The Inspiration of the Bible


      The Bible purports to reveal the origin of all creation, the purpose of man, and man's ultimate destiny (Gen. 1, 2, Eccl. 12: 13, Matt. 25: 46). However, there were men involved in the original writing of the Bible, about forty, Moses through the apostle John. The question is, were these writers simply writing as mere men or were they inspired and if inspired, in what sense were they inspired?

     Some books which are used for religious authority do not even claim inspiration and infallibility. For instance, Nephi wrote: "And I know that the record which I make is true; and I make it with mine own hand; and I make it according to my knowledge." Another writer of this same book wrote, "And now I, Moroni, have written the words which were commanded me, according to my memory…" (I Nephi 1: 3, Ether 5: 1, The Book of Mormon, this book even claims to contain mistakes, Mormon 8: 12, 9: 33). "According to my knowledge" and "according to my memory" are not statements that are indicative of inspiration and infallibility! However, typical language found in the Bible is, "…the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord" and "which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth…" (Paul, I Cor. 14: 37, 2: 13).

     The Bible claims inspiration. As we have seen, the writers of the Bible are not presented as fallible men, just writing according to their memory. Jesus promised his apostles that the Holy Spirit would "…teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance…" (Jn. 14: 26). Jesus also promised them, "…he (the Holy Spirit, dm) will guide you into all truth…" (Jn. 16: 13). Jude wrote subsequently regarding the faith (scriptures, etc.) that it had been "once for all delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3, ASV). How could any book that presents itself as the ultimate standard of judgment, creed book, source of faith, and God's very expression of authority be anything less than inspired and be genuine? (Jn. 12: 48; 2 Tim. 3: 16; Rom. 10: 17; Heb. 1: 1, 2, Col. 3: 17.)

     Indeed, the Bible claims inspiration. Paul wrote thus, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God…" (2 Tim. 3: 16). The English word "inspiration" is derived from the Greek word theopneustos. Theopneustos is a compound word, theos, God, and pneo, to breathe, hence, God breathed (Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, by W.E. Vine). God breathed reveals the source of scripture, not fallible man but God speaking through man. Hence, the scriptures are profitable for doctrine (our creed, dm), for reproof and correction, and for instruction in righteousness (ibid.). The end result of the scriptures being God breathed (inspired) is: "That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (vs. 17).

     The scriptures repudiate any human origin and emphatically assert to be of God. Peter wrote thus of the prophets of old, "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Pet. 1: 21). "Moved" is from phero, which means: "To bear, carry…in 2 Peter 1: 21, signifying that they were 'borne along,' or impelled, by the Holy Spirit's power, not acting according to their own wills, or simply expressing their own thoughts, but expressing the mind of God in words provided and ministered by Him" (W. E. Vine).

    False concepts of inspiration. Modernists claim that they believe in the inspiration of the scriptures, but what do they mean by inspiration? Some advocate simply natural inspiration. For example, some say "the poet Longfellow was inspired," this is natural inspiration. Others claim the Bible is inspired in the sense that God supplied the thought and man, on his own, expressed the supplied thought. This is called noematical inspiration. There is a third type - plenary inspiration. Plenary is full inspiration - both thoughts and words supplied. Plenary inspiration is the type inspiration claimed by the scriptures (I Cor. 14: 37, 2: 13).

     Concerned reader, not a few today are openly disavowing any belief in the inspiration of the scriptures - even many religionists! Notwithstanding, Jesus said, "…the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" (Jn. 6: 63). Again, "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day" (Jn. 12: 48, see I Cor. 14: 37, also see "The Bible," accessed from the home page).