The Bible

The Authenticity and Proof of Divine Revelation

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It can be demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt through empirically adequate proofs that the Bible is the inspired word of Almighty God. There are many areas of proof that verify the reliability and authenticity of the Bible. Two such areas are the manuscript evidence confirming the reliability of the biblical documents and predictive prophecy; these proofs verify that the Bible is Divinely inspired rather than a humanly crafted book. If the documents of the Bible predict and accurately record the events of Jesus Christ's ministry on earth, including his resurrection, then it can be stated unequivocally that the Bible is the Word of God. 

Manuscript Evidence

There are three basic principles of historiography, which help in determining the reliability of ancient documents. These are the bibliographical test, the internal test, and the external test. 

Bibliographical Test

The bibliographical test is the examination of the textual transmission by which the documents reach the present. Since we do not have the original documents of the Bible, how reliable are the manuscripts we do have and what is the time interval between the original and the extant copies.1 There are more than 5,000 known Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, over 10,000 Latin Vulgate and about 9,000 other early versions. In all, there are more 25,000 manuscript copies of the New Testament extant today. No other work of antiquity comes close to the manuscript attestation of the New Testament. In comparison, Homer's Iliad has a total of 643 manuscripts extant today. The importance of the sheer number of manuscripts extant today cannot be under estimated. The abundance of manuscript copies makes it possible to reconstruct the original documents with almost complete accuracy. The time interval between the original to the extant copies establishes the fact that "myth" or error did not have time to enter into the manuscript tradition. Sir Fredrick Kenyon writes in The Bible and Archaeology: "The interval then between the dates of the original composition and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established."2 Following is a comparison chart of the New Testament documents verses other writings of antiquity:


Author/ Book

Date Written

Earliest Copies

Time Gap

No. of Copies

Percent Accuracy

Homer, Iliad

800 b.c

c. 400 B.C.

c.    400 yrs



Herodotus History

480-425 b.c.

c. a.d. 900

c. 1,350 yrs



Thucydides, History

460-400 b.c.  

c. a.d. 900

c. 1,300 yrs




400 b.c.

c. a.d. 900

c. 1,300 yrs  



Caesar, Gallic Wars

100-44 b.c.

c. a.d. 900

c. 1,000 yrs



Livy, History of Rome

59 b.c. -  a.d. 17

4th cent.(partial)  

mostly 10th cent.

c.    400 yrs  

c. 1,000 yrs

1 partial  

19 copies


Tacitus, Annals

a.d. 100

c. a.d. 1100

c. 1,000 yrs



Pliny Secundus, Natural History

a.d. 61-113


c. 850

c.    750 yrs



New Testament

a.d. 50-100


c. 114 (fragment)

c. 200 (books)

c. 250 (most of N.T.)

c. 325 (complete N.T.)

       ±50 yrs  

       100 yrs

       150 yrs

       225 yrs



Table 1.3

Dr. Ravi Zacharias writes concerning the manuscript evidence of the New Testament: "In real terms, the New Testament is easily the best attested ancient writing in terms of the sheer number of documents, the time span between the events and the document, and the variety of documents available to sustain or contradict it. There is nothing in ancient manuscript evidence to match such textual availability and integrity." 4

The Patristic citations of the New Testament also give witness to the accuracy of the New Testament manuscripts, which are extant today. Dr. Geisler points out that, "the patristic citations of Scripture are not primary witnesses to the text of the New Testament, but they do serve two very important secondary roles. First, they give overwhelming support to the existence of the twenty-seven authoritative books of the New Testament canon. It is true that their quotations were often loose, although in the case of some Fathers they were very accurate, but they do at least reproduce the substantial content of the original text. Second, the quotations are so numerous and widespread that if no manuscripts of the New Testament were extant, the New Testament could be reproduced from the writings of the early Fathers alone." 5 The writings of the early Church Fathers give us overwhelming secondary evidence to the accuracy of the New Testament documents. Following is a chart, which catalogs the quotes of the Church Fathers of the New Testament: 

Table 2.6

The Old Testament manuscripts have reached the present without the great number of extant manuscripts as with the New Testament. Compared to other works of antiquity the transmission of the Old Testament is quite unique in the fact that such great care was taken by the copyists to ensure the accuracy of the copied manuscripts, 

[1] A synagogue roll must be written on the skins of clean animals, [2] prepared for the particular use of the synagogue by a Jew. [3] These must be fastened together with strings taken from clean animals. [4] Every skin must contain a certain number of columns, equal throughout the entire codex. [5] The length of each column must not extend over less than 48 nor more than 60 lines; and the breadth must consist of thirty letters. [6] The whole copy must be first-lined; and if three words should be written without a line, it is worthless. [7] The ink should be black, neither red, green, nor any other colour, and be prepared according to a definite recipe. [8] An authentic copy must be the exemplar, from which the transcriber ought not in the least deviate. [9] No word or letter, not even a, yod, must be written from memory, the scribe not having looked at the codex before him. . . . [10] Between every consonant the space of a hair or thread must intervene; [11] between every new parashah, or section, the breadth of nine consonants; [12] between every book, three lines. [13] The fifth book of Moses must terminate exactly with a line; but the rest need not do so. [14] Besides this, the copyist must sit in full Jewish dress, [15] wash his whole body, [16] not begin to write the name of God with a pen newly dipped in ink, [17] and should a king address him while writing that name he must take no notice of him. 7

Until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls the oldest complete extant Hebrew manuscript was from around 900 A.D, the time gap being about 1,300 years from original to copy. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in March of 1947 contributed considerably to the certainty of the transmission accuracy of the Old Testament documents. The Dead Sea Scrolls date back to about 125 B.C. these manuscripts are 1,000 years older than the manuscripts that were previously possessed. One such scroll that was discovered was a copy of Isaiah. When compared to the previous copy of Isaiah the exactness of the transmission of the Old Testament documents became manifest. "Of the 166 words in Isaiah 53, there are only seventeen letters in question. Ten of these letters are simply a matter of spelling, which does not affect the sense. Four more letters are minor stylistic changes, such as conjunctions. The remaining three letters comprise the word "light" which is added in verse 11, and does not affect the meaning greatly. Furthermore, this word is supported by the LXX [Septuagint] and IQ Is [first cave of Qumran, Isaiah scroll]. Thus, in one chapter of 166 words, there is only one word (three letters) in question after a thousand years of transmission- and this word does not significantly change the meaning of the passage." 8 Geza Vermes states: "The Qumran Biblical documents cover the whole Hebrew Bible with the exception of the book of Esther, and are about one thousand years older than the most ancient codices previously extant. With this newly discovered material at their disposal, experts concerned with the study of the text and transmission of the scriptures are now able to achieve far greater accuracy in their deductions and can trace the process by which the text of the Bible obtained its final shape. Moreover, they are in position to prove that it has remained virtually unchanged for the last two thousand years." 9

Internal Evidence 

The internal evidence test is that test which helps determine whether or not the document, as a written record is credible. At this point literary critics continue to follow Aristotle's dictum: to give the document the benefit of the doubt. John Warwick Montgomery puts the principle this way: "One must listen to the claims of the document under analysis, and not assume fraud or error unless the author disqualified himself by contradictions or known factual inaccuracies." 10

The credibility of a written historical document is closely related to the witness's nearness both geographically and chronologically to the event, which is recorded. The New Testament accounts of the life and ministry of Christ where recorded by men who where eyewitnesses and by men who related the account of the eyewitnesses. Luke explains the manner in which he set out to write his gospel: "Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus" (Luke 1:1-3). Dr. Luke states the fact that he recorded the account of the life and ministry of Jesus after careful investigation of the eyewitness's accounts. Luke himself was a companion of the Apostle Paul ("Luke is with me" 2 Tim 4:11). Luke's closeness to the events he describes is very effective in certifying the accuracy of what is recorded. If it where the case that Luke falsely recorded for example, a saying of Jesus, then the eyewitnesses who where still around could have refuted the inaccuracy of Luke's account. There is no such evidence that what Luke writes was in error at all, for he was a master historian. The fact that Luke published his gospel in the same generation that the eyewitnesses lived proves that he accurately recorded the events of Christ's life. A modern day example of the principle of verifying an event by publishing the history of that event in the generation it happened (the witnesses nearness to the event) is seen in the history of the Jewish holocaust. There are some today that deny the fact that the Holocaust ever happened. Maybe one hundred years from now many could be deceived to believe such a lie but what is the one thing that refutes this movement as being erroneous? There are still eyewitnesses alive that can verify the accuracy or inaccuracy of a given historians account. You see, the historical documents have been written within the generation of the eyewitnesses and this is the case with the New Testament. The Apostle Paul appealed to this principle when he wrote to the Corinthians concerning the resurrection of Christ. 

"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also" (1 Cor 15:3-8). Paul makes the statement that himself and other eyewitnesses saw the risen Savior and he suggested to the Corinthians, if they didn't believe him, that they should inquire of the others who saw him, "whom remain until now."

The New Testament is full of such declarations of the eyewitness's testimony of the life and ministry of Jesus:

  • "For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty" (2 Peter 1:16).
  • "What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 1:3).
  • "This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses" (Acts 2:32). 
  • "Put to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses" (Acts 3:15). 
  • "We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. "God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead" (Acts 10:39-41). 
  • "For many days He appeared to those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, the very ones who are now His witnesses to the people" (Acts 13:31).

The late F.F. Bruce comments, "it was not only friendly eyewitnesses that the early preachers had to reckon with; there were others less well disposed who were also conversant with the main facts of the ministry and death of Jesus. The disciples could not afford to risk inaccuracies (not to speak of willful manipulation of the facts), which would at once be exposed by those who would be only too glad to do so. On the contrary, one of the strong points in the original apostolic preaching is the confident appeal to the knowledge of the hearers; they not only said, "We are witnesses of these things"; but also, "As you yourselves know" (Acts 2:22). Had there been any tendency to depart from the facts in any material respect, the possible presence of hostile witnesses in the audience would have served as a further corrective." 11

External Evidence 

The external evidence test is simply asking the question, "Do other historical documents confirm or refute the internal testimony of the document under analysis?" There are numerous external sources that confirm the reliability and authenticity of the biblical documents. 


Eusebius an early church historian wrote: " 'This also the presbyter said: Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately, though not indeed in order, whatsoever he remembered of the things done or said by Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor followed him, but afterward, as I said, he followed Peter, who adapted his teaching to the needs of his hearers, but with no intention of giving a connected account of the Lord's discourses, so that Mark committed no error while he thus wrote some things as he remembered them. For he was careful of one thing, not to omit any of the things which he had heard, and not to state any of them falsely.' These things are related by Papias concerning Mark. But concerning Matthew he writes as follows: 'So then Matthew wrote the oracles in the Hebrew language, and every one interpreted them as he was able.' 12 Eusebius confirms for us the historicity of the Gospel of Mark as well as Matthew's Gospel through the primary writings of Papias. Appling the external evidence test, it can be concluded that these documents pass the test and may be considered authentic and reliably witnesses' of God's revelation to mankind through Christ. 


Another source of historical confirmation is found in the writings of Irenaeus the Bishop of Lyons (AD 180). "So firm is the ground upon which these Gospels rest, that the very heretics themselves bear witness to them, and, starting from these [documents], each one of them endeavors to establish his own peculiar doctrine… Since, then, our opponents do bear testimony to us, and make use of these [documents], our proof derived from them is firm and true." 13


Polycarp, who was a disciple of the Apostle John, is another historical witness to the authenticity of the Scripture. Polycarp in his "Epistle to the Philippians" makes use of numerous Biblical quotes from the New Testament.

Flavius Josephus 

Flavius Josephus was a Jewish historian working for the Romans. Josephus writes concerning John the Baptist, establishing the authenticity and reliability of the Gospels, "Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod's army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist: for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism…" 14

Predictive Prophecy

The Scriptures are replete with examples of prophecies that have been made and then fulfilled in secular history and the life of Christ. The fact that the Bible has been 100% accurate in its predictive prophesy is ample evidence that God has spoken to man through his holy prophets. The significance of predictive prophecy is as follows: 1). It concludes that there is a Divine intellect behind the Bible. 2.) It establishes the fact of God. 3). Authenticates the Deity of Christ. 4). Demonstrates the inspiration of the Bible. There is one major objection to "predictive prophecy." Opponents claim that these prophecies were written "after the fact." They claim that they are not prophecy but history. The answer to this objection is very simple. If one is not satisfied with the date of 450 B.C., the historic date for the completion of the Old Testament, then one must consider that fact that the LXX (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, 250 B.C.) was initiated and completed in the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus (285- 246 B.C.). This fact alone proves that the prophecies concerning the events surrounding the life of Christ were in existence at least 250 years before the events took place. 

Fulfilled prophecies concerning Christ

1. Born in Bethlehem 


Micah 5:2 (NET Bible) 450 B.C. "As for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, seemingly insignificant among the clans of Judah- from you a king will emerge who will rule over Israel on my behalf, one whose origins are in the distant past."


Matthew 2:1 (NET Bible) "After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, in the time of King Herod, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem"

Matthew 2:4-6 (NET Bible) After assembling all the chief priests and experts in the law he asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5 "In Bethlehem of Judea," they said, "for it is written this way by the prophet: 6 'And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are in no way least among the rulers of Judah, for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.' "

2. Proceeded by a Messenger


Isaiah 40:3-4 (NET Bible) 700 B.C. "A voice cries out, "In the desert clear a way for the LORD; construct in the wilderness a road for our God. 4 Every valley must be elevated, and every mountain and hill leveled. The rough terrain will become a level plain, the rugged landscape a wide valley."

Malachi 3:1 (NET Bible)   " 'I am about to send my messenger, who will clear the way before me. Indeed, the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant whom you long for is coming,' says the sovereign LORD."


Matthew 3:1-3 (NET Bible)  "In those days John the Baptist came into the wilderness of Judea proclaiming, 2 "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." 3 For he is the one who was spoken of by Isaiah the prophet, "The voice of one crying out in the wilderness, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make his paths straight.'"

3. Enter Jerusalem on a Donkey 


Zechariah 9:9 (NET Bible) 480 B.C. "Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion! Shout, daughter of Jerusalem! Look! Your king is coming to you: he is legitimate and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey- on a young donkey, the foal of a female donkey."


Luke 19:30-40 (NET Bible) "telling them, "Go to the village ahead of you. When you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, 'Why are you untying it?' just say, 'The Lord needs it.'" 32 So those who were sent ahead found it exactly as he had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, "Why are you untying that colt?" 34 They replied, "The Lord needs it." 35 Then they brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt, and had Jesus get on it. 36 As he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. 37 As he approached the road leading down from the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen: 38 "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" 39 But some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples." 40 He answered, "I tell you, if they keep silent, the very stones will cry out!"

4. Betrayed by a Friend


Psalm 41:9 (NET Bible) 1000 B.C. "Even my close friend whom I trusted, he who shared meals with me, has turned against me."


Matthew 10:4 (NET Bible)  "Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him."

5. Sold for Thirty pieces of Silver


Zechariah 11:12 (NET Bible) 480 B.C. "Then I said to them, "If it seems good to you, pay me my wages, but if not, forget it." So they weighed out my payment-thirty pieces of silver."


Matthew 26:14-15 (NET Bible) "Then one of the twelve, the one named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, "What will you give me to betray him into your hands?" So they set out thirty silver coins for him."

6. The money to be thrown into God's House


Zechariah 11:13 (NET Bible) 480 B.C. "The LORD then said to me, 'Throw to the potter that exorbitant sum at which they valued me!' So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter at the temple of the LORD."


Matthew 27:5 (NET Bible) "So Judas threw the silver coins into the temple and left. Then he went out and hanged himself." 

7. The Price given for the Potter's Field


Zechariah 11:13 (NET Bible) 480 B.C. "The LORD then said to me, 'Throw to the potter that exorbitant sum at which they valued me!' So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter at the temple of the LORD."


Matthew 27:6-10 (NET Bible) "The chief priests took the silver and said, "It is not lawful to put this into the temple treasury, since it is blood money." 7 After consulting together they bought the Potter's Field with it, as a burial place for foreigners. 8 For this reason that field has been called the "Field of Blood" to this day. 9 Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: "They took the thirty silver coins, the price of the one whose price had been set by the people of Israel, and they gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord commanded me."

8. Darkness over the Land


Amos 8:9 (NET Bible) 760 B.C. "In that day," says the sovereign LORD, "I will make the sun set at noon, and make the earth dark in the middle of the day."


Matthew 27:45-46 (NET Bible) "Now from noon until three, darkness came over all the land. 46 At about three o'clock Jesus shouted with a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" that is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

Concerning the actual fulfillment of this prophecy and the worldwide experience of the darkness, it has been recorded in secular history, "It is reported that Dionysius, at Heliopolis in Egypt, took notice of this darkness, and said, 'either the God of nature is suffering, or the machine of the world is tumbling into ruin' ". This event was also witnessed to in other secular sources and attributed to an eclipse of the sun.

Peter Stoner in Science Speaks gives us the mathematical probabilities that one man could fulfill these prophecies naturally. There are more than three hundred prophecies in Scripture concerning the life and ministry of Christ. The mathematical probability of eight prophesies being fulfilled by one man naturally are 1 in 1017 (1 with 17 zeros behind it).15 To get a picture of this very large number the illustration is given using silver dollars. 1017 silver dollars would cover the face of Texas two feet deep. The mathematical probability is likened to marking one of the silver dollars, mixing then up, and blindfolding a man and having him pick the marked silver dollar on the first try. 

The mathematical probability of forty-eight prophecies being fulfilled by one man naturally is 1 in 10157 (1 with 157 zeros behind it). The electron is the smallest object we know of. The electron is so small that it takes 2.5 times 1015 of them laid side by side to make a single line one inch long. If we were going to count all the electrons in that line and count 250 of them each minute, day and night, it would take 19 million years to count just a one-inch line of electrons. If you had a cubit inch of electrons, numbering 10157, and counted them the same way it would take 19 million times, 19 million times, 19 million or 6.9 times 1021 years to count all the electron in a cubic inch. 1 in 10157 is analogous to, again, marking one of the electrons, mixing them up, and blindfolding a man and having him pick the right one the first try. 16

These probabilities are all theoretical, not practical. In the theoretical world even the "law of gravity" is conceived of in probabilities. It is probable that if one where to drop a brick from the Empire State building an infinite amount of times that one of those times the brick would float but I know of no one who would stand under the dropping brick with those kind of odds. 

It is therefore safe to say, that the possibility that the Bible, on strictly natural probabilities, got all the prophecies concerning Christ correct is indeed impossible. The only logical conclusion concerning this evidence is that Bible is indeed God's authoritative revelation to man. 


1 McDowell, Josh., The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers) 1999. p. 33-34 

2 cited by McDowell, Josh., The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers) 1999. p. 35 

3 taken from Geisler, Normal L., and Nix, William E., A General Introduction to the Bible, Revised and Expanded, (Chicago, IL: Moody Press) 1986. Electronic edition Logos Library System. 

4 Zacharias, Ravi., Can Man live without God?, (Dallas, TX: Word Publishing) 1994. p. 162

5 Geisler, Normal L., and Nix, William E., A General Introduction to the Bible, Revised and Expanded, (Chicago, IL: Moody Press) 1986. Electronic edition Logos Library System. 

6 taken from Geisler, Normal L., and Nix, William E., A General Introduction to the Bible, Revised and Expanded, (Chicago, IL: Moody Press) 1986. Electronic edition Logos Library System. 

7 Geisler, Normal L., and Nix, William E., A General Introduction to the Bible, Revised and Expanded, (Chicago, IL: Moody Press) 1986. Electronic edition Logos Library System

8 McDowell, Josh., A Ready Defense, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers) 1993. p. 51 

9 cited by Missler, Chuck., The Bible: An Extraterrestrial Message (Coeur d'Alene, ID: Koinonia House Inc.) 1996. p 9 

10 cited by Missler, Chuck., The Bible: An Extraterrestrial Message (Coeur d'Alene, ID: Koinonia House Inc.) 1996. p 7

11 Bruce, F.F., The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? 5th rev. ed. (Grand Rapids: MN Eerdmans Publishing Co.) 1985 p. 46


by Philip Schaff, editor, The Church History of Eusebius III (Albany: OR AGES Software Version 1.0) 1997 p. 252

13 Irenaeus., THE ANTE-NICENE FATHERS, VOLUME 1, edited by A. Roberts and J Donaldson, Against Heresies III (Albany: OR AGES Software Version 1.0) 1997 p 850-851

14 Josephus, Flavious., Translated by WILLIAM WHISTON, ANTIQUITIES OF THE JEWS, Book 18 (Albany: OR AGES Software Version 1.0) 1997 p 1131

15 Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996, c1991). Mt. 27:33-49

16 The mathematical probabilities and illustrations referred to in this section are taken from Stoner, Peter W. Science Speaks (Chicago: Moody Press, 1963).

Rev. Kenneth W. Rhodes, Jr. is Pastor, Mable Avenue Baptist Church, Modesto, CA. He holds a D.R.E. from Golden State School of Theology, a D.D. from Adonai International Biblical Seminary, and a D.Min. (c) from the American Christian College and Seminary.