Why Is the Bible Called the Holy Bible?

Scripture presents the unsurpassable holiness of God, which differentiates it between the other religious texts of the world. The purity of God is essential and absolute to the revealed character of God in Scripture, which He will not compromise.

Dave Jenkins
Spine of the Holy Bible

Sometime during the Middle Ages, the phrase Biblia Sacra or holy books first appeared in reference to the Bible. One of the earliest uses of “The Holy Bible” appeared in 1611 on the cover of the Authorized Version, which is also known as the King James Version.

Holiness and the Word of God

The word holy means hallowed, sacred, or sanctified, all three of whom describe the Word of God. When the Lord spoke to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus 3, He commanded Moses to remove his sandals because he was standing on holy ground. The ground was holy by the presence of the Lord. Since the Lord is sacred, the words the Lord speaks are sacred and sinful men like Moses must be mindful of the presence of the holiness of God.

The words the Lord gave Moses on Mount Sinai are holy just as the words in Scripture given to humanity are holy because the Lord is holy. God is holy, and His words are perfect (Psalm 19:17), righteous, and pure, so the Word of God is righteous and pure (Psalm 19:8).

Scripture Was Written Under the Direction of the Holy Spirit

2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” The Greek word for God-breathed in 2 Timothy is theopenustos, from theos, meaning, “God,” and pneo, meaning “to breathe or breathe upon.”

Our English word pneumonia comes from the Greek root of pneo. The Holy Spirit breathed the holy words of Scripture into the writers of each book of the Scripture because He, as the divine writer, is holy, so what the biblical writers wrote in Scripture is holy.

The Holiness of God in Scripture

Another use of holy in Scripture is to be set apart. The Nation of Israel was set apart from other nations to be a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6). Christians today are set apart from non-Christians who walk in darkness to be a royal priesthood unto the Lord (1 Peter 2:9-10).

The set-apart nature of holiness is true of Scripture because the Bible is set apart from the others, for it is the only book written by God Himself. The Scripture teaches the following about the nature of the Bible:

  • The Bible is the only book that has the power to set me free because it testifies of Christ (John 8:32).
  • Scripture alone can change men’s lives through Christ and make them wise (Psalm 19:7).
  • Scripture alone can sanctify Christians through the Holy Spirit and make them increasingly holy (John 17:17).
  • Scripture alone is the only book that gives comfort, life, and hope through Christ (Psalm 119:50).
  • Scripture is the only book that will endure until the end of time (Matthew 5:18).

The Nature of Scripture

The word Bible comes from the Koine Greek (the language the New Testament was written in) uses the Greek word ta Biblia or “the books” because the Bible contains 66 books. Scripture is the ta “the” Biblia” (books). Sometimes the Bible is referred to in the plural biblias or biblios. The scriptures are a collection of 40 authors written over 1,500 years.

Even with the great distance between the various authors of Scripture, the accuracy and consistency of Scripture is a testimony to it being the reliable and trustworthy Word of God. The Old Testament contains 39 books and the New Testament 27 books. The scriptures are called the Bible because it is a collection of books inspired by God and written by the Holy Spirit.

When Scripture Speaks God Speaks

When Scripture speaks God speaks, which is why to hear God speaking, every Christian should open their Bible to hear His voice audibly (2 Timothy 3:16). Over 418 times the Bible uses the term “thus says the Lord.” Then there are also 48 references to “God said” in the Bible.

If you add the times when Scripture says, “And Jesus said,” you have over a thousand more references to the Bible being the Word of God. With those references, we have over two thousand times in the Scripture where God is speaking in the biblical text or by Jesus Christ Himself, who is fully God and fully man.

Scripture Testifies the Power of God

Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” God’s Word has God-given power to convict people of their sin and show them the grace of God. In Isaiah 55:11, God says of His Word:

“so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

The sword of the Word mentioned in Hebrews 4:12 both cuts to the quick and penetrates the thoughts and intentions of men. The Word purifies, refines, but it is also bread and living water because it gives sustenance to our hungry and thirsty souls. The Word also breaks up the hard-stony places in our hearts, causing us to walk in fear of the Lord and the power He alone provides in Christ.

Scripture Testifies Christ

Since Scripture is reliable and trustworthy, every Christian should open, read, study, meditate, and memorize the Word of God. The Word of God also testifies the person and work of the Lord Jesus (John 5:39; Luke 24). Jesus Christ is holy, for He is the Word, and the Word was God, and the Word is God, as John 1 teaches.

Only those who are declared righteous by Christ will be allowed into heaven. Hebrews 12:14 tells Bible readers, “without holiness no one will see the Lord,” but mankind are sinners by nature and by choice. In 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, Paul gives the solution; Christ provides reconciliation for man through the death and resurrection of Jesus. The only way man can be saved is through Christ alone (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Romans 10:7-16).

Scripture presents the unsurpassable holiness of God, which differentiates it between the other religious texts of the world. The purity of God is essential and absolute to the revealed character of God in Scripture, which He will not compromise (Hebrews 12:14).

Such holiness is frightening to sinners, but hope given to the people of God because the sinless substitute Jesus bore all our sins on the Cross. Because He fully identified with us and followed His Father completely, we enjoy the benefits of His vicarious substitution. These truths are essential to the gospel message, and we must know them, love them, and proclaim them because they are revealed in the scriptures.

Photo Credit: ©Sparrowstock


Dave Jenkins is the Executive Director of Servants of Grace Ministries, the Executive Editor of Theology for Life Magazine, and the Host of the Equipping You in Grace Podcast and Warriors of Grace Podcast. He received his MAR and M.Div. through Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. You can follow him on Twitter at @davejjenkins, find him on Facebook at Dave Jenkins SOGInstagram, read more of his writing at Servants of Grace, or sign to receive his newsletter. When Dave isn’t busy with ministry, he loves spending time with his wife, Sarah, reading the latest from Christian publishers, the Reformers, and the Puritans, playing golf, watching movies, sports, and spending time with his family.


Originally published August 06, 2020.