The doctrine of preservation is the teaching that God's Word has been preserved and its original meaning has been kept intact. Some argue that the Bible does not explicitly teach that His Word would be accurately preserved; therefore, the doctrine of preservation is not a biblical teaching. Others refer to the Bible's theological teachings regarding God's Word lasting forever as evidence to support the doctrine of preservation.
What is the preservation of the Bible? Is the doctrine of preservation biblical?
A look at the Bible itself reveals that it claims it will last forever. Isaiah 40:8 teaches, "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever." This same passage was quoted in 1 Peter 1:24-25 to affirm the everlasting nature of Scripture.
Jesus Himself offers the most definitive words on this topic. In Matthew 5:18 He taught, "For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished." The iota and dot referred to the smallest marks in the Hebrew alphabet. Jesus noted that the Scriptures would remain completely intact until heaven and earth pass away. In three of the four Gospels, Jesus also taught that heaven and earth would pass away but His words would never pass away (Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33).
A look at the history of God's preservation of Scripture reveals some of the amazing ways in which God has fulfilled these words. Despite the attempts of enemies to destroy the Word of God, far more ancient copies of biblical manuscripts exist than any other ancient document.
Further, a close examination of the thousands of ancient manuscripts of the Bible's writings reveals that the text of the Bible has remained amazingly stable. For example, prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the twentieth century, the earliest portions of many Old Testament writings dated from about AD 1000. However, the Dead Sea Scrolls included Hebrew copies of Old Testament books from more than 1,000 years earlier that affirmed the accurate nature of the copies we continue to use today. While the original copies of the Bible's books are not known to exist, many early copies have helped reveal the important work of Scripture preservation that has continued from the past to our day.
It is also important to note that the Bible was not preserved to remain unused. We are called to study it and apply it in our own lives today (Ezra 7:10; 2 Timothy 2:15). As Romans 15:4 teaches, "For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."
Are the translations of the Bible inspired?
What proof do we have for the inspiration of the Bible?
What is Verbal Plenary Preservation?
What determines canonicity or that a particular book is considered scriptural? How do we decide which books belong in the Bible since the Bible doesn't tell us?
When were the books of the Bible divided into chapters and verses? Who did the dividing?
Truth about the Bible