Inspiration and Authenticity of the Scriptures

From our Wednesday night studies through the 1689 held on July 7 and July 14, 2021

The Inspiration of the Scriptures. Chapter 1, paragraphs 2,3, 4 and 8.

Authenticating the Scriptures. Chapter 1, paragraph 5.


Helpful resources:  

B.B. Warfield on Inspiration:

Canon Revisited by Michael Kruger:

A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith by Sam Waldron:



The 1689, Chapter 1, paragraphs 2, 3, 4, and 8:


2. The Holy Scriptures, or the Word of God written, consist of all the books of the Old and New Testaments. These are:

THE OLD TESTAMENT: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi. 

THE NEW TESTAMENT: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans,1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, Revelation.


All of these are given by the inspiration of God to be the standard of faith and life.

2 Timothy 3:16.


3. The books commonly called the Apocrypha were not given by divine inspiration and so are not part of the canon or standard of the Scriptures. Therefore, they have no authority for the church of God and are not to be recognized or used in any way different from other human writings.

Luke 24:27, 44

Romans 3:2.

4. The authority of the Holy Scriptures obligates belief in them. This authority does not depend on the testimony of any person or church but on God the author alone, who is truth itself. Therefore, the Scriptures are to be received because they are the Word of God.7

72 Peter 1:19–21; 2 Timothy 3:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1John 5:9.


8. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, the native language of the ancient people of God.14 The New Testament was written in Greek, which at the time it was written was most widely known to the nations. These Testaments were inspired directly by God and by his unique care and providence were kept pure down through the ages. They are therefore true and authoritative a, so that in all religious controversies the church must make their ultimate appeal to them.15 All God’s people have a right to and a claim on the Scriptures and are commanded in the fear of God to read16 and search them.17 Not all of God’s people know these original languages, so the Scriptures are to be translated into the common language of every nation to which theycome.18  In this way the Word of God may dwell richly in all, so that they may worship him in an acceptable manner and through patience and the comfort of the Scriptures may have hope.19

a authentical

14Romans 3:2. 15Isaiah 8:20. 16Acts 15:15. 17John 5:39. 181Corinthians 14:6, 9, 11, 12, 24, 28. 19Colossians 3:16.




The Bible is typically referred to as being “inspired” and the product of men who were “inspired.”

But is this the best word?

What do we usually mean when we use the word “inspired” in conversation today?  

Usually when we talk of someone being “inspired,” we are referring to the act by which someone’s creative imagination is stirred by someone or something and they, in response, produce a work of art or literature.  Is this what we mean we say that the Bible was inspired or the product of inspired writers?

The verse most commonly turned to in order to describe, or defend, the notion of the inspiration of the Scriptures is 2 Timothy 3:16.  But when we look it up in most modern versions, the word “inspired” is not there. So where do we get the word “inspired” from?

It comes from the King James Version of 2 Timothy 3:16 which reads “All Scripture is inspired of God….”

The King James Version of the Bible was produced in 1611 and the translators used the word “inspiration” because, in the 16th century, the Latin term “inspiro” was a theological word. Inspiro referred to the act by which the Biblical writers were “breathed into by the Holy Spirit” which is exactly how most modern translations now translate 2 Timothy 3:16. For example, the ESV translates it, “All Scripture is breathed out by God…”

Today, the term inspiration is a popular one outside of theological circles and does not carry that same meaning to most people. Everyone knows what it is to be inspired but almost no one would say that it means to be breathed out by God.  So, today, inspiration is probably not really the best term to be used to describe the Scriptures- at least to non-Christians. Within the church, however, it became so common to refer to the Scriptures as “inspired,” and everyone knew what is meant, and so its use continues.


The Greek word in 2 Timothy 3:16 translated by the KJV as “inspired” is θεοπνευστος, theopneustos. This is a compound of two Greek words: THEO- “God” and PNEUSTOS – “Breathed.” That is why modern definitions translate the passage “God breathed” rather than “inspired.”  In this passage we learn that the Scriptures are the product of the breath of God.

"God Breathed" 

But what does that mean?

We have a clue from Psalm 33:6 which says “By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. ”So, when we think of the breath of God we should think of God’s creative power. So we know the Scriptures are the result of God’s creative power and, when we turn to 2 Peter 1:19-21, we come a bit closer to understanding how God’s creative power worked to produce the Scriptures.

Peter says that we have (vs. 19), the "prophetic word” which is “more fully confirmed” than even their experience of being eyewitnesses (which is what he has mentioned in vs. 16). This prophetic word is clearly referring to the Scriptures.

He then says that (vs. 20) no Scripture comes “from someone’s own interpretation.” This means that it does not come out of someone’s own imagination or thinking. So, for example, when connections are made in the NT to OT prophecies, this was not the product of Matthew, or any of the other writers, simply making educated guesses. Nor was the theological understanding of, say, Paul or anyone else for that matter. Indeed (vs. 21),“no prophecy was produced by the will of man.”

How did the Scriptures come about then? Verse 21 tells us, “Men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”  

Their source is from God as He carried them along by the Holy Spirit. So when we think of the writers of Scriptures as those who were carried along, we think of them as writing not by their own power for their own ends by the use of their own imaginations, but by God’s power, for His ends, according to His will.


Jesus’ view of the OT Scriptures

In John 10:34-35, when Jesus asks “Is it not written in your law?” The passage that He is quoting is actually from the Psalms (Psalm 82:6).When the Jews thought of the law, they typically referred to the Pentateuch(the first 5 books of the Bible) and, in particular, those portions which contained actual legal codes. So why does He call it their “law”? This is not the only place where this happens. In John 15:35 he refers to Psalm 35 as “the law” and Paul refers to passages from the Psalms, Isaiah, and a narrative from Genesis all as “the Law” (see 1 Cor. 14:21; Rom. 3:19; and Gal. 4:21-22).

What seems to be happening here is that legal, binding authority is being given to all of the Old Testament. That is why, then, Jesus says “the scripture cannot be broken.” The concept of “broken” here has the same connotation as that which is used with the breaking of a covenant. So the idea seems to be that the Scriptures have the same binding authority upon God’s people as His covenants do. They also will assuredly come to pass. Just as God will never break His covenant promises, neither will anything in the Scriptures be broken.  That is why we find repeatedly throughout the gospels the statement that things happened “that the scripture might be fulfilled” (Mark 14:49; John 13:18; 17:12; cf. 12:14; Mark 9:12,13).We find this from the apostles as well (Acts 1:16, 1 Cor. 15:3). Romans 3:2 has Paul describing the OT as the “oracles of God.” An “oracle” is defined as “a person or thing regarded as an infallible authority or guide on something.” It is no wonder that Paul utilizes this terminology. We can also point to the writer of Hebrews who cites in Hebrews chapter 1, Psalm 2:7, 2 Sam. 7:14, Psalm 97,Psalm 104, Psalm 45, Psalm 102 and Psalm 110 and describes all of them as words spoken by the mouth of God.

We may still wonder “how” the writers of Scriptures were “carried along.” We recognize in the words of Scripture that each writer had their own personality and writing style, so how do we make sense of this?

Benjamin Warfield makes a helpful observation here:

If we bear this in mind, we shall know what estimate to place upon the common representation to the effect that the human characteristics of the writers must, and in point of fact do, condition and qualify the writings produced by them, the implication being that, therefore, we cannot get from man a pure word of God. As light that passes through the colored glass of a cathedral window, we are told, is light from heaven, but is stained by the tints of the glass through which it passes; so any word of God which is passed through the mind and soul of a man must come out discolored by the personality through which it is given, and just to that degree ceases to be the pure word of God. But what if this personality has itself been formed by God into precisely the personality it is, for the express purpose of communicating to the word given through it just the coloring which it gives it? What if the colors of the stained-glass window have been designed by the architect for the express purpose of giving to the light that floods the cathedral precisely the tone and quality it receives from them? What if the word of God that comes to His people is framed by God into the word of God it is, precisely by means of the qualities of the men formed by Him for the purpose, through which it is given?



Authenticating the Word of God.

How do we know that what we have is actually God’s Word?


Chapter 1, Paragraph 5

The testimony of the church of God may stir and persuade us to adopt a high and reverent respect for the Holy Scriptures. Moreover, the heavenliness of the contents, the power of the system of truth, the majesty of the style, the harmony of all the parts, the central focus on giving all glory to God, the full revelation of the only way of salvation, and many other incomparable qualities and complete perfections, all provide abundant evidence that the Scriptures are the Word of God. Even so, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority of the Scriptures comes from the internal work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.

John 16:13,14; 1 Corinthians 2:10–12; 1 John 2:20, 27


This paragraph was against a backdrop of two competing voices when it came to the revelation of God.

The radical Anabaptists claimed to receive direct revelation from God. If this were true, then this direct revelation could be considered the equivalent of, or even an authenticator of, the Scriptures. Man’s experience would trump God’s Word. On the other hand, the Catholics held the Scripture in high esteem but claimed that it was the church that authenticated it. That gave the church the infallible authority over the Word.

If they rejected both of these views, how could the Scriptures be authenticated? They taught the self-authenticating nature of the Scriptures.


First, they do acknowledge that the testimony of the church is helpful: “The testimony of the church of God may stir and persuade us to adopt a high and reverent respect for the Holy Scriptures.”

This is an obvious truth. The testimony of the early church that what they had were the writings of the apostles and worthy of acceptance is a strong argument for the books of the Bible that we now hold in our hands.

But that is not enough.

Kruger and Waldron give us some helpful guidance here. When we weigh the Scriptures, what is it that we are considering?

1.“Providential exposure.”  

In other words, the only way we can know that we have the Word of God is if we are in possession of it. It stands to reason that if some letters of Paul were lost (like the one mentioned in 1 Cor. 5:9) then God did not intend it to be a part of the Scriptures.

2. The character of general revelation.

Psalm 19

Romans 1:18-32

Romans 2

Acts 17

What is this telling us about revelation?

Mankind is confronted with the revelation of God in creation. Even wicked man knows God from His creation. God’s “fingerprints” are seen in what He has made. If this is true for the world around us, how much more true should this be true of God’s personal speaking directly to man through the Word?

3. Indeed we see “God’s fingerprints” in the Scriptures. The authors of the 1689 describe them as:

“the heavenliness of the contents, the power of the system of truth, the majesty of the style, the harmony of all the parts, the central focus on giving all glory to God, the full revelation of the only way of salvation, and many other incomparable qualities and complete perfections”

4. The work of the Holy Spirit.

The writers of the 1689 state:  “Even so, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority of the Scriptures comes from the internal work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.”

If the marks are there…why do we need the Holy Spirit?

The answer is sin.

Because of sin, we do not recognize these qualities of the Scriptures apart from the Holy Spirit giving us the eyes to see them. So the Holy Spirit gives the Scriptures the fingerprints of God and then gives us the eyes to see them.

It is not a lack of evidence that causes non-believers to reject the Word. It is the blinding power of sin (1 Cor. 2:10–14, 14-16).

Jesus himself affirmed this reality when he declared, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).  If you are not one of Jesus’ sheep, you do not hear what He has to say through His word.


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