HomeApologeticsThe Importance of Internal Evidence For The Divine Authorship of The Scripture

The Importance of Internal Evidence For The Divine Authorship of The Scripture


In the Christian experience, there are many things from the Bible that challenge the believer regarding his faith in Christ. In the modern age, we look to the sciences and our history to give us insight into how to live our lives. But sometimes, the things we discover run contrary to what we believe about the Bible and Jesus Christ. Many Christians have been led away from the faith because they cannot answer the challenges presented to them that contradict the Bible’s claims. One of the challenges that Christians sometimes face is that of the Bible’s authorship. The Bible was authored by men. That is not denied. But, the skeptic denies divine authorship because he perceives other problems with the biblical text that lead him away from scripture’s claims.

The internal witness of the Bible to its own origins is a subject every Christian should study. Knowing the Bible’s origins, both human and divine, will help the believer stand strong in his faith and provide a solid testimony that his faith is not misplaced. The internal evidence of scripture for its origins is strong and, when fully considered, can leave the Christian with a stronger faith in the Bible and its ability to transform lives through advocating for faith in Christ. This thesis explores the topic of internal and external evidences for divine authorship of scripture, with a primary focus on the internal.

When a Christian is engaged in sharing his faith with others, and he refers to the Bible as the word of God, he sometimes encounters a challenge from his audience that he cannot use the Bible as evidence of its own divine origin because that would be circular reasoning. As an example: “We know that God exists because the Bible says so. We know that the Bible is correct because it is the inspired word of God.”[1] To more clearly define it, circular reasoning is “a type of reasoning in which the proposition is supported by the premises, which is supported by the proposition, creating a circle in reasoning where no useful information is being shared.”[2] However, there is disagreement in definitions. While some regard the use of internal evidence as circular, there is a case to be made that internal evidence is a requirement in making a case for the divine origin of scripture. 


It is important to lay out definitions for internal evidence and external evidence in relation to the Bible. 

“Internal evidence is data that comes from within the pages of the New Testament. This is not ‘circular logic.’ Using internal evidence means to test the documents for their authenticity by a couple of different means. A primary way to do this is by their internal coherence. If the Gospel authors contradict one another on crucial points in Jesus’ life, then that is a problem. Coherence is one of the reasons why scholars conclude that the ‘gnostic gospels’ are untrustworthy. They contain irreconcilable contradictions to the rest of the testimonies about Jesus. This is why it is a great benefit that we have four accounts of Jesus’ life.”[3]

External evidence is something that appears outside of the scripture, such as some kind of historical or archaeological studies that lend credence to the various claims of the Bible such as historical claims of personalities and events. Historical evidence does not prove or disprove the Bible but may be a companion to the Bible’s claims to demonstrate that it is a trustworthy account of the things on which it reports.

Being restricted from using internal evidence for the divine authorship of scripture has a companion in external evidence. External evidence is that outside of something that describes what something is, its properties, nature, or use. In terms of sharing one’s faith, a Christian may share the testimony of his conversion to Christ as external evidence that the Bible is trustworthy. There is much external evidence for the Bible’s accuracy and trustworthiness. This is evidence that we employ to demonstrate the life-changing nature of faith in Christ or faith in the Bible. But there is no external evidence of the Bible’s divine authorship. There is nothing that we can find outside of the biblical text that tells us that the Bible’s author is God. We may make that ascertain, but external evidence for divine authorship is lacking. Yet, this is not a weakness in the faith. In fact, it is a strength of the biblical text. As I will show, the only valid evidence for divine authorship of the Bible comes from the Bible itself. All other claims of divine authorship are sourced from the Bible, not found originally outside its text or without the text.

Making the Case for Divine Authorship

The scripture itself makes a case for the validity of its own internal evidence. We see this in the book of Hebrews. “So, when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us” (Hebrews 6:17-18)

This passage from Hebrews shows God providing internal evidence of his character. There was nothing outside him of which he could make himself liable in case of deception or failure. God’s evidence is always internal to himself but is also expressed in his word or by the testimony of his people. 

The Apostle Peter noted, “No prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (II Peter 1:20-21).

“The Greek word for interpretation can also mean “origin.” In the context of v. 21, it is clear that Peter is speaking of Scripture’s ‘origin’ from God Himself and not the credentials of the one who interprets it. There is no private source for the Bible; the prophets did not supply their own solutions or explanations to the mysteries of life. Rather, God spoke through them; He alone is responsible for what is written in Scripture.”[4]

Why Internal Evidence Is Valid

When an opponent refuses to accept internal evidence for a description of God or the Bible, it is easily refuted by saying you cannot describe anything without the use of internal evidence in some capacity. Why, then, do we think we can describe God without referring to what he has said about himself? If God were silent about himself, we would have no way of knowing him. One may deduce, from creation, that a god exists, but beyond that, we could not know him without him revealing himself to us. “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Matthew 11:27). 

A case can be made that nothing in creation can be explained or defined without the use of internal evidence. If I handed you a fork and asked you to describe it without using any internal evidence, how would you describe it? According to its physical properties? According to its appearance? According to its function? These are all internal evidence. If I say it has four prongs, I’m using what I see, describing its internal property. One cannot properly describe a fork without citing its internal properties or evidence. So, too, if I asked you to prove you are human without using any internal evidence, how would you respond? Can you prove your humanity apart from internal evidence?

We cannot make a case for divine authorship of scripture without internal evidence. “The Bible is its own best evidence for its inspiration and authority. We believe the Bible is the word of God because of some basis we have in scripture: (1) God is truth. Those who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (2) His word is truth. “For your word is truth (John 17). (3) God is the author of that truth (the Bible). All scripture is given by the inspiration of God.”[5]

Scripture makes its case for internal evidence from the pen of the Apostle Paul. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (II Timothy 3:16-17).

It may be said that words that are not inspired by God may also be useful for teaching, reproof, and correction. Certainly, even schoolteachers do this every day. This might also be said of training in righteousness. We use many books and tools in our Christian training. But Paul’s words here imply something greater, that these together from God’s word make us “complete” and “equipped.” Even all of the other tools we create have their first source in the scripture. Thus, the fact that we use various tools that are first sourced from the Bible tells us that the Bible’s authority is unique. This may be external evidence, but this external evidence relies on the internal testimony of scripture.

It’s About Origins

What we are discussing is really nothing more than the origin of scripture. The question before us is, where does scripture come from? Scripture claims it came from God, which is attested to in the Bible, but there is no external evidence for this. Certainly, through history, there have been many teachers, authors, and scholars who have testified that scripture is from God. But all of them rely on the scripture’s own testimony about itself. Thus, we are left with the question of whether the scripture’s own testimony is authentic about itself. If there were no self-attestation in scripture, then how would we know that scripture is from God? We would not.

The Apostle Paul noted that his teaching was not his own but came from God. Therefore, to deny the authority of his teaching is to deny the scripture and God himself. He said, “If anyone thinks that he is a prophet or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.” (I Corinthians 14:37-38, emphasis mine). This is “a direct assertion of inspiration. Paul’s words as an apostle are Christ’s words.”[6] “It may mean that if a man does not recognize Paul’s authority, Paul is through with him; let him remain in his ignorance. The RSV gives another view: ‘If any one does not recognize this, he is not recognized.’ Moffatt reads, ‘Anyone who disregards this will be himself disregarded’ (at the day of judgment?).”[7] “Admitting to God’s authorship is an acceptance of his authority over every aspect of life. By stating that the scriptures are God-breathed, Paul established the Bible’s claim as God’s authoritative Word over all people.”[8]

The Gospel writers also wrote believing that what they recorded was the word of God. “When you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains” (Mark 13:14). 

“Let the reader understand” is used by Mark to emphasize that the words of Jesus being communicated in this passage are his authoritative words. He is urging the reader to pay close attention to Jesus’ words. Additionally, Mark is assuming that his Gospel is going to be read by many people; otherwise, he would not have issued this comment. Thus, Mark is self-attesting that his Gospel is the word of God because its teaching comes from Jesus. 

The Bible contains internal evidence for authorship, the correctness of information, and the divine origin of the text—the inspiration of the text. There is no external evidence for inspiration or divine origin. These claims come only from the Bible’s internal witness. Some of its claims about God and humanity are also from internal sources only. For instance, how do we know we are made in God’s image? What exactly is God’s image? There are no external sources that reveal us in God’s image. That comes only from scripture. It is a matter of internal evidence from the scripture only. Thus, we must know the trustworthiness of the Bible in order to trust its witness regarding who God is and what he has created. 

The Use of External Evidence

Creation around us is external evidence that testifies to the existence of a Creator. We are taught this in Romans 1:20. But one does not need the testimony of scripture to know that God exists. 

In 2007 had a discussion with an elderly Mongolian woman about her life story. Her name was Garmaa. Garmaa told me that when she was 12 years old, helping to keep her father’s sheep in the countryside, she looked around at the animals, the mountains, the fields, and the sky and wondered who created it all. She deduced that there must be a god who created it. This was at a time when the Gospel was unknown in Mongolia, and there were no scriptures available to her. She asked her father, “Who created everything?” Her father answered that there was a single God who created everything around her, and she should spend her time seeking him and not listening to the Buddhist monks popular in their culture because they lie. He told her the idols that people worshiped were false. Eventually, after the Gospel came to Mongolia, Garmaa became a Christian, recalling her father’s words to her when she was older. 

Remarkable as Garmaa’s story is, it is an example of external evidence for the existence of God, not based directly on scripture. The fields, hills, and valleys around her convinced her that God must exist; she had no witness of scripture at that time. In fact, she had never even heard of the Bible or had even heard of Christianity. 

The Bible’s External Witness

There is one form of evidence for the biblical text that is presented in the Bible and may be considered external in one sense. This is the testimony of Peter regarding the writings of the Apostle Paul. 

“Just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures” (II Peter 3:15-16).

It is important to remember that the Bible is not a single book with a single author. Rather, the Bible may best be viewed as a volume of books like an encyclopedia. Each book has its own author with their own personalities and testimonies. This is no less true with Peter and Paul as well as the other authors. So, when Peter endorsed Paul’s writing as scripture, he was externally witnessing to the inspired nature of Paul’s writings. The testimony is internal as regards the Holy Spirit as the divine author and as a volume of multiple unique texts, but it is also external to Paul as Peter is a separate author and giving his endorsement to his fellow apostle, Paul. 

“Note that Peter classified Paul’s letters as Scripture, that is, the inspired Word of God. Not only did the teaching of the Apostles agree with that of the prophets and our Lord (2 Peter 3:2), but the Apostles also agreed with each other.”[9]

Internal Evidence is Valid for The Text of Scripture and The Claims of Christ

There are things in scripture that attest to its divine origin. Jesus’ usage of Old Testament scriptures and the Gospel author’s use of them about Jesus or Israel’s history (Mathew 21:13, Mark 14:21, Luke 19:46, John 12:14). There is also the historical acceptance of Old Testament scriptures by New Testament writers such as Paul (Romans 3:4, I Corinthians 9:9, Galatians 3:10). In addition, there is God’s direct command to record his words given to Moses. “Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel” (Exodus 34:27) and Jeremiah, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Write in a book all the words that I have spoken to you,” (Jeremiah 30:2).

The Bible’s internal evidence is unique in that not only do its authors refer to scripture from the past as inspired, but it also contains forward-looking claims of what will be said in the future that will be the word of God. Deuteronomy 18 does this. “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him” (Deuteronomy 18:18). This passage is interesting because it provides evidence for scripture before it is authored. Here, God through Moses gives Moses as the model for the coming prophet who will speak God’s words in a future time. Jesus claimed this for himself when he said, “[Moses] wrote about me” (John 5:46).

Malachi 3:1 refers to a coming prophet: “I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me.” Implied in the use of the word “messenger” is that this person will speak the words of God. His message will be divinely inspired. 

Isaiah testified to the endurance of scripture in the future. “And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord: ‘My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,’ says the Lord, ‘from this time forth and forevermore’” (Isaiah 59:21).

Jesus referred to the lasting existence and persistence of his word when he told his disciples, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). This harkens back to Isaiah 40:6-8, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.” This is an interesting thing for Jesus to say because, at the time he said it, no one was writing down his teaching, as far as we know. Thus, Jesus is not only prophesying about the coming canon of scripture, but he also defended it in advance of its creation. 

Scripture makes it clear that its own internal witness is that its origin is with God. But there is no external witness of its origin that does not first rely upon the scripture itself. Indeed, there is no text higher in authority than the Bible. Nothing of a supreme authority above scripture exists to give testimony to its origin. Therefore, one must depend upon the scripture’s internal evidence to make the case for its divine origin. To reject its witness is to reject the offer from God for salvation.


There is no greater testimony to the divine inspiration of the scripture than the scripture itself. It contains all that we need to learn about and come to believe in its divine authority and spiritual trustworthiness. Though there are external witnesses to the Bible’s accuracy regarding historical events, personalities, and their relationships, external evidence does not testify to the book’s divine authorship. This is like the arguments over the human authorship of the book of Hebrews. Some say Paul is the author; some say Apollos or Aquila and Pricilla. In the end, we have no concrete evidence of its human authorship because its author is not revealed in the text. This is similar to the divine authorship of the Bible. Without its self-attesting internal evidence, we could never know the Bible’s true author.

[1] Circular Reasoning (https://religions.wiki/index.php/Circular_reasoning) accessed May 31, 2023.

[2] “Circular Reasoning,” Logically Fallacious, www.logicallyfallacious.com/logicalfallacies/Circular-Reasoning accessed May 29, 2023.

[3] Aaron Stamp, “Defending the Bible with Internal Evidence,” https://medium.com/@aaronmshamp/defending-the-bible-with-internal-evidence-5f3453890298 accessed May 29, 2023.

[4] Earl D. Radmacher, Ronald Barclay Allen, and H. Wayne House, Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary (Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, 1999), 1695.

[5] Dr. Kenneth Talbot’s lecture, Lecture #5: Biblical Authenticity, Whitefield Theological Seminary. 

[6] Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, vol. 2 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), 291.

[7] Curtis Vaughan and Thomas D. Lea, 1 Corinthians, Founders Study Guide Commentary (Cape Coral, FL: Founders Press, 2002), 148.

[8] Knute Larson, I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, vol. 9, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 306.

[9]  Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 469.

Tom Terry is head of Global Broadcast Strategy for JESUS Film Project and serves as Global English Station Manager for Trans World Radio. Tom is also the author of several books, including Bible studies, and "Like An Eagle," his biography about living in Mongolia for ten years.
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