ADD 500, Inspiration and Authority

The Gospel of Matthew
A Brief Discussion on The Interpretation and Authority of the Scriptures (selected portions)"


The Book of MATTHEW

A Brief Discussion on The Interpretation and Authority of the Scriptures (selected portions)


Matthew Addendum #14

Brief discussion on
The Interpretation and Authority

of the Scriptures[1]

 Rene Pache divides book into several sections. We'll only touch on the elements of each section as it pertains to our study.

 I.       The Revelation from God

The Situation

"Man on earth is placed in a paradoxical situation. Endowed with intelligence and logic, he seems intended to know the reason for his existence and meaning of it, as well as the origin of the universe and the person of his Creator.


Actually however, he finds himself surrounded by mysteries. Left to his own devices, he is incapable of answering the questions which press in on him so closely: From whence has he come? Why is he the victim of suffering and death? Will he ever find happiness and peace? What will occur after death: annihilation, judgment, or eternal life? And above all towers this question: Does God exist? Then, if He does, why is He so far form us; and how can we manage to have an encounter with Him?


The necessity of revelation from God

In order for man to come to any true understanding, he must have a revelation from above, chiefly for the following two reasons.

        1.     God is, by definition, inaccessible to the creature. His omnipotence, eternality and absolute perfection are by their very essence inconceivable to our limited minds (Isaiah 45:15, 55:9; 1 Timothy 6:15-16).

        2.     By the fall, man broke the contact with God. After he was driven out of paradise, his condition thenceforth was one of spiritual death (Genesis 2:17; 3:24; Ephesians 2:1, 5) and of blindness (1 Corinthians 2:14; 2 Corinthians 4:4).


The sinner, the unregenerate man, cannot see the Kingdom of God or enter into it. To enter the Kingdom, one must be born from above, appropriating truths revealed from above. Indeed, these are the "things which eye saw not, and ear heard not, and which entered not into the heart of man, whatsoever things God prepared for them that love Him. But unto us God revealed them through the Spirit" (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).


Psalms states, "The opening of Thy words gives light; it gives understanding unto the simple" (Psalms 119:130).


Irenaeus rightly said, "The Lord taught us that no one can know God unless God Himself be the teacher; that is, without God, God cannot be known."[2]


Universal revelation

1.     The revelation of God in nature (Romans 1:19-21; Psalms 19:1)

2.     The voice of God in conscience (Romans 2:14-16)


II. The Divine Word

Our God does not remain silent like the idols of the heathen, both ancient and modern (1 Corinthians 12:2). From the creation on through the entire history of His people, He reveals Himself by speaking. He spoke, and out of nothing the universe sprang forth.


John declared of the Christ, who became incarnate for our salvation, revealing to us the Father: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh." (1:1, 14).


The Lord, who is both light and love (1 John 1:5; 4:8), takes pleasure in making Himself known to His creatures.


III.   The Written Word

1.     A Written revelation is necessary - a lasting divine revelation must rest on a written base.

2.     Writing is indispensable for establishing the message - after revelation takes on a definite form, it is preserved from the variations, additions and errors of oral transmission.

3.     The written word provides a remembrance of God's revelation.

4.     The written word works independently of orator and writer.

5.     The written word becomes universal, indestructible and almost omnipresent.

6.     The written word makes its readers forever afterward responsible.


IV.    The Incarnate Word and the Inspired Word

It seems fashionable to claim that only Christ is the Word of God and that the Bible is not that Word but merely "contains" it. One glance at the Bible is enough to show the absurdity of such a statement. Christ Himself enunciated the Word of God in His preaching (Luke 5:1). Philip preached Christ in Samaria and the apostles discovered that the Word of God had been received there (Acts 8:5, 14).


V.      Inspiration - Definition

          1.      Revelation: The act by which God makes Himself known to His creatures.

          2.      Inspiration:  The determining influence exercised by the Holy Spirit on the writers of the Old and New Testaments in order that they might proclaim and set down in an exact and authentic way the message as received by God. This influence guided them even to the extent of their use of words, that they might be kept from all error and omission. A like inspiration was granted to the sacred writers in regard to events or facts already known by them without special revelation, that their accounts of them might be that which God willed.

        "Biblical inspiration ... is that ... activity of the Holy Spirit through which He mysteriously filed the human spirit of the biblical writers and guided and overruled them, so that there arose an infallible, Spirit-wrought writing, a sacred record, a Book of God, with which the Spirit of God evermore organically unites Himself.[3]


6.     other theories - not explored here


7.      Plenary and Verbal Inspiration of the Scriptures

What do we mean by plenary and verbal inspiration?

We believe that in the composition of the original manuscripts, the Holy Spirit guided the authors even in there choice of expressions - and this throughout all the pages of the Scriptures - still without effacing the personalities of the different men.


The doctrine of plenary inspiration holds that the original documents of the Bible were written by men, who, though permitted the exercise of their own personalities and literary talents, yet wrote under the control and guidance of the Spirit of God, the result being in every word of the original documents a perfect and errorless recording of the exact message which God desired to give to man.[4]


Verbal inspiration means that this plenary inspiration of necessity extends to the words. The words are inseparable from the message. The sense of the divine revelation is inextricably tied in with the language of the Scriptures; their content cannot be expressed apart from words.


8.      The Bible - The Word of God

1.     The Bible constantly affirms that it is the very Word of the Lord (Exodus 17:14-34:27; Ezra9:4; 10:3; Nehemiah 8:1-8; The Psalms 140; 142; 171-172; The prophets - too numerous to list.

2.     Christ and the Apostles confirmed the testimony of the Old Testament.

3.     Christ's preaching and that of the apostles was called "The Word of God."

4.     In drawing up the New Testament, the apostles were fully conscious that they were writing "The Word of God."


9.      The inspiration of the New Testament - not dealt with here.


10.    Inerrancy has to do with the original writings.

They are what God intended them to be. The copying process that has taken place in order to hand down that original information has been superintended by God Himself to such a degree that we should remain steadfast in our trust of the words contained therein.

"It is sometimes suggested that we can have no confidence that any text that we possess conveys to us the genuine meaning of the inspired word ... But faith in the consistency of God warrants an attitude of confidence that the text is sufficiently trustworthy not to lead us astray. If God gave the Scriptures for a practical purpose - to make men wise unto salvation through faith in Christ - it is a safe inference that He never permits them to become so corrupted that they can no longer fulfill it. It is noteworthy that the New Testament men did not hesitate to trust the words of the Old Testament as they had it, as a reliable indication of the mind of God. This attitude of fiath in the adequacy of the text is confirmed, as far as it can be, by the unanimous verdict of textual scholars that the biblical manuscripts are excellently preserved; and no point of doctrine depends on any of the small number of cases in which the true reading remains doubtful. Professor F. F. Bruce expresses the verdict of scholarship as well as of biblical faith when he writes: "By the singular care and providence of God, the Bible text has come down to us in such substantial purity that even the most uncritical edition of the Hebrew or Greek ... cannot effectively obscure the real message of the Bible or neutralize its saving power."[5]


[1] Rene Pache, The Inspiration and Authority of Scripture, Moody Press, Chicago, 1979

[2] Irenaeus: G. T. Manley, The New Bible Handbook, p.6

          Irenaeus (b. 240 A.D., d. 200 A.D.) a student of Polycarp who was a disciple of the Apostles themselves. He was a principle in the defense of the Gospel in the early church.

[3] Louis Gaussen, The Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, trans. David D. Scott, pp. 116-117.

[4] Frank E. Gaebelein, The Meaning of Inspiration, p. 9

[5] James I. Packer, Fundamentalism and the Word of God, p. 90