Inspiration: Are there mistakes?

I. The Human Element

What evidence is there that the Bible was written by human beings?

  1. The Scriptures point to human authorship. Mark 12:9: “Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man’s brother dies, and leaves his wife behind, and leaves no children, his brother should take his wife and raise up offspring for his brother.”
  2. The author sometimes stated his purpose in writing: 1 John 5:13.
  3. Research was undertaken: Luke 1:1–4.
  4. Life’s experiences are revealed: Psalms, Hosea, Jonah.
  5. The writing styles vary. This is evident even in translation.

II. The Divine Element

  1. Some Scripture was written by the finger of God: Exodus 32:16.
  2. The Scriptures include the revelation of that which was otherwise unknowable by man: 1 Peter 1:10–12.
  3. Detailed predictions were given centuries ahead of the time of fulfillment. In Psalm 22, the sufferings of the Messiah are described: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (See Matthew 27:46)
  4. Words and visions were given by God. Isaiah 8:1: “Moreover the Lord said to me, ‘Take a large scroll . . .’”
  5. We have the evidence of God’s providential preparation of the nation of Israel and of individuals: Moses, the prophets, Paul.

III. The Extent of Inspiration

1. Verbal

2. Complete

3. Inspiration covers:

  1. revelation - a direct communication from God to man
  2. the selection of documents, records etc.
  3. an accurate record of history and teaching.

4. Unity of the Scriptures

5. Progressive revelation

Jesus Christ gave a very high position to Scripture. He read the Scripture in the synagogues and quoted from the Old Testament frequently. He pointed out that the Scripture was authoritative and could not be broken (John 10:34–38).

VI. Inerrancy:

VI. Misunderstanding regarding Inspiration:

VII. Alleged Errors

Alleged Error #1:

2 Samuel 10:18 1 Chronicles 19:18
But the Arameans fled before Israel, and David killed 700 charioteers of the Arameans and 40,000 horsemen and struck down Shobach the commander of their army, and he died there. The Arameans fled before Israel, and David killed of the Arameans 7,000 charioteers and 40,000 foot soldiers, and put to death Shophach the commander of the army.

Solution: The occasional tiny error in copying the text

Alleged Error #2:

Matthew 27:5 Acts 1:18
“So Judas threw the silver coins into the temple and left. Then he went out and hanged himself.” (later the chief priests used the money to buy the field) “Now this man Judas acquired a field with the reward of his unjust deed, and falling headfirst he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out.”

Solution: Faulty Assumption

Two writers can include different details of the same event for their own purposes. Judas could have hanged himself and then fallen. Peter was emphasizing the fulfillment of prophecy through the death of Judas, while this was not a concern of Matthew.

Alleged Error #3

Matthew 26:34 Mark 14:30
“Jesus said to him, ‘Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny me three times.’” “And Jesus said to him, ‘Truly I say to you, that this very night, before a rooster crows twice, you yourself will deny me three times.’”

Solution: Faulty Assumption

One writer can be more detailed than another.

Alleged Error #4

The Bible claims that the moon is a light. But we know that the moon simply reflects light, but is not a light itself.
Isaiah 13:10 “For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not flash forth their light;
the sun will be dark when it rises and the moon will not shed its light.”

Solution: Over-emphasis on scientific preciseness does not take into account normal human language (i.e., language that speaks from the perspective of the subject).

Alleged Error #5

Proverbs 12:21 Lk. 16:19–22
“The righteous do not encounter any harm, but the wicked are filled with calamity.” The rich man and Lazarus: The unrighteous rich man is unharmed, while the righteous poor man is experiencing calamity.

Solution: Faulty understanding concerning the nature of a proverb. A proverb is a general truth that does not necessarily apply in every situation. Here is a misunderstanding of the ultimate end of both men. The poor man, Lazarus, was the one who ultimately experienced peace, while the rich man experienced calamity after death.

Credit: Much of this page makes use of material from Sheila Evans and also “The Theology Program” at