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Theology Thursdays: What is the relationship between infallibility and authority?

Updated: Nov 9, 2019

by Joel

Authority is the reliability of Scripture. It is the reality that compliments “inspiration.” In other words, because God is the Author (i.e., the Origin of the words represented in Scripture) then He has the “authority” to back up His Word(s). To disbelieve or disobey Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God.[1] The Bible claims this for itself. (2 Timothy 3:16 states, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” Balaam gives a vivid example of this when he told Balak, “Behold, I have come to you! Have I now any power of my own to speak to anything? The Word that God puts in my mouth, that must I speak” [Num. 22:38]. And Jeremiah testifies, “Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the LORD said to me, ‘Behold, I have put my words in your mouth’” [Jer. 1:9]. The Apostle Peter says, “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” [2 Pet. 1:21]).

Infallibility is the perfection of Scripture. There are two schools of belief: first, is that everything in Scripture (as it was originally written) is completely true and preserved (Ps. 12:6; 119:96). The second is that all of Scripture is perfectly flawless even through the copying, down to the “jot and tittle” (Mt. 5:18). Both schools of thought uphold the timeless accuracy of the content of God’s communication through the written word. Any objections to infallibility affect the teaching of sufficiency, “We cannot add to God’s words or take away from them, for all are part of his larger purpose in speaking to us.”[2] The denial of infallibility becomes obvious when one looks outside the Scriptures, believing it is insufficient for matters of the heart.

God allows His Word to testify to Itself:

  1. 55:11 – “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

  2. 1 Thess. 2:13 – “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.”

Because God is without error, His recorded words will not contain error. Because God contains all authority, His recorded words contain all authority. Among the many verses that support this, these join that chorus:

  1. 23:19 – “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it.”

  2. 6:18 – “…so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.”

  3. Titus 1:2 – “…in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began….”


[1] Wayne Grudem, Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999], 33.

[2] Ibid., 44.

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