Quest. 8: What are the important terms concerning the Bible as the written Word of God?
Ans: The important terms concerning the Bible as the written Word of God are “inspiration,” “authority,” “infallibility,” “inerrancy,” “sufficiency,” “canonicity” and “illumination.”
If the Bible is the very Word of God preserved in written form [inscripturated]—and it is—then there are certain things that are necessarily true: The Bible is the inspired Word of God, not merely the work or words of men. Because the Bible is the very Word of God, it is authoritative—the very highest authority. As the very Word of God inscripturated, it is infallible—incapable of error and without deceit. As the inspired, authoritative, infallible Word of God inscripturated, it is necessarily inerrant or without error and wholly true in every respect. Because the Bible is the very Word of God and completely trustworthy in every respect, it is sufficient as our only rule of both faith [what we are to believe] and practice [how we are to live]. God has seen fit to authenticate and preserve certain books and no others. Together these form the canon or body of Divine truth we call “the Bible” or “the Scriptures.” The process by which only these certain books were duly recognized is called the canonization of Scripture.
The very nature of Divine inspiration, authority, infallibility and inerrancy necessarily determines the preservation of the Scriptures throughout the ages in the original languages as the very Word of God.
There are three further, important terms with which one ought to be familiar: exegesis, hermeneutics and application. Exegesis [to bring out the significance of the text (word meaning, grammar and syntax) in the original language] pertains to the reading of the text, i.e., it answers the question, “What does the text say?” Hermeneutics is the science of interpretation. It answers the question, “What does the text mean?” (Lk. 10:26). Application refers to the text of Scripture as it may be applied to a given situation: “How does or can this passage legitimately be applied to our modern era and situation?” Application derives from interpretation. A necessary distinction must be made between interpretation and application. If these are confused, then one may believe that the application is the interpretation, and thus be removed from truly understanding a given passage. Some preaching violates this principle and leads to misunderstanding and confusion.
By Dr. W.R. Downing