Four Important Words
In explaining that we consider Scripture the ultimate authority for life, we often use the phrase verbal, plenary inspiration. The apostle Paul said, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Tim. 3:16). The Greek word for “inspiration” means “breathed” and refers to God as the Originator who breathed Scripture into existence. Men were the channels He used to communicate His Word to humanity, but God Himself conveyed what they should write, using their individual personalities and literary styles.
Four key words define this doctrine of inspiration:
Although men wrote the Scriptures, God guided each man’s intellect to choose the exact words for the text. Verbal means the very words themselves were God-breathed, superintended by the Holy Spirit. Thus, God Himself chose the words written in the autograph manuscripts (not later translations). Men wrote, not by their own wills, but as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Pet. 1:21). Jesus said every stroke of the pen (“jot” or “tittle”) is God’s Word and “will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Mt. 5:18).
God, who is truth, cannot lie (Num. 23:19; Jn. 17:17; Heb. 6:18); and He is never wrong. Because He divinely inspired the men who wrote the Scriptures, the God-breathed Word is without error (2 Pet. 1:20–21). The Holy Spirit assures Scripture’s inerrancy in every matter it touches: creation, geography, salvation, doctrine, life sciences (ethics, social, physical), world history, literature, and every area of knowledge. It is without error in the original autographs and entirely true in all it affirms.
Not only is the Bible without error, but it is also incapable of error in the autograph copy. Scripture is always correct in its revelation and rules of instruction on faith and practice as originally written because it is from God.
Plenary means “full” or “complete.” Thus, God inspired all the words; and every area of Scripture is equally of divine origin and equally authoritative. While on Earth, Jesus Christ approved everything written in the Old Testament (Lk. 24:44; Jn. 5:46) and authorized what would be revealed in the New Testament (Jn. 16:12–13).
Applying Scripture to our lives makes us “complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17). No servant of God should want to be anything less.