1. Inspiration is a theological term that refers to how the Bible was written. Examine
2 Timothy 3:16 and
2 Peter 1:20-21 and share your thoughts on inspiration and
All Scripture is inspired by God (Greek adjective: theopneustos) and profitable
for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
(2 Tim 3:16)
The Greek adjective "theopneustos" is found only once in the New Testament and is a compound
word made up of the noun "theos" (God) and the verb "pneō" (breathe). Taken into account, the literal translation
of the Greek is "All Scripture is God breathed." Here God's spoken word is equated with His written word.
It may be worthwhile noting that in his first epistle to Timothy, Paul used the term "Scripture"
to mean both Old and New Testaments: "For the Scripture says, 'You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,'
and 'The laborer is worthy of his wages.'" (1 Tim 5:18)
"You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing" is a quote of
Deuteronomy 25:4 and "the laborer is worthy of his wages" is
a quote of Luke 10:7.
Furthermore, the apostle Peter considered Paul's epistles as Scripture
(2 Pet 3:15-16). Thus, when the term "Scripture" is used in the
New Testament, it is referring to both Old and New Testaments.
Because the Bible does not explain the process of inspiration, there is much theoretical
discussion on how the Bible was conceived.
Some believe that the writers of the Bible completely surrendered their mind and will to the
Holy Spirit Who penned the Bible through them.
Another hypothesis recognizes that God spoke through human beings but the fallibility of the
human agent introduced errors into the Scriptures; thus, some believe that biblical hermeneutics requires
discernment as to what part of the Bible is divine and what is not. However,
2 Timothy 3:16 and
2 Peter 1:20-21 explicitly indicate that all of Scripture
is inspired by God.
But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own
interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke
from God. (2 Pet 1:20-21)
2 Peter 1:20-21 forms the basis of what
most theologians believe. "Moved by the Holy Spirit," the writers of the Bible wrote divine revelation within
the context of their background, burdens and personality. Although written by a fallible human being, the
result was the inerrant record of God's word.
2. What evidence is there of the Holy Spirit being responsible for the making of the Bible?
From Its earliest beginnings, God was actively involved with Its composition by choosing
Moses to write the Pentateuch (Ex 17:14;
34:27-28; Josh 1:7-8).
Specific to the Mosaic Covenant, it appears that God dictated the provisions of the covenant and wrote portions
of it Himself, the Ten Commandments, on clay tablets (Ex 31:18;
Through various prophets of His choosing, God spoke through or dictated portions of the Old
Testament (Jer 1:1-10; 30:1-3;
Less apparent is the role of the Holy Spirit in inspiring Scripture; however, there are three
patterns that demonstrate the Holy Spirit's inspiration of the Bible.
I. The use of the "Spirit of God. In several instances, the Holy Spirit spoke through
various prophets (Isa 59:21;
Zech 7:12). In one case, the Holy Spirit came upon an Israelite
warrior, Amasai, to express his devotion to David as God's chosen
(1 Chron 12:18). In another, the Spirit of God came upon the
pagan prophet Balaam who was used to bless the nation of Israel
(Num 24:2, 4).
David, in mentioning that "'the Spirit of the Lord' spoke through me", ascribes the divine
origin of revelation that comes to him. In 2 Samuel 23:1-7, an
unusual chiasm illustrates the equivalency of the Holy Spirit speaking to the word of God:
A) David the son of Jesse declares, The man who was raised on high declares,
The anointed of the God of Jacob, And the sweet psalmist of Israel,
B) "The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, And His word was on my tongue. The God
of Israel said,
C) The Rock of Israel spoke to me, 'He who rules over men righteously, Who rules
in the fear of God, Is as the light of the morning when the sun rises, A morning without clouds, When the tender
grass springs out of the earth, Through sunshine after rain.'
B') Truly is not my house so with God? For He has made an everlasting covenant
with me, Ordered in all things, and secured; For all my salvation and all my desire, Will He not indeed make it
A') But the worthless, every one of them will be thrust away like thorns, Because
they cannot be taken in hand; But the man who touches them Must be armed with iron and the shaft of a spear, And
they will be completely burned with fire in their place."
This chiasm, found in 2 Samuel 23:1-7, is
structured in the following manner:
A) David speaks in the third person about himself.
B) David speaks in the first person.
C) The Lord speaks.
B') David speaks in the first person.
A') David speaks in the third person about evil men.
II. New Testament passages attribute certain Old Testament passages to the Holy Spirit.
III. The reference of the Holy Spirit's teaching function.
At the Last Supper, Jesus comforts the disciples that His presence will remain with them
through the Holy Spirit: "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach
you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you."
To the Corinthians, the apostle Paul establishes the basis of his authority to teach Scripture,
because he was taught by the Holy Spirit:
For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is
in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit
of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which
things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit,
combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. (1 Cor 2:11-13)
To the Ephesians, the apostle Paul attributes the Holy Spirit as the instrument of revelation
of the mystery that Gentiles, through the proclamation of the gospel, can be receive into the fellowship of
Christ with equal footing with Jewish Christians:
For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— if
indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace which was given to me for you; that by revelation there
was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. By referring to this, when you read you can
understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of
men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the
Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus
through the gospel, of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God's grace which was given to me
according to the working of His power." (Eph 3:1-7)
While prophets of old did not understand when their prophecies would unfold or the meaning of
the Messiah's suffering, the apostle Peter states that the message of salvation came to humanity through men
under the power of the Holy Spirit:
As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you
made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was
indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they
were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who
preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to
look." (1 Pet 1:11-12)
There is ample evidence of the Holy Spirit's role in the inspiration of the Bible, and in
particular, the revelation of the New Testament.
1. Gaeblein FE ed., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vols 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9,
Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House (1992).
2. Brown C, ed., The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, vol. 3,
Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, (1979).
3. Swindoll CR, Zuck RB eds., Understanding Christian Theology, Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, (2003).
4. Grudem W, Systematic Theology, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, (2000).