Biblical Authority, Inerrancy, and Inspiration

The Bible is an important part of our history as well as our future. The Bible is authoritative, inerrant, and contains a great deal of inspiration. Reading the text is a must whether a person is an atheist, a Christian, or adheres to another religion.

Biblical authority is the idea that The Bible is the word of God, points back to God, and can be trusted as factual and true. In Elwell’s article, he discusses John 14:10 which demonstrates that Jesus’ authority came from God and Jesus was sent to bring the New Covenant to the world. The entire story presented in the New Testament points back to fulfillment of Jewish prophecy in the Old Testament. While liberal theologians dismiss the Bible’s ontological authority, they do acknowledge that the authority itself is bestowed by God, but the Bible is a human product. (Elwell, 153-154). The proposed objection is false. Christians cannot believe that God inspired and is present within The Bible while simultaneously holding that the Bible is a work of man.  God is the author of authority and reveals Himself through revelation to the Jews in the Old Testament. He also reveals Himself through Christ (John 1:1-3). Christ not only studied the Old Testament, but also fulfilled the prophecies through His actions and demonstrated that the Old Testament was authoritative, and thus He was also the embodiment of God and authority.

As far as The Bible is concerned, inspiration implies a “personal/divine mind and will”. Elwell cites Job 32:8 which states “But it is the spirit in the man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding.” In short, inspiration comes from God’s spoken word. (Elwell, 159-160)  Also recall the Sermon on The Mount in which Christ states He came to fulfill prophecy within the Old Testament. That prophecy was inspired by God to His people. Such complex requirements could not be fulfilled several hundred years later in every detail by someone who was not divinely inspired. Scholars have found it appropriate to dismiss Jesus in every aspect but his theological and moral teachings. They often hold that revelation and inspiration cannot assume the form of words or concepts. (Elwell, 162). Jesus Himself presented the best rebuttal possible in Luke 24:44 in which He stated: “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” This means that Jesus proved who he was by holding Himself to all the prophecies inspired and revealed by God in the Old Testament. Therefore, if He did not fulfill each prophecy, He could be the embodiment of God.

Two types of inspiration that are important to touch on are plenary and verbal inspiration. Plenary inspiration holds that God is revealed as the author of The Bible and the writers are the focus of inspiration demonstrating an author and they have all been inspired in all of their writings. (Elwell, 929). Verbal inspiration relates God’s spoken word as the basis for inspiration.

God’s inspiration (perfect and without error) implies the Bible’s inerrancy. My definition of inerrancy is that The Bible is the perfect Word of God. Further, any perceived contradictions simply demonstrate our inability to fully comprehend God’s Word. Proverbs 30:5 states “Every word of God is pure.” Elwell presents four arguments for inerrancy. First, the Bible teaches its unique inerrancy through 2 Timothy 3:16. Second, God defines criteria for distinguishing His message from the message of false prophets in Deuteronomy 13:1-5 and 18:20-22. Third, the Bible teaches its own authority. In John 10: 34-35, Jesus says scripture is binding and cannot be broken. Fourth, Scripture uses Scripture in a way that supports inerrancy. In Matthew 22:32, Jesus affirms that God is God of the living and part of God is the Living Word. The Biblical Argument against inerrancy is weak because it ignores the verses that affirm the Bible’s inerrancy. (Such as 2 Timothy 3:16). The Epistemological Argument is perhaps the strongest. While it does not specifically say that one error in the Bible means the entire Bible is false, it does provide fuel to challenge the Bible entirely if one verse is found to be false. (Elwell, 157-159).

In closing, the authoritative nature of the Bible implies a divine authority that inspires the words in the Bible. The Bible’s inerrancy implies that the book itself is perfect and without flaw or contradiction. Given that these things are true, we are called to live as God teaches through Jesus Christ. Because such a lifestyle implies perfection, we are incapable of doing so. Therefore, the sacrifice of Christ reconciles our sinful nature. This does not mean we should not try. “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:20).


Elwell, Walter A.  Evangelical Dictionary of Theology.  2nd ed.  Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2001.


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My name is Charlie Tinsley and I blog about The Bible. I post theology and have leaned towards an emphasis on domestic violence and forgiveness. I serve as Ambassador for the state of Virginia in the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse. I hold a Masters of Divinity from Eastern Mennonite Seminary and Bachelors Degree in Science in Religion Summa Cum Laude with a Biblical Studies Minor from Liberty University. I have studied in the two “major fields” of theological thought. I am married and have been for several years and I currently reside in Virginia.

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