The word Bible comes from Koine Greek τὰ βιβλία, tà biblía, which means ‘the books.’ It stands for the sacred scriptures of Christians comprising the Old Testament and the New Testament. They are sixty books in total. The first Christian use of the term ta biblia, or “the books,” to appoint the Holy Scriptures is believed to be in 2 Clement 2:14, written around AD 150: “The books and the apostles plainly declare that the Church hath been from the beginning.”
In Latin, the Greek phrase became biblia sacra. In Old French, the word biblia became bible. Old English already had a word for the Scriptures, biblioðece, taken from the Latin word for “library.” But the shorter Old French word bible replaced it in the early 14th century.
The idea of a collection of holy writings originated in both the Jewish and the Christian mind. In the Old Testament, the prophet Daniel referred to the prophetic writings as “the books” (Daniel 9:2). And in the New Testament, Jesus referred to the books of the Old Testament as “the Scriptures” (Matthew 21:42). Also, Paul called them “the Holy Scriptures” (Romans 1:2).
The important purpose of the Bible is not only to record history, nor even to describe the nature of God. The Bible was written to show men how they may be saved from their sins and obtain eternal life. The apostle Paul wrote:
“But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:14–17).
The Word of God illuminates the way so that men may walk safely in the spiritual darkness of this world. It is God’s guide to the right path: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). He who has this light to lead him need not fall even though his way maybe faced with evil (2 Peter 1:19).
However, mere surface knowledge of the Bible is not enough. Even though a person may memorize the Scriptures and learn every doctrine, this in itself does not guarantee his salvation. The “devils also believe” (James 2:19), but their knowledge of the truth does not make them rightouss, nor does it ensure their eternal salvation. A person needs to allow the truth of the Bible to change his life by God’s power.
Faith Comes From God’s Word
The most important key to salvation is faith (Acts 16:31). But how do we obtain this faith? Paul wrote, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). True faith is not a blind trust to be exercised in the absence of sufficient evidence. Faith is our conviction about things that we cannot see (Hebrews 11:1), and this conviction must be based on knowledge of the Word of God. Therefore, to obtain transforming and enduring faith, there is no substitute for daily study of the Bible.
Christ fought the devil by the word of God “it is written” (Matthew 4:4,7,10). His faith in God and His knowledge of the Scriptures were built on the Scriptures. In this, lay the secret of His power to face temptation. And it is faith that brings victory over the world (1 John 5:4). Trust in God is developed through a study of the Scriptures.
The disciples gained their strong convictions concerning the mission of Christ from the way in which His life fulfilled Old Testament prophecies (Acts 2:22–36; 3:18; 4:10, 11, 23–28; etc.). This knowledge gave them an unshakable basis for their Christian faith and empowered them to take the gospel to the world.
In His service,