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Scripture

Poems and songs. History and narrative. Wars and celebrations. Romance and grief. The Bible is an eclectic book.

But it’s more than a book. It’s a compilation of sacred writings God gave us to know and love him better—it is the Word of God.

The Bible itself describes Jesus Christ as the Word (John 1). The phrase “Word of God” can, then, apply to the speech and the Speaker. God’s speech is powerful: it can decree events and cause things to come into being (Gen 1:3; Psa 33:6). God’s speech is also intimate: it comes in personal addresses to people (Gen 3:16–19). And it comes both through human lips (Jer 1:9) and in written form (Exod 31:18; Josh 24:26; 1 Cor 14:27) (Grudem, Wayne A. Systematic Theology, pp. 47-49).

What we believe about Scripture impacts everything about our faith, from our beliefs about God to our understanding of ourselves. While the topic of Scripture is exceedingly broad, you can think about it in three main categories: the doctrine of Scripture, the canon, and the characteristics of Scripture.

The doctrine of Scripture

No device has ever recorded God’s spoken words. It is God’s word in written form that is available to us to study, inspect, examine, and discuss (Grudem, 49). Through Scripture, God engages with and relates to us.

And because the whole Bible points to Jesus Christ, the express image of God, we learn through studying Scripture what God is like.

The doctrine of Scripture helps us understand what the Bible is and how it came to be—and to grasp its meaning more fully. It helps to answer tough questions related to believing the words in a book that originates from a God we cannot see.

The canon of Scripture

Because the 66 books of Bible were written over 1,500 years by 40 authors on 3 different continents in 3 different languages, it was critical to decide which books belong inside the cover of a Bible—and which don’t. The “canon” of Scripture refers to these books recognized as authoritative and divinely inspired by God.

The document in question needed to conform to orthodoxy, have had authorial contact with the apostles, and be widely accepted. The Old Testament canon was not finalized until after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, while the process of canonizing New Testament books began in the first centuries after Christ’s resurrection. Church councils and individual churches played a role in recognizing the canon as Scripture publicly until the list was finalized in 397 AD.

Key characteristics of Scripture

Though there is no “official” list of key characteristics of Scripture, there is a general agreement (with some debate). In Wayne Grudem’s magnum opus Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Theology, he outlines four characteristics of Scripture, which have been used by many other Christians:

  • 1. Authority:Because Scripture originates from God, it is the ultimate verbal authority; it carries his authority as ruler over all he created (2 Pet 1:20–21).
  • 2. Clarity:The clarity of Scripture means that “the Bible is written in such a way that its teachings are able to be understood by all who will read it seeking God’s help and being willing to follow it” (2 Pet 3:16) (Grudem, 108).
  • 3. Necessity: The Bible is “necessary for knowing the gospel, for maintaining spiritual life, and for knowing God’s will, but is not necessary for knowing that God exists or for knowing something about God’s character and moral laws” (Rom 1:19–21; 2:14–15; 10:13–17) (Grudem, 116).
  • 4. Sufficiency:The sufficiency of Scripture means that “Scripture contained all the words of God he intended his people to have at each stage of redemptive history and that it now contains all the words of God we need for salvation, for trusting him perfectly, and for obeying him perfectly” (2 Tim 3:15–16) (Grudem, 127).


The doctrine of Scripture includes other elements, like inspiration, the process by which God communicated his revelation through human authors. All the written words of Scripture are both human words and, at the same time, God’s words (2 Tim. 3:16).

Two other fiercely debated elements are infallibility and inerrancy. To say that Scripture is infallible means that God cannot lie, and therefore, Scripture is incapable of erring (Ps. 119:43; 142; 151; 160; see also John 17:17). The Bible will not fail to accomplish the purposes for which God gave it (Isa 55:11). That Scripture is inerrant means it is free from error: “Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact” (Grudem, 90).

How Logos can help you explore Scripture

It’s impossible to understand everything about the Bible and God’s superintendence of the writing of Scripture. But since the meaning of the Bible is vital to our faith, it’s also critical to understand what Scripture is and how it came to be.

Here are some ways you can use Logos Bible Software to learn more about the doctrine of Scripture:

  • Learn about the doctrine of Scripture with library filters that make it easy to organize resources and pinpoint exactly what you are looking for.
  • Find key biblical references about the inspiration of Scripture with customizable search templates.
  • Research the key elements of the doctrines of Scripture in the Lexham Survey of Theology.
  • Track what you learn with a built-in notes app designed for Bible study

Courses


Mobile Ed: BI182 God’s Word as Translation (2 hour course)

Mobile Ed: BI182 God’s Word as Translation (2 hour course)

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Mobile Ed: NT281 How We Got the New Testament (4 hour course)

Mobile Ed: NT281 How We Got the New Testament (4 hour course)

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Mobile Ed: OT281 How We Got the Old Testament (5 hour course)

Mobile Ed: OT281 How We Got the Old Testament (5 hour course)

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Mobile Ed: TH101 Introducing Bible Doctrine I: Theology, Divine Revelation, and the Bible (6 hour course)

Mobile Ed: TH101 Introducing Bible Doctrine I: Theology, Divine Revelation, and the Bible (6 hour course)

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Resources


Holy Scripture: Revelation, Inspiration & Interpretation

Holy Scripture: Revelation, Inspiration & Interpretation

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Scripture and the People of God: Essays in Honor of Wayne Grudem

Scripture and the People of God: Essays in Honor of Wayne Grudem

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Scripture: God’s Word for Contemporary Christians

Scripture: God’s Word for Contemporary Christians

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The New Testament and Criticism

The New Testament and Criticism

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The Scripture Cannot Be Broken: Twentieth Century Writings on the Doctrine of Inerrancy

The Scripture Cannot Be Broken: Twentieth Century Writings on the Doctrine of Inerrancy

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The Revelation of God (Contours of Christian Theology)

The Revelation of God (Contours of Christian Theology)

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Time and the Word: Figural Reading of the Christian Scriptures

Time and the Word: Figural Reading of the Christian Scriptures

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Crossway Studies on Inerrancy (5 vols.)

Crossway Studies on Inerrancy (5 vols.)

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Difficulties in the Bible: Alleged Errors and Contradictions

Difficulties in the Bible: Alleged Errors and Contradictions

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Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books

Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books

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All Things New: Revelation as Canonical Capstone (New Studies in Biblical Theology)

All Things New: Revelation as Canonical Capstone (New Studies in Biblical Theology)

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Inerrancy and the Gospels: A God-Centered Approach to the Challenges of Harmonization

Inerrancy and the Gospels: A God-Centered Approach to the Challenges of Harmonization

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Studies in Scripture and Its Authority

Studies in Scripture and Its Authority

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Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible

Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible

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Jewish Interpretation of the Bible: Ancient and Contemporary

Jewish Interpretation of the Bible: Ancient and Contemporary

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The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism: Responding to New Challenges to Biblical Authority

The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism: Responding to New Challenges to Biblical Authority

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A Clear and Present Word: The Clarity of Scripture (New Studies in Biblical Theology)

A Clear and Present Word: The Clarity of Scripture (New Studies in Biblical Theology)

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Encountering Jesus, Encountering Scripture: Reading the Bible Critically in Faith

Encountering Jesus, Encountering Scripture: Reading the Bible Critically in Faith

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Light in a Dark Place: The Doctrine of Scripture (Foundations of Evangelical Theology)

Light in a Dark Place: The Doctrine of Scripture (Foundations of Evangelical Theology)

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The Authority of the New Testament Scriptures

The Authority of the New Testament Scriptures

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Understanding Scripture: An Overview of the Bible’s Origin, Reliability, and Meaning

Understanding Scripture: An Overview of the Bible’s Origin, Reliability, and Meaning

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Sacred Word, Broken Word: Biblical Authority and the Dark Side of Scripture

Sacred Word, Broken Word: Biblical Authority and the Dark Side of Scripture

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The Text and Canon of the New Testament

The Text and Canon of the New Testament

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Is There a Meaning in This Text?

Is There a Meaning in This Text?

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Captive to the Word of God: Engaging the Scriptures for Contemporary Theological Reflection

Captive to the Word of God: Engaging the Scriptures for Contemporary Theological Reflection

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The Word of God for the People of God: An Entryway to the Theological Interpretation of Scripture

The Word of God for the People of God: An Entryway to the Theological Interpretation of Scripture

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Making Sense of the Bible: Literary Type as an Approach to Understanding

Making Sense of the Bible: Literary Type as an Approach to Understanding

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