Is the Bible inspired?

by Matt Slick

The doctrine of the inspiration of the Bible means that the Bible in the original documents is God-breathed, and that it is a divine product; and because it is divine, the original documents are inerrant.  The copies of those documents are not inspired.  We have copies of inspired documents.

2 Tim. 3:16-17 says, "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." Paul who wrote this epistle was obviously referring to the entirety of the Old Testament as being inspired.  The word "inspired" is literally "God-breathed."  This is an interesting phrase since it implies that the Scriptures are from the mouth of God.  Likewise, Peter says in 2 Pet. 1:21, "for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." Notice that Peter is stating that prophecy is not the product of human will.  Instead, prophecy occurs by those moved by the Holy Spirit.

Furthermore, we can easily see that the Old Testament Scriptures are full of statements and phrases claiming to be the Word of God.

  1. "Thus says the Lord" occurs 418 times in the NASB, 413 in the KJV
    1. Exodus 4:22, "Then you shall say to Pharaoh, Thus says the Lord, 'Israel is My son, My first-born.'"
    2. 1 Kings 11:31, "And he said to Jeroboam, 'Take for yourself ten pieces; for thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, Behold, I will tear the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon and give you ten tribes.'"
    3. Isaiah 7:7, "thus says the Lord God, 'It shall not stand nor shall it come to pass.'"
  2. "God said" occurs 46 times in both the NASB and the KJV
    1. Genesis 1:3, "Then God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light."
    2. Exodus 3:14, "And God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM'; and He said, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, I AM has sent me to you."
    3. Exodus 6:2-3, "God spoke further to Moses and said to him, 'I am the Lord; and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, Lord, I did not make Myself known to them.'"
  3. God spoke through prophets
    1. 1 Kings 14:18, "And all Israel buried him and mourned for him, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke through His servant Ahijah the prophet."
    2. 2 Sam. 24:11-12, "When David arose in the morning, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Gad, David's seer, saying, 12 'Go and speak to David, Thus the Lord says, "I am offering you three things; choose for yourself one of them, which I may do to you."'"
    3. Zech. 7:7, "Are not these the words which the Lord proclaimed by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and prosperous with its cities around it, and the Negev and the foothills were inhabited?"
  4. The Spirit of the Lord spoke through people
    1. 2 Sam. 23:2, "The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue."
    2. 1 Kings 22:24, "Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah came near and struck Micaiah on the cheek and said, 'How did the Spirit of the Lord pass from me to speak to you?'"
    3. 2 Chron. 20:14-15, "Then in the midst of the assembly the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, the Levite of the sons of Asaph; 15 and he said, 'Listen, all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: thus says the Lord to you, Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God's.'"

As you can see, the Old Testament Scriptures are clearly full of statements showing the inspiration of God through the writers.  The Old Testament assumes and speaks from the perspective of divine inspiration. Should we do any less?

What about the New Testament?

We see that the Old Testament is repeatedly spoken of as being inspired via the numerous references cited above but what about the New Testament?  Are the New Testament books inspired as well?

The Christian church has always considered the New Testament documents to be inspired.  Though in the early church there were some debates on which New Testament books to include in the Bible, God worked through the Christian church to recognize those inspired works.  Therefore we now have 27 inspired books for the New Testament.

In 1 Cor. 14:37 Paul said, "If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord's commandment."  In 2 Pet. 3:16 Peter said, "as also in all [Paul's] letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction." Also, Jesus said in John 14:26, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you." This means that the Lord has commissioned the apostles to accurately record what Jesus had said because the Holy Spirit would be working in them.

So, we can see that Jesus promised direction from the Holy Spirit, that Paul considered what he wrote to be the commands of God, and that Peter recognized Paul's writings as Scripture.  In addition, since the Christian Church recognizes the 27 books of the New Testament are inspired and since we see internal claims of inspiration in the New Testament, we conclude that inspiration applies to the New Testament documents as well.

Objections

  1. Inspiration violates free will.
    1. Inspiration does not violate free will.  What if the person through whom God is working has been regenerated by the Holy Spirit and desires to have the Lord speak through him?  Would this negate the ability of God to inerrantly speak through such a person?  Would it also mean that the person has no free will if he has voluntarily subjected his will to the will of God?
    2. Certainly, God has the ability to work through individuals to bring them to a place where they can record inerrant statements.  Cannot God manifest himself to someone, deliver to him a verbal message, and have that person record it?  Would that statement not be inspired of God?
    3. Prov. 21:1,"The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever He wishes."  This verse clearly states that God is able to work through an individual's "free will" to bring about what God desires.
  2. What about the numerous contradictions in the Bible?
    1. It is true that there are difficulties with in the Word of God.  But these are due to copying errors through the centuries.  As more and more historical, archaeological, and manuscript evidence is uncovered, the fewer Bible difficulties there are.  Nevertheless, for an examination of answers to the alleged Bible contradictions, please see Bible Difficulties.
  3. The manuscript evidence doesn't support inerrancy of the originals.
    1. This is a subjective conclusion.  The more I have studied about the ancient manuscripts, the more I have concluded that the original documents were indeed inspired and inerrant.
    2. The logical implication of the statements within the Bible is that they are inerrant since they claim to be offered from God.  They either are or are not inspired of God.  If they are not, then their claims of speaking for God are lies.
  4. Inspiration applies to scripture--not people.
    1. God works sovereignly through people to inspire his documents.  It is the people whom God indwells with his spirit and the people who are inspired by God to write his word.  If inspiration only refers to Scripture, and somehow means that people are not themselves inspired, the Scriptures are still God-breathed and necessarily inerrant.

 

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