Verbal Plenary Inspiration

This entry is part 197 of 396 in the series Inquiring Minds
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What is the verbal plenary inspiration of the Bible?

This is a fancy theological way of talking about how the Holy Spirit inspired the authors of the New Testament to write the books of the Bible we have today. Inspiration is the idea that God had a personal hand in the writing of Scripture.

Verbal refers to the fact that the Bible is a book of words. And because the communicators of the Bible used words, the Holy Spirit has a hand in the words the writers chose to use. Many of the words of Scripture convey an exact meaning, and many of them also have synonyms and words like them but different in meaning.

So the Holy Spirit inspired the words of the Bible. Plenary means “full.” The full text of the Bible is verbally inspired by the Holy Spirit. He used the authors he chose and we can see their personality in the text of Scripture. But the Holy Spirit is the one who breathed the words of Scripture.

We don’t mean that every single word and the word order, the syntax, and the sentence structure are inspired by the Holy Spirit. We mean that the word choices used in the words themselves are inspired.

Inspired means that God breathed the Scriptures and the human authors recorded them. They were not mindless drones. He spoke to them audibly, in some cases, and they recorded his words. But other times they wrote from their experiences with Jesus.

God directed the authors to write the essential understanding he wanted so that people can hear the gospel and be saved. He also gave the words of Scripture so that we can grow in Christ. But the words are important and so are the concepts.

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