(The study of the Evidences supporting the divine nature of the Bible)
By:Dr. Johnson George
Apologetics is the branch of study that presents the arguments and evidences supporting the Christian faith and the Bible.
Need of this study: 1 Pet. 3:15 (“ Be ready to give a defence to everyone who asks you a reason …”)
Evidences supporting the Bible could be divided into two categories:
1. Internal evidences
2. External evidences
1. The Bible claims that all scripture is given by the inspiration of God. (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:20-21). In some translations 2 Tim. 3:16 uses the term ‘God-breathed’ which gives the connotation that the Bible is a living book.
2. In the Old Testament the phrases “The Lord said” or “Thus says the Lord” have been used more than 3800 times, which suggests that Biblical statements have a divine origin.
3. In spite of the fact that the 66 books of the Bible have been written by about 40 different authors in a time span of almost 1500 years, there is an amazing harmony and unity among the books, which suggests a common divine source of inspiration.
External Evidences could be mainly divided into 4 categories:
1. Archaeological Evidences
2. Historical Evidences
3. Prophetical Evidences
4. Scientific Evidences
Archaeology is the study of ancient civilizations and cultures, based on the physical remains of that time (such as pottery, clay-tablets, weapons, construction remains etc.), mainly dug out from the ground.
Archaeologists have brought out 3 ancient civilizations:
* Sumerian or Mesopotamian civilization (In modern Iraq between Tigris and Euphrates rivers)
* Egyptian civilization (In Egypt on Nile river)
* Indus Valley civilization (In modern India and Pakistan on Indus river)
Since all these civilizations were on various rivers, it is easy to understand how they gradually went under the mud and why they were unknown until archaeologists dug them out recently.
Archaeological evidences suggest that Sumerian civilization is the oldest one and it could have started less than 10,000 years ago, because the earliest known cities were found in Mesopotamia and they date back only to 7000 years ago (refer to the History section in the ‘Canadian Global Almanac’). We don’t have any verifiable evidence for human civilization before that time. So Mesopotamia is the place where civilization started and from where humans dispersed all over the world.
Though evolutionists claim that humans appeared on this earth millions of years ago, yet the rather young age of civilization confuse them and they had to come up with the explanation that humans must have been animal-like and uncivilized for millions of years. They assume that humans became civilized only recently. This is just an opportunistic explanation without much proof. (In fact, all true remains of the oldest human civilizations, such as agricultural tools, musical instruments, pottery, clay-tablets, cave drawings and city remains all date less than 10,000 years. It’s only some fossils that evolutionists claim as millions of years old; but all honest scientists agree that fossil dating techniques are questionable and based on preconceived assumptions. So, as a conclusion, we really don’t have any undisputed evidences to prove that humans have been around this planet for millions of years.)
On the other hand, the Bible is in agreement with the idea that human civilization is rather young. In A.D. 1650, Archbishop James Usher, working backward based on the Biblical genealogy, calculated that Adam was created in B.C. 4004. If this calculation is true, this makes the human history only 6000 years old. But there are scholars who question this calculation, who have shown that Biblical genealogy is not continuous; it has some gaps (i.e. some unimportant names have been left out). This explanation makes the human civilization somewhat older, between 6000 to 10,000 years old. This is how old the human civilization is based on the Archaeology. So, here, the Bible and the Archaeology agree.
One thing is clear. Human civilization is not older than 10,000 years. Now we have two options to believe. First, humans were created as civilized beings around 10,000 years ago, an option that makes sense for Biblical believers. Second, humans evolved from animals and were uncivilized for millions of years and suddenly became civilized 10,000 years ago, an option which is a necessity for evolutionists to believe without much evidence. Which option do you want to believe?
Archaeologists believe that human civilization started in Mesopotamia, the land between Tigris and Euphrates rivers, because that is the place where earliest known cities have been found. This agrees with the Biblical account, because the Bible seems to indicate that the first humans were created in Mesopotamia. The Garden of Eden had the rivers Tigris and Euphrates in it (Gen.2 :14 ), which seems to suggest that this Garden was in Mesopotamia. Still we can not be certain about the site of the Garden, because the Flood of Noah’s time has changed the face of the earth considerably. (Perhaps flood is the reason why we don’t know anything about the other two rivers of Eden).
After the flood too, Noah and his children settled in Mesopotamia and started building cities there. This is the reason why the earliest known cities have been found in Mesopotamia. The oldest settlements that archaeologists have found in Mesopotamia relate to the post-flood civilization. We don’t have much information about the pre-flood earth.
Before archaeologists started working, sceptics and atheists had a lot of mocking questions about the historicity of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and other patriarchs. But once the archaeologists have dug out the city Ur (where Abraham lived) and the other cities in Mesopotamia, all Biblical accounts have become alive and authentic. Thanks to the Archaeology now sceptics don’t have any more valid factual objections against the Bible.
Archaeological evidences have proved beyond any doubt that the Bible is a trustworthy account of the beginning of the human race and civilization.
Biblical accounts are accurately in harmony with the secular history. According to the secular history, in the ancient world there had been 6 world empires. (Empire is a governing system that rules over the most known parts of the world of that time). It is remarkable that all the empires that now secular historians have identified have been mentioned in the Bible in the same order. Of course, these empires have been mentioned in the Bible in connection with the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people. Following is a list of world empires, their capitals, duration and famous emperors (The highlighted emperors were the founders of those empires):
1. Egyptian Empire Memphis BC 1600 – 1200 Pharoah (Exodus chapter 1 )
2. Assyrian Empire Nineveh BC 900 - 607 Shalmaneser (2 King 17: 1-6)
3. Babylonian Empire Babylon BC 606 - 539 Nebuchadnezzar (2 King 24, 25)
4. Persian Empire Susa BC 538 - 331 Cyrus (Ezra 1:1-4)
5. Greek Empire Macedonia BC 330 - 146 Alexander (Prophecy in Dan.8:21)
6. Roman Empire Rome BC 146 - AD 476 Julius Caesar
Augustus Caesar (Luke 2:1)
Tiberius Caesar (Luke 3:1)
(Greek Empire has not been mentioned in the Bible because it was in power in those 400 years between ‘Malachi’ and ‘Mathew’ (Inter-testamental period), when no Biblical books were written apart from Apocrypha)
The fact that the Biblical events took place in and connection with these empires proves that the Bible is a trustworthy historical book, and not a work of fiction or mythology.
The remarkable evidence of fulfilled prophecies is another proof for the divine origin of the Bible. It is amazing that all the prophecies in the Bible meant for the past have been fulfilled accurately. Biblical prophecies stand apart from the prophecies of some other people (such as Nostradamus, Jean Dixon etc.) in the fact that the Biblical prophecies have always been 100% accurate in their fulfillment. Let’s examine some examples of amazing Biblical prophecies:
1. Prophecies regarding the nation of Israel
The most amazing prophetical fulfilment can be seen in the nation of Israel. After coming out of the slavery from Egypt, they settled in Canaan (Palestine). In BC 931, the nation of Israel was divided into two kingdoms: northern kingdom of Israel with capital Samaria (10 tribes) and southern kingdom of Judah with capital Jerusalem (1 tribe). Because of their sins, both kingdoms went into exile. This is how it happened:
a) The northern kingdom Israel was attacked by the Assyrians in BC 722 and was sent into exile
in Assyria (Iraq). They never returned to Palestine. They are known as ‘10 lost tribes’.
b) The southern kingdom Judah was attacked by the Babylonians in BC 605 and was sent into
exile in Babylon (Iraq). After 70 years they returned to Palestine. But again in AD 70, they
were attacked by the Romans, removed form Palestine and scattered all over the world.
Thus the Jews from both kingdoms were in exile in all over the world for a long time. Only in the beginning of the last century, they started returning to Palestine and they declared themselves as a nation on 14th May 1948. Interestingly, both world wars were instrumental in the returning of the Jews:
a) I World war (1914-1918): Britain gained control over Palestine from Turkey, and allowed
the Jews to come to the land. Thus after about 1850 years of exile, the Jews started coming to
Palestine from every nation of the world. However, most of the Jews remained uninterested
to come because of the hardships of the new land and the resistance of Palestinians.
b) II World War (1939-1945): During this war, Hitler persecuted the Jews in Europe and killed
six million of them in gas chambers. So otherwise reluctant Jews had to run to Palestine and
form a nation.
It’s amazing that the scattering and the regathering of the Jews had already been prophesied in the Bible long time ago (in BC 1405).
Prophecy about scattering (dispersion): Deut. 28:15; 63-67
Prophecy about regathering (returning) : Deut. 30:1-6
The following account will make it clear that every event in the life of the Jews had been prophesied from before:
I. Sojourn in Egypt: 430 years (BC 1875- BC 1445)
It started when Jacob with all his family, from Canaan went to Egypt in BC 1875 (Gen. 46:5-6). After being enslaved by a Pharaoh, they came out of Egypt in the leadership of Moses in BC 1445. Thus their sojourn in Egypt was 430 years (Ex. 12:40-42).
Prophecy: Gen. 15:13-14 (Here the years have been rounded off to 400),
prophesied in BC 2080, i.e. 200 years before
II. Conquest of Canaan in the leadership of Joshua: 7 years (BC 1405- BC 1398)
Record of event: Joshua 11:16-19; 23
Prophecy : Gen 12:5-7 (prophesied in BC 2090); Gen. 15:16 (prophesied in BC 2080)
III. The division of nation: BC 931
Because of Solomon’s idolatry, God divided the nation into two after his death.
10 tribes – Northern kingdom Israel – Capital Samaria – King Jeroboam
1 tribe – Southern kingdom Judah – Capital Jerusalem – King Rehoboam
Record of event: 1 kings 12:16-18
Prophecy : 1 Kings 11:9-13; 29-37 (both prophecies made in the same year BC 931)
IV. Captivity of Israel by the Assyrians: BC 722
Record of event: 2 Kings 17:1-5
Prophecy : Micah 1:6 (prophesied in BC 730)
V. Captivity of Judah by the Babylonians
King Nebuchadnezzar came against Judah 3 times and took the Jews captive to Babylon (Iraq).
Following were the attacks:
BC 605 – During the reign of Jehoiakim-took Daniel and other Jews captive (2 King 24:1-2; Dan.1:1-7)
BC 597 – During the reign of Jehoiachin-took Ezekiel and other Jews captive (2 King 24:8-17;Ez.1:1-3)
BC 586 – During the reign of Zedekiah – Destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem city (2 Kings 25:1-15)
Prophecy: Jer. 25:8-11 (prophesied in BC 605)
Is. 39:6-7 (prophesied in BC 700)
Micah 4:10 (prophesied in BC 730)
VI. Return of Judah to Palestine by the order of the Persian kings
The Jews returned to Palestine in three steps:
BC 538 – Zerubbabel and others, to construct the destroyed temple (Ezra 1-6); by the order of Cyrus
Prophecy: Jer. 29:10 (prophesied in BC 605)
Is. 44:28; 45:1-6 (prophesied in BC 700)
BC 458 – Ezra and others (Ezra 7-10) by the order of Artaxerxes
BC 445 – Nehemiah and others, to construct the city and walls (Neh. 1-13); by the order of Artaxerxes
Prophecy: Dan. 9:25 (prophesied in BC 539)
VII. Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans and scattering of the Jews: AD 70
This event is not recorded in the Bible, since most of the NT books were written before this time.
Prophecy: Luke 21:5-6; 20-24 (prophesied in AD 30)
VIII. Regathering of the Jews and birth of a nation
All the following verses prophesy about the return of the Jews to Palestine. According to these prophecies all the 12 tribes will return, i.e. both kingdoms Israel and Judah. This return has been called the second one, because the first time God brought all the Jews to Palestine from Egypt, second time he will bring all of them to Palestine from the whole world. The beginning of that gathering has already started and now the Jews are there in Palestine as a nation, but the final and complete gathering will happen only in the millennial kingdom of Christ. Look at the following prophecies:
They will come from all over the world – Is. 43:5-6; Jer 31:8
Both Israel and Judah will be restored – Ez. 37:21-22; Is. 11:12; Jer 3:17-18; 23:3-6; 30:3
This is going to be the second gathering – Is. 11:11-12; Jer 16:14-15
The final gathering will be with a trumpet sound – Is 27: 12-13; Mathew 24:31
The place will be too small for them – Is 49:19-20
(Other general prophecies about the gathering – Ez 28:25-26; 34:11-16; Amos 9:14-15; Luke 21:29-30
2. An Emperor’s name and his role mentioned even before he was born.
It’s hard to predict anything about a child before his birth. But the Bible accurately predicted a century and a half before (in B.C. 700), the role of the first Persian emperor that he would be the one to allow the exiled Jews to return to Jerusalem and build the temple, not only that, the Bible even predicted that his name would be Cyrus (Is. 44:28; 45:1). God gave this prophecy to Isaiah knowing that within 100 years the Jews were to be taken captive into Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar and then the Babylonian empire is going to be followed by the Persian empire established by Cyrus. Things happened exactly like that. In BC 538 the Babylonian empire fell and the Persian Empire started. When Cyrus issued the decree in B.C. 538 to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 1:1-4), this prophecy was fulfilled remarkably after about 160 years.
3. Two empires mentioned by name before they came into existence
While being in the Babylonian Empire (in BC 551), Daniel had a vision of two animals – a ram and a goat – (Dan 8 : 3, 5 ) and an angel explained to him that these animals represented two future Empires, namely the Persian Empire (Dan. 8:20, ‘kings of Media and Persia’, also called Medo-Persian Empire) and the Greek Empire (Dan. 8:21, ‘the kingdom of Greece’) . After this prophecy, about 13 years later Persia became an empire (in BC 538) and about 220 years later Greece became an empire (in BC 330). It’s amazing that before many years these empires came, the Bible could predict even their names.
4. Prophecy about Alexander the Great, his death and future of his empire
Daniel made this prophecy in BC 551, about 195 years before Alexander was born. In Daniel chapter 8, we already saw that the goat has been explained as the coming empire of Greece. This goat has ‘a notable horn between his eyes’ (Dan 8:5), which has been explained as ‘the first king’ (Dan 8:21) which clearly refers to Alexander. When the goat becomes very strong the horn breaks (Dan 8:8) which predicted the untimely death of Alexander, which happened in 323 BC, when he was only 33 years old. After the breaking of the large horn, 4 small horns came up (Dan 8: 8) predicting that After Alexander’s death four men would come up, divide the empire and rule (Dan 8:22), which happened exactly when the following four men divided the Greece Empire into 4 sectors and ruled:
a. Cassander : Macedonia
b. Lysimachus : Thrace and Asia Minor
c. Selucus : Syria and Babylonia
d. Ptolemy : Egypt, Arabia and Palestine
5. Prophecies about the Messiah
There are lot of prophecies about the Messiah in the Old Testament. It is estimated that more than 300 of those prophecies were fulfilled by Jesus at His first coming. Following are some prominent prophecies about the Messiah fulfilled in Jesus :
a. will be born of a virgin (Is. 7:14) Luke 1:26-35
b. will be born at Bethlehem ( Mic. 5:2) Matt. 2:1
c. will be born in the tribe of Judah (Gen 49:10) Rev 5:5
d. will be a prophet (Deut. 18:18) John 6:14
e. will enter Jerusalem on a donkey (Zech. 9:9) Matt. 21:6-11
f. will be sold for 30 pieces of silver (Zech. 11:12) Matt. 26:15
g. money will be thrown into God’s house (Zech. 11:13) Matt. 27:5
h. will suffer not for his crimes (Is 53:5,11; Dan 9:26) John 1:29
i. will be silent before accusers (Is 53:7) Matt. 27:12
j. hands and feet will be pierced (Ps. 22: 16; Zech. 12:10) Luke 23:33
k. will make intercession for his persecutors (Is 53:12) Luke 23:34
l. lots will be cast for garments (Ps. 22:18) John 19:23-24
m. will be given bitter drink (Ps. 69:21) Matt. 27:34
n. will die (Is 53:8; Dan 9:26) Matt. 27:50
o. contrary to the plan, will be buried as a rich (Is 53:9) Matt. 27:57-60
p. will resurrect (Ps. 16:10; Is 53:10) Acts 2:31
6. The time of the death of Christ prophesied
When Daniel got this prophecy he was in Babylon in exile. The Jews were taken captive to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar and Jerusalem was in ruin. This situation troubled Daniel and he started praying to know the future of Jerusalem and Jews.
As a response to Daniels prayer, God told him that Jerusalem will be rebuilt. God revealed that a decree will be issued to rebuild Jerusalem. During this vision God gave Daniel the famous prophecy of 70 weeks. 70 weeks have 490 days (70 weeks × 7 days = 490 days). Here, each day is to be taken as a year, so we have 490 years to deal with.
Daniel got this prophecy in BC 539, but the actual time span of the prophecy was to start when a decree to rebuild Jerusalem was to be issued (Dan 9:25). Later, this decree was issued by the Persian Emperor Artaxerxes in BC 445. The prophecy says that after this decree there would pass 69 weeks (7+62 weeks) i.e. 483 years and then the Christ will die (Dan. 9:26). When we calculate 483 years from BC 445, we reach to AD 30, the year in which Jesus is believed to have been crucified.
(This prophecy is very amazing as it exactly predicts the year of Jesus’ death. However, because of the difference between Jewish and Gregorian calendar there are some disagreements in the calculation. Based on this calculation, different scholars have come up with different years for Jesus’ crucifixion, such as AD 26, 30, 32, 33 etc. But it’s wise to follow the mostly accepted chronology, which suggests that Jesus was born in BC 4 and died in AD 30. Though there are human disagreements in the calculation, still this prophecy is highly accurate and amazing.)
For those who want to study the details:
Following were the orders issued:
For Temple construction by Cyrus in BC 538 (Ezra 1:1-3)
Again, for the Temple construction by Darius in BC 520 (Ezra 6:1-12)
For city construction by Artaxerxes in BC 445 (Neh. 2:1-8)
Following are the division of 70 weeks
Seven weeks - 49 years – The end of OT time with the last book Nehemiah in BC 400
Sixty-two weeks - 434 years - The Inter-Testamental period until the death of Christ
One week - 7 years – The coming Tribulation period
7. Prophecy about the kingdoms (Empires) of the world
Being in Babylon Daniel made amazing prophecies about the successive (coming) empires, through a vision of an image (Dan 2:31-45) and a vision of 4 animals (Dan 7). By 4 metals of the image and 4 animals he predicted the following empires to come:
1. Gold/Lion – the Babylonian Empire (Which was already there)
2. Silver/Bear – the Persian Empire
3. Bronze/Leopard – the Greek Empire
4. a) Iron/the terrible beast – the Roman Empire
b) 10 toes of the image/10 horns of the beast – the Revived Roman Empire of future
When the fourth terrible beast of Daniel (7:7-8) is compared with the beast pictured in Revelation (chapter 17 &13), we can figure out the nature of the final empire – the coming revived Roman Empire of the Antichrist. Prophecies suggest that this empire will rule the world from Europe for 7 years (see the enclosed charts)
The Bible is not a book of Science, but it contains some scientific statements and insights.
1. The position of the earth in the space : ‘He hangs the earth on nothing’((Job 26:7)
2. The roundness of the earth : ‘the circle of the earth’(Is 40:22)
1. The Law of conservation of mass and energy or The first law of Thermodynamics (Eccl. 3:14) – This law says ‘The energy or mater can neither be created nor destroyed’. Energy and matter can change forms and are even interchangeable, but cannot be created or destroyed. This means, in the present universe, nothing can be added or taken away quantitatively. Science has confirmed this now, but this has been a fundamental doctrine of the Bible always. Nothing is being added to the universe today, because God has finished his creative work (Gen 2:2; Heb. 4:10).
This law also implies that since matter cannot be destroyed, this universe is going to stay forever quantitatively (Ps. 78:69; 104:5; 148:6 Eccl. 1:4)
2. The law of increasing Entropy or The second law of Thermodynamics (Rom. 8:20-22) – This law says that things tend to move form a state of order to disorder. In another words things tend to decay or run down over time. So, disorder, randomness or entropy is increasing in the universe (Ps. 102:25-26; Is. 51:6; Matt. 24:35; 1 John 2:17). Evolution cannot explain why things are like this, but the Bible teaches that God put the universe in this condition After Adam sinned (Gen. 3:17; Rom. 8:20). Since the earth is running down qualitatively, it cannot remain inhabitable forever. So God will have to intervene and transform the earth into its former glorious position (Is. 65:17; 66:22; Heb. 12:27 Rev. 21:5)
3. Nuclear fission (2 Pet. 3:10). The English translation ‘elements will melt’ is not correct. The original Greek word ‘luo’ means ‘to untie, to loose, to open etc’. So, we can understand the text as ‘elements will open’. The ultimate form of an element is atom. When atom opens or divides, tremendous energy is released which is enough to destroy the earth.
4. Matter made up of invisible particles – atoms and molecules (Heb. 11:3)
5. Water cycle (Job 36: 27-28; Eccl.1:7) – Evaporation, Condensation and Precipitation of water
6. Atmospheric wind circulation (Eccl. 1:6)
7. Air has weight (Job 28:25 – see KJV)
8. Importance of blood in life processes (Lev. 17:11)
9. Principle of Quarantine (Lev. 13:45-46)
10. Innumerable number of stars (Jer. 33:22