WHO WROTE THE BIBLE?
THE DOCTRINE OF INSPIRATION
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
This is the foundational passage on the subject of the inspiration of the Bible. It says very pointedly that all Scripture is inspired by God. There are three points that need be observed.
1. The FACT of Inspiration: All Scripture is INSPIRED by God... (2 Timothy 3:16a).
I have heard people speak of how they were watching a beautiful golden sunset and inspired to paint a picture or to write a poem. But this is not what this verse is saying
The phrase "inspired by God" is translated from the single Greek word
To the best of my knowledge, it is the first time this word is ever used in the Greek language. This means that Paul coined the word himself to describe the work of God in producing the Scriptures. Paul does something similar in 1 Thessalonians 4:9 when he says that you yourselves are taught by God to love one another - literally, you are "God-taught" (qeodidaktos).
In both cases, Paul utilizes a compound word, made up of two commonly used Greek words which are joined together to form a new word.
a. The first word is
b. The second word ispnew. It is a verb meaning "to breathe" or "to blow."
It is also the verbal form of the Greek word for "spirit" (
Therefore, we could say that "all Scripture is GOD-BREATHED." The very breath and spirit of God has been infused into the writings of the Bible. This is why we refer to it as the Word of God.
Although the specific term that Paul coins was a new one, the concept was not. The Old Testament describes God as accomplishing the work of Creation "by the breath of His mouth" (Psalm 33:6). In the same way, the Bible is the result of the creative work of God.
2. The EXTENT of Inspiration: ALL Scripture is inspired by God... (2 Timothy 3:16a).
All of Scripture is God-breathed. It is not just a small portion of the Bible, but every single sentence and every single word that is God-breathed. This is all-encompassing.
Jesus stressed this principle when He spoke of the abiding quality of the Law in His Sermon on the Mount.
"For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished." (Matthew 5:18).
The Greek text is even more specific. It says, "Not one IOTA or one KERAIA shall pass from the law."
Don't miss this! Jesus says that each and every letter and dot of God’s word would continue to stand. We could say that not one cross of the "T" and not one dot of the "I" will pass away. There is not one part of the Bible that is more inspired or more trustworthy than any other part. It is ALL completely God's word.
3. The OBJECT of Inspiration: All SCRIPTURE is inspired by God... (2 Timothy 3:16a).
It is the Scriptures themselves that are inspired. Paul does not say that the writers of the Scriptures were inspired. He says that the Scriptures themselves that are inspired.
If it had been merely the human authors who had received a revelation from God and then had written their own interpretation of that revelation, then we might wonder if they had not permitted error to creep in as they put this truth into their own words.
However, this is not the case. It is not the writers, but the Scriptures themselves which are said to be God-breathed.
This means that God did not guarantee that everything that Peter or Paul or any other of the human authors ever wrote were correct. No doubt, they wrote many other things that were not inspired by God and the inerrancy of those other writings is not guaranteed.
Rather, it is the truthfulness of the books that make up our Bible that is guaranteed by inspiration.
At the same time, we must recognize the aspect of dual authorship. By this, I mean that there were really two authors of each book - the Holy Spirit and the human author.
There are instances where the human writers described things of which they were eye-witnesses and merely wrote of the thing that they had seen. At other times, these same writers described events that they could not possibly have known about without a supernatural revelation from God (such as those events which took place prior to the creation of man).
There were also times when they wrote and did not themselves understand the full implications of that which they wrote (Daniel writes certain things which are to be sealed up until a future time).
Therefore the principle of inspiration refers to RESULT, not the METHOD in which the Scriptures were written.
In this way, the Bible was written both by men and yet at the same time it is the Word of God.
DEFINITION OF INSPIRATION
1. What it is NOT.
We have all heard people speak of how they were watching a beautiful golden sunset and were inspired to paint a picture or to write a poem. This is not inspiration in the theological sense.
2. What it IS.
It is the truth that God has moved certain men to write in such a way that the result of that writing, the Scriptures, are the very word of God.
3. Contrast of Revelation versus Inspiration.
Inspiration is a narrower term than revelation. Inspiration relates to God’s revelation of Himself as it is found in the pages of the Scriptures. Although all Scripture is inspired by God and all Scripture is therefore revelation from God, not all of revelation is Scripture. We have already noted how God has revealed Himself at many different times and in many different ways. The Scriptures are therefore only one of the many ways in which God has revealed Himself.
God has revealed Himself
God in-breathed the Scriptures
Involves both general as well as special revelation
Confined to the Bible
FALSE THEORIES OF INSPIRATION
1. The Mechanical Dictation Theory.
This is the theory that God told Moses to write the word, "In," and he wrote, "In." Then God said, "Write the word, ‘the,’" and Moses wrote "the." Then God said, "now write, ‘beginning.’"
The problem with this view is that if fails to explain how there are different styles and vocabularies used by the different human authors of the Bible.
On the other hand, there were indeed times when the Lord dictated His message very explicitly to the prophets.
Moses wrote down all the words of the LORD (Exodus 24:4).
Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel" (Exodus 34:27).
The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,
Then the LORD answered me and said, "Record the vision and inscribe it on tablets, that the one who reads it may run" (Habakkuk 2:2).
In Jeremiah 36 we have a vivid picture of God giving His message to Jeremiah and then Jeremiah dictating that same message to his servant and scribe Barach.
God gave His message to Jeremiah
Jeremiah dictated the message to Baruch
Baruch wrote down the message
Baruch read the message in the Temple
And it came about in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, that this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,2 "Take a scroll and write on it all the words which I have spoken to you concerning Israel, and concerning Judah, and concerning all the nations, from the day I first spoke to you, from the days of Josiah, even to this day. 3 "Perhaps the house of Judah will hear all the calamity which I plan to bring on them, in order that every man will turn from his evil way; then I will forgive their iniquity and their sin."
Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah, and Baruch wrote at the dictation of Jeremiah all the words of the LORD, which He had spoken to him, on a scroll.
And Jeremiah commanded Baruch, saying, "I am restricted; I cannot go into the house of the LORD.6 So you go and read from the scroll which you have written at my dictation the words of the LORD to the people in the LORD's house on a fast day. And also you shall read them to all the people of Judah who come from their cities. 7 Perhaps their supplication will come before the LORD, and everyone will turn from his evil way, for great is the anger and the wrath that the LORD has pronounced against this people."
And Baruch the son of Neriah did according to all that Jeremiah the prophet commanded him, reading from the book the words of the LORD in the LORD's house. (Jeremiah 36:1-8).
In this case, the message of God was given through the intermediaries of Jeremiah and Baruch, yet nothing is said to have been lost in translation.
2. The Natural Inspiration Theory.
This view says that God had nothing to do with the Bible. It sees the authors as having been inspired in the same sense that Shakespear was inspired to write Hamlet.
3. The Dynamic Inspiration Theory.
This theory says that God encouraged the authors to give first-hand reports of their revelatory experiences with God. They wrote of these experiences in the best way they humanly were able.
This view likens inspiration to light passing through the stained glass of a cathedral window. The light is from heaven but it is stained and colored by the glass through which it passes. In the same way, the message of God is said to pass through the heart and mind of the original human author and come out discolored by his personality.
4. The Limited Inerrancy Theory.
God is seen as having superintended the writing process of the Scriptures so that the redemptive truths of the Bible are without error. This view sees the Bible only authoritative on these sorts of redemptive truths and to be capable of error on issues like historical or scientific accuracy.
A BIBLICAL VIEW OF THE MECHANICS OF INSPIRATION
"But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." (2 Peter 1:20-21).
Remember that Peter is writing these words in the midst of an epistle which attacks false doctrine and false prophets. There were those who were claiming to have their own revelation of God - this was the origin of Gnosticism.
Peter says that the Scripture is more authoritative because it came from a higher source and a higher will.
The writers of Scripture were able to speak from God because the were "moved by the Holy Spirit." The verb used here isferomenoi, a present passive participle. This is the same root word used as is found in Acts 27:15 where "the ship was caught in it, and could not face the wind, we gave way to it, and let ourselves BE DRIVEN ALONG" (eferoumeqa). Just as the driving force behind the ship was the wind, so the driving force behind the writers of Scripture was the Holy Spirit.
This is important to understand. The human writers of the Scriptures did not consider the those Scriptures to be a work which was the combined viewpoints of God and man. This was God’s Word because it was God who had carried out the work.
God was able to use...
a. All of the past experiences of the human writers.
b. Their vocabulary and grammar.
c. Their thought process and style of writing.
...and still have the result to be the exact message which He sought to impart.
How is this possible? To us it would not be. Such a work would only be possible to the Sovereign Lord of the Universe.
VERBAL PLENARY INSPIRATION
1. Verbal Inspiration.
This means that God in His sovereignty chose the precise words and phrases that would go into the Scriptures, at the same time using the vocabulary and grammar of the human authors.
2. Plenary Inspiration.
This refers to every single portion of the Bible being fully and completely inspired by God. We have already pointed to the words of Jesus in establishing this principle: For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished (Matthew 5:18).
Now, we must point out that it is not the many various translations of the Bible that have been inspired, but the original manuscripts as they were penned by the human authors which are "God-breathed."
The Bible has been copied and recopied. It has been translated into many languages. But none of these translations are inspired. It is only the original autographs which are inspired.
OBJECTIONS TO THE DOCTRINE OF VERBAL PLENARY INSPIRATION
The teaching of the verbal plenary inspiration of the Scriptures has come under heavy attack in recent years. There are many who would deny that each and every word of the Bible is the Word of God and without error. There have been several lines of evidence to support such a view.
1. The Inadequacy of Language.
This objection states that human language is inadequate to the task of expressing truth about transcendent realities. Eastern religions often stress the teaching that God is inexpressable. Some actually go so far as to maintain that language is unable to express literal truth about anything.
Such a view is really an attempt to limit the power of God, for it states that God is unable to draw a straight line with a crooked stick.
2. Paul's Apparent Disclaimer of Inspiration.
In his first epistle to the Corinthians, Paul makes some statements which, at first glance, seem to deny total inspiration.
"But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband." (1 Corinthians 7:10).
It has been suggested that Paul is showing how he is giving the commands of God rather than his own personal commands, but that in verse 12 he leaves God's instructions and moves forward with instructions that are comprised only his own personal opinion. Notice the following phrases:
"But to the rest I say, not the Lord..." (1 Corinthians 7:12).
"Now concerning virgins I have no command of the Lord, but I give an opinion as one who by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy." (1 Corinthians 7:25).
These verses might be difficult until we realize that Paul is merely contrasting the commands which have already been given by the Lord Jesus while He was on earth with the new commands that Paul is now giving.
Thus, he is not denying inspiration, but rather is simply quoting the words of Christ to prove his point.
In verse 25 Paul gives his opinion, but this does not mean that it is not an inspired opinion - one which "by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy."
3. The Problem of Imprecise Quotations.
Anyone who has read through the Bible has quickly seen that it often quotes itself. The New Testament contains hundreds of quotations from the Old Testament.
A close examination of the quotations will reveal that they are not always exact. There are often variants as a word or a whole phrase is changed.
Sometimes the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament) is quoted - even when that translation makes a notable departure from the Hebrew text. At other times, the author gives a rather free translation.
Does this mean that each and every word of the original passage is not inspired? Not at all. These quotations are often deliberately general to bring out and better illustrate the truth that is being taught.
We can view them as a divinely inspired commentary on the text which is being quoted. Indeed, much of the Old Testament Scriptures are explained and amplified in the New Testament.
4. The Problem of Conflicting Reports.
There are a number of instances when two different writers in the Bible describe the same event. In such cases, there are sometimes major differences in the details between the two accounts. Here are just a few examples:
The following general answers can be suggested to these problems:
God has spoken. He has spoken in a way in which we can understand. He has preserved His message to us in the Scriptures. His message is true. It is complete and without error. And we can believe it.