There are at least 8 Bible canons in the world in use today with different books contained within. How do we know which is the "true inspired word of God"?

 

2 Timothy 3:16

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

 

When people speak of the Bible as inspired, they are referring to the fact that God divinely influenced the human authors of the Scriptures in such a way that what they wrote was the very Word of God. In the context of the Scriptures, the word “inspiration” simply means “God-breathed.”

 

Inspiration means the Bible truly is the Word of God and makes the Bible unique among all other books.

 

While there are different views as to the extent to which the Bible is inspired, there can be no doubt that the Bible itself claims that every word in every part of the Bible comes from God.

 

1 Corinthians 2:12-13

12 “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisadom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual”.

 

This view of the Scriptures is often referred to as “verbal plenary” inspiration. That means the inspiration extends to the very words themselves (verbal)—not just concepts or ideas—and that the inspiration extends to all parts of Scripture and all subject matters of Scripture (plenary). Some people believe only parts of the Bible are inspired or only the thoughts or concepts that deal with religion are inspired, but these views of inspiration fall short of the Bible’s claims about itself. Full verbal plenary inspiration is an essential characteristic of the Word of God.

 

 

The extent of inspiration can be clearly seen in 2 Timothy 3:16, this verse tells us that God inspired all Scripture and that it is profitable to us. It is not just the parts of the Bible that deal with religious doctrines that are inspired, but each and every word from Genesis to Revelation. Because it is inspired by God, the Scriptures are therefore authoritative when it comes to establishing doctrine, and sufficient for teaching man how to be in a right relationship with God. The Bible claims not only to be inspired by God, but also to have the supernatural ability to change us and make us “complete.” The lives around the world that have changed as a result of this manifestation validate truth.

Another verse that deals with the inspiration of the Scriptures is 2 Peter 1:21 -

12 “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual”..

 

 

This verse helps us to understand that even though God used men with their distinctive personalities and writing styles, God divinely inspired the very words they wrote. Jesus Himself confirmed the verbal plenary inspiration of the Scriptures when He said..

 

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled...” 

Matthew 5:17-18.

 

In these verses, Jesus is reinforcing the accuracy of the Scriptures down to the smallest detail and the slightest punctuation mark, because it is the very Word of God.

 

Because the Scriptures are the inspired Word of God, we can conclude that they are also inerrant and authoritative. A correct view of God will lead us to a correct view of His Word. Because God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and completely perfect, His Word will by its very nature have the same characteristics. The same verses that establish the inspiration of the Scriptures also establish that it is both inerrant and authoritative. The biblical accounts are the undeniable, authoritative, Word of God to humanity. It survives the efforts of translators and others who attempt to distort its truths and interpretations.

 

Consider some evidences of the Bibles inspiration (God-breathed) as declared in 2 Timothy 3:16.

 

 

1) Fulfilled prophecy. God spoke to men telling them of things He would bring about in the future. Some of them have already occurred. Others have not. For example, there were more than 300 prophecies concerning Jesus the Christ's first coming 2,000 years ago. These manuscripts and scrolls containing these prophesies are dated before the birth of Christ. These were not written after the fact. They were written beforehand. Scientific dating proves this.

 

 

2) The unity of Scripture. The Bible was written by approximately 40 human authors over a period of approximately 1,600 years. These men were quite diverse. Moses, a political leader; Joshua, a military leader; David, a shepherd; Solomon, a King; Amos, a herdsman and fruit picker; Daniel, a prime minister; Matthew, a tax collector; Luke, a medical doctor; Paul, a rabbi; and Peter, a fisherman; among others.

 

The Bible was also written under a variety of circumstances. It was written on 3 different continents, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Yet, the great themes of Scripture are maintained in all the writings. The Bible does not contradict itself.

 

There is no way, apart from God the Holy Spirit supervising the writing of the Bible, that this could have been accomplished.

Contrast this with the Islamic Koran. It was compiled by one individual, Zaid bin Thabit, under the guidance of Mohammed's father-in-law, Abu-Bekr. Then in A.D. 650, a group of Arab scholars produced a unified version and destroyed all variant copies to preserve the unity of the Koran. The Bible was unified from the time of its writing. The Koran had to be unified through the editing of men.

 

 3) The Bible presents its heroes truthfully with all of their faults and weaknesses. It does not glorify men as other religions do about their heroes. When you read the Bible, you realize that the people it describes have problems and do wrong just as we do. What made them stand out was that they trusted in God. One example is David. David is described as “a man after God's own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). Yet, David committed adultery (2 Samuel 11:1-5) and murder (2 Samuel 11:14-26). This could have been left out of Scripture to hide these details of David's life. But the Lord included these things for a reason.

 

 4) Archaeological findings support the history recorded in Scripture. Though many unbelieving people throughout history have tried to find archaeological evidence to disprove what is recorded in the Bible, to no avail. It is easy to say that Scripture is untrue, proving it to be untrue is a different story. It has not been done. In fact, in the past the Bible contradicted the current “scientific” theories, only to be proven later to be in fact true.

A good example is Isaiah 40:22 “It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:” which declared that God “sits on the circle of the earth” long before scientists claimed the earth was flat.

 

The Bible’s claims of being from God should not be understood as arguing in a circle or by circular reasoning. The testimony of reliable witnesses - particularly of Jesus, but also of others such as Moses, Joshua, David, Daniel, and Nehemiah in the Old Testament, and John and Paul in the New Testament - affirm the authority and verbal inspiration of the Scriptures. Consider the following passages: Exodus 14:1; 20:1; Leviticus 4:1; Numbers 4:1; Deuteronomy 4:2; 32:48; Isaiah 1:10, 24; Jeremiah 1:11; Jeremiah 11:1–3; Ezekiel 1:3; 1 Corinthians 14:37; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:16–21; 1 John 4:6.

 

Also of interest are the writings of Josephus, a Jewish historian who was not a believer in Jesus who recorded much of the history of Israel during the first century. In this he records many of the events which coincide with Scripture.

 

"How does the translation process impact the inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility of the Bible?"

This question deals with three very important issues: inspiration, preservation, and translation.

The doctrine of the inspiration of the Bible teaches that scripture is “God-breathed”; that is, God personally superintended the writing process, guiding the human authors so that His complete message was recorded for us. The Bible is truly God’s Word. During the writing process, the personality and writing style of each author was allowed expression; however, God so directed the writers that the 66 books they produced were free of error and were exactly what God wanted us to have. 2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:21.

 

When we speak of “inspiration,” we are referring only to the process by which the original documents were composed. After that, the doctrine of the preservation of the Bible takes over. If God went to such great lengths to give us His Word, its reasonable to think He would also take steps to preserve that Word unchanged.

 

 The Old Testament Hebrew scriptures were painstakingly copied by Jewish scribes. Groups such as the Sopherim, the Zugoth, the Tannaim, and the Masoretes had a deep reverence for the texts they were copying.

 

Their reverence was coupled with strict rules governing their work: the type of parchment used, the size of the columns, the kind of ink, and the spacing of words were all prescribed.

 

Writing anything from memory was expressly forbidden, and the lines, words, and even the individual letters were methodically counted as a means of double-checking accuracy.

 

 

The result of all this was that the words written by Isaiah’s pen are still available today.

The discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls clearly confirms the precision of the Hebrew text.

 

The same is true for the New Testament Greek text. Thousands of Greek texts, some dating back to nearly A.D. 117, are available. The slight variations among the texts—not one of which affects an article of faith—are easily reconciled. The New Testament we have at present is virtually unchanged from the original writings, this can be said of no other ancient book in the world.”

 

 

This brings us to the translation of the Bible. Translation is an interpretative process, to some extent. When translating from one language to another, choices must be made. Should it be the more exact word, even if the meaning of that word is unclear to the modern reader? Or should it be a corresponding thought, at the expense of a more literal reading?

 

As an example, in Colossians 3:12 “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering”;

 

The Greek word for “bowels,” which is literally “intestines,” comes from a root word meaning “spleen.” The KJV translators chose a literal translation of the word. The translators of the NASB chose “heart of compassion”—the “heart” being what today’s reader thinks of as the seat of emotions. The Amplified Bible has it as “tenderhearted pity and mercy.” The NIV simply puts “compassion.”

 

So, the KJV is the most literal in the above example, but the other translations certainly do justice to the verse. The core meaning of the command is to have compassionate feelings.

 

Most translations of the Bible are done by committee. This helps to guarantee that no individual prejudice or theology will affect the decisions of word choice, etc. Of course, the committee itself may have a particular agenda or bias (such as those producing the current “gender-neutral” mistranslations). But there is still plenty of good scholarship being done, and many good translations are available.

 

Having a good, honest translation of the Bible is important. A good translating team will have done its homework and will let the Bible speak for itself.

 

 

 

As a general rule, the more literal translations, such as the KJV, NKJV, ASB and NASB, have less “interpretative” work. The “freer” translations, such as the NIV, NLT, and CEV, by necessity do more “interpretation” of the text, but are generally more readable. Then there are the paraphrases, such as The Message and The Living Bible, which are not really translations at all but one person’s retelling of the Bible.

 

So, with all that in view, are translations of the Bible inspired and inerrant? The answer is no, they are not. God nowhere extends the promise of inspiration to translations of His Word. While many of the translations available today are superb in quality, they are not inspired by God, and are not perfect. Does this mean we cannot trust a translation? Again, the answer is no.

 

Through careful study of Scripture, with the Holy Spirit's guidance, we can properly understand, interpret, and apply Scripture. Again, due to the faithful efforts of dedicated Christian translators following translation disciplines such as hermeneutics and exegesis (and of course the oversight of the Holy Spirit), the translations available today are superb and trustworthy.

 

The fact that we cannot ascribe inerrancy to a translation should motivate us towards even closer study, and away from blind devotion towards any particular translation.

 

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