Author: Ron Graham
Who Wrote the Bible?
—And why was it written?
This lesson is about the authorship, inspiration, and purpose of the Bible. Many human writers penned the collection of literature known as the Bible. However the LORD God is its real author, revealing his plan of salvation through Jesus Christ.
The Bible, meaning “the Book”, is made up of two main collections of literature:
- (1) “The Old Testament” —the ancient Hebrew scriptures of the nation of Israel.
- (2) “The New Testament” —the Christian Greek scriptures from the first decades after Jesus Christ.
1 The Bible’s Authorship
The human authors’ identities are the subject of much argument by certain scholars. The truth is that many, but not all, of the Bible writings state who the author was. For example Isaiah begins, "The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz which he saw regarding Judah and Jerusalem, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah —kings of Judah (Isaiah 1:1).
The first verse of many other works likewise state the author, such as Nehemiah, Proverbs, Jeremiah, Joel, Micah, Romans, James, and Revelation —to name just a few. On the other hand, some Bible writings do not name the author, such as the book of Judges and the letter to the Hebrews.
Jesus, in referring to Old Testament scriptures called them "Moses and the prophets" (Luke 16:16,31). Our Lord seems to accept that Moses wrote the books of the law, the first five books of the Bible (see Nehemiah 8:1).
We should recognise and respect the work of godly men who penned the Scriptures. After all, it was such respect that caused people to collect, copy, and keep their writings, believing these men to be prophets inspired by God. The name of the author may have been forgotten, but the reverence for the writing has caused it to be preserved.
So most Bible believers, whilst respecting the many human authors, consider the Scriptures to have One Author, the LORD God. We will now look at that main idea of the Bible’s authorship —its inspiration.
2 The Bible’s Inspiration
When we speak of the Bible being “inspired”, we don't mean it in the sense that a poet might be inspired by the sight of a field covered in wild flowers. Rather, we mean that God has given a revelation to a prophet and God has moved the man to speak and write God’s word.
As Peter says, "Prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2Peter 1:21).
The Example of Daniel
Some of the prophets had visions. This was a means by which the Spirit moved men to write. Daniel was one of those prophets. He received several revelations from God. For instance, "In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, a message was revealed to Daniel... The message was true... and he understood the message" (Daniel 10:1).
Daniel then records how he came by that message. An angel spoke to him and told him things written in the Book of Truth (Daniel 10:21). What Daniel wrote came from Heaven.
❖ The apostles and prophets of Jesus also wrote down God’s word in letters which have been collected as the New Testament Scriptures. These Christian prophets were, like those of Israel, moved by the Holy Spirit.
The Example of John
John wrote the book of Revelation, but in his opening words, John claims to be inspired by God. "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God have Jesus to show to his servants, revealing things which must shortly take place. And Jesus sent and signified it by his angel to his servant John" (Revelation 1:1).
Notice that John claims that what he writes was shown to him by an angel sent by Jesus Christ, and Jesus received the revelation from God his Father. You the reader are receiving not merely the words of John, but the very word of God.
God ➙ Jesus ➙ Angel ➙ John ➙ You the reader.
We may think that John, being human, is a weak link in the chain. We can trust God, Christ, and the angel. But can we trust John? Well, when he begins to describe the first vision, he says, "I was in the Spirit..." (Revelation 1:9-10).
The Holy Spirit oversees the transmission of the revelation and testimony from God to you the Reader. The Holy Spirit ensures there is no weak link. He empowers John to be true and without mistake.
Neither are you a weak link in that you are likely to misunderstand the message. If you ask and seek with zeal, you can be "filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding..." (Colossians 1:9).
John himself says, "Blessed is he who reads the words of this prophecy, and those who hear and keep what is written in this book, for the time is near" (Revelation 1:3). John would not say that if he thought his writing could not be understood.
The Example of Paul
The apostle Paul claimed, "We speak the wisdom of God... what God has revealed to us through his Spirit... These things we speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual..." (part of 1Corinthians 2).
Paul also says, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God..." (2Timothy 3:16). Another translation is, "All scripture is breathed out by God..." We shouldn't miss the word "all." God has inspired, or breathed out, all Scripture —the whole Bible.
3 The Bible’s Purpose
The Bible has been given as a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105). It has been given so that we may know the truth that can set us free (John 8:31-32). It has been given that we might have faith unto salvation, for "faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:8-10,17).
That includes the Old Testament. We now follow the New Testament, Christ’s gospel, not Moses’s law (John 1:17). However the Old Testament scriptures still have a very important purpose. "For whatever was written before, was written for our learning, so that we might have hope, through the patience and comfort which the scriptures provide" (Romans 15:4).
God has given us the Bible so that we may know about Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who alone can reconcile us to God and give forgiveness of sins. From the Scriptures we learn "the message of the cross" (1Corinthians 1:18).