Are there any good reasons to believe the Bible is true? Can an old book like the Bible really be trusted? There are, of course, many good reasons to believe that the Bible is indeed a trustworthy document. Here are five reasons to trust the Bible.
1. The Bible is historically accurate.
The field of archaeology demonstrates that the Bible is historically accurate. Now, this does not mean that it is inherently “true.” It does mean that it is reliable in its historical details—which gives some pretty good credibility to what else it has to say. If we can trust that the Bible accurately records for us geographical places (Israel, Egypt, Babylon, etc.) and historical people (Herod or Pontius Pilate, for example), it’s very likely it has many other true things to say. One reason I could never trust the Book of Mormon, in contrast, is that most of the places listed in its geography are make-believe. It’s very difficult for me to trust a book that is claiming to be nonfiction when its geography is clearly fiction.
2. Compared to other ancient documents, there is no comparison!
The New Testament has been preserved more than any other ancient work. There are over 5,800 Greek manuscripts. The runner-up for ancient texts is Homer’s Iliad, with less than 2,000 copies. After that, the works of Aristotle, Herodotus, Tacitus, and others are even more poorly represented with only two handfuls (or less!) for each.
Now having an abundance of manuscripts doesn’t tell us whether or not the original text is true—it only tells us that we accurately have a handle on what that original text was. We have to read the New Testament itself if we want to find out how trustworthy it is. Still, we do have good reason to trust that the English printed edition we have on our bookshelf or next to our nightstand is, in fact, the very Bible that was completed in the first century. That’s another great place to start in being able to trust the Bible, and it’s more than we can say for any other ancient text in the world.
3. The New Testament manuscripts were written by eyewitnesses.
These eyewitnesses were real people who saw (and touched, see 1 John 1) firsthand the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Luke does mention that he did historical research before writing his Gospel (Luke 1:1–4), but he went straight to other eyewitnesses in order to write these things down. The whole New Testament claims that Jesus Christ died on a cross and rose from the dead three days after dying.
He was seen risen from the dead by all of the original apostles (except Judas who hung himself) and by over five hundred different people (1 Cor. 15:6). There was nothing to gain but death by asserting this claim, but many of these disciples chose to die as martyrs rather than deny the truth of Christ’s resurrection. The fact that so many early disciples died as martyrs based on what they personally witnessed only bolsters the reality that it was true.
4. The Bible cared about what women thought at a time when no one else did.
The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:1–2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1) make it a point to tell us that the first people to report that the tomb of Jesus was empty were women. Not men. Women. In the first century, a woman’s opinion was not viewed as credible testimony in court. (Just read the Jewish historian, Josephus, or the Jewish Talmud to verify this fact.) A woman’s opinion didn’t matter. But the Bible says it does. The last group of people we would expect to find the empty tomb was the first group to whom God looked and used: women.
If first-century followers of Christ were going to fabricate a story about Jesus rising from the dead, they wouldn’t want to include this embarrassing detail about women finding the tomb first. They would have omitted it to make the strongest case possible for the resurrection. And yet, the Gospel writers did not omit this detail. They told the truth as it was. We can trust that the Bible is true because they included this small but magnificent detail. They recounted what happened truthfully, without bearing false witness. Other ancients might have pointed to its seeming absurdity: “You say women found the tomb? What a bunch of baloney! Never trust a woman’s testimony!” Yet, the Bible was way ahead of its time in giving honor and respect to women.
5. If Jesus Christ rose from the dead, then the Bible is true.
Christianity is the only religion founded by a leader who predicted his resurrection before he died, and whose earliest followers also died confessing and believing this fact. If the tomb was empty and the resurrection makes the most sense for why Jesus’ body went missing, then Jesus is still alive today. It means that Jesus is God and is Lord of the entire cosmos. He—God—Jesus—runs the show.
The Gospel accounts tell us that after his resurrection, Jesus spent some time with his disciples and then appeared to numerous others. Among those blessed ones to whom he appeared were two on the road to Emmaus. To these two, Jesus didn’t appeal to the fact that he was now resurrected. He appealed to the Bible as his source of authority. He didn’t say, “Hey, look at my glorious resurrection body!” but he directed their attention to the very Word of God (Luke 24:13–35). And then he proved he was not a ghost by eating bread and drinking wine with them—communing with them (v. 35).
If the risen Lord first appealed to the Bible to convince these disciples to believe in him, we also have a good incentive to trust the credibility of these manuscripts and scrolls that are now translated into what we know as the Bible. Jesus was willing to submit himself, even as the resurrected Lord of the universe, to the words that are revealed in this book. In doing so, he taught us something. He taught us that God’s Word is true and dependable. Again, if Jesus is God—if he is risen—that means something! It means that the Bible must be right. It must be trustworthy or else God himself is a liar. And we know that’s not true.