All Scripture Is God-Breathed

Explore the Doctrine of the Inspiration of Scripture

All Scripture Is God-Breathed
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An essential doctrine of the Christian faith is the belief that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, or "God-breathed." The Bible itself claims to be written by divine inspiration:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness... (2 Timothy 3:16, NKJV)

The English Standard Version (ESV) says the words of Scripture are "breathed out by God." Here we find another verse to support this doctrine:

And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. (1 Thessalonians 2:13, ESV)

But what do we mean when we say the Bible is inspired?

We know the Bible is a compilation of 66 books and letters written by more than 40 authors over a period of approximately 1,500 years in three different languages. How, then, can we claim it is God-breathed?

The Scriptures Are Without Error

Leading Bible theologian Ron Rhodes explains in his book, Bite-Size Bible Answers, "God superintended the human authors so that they composed and recorded His revelation without error, but they used their own individual personalities and even their own unique writing styles. In other words, the Holy Spirit permitted the authors to exercise their own personalities and literary talents even though they wrote under His control and guidance.

The result is a perfect and errorless recording of the exact message God desired to give to human-kind."

Written Under the Holy Spirit's Control

The Scriptures teach us that the Holy Spirit produced the work of preserving the Word of God through the authors of the Bible. God chose men such as Moses, Isaiah, John and Paul to receive and record his words.

These men received God's messages in various ways and used their own words and writing styles to express what the Holy Spirit brought forth. They were aware of their secondary role in this divine and human cooperation:

... 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)

And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. (1 Corinthians 2:13, ESV)

Only the Original Manuscripts Are Inspired

It's important to understand that the doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture applies solely to the original handwritten manuscripts. These documents are called autographs, as they were penned by the actual human authors.

While Bible translators throughout history have work painstakingly to maintain accuracy and complete integrity in their interpretations, conservative scholars are careful to assert that only the original autographs are inspired and without error. And only faithfully and correctly interpreted copies and translations of the Bible are considered reliable.

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