The Third Temple  The Center for
Messianic Learning 

Unapologetically Pro-Torah
Unashamedly Pro-Israel
Irrevocably Zionist
“… out of Tziyon will go forth Torah, the word of ADONAI from Yerushalayim.”
(Isaiah 2:3)
Jew and Gentile (Synagogue and Church), one in Messiah. (Ephesians 2:14)
“For He is our peace, Who made both one, and broke down the middle wall of partition, …”

If your life is not in jeopardy for what you believe, you’re probably on the wrong side!
If you don’t believe Genesis 1-11, how can you possibly believe John 3:16?
“Indeed, all who want to live a godly life united with the Messiah Yeshua will be persecuted.” (2Tim 3:12)
It is what you actually believe that determines how you walk out your faith, “but avoid stupid controversies, genealogies, quarrels and fights about the Torah; because they are worthless and futile.” (Titus 3:9)

Please Note: Absolutely nothing on this website should be taken as anti-Church or anti-Rabbinic. I am not anti-anything or anti-anyone. I am only pro-Torah and pro-Truth (see “Philosophy”), but sometimes the Truth upsets our long-held beliefs. I know it certainly upset mine! For example, see “Why Isn’t My Theology Consistent Throughout the Website?”

Developing a
Systematic Messianic Theology

“The purpose of careful theological formulations is not to put barriers in the way of people who are seeking salvation, but to define clearly the truths upon which genuine [Biblical] faith rests, so that people will not be misled by false doctrines.” [Bowman]

“It must be clearly and unequivocally stated that theology cannot save you. Only faith in Messiah Yeshua can save you. Theology can only give you sound doctrine.” [RLS]

Unless otherwise specified, throughout the Theology section of my website I use the term “Torah” in the wider sense of including the entire body of inspired Scripture: both the Tanakh and the Apostolic Writings. I personally do not consder any other so-called “sacred writings” either inspired by God or authoritative for the Believer’s walk of faith. Thus, I do not consider the Mishnah (the “Oral Torah”) as part of Torah. You should make up your own mind.

[Explanations of rabbinic citations are HERE]

Plenary Inspiration

What is Meant by Verbal Plenary Inspiration?

The doctrine of the authority of the Bible is often described with the phrase, “verbal plenary inspiration.” What does this phrase mean?

1. Verbal Means Every Word

“Verbal” inspiration means that every word of Scripture is God-given. The idea is that every single word in the Bible is there because God wanted it there. There are no exceptions. That concept is discussed HERE.

2. Plenary Means Fully Authoritative

“Plenary” means that “all parts” of the Bible are divinely authoritative. This includes even such things as the genealogies of the Tanakh. All parts of the Bible are of divine origin.

Concerning the Torah, Yeshua said:

But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter in the Torah to become void. (Luke 16:17 CJB)

Thbe New American Standard Bible renderes the statement this way:

But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law [the Torah] to fail.

Rav Sha'ul testified to the Messianic Community at Rome that the entire Tanakh was written for our instruction. He put it in the following way:

For everything written in the past [the Tanakh] was written to teach us, so that with the encouragement of the Tanakh we might patiently hold on to our hope. (Romans 15:4 CJB)

The Tanakh, in its entirety, can teach us valuable lessons; it should not be ignored. The same holds true for all parts of the Apostolic Writings. All parts of the Apostolic Writings are divinely authoritative.

3. Inspiration Means That God Guided the Process

The idea behind the word “inspiration” is that God supernaturally guided the biblical authors to write the exact things that He wanted expressed. The result is Holy Scripture. Therefore, the phrase “verbal plenary inspiration” means that all parts of the Bible, as well as every Word of the Bible, says exactly what God wanted said. He guided the entire process so that the end result would be His Words.

Improvements Can Be Made on This Expression

While the phrase “verbal plenary inspiration” has been a popular way for theologians to describe what the Bible says about itself, there are a number of improvements that can be made on this expression and its definition. They are as follows:

1. The Wording Is What Is Divine

When someone makes the statement that “every word” in Scripture is divinely authoritative, it gives the wrong idea. There is nothing special about the individual words that are used in Scripture. The various words found in the Bible are also found in many other writings. What is divine is not the individual words, but the wording. By themselves, the words are meaningless. They only derive their meaning by the way they are used in relationship to each other. Each word of Scripture is important, but only as it relates to the words around it.

Having said that, we also want to emphasize that Scripture contains the exact words, forms of words, and the wording that God desired. The fact that a certain word in Scripture is found in the singular rather than the plural is all part of the divine work. Everything in Scripture is there because God wanted it to be. Thus, it is important to emphasize that the Bible contains the exact wording that God wanted. When Ruach HaKodeshthe Holy Spirit worked with the various writers of Scripture, He supervised them in a mysterious way to bring about exactly what God wanted to say. Yet, in doing so, they wrote in their own words and in their own style.

2. All Parts of Scripture Are Fully God’s Word

The word “plenary” is not very clear to most people. It is not a common word. While it expresses something that is true — all parts of the Bible are Holy Scripture — it could be better said.

3. The Term Inspiration Needs to Be Updated

The term “inspiration” also needs to be updated. It is not generally used for something that is God-breathed. Unless explained to them, most people would not have any idea that this term means “God-breathed,” or divinely authoritative Scripture.

Conclusion: the Phrase “Verbal Plenary Inspiration,” While True, Needs to Be Better Stated

We conclude with the observation that the phrase “verbal plenary inspiration” needs to be more clearly stated in order for people to have a correct understanding of what the Bible says about itself. While the concept may basically be correct, it certainly could be stated much better.

Many textbooks on theology speak of the “verbal plenary inspiration” of the Bible. The idea is that every word (verbal) in the entire Bible (plenary) is Holy Scripture (inspiration). This definition needs to be refined somewhat. For one thing, the words, verbal plenary inspiration, are all ambiguous.

First, people do not really mean that every single word of the Bible is divine — what they mean is that the wording of Scripture is what is divine. The individual words are meaningless unless used in a sentence with other words.[1] The same words that are found in the Bible are not divine when used in other writings. They are only divine in the way they are used in Scripture.

Second, “plenary” is not a very familiar term to most people. While the concept is true, that all parts of the Bible should be considered as Holy Scripture, a better way should be found to say this.

Finally, the word “inspiration” is a term that needs replacing. It does not have the same meaning to people as it is often used in theological circles. A more contemporary description needs to be used to make the concept more understandable.

Source: Don Stewart: What Is Meant by the Verbal Plenary Inspiration of Scripture? at, accessed 06 Dec 2021

My Proposed Solution

So let me see if I can come up with a better way of expressing the idea: “Through the power of Ruach HaKodesh, every part of the original documents penned by the writers of the entire Bible, both the Tanakh and the Apostolic Writings, in their original language, contain exactly what God wanted said in exactly the way that God wanted it said, down to the very wording and phrasing that He used the writers to write.” It is the responsibility of the translators and interpreters of those writings to rely fully upon Ruach HaKodesh to render those ideas into the current language of the intended reader so that God’s original intent may be accurately preserved.

  1. Not only do the words have meaning only within the context of the sentence, the sentence only has meaning within the context of the paragraph, and the paragraph only has meaning within the context of the chapter, and the chapter only has meaning within the context of the entire book. See “Principles of Biblical Interpretation.” [BACK]

Originally posted on Monday, 06 December 2021

Page last updated on Tuesday, 26 September 2023 01:32 PM
(Updates are generally minor formatting or editorial changes.
Major content changes are identified as "Revisions”)

Anxiously awaiting Mashiach’s return

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