims to be God's Word. The writings were acknowledged as the commandments of the Lord. Moses told the children of Israel: That you may fear the Lord your God to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you (Deuteronomy 6:2).

These commandments were to be put in the Ark of the Covenant. The Lord said to Moses: And I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets . . . and you shall put them in the ark (Deuteronomy 10:2).

Considered Inspired By All

The Old Testament was completed four hundred years before the time of Christ. First century writer Flavius Josephus listed the specific books that the Jews, at that time, considered to be inspired by God. We have but twenty-two [books] containing the history of all time, books that are justly believed in; and of these, five are the books of Moses, which comprise the law and earliest traditions from the creation of humanity down to his death. From the death of Moses to the reign of Artaxerxes, King of Persia, the successor of Xerxes, the prophets who succeeded Moses wrote the history of the events that occurred in their own time, in thirteen books. The remaining four documents comprise hymns to God and practical precepts to men (William Whiston, trans., Flavius Josephus against Apion, Vol. I, in Josephus, Complete Works, Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1960, p. 8).

The twenty-two books that Josephus mentions are the same as our thirty-nine Old Testament books - they are just divided differently. Josephus also summed up the Jewish attitude toward the Scripture. And how firmly we have given credit to those books of our own nation is evident by what we do; for during so many ages as have already passed, no one has been so bold as either to add anything to them or take anything from them, or to make any change in them; but it becomes natural to all Jews, immediately and from their very birth, to esteem those books to contain divine doctrines, and to persist in them, and, if occasion be, willing to die for them. For it is no new thing for our captives, many of them in numbers, and frequently in time, to be seen to endure racks and deaths of all kinds upon the theatres, that they may not be obliged to say one word against our laws, and the records that contain them (Josephus, Ibid., p. 609). It is clear from the evidence that the Old Testament was considered to be sacred by the Jews - the inspired Word of God.

The Testimony of The New Testament

The New Testament considers the Old Testament to be the Word of God. The Apostle Paul spoke of it as authoritative Scripture: which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures (Romans 1:2).

He also saw the Old Testament as predicting the doctrine of justification by faith. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the nations by faith (Galatians 3:8).

Confirmation By Jesus

Finally, we have the testimony of Jesus Christ. He made it clear that He believed the Old Testament was God's revelation of Himself to humanity.


Jesus recognized the existence of an Old Testament Scripture.

You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life (John 5:39).

Word of God

Jesus said this Old Testament Scripture was the Word of God.

Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honor your father and your mother (Matthew 15:3,4).


He also testified that the Scriptures were a unified whole: The Scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35).

Cannot Be Altered

Jesus also made it clear that the Old Testament could not have been altered, even in the slightest: I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished (Matthew 5:18).

Since Jesus demonstrated Himself to be the Son of God, His word on the matter is final. By definition, God knows everything and Jesus, being God, would know whether or not the Old Testament was His revelation to humanity. He made it clear that it was.

Four Witnesses To Old Testament

Therefore, we have the witness of the first-century Jews, the Old Testament itself, the New Testament, and Jesus Himself that the Old Testament was the inspired Word of God. The evidence is clear concerning how they regarded the Old Testament.

New Testament

The New Testament is also considered to be inspired of God for the following reasons:

Divine Origin

All throughout Jesus' ministry the divine origin of His words is stressed. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him - the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak (John 12:48,49).

In addition, Jesus said His words would never pass away. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away (Matthew 24:35).

That Jesus said His words would last forever hints at the idea they would be recorded.

The Promise of Jesus

The main reason we believe that the New Testament has been inspired of God is the promise of Jesus. Before His death and resurrection Jesus made the following promises to His disciples. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you (John 14:26).

But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning (John 15:26,27).

However, when He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come (John 16:13).

We have, at least, two promises of Jesus contained in these verses:

1. The Holy Spirit would guide these hand-picked disciples into all truth.

2. They would be given the gift of total recall of the things He said and did. This would guarantee the truth of their preaching and teaching as well as anything they would eventually write about Jesus.

Anticipates The New Testament

Consequently these promises look forward to a written body of truth. Those men to whom Jesus made these promises either wrote the books of the New Testament or had control over what writings were considered authoritative. Since God had already demonstrated His desire to commit His Word to writing by giving His people the Old Testament, it would follow that He would do the same in a New Testament. The inspiration of the New Testament, therefore, was authenticated ahead of time by the Lord Jesus.

In A Position To Know

Jesus was in a position to make such authoritative declarations about Scripture. He demonstrated that He was God's Son by His resurrection from the dead. who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 1:4).

Therefore Jesus is the final authority on all matters in which He speaks. His word settles the issue (for thorough documentation of Jesus' authority, see our course The Case For Christianity).

Specific Statements of Other Writers

Apart from the four gospels, the New Testament makes other specific statements about its own inspiration. The Apostle Paul said that his writings were the commandments of the Lord. If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord (1 Corinthians 14:37).

In the first letter that Paul wrote, he stated that his commandments were to be received as the Word of God. And for this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received from us the word of God's message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

Paul also emphasized that all Scripture is God-breathed. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).

Nothing To Be Changed

The disciple John emphasized that no words of Scripture are to be changed. For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life (Revelation 22:18,19).

Accepted As Scripture

Although the concept of a completed New Testament may not be found, we do have the concept of the writings being considered as Scripture. Simon Peter compared the writings of Paul to other Scripture: Our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his letters . . . which those who are untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of Scripture (2 Peter 3:15,16).

Consequently the idea of a written New Testament can be found within the pages of Scripture. The words of the New Testament are equated with the words of God.


The words of Scripture, in both Testaments, are the inspired Word of God - the final authority on all matters of faith and practice. This is the unanimous testimony of the authors.


Finally, we should remember that the ultimate purpose of Scripture is to make its readers wise unto salvation. Paul wrote to Timothy: and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:15).

John made it clear why he wrote his gospel. Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name (John 20:30,31).

The Scriptures were written to create belief in the Person of Jesus Christ - the one way to reach the one true God.


1. Christianity believes and teaches that the Bible, in both the Old and New Testament, has been inspired by God. This however, is not a claim that was developed by the church over a period of time. The idea that the Bible is inspired by God is the claim of the Bible itself.

2. Jesus confirmed that all parts of Scripture were inspired. Since He has demonstrated Himself to be the Son of God, He would be in a position to know the extent of the Bible's inspiration.

3. The Scripture claims to be God's Word, therefore the claim ought to be examined. The consequences of ignoring its message can cause someone to spend eternity apart from the living God. Therefore the matter of the nature of the Bible is of the utmost importance for humans to consider.


The most popular term used in describing the books that belong in the Bible is the word 'canon.' The English word canon comes from the Greek word kanon, which means, 'a rule or standard for testing straightness.' A canonical book is one that measures up to the standard of Holy Scripture. Thus the word canon is used to describe those books recognized as divinely inspired of God.

The Word Was Originally Used of Doctrines

Historically, the word was first used by the church of those doctrines that were accepted as the rule of faith and practice. The canon was the 'rule of faith' by which Christians lived.

Over time, the terms 'canon' and 'canonical' came to be applied to either a divinely inspired writing or the entire catalogue or list of sacred books that were recognized as belonging to God's authoritative Word. A book with God's unique authority behind it was part of the canon. The rule of faith had now been forever memorialized in a limited number of sacred books -- the canon of Scripture.

By the fourth century A.D., Greek Christians had given the word a technical religious meaningÑthe canon of Scripture consisted of the sacred books that God had divinely inspired and given to humanity.

Therefore, the term canon, or canonical, can be used of a single biblical book, a group of biblical books, the Old Testament, the New Testament, or the entire Bible.

The Canon Was Divinely Inspired of God but Recognized by Humanity

The people of God have recognized the various books of the Bible as authoritative Scripture. It must be stressed that the books that are found in the biblical canon were authoritative before they were placed in any collection of sacred books or before any council recognized them as authoritative. The fact that an 'official' list of authoritative writings was made by the church does not make the various books more sacred or divinely inspired than when they were originally written.

Consequently the Bible is not an authoritative collection of sacred books; it is a collection of books that were authoritative when they were written. This is an important distinction. If one calls the canon an authoritative collection of books then someone, or some group, must give them that authority. However if the canon is a collection of authoritative books, then it is not necessary to look to some outside authority to confer some status on these books.

God Determined the Extent of the Canon

Although we will examine the historical process as to how certain books came to be accepted as Holy Scripture and how others were rejected, ultimately we believe that it is God who decided this question. He was the final determiner of which books belonged and which did not. Humankind merely recognized the books that God had divinely inspired. While the recognition of the canon grew over time, the divine inspiration of the books that make up the canon was there from the beginning.

There Is a Difference Between Canonizing and Collection

Thus, a distinction needs to be made between canonizing and collecting. No human being or council can pronounce a work canonical or scriptural, yet humans were responsible for collecting and preserving such works. The New Testament books did not become authoritative for the church because they were formally included in some listÑthe church included them in the canon because they already regarded them as divinely inspired by God. Therefore the books we posses as Scripture were first divinely inspired by God, and then recognized as such by humanity.

The Canon Equals the Scripture

The books that belong to the canon are the books that are authoritative Scripture. Some people in the past have viewed the canon as containing all those books that the church found edifying -- not necessarily books that are Holy Scripture. The problem with this approach is that it confuses people as to which books speak with divine authority and which books are merely helpful. It is much better to have the canon equated with only the sacred books that God has revealed to humanity.

The Importance of the Issue of the Canon

The issue of the canon of Scripture is of immense importance. If God has revealed Himself to humanity in written form, then it is of supreme importance to know exactly which writings come from Him; for His words are the words of life. In Deuteronomy we read of the importance of the words of the Lord.

They are not just idle words for you - they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess (Deuteronomy 32:47).

Jesus said that His words were 'spirit and life.'

It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life (John 6:63).

The Bible has a different status from any other book ever written. This is true for books that are written by Christians as well as non-Christians. No other writing, no matter how valuable, can compare with Holy Scripture. The Scriptures are the authoritative standard. The purpose of a canon is to distinguish truth from error. Once a canon exists everything written later can be tested by it.

Therefore the question of the extent of the canon is a valid one for there is no Bible without a canon


The fact that God has revealed Himself to humanity by means of sacred writings leads us to consider the question of the extent of these sacred books or the 'canon.' The term 'canon,' or 'canonical,' can refer to a single book, a group of books, the Old Testament, the New Testament, or the entire volume of Scripture. The important thing to note is that God divinely inspired various books while humanity recognized what God has done. Humans have no authority to pronounce any book as being divinely inspired. This can only come from God Himself.

While some people in the past have viewed the canon as more than divinely authoritative books, it is best to equate the canon with Holy Scripture. Consequently it is crucial that we know which books came from God and which did not. Therefore it is of the utmost importance that we know the exact extent of the canon because the words of God are the words of life.

Added 7/25/08

To see how the Old Testament depicts the journey of faith of the Christian today see the series Adventuring Through the Bible, by Ray C. Stedman.


Additional References:

A Dictionary of Bible Types, by Walter L. Wilson, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Mass. 1999.

Interpreting the Symbols and Types, by Kevin J. Conner, City Bible Publishing, Portland, 1992.

Originated, 1987. Additions and updates, 7/14/04, 8/4/05. 1/23/2023.