Inspiration of the Bible

2 Tim 3:16
All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

A primary criterion for the canonicity of a book of the Bible was the belief that it was a work inspired by God. By definition, to inspire literally means to breathe into, upon, or in. Inspiration means any and all promptings of God's grace in and on the human psyche and specifically of the divine promptings at the origin of the books of the Bible. The divine inspiration of Sacred Scripture denotes the special influence of God upon the human writers of the Bible, an influence of such a nature that God is said to be the author of the biblical books.

The internal testimony of the Bible itself attests to the fact of its divine inspiration.

Ex 17:14
Then the Lord said to Moses, "Write this down in a document as something to be remembered."
Ex 34:27
Then the Lord said to Moses, "Write down these words, for in accordance with them I have made a covenant with you and with Israel."
Is 8:1
The Lord said to me: "Take a large cylinder-seal, and inscribe on it in ordinary letters ... "
Is 30:8
Now come, write it on a tablet they can keep, inscribe it in a record; that it may be in future days an eternal witness.
Is 34:16
Look in the book of the Lord and read: No one of these shall be lacking, for the mouth of the Lord has ordered it ...
Jer 36:1
In the fourth year of Jehoiakim, son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord: Take a scroll and write on it all the words I have spoken to you ...
Mt 5:18
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.
Lk 24:44
He said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled."
Jn 5:39
You search the scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf.
Jn 10:35-36
If it calls them gods to whom the word of God came, and scripture cannot be set aside, can you say that the one whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world blasphemes because I said, 'I am the Son of God'?
Mt 4:4
He said in reply, "It is written: 'One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.'"
Acts 15:15-16
The words of the prophets agree with this, as is written: 'After this I shall return and rebuild the fallen hut of David; from its ruins I shall rebuild it and raise it up again ...'
Rom 1:17
For in it is revealed the righteousness of God from faith to faith; as it is written, "The one who is righteous by faith will live."

The Roman Catholic Church officially defined her meaning of inspiration in the Papal Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII, Providentissimus Deus, in 1893.

Providentissimus Deus
By supernatural power God so moved and impelled the human authors to write - he so assisted them when writing - that the things he ordered and those only they first rightly understood, then willed faithfully to write down, and finally expressed in apt words and with infallible truth.

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By Paul Flanagan and Robert Schihl.
Catholic Biblical Apologetics, © Copyright 1985-1997, Paul Flanagan and Robert Schihl

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture texts are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Revised Psalms © 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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Last Updated: January 3, 1997