The Inspiration and Authority of The Bible

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. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)

…knowing this first of all, that 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. (2 Peter 1:20-21 ESV)

The two doctrines of the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures go together. If the Bible has been superintended by God through human authorship, it holds the title of God’s Word, which carries with it the authority of God much like when a state passes legislation, the law carries with it the authority of the state.  There are many definitions of inspiration out there, but this one has been my favorite for along time:

God’s superintendence of the human authors so that, using their own individual personalities, they composed and recorded without error His revelation to man in the words of the original autographs. -Charles Ryrie

What does that mean? God’s superintendence means that God wrote the Scriptures using, but not dictating to men. Thus, Paul wrote exactly what Paul wanted to write and God communicated exactly what God wanted to communicate. We get this idea from 2 Timothy 3 when we read the word theopneustos which translates to “God-breathed.” God “moved men along” through the power of the Holy Spirit and thus they composed God’s revelation to man (2 Peter 1:21). The illustration of how that came about was described best to me through the analogy of a sailboat. While the pilot puts his hand to the rudder to direct the vessel in minor ways, he is at the mercy of the strength and direction of the wind to be “carried along.” God used the individual personalities of the authors of Scripture so that they wrote according to their own style and with a particular audience in mind. Thus, Matthew writes to a Jewish audience and Luke writes to his Greek benefactor, Theopholis, but they both compose the life of Christ in powerful unity.

Two distinctions need to be made at this point. We believe in the plenary, verbal inspiration of Scripture, meaning all of the Bible in all of its parts is inspired by God in the words of the original autographs (See “all” in 2 Timothy 3:16). This means that the original manuscripts of Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic are the exact words that God has intended for his people to hear from him.

If the Bible is God’s Word, then, it carries with it God’s authority. Therefore, to disobey the Scriptures is to disobey God himself. Wayne Grudem makes an excellent point on this issue:

If God claims that the words of Scripture are his own, then there is ultimately no higher authority one can appeal to for proof of this claim than Scripture itself. For what authority could be higher than God? So Scripture ultimately gains its authority from itself.

The Bible is authoritative. It holds dominion and rule over every other statement of truth. Grudem again, “As God’s very words, the words of Scripture are more than simply true; they are truth itself (John 17:17). They are the final measure by which all supposed truth is to be gauged.” Since the Bible is the very word of God and thus authoritative for the Christian, we must understand, delight in and obey the Scriptures, for in so doing, we are understanding, delighting in, and obeying God.


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