To what extent did God inspire the Scriptures? How much of the Scripture is “God-breathed?” Well, Paul told Timothy that “every Scripture is God-breathed.” He means to say that when you open your Bible and read it, you are witnessing the Spirit of God on full display. The innermost desires and thoughts of Almighty God have been breathed out of his person and put into a medium we can both grasp and understand.

But practically speaking, how far should we take this? Should we pay attention to every word and grammatical cue? There are some who believe that God merely gave principles and general ideas to his prophets, and therefore a given passage may be equally infused with God’s breath and man’s opinion. If this is true, there can be no confidence in determining the will of God. There would be no exactness or precision. Expository studies and exegetical conclusions would be exercises in futility.

In the early parts of the 20th century, a host of liberal scholars went on a quest for the “historical Jesus.” Contending that the Bible was as erroneous as it is true, they took it upon themselves to dissect from its pages those things they determined to be “myths.” Each scholar, in his own library, hacked away at the Scriptures, removing the miraculous and any other thing that smelled of the supernatural. But (!) as they emerged from their textual laboratories, ready to reveal to the world the “historical Jesus,” they were made out to be fools—for even they, in their supreme confidence and trained scholastics, could not agree on who or what Jesus was. They contradicted one another at basically every point. The only thing they all agreed on is that Jesus was born in Galilee and that he died at the hands of Pontius Pilate. Beyond those two basic facts, there was utterly no consensus among them.

The fact is, when men reject the Bible’s claim of authority, they end up with pure conjecture and very little if any, substance. For this reason, we have to take the Bible at face value. Its authors unanimously present it as perfect in preservation and authority. In this week’s installment, I simply want to demonstrate the degree to which the Bible is God-breathed. I will use two separate Scriptures to show the precision of God’s recorded Word.

God Breathed Iotas and Dots

In the ministry of Jesus, he constantly exposed man’s marginal applications of the Law, and he pointed his finger at man’s inconsistent heart. Oftentimes, he elevated matters of the heart above trivial outer regiments and traditions. The people, for this reason, mistook his intentions, thinking that he was somehow undermining Moses or God’s standard for mankind.

Knowing that this skepticism sat in the minds of his audience, Jesus once said to them,

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law”…Matthew 5:17-18

We could talk at length about the weight of this passage, but I want you to ponder something that Jesus implies about the nature of God’s Word. He says that the Law of God has value and purpose even down to its smallest written features. Iotas and dots are tantamount to apostrophes and periods in our own language. Jesus is saying in no uncertain terms, “God-breathed every part of the Jewish Law, even the smallest and most insignificant strokes.” He isn’t saying that God breathed general ideas and principles and that we must sift to find the hidden truth amidst bunches of fluff and hot air. He’s saying that God guided his authors even as far as the most insignificant grammatical stroke.

So to what extent did God breathe the Scriptures? Down to the letter! But let’s get even more precise.

God Breathed Verb Tenses

During the time of Jesus, there was a group of Jews who did not believe in life after death. They believed that there would be no resurrection. According to them, God has no plan for his creation beyond a few short years in a fallen place. These were, of course, the Sadducees.

On one occasion, they came to Jesus in an attempt to put him in a logical headlock. Basically, they asked him how the resurrection could possibly be true when, according to God’s law, men are expected to marry the wives of their fallen brothers. So, if a woman marries a man, and then he dies, and by law, she marries his brother, whose wife will she be in the resurrection? This was the gist of their question. It was unconscionable to think of a woman having multiple husbands.

So Jesus said this to them,

“You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living”Matthew 22:29-32

You might read past this Scripture, never realizing the extremely profound nature of it. When God said, “I am the God of Abraham,” he said so to Moses (see Exodus 3). This was hundreds of years after Abraham had died. Hundreds of years after Abraham died, God told Moses, “I am the God of Abraham.He didn’t say, “I was the God of Abraham,” as he would have said if Abraham ceased to exist after his death! He said, “I am (present tense) the God of Abraham.

So what was God implying? Abraham was still alive! The thing we must understand is that Jesus built an entire theological argument atop the verb tense in a passage that wasn’t expressly about the resurrection. And he told the Sadducees that they did not know the Scriptures because they missed that present tense verb and its implications. WOW!

What this means is that God not only inspires every Scripture and every letter, but God inspires every grammatical element, including verb tenses.


The Scriptures are breathed out by God in the most precise way. He did not merely breathe concepts and principles. He breathed every last detail of the Bible.

In my installment in these articles, I’ve been asked to help inspire the church to excel in language. So my simple admonition for you is this: When you read the Bible, pay attention to every detail. Those details are never arbitrary or marginal. They are precise and intentional and valuable. May we learn to read the Bible with greater care than we read text books and novels. May we excel in the attention we give to God’s written Word.

Daniel Mayfield
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"Daniel serves as a preacher and teacher at the Oldham Lane Church of Christ in Abilene, Texas. He does this work with the invaluable aid, wisdom, and encouragement of his wife, Miranda. They have two young sons, Judah and Zion, and one beautiful daughter, Eden. Daniel had served in Oklahoma for nearly five years, before which time he and Miranda served as missionaries in the Caribbean. Daniel is a graduate of both Bear Valley and Oklahoma Christian University. His greatest passion is to preach the gospel of Jesus to anyone who will listen."