Scripture’s Only Pagan-Authorized Chapter

Posted on March 16, 2023


By David Ettinger

Can You Guess It?
Perhaps the headline is a little overdramatic, but it’s true: There is actually a chapter in the Bible – and only one – which was composed under the authority of a pagan.

At least, the event he relates occurred during a time in his life when he worshiped pagan deities. Whether or not he became a believer in Yahweh following the event is uncertain.

So, can you guess which chapter I’m referring to?

Here’s a clue: The events happened outside of Israel. Here’s another clue: The chapter was written by a powerful king. And here’s a third clue, which will probably put you over the top: This powerful monarch who provided the contents for an entire chapter of the Bible was the king of Babylon.

You should know by now (based on these clues) that the only chapter in Scripture composed under the authority of a pagan is Daniel Chapter 4. Yes, Daniel penned the chapter, but its entire contents were authored by Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar.

An Amazing Chapter
This amazing chapter is a reprint of an official royal letter Nebuchadnezzar wrote “to all the peoples, nations, and populations of all languages who live in all the earth” (v. 1).

The king had an astonishing experience with the Lord God of Israel ­– El Elyon, the Most High God – and wanted to share it with his realm. The account relates how God afflicted Nebuchadnezzar with “lycanthropy,” a condition where people think they are wild animals.

Hence we read that Nebuchadnezzar “was driven away from mankind and began eating grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws” (v. 34).

Chapter 4 Facts and Figures
The events of this amazing chapter occur roughly 30 years following Chapter 3, toward the end of Nebuchadnezzar’s 43-year reign. Daniel, a teenager when we met him, would have been about 50 at this time.

Daniel Chapter 4 is unusual in several ways:

1. It is similar to New Testament epistles in that it lays out truth and ends with an application. For example, the egotistical Nebuchadnezzar was punished because of his pride, humbled, and applied the lessons he learned to his life. He learned that the God of Israel, “is able to humble those who walk in pride” (v. 37) – a lesson all people need to learn.

2. It is written from an unbeliever’s point of view.

3. There are doxologies at the beginning and end of the chapter.

4. The author begins in the first person, changes to the third person, then transitions back to first person again. Rare indeed.

5. It uses the term El Elyon, or Elyon – “the Most High God” or “Most High” – more than any other chapter in the Bible.

6. The purpose of the account is to tell of the greatness and power of the “Most High God” (v. 2) and of His “signs and miracles.” Coming from the lips of a pagan monarch, these exultations are truly incredible. By comparison, the Pharaoh who survived the 10 plagues of Egypt and beheld them firsthand, appears to have never given God praise.

Saved or Unsaved
In verse 25, Nebuchadnezzar proclaims, “the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.” And verse 37 ends the account this way: “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt, and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just … ”

Does this mean Nebuchadnezzar came to saving faith in Yahweh? Bible students are split.

One the one hand, Nebuchadnezzar’s language regarding the Lord is among the loftiest in Scripture. And, of course, everything he says about the God of Israel is true.

On the other hand, Nebuchadnezzar – writing after the event – describes Daniel (Belteshazzar) as one who possesses “a spirit of the holy gods” (v. 9) rather than “the spirit of the Most High God.” Also, Nebuchadnezzar – in this account, at least – never renounces his belief in pagan gods nor affirms that he will worship only the Most High God.

So, the jury’s out on Nebuchadnezzar’s salvation, but we’ll find out when we get to Heaven.

But one thing is certain: There is no other chapter in the Bible in which the entire contents are composed by one so steeped in paganism and idol-worship. And the truths this pagan idol-worshiper declares about the Most High God is simply amazing, making Daniel Chapter 4 one of the most amazing chapters in the entire Bible!