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How did the Bible come about?

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God decided to disclose His will to mankind through the written word. The Bible has been translated into almost every language under the sun.

Many conservative Hebrew and Christian scholars believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. The internal evidence of Scripture has proved very commanding. Scripture simply rings true when one reads the books of the Bible with the right spirit and attitude (see Isaiah 66:2 Isaiah 66:2For all those things has my hand made, and all those things have been, said the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my word.
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).

Archaeological finds have demonstrated the accuracy of Scripture again and again, much to the consternation of critics. We regularly report on such discoveries in the “God, Science and the Bible” feature in this magazine, and you can find much more proof in our Bible study aid booklet Is the Bible True? as well as our article reprint series The Bible and Archaeology .

So how did we receive this Word? How did God choose to provide it to us? Let's notice a few examples.

In the Hebrew Scriptures (commonly called the Old Testament), Moses climbed Mt. Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments directly from God, which God declared to the people of Israel (Exodus 19–20; Exodus 32:15-16 Exodus 32:15-16 15 And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written. 16 And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven on the tables.
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). These commandments were spoken and written by God Himself. For example, notice Exodus 31:18 Exodus 31:18And he gave to Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him on mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.
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: “And when He had made an end of speaking to him on Mount Sinai, He gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God” (emphasis added throughout).

God spoke directly to Moses face to face (Numbers 12:7-8 Numbers 12:7-8 7 My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all my house. 8 With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?
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). God had previously talked directly with the patriarch Abram, later renamed Abraham: “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, 'I am Almighty God, walk before Me and be blameless'” (Genesis 17:1 Genesis 17:1And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said to him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be you perfect.
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; see also Genesis 18:1 Genesis 18:1And the LORD appeared to him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;
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).

On other occasions God spoke to Abraham and the prophets in visions and dreams. “After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision …” (Genesis 15:1 Genesis 15:1After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am your shield, and your exceeding great reward.
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; compare Isaiah 1:1 Isaiah 1:1The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
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; Daniel 7:7 Daniel 7:7After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and broke in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.
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). Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures God taught His people and future generations His plan and purpose for mankind.

The Christian Scriptures include both the Old and the New Testaments. The apostle Paul tells us of the Jews: “To them were committed the oracles [words or sayings] of God”(Romans 3:2 Romans 3:2Much every way: chiefly, because that to them were committed the oracles of God.
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). This referred to the books of the Old Testament at the time, seeing that many of the New Testament books were not yet written.

Paul told the young evangelist Timothy that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”(2 Timothy 3:16 2 Timothy 3:16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
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). The apostle Peter adds, “For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21 2 Peter 1:21For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
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While inspiring His prophets and apostles, God used His Holy Spirit to pass on His revelation and will to humankind. Both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures reveal that the Holy Spirit is the Almighty's all-pervasive power and influence, as made plain in the Creation epic in Genesis 1:2 Genesis 1:2And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters.
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(to learn more, read the Bible study aid Who Is God? ). God is abundantly capable of making sure that His revelation would be perpetuated in a permanent way in a written record.

Both Testaments are of great value. Peter wrote: “Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandments of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior” (2 Peter 3:1-2 2 Peter 3:1-2 1 This second letter, beloved, I now write to you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: 2 That you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior:
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Our Creator used a variety of means and individuals to communicate His Word. Hebrews 1:1 Hebrews 1:1God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,
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states, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son …”

Moses was told to record God's will and His laws in a book for posterity. “So it was, when Moses had completed writing the words of this law in a book, when they were finished, that Moses commanded the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying: Take this Book of the Law, and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God”(Deuteronomy 31:24-26 Deuteronomy 31:24-26 24 And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished, 25 That Moses commanded the Levites, which bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying, 26 Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against you.
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).

Over a period of several thousand years God inspired His servants to write in various books what He had revealed to them. These revelations occurred either directly, in vision or by other means—with God using His Holy Spirit to accomplish His will. Jesus Christ said that this “Spirit of truth”would guide His apostles into all truth (John 16:13 John 16:13However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.
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).

Why did God provide this complete written Word for His human creation? It's to serve as a spiritual textbook for mankind: “I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place on the earth … I, the LORD, speak righteousness, I declare things that are right”(Isaiah 45:19 Isaiah 45:19I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not to the seed of Jacob, Seek you me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.
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).

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