How we understand the Bible will affect what we believe and how we live our faith as Christians. If we get the Bible wrong, we will also get our faith wrong. So let me ask you this question, what is the Bible?
Most Christians would answer the word of God. The question then would be, how do you define God’s word? If God’s word is the same as God’s instructions on how to live our lives, everything classified as God’s word has to be taken seriously. If the Bible is God’s word, from Genesis to Revelation, then everything said in the Bible is God’s instructions to us. This presents a problem because, in the Bible, we have Yehovah telling us it is a sin to murder, but we also have many people committing murder. So if we see the Bible as God’s instruction manual, from Genesis to Revelation, we end up with many contradictions on how to live.
Suppose we, on the other hand, would say the Bible has in it God’s instructions, but it also has stories showing us the consequences of obeying or disobeying those instructions. In that case, we suddenly do not have any contradictions because now we know something is Yehovah telling us how to live, and others are Yehovahs warnings to us telling us what not to do, showing us what might happen to us if we do not heed His warnings.
This is why the answer to our question would be that the Bible has God’s instructions on how to live, but it also has examples of what happens if we obey or disobey those instructions.
This should motivate us to ask how do we find His instructions in the Bible? How do we know the difference between His teachings and His examples of what happens if we obey or disobey Him? By knowing what He said and what He did not say.
When Paul, in 2.Tim 3:16-17, says all scripture is God’s instructions to us, we usually understand this to mean everything from Genesis to Revelation. To some extent, this is true if we know it as God-breathed instructions and God-breathed examples on what to do and what not to do. But at the same time, it would also be wrong to say everything from Genesis to Revelation is God-breathed.
When Paul wrote 2.Tim, the New Testament did not exist. It would be another 300 years until there existed what we today call the New Testament. So the scripture Paul was referring to here was only the Old Testament. The fact is there is not one book in the New Testament, except the book of Revelation, claiming to be God-breathed and divinely inspired.
We see this in the words of Yeshua, in the Gospel of Matthew, when He says He has not come to abolish the Old Testament (the law and the prophets.) If our Savior acknowledged the Old Testament as God-given, then we should do the same.
Does this mean we can not trust the New Testament?
Paul and the other Apostles never claimed divine inspiration, but they did claim apostolic authority. What is the difference between the two?
The Bible says Yeshua, Yehovah’s word and, therefore, a part of God, is a prophet like Moses. Moses spoke with Yehovah face to face even though Moses was 100% human. Yeshua speaks with Yehovah face to face like Moses. Yeshua is not Yehovah, but He is Yehovah’s word, so that makes Him subordinate to Yehovah and a part of Him. When Paul and the other apostles spoke face to face with Yeshua, it was not the same as Moses speaking face to face with Yehovah. They only spoke face to face with His word, someone who is Yehovah, but at the same time, subordinate to Yehovah. Only two have ever talked face to face with Yehovah; those are Moses and Yeshua.
In this lies the difference between apostolic authority and divine inspiration.
When Yehovah speaks face to face with a human, as He did with Moses, it is divine inspiration. When the word of Yehovah (Yeshua), who is not Yehovah but only a part of Him and subordinate to Him, speaks face to face with a human and that human writes it down, what they have written has apostolic authority.
Paul never claimed to have spoken face to face with Yehovah, only face to face with His word Yeshua. But because He spoke face to face with Yeshua, and so did the other apostles, everything they said has apostolic authority but an authority subordinate to what Moses said.
This is why we can never elevate the New Testament above the Old or try to interpret it alone. The New Testament has not been given the same authority as the Old, which is divinely inspired; it only has apostolic authority. But because it has apostolic authority, we can trust the New Testament.
But if we claim to be “new Testament” Christians or make the New more important than the Old Testament, we rebel against Yehovah’s authority. When we try to usurp Yehovah and the authority structure He has given us, we are guilty of witchcraft and the same sin that got Lucifer kicked out of heaven. Yehovah gave us the Old; Paul said the old is God-breathed, and we should treat and honor the Old as such.
What is the Bible?
I hope your answer would be in agreement with how the Bible answers this question.