The Inspiration and Inerrancy of Scripture
The Historical Statements of the Bible and Inerrancy
Ron Jones, D.D., Titus Institute
Scripture quotations are from the ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version), © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
The Historical Statements of the Bible and InerrancySession 3
We are in a series entitled The Inspiration and Inerrancy of Scripture.
In this series we are answering the question, "Is the Bible inspired by God and therefore inerrant, that is, true in all that it affirms?"
Is the Bible inerrant, that is, true and without error in all that it affirms about any subject? Or is the Bible true and without error in most of what it affirms except for some minor historical and scientific errors? Or is the Bible true and without error only in the spiritual truths that it teaches, that is, only what it affirms in regard to faith and practice?
How do we as Christians know which view is right?
We know by following what Jesus and his apostles taught about the truthfulness of the Bible.
As Christians we believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that his apostles were appointed by him to teach the truth by the power of the Holy Spirit and all that they taught is true and authoritative.
We came to faith in Jesus Christ, then we asked ourselves, "What did Jesus and his apostles believe about the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture?"
In this series, we are looking at four points:
W1 The Inspiration of the Bible and InerrancyW2 The Truth of the Bible and Inerrancy W3 The Historical Statements of the Bible and Inerrancy W4 The Scientific Statements of the Bible and Inerrancy
We are going to base what we learn about these areas on what Jesus and his apostles taught.
The last two weeks we learned that the Bible teaches the inspiration and inerrancy of God in three simple statements.
It is the form of a syllogism: If A = B and B = C, A = C
All of the Bible is the Word of God. All of the Word of God was true. Therefore all of the Bible is true.
Last week we established that the Bible teaches that the Scriptures are inerrant.
"Inerrancy means that the Scriptures in their original text and properly interpreted are true in everything that they affirm, whether doctrinal, moral, historical, or scientific."
The final two weeks, we are going to explore what the Bible says regarding the geographical and historical statements and the scientific statements in the Bible.
This week we come to the geographical and historical statements.
3. If all of the Bible is true, then all of the historical and geographical statements of the Bible are true.
3.1 Jesus and the apostles never separated the historical and geographical details of OT revelation from their spiritual truths. It was all the revelation of God.
2 Peter 1:20-21 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
v.20 "prophecy of Scripture" = the written words (Scriptures) of the prophets = OT
All the prophecies of Scripture were produced by the Holy Spirit through the prophet.
Those prophetic words contained historical and geographical details.
2 Chronicles 32:32 Now the rest of the acts of Hezekiah and his good deeds, behold, they are written in the vision of Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz, in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel.
Isaiah the prophet wrote about the details of the reign of Hezekiah which includes both historical and geographical details. These are part of the prophecies of Isaiah.
Jesus and the apostles never separated the historical and geographical details of OT revelation from their spiritual truths. It was all the revelation of God.
If modern scholars, including evangelical scholars, want to make a distinction between the truth of the spiritual statements and the geographical and historical statements, they must demonstrate that Jesus and the apostles make this distinction. However, they have not demonstrated that Jesus and the apostles make this distinction.
3.2 Jesus and the apostles referred to the OT narratives of the people, places and events as historically accurate and true in their teaching.
Jesus spoke of the persecution of the OT prophets as real historical occurrences.
46 And he said, "Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. 47 Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. 48 So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs. 49 Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute, 50 so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation." He says that they were guilty of the death of all those righteous prophets from the very beginning of creation of man starting with the blood of Abel in the Book of Genesis and continuing to the blood of Zechariah whose blood was shed and recorded in in the last book of the Hebrew Bible. Jesus goes from the first book to the last book of the Hebrew Bible.
Chronicles was the last book of the Hebrew Bible not Malachi like in the English Bibles. That was intentional.
2 Chronicles 24:20-21 20 Then the Spirit of God clothed Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, and he stood above the people, and said to them, "Thus says God, Why do you break the commandments of the Lord, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the Lord, he has forsaken you." 21 But they conspired against him, and by command of the king they stoned him with stones in the court of the house of the Lord. 22 Thus Joash the king did not remember the kindness that Jehoiada, Zechariah's father, had shown him, but killed his son. And when he was dying, he said, "May the Lord see and avenge!"
Jesus accepted all the narratives of the prophets. That is the basis of the OT!
Notice, Jesus and the apostles' teachings are not just based upon the words of God recorded in the OT, but also the narratives sections.
They are all true!
The wilderness serpent Jn. 3:14 Elijah and Elisha Luke 4:25-30 God speaking through a burning bush Mark 12:26 Noah: Mt. 24:37-39 Abraham: Jn. 8:56 Circumcision: Jn. 7:22; cf. Gn. 17:10-12; Lv. 12:3 Sodom and Gomorrah: Mt. 10:15 Lot: Lk. 17:28-32 Isaac and Jacob: Mt. 8:11 The Manna: Jn. 6:31, 49, 58 David as the author of Psalm 110: Mt. 22:43 Solomon: Matthew 6:29 Jonah: Matthew 12:39-41; Luke 11:29-32
Paul referred to past events narrated in the Scriptures as those, which happened for our spiritual benefit.
1 Corinthians 10:1-12 1 For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. 6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play." 8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.
Paul's exhortation to the Corinthians is based upon real historical events accurately recorded of the Israelites and their rebellion in the wilderness recorded in the book of Numbers. Paul says not to be like them.
V.6 6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.
v.11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.
These things occurred to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.
"took place" = "happened" = real event "occurred" = "happened" = real event
The entire story of the Exodus happened. It was real. It is to be an example to us of what to emulate and what to reject as those who have recived the promises of God in Christ.
3.3 Stephen gives a brief account of the history of Israel recorded in the OT.
He mentions God and Abraham, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Joseph and his family, Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon, the Prophets
3.4 Hebrews 11 mentions some OT believers as real people.
Hebrews 11 records a variety of OT believers who trusted God through difficult circumstances: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah Isaac, Jacob, Esau, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets
3.5 The genealogies in the NT are evidence of the historical truthfulness of the OT records
Genealogies by their very nature, involve real people.
In ancient times, the Jews took genealogies very seriously. Their ancestry traced back to Abraham was the whole basis of their special status as the nation of God. Jewish genealogies did not include people that did not exist.
Vern Poythress, Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary, writes, "I agree that Gen 1 is centrally about theology and about human benefit, but I also think that it sets forth particular events that illustrate and express the theology by exhibiting God's rule over the world...Theology is expressed precisely through God's actions in events in time and space...the NT often refers to OT events in ways that presuppose that the OT is actually giving us history, not parable." Poythress, Vern S., Biblical Studies: Three Modern Myths in Interpreting Genesis 1 WTJ 76 (2014): 346
Steven Collins, Professor of Archaeology at Trinity Southwest University, states, "Most people look at the Bible as a theological book or book of spiritual truth first and foremost. But I would tend to disagree with that. I think first and foremost, the Bible is a book of history."
The Bible is a book of the history of God's plan of redemption for mankind. It is a history of God's revelation and miracles in the lives of his people through his prophets and through his Son and his Son's apostles.
Is the Bible inerrant, that is, true in everything that it affirms not only concerning spiritual and moral truth but concerning people, places, events, and physical phenomena?
Jesus and the apostles taught that:
All of the Bible is the Word of God. All of the Word of God is true. Therefore all of the Bible is true.