The Inspiration of the Bible

By Grant B. Caldwell

Having decided upon the basis of weighty evidences (both internal and external), that the Bible is the word of God, we must determine to what extent we believe it to be so. Modern religious liberals have advanced a somewhat deceiving statement upon those who would be taken by their tactics. It is said that the Bible is not the word of God, but that it contains the word of God. The criticism of this statement is in its interpretation. Surely, no one would say that God spoke every word in the Bible from His own mind. In Genesis three, the devil speaks. The words of the Pharisees as they confront Christ are recorded. This however, is not the usual meaning of this particular statement. The idea is that in the Bible, one will find Gods word; however, all of the Bible is not directed by God. This we deny.

The Bible makes no claims for the inspiration of any particular translation, copy, or reading. However, claims are made in regard to that which was originally written as the scriptures. It must be understood that we do not have the original manuscripts. But we are not left to doubt that what we have is indeed the same as the originals. “The amount of what can in any sense be called substantial variation, is but a fraction of the whole residuary variation, and can hardly form more than a thousandth part of the entire text” (Introduction to Greek New Testament, by Westcott and Hort).

Plenary inspiration

We would like to notice first the biblical proofs as to the complete or plenary inspiration of the Bible. The Bible is explicit concerning the amount of scripture which is inspired.

John 10:35: Christ said, “The scripture cannot be broken.” Is it not indeed breaking the .scripture to say that part of it is from the mouth of God and then say another part is not? Christ is merely pressing His point and insisting that they cannot accept the portions of the word which they desire and ignore the rest. All of the scripture is authoritative.

James 1: 25: James refers to the “law of liberty.” This is the same as “the engrafted word” (vs. 21), and “the word” (vs. 22, 23). He says that this “law of liberty” is “perfect.” It is easily understood that the imposition of the thoughts of men would only mar its perfection as an extra dash of salt or an additional spoonful of sugar would a perfect cake.

2 Timothy 3:16-17: In one of the most convincing passages on the subject of plenary inspiration, the Apostle Paul says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” Any difference in translation cannot destroy the fact that Paul is saying that “all scripture”— “every scripture” is inspired of God. This is a forceful reference to the subject under discussion. The scripture he refers to is the “holy scriptures” of the preceding verse. In essence, Paul is saying that the scriptures given by inspiration of God and the Holy Scriptures are one and the same thing.

The phrase “inspired of God” comes from the same root source as our English words 44 pneumatic,” “pneumonia,” etc., and with the prefix “Theo” (meaning God), literally means “God breathed.” Paul is thus saying that the “holy scriptures” is a product of the breath of God.

2 Peter 1:20-21: Peter, in a passage of equal force, written in the negative, says, “Knowing this first that no prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: But holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” The negative “no” implies simply that none of the prophecies that are recorded came from a private source. Not one single one. The phrase “prophecy of scripture” is used to indicate those writings which constitute the will of God in all its parts. Some might think that there is a “scripture” that is not a 66 prophecy.” However, as Moses, David, and others are referred to as prophets, so their writings would be “prophecies.”

When Peter refers to “private interpretation,” he is contrasting human origin with divine. If this were not so, the next verse would mean very little. These men spake as the Holy Ghost directed them to speak and not as their own hearts dictated. These were the prophets of God and were not left to their own imaginations.

In exactly the same way, there are prophecies in the New Testament written by prophets. Listen to Peter in verse 19, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy.” If it is more sure and compares with that of old time prophecy, then it too must be a product of the Holy Ghost.

I Corinthians 14:37: Paul, “If any man think himself to be a prophet~ or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” Paul spoke only that which was commanded by the Lord.

Peter joins Pauls writings with “the other scriptures” in 2 Peter 3: 15-16. Thus, he shows that these writings are just as authoritative as any of the other writings of God.

If there is one of our readers who does not believe that all of the original writings of the Bible are inspired, will you not show us the evidence and — tell us which passage it might be that is not inspired? If you will but point to one contradiction, that will prove to us that the Bible is not fully inspired. If you will show us but one passage that says it is not all inspired, we will be satisfied. Until such is done, we will continue to believe in the plenary inspiration of the Bible.

Verbal Inspiration

The Bible makes claims not only in regard to the amount of inspiration, but to the way in which it has been inspired. We speak of what is commonly called “Verbal Inspiration.” Modem liberalism has acted on this doctrine as well as that of plenary inspiration and has said that God gave the writers the thoughts and they in turn wrote according to their own words the thoughts which the Lord had given to them.

While we do not question that the thoughts are the Lords, we do deny emphatically that the words are those of the men who penned them. Let us notice briefly why we believe in verbal inspiration; that is, why we believe that the Lord determined the words to be used in the Bible as well as the thoughts.

Reason: It would not seem reasonable, first of all, to suppose that the divine source would leave His divine thoughts regarding the eternal souls of men to be expressed by the inadequate words of unlearned and ignorant men. We will sometimes express just a small variation in meaning to that which we wish to express just by the use of a supposed synonym. Do you think that God could take a chance on this sort of thing?

Biblical Proofs: We are not left, however, to the reasoning of our own minds in this matter of verbal inspiration. Let us notice now the infallible proof of the Bible regarding the matter.


Old Testament: The proof in the Old Testament is so voluminous that even a casual reading ought to make anyone aware of the fact that it is indeed verbally inspired by God. We read such expressions as “Thus saith the Lord” about two thousand times. This, then, is followed by the claimed words of God. Verbal Inspiration.

In Deut. 18:18 a prophecy is made regarding Christ that underlies the whole thought of verbal inspiration. The Lord said that He would raise up a prophet like Moses, and that he would put His words in His mouth. If He was to be like Moses and the Lords words would be in His mouth, then it should go without saying that Moses like the other prophet had the “words” of the Lord in His mouth. Verbal Inspiration.

Peter spoke of these prophets in 2 Peter 1: 21, saying that they were “moved by the Holy Ghost.” The expression “moved” suggests that these men were “borne along” (Vine) to express the thoughts of God in words which He provided. Maybe these prophets did not understand the entire situation (I Peter 1: 11), but they wrote at; the Lord gave them the words to write His thoughts. Verbal Inspiration.

New Testament: In Matthew 4:4 Christ said that man was to live not by bread-alone but by “every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” It says more than man must live by the thoughts of God. Man is required to live by the words which God has spoken. Verbal Inspiration.

“Ye should remember the words” (2 Peter 3:2); “For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast” (Hebrews 2:2); “Ye received from us the word of the menage, even the word of God, ye accepted it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God.” (I Thessalonians 2:13) All of these passages place a great emphasis on the idea of the “word.” Why would the “word” be emphasized if it was only the “thought” which had been given?

The most convincing proof in all the Bible regarding the matter of verbal inspiration is found in I Corinthians 2:4-13. Paul, in so many words, says that the gospel was not written in the words of mans wisdom. He says that it was a demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit (vs. 4). His argument is that the mystery was revealed by the Holy Spirit f vs. 10) and that the Spirit wrote the gospel by giving it to the apostles (vs. 12). Finally, he says, “which things also we speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.” (vs. 13, NASV).

How can anyone say that the Bible was written in mens words, when the apostle Paul says that it was written in the Spirits words? There could be no more conclusive argument than this. One would simply have to deny the passage to deny the point of the teaching — Verbal Inspiration.

Style: The most often offered argument against the doctrine of verbal inspiration is that the style of writing in the Bible differs so much from writer to writer. Often fun has been made of the entire idea of verbal inspiration with the men doing the writing caricatured as mere machines. Surely, we should be able to realize that if God was able to make our entire body, then he should be able to use our entire being for His purposes.

If we could but understand the relationship which the Lord sustained with those who wrote the Bible, we would have no difficulty in understanding the way in which it was done. He did not run out and pick someone off, the street on the day he wanted His words recorded. These men were the constant servants of the Lord. In living daily with Him, they blended their ways in His, and conformed their lives to His will. They learned of Him and He used them — all of them — to record His will for man. And, as the Lord said to Moses, “Who hath made mans mouth? Have not I, the Lord?”


Since the Bible is the word of God, and since all of it is from God, spoken in words which he has chosen, then it behooves me to do just exactly as it directs. This is why it is so valuable to us, and this is why it is necessary-yea, essential-for us to leave it as the God of heaven wrote it. Be not deceived, dear reader, by modem claims. You have not the privilege to tamper with the word of God. To do so will surely mean the damnation of your soul. (Gal. 1:7-9) Why not rather obey fully the gospel today?

TRUTH MAGAZINE, XVI: 33, pp. 9-11
June 22, 1972