The Bible’s Authority on Leadership (Old Testament)

You might find yourself wondering, “Why do I believe the Bible?” or “Why do I give the Bible authority in my life?” This post will be slightly more in depth and research based than normal posts. But it is relevant to the topic at hand and it is important to show how the Bible truly has authority on leadership.

A picture of Hebrew


Photo Credit: zeeweez

I believe the Bible is God’s written word to us. He inspired human writers with His Spirit to write down history, prophesy, wisdom, and instructions. Here are a few ways God has done that.

I. The Significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Perhaps the greatest discovery of ancient biblical manuscripts was the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947. The story goes that a shepherd’s boy was throwing rocks into a cave on a hill when he heard the breaking of some type of ceramic material. Upon further investigation, one of the greatest Bible discoveries of our time occurred. (Another story is also told of a young shepherd searching for a lost sheep, and while searching for the sheep he wondered into a cave and found the scrolls.)

The Dead Sea Scrolls contained ancient manuscripts from the Old Testament. In fact, among the thousands of manuscripts and fragments, every book of the Old Testament with the exception of the book of Esther is represented. As biblical scholars have taken time to examine these ancient manuscripts they have noticed only minor differences between our current translations of the Bible (based on manuscripts from 400 AD or 500 AD) and the Dead Sea Scrolls (which date back to as late as 100 BC). And, while the minor discrepancies that have been found might have slightly different meanings, they do not effect the significant implications or theology of the Christian Bible.

The Dead Sea Scrolls have provided increased belief in the authenticity and accuracy of the manuscripts we study today.

II. How and When the Bible Became the Bible

When discussing the Bible’s authority on leadership it is also important to look at how the 39 books of the Old Testament became part of the Bible.

The Old Testament is the larger half of the Bible. Its 39 books were written by at least 40 different authors over thousands of years.  Even though very few ancient Hebrew manuscripts exist, the ones which due are almost identical. In other words, there are virtually no discrepancies between ancient manuscripts of the Old Testament.

One word I will use to describe the way the Bible became the Bible is “canonization.” Canonization, or a “canon,” means a measuring rod, rule, or standard and it is the way in which the texts of the Bible came to be considered sacred writings and inspired by God. We do not know if there were official councils/groups of Jews who originally decided which writings would be included in the Old Testament, but what we do know is that the process of Canonization took place over a long period of time (see An Introduction to the Bible, Hauer & Young, p. 13 for more details).

The Old Testament books were canonized in the following way:

  • The Books of Law (first five books of Bible) were canonized in 400 B.C., and the Hebrew word used to describe these books is the Torah. 
  • Prophets (both major and minor prophets) were canonized in 200 BC and are called the Neviim in Hebrew. 
  • Writings of the Old Testament (these are history books such as 1 Samuel and wisdom books such as Proverbs) were canonized in 100 AD and are called the Kethuvim.

As a whole, the entire Old Testament is called the Tanakh in Hebrew.*

III. The Hebrew Text

As stated earlier, there are very few discrepancies among texts of the Old Testament. Those differences which do exist between different manuscripts are on items with little importance. These are items such as one manuscript listing that there were 300,000 men in an army while another manuscript says that 200,000 men were in that army. This is a difference, but a difference with little importance.

The level of accuracy and process which led the Bible to become the book it is today holds tremendous authority for us as leaders. When reading it and studying its stories we can know that it is historical fact and that it is true. Because of this knowledge about the accuracy and authority of the Bible on leadership, here are a few (among many) ways we can benefit from reading the Bible:

  • We get to look at the biblical stories such as Moses, the numerous Judges, or David, and see real-life examples of what to do and what not to do.
  • We get to glean from the wisdom and advice of the Proverbs.
  • We get to simply be inspired and encouraged by the story of Nehemiah and his leadership.

Question: Why do you believe the Bible has authority in leadership?

*Please note that some scholars might divide up the books of the Old Testament into different categories than I have outlined them here. For a great picture of how most Jews outline the Tanak, view this photo.

By Christopher L. Scott

Christopher L. Scott serves as senior pastor at Lakeview Missionary Church in Moses Lake, Washington. Through his writing ministry more than 250,000 copies of his articles, devotions, and tracts are distributed each month through Christian publishers. Learn more at