Sign up ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

God is recorded in the Bible as doing many things directly: causing floods, making humans, etc. etc. - but chose to have his word written through people instead of imparting his wisdom directly.

It seems like this opens the door for questioning authenticity, fidelity and so on, but I'm not seeing a benefit to counter that - what's the upside in going about it the way he did?

share|improve this question

closed as off-topic by Flimzy, El'endia Starman Jan 5 at 20:18

  • This question does not appear to be about Christianity within the scope defined in the help center.
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Is this on-topic? I don't think this question is answerable, other than "Because he chose to". The only answers we can give are opinions, with nothing to back them up since Scriptures don't tell us why He chose to do it that way. –  David Sep 25 '11 at 0:44
Sorry, I can't resist a little humor based on parental experience here. it is just a joke: When God DID write the original 10 commandments, Moses smashed them. That reminds me of times I've cleaned my kids room only to have them mess it up again. What I've learned is that if I make THEM clean the rooms, they do a better job of taking care of it. Maybe God said "If that's how you're going to treat my word, YOU write it down." hoping we'd show a little more respect for it, and care for it better. –  David Sep 25 '11 at 1:35
I don't think it's off-topic at all, but I do question whether it's constructive or useful. Since there's no known (to me) fact-based answer to this, I can't see this being constructive. However, I'm leaving it open in case someone else knows of facts. –  Richard Sep 25 '11 at 2:46
I find this question interesting, and there might be a way to approach this from a philosophical or psychological angle. Would humans be disposed to hear and accept any OTHER method? –  Caleb Sep 25 '11 at 19:50
This question appears to be off-topic because it is about God's motivation. –  Flimzy Jan 5 at 18:42

4 Answers 4

If you created a universe, and you wanted to communicate some important message to the people who lived there, how would you choose to do it? I can see two possible scenarios:

  • Give your entire message to one "prophet" to relay the message to the rest of the people.

    The obvious problem with this option is that the one "prophet" looks like a lunatic to everyone else, and is impossible to authenticate. We have such claimed prophets all the time, leading cults, or other sects. And they are usually considered lunatics, and impossible to authenticate.

  • Give the message to numerous people, over centuries, and have them each write part of it, in agreement with each other.

    This scenario adds a lot of credibility. If hundreds of authors, spread over geography and time, all share parts of the same message, and all agree with each other, then this is far more credible than a single prophet.

Of course there are a few other options, too, that I can think of:

  • Go in person, and deliver the message.
  • Make the message appear miraculously, so that it was unmistakably from you.

But then, the Christian Bible contains both of these, as well.

Your question suggests that this method lacks authenticity, but I can't think of any other way to deliver a divine message that could carry any greater weight of authenticity. How else would you have done it?

share|improve this answer

It all goes back to fellowship, God is a relational God. He does what is impossible for man, but he also asks us to do all that we are able to do. God planted a garden, but he had Adam take care of it, because it was within the abilities God gave him to accomplish that. Man couldn't create himself, so God did( but then he gave them the ability to reproduce, so they did). Man couldn't flood the world, so God did (but man could build a boat, so man did). Man could write down what God spoke, so God let man do that. We are expected to do everthing we can to the best of our abilities, and God steps in to do the things we can't do, not the things we won't do.

The Bible wasn't written at one time, it was written by many men writting about the times they were living in and what God was doing at the time. If God would have written everything ahead of time, then man probably would have choose not to follow the historical events. If God would have written it all after Christ, there would be no Jewish nation for Christ to be born into. So we are left exactly as God had planed it. Each writer, inspired by the Spirit of God, wrote the events they lived, in the times they lived in.

share|improve this answer

I love this question... questions like these really open the door for a better understanding of God's ways and a closer relationship with Him. Here are some points to consider.

Why not speak directly to us?

  • It is clear throughout scripture that God desires intimate, loving relationship with people and between people. (Matthew 22:37-40, Romans 13:10, 1 John 4:16, Ephesians 4:32, etc.)

  • In the beginning, man had a very close relationship with God. As a result, it would seem that there was no need for scripture in the Garden of Eden. God walked side by side with man, so why would it be necessary? If you had a question, you could simply ask Him! (Genesis 3:8-10)

  • After mankind fell from grace, there existed a separation between God and man. (Isaiah 59:1-2)

  • God attempted to reach out to humanity through the few men who would allow Him to use them, such as Noah, a "preacher of righteousness" to a world full of wickedness. (2 Peter 2:5, Genesis 6:5-8)

  • At times, God would attempt to speak directly to man, but this generally resulted in them becoming terrified and requesting that He not do that anymore. This is part of the reason Moses became such an absolute mediator between God and man in the wilderness. (Hebrews 12:18-21)

"All the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance. Then they said to Moses, 'Speak to us yourself... but let not God speak to us....' Moses said to the people, 'Do not be afraid...' So the people stood at a distance, while Moses approached the thick cloud where God was. (from Exodus 20:18-21)

(I can't help but laugh when I try to imagine that scene.)

Why speak through other people?

  • I think it is significant that God's design involves a man starting out in ignorance (as a baby), learning from his father and mother, and growing in understanding over time. This model has "dependency" written all over it. To me, this is one of many illustrations in scripture of God's design for community amongst His people.

  • We see it again in reference to "fathers" (in the faith), elders, etc. (Deuteronomy 32:7, Hebrews 13:7, 6:11-12, etc.)

  • We see it again in God's design for the functions within the church. (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, etc.)


  • People don't get quite so terrified when God is working through someone else, as opposed to interacting with us directly

  • It draws us closer to others as well as closer to God

  • The same God is working through each of these mediators. In a manner of speaking, this builds a strong witness from God's people for those who are seeking truth. (1 Corinthians 12:6, Proverbs 11:14, Matthew 18:16, Hebrews 12:1)

Hope that helps!

share|improve this answer

Great question, and great comments! This is the most comprehensive answer I've found anywhere:

* Draw Close to Jehovah book, chapter 18, pp. 179-187 Wisdom in “the Word of God” *

Why a Written Word?

3 Some may wonder, ‘Why did Jehovah not use a more dramatic method—say, a voice from heaven—to communicate with humans?’ In fact, Jehovah did at times speak from heaven by means of angelic representatives. He did so, for example, when he gave the Law to Israel. (Galatians 3:19) The voice from heaven was awe-inspiring—so much so that the terrified Israelites asked that Jehovah not speak with them in this manner but that he communicate through Moses. (Exodus 20:18-20) The Law, consisting of some 600 statutes, was thus transmitted to Moses orally, word-for-word.

4 What, though, if that Law had never been put in writing? Would Moses have been able to remember the precise wording of that detailed code and to convey it flawlessly to the rest of the nation? What about later generations? Would they have had to rely solely on word of mouth? That would hardly have been a reliable method of handing down God’s laws. Imagine what would happen if you were to transmit a story to a long line of people by telling it to the first person and then having it relayed from one to another down the line. What the person at the end of the line heard would likely differ considerably from the original. The words of God’s Law were in no such danger.

5 Jehovah wisely chose to have his words put in writing. He instructed Moses: “Write down for yourself these words, because it is in accordance with these words that I do conclude a covenant with you and Israel.” (Exodus 34:27) So began the era of Bible writing, in 1513 B.C.E. Over the next 1,610 years, Jehovah “spoke on many occasions and in many ways” to some 40 human writers who then penned the Bible. (Hebrews 1:1) Along the way, devoted copyists took meticulous care to produce accurate copies so as to preserve the Scriptures.—Ezra 7:6; Psalm 45:1.

6 Jehovah has truly blessed us by communicating with us in writing. Have you ever received a letter that was so dear to you—perhaps because it offered needed comfort—that you saved it and read it again and again? So it is with Jehovah’s “letter” to us. Because Jehovah put his words in written form, we are able to read them regularly and to meditate on what they say. (Psalm 1:2) We can receive “the comfort from the Scriptures” whenever we need it.—Romans 15:4.

Why Human Writers? 7 In his wisdom, Jehovah used humans to pen his Word. Consider this: If Jehovah had used angels to record the Bible, would it have the same appeal? Granted, angels could have portrayed Jehovah from their lofty viewpoint, expressed their own devotion to him, and reported on faithful human servants of God. But would we really have been able to identify with the perspective of perfect spirit creatures, whose knowledge, experience, and strength are far superior to our own?—Hebrews 2:6, 7.

8 Through his use of human writers, Jehovah provided just what we need—a record that is “inspired of God” yet retains the human element. (2 Timothy 3:16) How did he achieve this? In many cases, he evidently allowed the writers to use their own mental faculties in selecting “the delightful words and the writing of correct words of truth.” (Ecclesiastes 12:10, 11) This explains the Bible’s diversity of style; the writings reflect the background and personality of the individual writers. Yet, these men “spoke from God as they were borne along by holy spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21) Hence, the end product truly is “the word of God.”—1 Thessalonians 2:13.

9 The use of human penmen gives the Bible tremendous warmth and appeal. Its writers were men with feelings like ours. Being imperfect, they faced trials and pressures similar to our own. In some cases, Jehovah’s spirit inspired them to write about their own feelings and struggles. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10) So they penned words in the first person, words that no angel could have expressed.

10 Take, for example, King David of Israel. After he had committed some serious sins, David composed a psalm in which he poured out his heart, begging for God’s forgiveness. He wrote: “Cleanse me even from my sin. For my transgressions I myself know, and my sin is in front of me constantly. Look! With error I was brought forth with birth pains, and in sin my mother conceived me. Do not throw me away from before your face; and your holy spirit O do not take away from me. The sacrifices to God are a broken spirit; a heart broken and crushed, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:2, 3, 5, 11, 17) Can you not feel the writer’s anguish? Who but an imperfect human could express such heartfelt sentiments?

Why a Book About People? 11 There is something else that contributes to the Bible’s appeal. To a large extent, it is a book about people—real people—those serving God and those not serving him. We read about their experiences, hardships, and joys. We see the outcome of their choices in life. Such accounts were included “for our instruction.” (Romans 15:4) Through these true-life portrayals, Jehovah teaches in ways that touch our heart. Consider some examples.

12 The Bible tells about unfaithful, even wicked, humans and what befell them. In these accounts, undesirable qualities are seen in action, making them easier for us to comprehend. For instance, what command against disloyalty could be more powerful than the living example of this quality in Judas as he carried out his traitorous plot against Jesus? (Matthew 26:14-16, 46-50; 27:3-10) Accounts such as this reach our heart more effectively, helping us to recognize and reject loathsome traits.

13 The Bible also describes many faithful servants of God. We read about their devotion and loyalty. We see living illustrations of the qualities we need to cultivate in order to draw close to God. Take faith, for example. The Bible defines faith and tells us how essential it is if we would please God. (Hebrews 11:1, 6) But the Bible also contains vivid examples of faith in action. Think about the faith Abraham showed when he attempted to offer up Isaac. (Genesis, chapter 22; Hebrews 11:17-19) Through such accounts, the word “faith” takes on added meaning and becomes easier to grasp. How wise that Jehovah not only exhorts us to cultivate desirable qualities but also provides examples of them in action!

14 The real-life accounts found in the Bible often teach us something about the kind of person Jehovah is. Consider what we read about a woman whom Jesus observed in the temple. While seated near the treasury chests, Jesus was watching as the people dropped in their contributions. Many rich ones came, giving “out of their surplus.” But Jesus’ gaze became fixed on a lowly widow. Her gift consisted of “two small coins, which have very little value.” It was the last bit of money she had. Jesus, who perfectly reflected Jehovah’s mind on matters, noted: “This poor widow dropped in more than all those dropping money into the treasury chests.” According to those words, she put in more than all the others combined.—Mark 12:41-44; Luke 21:1-4; John 8:28.

15 Is it not significant that of all the people who came to the temple that day, this widow was singled out and mentioned in the Bible? Through this example, Jehovah teaches us that he is an appreciative God. He is pleased to accept our whole-souled gifts, no matter how they compare with what others are able to give. Jehovah could hardly have found a better way to teach us this heartwarming truth!

What the Bible Does Not Contain 16 When you write a letter to a loved one, there is only so much you can include. So you use discretion in choosing what to write. Likewise, Jehovah chose to mention certain individuals and events in his Word. But in these descriptive accounts, the Bible does not always spell out all the details. (John 21:25) For example, when the Bible tells of God’s judgment, the information provided may not answer our every question. Jehovah’s wisdom is seen even in what he chose to leave out of his Word. How so?

17 The way in which the Bible is written serves to test what is in our heart. Hebrews 4:12 says: “The word [or, message] of God is alive and exerts power and is sharper than any two-edged sword and pierces even to the dividing of soul and spirit . . . and is able to discern thoughts and intentions of the heart.” The Bible’s message pierces deep, revealing our true thinking and motives. Those who read it with a critical heart are often stumbled by accounts that do not contain enough information to satisfy them. Such ones may even question whether Jehovah really is loving, wise, and just.

18 In contrast, when we make a careful study of the Bible with a sincere heart, we come to see Jehovah in the context in which the Bible as a whole presents him. Hence, we are not disturbed if a particular account raises some questions to which we cannot find immediate answers. To illustrate: When piecing together a large puzzle, perhaps we cannot at first find a particular piece or we cannot see how a certain piece fits in. Yet, we may have assembled enough of the pieces to grasp what the complete picture must look like. Similarly, when we study the Bible, little by little we learn about the kind of God Jehovah is, and a definite picture emerges. Even if we cannot at first understand a certain account or see how it fits in with God’s personality, our study of the Bible has already taught us more than enough about Jehovah to enable us to see that he is unfailingly a loving, fair, and just God.

19 To comprehend God’s Word, then, we must read and study it with a sincere heart and an open mind. Is this not evidence of Jehovah’s great wisdom? Clever humans can write books that only “wise and intellectual ones” can grasp. But to author a book that can be understood only by those having the right heart motivation—that takes the wisdom of God!—Matthew 11:25.

share|improve this answer
It seems most of this is a quote. Is that right? A bit hard to tell. Start each paragraph with > to put it in blockquotes. –  fredsbend Dec 31 '14 at 6:16
BTW: Welcome to the site. We are glad you decided to participate. Please see What this site is about and How this site is different to help you learn how the site works. Also see the help center and take the tour to learn the site functions. I hope to see you post again soon. –  fredsbend Dec 31 '14 at 6:17
If this is a copy paste from soewhere else, please attribute it. –  Affable Geek Jan 1 at 16:38

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.