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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Is the Bible the Authoritative Word of God?

Don Stewart :: To What Extent Is the Bible Authoritative?

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Question 4

To What Extent Is the Bible Authoritative?

Is the Bible trustworthy in everything that it says? To what extent, may we ask, is the Scripture an authoritative source of information about God? We must make a number of important observations about this topic.

  1. The Importance of Every Word of Scripture Is Stressed

    The Bible testifies to the importance of every word that is found in Scripture. Sometimes a vital truth hinges on the particular use of a certain word, a form of a word or a group of words.

    For example, when he wrote to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul argued from the use of a word in the singular rather than in the plural. He wrote:

    Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his descendant. Scripture does not say, “and to the descendants,” referring to many, but “and to your descendant,” referring to one, who is Christ. (Galatians 3:16 NET)

    This Old Testament prophecy which Paul cited, which is found in the Book of Genesis, used the singular, not the plural. Consequently, it referred to one particular descendant of Abraham—Christ. Paul emphasized this when he said the prediction was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Therefore, from this example, we can conclude that every word, as well as every form of a word, is important. Everything is there for a reason.

  2. All Parts of Scripture Are Fully Authoritative

    The Bible teaches that its authority extends to all parts of the written Word. Paul wrote the following to Timothy:

    All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)

    All Scripture is authoritative—not just some of it.

    Simon Peter spoke of the authority of the Old Testament prophets, Jesus Christ and the apostles. This would include all of Scripture. He wrote:

    I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles. (2 Peter 3:2 TNIV)

    In this context, “prophets” would probably be referring to the Old Testament prophets. The command given by Jesus through His apostles would include the writings which would eventually make up the New Testament.

  3. The Old Testament Was Written for Our Instruction

    There is something else which we should note. Among other reasons, the Old Testament was written for the instruction of New Testament believers.

    The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Rome:

    For whatever was written before was written for our instruction, so that through our endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we may have hope. (Romans 15:4 HCSB)

    The Message puts it this way:

    Even if it was written in Scripture long ago, you can be sure it’s written for us. God wants the combination of his steady, constant calling and warm, personal counsel in Scripture to come to characterize us, keeping us alert for whatever he will do next. (Romans 15:4 MsgB)

    Paul says the former writings, the Old Testament, were written for our instruction. He does not exclude anything from the Old Testament, but rather includes everything. There is no distinction between some parts of Scripture that are true, and others that are not. All of the writings are assumed to be true.

  4. All Scripture Is Profitable

    Finally, the Bible says that everything that comes from God is profitable. The written Scripture has the same authority as the spoken messages of the prophets—every part of Scripture is of divine origin. Sermons recorded in Scripture are spoken revelation, while there are other portions that were never spoken, but only written. The truth of all statements, whether they may be historical or theological, is assumed by the writers of Scripture without any question or discussion. This is the unanimous perspective of the biblical writers.

Conclusion: All Parts, as Well as Every Word of Scripture, Is Divinely Inspired of God

The totality of the evidence shows that the Scripture is fully inspired of God; all parts and every word. There is not the slightest hint of any limited type of divine inspiration. The entire Bible is the Word of God. This is what should be taught and believed.

The Divine Authority of All of Scripture Has Only Been Recently Questioned

It should also be noted that questioning the truth of the divine authority of the Bible is something that is relatively recent in the history of the church. It was only during the last half of the nineteenth century that this subject began to be debated among people in the church. Before that time, there was the united belief that the Bible was the result of God’s Spirit leading the human authors to correctly write down the things that God wanted revealed. This, of course, is the biblical view.

Summary - Question 4
To What Extent Is the Bible Authoritative?

The Scripture is completely and fully the Word of God. Not only is this the direct teaching on the subject, it is also the way the Scriptures are used. For example, the Apostle Paul’s argument in Galatians 3:16 is based upon the use of a singular rather than a plural. Therefore, every word found in Scripture is there for a reason.

Furthermore, from the testimony of Holy Scripture, we discover that the Bible is God’s authoritative word to humanity in every place and in every word. Every part and every word should be taken seriously; no parts should be rejected or overlooked.

This view of the Bible has been the historic view of the church. Only recently has this issue come up for debate among professed believers in Jesus Christ. The fact that certain professed Christians have actually questioned the divine authority of Scripture is something which should be sincerely regretted. There is no reason whatsoever to do this.

What Is Meant by the Verbal Plenary Inspiration of Scripture? ← Prior Section
When Paul Said All Scripture Is “God-Breathed,” Was He Also Referring to the New Testament? (2 Timothy 3:16) Next Section →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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