Who wrote the Bible?
That might seem like a simple question with an obvious answer. But give it some thought. How you answer that question will play a significant role in how you read, interpret, and apply the Bible to your life.
So, who wrote the Bible?
The two most common beliefs are:
- God wrote the Bible
- Humans wrote the Bible
Likely you have a leaning towards one of those beliefs. And at first glance it would look like an easy answer, right? We call it God’s Word after all, so God wrote the Bible.
But in reality the answer is a little more complicated than that. It’s not as black and white as many make it out to be.
So let’s look at who wrote the Bible.
Who Wrote The Bible: God or Man?
If you grew up in church you probably learned that God wrote the Bible for you.
Which is true. Partially.
The Bible is written FOR you, but it’s not written TO you. That’s important, because it was written to someone. And we need to understand who.
The Bible isn’t even a single book written to a single group of people. Rather it’s a collection of 66 letters, historical accounts, poems, and eyewitness testimonies. Each are written by a person and are addressed to a specific people group.
And this should lead us to another question – did God dictate the Bible? In other words, what was God’s level of involvement in the creation of the Bible?
We know the Bible was physically written by humans. But some believe those writers received the specific words from God and recorded them. But there’s no evidence for that. The Bible never claims that.
God didn’t actually pen the words that you and I read. Humans did that part. So who wrote the Bible, God or humans? Well, both. The Bible was written by both God and man.
But probably not as you are thinking. It was not written as a collaboration in which God and man sat down to discuss what to write. Nor did God dictate exactly what words should be penned. Man did not pen the words on his own that later became divine. Nor is it a book of religious insights by enlightened people.
Here’s how I would answer this question.
The short description: Human Written, God Inspired.
The longer description: The inspiration and influence goes beyond just the writing process. The authors of the Bible were providentially prepared by God. They were motivated and guided by the Spirit of God as they wrote. At the same time they wrote according to their own unique personalities and from their unique perspectives. It was God’s supernatural guidance through their life and their writing that enabled them to communicate God’s word.
The Bible is divinely inspired. The writings themselves are God-breathed. It is not the authors or the process that is inspired, rather the writings. God had his hand in the process from the beginning. But He didn’t write the words, humans did. The people that penned the words played more of a role than just dictating the words that were given.
That’s what Peter is getting at in 2 Peter 1:19-21. God uses people to carry out his will. Peter is talking about the prophets, but the same principle is true in the writing of the Bible. The authorship of the Bible never had its origin in human will, rather it was directed by God.
That doesn’t mean we should discount the authors. When we understand the context in which these words were written the Bible takes on a new level of richness and depth.
So, let’s look at our next question, how many authors wrote the Bible?
How Many Authors Wrote The Bible?
Who wrote the Bible is a complicated question. We know there are about 40 authors who wrote the Bible. Most of the authors we know, or have a high probability guess, but there are several books we don’t know who wrote. Hebrews, Job, Esther, and Ruth are a few that we don’t know who wrote.
Let’s take a brief look at who these authors are and which books they wrote.
Alphabetical list of Old Testament authors
Amos: The book of Amos
Asaph: Psalms (12 of the Psalms)
Daniel: The book of Daniel
David: Psalms (73 of the Psalms)
Ezekiel: The book of Ezekiel
Ezra: The book of Ezra (possibly also wrote 1st and 2nd Chronicles and possibly portions of Nehemiah)
Habakkuk: The book of Habakkuk
Haggai: The book of Haggai
Hosea: The book of Hosea
Isaiah: The book of Isaiah
Jeremiah: 1st and 2nd Kings, Lamentations, the book of Jeremiah
Joel: The book of Joel
Jonah: The book of Jonah
Joshua: The book of Joshua
Malachi: The book of Malachi
Micah: The book of Micah
Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
Nahum: The book of Nahum
Nehemiah: The book of Nehemiah
Obadiah: The book of Obadiah
Samuel: Samuel is believed to have written 1st and 2nd Samuel, Ruth, and Judges
Solomon: Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, Song of Solomon
Zechariah: The book of Zechariah
Zephaniah: The book of Zephaniah
Alphabetical list of New Testament authors
James: The book of James
John: Gospel of John, 1st John, 2nd John, 3rd John, Revelation
Jude: Book of Jude
Luke: Gospel of Luke, Acts of the Apostles
John Mark: Gospel of Mark
Matthew: Gospel of Matthew
Paul: Romans, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, 1st and 2nd Timothy, Titus, Philemon
Peter: 1st and 2nd Peter
This question, “who wrote the Bible?” carries a lot of weight in how we read the Bible. Each of these authors lived at a different time in history and were writing to a unique audience.
When we pick up the Bible we need to take note who wrote the book of the Bible we are reading.
How many authors wrote the Bible? There were about 40 with 35 authors being the traditional (known) people who penned the words we read today.
If you want a more detailed overview of who each of these authors are check out: The 35 Authors Who Wrote the Bible
How This Impacts How We Read The Bible
So what’s the point of this? I think there’s an important truth that we need to take away that will change how we read and apply the Bible to our life.
Here’s what I think we should take away from this question, “who wrote the Bible?”
Statement 1: Because God is orchestrating the writing of the Bible there is no part of the Bible that’s not true… Not equal, but all true.
Statement 2: Because man wrote the Bible we need to understand their unique situation before we can apply it to ourselves.
We need to understand who wrote the Bible before we can really understand the message of the Bible. Since the Bible is written by 40+ people and over the span of a 1000+ years, this is something we need to do each time we pick up the Bible.
If we don’t we will likely end up with a skewed or incorrect view of Scripture. We have to understand the author and the God-orchestrated circumstances that surrounded them when they penned the words that are now part of the Bible.
I hope that this serves as an encouragement to dive deeper into the Bible. Because I believe if you do that your understanding of God’s Word will grow and your faith will deepen. There’s SO much in the Bible for you. If you take just a little time to understand it I think you will be blown away by what God will do in you and through you.
Still you might be wondering, where do I go from here? So let’s end by looking at some resources that will help us in reading the Bible.
Resources For Reading The Bible
For more of an in-depth look at how to read the Bible check out: How To Read The Bible
Before we end let me give you some resources that will help you not only understand who wrote the Bible, but also the setting in which it was written. These will help you grow in your faith and apply the Bible to your life.
I’ve broken this into two sections depending on how deep you want to go.
Let’s start with the basics.
These are the basic resources that will benefit anyone that wants to know more about the Bible.
A good study Bible will have helpful notes about who wrote what book and offer some helpful insights about the text you are reading. It is a very simple way to understand the text you are reading better. Each book will start with a page or two that will look at who wrote that book of the Bible and give some background information. And then each verse will have a note or two below the text. With minimal effort you can increase your understanding of the Bible.
Everyone should have a good study Bible. There’s a lot of good study Bibles, but the one above is my favorite.
Guide To Deepen Your Bible IQ:
After a study Bible a great next step is to pick up a book that will dive deeper into the Bible. For that I HIGHLY recommend Core 52 by Mark Moore written by a professor I had in my undergraduate studies
Here’s the description from the book:
Most of us want to know the Bible better, but few reach our goal, often because we’re too busy or we don’t know where to start. Core 52 removes both barriers, offering a common-sense solution that fits into our busy lives. Respected Bible professor and teaching pastor Mark E. Moore developed this proven process from thirty-five years of helping people grow deeper in God’s Word.
Each week features a brief essay, memory verse, Bible story, trajectory verses, and practical ways to put what you’ve learned into practice. An optional “Overachiever Challenge” offers the chance to memorize the top 100 Bible verses by year’s end.
This simple approach allows you to become familiar with the big ideas of the Bible in less time and with less effort than other reading plans. In one year, you can master the core of the Bible—focusing on topics from God’s will to worry, happiness to holiness, and leadership to love. These fifty-two core passages are lenses through which you can read the rest of the Bible with clarity and confidence.
Next Step Resources
These resources offer a little more depth to your Bible study. They aren’t for everyone, but they are a great tool for those who want to understand more about the Bible.
A Bible dictionary will allow you to research various topics and passages and see how they are used throughout the Bible. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance is the best place to start.
Here’s the description:
- Every word of the Bible is indexed
- Includes the best of Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words
- Hebrew and Greek dictionaries have three times more word study information than any other edition
- Words of Christ are highlighted in red for quick identification
- Includes a complete topical index to the Bible
- Contains additional cross-references to standard Bible dictionaries and lexicons
If you’re looking for a complete yet simple concordance that allows for precise and accurate word study, The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is the ideal choice for your library.
Commentaries give you an in-depth look at the book of the Bible you are reading. They will walk you through verse-by-verse through the books of the Bible. There’s a LOT of commentaries out there. But for starting out I recommend the God’s Word For You Series. It’s simple to use and easy to understand commentary that reads like a book. They don’t currently have every book of the Bible, but they are releasing several each year.
Here’s their description:
These flexible resources can be used for reading, for feeding and for leading: read them simply as a book; use them to feed on God’s word as a daily devotional, complete with reflection questions; or use them as you prepare to lead small-group Bible studies or teach in your church.
When purchasing commentaries I recommend not buying the whole set (that’s expensive), rather just buy the commentary for the book of the Bible you are currently studying.
If you will be teaching the Bible I would recommend getting the NIV Application Commentary. It’s a little more in-depth and offers some great application points. For those of you that are looking for a more technical commentary, I recommend the Pillar Commentary Series.
Free online resources
If you want to go deeper but don’t want to spend any money there are some great options. The one I use and recommend is Dr. Thomas Constable’s Bible Notes. The website is a little dated, but the content is excellent.
If you want more check out: 5 Of The Best Free Bible Study Resouces
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