Bibliology 1 - Inspiration
What Does the Doctrine Of Inspiration Refer To?
While revelation refers to the content, the material, and the facts that are communicated, inspiration refers to the process, the method, and the means by which the facts are communicated.
What Are The Key Passages When Discussing Inspiration?
1. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
a. Scope: “All Scripture”
b. Source: God
c. “Inspired”: “Theopneustos”
This is a compound word meaning “God-Breathed”. Thus, the word does not look at the idea of “breathed into by God” but rather it is “breathed out by God” in the sense of expiration. Therefore, God breathed out something by His divine power, namely, the Holy Scriptures. Why is the distinction between “breathed into” and “breathed out” so crucial?
d. Purpose: Multi-purpose; balanced!
The God who is Holy and true
Breathed out truth.
The question is . . .
Did the human authors who are sinful
Corrupt the truth in the process of writing it down?
2. 2 Peter 1:19-21
The Greek words used in these verses make it clear that what is being talked about is origination not interpretation. A key phrase is “men moved by the Holy Spirit.” The word “moved” is the same word used in Acts 27:15. In the same manner that the ship was driven, directed, and carried by the wind God directed and moved the human authors He used to produce the books of the Bible. Even though the wind was the strong force that moved the ship the sailors were not asleep and inactive. Likewise, the Holy Spirit guided and directed the writers who also played their own active roles.
What Was The Method God Used To Communicate His Facts (Revelation) To Us?
- Some Theories
a. Mechanical/Dictation Theory
1) Defined: The writers wrote verbatim every word God said. The writers were robots, stenographers. This is true for parts for example the Law.
2) Problems: This theory doesn’t take into account stylistic differences (it denies human personality), vocabulary differences (e.g. Paul uses words that John doesn’t), and many prayers in the Bible are in the first person (e.g. “I pray” in Ephesians 3:14).
b. Thought Concept Theory
1) Defined: God inspired the ideas but left the words, the writing of the concepts, to the writers.
2) Problems: The Bible says the words, not ideas, were given by God (e.g., Exodus 20:1; 1 Corinthians 2:13), The New Testament writers quote the Old Testament as if the words were inspired (Galatians 3:16), and the Bible claims that it is the “Word” of God not the “thought” of God (Luke 5:1; John 10:35; Hebrews 4:12).
c. Existential Theory
1) Defined: The Bible contains the Word of God but is not the Word of God until it “speaks” or becomes meaningful to the reader.
2) Problem: The authority to determine whether it is a word from God or not is dependent on the individual. Everyone determines what is and is not the Word of God.
- Verbal Plenary Inspiration
a. Verbal Plenary Inspiration Defined: God was in control of the human authors so that, using their individual personalities (individual style), they composed and recorded, without error, His revelation to man in the words of the original documents.
b. Verbal Plenary Inspiration Defended: Two main points
1) Inspiration is verbal, extending to the very words of the Bible.
a) The words of the Bible are inspired (Matthew 4:4).
· “It is written” – Christ has confidence in what He quotes.
· “Every word” – Christ has confidence in all the words of Scripture.
b) The letters of the words are inspired (Matthew 5:18).
· Smallest letter – yodh (jot)
· Smallest stroke – tittle
2) Inspiration is plenary, extending to the whole Bible (Romans 15:4; 2 Timothy 3:16).
a) The Bible is a unitary product. Some things may be more essential than others, but this does not mean we disregard what we think is unimportant.
b) Plenary inspiration does not mean each text has the same weight or importance. But it is there because God has put it there and we are to study each text seriously because it is from God.