What Is the Bible?

The Bible is a collection of individual books written by approximately 40 authors (see the Bible Summary Table) of mostly Israelite descent who claim it to be wholly inspired by the Creator God. The name Bible comes from the word "biblia", the Greek word translated "books" in Revelation 20:12. 

The apostle Paul, writing to a young evangelist by the name of Timothy, wrote:

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Timothy 3:16-17).



Mankind has always sought answers to the question of whether there is any hope or life beyond the grave and the Bible claims to provide those answers.  From Genesis to Revelation the Bible describes the Creator God revealing, through His prophets and servants, His plan of Salvation, which includes His will and purpose for creating man and man's ultimate destiny. 

The first book of the Bible, Genesis, begins with the account of the creation week, culminating on Day 6 with the creation of Adam, the first man, and his wife, Eve, the first woman, and followed by a blessing of the Seventh Day rest. The creation describes God ordering His creatures to progenate 'according to their kind' (Gen 1:11-12, Gen 1:21-22, Gen 1:24-27). Similarly, Man was made 'in the image and likeness of God' (Gen 1:27), with many references throughout the Bible designating mankind as children of God.  God places mankind in the beautiful Garden of Eden, where two trees are specifically described: the Tree of Life, and the first created humans being invited to enjoy it (Genesis 2-3), and, the forbidden Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam and Eve chose to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree leading to their expulsion from the garden.  Revelation, the last book of the Bible, ends with a parallel theme of a garden and the tree of life, where God and man ultimately enjoy intimacy and live peacefully for eternity (Revelation 21-22). This was made possible due to the redemptive act of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, Who died on behalf of mankind to restore the broken relationship between us and God. Thus we see a unified theme of God fulfilling His intention to create man in His image and likeness, to ultimately become His family.

The Bible’s record of Israel’s history is remarkably different from the histories of other ancient nations in that it is a warts-and-all record. According to the Bible, Israel’s history starts as a slave nation that continually complains despite being dramatically delivered from Egyptian slavery by God. The Bible's historical record reads as an honest account of its main characters, unlike that of other nations such as Egypt and Assyria that rewrote their history and avoided recording their faults or losses. For exampe, the lives of great leaders are openly portrayed, such as King David, Israel's greatest king, who attempted to conceal adultery and the subsequent murder of an innocent man, ultimately revealing a severe, yet forgiving, God.



The Bible differs from other works which claim to be sacred, such as the Koran, in that it was written over a period of 1500 years by over 40 authors yet has a remarkable unity with its message. Colin Peckham in “The Authority of the Bible” writes the following about this unity of its message:

“The history of the Israelites pictures the New Testament plan of salvation showing that the Old Testament and the New Testament present one message. In the Old Testament it is the shadows and types, and in the New Testament we have the reality of an accomplished salvation.

“The Israelites were in bondage to the Egyptians. Egypt is a picture of the old life of sin in which all are held under the domination of Pharaoh... The only way to be rescued from Egypt's bondage and God's judgement was through the blood of the lamb...The slain lamb is the substitute for the first-born, and God's Lamb is our substitute. He dies in our place, and we are free from the old life of bondage, sorrow and sin through the blood of the Lamb...The New Testament affirms, 'Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us' (1 Corinthians 5:7). He was our substitute Lamb" (p.68, 72)



The Bible is also considered a foundational book of law that historically has formed the basis of common law in the United Kingdom and other western nations. The four books that follow the book of Genesis contain the Ten Commandments and other laws and statutes which were the laws of ancient Israel. Those books claim that these laws came from God Himself. Jesus Christ, in his discourse commonly referred to as "The Sermon on the Mount" (Matthew 5 to 7), covered a number of areas of law and morality. In this landmark message He aimed to show the meaning and intent behind the previously given laws. For example, in addressing the commandments, "Thou Shalt Not Commit Kill", and "Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery", He explains, it is not sufficient to simply avoid the act of murder or adultery, but that the underlying intention of the laws include the avoidance of the attitudes of hate and lust that precede those actions (Matthew 5:21-30).



The Bible canon of books most widely recognised in the western Christian world consists of 66 books in total composed of 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament though this differs with some Christian churches, such as the Catholic and Orthodox churches, who recognise additional Old Testament apocryphal books. 

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