The Bible claims to be a supernatural book, a record of God's purpose and plans for humanity. It reveals how humanity's relationship with God was broken and restored through God's sending of Jesus Christ to die and become alive again. It also promises that when Jesus returns, all vestiges of sin will be removed from humanity's experience forever.
Yet how did the supernatural revelation of God's plans get recorded in a written form? The Bible plainly states that God is a spirit, yet the Bible, for all its supernatural claims, is a material object that even a child can hold in their hand. How did something composed of spirit change into a material asset? The answer is a process theologians call "inspiration."
Through "inspiration," each of the sixty-six books of the Bible was originally written down. God Himself supernaturally guided the writers to write what He wanted. As 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us,
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness."
The Greek word translated here as "God-breathed" is "theopneustos," [from the Greek "theós," meaning God, and "pnéō," meaning "breathe out."]. The idea here is of God breathing out Scripture into being. Thus, when I say the Bible is "inspired," I mean the Scriptures were "breathed out" by God. God didn't just give the various writers of the Bible general ideas on what to write; instead, God supernaturally guided the writing process. When 2 Timothy speaks of God's “breathing” life into the Bible, the verse means God provided understanding to human beings and directed them to write down the ideas and truths that God revealed to them.
This "inspiration" or "breathing out" involved several different aspects. "Verbal inspiration" means that each word of the Bible (as written down in its original language—whether Chaldean, Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek) came from the mouth of God. Each specific word was the exact word God wanted the writer to use. Because this is true, modern believers can dive into the context and definition of a particular word and glean understanding and insight from it that they might otherwise miss if they had only received a generalized idea or translation. "Plenary inspiration," on the other hand, refers to the complete, total, or absolute inspiration of the Bible. "Plenary inspiration" means God inspired every part of the Bible--each word, verse, or other portion of the Bible. Thus, people can say that the Bible has "plenary inspiration" [Gry word and verse] and "Inerrant" [ which means that the Bible's original manuscripts are without errors in its content, principles, or individual words].
"All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal" [Ps. 119:160]
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do [Hebrews 4:12-13].
Now, I do need to make a couple of points. The individual words used in the Bible are not in and of themselves holy. For example, the Bible frequently uses the word "spirit." When referring to the Holy Spirit, the term "spirit" refers to the third part of the Trinity. However, "spirit" is also used in modern terminology to refer to a person's courage, drinkable alcohol, or a ghost.
The other point is that the various modern translations of the Bible are not without error and are not perfectly inspired. The Believer must choose the translation of the Bible that they study carefully. Different translations vary significantly in their reliability, although scholars generally try to create a translation that is as faithful as possible to the original words of the Scriptures.
However, failures occur. In 1631, an edition of the King's James Bible was renamed "The Wicked Bible" after a printing error stated that people were to commit adultery. Other dubious Bible translations reflect the personal beliefs or goals of the publishers; the Reader's Digest Bible, for example, cut out significant sections of the Old and New Testament and should not be used for serious Bible study.