What Is Inspiration?
Biblical inspiration may be defined as God's superintending of the human authors so that, using their own individual personalities (and even their writing styles), they composed and recorded without error His revelation to man in the words of the original autographs. Inspiration means that "the Holy Spirit of God superintended the human writers in the production of Scripture so that what they wrote was precisely what God wanted written."
When you break the doctrine of inspiration down to its essential elements, there are seven key factors:
- Divine origin and causality;
- Human agency;
- Written verbally (in words);
- Plenary (all of Scripture is inspired, not just parts of it);
- Only the "Autographs" (the original documents penned by the biblical authors) are inspired;
- Because Scripture is inspired, it is inerrant; and
- Because Scripture is inspired and inerrant, it alone has final authority.
The word inspiration literally means "God-breathed" in the Greek. And because Scripture is breathed out by God, it is true and inerrant. Consider the following syllogism:
- Major Premise: God is true (Romans 3:4).
- Minor Premise: God breathed out the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16).
- Conclusion: Therefore, the Scriptures are true (John 17:17).
As illustrated above, the inerrancy of Scripture can be inferred by premises that are themselves taught by Scripture.
We read in Scripture that truth is an attribute of God (Jeremiah 10:10; John 1:14; 14:6; 17:3), and that God speaks truthfully—that is, He does not lie (Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29; Titus 1:2; Romans 3:3-4).
We also are told that Scripture is "breathed out" by God (2 Timothy 3:16).
The Word of God, then, is true (John 17:14,17; cf. Psalm 119:142; 151; 160; Revelation 21:5; 22:6).
The Holy Spirit is the Agent of Inspiration
Second Peter 1:21 tells us that "prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." The word moved in this verse literally means to be "borne along" or "carried along." Even though human beings were used in the process of writing down God's Word, they were all literally "borne along" by the Holy Spirit. The human wills of the authors were not the originators or the carriers of God's message....God did not permit the will of sinful man to divert, misdirect, or erroneously record His message. God moved and the prophet mouthed these truths; God revealed and man recorded His word.
Interestingly, the Greek word for "moved" in 2 Peter 1:21 is the same word found in Acts 27:15-17. The experienced sailors could not navigate the ship because the wind was so strong. The ship was being driven, directed, and carried about by the wind. This is similar to the Spirit's driving, directing, and carrying the human authors of the Bible as He wished. The word is a strong one, indicating the Spirit's complete superintendence of the human authors.
Yet, just as the sailors were active on the ship (though the wind, not the sailors, controlled the ship's movement), so the human authors were active in writing as the Spirit directed.
(To Be Continued...)
- The Unifying Message of the Bible • BPB (Charles Bing)
- Is the KJV Bible Inspired of God? • BPB (Tony Garland)
- Why Preach the Bible? (Part 1) • Sugar Land Bible Church (Andy Woods)
- Is an Inconsistent Bible Consistent with Divine Inspiration? • SpiritAndTruth.org (Tony Garland)
- Manuscript Evidence for the Bible's Reliability • Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries (Ron Rhodes)