Inspiration of Scripture

Introduction

The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself and His plan to man. While the Bible is a book it is more than a book. It sets itself apart from all other books in the same way Jesus’ feeding the 5,000 is set apart from an ordinary meal.

Inspiration is the doctrine of God the Holy Spirit’s superintending work in transmitting truth through revelation. The Scriptures are God’s greatest blessing to the human race, apart from his Son, the “Word made flesh” (John 1.14). Through the Scriptures we are able to understand something of how the heaven and the earth came into being, who God is, how we came into being, how sin and evil originated, God’s solution to the problem of sin and evil, and how God will sum up all things in Christ. The Bible is the only book that provides answers to man’s greatest questions: 1) Who am I? 2) Why am I here? 3) Where am I going after I die?

Necessity of Revelation

Revelation is necessary for two basic reasons. The first is that God is inaccessible to the creature. He is, in His essence, incomprehensible. According to the Scriptures,

15 which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen (1 Timothy 6.15-16).

The second reason is that because of sin, we have a broken relationship with God. We enter the world spiritually dead (Ephesians 2.1). Apart from a new birth (John 3.7-8) through relying upon Christ as our Savior from sin, i.e., believing the gospel (1 Corinthians 15.1-4), we remain separated from God and cannot know or understand spiritual things (1 Corinthians 2.14).

Even though sin has separated us from God, according to the Scriptures, God has built into every human being the capacity to perceive Him. One way is through nature and the other is through conscience. In the first chapter of Romans, Paul wrote,

19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse (Romans 1.19-20).

Theologians call our ability to perceive God through nature and conscience as general revelation. But we need more than general revelation to understand the true nature of God and His plan for us. We need special revelation. God has provided this through the Scriptures and through God the Son becoming one of us. No one is excused from not knowing God or of His salvation. God has manifested Himself and it to all (John 1.9; Romans 1.19-20; Colossians 1.23; Titus 2.11).

The Scriptures and the Son

The Scriptures are called the Word of God. The second person of the Trinity, God the Son, is also called the Word of God (Revelation 19.13). God Himself in the person of Jesus Christ is the author of the Scriptures even though human beings wrote the words down on paper. Peter wrote,

10 As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, 11 seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow (1 Peter 1.10-11).

John wrote, “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19.10). John revealed that Jesus is the Word of God in both his first advent and his second advents. In his gospel he wrote,

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1.14).

In Revelation, John identified Christ in his second advent:

And He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood; and His name is called The Word of God (Revelation 19.13).

Jesus and the Scriptures are both divine and human. Jesus is the God-Man, wholly God and wholly man. While on earth He was God but His deity was largely veiled. Paul wrote,

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men (Philippians 2.5-7).

When anyone looked at Jesus they saw a man. He did not glow or have a halo around Him. He looked like an ordinary human being. In the transfiguration, Peter, James, and John saw Jesus glorified. In His mighty resurrection He manifested his divinity. In the same way, the Scriptures appear as ordinary writings, no different from any other. But they are more–as Jesus Himself was more than man. As Jesus, the Living Word, is both divine and human, the Scriptures, the Written Word, are divine and human. Human beings were the agents of God’s Word. But behind the human agents is God Himself. The Word is God-breathed, with the same breath God gave life to Adam in Genesis 2.7. His breath is life itself.

The Scriptures Inspired

The Scriptures, throughout both testaments, claim inspiration. The classic biblical text for the doctrine of inspiration, 2 Timothy 3.16-17 reads,

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

The Greek word translated “inspired” is θεόπνευστος. Our word “inspiration” comes from the Latin “inspirare” which means “to breath into.” This is not what the Greek word means. The Greek word θεόπνευστος is formed by combining Θεός “God” and πνέω “to breath or blow.” Literally, it means “God-breathed” or “God-blown.” One cannot help but think of Jesus’ words in John 3.8 where πνέω is used. There, Jesus said,

The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.

A similar passage is John 6.63. Here, Jesus said the following:

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.

When a person speaks, he expires air. He doesn’t breath in, he breaths out. Jesus meant that the words He spoke were “spirit” in the sense that the very air that He expired when he spoke was the Holy Spirit and that this “air” or “spirit” was life itself. The Living Word, the Word made Flesh, speaks, breaths out, expires, the Word of God.

θεόπνευστος is a hapax legomenon–that which is spoken once. It occurs only here in the New Testament and is not found in classical literature. Paul coined the word to describe the divine nature of God’s written word. A better translation is “All Scripture is expired by God”. The word translated “inspiration” in the Scriptures is better understood as “out-breathed” or “expired” by God rather than “in-breathed” or “inspired” by God. Thus, 2 Timothy 3.16-17 should read:

All (or every) Scripture is God-breathed (or expired by God) and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness in order that the man of God may be complete, having been furnished for every good work.

In Stephen’s rendition of Jewish history before the Sanhedrin he said concerning Moses,

This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness together with the angel who was speaking to him on Mount Sinai, and who was with our fathers; and he received living oracles to pass on to you (Acts 7.38).

The expression “living oracles” (λόγια ζῶντα) conveys the sense “living words or utterances.” Notice too that the angel spoke to Moses. Hebrews 4.12 states, “the word of God is alive.” The word for “alive” is ζωή and should be translated “living” or “alive.” This word ζωή (from which we get words such as zoology) carries the sense of the vitality or capacity of life. It is the same word Jesus used in John 6.63 by which He conveyed the concept that the words He speaks are spirit and life–which we saw above. Jesus said, “Ἐγώ εἰμι . . . ἡ ζωή” “I am the life” (John 14.6). The word ζωή is distinguished from another Greek word for life–βίος (from which we get words such as biology). The word βίος carries the sense of the manner, means, or duration of life as opposed to vitality or capacity of life.

In Genesis 2.7, the Scripture records,

Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

The breath of God (נְשָׁמָה) is life itself. The Scriptures are the breath or the life of God in written form. Jesus taught this with his quotation of Deuteronomy 8.3 in response to Satanic temptation in Matthew 4.4,

It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God’.

As mankind’s original life came from the breath of God, spiritual life begins by believing the gospel (1 Corinthians 15.1-4) and is maintained by the out-breathing of God in the form of the Scriptures. The Word of God proceeds out of the mouth of God. It is the very breath of God.1

The writer to the Hebrews also testified to the aliveness of the Scriptures, writing:

For the word of God is alive and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even unto the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow and able to judge the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4.12).

Peter confirmed the above sense and revealed something of the mechanics of inspiration in the following passage:

But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God (2 Peter 1.21).

The Scriptures did not come into being from human will. They came as a result of God’s will. Men were the vehicles for God’s declarations. Men were “moved” (φέρω means “to bear” or “to carry”) by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit “bore” men along and they recorded God’s words. Jesus constantly appealed to the Scriptures to validate His points. Most of the time He used the formula, “It is written” as we saw above. He declared the Scriptures could not be broken (John 10.35) and said that it was easier for the universe to cease to exist than for one stroke of the letter of Scripture to fail (Luke 16.17). Many Old Testament statements describe the Scriptures coming into being. Exactly how this happened is mysterious because it was a divine interaction between God and man. What is clear from the Scriptures is that God Himself controlled their creation. The Old Testament has over 2,000 expressions such as “the LORD said”, “the word of the LORD came saying” etc.

The Mosaic Law governed Jewish society beginning with Moses. While Moses was the agent of the Law, God was its author according to Scripture. In fact, the Scriptures declare that God Himself wrote on the tablets of stone.

Now the LORD said to Moses, ‘Come up to Me on the mountain and remain there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the law and the commandment which I have written for their instruction”’ (Exodus 24.12).

When He had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God (Exodus 31.18).

15 Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets which were written on both sides; they were written on one side and the other. 16 The tablets were God’s work, and the writing was God’s writing engraved on the tablets. (Exodus 32.15-16).

11 You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the very heart of the heavens: darkness, cloud and thick gloom. 12 Then the Lord spoke to you from the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words, but you saw no form—only a voice. 13 So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone. 14 The Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that you might perform them in the land where you are going over to possess it (Deuteronomy 4.11-14).

These words the LORD spoke to all your assembly at the mountain from the midst of the fire, of the cloud and of the thick gloom, with a great voice, and He added no more. He wrote them on two tablets of stone and gave them to me (Deuteronomy 5.22).

David was the author of Scriptures, most the Psalms. What did David say about his works?

Now these are the last words of David. David the son of Jesse declares, the man who was raised on high declares, The anointed of the God of Jacob, And the sweet psalmist of Israel, “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, And His word was on my tongue. “The God of Israel said, The Rock of Israel spoke to me, ‘He who rules over men righteously, Who rules in the fear of God, who rules over men righteously, Who rules in the fear of God, (2 Samuel 23.1-3)

Other declarations of servants of God in which the word of the LORD “came” unto them are the following:

So Balaam said to Balak, ‘Behold, I have come now to you! Am I able to speak anything at all? The word that God puts in my mouth, that I shall speak’ (Numbers 22.38).

Balaam told Balak that it was God Himself who put His words into his mouth. In the following Scriptures we see how the word of the Lord “came” to men:

10 Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel, saying, 11 “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following Me and has not carried out My commands.” And Samuel was distressed and cried out to the Lord all night (1 Samuel 15.10-11).

11 Now the word of the Lord came to Solomon saying, 12 Concerning this house which you are building, if you will walk in My statutes and execute My ordinances and keep all My commandments by walking in them, then I will carry out My word with you which I spoke to David your father (1 Kings 6.11-12).

22 But the word of God came to Shemaiah the man of God, saying,23 “Speak to Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all the house of Judah and Benjamin and to the rest of the people, saying, 24 ‘Thus says the Lord, “You must not go up and fight against your relatives the sons of Israel; return every man to his house, for this thing has come from Me.”’” So they listened to the word of the Lord, and returned and went their way according to the word of the Lord (1 Kings 12.22-24).

It came about the same night that the word of God came to Nathan, saying, “Go and tell David My servant, ‘Thus says the Lord, “You shall not build a house for Me to dwell in; (1 Chronicles 17.3-4).

1 Moreover, the word of the Lord came to me saying, “And you, son of man, thus says the Lord God to the land of Israel, ‘An end! The end is coming on the four corners of the land (Ezekiel 7.1-2).

God told Jeremiah that He had known him before He formed him in the womb and that in the womb He consecrated and appointed him to be a prophet. When Jeremiah protested that he did not know how to speak as a prophet, God touched his mouth and told him He would be the one who would put His words into his mouth.

Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “Alas, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, because I am a youth.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ because everywhere I send you, you shall go, and all that I command you, you shall speak. “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you,” declares the LordThen the Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me, “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth (Jeremiah 1.4-9).

We feel Jeremiah’s humanity when he complained to God about his message. We also see something of the mechanics of his preaching. He wished to be silent but God’s word was like an uncontrollable fire burning in his bones.

O Lord, You have deceived me and I was deceived; You have overcome me and prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all day long; everyone mocks me. For each time I speak, I cry aloud; I proclaim violence and destruction, because for me the word of the Lord has resulted in reproach and derision all day long. But if I say, “I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name,” then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it (Jeremiah 20.7-9).

What God had told Jeremiah in response to his protest that he did not know how to speak is similar to what Christ told His disciples regarding what to say when they were arrested:

19 But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. 20 For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you (Matthew 10.19-20).

Paul wrote the Thessalonians:

And for this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received from us the word of God’s message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe (1 Thessalonians 2.13).

Jesus and the Scriptures

The strongest testimony of the inviolability, inspiration, trustworthiness, and truthfulness of the Scriptures comes from Jesus Himself. He constantly appealed to the Scriptures to validate of his ministry and mission. He and they are one. No stronger testimony of the inspiration of the Scriptures is possible than Jesus’ words,

17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished (Matthew 5.17-18).

Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away (Matthew 24.35).

Jesus was referring to the Hebrew letter “yod” (י with the Greek word ἰῶτα (iota) and the word κεραία, the projection or  horn part of a Hebrew letter, i.e., the smallest points of penmanship in the Hebrew alphabet. What Jesus was saying was that not only were the words of Scripture inspired but the tiniest letters or parts of letters of the Scriptures were inspired! In an even more arresting statement, He declared that the existing physical universe will cease to exist, but the Scriptures will not! Indeed, it was by the word of God that the universe came into being. The Psalmist wrote:

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host (Psalm 33.6).

Likewise, in his confrontation with the Jews in John 10, Jesus declared, “the Scripture cannot be broken.” This is as clear a statement as can be made regarding the inerrancy and inviolability of Scripture. Furthermore, it is clear that what Jesus meant when he began his speech in this passage, “Has it not been written in your Law . . .” was that what He meant by “Law” had a larger scope than the first five books of the Old Testament because He quotes from the Psalms. Jesus used the “Law” as a metonymy for all the Scriptures.

When the Sadducees presented Jesus with the situation of the seven brothers and one woman and asked Him whose wife she would be in the resurrection (because they did not believe in the resurrection), Jesus replied, citing the authority of the Scriptures, and specifically pointed to a direct quote from God:

29 But Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neithermarry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31 But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God: 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living” (Matthew 22.29-32).

When Jesus began His ministry, He was tempted by Satan with three temptations in the desert. To each temptation He responded by saying “it is written” (Matthew 4.1-11; Luke 4.1-13). Jesus appealed to the Scriptures. For Him, the written word was authoritative and inerrant.

Jesus was keenly attuned to the inseparable link between his ministry and the fulfillment of the Scriptures that prophesied of Him. At His arrest, Jesus declared,

Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me, as against a robber? Every day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize Me; but this has happened that the Scriptures might be fulfilled (Mark 14.49).

Many attacks have been made upon the Word of God. Those who attack the Scriptures attack God Himself. The first attack in human history came in the garden of Eden, when the serpent, Satan, said to the woman Eve, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden?'” Satan’s manipulative conversation confused Eve. Was God telling the truth or withholding a great blessing? Satan deceived her and she believed Satan’s lie. When we believe the attacks on the Scriptures we are following in the path of Eve. Satan’s strategic objective is to confuse mankind regarding God’s intentions and make us doubt the Word of God. Jesus declared that those who oppose Him and His Word have the Devil for their father. He said:

43 Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, andyou want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8.43-44).

Who is your father? These Jews had Satan for their father because they refused to believe the Word of God. Satan is a liar. Do not be deceived by those who teach the Scriptures are errant. Whom will you trust? That is the question.

It is important to recognize that several significant biblical events that have come under the most vigorous attacks from critics are events Jesus taught and attested to in His earthly ministry. Some of these are the following:

1. The creation of Adam and Eve

And He answered and said, ‘Have you not read, that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, and said, For THIS CAUSE A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, AND SHALL CLEAVE TO HIS WIFE; AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH’ (Matthew 19.4-5).

2. Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch

And Jesus said to him, ‘See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest, and present the offering that Moses commanded, for a testimony to them’ (Matthew 8.4).

But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead’ (Luke 16.31).

For Moses said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER’; and, HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER, LET HIM BE PUT TO DEATH’; (Mark 7.10).

He said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart, Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way’ (Matthew 19.8).

Now He said to them, ‘These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled’ (Luke 24.44).

Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote of Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words (John 5.45-47)?

Did not Moses give you the Law, and yet none of you carries out the Law (John 7.19)?

3. The Flood

For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so shall the coming of the Son of Man be (Matthew 24.37-39).

4. The existence and destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah

And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You shall descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you (Matthew 11.23-24).

5. Jonah and the great fish

For just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so shall the Son of Man be three days and tree nights in the heart of the earth (Matthew 12.40).

6. Daniel a prophet

Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; (Matthew 24.15-16)

7. The existence of Satan and demons

Then Jesus said to him, ‘Begone, Satan! For it is written, YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY’ (Matthew 4.10).

Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; (Luke 22.31)

And seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him; and crying out with a loud voice, he said, ‘What do I have to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!’ For He had been saying to him, ‘Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!’ And He was asking him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said to Him, ‘My name is Legion; for we are many’ (Mark 5.6-9).

Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;’ (Matthew 25.41)

But He knew their thoughts, and said to them, ‘Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls. And if Satan also is divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. And if I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? Consequently they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you’ (Luke 11.17-20).

8. The existence of a literal hell

And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10.28).

And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it (Matthew 16.18).

You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of hell (Matthew 23.33)?

And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue; for I am in agony in this flame’ (Luke 16.23-24).

Conclusion

Several theories of inspiration exist which try to explain its mechanics. Ultimately, however, the mechanics remain mysterious. Is this a problem? Many mysteries exist in nature. Who understands the creation of the universe? What is life? How does the mind work? How does it interact with the body? How do birds fly unerringly thousands of miles? What is the nature of light? These are mysteries. Jesus referred to such mysteries in the natural world when He said:

The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit (John 3.8).

We do not know where the wind comes from much less how the Holy Spirit operates. The clear declaration of the Bible is that every Scripture is God-breathed and that God’s Word is life itself. Those who abandon this doctrine become uncertain travelers on a road without hope with only darkness ahead.

1See the article on “Inspiration” by B. B. Warfield in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Eerdmans, 1982, p. 840. Warfield analyzes the word θεόπνευστος and corrects its mistranslations.

©1998 Don Samdahl. Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold.

Updated, November 05, 2004


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62 Responses to Inspiration of Scripture

  1. Ron G says:

    G’Day Don,
    This is a really good article.
    One of the clearest presentations on the inspiration of scripture I have read.
    However, the question is often raised, and often raises the hackles of many….which translation today is trustworthy?
    Has The Lord ensured that today we have an inerrant translation in every tongue?
    What are your thoughts on this somewhat controversial topic?
    I will at this point declare my hand in saying I am not a KJB only adherent.
    Ron G

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Ron,
      Thank you. No translation is inerrant. Only the autographs were inerrant. We have many copies which give sufficient evidence to make sound translations. Sometimes the majority text is more accurate and sometimes the critical text is. No major doctrine is in jeopardy and most major translations are trustworthy.

  2. Theresa says:

    Matthew 10:28 talks about destroying both body and soul in hell…now the spirit part of man is already dead until you accept Christ ( born again) so a person who never accepts Christ and dies will have their body and soul destroyed… My mind has a hard time believing that an unbeliever will live forever in hell and be aware of their hopeless situation for all eternity….

  3. Roger Spielmann says:

    re: “The Lord Himself taught that hell is eternal.” Really? The overwhelming evidence from the Bible is that those whose names do not appear in the Book of Life will be thrown into the lake of fire and be burned up. This is what Revelation refers to as the “second death.” They will cease to exist. John 3:16 is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to scriptural evidence that those who do not believe will “perish.” It takes some fancy footwork to get around the fact that the Bible teaches the annihilation of the wicked.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Roger,
      The Lake of Fire is eternal (see Revelation 14.9-11). Jesus taught repeatedly that those who have rejected His love and salvation suffer eternally. It requires no fancy stepping–just a steady walk through the Scriptures.

  4. Roger Spielmann says:

    Thank you. I enjoy your responses. You display a sound intellect and your passion for the Bible is contagious. Please take my questions in the spirit in which they are offered.

    How do you interpret Revelation 20:14, “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.” What do you think is meant by the “second death”? What does Paul mean by “The wages of sin is death” in Romans 6:23? What does the word “perish” mean in John 3:16? How do you interpret Malachi 4:1-2, “Surely the day is coming: it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble…not a root or a branch will be left”? Same question for Psalm 145:20, “The Lord watches over all who love him, but the wicked he will destroy.” Are there alternate ways of defining “perish,” or “destroyed,” or “burned to stubble”? Ought we not take the Bible literally when it is meant to be literal?

    True, the lake of fire lasts forever, but all who are thrown into the lake of fire are burned up. That, to me, seems quite clear from the scriptures. Aside from a parable (Luke 16), I can’t find anywhere in the Bible where it talks about people being tortured forever. The very thought is repugnant and immoral. And, yes, the destruction of the wicked is eternal/forever — they will never come back to life.

    Reading over my post before sending it makes me want to apologize for my tone. I don’t want to come across as lecturing anybody. I am an excitable boy at times, and this particular teaching is, I believe, very important for us understand. What concerns me is that much of what is believed by Christians today is not based on what the Bible teaches, but on Church tradition.

    Thank you for putting up with me!

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Roger,
      Death is separation from God. The first mention of death is Genesis 2.17. Literally, the Hebrew reads, “dying, you will die.” When Adam and Eve ate from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they immediately died spiritually. That they were separated from God is clear from their hiding themselves from God and in their shame of trying to cover themselves. But Adam lived to be 930 years before he died physically. Revelation 20 describes the resurrection of the lost and their judgment. They will be given resurrection bodies that will last for eternity. All creatures God created who can communicate and respond to Him live forever: angels and humans. My article on Hell and Judgment develops this subject in greater depth.

  5. Roger Spielmann says:

    I truly enjoy and learn from the articles I have read thus far. Still, questions keep popping into my head! You are so humble and non-judgmental in your responses that I (and others, from the sounds of it), feel comfortable asking you just about anything. You’ve created a climate for true dialogue on this website. I’ve never encountered anything like it before. Thank you for your scripture-based responses.

    One question: you wrote, “All creatures God created who can communicate and respond to Him live forever.” My reading of scripture (for what it’s worth) leads me to believe that immortality is a gift of grace for those who are in Christ. In John 5:21-29, “The Son gives eternal life to whom he is pleased to give it,” and, “Whoever believes in Him who sent me has eternal life and has crossed over from death to life.” Finally, “…a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice, those who have done good will be granted eternal life, and those who have done what is evil will be condemned to eternal death.” It seems clear from this passage that one only has immortality (eternal life) when God grants him/her immortality.

    My question is: can you provide me and your readers with scripture that supports your claim that, “All creatures created…live forever”?

    It makes a huge difference if we as human beings are created with immortality or if we are given immortality because of how we lived and what we believed, wouldn’t you agree?

    Thank you for your responses to this and so many other questions. This website is an answer to prayer for me.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Roger,
      Maybe the best way to approach this is to understand there are different levels of “life” based upon our natures: body, soul, and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5.23). Adam died immediately upon eating the fruit but continued to “live.” Paul wrote, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2.1-2; Romans 5.12). We enter the world spiritual dead. When one believes the gospel (1 Corinthians 15.1-4) God imparts “life,” i.e., spiritual life through which our spirits become alive to God. The souls who reject God continue to “live” but it is a life apart from spiritual life (Revelation 21.8). I do not know of anything in Scripture to support cessation of existence. Jesus said there were two resurrections: one unto life and the other to death (John 5.25-29; Daniel 12.2). The body dies, the spirit dies, but the soul continues (albeit marred, as a nature in rebellion to God). In the resurrection, those who have rejected God’s salvation, are resurrected with bodies that will endure forever. So they will be alive in their marred soul, resurrection body, but not their spirit. My article, Nature of Man, might shed more light on this.

  6. Roger Spielmann says:

    I enjoyed this article on the inspiration of scriptures. My question is: to which scriptures does Paul refer in I Timothy 3:16? As I understand it, the gospels and most of Paul’s letters had not yet been written, nor the book of Acts. I’m at a loss at to what, exactly, he is referring to here. Did he consider what he was writing as scripture? Or was he merely referring to the Old Testament? Does his statement here a priori mean anything he writes in the future ought to be considered scripture as well? Or writings by any others? By what criteria is one specific writing to be deemed scriptural while another not? Who becomes the final arbiter of what constitutes “scripture?” Athanasius?

    As you can see, I’m struggling to understand the nature of “inspiration.” I’ve ditched the “dictation theory” as a viable way of understanding inspiration, so now I’m scrambling to understand it.

    I bet you can help me!

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Roger,
      By the time 1 Timothy had been written, most of Paul’s letters had been written. Probably all that was left was 2 Timothy and maybe Titus. Acts had certainly been written. I think we can be safe in assuming Paul knew his letters were Scripture. Peter stated they were: 2 Peter 3.15-16. Peter described the God-breathing process in 2 Peter 1.21.

  7. Hannah says:

    Hi Don,
    This article has clarified a few things for me, and I have recently been introduced to your website and am very excited to continue reading through. With regards to the inspiration of scripture, is it not possible, that although the bible was ‘inspired by God’ the fact that it was then actually written by imperfect men (flawed and prone to mistakes) mean that the bible itself is imperfect? (this does not sit well with me) Furthermore, if this is the case does this not give way for some Christians to ‘pick and choose’ the parts they think are ‘inspired by God’ or not?
    Thanks for your help!

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Hannah,
      The Bible was certainly written by imperfect men but it does not necessarily follow that this means the Bible itself is imperfect. Inspiration only claims that the autographs, i.e., the original documents were perfect. We have only copies. So they are imperfect. But we have so many and since we can compare one with another we can get reliable readings (enough so that no major doctrine is affected). As I tried to communicate in the article, the word “inspiration” is unfortunate. Expiration would be better since the word θεόπνευστος means God-breathed. So God used imperfect men to communicate His revelation. How this work exactly we do not know. Peter expressed the process as men moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1.21). God wants us to know His will so it behooved Him to superintend a process by which we can know what He wants and how we are to participate in His plan.

  8. courtney king says:

    Dear Brother Don. Thank you so much for this article and also for The Virgin Birth of Christ article they are superb. I greatly enjoy all your articles and you have realy helped me bunches. May God Bless you and all your house.

  9. Roger Spielmann says:

    I noticed from past posts that I read this article last Spring. It is a very good article on inspiration. It does make me wonder, though, about a couple of things.

    First, to be fair, sacred scriptures in other religious traditions make the claim that they are the (only) inspired words from God. The Qur’an makes the same claim, for but one example. It seems to me, then, that this is a circular argument.

    Second, while the article sheds light on the nature of “inspiration,” it doesn’t deal with the crucial issue of inerrancy. However, one of your responses to a post does. You write, “…the Bible itself is imperfect. Inspiration only claims that the autographs, i.e., the original documents were perfect. We have only copies. So they are imperfect.” On this we agree. It also helps us to better understand the dozens of discrepancies we find in the gospels and the inconsistencies we find in Paul’s letters. For example, one finds quite a few discrepancies in the gospel accounts of Jesus’ final hours. According to Mark, Jesus was arrested after he had eaten the Passover meal and was crucified at nine the next morning (Mark 14:12 and 15:24). John’s account reports that Jesus was arrested the night before the Passover meal and was crucified just after noon on the day devoted the to the meal’s preparation (John 19:14). Which is right? No matter; these differences do not impinge on orthodox doctrine. But it can be disorienting when one carefully reads the four accounts of the passion narratives and finds dozens of these discrepancies.

    You then write, “But we have so many [copies] and since we can compare one with another we can get reliable readings (enough so that no major doctrine is affected).” But sometimes these discrepamcies do impact on doctrine. We get totally different versions of what happened from gospel to gospel. Did Jesus remain silent during the court proceedings as Mark would have us believe, or was a he speaking as Luke tells it?

    Let me see if I have this right. We would expect no discrepancies if we had access to the original manuscripts, right? But we don’t, so we find quite a number of discrepancies between the gospel writers. Some of them are small (e.g. what really happened on Sunday morning at the tomb?), while other discrepancies are of vital importance (e.g. as in Mark 16:4-5). All four gospel accounts conflict with each other. Who got it right?

    One could argue that everything recorded by all four gospel writers actually happened, but that does nothing to solve the problem of conflicting accounts. My guess is that we would find the same discrepancies in the original manuscripts. They were, after all, written by men who were doing the best they could, I suppose, to “get it right,” but each gospel writer had their own theological agenda.

    So I think I mostly agree with you. I apologize for this lengthy treatise — I just now noticed how long it is.

    Thank you for taking the time to read it.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Roger,
      I’ve noticed what you cite as discrepancies are not when the text is read carefully. A vast literature exists of men who have written about alleged contradictions and discrepancies in the Scriptures. None of these have held up. They have all been explained. The Scriptures are highly reliable. We have thousands of manuscripts as well as quotations from the early church fathers. At last estimate, there are about 400,000 variant readings. That may sound like a lot but it only affects about 15% of the NT. Over 85% of the text in all manuscripts is identical. Despite disagreements between the majority vs. critical text they agree 98% of the time. So the text which can be argued about is extremely small. The sum of it is we have about 105% text and the challenge is to determine the exact 100%.

  10. Roger Spielmann says:

    We’re getting there (or, I should say, I’m getting there). I am reflecting on what you wrote. I’d just like your take on one example that I raised earlier. I think your response to this specific question will help me put it all together. According to Mark, Jesus was arrested after he had eaten the Passover meal and was crucified at nine the next morning (Mark 14:12 and 15:24). John’s account reports that Jesus was arrested the night before the Passover meal and was crucified just after noon on the day devoted the to the meal’s preparation (John 19:14). Which one is right and how do we know which one got it right?

    Thank you for responding to my posts. It is appreciated.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Roger,
      You might enjoy this article: https://bible.org/article/time-jesus-death-and-inerrancy-harmonization-plausible which deals with time issues of the crucifixion. The main point is to approach the Scriptures from the perspective they are God-breathed and reliable. Seeming contradictions are usually because on inadequate understanding or knowledge. The Bible is the only book which makes prophetic statements that have come true. It has authenticated itself many times throughout history. The multiple prophecies concerning the Messiah came true. So did invasions, empires, etc. The Scriptures will continue to self-authenticate because there remain many unfilled prophecies that will come to pass.

  11. Roger Spielmann says:

    Happy New Year. You wrote, ” The main point is to approach the Scriptures from the perspective they are God-breathed and reliable.” That seems to me to be an irrational approach to scholarship, biblical or otherwise. If one lets one’s theology (pre)determine what one finds in the Bible, then, of course, everything WILL be found to be in harmony, regardless of how forced or or implausible an argument may be. But serious scholarship brackets preconceived notions. The scientific method is based on disproving one’s null hypothesis. There’s no reason for one to feel apprehensive about what one may find when studying the Bible (or anything, for that matter), even if it goes against one’s theology. It seems reasonable to me that one ought to welcome scholarship and be willing to revise one’s theology when the evidence leads one to in a different direction, wouldn’t you agree?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Roger,
      Thank you. I agree, mostly. The scientific method works well in testing the physical universe. When we enter the realm of history we go beyond science to epistemology. History is based upon archaeology and historical records. Most of what we know is based on authority (trust). Jesus authenticated Himself with miracles. The reason for the skepticism of the Bible is beginning with the Enlightenment the supernatural was rejected. But a Bible without the supernatural is just another religious book. It always struck me as curious that the great critical scholars rejected the supernatural but said they believed in God. How is this possible? It seems ridiculous to say one believes in God, the supreme supernatural being and source, and reject supernaturalism. One of ways the Bible has been authenticated is through prophecy (which critical scholars sought to destroy because they rejected the supernatural). This is why you find all the naturalist explanations for Jesus’ miracles. But Jesus without miracles is just a man. The NT is a historical record. In the realm of the Biblical text, scholars have made assumptions to ascertain the text. Most scholars think the critical text is the most accurate reading of NT. The CT based mostly upon Alexanderian manuscripts which are the oldest. This seems straightforward. But it’s a bit more complex. Why are they the oldest? It may be because of the climate in Egypt. The Byzantine manuscripts, which form the majority text, may be later due to the climate. But they may contain an earlier text preserved in later copies. How much was the Alexanderian text influenced by gnosticism, prevalent in Alexandria? There are questions in this area and things are not as simple as one might think. This is just a snippet of many questions involving the text.

  12. Roger Spielmann says:

    Well done. I couldn’t tell if you were well-versed in the textual criticism literature, but of course you are. New Testament textual criticism does get extremely complex (and fascinating). You wrote, “The Byzantine manuscripts…may contain an earlier text preserved in later copies. How much was the Alexandrian text influenced by gnosticism, prevalent in Alexandria?” How much, indeed? Later changes to various texts seem to indicate theological reasons for changing the text by later scribes and church leaders.

    For example, Paul’s exhortation in 1 Timothy 2:11-15 about women being “silent” in the church with “full submission” and writing, “I permit no woman to teach or have authority over a man” seems to run counter to his exhalation of various women in Romans 16, where Paul is quite clear that women held a prominent place in the emerging Christian community. He calls at least seven women by name as “co-workers” in the gospel (vs. 6 and 12) and then, notably, he writes of Junia (and her husband) as “foremost among the apostles” (vs. 7). The question naturally arises: could the 1 Timothy passage have been added at a later time (years after Paul) to reflect second generation attitudes that had developed about women in the Christian community? It very well could have been, I would think, but it shouldn’t affect one’s position on inspiration or inerrancy if it turns out to be a later addition, right?

    Comparing the 1 Timothy passage with what Paul most certainly wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:2-16, seems to create a conflict in Paul’s message, wouldn’t you agree? I guess my point is that I don’t see it as a big deal that textual critics are making such arguments. Sure, it may be that our English translations are a poor substitute for the original autographs, but such analysis really doesn’t touch on either inspiration or inerrancy as far as I can tell.

    I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this issue, especially with reference to the place of women in the early Christian movement. Thank you.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Roger,
      The text we have is highly reliable. Scholars argue about the CT, MT, RT, but these arguments only involve 1-2% of the text. Paul stated in Colossians 1.25 that he completed the Scriptures so 2 Timothy was the last book written. Paul had great regard for women but he also understood the divine order of creation: God created woman from man to complement him. Compare what he wrote in 1 Corinthians 11 with 1 Timothy 2. We have to keep in mind that Paul’s writing were not just doctrinal, they were practical and correctional. Paul’s letters provided corrections to existing problems in the local church. I am aware of no evidence to support a later addition of 1 Timothy 2.

  13. Roger Spielmann says:

    Thank you for your response. I made a mistake in my last post. What I meant to compare is 1 Timothy 2:11-15 with what we read in Romans 16 (not 1 Corinthians 1:2-16). I apologize for that confusion. My question remains, though: How are we to reconcile the two differing attitudes towards women as found in these passages? (1 Timothy 2:11-15 and Romans 16) They seem to be diametrically opposed. I didn’t mean to imply that 1 Timothy 2:11-15 was a later addition to the text. Many NT scholars make the argument that 1 Timothy was likely written by a later follower of Paul who attached Paul’s name to the letter to make it more authoritative (a common practice at the time, right?).

    I hope you will permit me to pursue this just a bit further with a comparison between the passion narratives in Mark and Luke. NT scholars agree (and I assume you do, too) that Luke (and Matthew) had the gospel of Mark in front of him as he attempted to write “,,,an orderly account” in order that Theophilus might “…know the certainty of the things [he has] been taught” (Luke 1:1-4). Mark presents us with a largely silent Jesus on his way to be crucified (Mark 14:21-39). He is only recorded as saying, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (vs. 34). In Luke’s account, however, we find a quite talkative Jesus (Luke 23:26-46). Further, Jesus’ only utterance in Mark 14 is left out of Luke’s account, the aforementioned “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Instead, Luke has Jesus saying, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 24:46). How do you account for the “silent” Jesus in Mark’s account with the quite talkative Jesus in Luke’s account? In the same vein, why would Luke choose not to include Jesus’ utterance in Mark 14:34? It’s not just a matter of “silent” versus “talkative,” either. There’s a whole different “feel” to the two accounts. In Mark, Jesus is evidently in despair on the cross, but there’s no hint of that in Luke.

    Thank you for bearing with me as I try to figure this stuff out.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Roger,
      I understood what you meant. I do not see a conflict–different circumstances. Romans 16 contains commendations and greetings. 1 Timothy contains instruction and correction. I am skeptical about Markan priority. Luke wrote his account was based upon eyewitness accounts. Whether he had written records is unknown. Scholars compare vocabulary and speculate how the gospels were written. This may (or may not) be interesting but it makes no difference. What is important is the Scriptures were God-breathed, written by men “moved” (φέρω) by the Holy Spirit. I am more concerned about what scholars think about the supernatural aspect of the creation of the Scriptures. Most of these theories were created by men who denied miracles and the supernatural. As I wrote in the article, the Scriptures are as different from any other book as Jesus’ feeding the 5,000 is from an ordinary meal. Why should one attach significance to the “silent” Jesus in Mark? Mark is much shorter than Matthew or Luke. They author emphasized what he thought important. It’s Hemingway vs. Faulkner. What would be the point in having 4 gospels if they all said the same thing in the same way? Each gospel presents different aspects and views of the Messiah.

  14. Roger Spielmann says:

    Thank you for your response. Personally, I do believe that Jesus performed miracles and that God raised him (physically) from the dead. I agree that scholars who a priori dismiss even the possibility of these miracles are as guilty of letting their ideologies skew their NT analyses as many conservative NT scholars are in letting their theology (pre)determine their analyses. Neither, in my mind, is truly scholarly but merely building up straw images/ideas and then tearing them down.

    So, I go back to your comment “What is important is the Scriptures were God-breathed, written by men “moved” (φέρω) by the Holy Spirit.” Agreed — but only with reference to the original manuscripts, of which we have none. Thus one cannot legitimately make a claim for inspiration or inerrancy when we’re dealing only with copies of copies of the originals, wouldn’t you agree? Surely you are well-versed in the manuscript transmission/copying process related to NT texts where we find sometimes radical changes to the text as they were intentionally and unintentionally altered by scribes over the decades and centuries. I can’t help but think that you agree that the issue of inspiration is moot when it comes to copies of copies of NT texts over many, many years of transcription, right?

    My point is that NT textual criticism is of vital importance as we seek to get as close as possible to the original texts. One might disagree with analytical methodologies or conclusions that go against what one already believes (one’s theology), but it seems to me to be very, very important to get as close as we can to original texts — the ones which were inspired by God. Do you welcome NT textual criticism or…well, I’m not sure what you think of it and its importance. Can you let me in on your thoughts?

    Thanks again for your thoughtful responses.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Roger,
      Yes, the autographs were God-breathed but we have thousands of copies of them. Despite the war of textual critics about what constitutes the original text, very little of the text is in question. We have reliable copies. Furthermore, the text at odds concerns no major doctrine–certainly not the resurrection–or any of the miracles for that matter. Christ’s resurrection is a documented, historical fact. We have greater historical witness of it than Caesar crossing the Rubicon or most any contemporary history. This is true of all the miracles but the resurrection is the big one. If one can believe the resurrection, the other’s are child’s play. And why should this be difficult? Can not the God who created the universe, who stands outside nature, work supernature? Great intellectual dishonesty and harm has resulted from scholars who entered the misadventure of the quest for the historical Jesus. Such men sought to strip the supernatural from Jesus to discover the “true” Christ. But this is a fool’s errand. Such a Christ would be just a man. What kind of man claims to be God if He really didn’t authenticate Himself with miracles? Paul made a strong argument for the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15. If no resurrection, no hope, no Christianity. Just close all the churches, eat, drink, and be merry. But how do you explain Paul? How would someone who had everything going for him turn 180 degrees, leave all wealth, position, reputation, social acceptance, and become a new person? Same thing with the Twelve. Why did Peter not go back to fishing? That was what he loved.

    • GraceReceiver says:

      Roger,
      First of all, let me say that you have impressed me on more than one occasion. I enjoyed reading the conversation between you and Don on the topic of homosexuality. I found that conversation to be an example of how we in the Body should treat each other: with respect, even amid disagreements. So thank you for that.
      Second, I do understand what you are saying concerning the original texts, but let us not forget that EVERY man is a liar (Romans 3:4) and that the human heart is deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9). So, if we are not trusting that God does in fact have the capacity to preserve His word for us – why would He go to such “efforts” to preserve His word, only to allow it to be mutilated later on? – we are allowing ourselves to trust man’s word, which to me seems a precarious place to be. Can we trust man to be honest, to not forge documents? No, history tells us that we cannot. Just look to the media for a present-day example!
      I had a Torah-observer recently tell me that there have been verses smuggled into the Bible, and that Paul’s words have been twisted, etc. Well, where do you think he learned this? On the internet, from man: deceitful and desperately wicked man.
      So for me personally, questioning the Bible’s authenticity is where I draw the line, because if we can’t trust God to protect His word, we by default are trusting man, and then we really have NOTHING that we can trust.
      Thanks again, Roger! I have enjoyed reading your posts. You are respectful and well-spoken. Warm wishes to you.

      • Vanessa says:

        Hello Gracereceiver, We both so enjoyed your comments especially where you said you drawn the line when questioning the Word. We also wont be drawn into any debate regarding the issue of “What if man made an error in the bible.” Such lovely articles are read here and the remarks and questions are also so very helpful for us. Take care.

        • Roger Spielmann says:

          Hi, Vanessa. Thanks for your post. Just to clarify (and I welcome Don to comment on what I say here), the issue is not on whether men made errors in the original manuscripts of the Bible (since they were inspired by God), but on how the texts may have been intentionally or unintentionally changed during the decades and centuries of scribal copying. Recall that only the original manuscripts are inspired by God, of which we have none. As Don wrote in a related post, some of our English translations of the Bible are just plain bad translations. we need to use discernment and rely on biblical scholars (such as Don) to help us figure out which translation is the most faithful to the early copies of the originals that we have.

          In fact, if you’re reading this, Don, I’d love to hear about which translation you recommend and why.

          • doctrine doctrine says:

            Roger,
            I prefer more literal translations such as NASB, KJV. For me, it’s always easier to go to a more “free” translation if needed to make better sense of idioms, etc.

      • Roger Spielmann says:

        Hi, GraceReceiver! I enjoyed reading your comments. Don is awesome and he keeps me thinking. I guess you can tell from the ongoing discussion that you and I aren’t really on the same page when it comes to our view of the Bible. But that’s okay! I can tell from your post (and other posts you’ve made in other forums) that you are a child of God and that you love Jesus and love the Bible. That’s so cool!

        My response to what you wrote is this: If only the original manuscripts were inspired by God, doesn’t it seem a bit strange that God didn’t ensure that those inspired manuscripts would be preserved? So the task of getting as close as we can to the original manuscripts through textual criticism seems to me to be an important ventue, wouldn’t you agree?

        Thank you for taking my response in the spirit in which it is offered.

        • GraceReceiver says:

          Hello again, Roger!

          Yes, it does seem a bit strange that God didn’t ensure that the inspired manuscripts would be preserved. But really, I find many of His ways strange. If I were God, I would definitely have done things differently – like not creating Lucifer, for starters. LOL

          The God that I worship and serve wants to be known by man, and has chosen to accomplish this through the written word. If He has allowed it to become corrupted to the point that we are beginning to wonder if we’ve been duped, then He doesn’t really want to be known, which pretty much makes the whole Bible a sham. Frankly, I would have little interest in serving a God that w0uld make Himself near impossible to be known.

          But perhaps your faith is stronger than mine. I will pray that as you study, you won’t go down the path that Bart Ehrman did.

          Warm wishes once again.

          • Roger Spielmann says:

            What a great post, GraceReceiver! Thank you for that. As Don mentioned in an earlier post, he encourages Christians who have a passion for and a knowledge of the original languages of the Bible to engage in textual criticism. He referred to Dan Wallace and Bart Ehrman. Both are extremely knowledgable about the original languages (Hebrew, Greek and some Aramaic) and yet come to different conclusions about the biblical texts. My personal view is that we should not be fearful of textual criticism but embrace it. Personalities aside, we’re talking about serious scholarship and ideas and we/I look for the most compelling and persuasive analyses. So to me it doesn’t matter whose analysis I’m reading, Wallace or Ehrman, for example, it’s the persuasiveness of the analysis that moves me in one direction or another.

            Much of textual criticism has to do with the scribal tradition and how the process of copying manuscripts has resulted in textual variants, interpolations, and different scribal perspectives over the centuries. But, as Don contends, none of these variants, etc. negate the inspiration of the original texts. Textual criticism attempts to get as as close as possible to those inspired texts, which seems to me to be a very worthwhile endeavour, wouldn’t you agree?

            You have a contagious faith, GraceReceiver, that we can all learn from. Thank you for your posts and keep ’em coming!

  15. Roger Spielmann says:

    Great response. I agree with everything you said in it (is that a first for us? :)

    But you didn’t answer my question. Do you believe that NT textual criticism is important to pursue in order to get as close as possible to the original text(s) and to better understand the controversies that early Christianity was confronted with? There are many NT scholars who believe that Jesus did perform miracles and that God raised him from the dead (you most certainly being one of them). Yet they believe that NT scholarship is extremely important. That’s what I wanted to hear you talk about: how important is NT textual criticism for better understanding sacred texts?

    And, to backtrack a bit, I do believe that there are many passages in the NT where scribal changes have been made that impact on Christian theology and doctrine. One example: a number of NT scholars make the argument that verses 43-44 in Luke 22 are a later addition meant to combat Marcion’s form of docetism; that is, to attack the growing perception (at the time) that Jesus was not a real human being. Certainly the debates around Christology affected the scribes who copied the books (many of whom were well-trained for that task) that eventually made their way into Athanasius’ proposed canon of scripture in 367 A.D. But the question then becomes: Why did some scribes decide to intentionally add to the texts in front of them? The short answer is that, for orthodox Christians (or, at least, what eventually became orthodoxy), it was important to emphasize that Jesus really was fully human and not merely having the “appearance” of a human being. So it was important at the time for scribes to make sure that readers of the text would understand this. Such an analysis makes sense to me (and lots of others) and occurs quite frequently in the scribal tradition. Most Christians could care less about textual criticism, but I do (again, along with many others), because such analyses tell us so much about what was being argued about in the first three centuries of the Christian church (and beyond), wouldn’t you agree?

    So, I do agree with what you wrote, but I’m still wondering how valuable (or not) you think textual analysis is in the present day as we try to get as close as possible to really understanding what was going on in early Christian controversies and how the scribes came to the aid of emphasizing the orthodox position. Some may find that extremely valuable and interesting, most likely don’t care or have never given it much thought. But you have (according to your responses in previous posts) so I wonder what you think of the present-day attempt (let’s confine it to conservative Christian textual scholars) who devote their lives to exploring these possibilities? Perhaps, then, the question is: Would you encourage or discourage Christians who are interested in the development of early church history and theology to follow these scholars’ investigations?

    Thank you again for responding.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Roger,
      I think textual criticism is very important. However, having said that, it affects only a tiny fraction of the text and no major doctrines. In your example of Luke 22.43-44, whether those verses were in the autographs or not does not affect the doctrine of Jesus’ humanity. That he ate, drank, grew tired, and ultimately, died is documented in other passages. I would encourage anyone with an interest and gifts in the original languages to pursue textual criticism. The academic pursuit is good. But results can vary at an individual level. It can lead to greater confidence in the text (e.g., Dan Wallace) or extreme skepticism (e.g., Bart Ehrman).

  16. Dawn says:

    Don,
    Is any prophecy being fulfilled today? Or will it resume only after the rapture?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Dawn,
      Prophecy relates to Israel, not the Church. What we see today is stage setting. The Lord is completing His body, the Church. What we are witnessing is increasing antagonism to Christ. That antagonism will reach its apex with the world’s worship of the Beast. God is preparing the world for these events and His return.

      • iSSa says:

        Hi Sir,

        Can you point me to your articles that deal with end-times? I am currently studying Daniel 11 and the Middle East events (North vs South war / Iran vs Saudi Arabia) and I am shocked at how fast we are nearing the end.

        Also, given all this stage setting, do you have a date or at least a year for (1) rapture and (2) second coming of Christ. Are these two even different events or there’s just one “second coming”, i.e. no rapture (pre- or post-trib)?

        Thank you so much! Looking forward to your answers :)

  17. Dawn Sobczak says:

    Maybe it’s time to have us revisit this article in light of those who challenge the teachings of Paul.

  18. Roger Spielmann says:

    Reading Matthew 27:51-53 got me thinking. First, you would think that an event such as “…the tombs broke open and the bodies of many people who had died were raised to life” (v. 52.) and that, “…they went into Jerusalem and were seen by many people” (53), would have been recorded somewhere by someone other than only in Matthew’s gospel. But it’s not. No other written record exists of this event in anything outside of Matthew. Both the religious and secular historians are silent on this momentous event. Doesn’t that make you wonder if this event actually took place?

    Second, how does one explain that people who were dead (in their graves, vs. 52) could come back to life? Unless, of course, they were “sleeping” as both Jesus and Paul believed; that is, in a dreamless, unconscious state waiting for the Lord to return. Either that or somehow their disembodied “souls” were somehow reunited with their bodies in . Or were they merely the walking dead?

    Third, how could anyone have known that the Temple veil was “torn in two from top to bottom” (v.51)? And how did the veil get repaired since the Temple continued to be in use for another forty years?

    This short passage raises some interesting questions for me. Thank you for reading them.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Roger,
      1. Lots of possible explanations for this. No need to record it elsewhere in the gospels or other writings. If it was recorded by a secular historian it could have been, lost, destroyed, or suppressed. The Jewish and Roman authorities could ill afford such knowledge being broadcast. 2. The Jewish believers raised were part of the firstfruits in resurrection of whom Christ was the first. Their souls and spirits were in paradise and they were raised into newness of life by resurrection as a preview of all believers. 3. Someone had to repair the torn veil. The word got out. I’m sure the priests had a cover story–just like politics today. They sewed it up and continued life as usual.

  19. Roger Spielmann says:

    Thank you for your response. In my study group, everyone says they take the Bible “literally.” I’m not exactly sure what they mean. I asked the guys, “If you take the Bible literally, why do you still have your right eyes intact?” The gist of the discussion was, “Well, we know Jesus didn’t mean that literally.” Anyway, much confusion ensued. I reminded them of the early church father Origen, who took the Bible “literally” and castrated himself according to Matthew 19:12. My question is: what does it mean to take the Bible “literally” and who decides what is literal or what isn’t? Like, I assume Origen kind of overdid it, but how would you explain to someone what taking the Bible “literally” means?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Roger,
      My article, Hermeneutics, may help answer your question.

      • Faith says:

        I would have to point out that just knowing English and the use of metaphors and similes would help us out tremendously in realizing what is to be taken literally and what is not. I think it is easy to spot these differences out in Scripture. If one would say take the other approach and NOT believe in a literal application (minus the metaphors and similes) then how could anyone trust anything the Bible would say? I have heard people state they did not believe the Adam and Eve story but then I ask “how could believe then any story of the Bible, especially Christs actual birth, death, and resurrection?” This is where the gnostics of the time went off course- many denied the actual death and resurrection of
        Jesus Christ.

        • Roger Spielmann says:

          Hi, Faith. Thank you for your input. I wonder about your logic, however. You write, “I have heard people state they did not believe the Adam and Eve story but then I ask how could believe then any story of the Bible?” Certainly one can take the Adam and Eve story as poem or myth which encodes God’s truth and yet still believe in the resurrection of Christ, for example. They aren’t mutually exclusive. God gave us beautiful minds. We honour God with our minds and scholarship. Whether the Adam and Eve story (staying with your example) is “historical” or not does not negate the truth being taught in that story. This story is a good example in that it is not unique to the Bible. In a number of pre-biblical traditions (Mesopotamian, Assyrian, Egyptian, The Epic of Gilgamesh) written a thousand years or more before Genesis, the stories we find in those traditions of the creation of the first humans pre-date Genesis and are, in many ways, identical to the Genesis account. Did the author of Genesis borrow from these earlier traditions? Probably. But the truth is the same in all these stories. We need to rely on scholarship to disentangle history from myth.

          Not to worry if you disagree with this, Faith, I’m sure Doctrine will weigh in here.

          • doctrine doctrine says:

            Roger,
            True. One can believe Adam and Eve as myth and believe in the resurrection of Christ but would argue this a logical pinch. While many flood and creation traditions exist in the ancient near and were written before Genesis, they are far less sophisticated, comprehensive, and accurate than Genesis.

          • Faith says:

            Yes I agree also- that one could believe one and not the other- however, when one does this he only pokes holes into the whole. Belief then becomes relative to whatever holds his or her fancy. You can find on the internet today “evidence” that espouses both theories. Personally, I prefer to look at Scripture through the Eyes of the Holy Spirit and this is key. The Holy Spirit illuminates the truth in Scripture and it will not turn up void. If one holds to that I am sure we could trust what Scripture tells us directly without all the nuances getting in the way

          • Faith says:

            Here is another important point Roger. “Why would Adam and Eve be written as an allegory but be also written in the same way as the stories of Abraham, Joseph, David and so on?” There is no allegorical language that is evident in any of these stories. Why would God confuse us with an allegory and yet it not be with other OT stories? I do not think God is an author of confusion and is He not the real author of Scripture?

            • Roger Spielmann says:

              Thanks for your response, Faith. You wrote, “Belief then becomes relative to whatever holds his or her fancy.” I see it differently. We should have solid reasons for knowing *why* we believe *what* we believe. If we can’t provide good reasons for believing something (anything, actually), then why believe it? The argument that the Bible is the Word of God because it *says* it is is not a good reason for believing it is. Sacred scriptures in every religious tradition make the same claim, e.g. the Qur’an, the Book of Mormon, etc.); that God “inspired” their infallible scriptures. So why *do* we believe that the Bible is the only true Word of God? There are reasons, I’m sure, but not merely because the Bible makes that claim for itself. Why do *you* believe the Bible is the only true Word of God? (Jump in anytime, Doctrine. I’d like to know, too).

              Back to determining what is myth and what is history, there are strong reasons for believing that the Tower of Babel, the Flood, and other biblical stories are clearly myth in content and structure. Those who devote themselves to such matters are much appreciated. They help us laypeople to filter fact from fiction, myth from history, and so on. They help us (well, me) to better appreciate the beauty and truth the Bible is trying to communicate to human beings, at times using historical stories and at other times using made-up ones (as Jesus did when using parables).

              The truth is out there(!). We need to use these beautiful minds God has given us to figure out what it is.

              Now let’s hear from Doctrine!

              • doctrine doctrine says:

                Roger,
                Holy books can claim divine inspiration but the evidential test is prophecy. Only the Bible makes prophetic claims which come true. Therefore, we have evidence of divine inspiration for the Bible. We have none for other writings. In philosophical language, the Bible can be falsified and verified. On the myth front, I cannot recall the timetable but think Adam and Eve, Tower of Babel, Flood, etc. was not viewed as literal, historical accounts until relatively recently. There is no literary reason to regard them as such. Jesus taught Adam and Eve were historical persons and that a historical flood occurred. Skeptics come up with “accommodation” theories but these are desperate measures. It’s the logical pinch I mentioned earlier.

  20. Roger Spielmann says:

    Thank you for your response. A quick follow-up that I’ve wondered about: Is Isaiah 53 referring to Jesus or King Uzziah?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Roger,
      See Acts 8.28-40. This passage was shrouded and the rabbis did not know what it meant. Hence, the Ethiopian Jew’s question to Phillip. The incidents related in Isaiah 53 do not fit Uzziah’s life and reign. It is a Messianic passage which Jesus fulfilled.

  21. roger Spielmann says:

    In re-reading the comments in this forum, I find that you wrote, “Only the Bible makes prophetic claims which come true. Therefore, we have evidence of divine inspiration for the Bible. We have none for other writings.” But even a cursory glance at Muslim scholarship demonstrates that the Qur’an makes prophetic predictions which have come to pass. I won’t go into detail about those prophecies (unless someone wants to read some of them), but would you like to qualify your claim?

  22. uzziel says:

    Don,
    How will you explain Mark 16: 9-20 where, early manuscript do not contain this verses? Between the early and late manuscript, where is the inspired?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Uzziel,

      The matter is not as simple as the earliest mss. not having the last 12 verses. Several early church fathers wrote before these manuscripts and quoted the verses and go back to the 2nd century (Ireneus). A suspicious looking blank space is in ms. Codex B, the oldest codex we have, where the verses would have been. It appears the verses were left out for some reason. Early translations such as the Peshito, Vulgate, and Old Latin which go back to the 2nd century contain the verses. One has to account for these evidences to make a sound case for omission. The most scholarly treatment of the subject was The Last Twelve Verses of Mark by Dean John William Burgon.

  23. Joe Grace says:

    Don,

    First, I would like to take a moment and thank you for your ministry. It is rare to find websites, such as yours, where the word of God is presented dispensationaly and rightly divided (2 Tim 2:15).
    While reading your articles I noticed the NASB is your preferred study bible which led me to this article, “Inspiration of Scripture” and the subsequent responses (replies). Correct me if I am wrong but I noticed the “preservation of scripture” had yet to be brought into this topic of discussion. A topic, I believe, integral to our faith. Throughout the scriptures, God emphasizes the preservation of His word (Psalm 12:6,7, Psalm 33:11, Luke 21:33, 1Peter 1:23-25), which when coupled with inspiration forms the backbone of our faith (Romans 10:17, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Faith that God would preserve His word throughout time in copy after copy of the original autographs. Faith that these copies are inerrant.
    In years past, and after much study and prayerful considerations, I have concluded that the King James bible is in fact the copy which God, not only inspired but also has preserved for us today. I know this is a hot topic in Christian circles but a topic that must be prayerfully studied and considered by all Christians.
    I believe textual criticism is harmful at best. The notion that God would require an individual believer (like myself) to default to a scholar with knowledge of Hebrew and Greek to then shed light on His word makes me uneasy (irregardless of frequency or instance).
    I believe, with out a doubt, the word of God is bedrock to our Christian faith. I also believe God preserved it in English for us today as found in the King James bible.

    Respectfully, in Christ Jesus

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Joe,
      Textual criticism is a good, but difficult exercise. It is based upon assumptions which may, or may not be true, specificially regarding the majority vs. critical text. The doctrine of inspiration applies only to the autographs and the KJV is not inspired. There are clear examples of textual errors in it such as Romans 8.1 and 2 Thessalonians 2.2. God has preserved His word through the many copies we have. I appreciate you comment about reliance upon scholars but some reliance is required. The good news is that no fundamental doctrine is affected by variant readings.

    • Bobbi says:

      Hello Joe,
      I am not a scholar but just a sister in Christ and an avid Bible reader. I am a KJV reader myself as I love the older English. There is quite a KJV ONLY movement stating as you did that it is The Only Inspired english translation. However in your studies on this, include 2Peter 1:19-21, Psalms 147:19-20, Deut. 4:2, Psalms 118:8, Psalms 146:3, Psalms 68:11. The word of God was not given in English. As we still have Greek and Hebrew and Aramaic , it is possible to investigate ourselves the original languages, easily. This teaching is one that can even devide believers, and we don’t want that! Just wanted to warn you. Paul warns us to be careful of what we build upon our foundation.
      From what I’ve read and seen, it’s turned into a “doctrine” of men.
      In Christ Jesus!
      Bobbi

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