God’s act of inspiration establishes the fact that the 66 books of the Bible are inerrant and infallible in every word. God makes no error in that which he inspires, regardless of the instrument. Further, since the Scriptures are inspired revelation from God, they are authoritative in all matters to which they speak. The consequence of inspiration is inerrancy and authority.
Last week we began a bibliology series looking at some of the most critical and fundamental questions surrounding the Bible. What is the Bible? Where did we get it? Who decided what would, and would not be, in the Bible? How can it be said that the 66 books alone are the inerrant, infallible words of God?
These questions concern the topic of bibliology. We are attempting to address these over the course of the next several weeks. Last week, we studied the topic of revelation, answering the question, “What is the Bible?”
In today’s post, we will go further and attempt to answer the questions, “How did God give special revelation?” “Where did the Bible come from?” “How did we actually get these written words on the page?”
You get many different answers to the question, “Where did the Bible come from?”
“From some guys at religious councils several hundred years ago.”
“From the minds of devious, manipulative men.”
“From the hearts of very moved individuals with profound writing skills.”
It’s a question that God’s people must be able to answer.
Now, we will begin with this assertion, which will be supported by the end of this series: the 66 books of the Bible are verbally inspired in every word, absolutely inerrant in the original documents, infallible, and God breathed.
But we have a problem. The Bible speaks unapologetically about the universal sinfulness of men. And men were used to record the Bible. So, how could imperfect humans record God’s perfect revelation? God understood the issue and acted accordingly in inspiration.
What is Inspiration?
Inspiration explains how flawed men could record flawless holy Scripture. By inspiration, however, we do not mean something subjective. The biblical doctrine of inspiration does not mean inspiration in the sense that Mozart was inspired when he wrote Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. Inspiration does not mean that the biblical writers felt a subjective enthusiasm or stir, such that the Bible came to be. It does not mean that Scripture is merely the product of significant human achievement. Neither is biblical inspiration existential; the idea that the words of the Bible become inspired as the reader interacts with them.
Instead, inspiration means this: God the Holy Spirit superintended the human writers of the 66 books of the Bible such that what they wrote were God’s inerrant words to humanity in the original writings. In doing so, God did not violate the respective personalities, abilities, and contexts of the human authors from which they wrote. God acted upon them in a real context, with real need, to exercise his care for his people, with the result that the 66 books of the Bible are the without-error revelation of God in their original writings.
This means that to read the words of the Bible is to read the words of God. To study the Bible is to study the words of God. To pay attention to the Bible is to pay attention to God. To obey the Bible is to obey God. To speak the Bible is to speak the words of God. God gave his words through the act of inspiration with the result that the 66 books of the Bible are the very words of God in entirety.
The Biblical Testimony to Inspiration
God testifies to inspiration in Scripture. For example, 2 Timothy 3:16 teaches that, “All Scripture is inspired by God.” The English phrase, “is inspired by God,” translates the Greek term, θεόπνευστος, which literally means, “God-breathed.” The verb is passive, meaning that something else did the acting. Specifically, that Scripture is God-breathed tells us two key facts about the Bible. First, it tells us the how: the Bible came about through the breathing, or, speaking of God. Second, it tells us the what: the Bible is divine in its origin; all of it is from God.
But there’s more. The Greek word, graphe, translated, “Scripture,” occurs 51 times in the New Testament and usually refers to the Old Testament Scriptures. That takes care of the first 39 books of the Bible, but what about the other 27? In 1 Timothy 5:18 and 2 Peter 3:16, graphe includes New Testament writings as well. In 1 Timothy 5:18, Paul writes, “For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,’ and, ‘The laborer is worthy of his wages.’” Here, Paul quotes both from the Old and New Testaments (Deut. 25:4 and Matt. 10:10). So, Paul puts New Testament Scripture on par with the Old. Peter does the same. In 2 Pet 3:15-16, he writes:
…just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.