Our view of Biblical inspiration will determine what hermeneutics we apply to it, how much priority we give to it, and how much authority and reverence we render to it. Errors in how we understand the question of Biblical inspiration have vast ramifications for our faith that can undermine our preaching, our witness, and our apologia of the gospel. Errors on this question can even entrench believers in pride and cause them to become unteachable, unyielding, and harsh.
One of the challenges that critics bring against the Christian claim that Scripture was inspired by God is the fact that many of the Bible’s authors made grammatical errors in their writings. The critic scoffs at this point and asks, “hasn’t God finished grade school yet?” But this challenge assumes its own premise, namely, that God’s mode of inspiration includes grammar.
Let’s take a look at how God’s inspired word even works through grammatical errors in the text.
1st Timothy 1:3
CSB As I urged you when I went to Macedonia, remain in Ephesus so that you may instruct certain people not to teach false doctrine
NASB95 As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines,
ESV As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine,
NIV As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer
NET As I urged you when I was leaving for Macedonia, stay on in Ephesus to instruct certain people not to spread false teachings,
NRSV I urge you, as I did when I was on my way to Macedonia, to remain in Ephesus so that you may instruct certain people not to teach any different doctrine,
NKJV As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine,
AV As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine,
Dr. Mounce on Biblical Inspiration and GRAMMAR
As you get into Greek, you will find that the grammar is not always correct. Sometimes, like in Revelation, the grammar can be explained by the fact that John is in an ecstatic state and the grammar irregularities enhance the message. But even in non-apocalyptic literature, you will find that the grammar rules are not always followed. This should not affect your view of inspiration. All good writers violate grammar, periodically, for effect, or for other reasons.
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2 Replies to “Biblical Inspiration: does inspiration cover grammar?”
Indeed. In fact, I would go as far to say that the grammar errors of Scripture do not actually constitute “errors” because the Bible never made a claim to be a grammar book. The Bible uses grammar, and therefore it is very important to properly understanding the meaning and intent of Scripture; and in some places it also uses improper grammar to emphasize certain points (as even modern authors today do as well). But Scripture never purports to be a book of grammar and such grammatical imperfections do not constitute “Biblical errors”.
My Grammar is terrible and my spelling and my A key some times doesn’t work. So? Lots of times I feel the things I have typed are godly and inspired and reflect what God wants to say. But God uses people as they are with their warts and with their flaws. Does that mean the word of God is flawed, I would say yes to a point but IF we grasp what God was trying to say through the author, then those flaws are not stopping the exact communication God wanted. When Jesus was on the cross, and he said, Father forgive them for they know not what they have done. He could have said it 5 different ways. But if we grasp the nature of Christ in not holding a persons sins against them while they have just nailed him to the cross, maybe we can grasp that we do not have to put up walls when people throw insults, our self esteem is not at threat if we are solid. Christ in that way saw their spears and whips and lies as their hindrances and failures and he felt compassion for them. And they asked how big is your love for them, and he stretched his arms out to show them and died.
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