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“Holy Father . . . Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” (Jesus in John 17:17)


The ancient scribes who hand-copied the Old Testament Scriptures showed great reverence for the Word by the strict rules that they followed in their work.

For example, they focused on one letter at a time, lest their eyes confuse similiar words; they even counted the letters in each book that they had copied to see if there were too few or too many.

These and many other rules that they followed would be fanatical if applied to any writings other than the Scriptures. But those men labored so carefully and meticulously because they believed that the words before them were God’s own.

It is right that we also should view the Scriptures with reverence, treasuring every word of the sacred text, for the Scriptures themselves teach that God the Holy Spirit is the Author of the books of the Bible in this way that He moved the “holy men of God” to write what they did (2 Pet. 1:21).

Paul describes the Scriptures as “given by inspiration of God”–literally “God-breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16). The Spirit’s inspiration extends to each word of the original text. The “holy men of God” who wrote the books of the Bible spoke “as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21); they uttered words and recorded them verbatim. Therefore we believe and teach the doctrine of verbal inspiration–that every word of the Scriptures is inspired.

This is evident also from the way the New Testament writers often cite the Old Testament Scriptures, making a point based on a single word.

For example, the writer of Hebrews speaks of the new covenant of the Gospel, quoting a passage from Jeremiah. His point is based on the single word “new.” He says of the Lord: “In that He says, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete” (Heb. 8:8, 13). Jesus also quotes the Old Testament Scriptures in this way, arguing with His enemies that David in Psalm 110 called the Messiah his Lord. The basis of the Lord’s argument was a single word, which silenced the Pharisees (Mt. 22:41-46).

Paul even goes so far as to make a point from the Old Testament based not just on one word but on the fact that a singular form is used rather than a plural. “Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your Seed,’ who is Christ” (Gal. 3:16).

Clearly the New Testament writers and our Lord Himself regarded every word of Scripture as chosen and put there by God.

The New Testament Scriptures are likewise inspired by the Holy Spirit, for Jesus promised His apostles that the Spirit would teach them all things and cause them to remember what Jesus had taught them (Jn. 14:26).

Paul also said that he and the other apostles taught “not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches” (1 Cor. 2:13).

This teaching of the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures is comforting to us, for it assures us that we may be certain of what the Scriptures teach. And the Scriptures make known to us the love of God in Christ and the eternal salvation that He has won for us.

We are right to believe the Scriptures and to place our trust in the Savior who is revealed there.

–Pastor John Klatt