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The Spoken Word

September 24, 2007

I want to write on a technicality that has significance to me on the issue of inspiration and preservation.  In many discussions about inspiration, the word autographa is used.  This is the idea of “the original autographs.”  It seems to me that there is some mystical, super-spiritual significance given to the writing materials that were used to record the words of God.  I am not promoting behavior that desecrates or destroys Scripture, but we should remember that God’s Words are spoken words.  There are very few places in Scripture where God wrote His words for His people.  Do this simple search with your Bible concordance: word AND Lord AND saying.  You will find that God gave His Word to His men by speaking to them.  When you speak, you are breathing.  This is the mechanism of inspiration — God-breathed Words.Â

And it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that this word came unto Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Take thee a roll of a book, and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spoke unto thee, from the days of Josiah, even unto this day. It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.  (Jeremiah 36:1-3)

God’s men then copied God’s Words down for God’s people to read.

And they asked Baruch, saying, Tell us now, How didst thou write all these words at his mouth? Then Baruch answered them, He pronounced all these words unto me with his mouth, and I wrote them with ink in the book.  (Jeremiah 36:17-18)

It is a God-spoken Word. The first copy is not any more inspired than the next copy.

Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, after that the king had burned the roll, and the words which Baruch wrote at the mouth of Jeremiah, saying, Take thee again another roll, and write in it all the former words that were in the first roll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah hath burned.  (Jeremiah 36:27-28)

The words are what is important not the paper and ink. It did not matter whether the original autographs were extant or not. What mattered was that the Words of God were available to His people.

Categories: The Word, Voegtlin
  1. September 24, 2007 at 10:31 pm

    You flesh some good points here. People should strongly consider these.

  2. September 25, 2007 at 4:45 am

    I know some people would differ with this position, but I am firmly convinced that God inspired the written words of the Bible, not the writers of the Bible – therefore the words are still inspired (ie. never lost their inspiration), regardless of what language they may be translated into. There are too many out there that think God inspired the writers, and therefore only the originals as penned by them had any merit – but we lost those originals and all we have are copies and translations of them; therefore what we have (in their eyes) is not as trustworthy or as certain as the originals.

  3. September 25, 2007 at 5:40 am

    Very good post to consider. I believe this is what is said in 2 Peter 1:21.

  4. September 25, 2007 at 6:08 am


    Some of what you’re saying is part of the point I was trying to make. To me, essentially, God inspired the spoken words, and the first written words were copies, just as much as the next copy. All that we have ever had in writing was copies of the God-breathed words (except perhaps the Ten Commandments). Even in the “originals” we depended on God’s superintendence over the writer/copyist.

    Thus, I conclude, copies of the same words are just as certain as the original copy.

  5. September 25, 2007 at 7:01 am

    Excellent points Brother Jeff! I have appreciated your comments in this series. I think another interesting point is that God’s Words are often spoken of in the PAST TENSE as being inspired. They ARE STILL inspired presently (Heb 4:12).

  6. September 25, 2007 at 8:53 am

    I agree with Jeff’s points. I do. He takes them from Jeremiah. One more thing, however, is that in 2 Timothy 3:16, the graphe, the writings themselves are God breathed. The writings were the end product. However, what Dr. Voegtlin writes here broadens that to do away with this disrespect of copies that we see with fundamentalists and evangelicals.

  7. September 25, 2007 at 7:41 pm

    No one presently living in this world has ever seen an autograph (except in preserved apographs). Unless we believe in textual preservation of God’s breathed-out Words recorded in the apographs, we cannot say with full assurance that we have the inspired Words of God. That is why Textual Reconstructionists can only say they have the Word of God. They can only believe in doctrinal preservation. In other words, they will say that no major doctrine is effected by questionable textual variants. If they are honest, they would also say they cannot be confident in exegesis based upon questionable preservation. Therefore, the best they can honestly hold to, even if they hold to verbal, plenary inspiration of the autographs, is dynamic preservation in the apographs. To argue for verbal plenary inspiration of the autographs is a mute point if one does not believe in the verbal, plenary preservation of the Words of God in the apographs.

  8. September 25, 2007 at 9:47 pm

    My spirit rejoiced in your comment Bro. Ketchum.

  9. September 26, 2007 at 4:24 am

    Unless we believe in textual preservation of God’s breathed-out Words recorded in the apographs, we cannot say with full assurance that we have the inspired Words of God.

    I noticed the phrase used here (and that is often how many refer to the Scriptures), but is that accurate? Here is some food for thought:

    EXpiration or INspiration?

  10. Mike Hontz
    September 26, 2007 at 10:14 am

    This issue of God’s preservation of his word is certainly a tricky one? What does everyone do with the obvious fact that of the 6,000 plus ancient manuscripts in existence today, none of them agree verbatim 100%? Even if one believes that the Byzantine (Textus Receptus) manuscripts are the only legitimate manuscripts, one is still forced as was Erasmus, to critically evaluate the texts available to determine which reading is most likely the original one in places where there is disparity. Even Erasmus’ Greek text was an eclectic text in that regard. And so I don’t know any way around the fact that God did not preserve with 100% accuracy the original text of Scripture in the process of copying it throughout the centuries. The discover of the Dead Sea Scrolls have certainly shown us just how accurate many of them are even after 2000 plus years later, but they are not 100% accurate.

  11. September 26, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    Mike, if you look under our King James only head, you will find that these points have been dealt with (with substantial debate).

    Suffice it to say, what we have is what God has preserved. We can count on it. The part we don’t have is the part God didn’t preserve. God said He would preserve the very God-breathed words. We have them.

  12. September 26, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    Brother Mallinak,

    It makes you wonder why that is so hard to understand, doesn’t it?

  13. September 26, 2007 at 11:22 pm

    Inspire, expire, what’s the difference?

    I don’t think either word adequately translates theopneustos, though what we mean by inspire seems to come close. After reading the article and the discussion, I am wondering if some of you are saying that God verbally (audibly) dictated the words of the Scripture to the apostles/prophets, then they wrote them down. That sounds pretty close to John R. Rice’s view. If that is your view, what do you do with 1 Cor 7.10 and 1 Cor 7.12? It appears that some of that chapter was not given directly to Paul by the Lord.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  14. September 27, 2007 at 6:22 am


    I want to clarify. I do not think that Jeremiah (and almost every OT prophet) gives us a complete picture of inspiration. Kent has pointed out that 2 Timothy 3:16 says that “writings” are “theopneustos.” The end product. But, I will say that in many places the Bible tells us that they were the words of God and that He said them.

    So, no, I do not believe that all the writers of Scripture were just penmen. But that’s how it appears to have happened in many cases.

    The big point I was trying to make is that as long as we have the Words, we have everything the same as when they were first given. We are not Catholics that think there is some mystical power in the ink and parchment that the originals were written on. The power is in the Words.

  15. September 27, 2007 at 6:32 am

    Brother Don, I have to run out the door to work in a minute or two, so I will just respond quickly to one point. As far as Paul’s statements in 1 Corinthians 7, I truly believe Paul was indicating some of his statements were based on previous words spoken by Christ (He did address some of what Paul presents in that chapter), and other statements – just as clearly inspired directly by the Lord – were not things that Christ dealt with in His public ministry. Paul is not saying that some of his letters/writings are not inspired (ie. referring to the Scriptures – not to other material he may have written that is not in the Bible), but that some of it is material God gave to the church through him, not just through Jesus when He was on earth. Hope that makes sense.

  16. Bobby
    September 27, 2007 at 7:20 am

    Amen to this article, Brother Jeff.

  17. September 27, 2007 at 11:20 am

    If that is your view, what do you do with 1 Cor 7.10 and 1 Cor 7.12? It appears that some of that chapter was not given directly to Paul by the Lord.

    Bro. Don, I believe that passage in 1 Corinthians is specifically stating that what Paul spoke in certain verses of chapter seven were not based on Jesus’ previously made statements during His public ministry – whereas other points that he made were based on Jesus’ comments (as recorded in the Gospels). He is in no way stating that what he spoke was not directly inspired or given by God (Peter states that all Paul’s epistles were Scripture – and Paul says all Scripture is given by inspiration of God).

    Inspire, expire, what’s the difference?

    Well, what did God actually say? If Strong’s definition is right, the word means “divinely breathed in.” Also, inspiration means “breathed in.” – so it does matter. On a practical basis, what is the difference in meaning? My opinion: He did not breathe OUT His Word, He breathed life INto His Word. His Word still contains that life (Hebrews 4:12) – if it was only the originals that were breathed out, they lost that breath when they perished – if it is His words that have divine life breathed into them, those words still contain that inspiration – regardless of whether they are copies or translations.

    In some cases, God gave the Word directly, other times He moved through various holy men of God to pen what He wanted them to write. Yes, He developed them as vessels, then He used their personalities and circumstances to get across exactly what He wanted us to have in His Word.

  18. September 27, 2007 at 6:44 pm

    Hi Jeff
    Ok, thanks for clarifying. It is true that some of the Word was dictated verbatim (i.e., the Ten Commandments, some of the prophetic passages for sure, and others) but it is also true that this didn’t happen all the time, yet it is all Scripture.

    It is also true that not everything the apostles said was inspired. In other words, when Peter was dissembling in Antioch, he said and did things that earned an apostolic rebuke by Paul.

    I take it that it wasn’t the men who were inspired, per se, at least not in the sense that the Scriptures are inspired.

    I would only offer this clarification regarding the originals vs. the copies. I think we can all agree that the originals were verbatim inspired when the apostles wrote them down (or the prophets). None of us would argue that the originals contained any non-inspired words. (I realize that no one has the originals, but are you wanting to make the argument that any part of the originals were not inspired?? Me neither.)

    All right, so the originals were inspired. 100%. Now what about the copies? Are there copies that contain uninspired words? I can’t say no, although we might disagree over which copies contained uninspired words and which did not.

    And that is where the argument is. In fact, I don’t think we could have the argument if any of us didn’t believe in 100% inerrant inspired originals.

    That doesn’t make the originals magic, but I think it is essential to the doctrine of inspiration that we believe the originals were 100% inspired. I can’t imagine anyone arguing that they were not. Anyone who is a bible believer, that is.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  19. September 27, 2007 at 9:14 pm

    The words were the final product. Those are also what God promised He would preserve—not copies—but words.

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