The Inerrancy of Scripture

By: Pastor Vincent Nicotra

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 What is Inerrancy?

     The Doctrine of Inerrancy fundamentally addresses the reliability and truthfulness of the Scriptures. It has been called by some theologians “the most important of all doctrines,”1 because every other doctrine that Christians hold, stands or falls on the reliability of the Biblical witness. If the Scriptures are not truthful in all their parts, then who decides which parts are true as they relate to such important doctrines as sin and salvation? How do we know that what we hold in our hands is the Inspired (God-breathed) word of God? The theological ramifications of an inaccurate Bible are incomprehensible. It would contradict God’s character quality of absolute truthfulness (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18), and call into question our Lord’s very testimony.

     Any attempt to answer these questions means that some terms must be defined. The two words that are most often used as synonyms to describe Biblical authority are “inerrant” and “infallible.” While there is only a shade of difference between the two meanings, clarification seems necessary. As stated above “inerrant” emphasizes the truthfulness of Scripture, meaning that it is “wholly true,” while “infallible” emphasizes the trustworthiness of the Scriptures. The former means that the Bible is exempt from error, while the latter indicates that the Bible is incapable of error. What we are really addressing then is the issue of whether or not the Bible is truthful, hence trustworthy, in all that it conveys. In other words it makes no false or misleading statements about matters of faith and practice.

     One very important point must be made as it relates to this doctrine. Claims of inerrancy are only made in regards to the original manuscripts. Since the originals have long-since disappeared, and what we hold in our hands is the product of a scribal copy, it is probably beyond our ability to prove this doctrine by examining and comparing biblical texts in some historical-critical way. We must attempt to prove this doctrine by examining how the Biblical writers and speakers viewed the Bibles truthfulness. 
Internal Proof
     Some disagreement exists today among scholars as to whether or not this doctrine is taught implicitly or explicitly. We feel that the Bible teaches inerrancy implicitly. The Bible attests to its own inspiration thereby requiring it to be inerrant because it is the very breath of God (2 Timothy 3:16). Since “all Scripture is inspired by God,” this must mean that it is equally inspired in all of its parts and that it is also infallible. The Bible also teaches its own truthfulness (Psalm 19:7-9; 119:43, 142, 160; John 17:17, 19; Colossians 1:5).

     In addition to these passages it is important to consider the Biblical criteria for prophetic revelation. Deuteronomy 13:1-5 and 18:20-22 provided Israel with the criteria for determining the validity and the veracity of the prophets and prophecies. An important factor in Israel’s acceptance of any book of the Bible as prophetic, hence revelatory, was that the message had to be verifiably truthful, if it were not the prophet was to be put to death. The Jews had no doubt that the Old Testament scroll which they possessed was the very Word of God.

     Likewise, the New Testament writers believed their writings to be inspired “Scripture” as well (2 Peter 3:15-16). The Apostle Peter viewed Paul’s writings as “Scripture” in the same sense that he viewed the Old Testament Texts, thus he saw them as authoritative in matters of faith and practice, instructing other believers to obey their instruction. The authority with which the Apostles wrote was not a human authority, but it was a divine authority, the Spirit of Christ giving the commands of Christ to His people.

Our Lord’s View of the Scriptures

     We can be assured of Christ’s belief in the inerrancy of the Scriptures, hence their authority, based upon two of His own statements in the New Testament. In Matthew 5:17-20, Christ confirmed the veracity and authority of the Old Testament Law and the Prophets, when he said that not a single “letter or stroke” would pass away from it until it had all been accomplished. Additionally in John 10:34-35, He confirmed that the Scripture “cannot be broken.” He believed in the truthfulness of Scripture down to the smallest stroke of a Hebrew letter. It is important to note, that our Lord believed in the veracity and authority of the Scriptures which he possessed, which would have been scribal copies of the original manuscripts. To say it another way, Christ had every confidence in the preservation of the text which he held in His hands, and complete trust that it was the word of God. Many have attempted to debunk this thinking with speculations of accommodation theories. They suppose that Christ was condescending to the Jews acceptance of something that was inaccurate and “accommodating” their error. Others have, heretically, gone so far as to say that our Lord was ignorant of the fact that the Scriptures were errant. The problem with both of these positions is that they call into question the very character of Christ who was not only truthful in all of His dealings, but was the sinless Son of God.

     Furthermore, Christ indicated that the Holy Spirit would bring to the remembrance of the Apostles His words after His glorification and ascension (John 14:26).

Do I Have an Accurate Copy?

     We believe that our Bibles today, having been derived from error-free originals, coupled with careful textual criticism, are near-perfect copies. This does not mean that it is full of mistakes, it means that if the Bible does have mistakes in our copies (and it does), then they are the “mistakes of men,”2 and not mistakes in the original manuscripts. However, this being said, there are no clearly identifiable errors in the Bible. At times there may be difficulties to deal with in a particular text, but upon closer examination there are always plausible solutions to any given problem.

“The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs” 3

This article is copyright 2006  by Vincent Nicotra. This article may be quoted, in part or in whole, without permission.

You may contact the author through:


1.) Lightner, Robert P. A Biblical Case for Total Inerrancy, Kregel Publications: Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1978, page 3.

2.) Grudem, Wayne, Systematic Theology, Zondervan Publishing House: Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1994, 97.
3.) The Evangelical Theology Society

For further study we recommend the following:

  1. Inerrancy - Norman Geisler, Editor
  2. Thy Word is Truth – E.J. Young
  3. Inerrancy and Evangelicals – Ronald Youngblood, Editor
  4. The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible – Benjamin B. Warfield
  5. The Origin of the Bible – Philip Comfort, Editor


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