Weekly Bible Study
Tuesday 30th June 2020
TOPIC: THE INSPIRATION OF THE BIBLE
TEXT: 2 Timothy 3:16-17
The author of the Bible is the Holy Spirit; the pages of the Bible are an authoritative revelation in written form of God’s nature and purpose. The Bible is the source of our knowledge of God; it is the textbook for divine truth and the guidebook to everlasting life.
The word “Bible” is derived from the Greek word “biblos” which means “a book.” The Bible is known by other names such as the Scriptures, the Writings and the Word of God. (Luke 4:17, Matt. 22:29, Heb. 4 :12) The Bible is a library of 66 books divided into two main sections; the Old Testament containing 39 books and the New Testament containing 27 books.
The Bible was written by different persons (36-40 authors) over a period of 1600 years and in different parts of the world. The unique design of the Bible is one of the best proofs of its divine inspiration. For so many different men to write a book without contradiction is a miracle. The miracle can only be explained by the guiding hand of a Master Author.
The cardinal theme of the Bible is Christ who is the key to understanding it. The Old testament was originally written in Hebrew, with parts of Daniel and Ezra being written in Aramaic; the New Testament was written in Greek.
(A) INSPIRATION OF THE BIBLE: THE MEANING
According to Robert Lee, “by inspiration we mean the supernatural control by God over the production of the Old and New Testaments.” The Bible is “theopneustos” (God-breathed). (II Tim. 3:16) “All Scripture is given by inspiration….” Inspiration is the strong conscious inbreathing of God into men, qualifying them to give utterance to truth. According to William Evans, inspiration “is God speaking through men.”
In II Peter 1:21, the Bible says, “for not by the will of man was prophecy brought at any time but being borne by the Holy Spirit, the holy men of God spoke.” The Holy Ghost was miraculously present, preserving accuracy in the writings. Holy men of God, overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, wrote at His command; thus they were kept from error as they recorded things known or unknown to them.
(B) VARIOUS THEORIES OF INSPIRATION
Today, many of us are curious to know exactly how God, the Holy Spirit gave the Scriptures. Some of the authors recorded history that they had witnessed; others wrote of things that had happened long ago (Moses and creation) while others wrote prophecy. Here are the various theories concerning inspiration of the Bible.
1. Revelation: Some think the authors were in a trance and saw the Bible and simply copied it down, word for word as it was revealed to them by the Lord. We admit that many of the writers wrote prophecy but we reject this theory of inspiration for it would not allow the writer a choice of words at all. The education and logical mind of Paul is evident in Romans and Galatians.
2. Illumination: The Holy Spirit illuminated them to see the events in a spiritual manner and then they wrote them down in their own words and style of writing. We believe that not only the thoughts are inspired but also the words. God allowed the writer to use his own words and education, revealing his personality. However, we reject this theory as being not specific enough for Bible inspiration. The Bible is not the result of godly men meditating on God, but God himself in-breathing man to record the thoughts of God.
3. Verbatim Reporting: This view states that God dictated the scriptures as an executive to a secretary. But this would reduce inspiration to a mere mechanical process. We reject this theory for the personalities or individualities of men like David, Moses and Peter are very evident in their writings. Luke, the Doctor used a medical word (Luke 8:44); David, the shepherd wrote of sheep, sling shots, shepherd’s equipment. (rod and staff)
4. Natural Inspiration: This theory magnifies human genius, denying the supernatural or peculiarity of inspiration. This would reduce the Scriptures to special writings like those of William Shakespeare, John Milton, Confucius or Jose Rizal. Inspiration is more than this; it is actually “thus saith the Lord”; God speaking. We reject this theory for it supports the idea that “the Bible contains the Word of God whereas the Bible is the Word of God.
5. Universal Christian Inspiration: This states that we are all sons of God and each of us at different times is inspired to write a book or poem; or inspired to do this or that. If this theory were true, we could expect a new Bible at any time. Biblical inspiration is more than this; it was a definite, special inspiration for the special task of writing the Bible, God’s message to mankind.
6. Mechanical Inspiration: In this view, men became machines and wrote under a strange compulsion, things that they likely not understand or comprehend. We reject this for we see the loving nature of John in his epistles; the stern nature of James in James and the fiery emotional nature of Peter in his epistles.
7. Thought Inspiration: This theory says that God gave the main thought to the writer and they were free to express these in their own words as they thought best. We reject this for we believe that each word was scrutinized censored and accepted by the Author, the Holy Spirit. It was a freedom under guidance of the Holy Spirit.
8. Verbal Inspiration: This theory claims that every word is inspired, some going so far as to say that even the punctuation marks were inspired by the Lord. Actually, there were no capitals or punctuation marks in the original languages.
9. Partial Inspiration: Parts of the Bible are inspired, suggesting that the Bible contains the Word of God. This cannot be true for II Tim. 3:16 says, “All Scripture.” This theory leaves each person free to choose and judge the “truly inspired portions.” This theory is rejected for it leads to doubt, uncertainty and utter fusion.
THE TRUE EXPLANATION – PLENARY OR FULL INSPIRATION
We believe that all Scripture is equally inspired basing its claim on II Tim. 3:16. The Revised version of II Tim 3:16 says, “All Scripture that is divinely inspired is also profitable.” This is erroneous for it teaches partial inspiration. We do not actually know the how of inspiration but we believe that each writer had liberty to use his own personality, education, experience with certain limits. The Holy Spirit guarded each thought, each phrase, each word to retain purpose and preserve accuracy. The Bible itself claims inspiration. (II Pet. 1:21, I Cor. 2:13, II Pet. 3:2)
We must note that the translations that we have are not necessarily inspired. There are copyist errors and none of the originals are in existence today. It must be noted that some ancient copies being discovered are almost identical. The Bible records facts as they are; Ananias told a lie and the lie is recorded. Also, the Scribes said Jesus had a devil and was mad and this lie is recorded.
We accept the Scriptures as the infallible Word of God; the canon of 66 books as complete and do not recognize the Apocrypha or any other books to be inspired. The original scriptures will be the standard of judgement in the last day. (John 12:48) Therefore, let us read the Bible daily and obey its message in our daily lives. God’s people must handle this book carefully and reverently. The Bible is God’s Book to us. Let us rejoice that God hath spoken and endeavor by the power of the Holy Spirit to walk in the light of its revelation.