Blog Archive


Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

Powered by Blogger.

Friday, March 08, 2013

The Inspiration of Scripture

What does it mean to say the Bible is "inspired by God?"  We hear of musicians being inspired to write a song or artist's inspiration behind a painting.  Is biblical inspiration the same thing? In a word, no.  The Bible means something very specific when it claims to be inspired — it means we hold the actual words of God in our hands. If we're going to be precise, we need to know just what is meant by the Biblical doctrine of inspiration. The doctrine of divine inspiration entails the concepts that:
  • Every word of the Bible in the original writings are breathed and motivated by God.
  • Specific divine knowledge must be given to man since man is flawed.

If God did not provide His instruction and guidance for us, then humanity would be left to guess what the true nature of the world is. But because we're flawed, our understanding of reality would be drastically different.  As C.S. Lewis famously argued in Mere Christianity, "A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line." Builders can build a house, but if they have no objective frame of reference, the house will never be true and plumb. Thus the doctrine of inspiration is a key one, for it tells us not only about God and how we can please Him, but also about our world and even ourselves.

But what exactly does inspiration mean?

1. Scripture is God breathed (theopneustos)

This is the key understanding of scripture as presented in II Timothy 3:16-17: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."

This means that God is the cause of scripture, a concept we know as Divine Causality.  J.I. Packer says "Scripture is not only man's word — the fruit of human thought, premeditation, and art — but also equally God's word, spoken through man's lips or written with man's pen.  In other words, Scripture has double authorship, and man is only the secondary author." Basically, God chooses and prepares men beforehand to write exactly what He wants to communicate.1

2. Scripture is given through prophetic agency.

 In other words, it is supplied to the writers by the Holy Spirit.  This is made clear in 2 Peter 2:21 where Peter writes, "No prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God."

However, this concept is sometimes confused. People think the biblical authors were no better than a printing tool used by God, but that's not the case.  They did not fall into trances and emanate pithy sayings as is the claim in some other religions. Although the inspired word is truly God's word, God chose people to compose the Bible, using their own voices. You see, the Bible isn't some sort of divine dictation. God knew each person's personality and thought process, and prepared each to write the things He wanted using their own individual styles.2

The best example I can offer is this. Think of a master painter who knows exactly the picture he wants to paint.  He has many different brushes that he uses for different purposes: a coarse brush for rough textures, a thin brush for fine lines, and a wide brush for bold strokes.  In the master's hand, the brushes do just what he wants. The final work is the picture he wanted to paint, but with the characteristic of each brush showing through.  In a similar way, God uses different people with their own personalities, vocabularies, and experiences to produce the different books of the Bible — all with the end result being the exact message He meant to give us.3


1. Packer, J.I. "The Inspiration of the Bible." from The Origin of the Bible, Philip W. Comfort, ed.(Carol Stream, Il.: Tyndale House, 1992) p.31.
2. Esposito, Lenny. "What Does It Mean that God "Inspired" the Bible?" The Apologetics Study Bible for Students. (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishing, 2010). 1312.
3. Ibid.

1 comment:

  1. Every word is "God-breathed," but it isn't "Divine dictation."



Come Reason brandmark Convincing Christianity
An invaluable addition to the realm of Christian apologetics

Mary Jo Sharp:

"Lenny Esposito's work at Come Reason Ministries is an invaluable addition to the realm of Christian apologetics. He is as knowledgeable as he is gracious. I highly recommend booking Lenny as a speaker for your next conference or workshop!"
Check out more X