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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 1: Of the Holy Scriptures - Commentary

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Chapter 1: Of the Holy Scriptures

What does the Bible itself teach about the Word of God? Which books are contained in the Bible? Are the Apocryphal books God-inspired and authoritative? Who made the Bible authoritative? What is Sola Scriptura? What does it mean that Scripture is inerrant and infallible? Is Scripture sufficient? What does it mean that the Scripture is inspired? Are creeds and confessions above or subordinate to the Scriptures? In this chapter, we will explore the Bible’s view of the Word of God. The paragraphs in which I deal with parts of the Scripture's doctrine are not necessarily in logical order, therefore, here are the topics in a somewhat more logical order:

  1. Necessity of Scripture (paragraph 1)
  2. Scripture As Self-Revelation (paragraph 1)
  3. Canon of the Old Testament (paragraph 4)
  4. Canon of the New Testament (paragraph 3)
  5. Inspiration of Scripture (paragraph 2)
  6. Inerrancy and Infallibility of Scripture (paragraph 1)
  7. Authority of Scripture (paragraph 4)
  8. Sufficiency of Scripture (paragraph 6)
  9. Sola Scriptura (paragraph 110)
  10. Authentication of Scripture (paragraph 5)
  11. Perspicuity of Scripture  (paragraph 7)
  12. Interpretation of Scripture (paragraph 9)

This chapter is in many ways based upon the truths in 2 Timothy 3:16. All the particular subjects which are treated are part of a unified whole doctrine about God's Word.


§1 The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule

  1. The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience 1, although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable 2; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and his will which is necessary unto salvation. 3 Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in divers manners to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church 4; and afterward for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan, and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the Holy Scriptures to be most necessary 5, those former ways of God's revealing his will unto his people being now ceased. 6
    1. Isa. 8:20; Luke 16:29; Eph. 2:20; 2 Tim. 3:15-17[1]
    2. Ps. 19:1-3; Rom. 1:19-21, 32; 2:12a, 14-15
    3. Ps. 19:1-3 with vv. 7-11; Rom. 1:19-21; 2:12a, 14-15 with 1:16-17; and 3:21
    4. Heb. 1:1-2a
    5. Prov. 22:19-21; Luke 1:1-4; 2 Peter 1:12-15; 3:1; Deut. 17:18ff; 31:9ff, 19ff; 1 Cor. 15:1; 2 Thess. 2:1-2, 15; 3:17; Rom. 1:8-15; Gal. 4:20; 6:11; 1 Tim. 3:14ff; Rev. 1:9, 19; 2:1 etc.; Rom. 15:4; 2 Peter 1:19-21
    6. Heb. 1:1-2a; Acts 1:21-22; 1 Cor. 9:1; 15:7-8; Eph. 2:20

Holy Scripture, which is defined to be the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, is “sufficient, certain, and infallible”. This means that Scripture is enough; true and sure; and cannot err. What is the scope of this sufficiency, certainty, and infallibility? The Confession says that Scripture is the only infallible “rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience”. Holy Scripture is given as a measuring line and a standard. It is a standard of standards. There are other standards and rules besides the Bible, but the Bible alone is the “sufficient, certain, and infallible rule”. The Bible is the norm and ...


1689 Second Baptist Confession of Faith Highlighted

...aggai   Zechariah   Malachi   

        All of which are given by the inspiration of God, to be the rule of faith and life. 1

  1. The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon or rule of the Scripture, and, therefore, are of no authority to the church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved or made use of than other human writings. 1
    1. Luke 24:27, 44; Rom 3:2
  1. The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or church, 1 but wholly upon God (who is truth itself), the author thereof; therefore it is to be received because it is the Word of God. 2
    1. 2 Tim 3:15; 1 John 5:9; Rom 1:2; 3:2; Acts 2:16; 4:25; Matt 13:35; Rom 9:17; Gal 3:8; Rom 15:4; 1 Cor 10:11; Matt 22:32; Luke 16:17; Matt 22:41ff; John 10:35; Gal 3:16; Acts 1:16; 2:24ff; 13:34-35; John 19:34-36, 24; Luke 22:37; Matt 26:54; John 13:18; 2 Tim 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-21; Matt 5:17-18; 4:1-11
    2.  Luke 15:27-31; Gal 1:8-9; Eph 2:2
  1. We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the church of God to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scriptures; 1 and the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, and the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is to live all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man's salvation, and many other incomparable excellencies, and entire perfections thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God; 2 yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth, and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts. 3
    1. 2 Tim 3:14-15
    2. Jer 23:28-29; Luke 16:27-31; John 6:63; 1 Peter 1:23-25; Heb 4:2-13; Deut 31:11-13; John 20:31; Gal 1:8-9; Mark 16:15-16
    3. Matt 16:17; 1 Cor 2:14ff; John 3:3; 1 Cor 2:4-5; 1 Thess 1:5-6; 1 John 2:20-21, with v 27
  1. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelation of the Spirit, or traditions of men. 1 Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word, 2 and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed. 3
    1. 2 Tim 3:15-17; Deut 4:2; Acts 20:20, 27; Ps 19:7; 119:6, 9, 104, 128
    2. John 6:45; 1 Cor 2:9-14
    3. 1 Cor 14:26, 40
  1. All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, 1 nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of ordinary means, may attain to a sufficient understanding of them. 3
    1. 2 Peter 3:16
    2. 2 Tim 3:15-17
    3. 2 Tim 3:14-17; Ps 19:7-8; 119:105, 130; 2 Peter 1:19; Prov 6:22-23; Deut 30:...