The Authority of the Bible

Matthew 7:24-29 (NIV)

24 “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 

25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 

26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 

27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 

29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

Building On a Rock

Jesus concluded the sermon on the mount with a powerful illustration. He told his audience that if they would take his words and put them into practice, it would be like building their house upon a rock: a solid foundation on which their lives could securely stand. He also issued a stark warning: ignoring his words would bring disaster, ruin, and collapse. In his short illustration, Jesus established the importance of God’s word and its authority.

Understanding and recognizing the authority of scripture is critical for Christians, because without acknowledging the bible as the authoritative source and text of our faith, then to what authority shall we look to base our faith on?

People who fail to recognize the bible as the source of authority for our faith can make serious errors. Outside the church, in our modern society, we are often told that there is no such thing as ultimate truth. Philosophers and prominent thinkers speak of “my truth” and “your truth.” Western culture has largely rejected any concept of an ultimate authority and has embraced an individualistic approach truth. The result is a view of the world that has no source from which to define morality, decency, good, or bad. For many, the discerning of good and bad, evil and righteous, are made by man’s own opinions and judgements.  (Isaiah 5:20)

While the world around us gives us one example of the dangers of rejecting the authority of the bible, another danger lurks within the church itself. Christians can themselves reject the scripture as the authority for our faith. It has happened multiple times throughout church history, most notably during the middle ages when the Roman Catholic Pope and Church claimed to have a higher authority than scripture. The Pope, through the Roman Church, issued edicts and bulls which superseded the written word of the bible. The assertions by the Roman Church led directly to the Protestant Reformation where Martin Luther and other leading reformers began to reassert that the bible was the authoritative and inerrant word of God.

Evidence of the Authority of the Bible

Since there are people both within and without the church who refuse to accept the authority of the bible, how can we be certain the bible is truly authoritative? There are multiple ways to answer that question, and numerous scholars and Holy Ghost led men have endeavored to explain why the Bible is authoritative for centuries. In this lesson we will summarize a few of those explanations.

The Bible Claims the Authority

The Bible itself makes claims of its own authority. Whether it is the recorded words of Jesus, the prophets, or the apostles, the writers assert that they are recording words and thoughts that were inspired by God himself. Jesus tells us plainly that his words came directly from God. The prophets of the Old Testament recorded their writings not as “thus saith the prophet”, but as “thus saith the Lord.”

The Apostle Paul, said all holy scripture is “given by the inspiration of God.” (2 Tim 3:16) The Apostle Peter likewise said that scripture was given by men who were “moved by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Pet 1:20-21) Peter and Paul both counted books of the New Testament and Old Testament to be holy scripture. (2 Peter 3:16, 1 Tim 5:18)

All scripture is given by the inspiration of God.

2 Timothy 3:16

Jesus assured his disciples repeatedly that the words of the Bible would never fail, but would all be fulfilled, saying heaven and earth with pass away, but not the word of God. (Matthew 24:35) Jesus insisted to his disciples that not even the smallest part of the word of God would fail to be true. (Matthew 5:18)

The Bible tells us that God cannot lie, and God is frequently called the God of truth. It follows that if the Bible is indeed the word of God, then it carries with it the authority of God. (Numbers 23:19, Titus 1:2, Hebrews 6:18)

Any book that is written has the authority of its author. The two words, author and authority are bound together. The bible clearly points us towards a heavenly source for the authorship of the bible. (Hebrews 12:2)

The Inerrancy of Scripture

Since all scripture of the Bible is inspired of God, and God cannot lie, we can conclude the bible, its original form, must be inerrant. That means the Bible can never be wrong. It is true that copyists may make mistakes or man may misunderstand words, but the original word given by God is perfect and infallible.

The Bible has proven its own accuracy throughout history. In the 1700s, the only knowledge of Assyria, Nebuchadnezzar, the ancient Moabites, and countless other details of history came only from the Bible. Many learned scholars had dismissed the stories of the bible as myths.  But as archeologists from Europe began to excavate ancient sites in the Middle East, they were often surprised to discover irrefutable evidence that the Bible had accurately recorded ancient events that had been otherwise unknown.

He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing...

Job 26:7

The Bible has also proven itself accurate within science. For example, thousands of years before Galileo or Christopher Columbus, the Bible told that world was round, that it rotated, and that is was hung on nothing. It made these claims in the face of society at large who viewed the world as flat, held up by the gods, and that the earth was stationary, and all heavens rotated around it. (Job 26:7, Isaiah 40:22, Job 38:14)

The Accuracy of Prophesy

The Bible also contains thousands of prophesies, many of which have already came true. Only an omniscient God would be capable of knowing the future. The existence of these fulfilled prophesies are powerful evidence that God was indeed the author of the Bible.

This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet…

John 12:38

One very prominent prophesy of the Bible is Isaiah 53 which details the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. The prophesy was given 700 years before it came to pass and made over a dozen specific predictions which were all fulfilled, including the manner of suffering Jesus would endure and the type of grave Jesus would be buried in. Copies of Isaiah 53 which were created before the birth of Christ are still in existence, proving beyond doubt the prophesy predated Christ’s birth. Could such a thing be merely coincidence?

The Bible predicted the place of Christ’s birth, the town he would grow up in, the family he would be born into, the location of his death, his name, his miracles, his ministry, and much more. The Book of Daniel offered a detailed calculation to predict the years in which Jesus would come into the world. All these things were recorded hundreds of years before they happened. Written copies of those prophesies exist among the Dead Sea scrolls, which were written before the birth of Christ. Could all these things be coincidence?

Jesus himself issued specific and detailed prophesies during his ministry which came to pass, such as his prediction in Matthew 24 of the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. The nature of these prophesies and the evidence of their fulfillment is strong proof of the divine origin of the Bible. The track record of accuracy of the Bible’s prophecies also serve as a basis on which we can have confidence in the book.

The Unity of the Bible

Another evidence that God is the author of the Bible is the unity of the book. Although it is made up of 66 different books wrote by 35 different writers over the span of 1500 years, there are no contradictions or inconsistencies. Most of the Bible writers never knew any other Bible writer. They never collaborated together in their work. Yet all the books work together in harmony as if from a single author. This is because all the books are indeed from a single divine source: God.

Our Experience

There is yet another way in which we can be assured of the authority of the bible: through our own experience. Have you experienced miracles in the name of Jesus, according to the Bible? Have you found the peace in your soul in the way promised by scripture? Have you found the truth of scripture to be life changing answers to the problems of your life? Our own personal experience as followers of Christ can confirm to us the authority and accuracy of the Bible.

Sufficiency of Scripture

Another important aspect of the authority of scripture lies in its sufficiency. During the Protestant Reformation the Roman Church and the Papacy insisted that the Bible was insufficient as the ultimate source of truth.

“…defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people…

Jude 1:3 NLT

Martin Luther, during his trial for heresy, was forced to admit that he disagreed with doctrines and teachings that had been created by the Pope and church councils. When asked to explain by what authority he rejected those teachings he replied that he did so on the authority of the Bible. He established a teaching that came to be known as Sola Scriptura (only scripture).

Luther believed the Bible was the pure and uncorrupted word of God, handed down from ancient times and written by men under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He insisted that all doctrine and teaching had to be found within its pages. He explained that any doctrine that could not be found within the Bible did not have authority as God’s Word. Because the papal bulls and edicts were contrary to scripture, Luther rejected them. Like the apostles, Luther concluded it was better to obey God than man. (Acts 5:29)

“…though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accurse…

Galatians 1:8

The bible contains the complete revelation of Jesus Christ. It alone contains the words on which our faith may be established. (Romans 10:17) That faith was delivered once, and for all time. It will never be superseded, it will never be replaced, it can never be altered. (Jude 1:3, Galatians 1:8, 2 Cor 11:4)

“…no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

2 Peter 1:20

The Bible contains its own interpretation, and no one may bring their own interpretation of scripture. (2 Peter 1:20-21) The Bible strictly forbids us from adding to or taking away from what is written, and we are promised to receive great curses if we do so. (Deuteronomy 4:2, Revelation 22:19) The Bible already contains all the knowledge which is needed for our lives without a need to make additions made to it. (2 Peter 1:3-4)

Dangers of Drifting From Scripture

There is great danger in abandoning the scripture as the source and authority of our faith. The danger and its consequences are recorded in the bible.

In the days of the apostles, men arose who claimed to have supernatural revelations and instructions outside of those which were recorded in scripture, and they began to insist that people must obey and receive their special teachings to be saved. Drifting away from sole reliance upon scripture as the source of our faith has repeated itself many times through church history. Throughout the Bible and history, we can see the results of what happens when people cease to uphold the authority of scripture.

In the Galatian church, teachers began to develop another “gospel”. Their new “gospel” spoke of Christ and incorporated elements of the true gospel, but i t deviated from the Biblical gospel taught by Paul. (Galatians 1:8) The Galatian false teachers attempted to introduce a ”gospel” where salvation was by faith in Christ, but perfection was through works of the flesh. (Galatians 3:3) Their introduction of a non-biblical teaching caused Paul to warn them that them that a little leaven would leaven the whole lump, and that their false beliefs caused him to doubt if they were true followers of Christ.  (Galatians 4:20, 5:9)

“…thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars.

Revelation 2:2

Other false teachers in the New Testament days abused scripture, using it to control and manipulate people to their own benefit. Some used fear tactics to convince their listeners they were at risk of missing the rapture unless they listened to “special” teachings they brought. (2 Tim 2:18, 2 Thes 2:2) Paul made it clear that when false teachings enter the church, the authority to refute those teachings and eject them from the church lays in the gospel taught by the apostles and recorded in scripture. (Galatians 1:8-9) The Ephesian Church, so equipped with the scripture, was able to try men who claimed to be apostles and find them to be imposters. (Revelation 2:2)

You and I are empowered to do the same today. We can compare teachings and doctrines to the plain reading of the bible and see if what we are being told lines up. If we are being taught another gospel, we are empowered to reject the false gospel, and accept the true gospel. We are empowered to also say, it is better to follow God than man,

Christ The Word: A Prayer of the Puritans

My Father,

In a world of created changeable things,

    Christ and his Word alone remain unshaken.

O to forsake all creatures,

    to rest alone on him the foundation,

    to abide in him, to be borne up by him!

For all my mercies come through Christ,

    who has designed, purchased, promised, and effected them.

How sweet it is to be near him, the Lamb,

    filled with holy affections!

Thou has given me a gift, Jesus thy Son,

    as Mediator between thyself and my soul.

May I always lay hold upon this Mediator,

    as the great object of my faith,

    and alone worthy by his love to bridge the gulf.

Let me know that he is dear to me by his Word;

I am one with him

    by the Word on his part,

    and by faith on mine;

If I oppose the Word I oppose my Lord

    when he is most near.

If I receive the Word I receive my Lord

    when he is nigh.

O Thou who has the hearts of all men in thine hand,

    form my heart according to thy Word

    according to the image thy Son,

So shall Christ and his Word,

    be my strength and comfort.

May it be in Jesus’ name, and for sake,


The Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan Prayers Edited by Arthur Bennet, 1975 

Study Questions

  1. In Jude 1:3, it is written that the faith was brought “once for all time”. What did Jude meant by that statement?
  2. Paul wrote in Galatians 1:8 that “if any man bring another gospel than what you received of us, let him be accursed.” Was Paul’s statement good for all time, or only for a specific age?
  3. Peter wrote in 2 Peter 2:10 that “no scripture is of private interpretation.” Can you name an example of private interpretation? Can you show an example of the Bible interpreting itself?