Plenary Inspiration, the “Jot” and the “Tittle”


The plenary inspiration of the Bible can best be demonstrated through the attitudes and use of arguments made in Scripture, especially by Jesus and Paul. In Matthew 5:17-18 Jesus said “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” As Jesus proclaims, the Scriptures will be fulfilled down to the last “jot” and “tittle”. The Greek term jot refers to the Hebrew yodh, the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet similar to an English comma. Similarly, a tittle is a small stroke of a Hebrew letter, known as a seraph, distinguishing it from another. The Law and Prophets (the Scriptures) are based upon the very letters and portion of letters used, not just the larger ideas presented. Likewise, in Matthew 22:41-46 Jesus questions the Pharisees regarding the familial relationship of the Messiah. If the Messiah is the son of David, why does David call the Messiah “my Lord” in Psalm 110:1? Jesus’ argument rests on the pronoun “my”, which is the Hebrew yodh.

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In Matthew 22:23-33 the Sadducees were questioning Jesus regarding the resurrection. They employ an argument from the Old Testament levirate marriage law found in Deuteronomy 25:5 in which the brother of a deceased man should marry the widow. They propose that after seven brothers have married the same woman, each passing away during the marriage, whose wife will the woman be in the resurrection? Jesus’ answer that God is the God of the living, not the dead is dependent upon the tense of the one word from verse 32, “I am the God of Abraham”, not I was the God of Abraham. 

In Galatians 3:16 Paul references Genesis 12:7; 13:15; and 24:7 regarding the promised inheritance of the land. In this reference, the importance of the singular form of the term is foundational to the argument of Paul. The promise was made to the Seed (offspring – singular), not seeds (offspring – plural). The number of the term is the basis of the argument, indicating the special fulfillment of the Abrahamic promise prior to the establishment of the Mosaic law.

Therefore, the smallest portions of the letters that distinguish one letter from another, the tense (present/past/future), and the number (singular/plural) are all God-breathed aspects of the Scripture. One cannot conclude that the Scriptures are man’s expression about God, or only inspired in their concepts. Every letter, every aspect of the expression of Scripture is from the heart of God and can be taken as accurate, truthful, authoritative and sufficient.

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