Verbal Inspiration

The first question is—Did God so control the writers of the Scriptures that they wrote His words? We say, Yes. We have quoted some passages [Mark 13:31; John 6:63; John 8:47; Matt. 5:18; 1 Cor. 2:13] that speak of “words;” and we must hold this truth firmly. To give it up is to allow the thin edge of the wedge of skepticism to come in between us and God as to His Word. What distinct thought can we have, in speaking of a jot or tittle of the law not failing, if it is sufficient to consider its general sense? And how are we to arrive at the sense of Scripture except through the words used? We consider that a Christian must hold to “verbal” inspiration, or he virtually gives up inspiration altogether—at least in a way that is at all worthy of God, in giving us an infallible guide amid the surrounding darkness and error.

Now, if this point is once settled, it greatly simplifies the other, namely, “Have we a correct copy of that which God caused to be written?” Suppose for a moment I am obliged to say, “No, we have not a correct copy;” that in no way touches the other point, namely, that there were correct copies once. And if I believe that there were such, I naturally say, “I wish I had a correct copy.” But, on the other hand, I have nothing to wish for if I deny that there ever were copies of “the words of God.” If Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John gave only the sense of what God intended them to write, I have that in almost any Greek copy: why search any more? Why spend years of labor, and thousands of dollars, to get at that which never existed, namely, “the words of God”? I may labor diligently to get accurately what Paul wrote; but of what use is it, if, when I have arrived at it, I have PAUL, and not God, except as to the general sense?

A quotation taken from “Our Father’s Will”—A Short History of the Text of the New Testament, as posted at and viewed on November 26, 2007. In the rest of the article, the author expresses his belief that the Majority text and the Authorized Version of the Bible are closest to the original text of the Scriptures. While I am not a proponent of this textual view, the thoughts expressed above are, I believe, helpful to those interested in the truth and logic of verbal inspiration.

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