"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. For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account." (2nd Timothy 3:16-17, Hebrews 4:12-13)
How did we get our Bible?
The Bible was Written by the Holy Spirit
The Bible was written by forty different authors over a period of fifteen hundred years. God inspired the authors of the Bible through the Holy Spirit to record their experiences, personal and national history and visions of what God revealed to them into written form. These original documents called "autographs" were saved and copied. In every case, as we see with the New Testament letters these copies were passed around to other believers to help them learn and understand God's word, the teachings of Jesus and to help edify believers who attended the churches and synagogues.
Not everything that was written down was considered inspired of God. Over time the community of believers applied certain criteria to the work and eventually there grew out of the scrutiny a body of documents and letters that had proved themselves to be divinely inspired. What's important to remember is that the community of believers as a whole, over time regarded certain collections of books and letters as inspired by God. Later church councils did not create the list of books we have in the Bible. Rather, they confirmed the list of books and letters that the body of believers as a whole had already come to accept as holy. Any books that were not considered divinely inspired by God had already been labeled as such by the community of believers.
Some of the criteria used by the believers, included things such as, was the text religious in character? Did the content of the book prove to be timeless in character and of benefit to believers of every age? Did the author have a prophetic gift? Was the author used by God? Was the book consistent with other accepted books and letters? Other criteria included whether or not the book was quoted from other books which were considered holy. For the Old Testament later criteria included the date of when the book was written. Also, we must remember that the original autographs were written while the people they spoke about were still alive. This meant had there been any false claims or misrepresentations of historic events, those mentioned or involved in the events would have been present to discredit or refute the authenticity and accuracy of the work and the document would have been rejected by the community of believers.
For the Old Testament, the Hebrew people already had their collection of books which they considered divinely inspired. This list was complete around 300 B.C., and according to early Jewish and Christian tradition, it was Ezra a priest and scribe who was responsible for assembling most of what we consider the Old Testament today. Ezra compiled this list at the end of the Babylonian captivity. The list of books that make up the New Testament was completed around 100 A.D., and we can see by these time frames that the list of books considered holy and divinely inspired was completed well before the existence of any church councils as we think of them today.
Over time the originals were lost. However, before they were lost the body of believers went through painstaking processes to ensure that the copies matched the originals. Moreover, any copies that did not match the original or had a mistake were discarded, but not destroyed. This was because they were considered God's word. Today we have tens of thousands of copies with some that date back to the first century for the New Testament and hundreds of years earlier for the Old Testament. We have more manuscript evidence in the form of copies and documents with direct quotes than any other collection of historical documents. There are no ancient writings in the world that match the manuscript evidence we have for the authenticity of the Bible. And it's from these copies that we get our Bible today.
Scripture taken from the Modern King James Version of the Holy Bible Copyright © 1962 - 1998 By AJay P. Green, Sr.
MacArthur, John. The MacArthur Study Bible: New King James Version. Nashville: Word Bibles, 1997. Print.
ESV Study Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011. Print.
Publishers, Hendrickson. "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge." Barnes & Noble. N.p., 30 Nov. 6719. Web. 14 Dec. 2016.
Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ezr 1:1–11). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Hassler, M. A., & Mangum, D.,Klippenstein, R., & Stark, J. D. (2016). Old Testament and New Testament. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Adams, A. D. (1996). 4000 questions & answers on the Bible (p. 141). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
Freedman, D. N. (Ed.). (1992). Canon. In The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (Vol. 1, p. 837). New York: Doubleday.