What is Verbal Plenary Preservation?

Verbal Plenary Preservation is the belief that God not only inspired the Scriptures of the Bible, but also supernaturally preserved His inspired words in the Bible. In particular, those who hold to Verbal Plenary Preservation argue that the Textus Receptus or "Received Text" of the New Testament is the particular Scripture God preserved.

Why do adherents of Verbal Plenary Preservation consider the Textus Receptus so important? Most do so because of their belief that the King James Version is the best (or only) acceptable English Version of the Bible (sometimes called King James Onlyism). Accordingly, these adherents not only reject modern Bible translations (such as the NASB, NIV, ESV, and others) but also reject the standard Greek New Testament editions used in modern study (Nestle-Aland or United Bible Society's Greek New Testament), claiming they should be rejected because they are not based on the Textus Receptus.

The major concern with Verbal Plenary Preservation is that it fails to clearly distinguish between God's inspiration of the Bible and God's preservation of the Bible. Those who argue Verbal Plenary Preservation use many of the same Scriptures Christians use to defend the Bible's inspiration (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21; Matthew 4:4), yet also apply their meaning to a particular way God has preserved the words of the New Testament.

To be clear, God has preserved the words of the New Testament. More than 5,000 Greek manuscript portions have been discovered, in addition to thousands more in Latin, Syriac, Coptic, and other languages. However, the Bible never claimed one particular version of the New Testament would be preserved better than other versions. As a result, biblical researchers study all available manuscripts to help determine the best reading of each individual word of the Bible. The end result should help improve the understanding of the original wording of the inspired words of Scripture.

Then why the concern by those who hold to Verbal Plenary Preservation? On the positive side, these adherents desire to know and understand the Bible as accurately as possible. However, rejecting modern discoveries of Greek manuscripts studied by top language scholars does not reflect the attitude of the Bereans of the Bible, whom we are told, "received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so" (Acts 17:11). Rather than rejecting the findings of additional Greek manuscripts or even other modern English translations, believers are encouraged to study to evaluate the truth of the matter.

Further, those who hold to Verbal Plenary Preservation to the extent that they accept the King James Version of the Bible as the only acceptable translation place a particular translation as of higher importance (or as high of an importance) than the original Scriptures. People of all languages need those who dedicate their lives to understanding the text of the Bible in order to help translate it in the variety of languages in which the Bible still does not exist in the local language. We are called to study to show ourselves approved (2 Timothy 2:15) as well as to share God's message of hope to all we can (Matthew 28:18-20).

Related Truth:

How is the Bible inspired? What does it mean for the Bible to be inspired?

What is the canon of the Bible and how did we get it?

What is the KJV only movement? Should we only use the King James Version of the Bible?

Why are there so many Bible translations?

What Bible translation should I use?

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