What do we understand by the Bible being the inspired word of God?

11 Oct 2013 by Tony Dibble-


2 Tim 3:16 says that ALL (not most, or some, but ALL) scripture is inspired by GOD. The word in the original Greek for inspired is theopneustos. This comes from two words: theo which means GOD and pneustos which means breathed. GOD gives life to the words in the Bible as He is their Author.

This happens not only when the Bible was written but also when the Bible is read: the Holy Spirit helps us to understand the word of GOD (John 16:7-14). So it is GOD who inspires the writing of His word as well as GOD who interprets His word to us.




When the authors wrote the books of the Bible, their inspiration was not mechanical. The Holy Spirit worked through their minds and prevented whatever influence that sin could have exercised on their thoughts. The Spirit of GOD guided their minds and chose their words. However, the authors were permitted to use their own experience and record it down in their own style. This does not mean that the Bible is not verbally inspired. Every word in the Bible was from the mouth of GOD, although the writers were not used as “robots” by Him. GOD made use of the special characteristics of the authors but He was in charge of the process, to the last detail.

Moses and Joshua were spoken to specifically by GOD (Leviticus 1:1; Joshua 1:1). GOD put His words into Jeremiah to speak (Jer 1:9) and GOD instructed Ezekiel to speak His words to the people (Ezek 3:4). St Paul says that his words were taught by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 2:13). They did not write on their own “steam.”




Jesus and St. Paul, for example, show how one word in the Bible can be significant. The word “LORD” in Matt 22:43-45 was used by Christ to show that the Trinity was not a new development. In Galatians 3:16, the word “your” is important for St. Paul to prove that Christ was from the seed of Abraham.

Scripture supports scripture. That is why Christ and the apostles quoted the Old Testament as the basis of their authority. They never debated about what books should be in the Old Testament: they accepted the Old Testament as it was.

Christ’s quotations from the books of the Old Testament include verses and events from Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Psalms, Isaiah, Jonah, Hosea and Malachi. The writer of Hebrews quotes widely from the Old Testament and speaks of the Old Testament as GOD’s word or the Holy Spirit’s. St. Peter recognises the Old Testament writings as well as St. Paul’s letters (2 Pet 1:19-21; 3:15 & 16). Throughout the Bible, almost on every page, we find passages that are drawn from other parts of the Bible. This shows us that the Bible is an inter-dependent book and that each book does not stand on its own.




However, we must be careful because translations of the inspired documents from the original Hebrew or Greek are not inspired during the process of translation. They were only inspired when first written. Furthermore, the copying process gave rise to errors. However, despite translation and copying errors, there are no disputed doctrines arising that could be linked to such errors.

The early church accepted the 27 New Testament books with no problem. With the Old Testament, 39 books are accepted by the Church of Rome (Catholic), the Greek Orthodox, the Orthodox Slavonic (East European) and the reformed (Protestant) churches as inspired. However, other books and writings called “apocrypha” are considered by the traditional churches to be inspired parts of the Old Testament. There is no single agreement among the traditional churches on what exactly makes up the “apocrypha”. The reformed church however, does NOT consider any collection of the “apocryphal” books as inspired: but it does not object to them being read as ordinary material. Nevertheless, no debatable doctrines of the church depend in any way on any Old Testament “apocrypha”.

It must be recognised that the Bible is inspired not because it is an authorised collection of books. Instead, it is inspired because it is a collection of authorised books, written and coordinated by GOD.




We do not read things “into” the Bible. Rather, we read out “of” the Bible, guided by the Spirit of GOD. That is when we find the Bible to be inspired. As we read after praying, asking GOD to direct our reading of His word, we find the Spirit of GOD speaking to us.

GOD’s revelation through the Bible will have some limitations to us. This is not because GOD has limitations. Instead, it is because the effect of sin still blocks mankind from being able to enter GOD’s realm fully and to understand Him completely.

Although some parts of the Bible may not be as significant to us as other parts, this does not mean those less important parts to us were not inspired or were less inspired. All scripture is inspired by GOD and inspired equally.




Attempts by science, history or archaeology to explain or prove the parts of the Bible, could be expected fail in some instances. The Bible was not written for these fields of study. Neither does the Bible depend on these fields of study to prove that it is the word of GOD.

If science, archaeology or history is able to establish some of the events of the Bible as reliable, then it is well and good. However, this is not a necessity, and may not always be the case. Besides, the methods and scope of these three subjects have their own limitations. Their techniques, for example, to date the age of an object, or components of landscapes, remain questionable. And theories e.g. evolution, are not truths but are merely theories.

The Bible is considered 'infallible.' This means that its record of events and teachings are correct beyond any doubt. The Holy Spirit of GOD inspired the writing of the Bible and it is He who convicts us of the truths in the Bible. And Christ is called the Author and Finisher of our faith (Heb 12:2). 


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