Inspiration is seen in the words used?
As we begin our study of the inspiration of the Bible we need to understand the word and how it is used. Inspiration is a word that comes from the Greek word used in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 which says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001. Print.) In this verse we see the phrase “breathed out by God” and its meaning is paramount to a true understanding of inspiration. The word is “theopneustos” and describes the way God breathed into the writers the words needed to express the mind of God to us. Another verse that helps our understanding of inspiration is 2 Peter 1:21 which states “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001. Print.) Each writer was carried along in the effort to write the word by the Holy Spirit. This idea of being “carried along” helps us understand the process God used to reveal the words to the writers. It is a nautical term, written by a former fisherman that describes the wind in the sail of a boat. God used the Holy Spirit to carry the writers along like wind in the sails of a boat so that the finished product was exactly what God wanted written.
When we talk about inspiration of the Bible we are talking about the influence that God exerted upon the writers of scripture that enabling him to write it down correctly. While the method is important, it pales in comparison to the product of inspiration. God was concerned about the end product and because of that controls the process.
It is often called Plenary Verbal Inspiration. This means that every word is inspired by God. Plenary refers to the entirety, fullness, or completeness in the activity of God in transmitting His word to us. While verbal refers to the exact words used. The Holy Spirit influenced the writers in such a way that each word is exactly the word God wanted used.
“The doctrine of plenary, verbal inspiration thus asserts that in a unique and absolute way the Holy Spirit acted in relationship with the biblical writers so as to render them infallible revealers of God’s truth; hence, the Bible may be spoken of as God’s infallible Word.” (Elwell, Walter A., and Barry J. Beitzel. Baker encyclopedia of the Bible 1988: 308. Print.)
We must regard the Bible as a letter written by the hand of God to His creation. Much like Exodus 31:18 that states that the Ten Commandments were written by the finger of God, we must consider the entirety of the Bible as inscribed by the very hand and mind of God.
Inspiration is seen in its unity found throughout the Bible.
In the Bible we see something that is not possible apart from one grand intelligence directing the entirety of the Bible. In the Bible we have a collection of smaller books that are amazingly connected throughout. We have 66 books written by around 40 different men. They were written in different times, in different places, in different languages, by different classes of people. Some are historical, some are poetical, some are prophetic, and some are highly symbolic. In spite of all this, there is still a thread that runs throughout that lets us see the hand of God directing the entirety. There is absolute unity throughout without stepping on the individual writer in his own time. There are three different dispensations, three different ways God deals with His people, and yet, one grand design running throughout.
Even as I write these words I am overwhelmed by the diversity and unity that stands within the pages of scripture. Each book of the Bible stands independent, strong, authoritative, and yet each is connected to the overall Bible over time and space in such a way that is truly amazing. The only explanation that could account for such unity and diversity is that the Bible is the work of One Mind. The Bible must be the work of an all-powerful, all knowing creator God.
Inspiration is seen in its unity of focus.
From beginning to end there is one primary focus, one message that permeates the entirety of the word of God. The Bible is a story about God and His people. It is a story about how a sinful, rebellious creation can once again find comfort in walking and talking with its creator. Man from his beginning chose to disobey God and lose his right to the presence of God. In Christ it is again restored to all men. What Adam lost, Jesus found. Where Adam failed, Jesus was victorious and once again allows us the hope of an eternity with our Creator.
Inspiration is seen in Jesus.
Perhaps the best place to see inspiration is found in Jesus himself. In Him we have the fulfillment of over 300 prophesies. Each one lending credence to the inspiration of scripture from the beginning to the end. The promised seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15) that was to crush the head of the serpent became the promised seed of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3). The promised seed of Abraham became the Prophet God promised to raise up like Moses (Deut. 18:15) to whom we should listen. The Prophet like Moses became the Son of David (2 Sam. 7:12-17) that God promised to sit on the throne forever. The Son of David became the One born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14) who became the One born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) all according to God’s revealed, inspired word.
Unity in inspiration is seen in many ways and each way should impress upon us the greatness of our God and His word.
Jeff Arnette is the minister for the Central Haywood church of Christ in Clyde, NC