Also, we see infallibility implied in 2 Timothy 3:16–17: “All Scripture is God-breathed” (NIV) or “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (NKJV) and has the effect of producing servants of God who are “thoroughly equipped for every good work.” The fact that God “breathed” Scripture insures that the Bible is infallible, for God cannot breathe out error. The fact that the Bible equips God’s servants “thoroughly” for service shows that it guides us into truth, not error. If God is infallible, then so will be his word. The doctrine of Scripture’s infallibility is based on an understanding of God’s perfection of character. God’s word is “perfect, refreshing the soul” (Psalm 19:7, NIV) because God Himself is perfect. Theologically, God is closely associated with his word; the Lord Jesus is called “the Word” (John 1:14).
Are there contradictions and errors?
It should be noted that the doctrine of infallibility concerns only the original documents. Mistranslations, printing errors and typos are obvious human mistakes and are easily identified. However, we believe that the original text as written by the biblical writers was completely free from error or omission, as the Spirit led them. God is truthful and perfectly reliable (John 14:6; 17:3), and so is his word (John 17:17). The Bible claims complete (as opposed to partial) perfection in Psalm 12:6, Psalm 19:7, Proverbs 30:5, and many other places. “The word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). The Bible is the sole objective source of all God has given us about himself and his plan for humanity. As God’s infallible word, the Bible is inerrant, authoritative, reliable and sufficient to meet our needs.
What does it mean that the Bible is inspired?
When people speak of the Bible as inspired, they are referring to the fact that God divinely influenced the human authors of the Scriptures in such a way that what they wrote was the very word of God. In the context of the Scriptures, the word “inspiration” simply means “God-breathed.” Inspiration means the Bible truly is the word of God and makes the Bible unique among all other books.
While there are different views as to the extent to which the Bible is inspired, there can be no doubt that the Bible itself claims that every word in every part of the Bible comes from God (1 Corinthians 2:12-13; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). This view of the Scriptures is often referred to as “verbal plenary” inspiration. That means the inspiration extends to the very words themselves (verbal) — not just concepts or ideas — and that the inspiration extends to all parts of Scripture and all subject matters of Scripture (plenary). Some people believe only parts of the Bible are inspired or only the thoughts or concepts that deal with religion are inspired, but these views of inspiration fall short of the Bible’s claims about itself. Full verbal plenary inspiration is an essential characteristic of the Word of God.
The extent of inspiration can be clearly seen in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” This verse tells us that God inspired all Scripture and that it is profitable to us. It is not just the parts of the Bible that deal with religious doctrines that are inspired, but each and every word from Genesis to Revelation. Because it is inspired by God, the Scriptures are, therefore, authoritative when it comes to establishing doctrine and sufficient for teaching man how to be in a right relationship with God. The Bible claims not only to be inspired by God, but also to have the supernatural ability to change us and make us “complete.”
Do we have what we need to know God and for salvation?
It is important to understand that the Bible as we know it consists of 66 different books written over thousands of years in three primary languages: Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic, the language that Jesus spoke. Many of the authors, especially of the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, wrote from their own perspective and recorded as an eyewitness account what they saw, which would be accepted as testimony in a court of law. When we see small and insignificant differences in numbers, these could be due to differences in perspectives of the writers, or using round numbers or contextual values. But we believe that the Bible records the fall and redemption of mankind and gives us all of the basis and knowledge we need to know God and to understand the unified theme of Scripture – the story of the cross and of God’s love for us as sinners, giving us his only Son that we may believe in Him and have eternal life.
For more information, see www.reformed.org/bible/bible-intro.html, www.gotquestions.org/Bible-infallible.html and www.timeout4god.com/the-infallibility-of-the-bible/.
Bob Woods has worked as an engineer at AECOM Technical Services and HBC Engineering, and is a published Christian author. He can be reached at [email protected]