What is verbal plenary inspiration of the Bible?

by Matt Slick

Verbal plenary inspiration means that every word found in the Bible is given to us by God (verbal), everything in the Bible is authoritative (plenary), and every word is also divinely directed (inspired). But, this does not mean that everything referenced in the Bible is also morally proper. For example, the Bible might record someone's lie or a murder even though lying and murder are not approved of in Scripture. But the recording of the events is under the direction of God and is accurate. 

The verbal plenary inspiration applies to the original manuscripts, also known as the autographs. It was the originals that were penned by the prophets and apostles that were given by God, authoritative, and  divinely directed. Presently we have copies of the original manuscripts but the copies are not perfect, though close to it. So, we have copies of inspired documents and for all intents and purposes the copies are inspired.

  • "The older phrase “plenary inspiration” meant that all the words of Scripture are God’s words (the word plenary means “full”), a fact that I affirm in this chapter without using the phrase."1
  • "Inspiration, plenary The “full” (plenary) inspiration of the Scriptures, in the sense that the whole Bible is inspired, not simply portions of it.2
  • "inspiration, verbal theory of The view that God through the Holy Spirit directly guided the exact words recorded by the biblical writers as they wrote the Scriptures."3

Verbal plenary inspiration stands in opposition to partial inspiration which limits the inspired quality of the Bible in various ways whether it be restricting inspiration to doctrinal matters, or one author was inspired where another was not, or there are mistakes in historical events and geographical locations but the main thoughts are correct.

 

  • 1. Grudem, Wayne (2009-05-18). Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (p. 90). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
  • 2. McKim, Donald K. (2014-04-21). The Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms, Second Edition: Revised and Expanded (Kindle Locations 7440-7441). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.
  • 3. McKim, Donald K. (2014-04-21). The Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms, Second Edition: Revised and Expanded (Kindle Locations 7442-7443). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.
 
 

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.