The Unusual Style of the Bible
Text: II Peter 1:16-21
I. When we talk about the Bible, a major point made in its defense is to point out the unusual unity it displays despite being written by about 40 writers over a 1,500 year period.
A. The authors lived in different regions, had different occupations.
B. The writings of the Bible reflect the differences of the authors.
1. Each book contains different styles.
2. Each books addresses different themes
3. Each book focuses on different doctrines
C. Yet the whole is completely unified, which is what you would expect given that the actual source of the Bible is God and not man
1. The apostles received the word from God and not man - Galatians 1:11-12
2. Their writings contain the very words of God - I Corinthians 2:6-13
3. It is not open for interpretation - II Peter 1:16-21
D. With such a source, there should be internal evidences that it comes not from man, but from God.
1. Paul argued that man is unable to come up with anything like what God has revealed.
2. The unity of the Bible is one such evidence, but there are more.
II. Consider the brevity of the Bible
A. Man tends to be verbose.
1. Ecclesiastes 12:12 - There is no end to books
2. Think about the volumes of books written on subjects such as the Civil War, World War II, Abraham Lincoln, etc.
B. But the Bible is not that way at all!
1. Genesis records the first 2,500 years of human history in a book with only 50 chapters. There are less words in Genesis than in a Reader’s Digest!
2. What a remarkable condensation of history.
3. The creation is told in 34 verses – about the length of an average sports report on the Super Bowl.
4. The fall of man in Genesis 3
a. In 24 verses we are told about the origin of sin, shame, suffering, sickness, death, toil, and our need for a Savior.
5. The complete destruction of the world and its recovery is recorded in three chapters.
6. The gospels record the live of Jesus in relatively short order, especially when you compare what is typically written about famous people.
a. When man tries to write about Jesus you get books like the Life and Times of Jesus, the Messiah by Edersheim which is over 1500 pages long.
b. The baptism of Jesus is told in ten verses.
c. The death of Jesus is covered in about 8 chapters
d. His resurrection and ascension into heaven is covered in 6 chapters.
7. The history of the early church is recorded in Acts.
a. When Conybeare and Howson wrote Life and Epistles of the Apostle Paul it took them over 750 pages
b. And Acts talks about Paul and Peter and several other characters!
c. Paul’s early life of persecuting the church and his conversion is told in three chapters
d. The death of the first apostle is told in a mere 11 words
C. Men, on their own, just do not have the ability to restrain their words to this degree.
III. The Omissions of the Scriptures
A. The Bible does not record everything - John 20:30-31; 21:25
B. Think about the life of Christ
1. He was on this earth for 33 years – over 12,000 days.
2. If you restrict yourself to just his 3-1/2 years teaching, then there are over 1,270 days involved.
3. Yet only 31 to 34 days are actually mentioned.
4. John chapters 13-19 covers just one day of Jesus’ life – about a third of the book.
5. The whole book only covers 20 days.
C. Even little details most would think important go unmentioned.
1. For example, there is no physical description of Jesus.
2. We don’t know his height or the color of his hair.
D. Almost nothing is mentioned of the works of the apostles, except Peter and Paul.
E. There is little details about personal trials and triumphs
1. We know they exist - II Corinthians 11:23-27
2. But almost nothing is said about most of them.
F. Again, man, on his own, fills his writings with details. Some guiding hand was bring very selective in what was recorded. No superfluous details were used.
IV. The Impartiality of the Bible
A. Man tends to editorialize. Even factual books, such as history textbooks, contain judgments of the authors.
B. The Bible though records both the virtues and follies of its characters with equal frankness.
1. Abraham deceived others and could have caused men to commit adultery (Genesis 12:10-20; 20:1-12)
a. Yet we are also told - James 2:23
2. David committed adultery and then lied and committed murder to vainly cover his tracks (II Samuel 11-12)
a. Yet we are told - Acts 13:22
3. Peter denied Jesus at a critical time (Matthew 26:69-75). He was hypocritical in his treatment of the Gentile brethren (Galatians 2:11-14)
a. Yet it was Peter who made the great confession - Matthew 16:16-17
b. And right after that is scolded - Matthew 16:21-23
V. The Simplicity of the Bible
A. There is a striking lack of emotional excitement in the records of the Bible. Not to say it isn’t interesting reading, but there is little contrast in the records of the commonplace and the magnificent.
1. Mark 6:35-44 discusses the purchasing of food and then Jesus feeds 5000 people with a few loaves and fishes.
2. Mark 6:45 records a boat trip and then Jesus’ walk on water in Mark 6:48 is described with equal tone
3. Think of little hype like (“Astounding!” or “Amazing!” is used.)
B. There is a absence of human emotions towards events
1. The betrayal of Christ is told without malice towards Judas (Matthew 26:14-16, 47-56)
2. The murder of John the Baptist is told sorrowfully, but without hatred (Matthew 14:6-12)
3. The transfiguration is told without pride of the witness - II Peter 1:16-18
VI. What I’m trying to demonstrate is that men do not write in this fashion
A. Yet, 40 authors, living independent lives, show a unity not only in their message, but also in subtle styles which go against human nature.
B. Which is more reasonable to believe? That it was the work of many men or the work of a single God?
C. II Timothy 3:16-17
[Borrowed from Terry Benton]