The word infallible refers to being incapable of error or wrong. When people speak of the Bible as infallible, they claim it is completely trustworthy, fully true, and without the ability to teach any error. Claims of the Bible’s infallibility have always been part of Christian belief, but can such claims be proved?
First, the Bible’s infallibility is taught in the Bible itself. Second Peter 1:19 states, “We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable.” Second Timothy 3:16–17 adds, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” If Scripture is “God-breathed,” it is the product of the perfect God and can therefore only be true.
Second, outside of the Bible’s own claims of infallibility, we can use inductive reasoning to provide evidence of the Bible’s accuracy. Evidence is gleaned from a study of the ancient manuscripts, archaeology, extra-biblical history, and other fields of study. Unlike some religious literature, the Bible has a verifiable historical basis—the cities, geography, nations, people, and other facts of the Bible are set within literal time and history. The stories of the Bible are not religious fables but accounts of God’s works throughout human history.
Of special importance in the matter of biblical infallibility is the consistent transmission of the biblical manuscripts. Technically speaking, the inspiration of the Bible is limited to the original autographs. However, a study of the history of the Bible’s manuscripts (called textual criticism) reveals an extremely high degree of accuracy in the copying and preservation of the sacred text.
The Dead Sea Scrolls include approximately 200 copies of Old Testament books dating from 2,000 years ago. These manuscripts prove the amazing consistency with which the Hebrew text was copied and its accuracy safeguarded through the centuries.
For the New Testament, more than 5,000 manuscripts and manuscript fragments exist in the original Greek text. The earliest fragments are only one generation removed from the original copies. Today’s scholars note that every original word of the New Testament text is either already in the text or in one of the alternative readings in the footnotes. The New Testament has more early copies to support its accuracy than any other ancient writing.
There are both internal and external evidences of the Bible’s infallibility. The text itself can be shown to be extremely accurate, and the subject matter can be supported through a variety of fields of study. The external evidence supports the internal claim that the Bible is unlike any other book in history. The Bible is accurate, authoritative, and infallible. Its teachings are from God Himself and worthy of our devotion (Psalm 1:1–3).