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Biblical Authority

(Basic Theology: By Jeffery Donley;   added notes by Clifford L. Smith)

There are four basic aspects to which we will be giving attention. Each one connects to the other and form a complete unit of understanding which defines one's reaction and response to this Book of books.

  1.  Revelation: "to uncover, expose, or make something known."

    1. General Revelation

    2. Special Revelation

  2. Inspiration: "to breath, or blow;" hence, in a religious sense, "spoken by God."

    1. Fact of Inspiration

    2. Scope of Inspiration

  3. Inerrancy: "free from error"

    1. Testimony of Scripture

    2. Implication of Inerrancy

    3. Importance of inerrancy

  4. Authority: "the right to command"

    1. Jesus, our Authority

    2. Biblical Authority


What is the source of our knowledge of God?  The answer is: the revelation of God! Revelation is God providing knowledge of Himself to mankind so that man may know Him, personally! The infinite God must reveal Himself if man is to know anything about Him. This He has done. Created "in the image of God" it is possible for man to understand his Creator.


General Revelation is knowledge with is generally available to all people, in all places, and at all times through continuous communication built into the physical universe and in the man himself. When God created the "lights in the expanse of the heavens," He said in part, "let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years." The word "signs" ('oth, 226), according to W.E.Vine, "represents something by which a person or group is characteristically marked." It is used of the mark placed upon Cain (Gen 4:15), and of Rahab's scarlet cord (Jos 2:12,18).

Psa 19:1-6 "The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard. Their line (sound) has gone out through all the earth, and their utterance to the end of the world..."

Rom 1:18-20 speaks of God's wrath which falls upon those "who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being under-stood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse."

Paul believed that the created universe (nature) was a channel for the general revelation of God. God has left His signature upon the heavens, and upon all of the earth. Who but an all-powerful God can hold an atom together, a planet in its orbit, or hang a star in the vastness of space. When one examines the vastness of the universe, or the order and complexity which abounds in all of His creation, one must marvel at the the unsearchable wisdom and understanding of God.

Many regard it as silly superstition, but isn't it interesting that man, wherever he may be found, in whatever culture he may exist, has always been found to be a religious being (the only religious being) on earth. And what do these cultures, separated by time and space, have in common? The ordered world in which they exist! Man knows of God's existence, and something of His nature, from the world which He created. But man can never know God, nor have a personal relationship with God, without personal knowledge about God communicated in intelligible speech.


Special Revelation deals with a personal God who tells us about Himself and how we might possess that personal relationship with Him. God has given this information in various ways, according to Heb 1:1. "God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son. . . ."  The words "many ways" (polutropos, 4187) means exactly that--"variously as to method or form," James Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible.

The methods included theophanies (visible appearance of God; Gen 16:7-14; Exo 3:2; 2Sa 24:16; dreams (Gen 20:3,6' 31:11,24; 1Sa 28:6); Urim & Thummim (Exo 28:30; Num 27:21; 1Sa 28:6; Ezr 2:63); prophets (2Sa 23:2; Zechariah 1:1; Eph 3:5); lots (Pro 16:33; Act 1:21-26); visions (Is 1:1; 6:1; Eze 1:3); and angels (Dan 9:20-22; Luk 2:9,10; Rev 1:1).  The specific information of "special revelation" complements the partial information of "general revelation."

Such special revelation was "progressive" under the supervision of the Holy Spirit.  The infinite God has entered His creation and communicated to us by the use of human language which was readily understood. Language had a dual purpose. It allows, not only men to communicate with each other, it also allows God to communicate with His creation.  He did so, initially by Himself, later by His prophets, and finally by His Son.

The prophets and apostles never took credit for their messages, but always prefaced their message with "Thus saith the Lord." Their messages were variously expressed as being from God 3,808 times in the Old Testament. Through them, God spoke about Himself so that men might know Him. But, to have lasting effect, this information must go beyond the spoken word to the written word! In His wisdom God chose to have His spokesmen write down His special revelation in "propositional form." Thus, they give us an "objective" standard regarding God's will and the salvation which He brings to men.

Without that word in permanent written form, we would not know God as a redeemer, nor about our need for redemption. We could know that "some god" existed somewhere, but we could never know God, nor how we might be acceptable to God.  That propositional truth--that special revelation--God has left to us in the written words of the sixty-six books of the Bible. This book does not contain the word of God; it is the Word of God! The process culminated in the 1st Century AD. With the writing of the book of Revelation (mid 10th decade), God's special revelation ended. Jude 1:3 encourages us to "contend earnestly for the faith (body of doctrine--revelation) which was once for delivered to the saints." (Cf. 1Co 13:9-10).


Inspiration is the means which God used to insure the absolute accuracy of His communicated truth to earth. It is the supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit exerted upon chosen and prepared messengers, enabling them to speak and write God's message without error or omission, and without compromising or destroying their own individuality. Hence, God worked through His Spirit within the scope of the messenger's vocabulary and style so that what was spoken and/or written was exactly what God wanted spoken and/or written.


2 Timothy 3:16 "All Scripture is inspired by God (lit. God breathed) and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate (artios--739, complete in the sense of having and being able to use all necessary parts, trained; Cf. holoklaros--3648, "complete"; and telios--5046 "mature"), fully equipped for every good work."

2 Peter 1:20-21 "But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God."

2 Samuel 23:2, David said, "The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue." And Act 1:16 tells us that the Holy Spirit spoke through the mouth of David that Judas would be the guide of those who arrested Jesus.

Jesus quoted from the book of Deuteronomy 8:3; 6:16; 6:13 in defeating Satan in the wilderness (Mat 4:1-11), thus believing in the complete inspiration of the Bible. Three times He said, "It is written..." The phrase is in the perfect tense which means, "it was written and so it stands," demonstrating Jesus' belief that truth was given in propositions! Satan was helpless because he knew that Jesus quoted the very words of God. He did not respond, "Deuteronomy has no authority over me for it is the uninspired product of Moses!"

In John 5:45-47, Jesus proclaimed that Moses' words were equal to His one in the authority with which they were given. In the Sermon on the Mount (Mat 5:18), Jesus stated, "For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished."

Some may argue that the words are unimportant. Not so with Jesus. Even the tenses of the words were considered important by Him. In Mat 22:23-33, Jesus was questioned about marriage in the resurrection. Their question was clearly hypocritical for they didn't even believe in the resurrection. Jesus dismissed their question, knowing their heart, on the grounds of ignorance of scripture and the power of God (v29). Then He taught them the very thing which they did not believe.--life after death!

Jesus proved His point, not only on the basis of the written word (Exo 3:6), but the manner (tense) which was used! Jesus did not say that God "WAS" the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. That would have been proper because, even at the time of writing, all were dead. He said "God IS the God of Abraham. . . ." By using the present tense, Jesus is stating that the three men were still alive, for God is the God of the living!

Paul also, when building the case for the identity of the "seed of promise" (Gal 3:16), he basis his argument upon the fact that the word "seed" is singular in the original language. Hence, it did not refer to all of the seed of Abraham, but to one who is Christ!


But the question remains, "How much of the written word is inspired?" "Are there some part of the Bible which are more inspired than others?" "Is my KJV, NASV, or NIV equally inspired?"

Inspiration is both "verbal" (the words) and "plenary" (all of the Bible).

Again, 2Ti 3:16 says "All Scripture is inspired...." The scope of inspiration includes more than the O.T. All of Paul's writings had been written by the time Peter wrote his second epistle--mid to late 60's. And Peter regarded Paul's writings "scripture" (2Pe 3:15-16). "...just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction."

1Th 1:5 states that the Thessalonians accepted Paul's gospel as originating from the Holy Spirit and called it the Word of God. 1 John 4:6 offers a test, based on the inspiration of the apostle's words, to know who was "of God," and who was not! "We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error." 4/i>(THIS CAN'T BE EMPHASIZED ENOUGH!  It's the accurate and consistent message which determines truth, not how nice someone may be, or what great work they may do! ARE THEY CONSISTENT WITH THE APOSTOLIC MESSAGE? cf. Bereans; Act 17:11).