1999 James A. Fowler
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INSPIRATION OF SCRIPTURE
I. Biblical references
A. Only one verse directly refers
to "inspiration" of Scripture.
1. II Tim.
3:16 - "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable
for teaching, for reproof, for correction,
for training in righteousness..."
is a translation of Greek word theopneustos
Theopneustos is derived from two Greek words
theos = "God"
pneo = "to blow, to breathe"
pneo is also the root of pneuma, which is "spirit"
Eng. word "inspire" from Latin inspirare, "to
This could mean that God "breathes into"
a written document; an investiture into scripted literature.
the human authors
Such meaning is not consistent with "God-breathed"
Perhaps "inspired" and "inspiration" are
not the best translations for what Paul meant.
"God-breathed" conveys idea of God-originated
Perhaps better English translation might be
"Expiration" or "expired"
"Aspiration" or "aspired"
Refers to the divine transmission by His Spirit of the articulated
content of His revelation
The ontological content of His revelation to man is Jesus Christ,
No explanation is made of the procedures employed by God to convey
the content of Scripture
B. Others verses to be considered:
22:43; Mk. 12:36; Lk. 20:42 - "David in the Spirit, calls
Him 'Lord'." (Ps. 110:1) - (RSV,
LB, JBP, TEV, NEB - "inspired by Spirit")
10:34-36 - "to whom (David) the word of God came (and Scripture
cannot be broken),.."
1:16; 4:24 - "Holy Spirit through mouth of David.."
(Ps. 2:1; 69:25; 109:8)
4. I Pet.
1:10,11 - "prophets..the Spirit of Christ within them was
indicating the sufferings of Christ
and the glories to follow"
5. II Peter
1:21 - "no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will,
but men moved by the Holy
Spirit spoke from God"
II. Men's theories attempting to explain the procedures
of God's "breathing" and
in the inspiration of Scripture.
intuitively gained insight into God's truth
thought and writing are all of men, not God.
indicated every word to the writers by dictation
thought and writing are all of God, not men.
illuminated the author's thought processes
end-product of written material, and the accuracy or inaccuracy
thereof, cannot be attributed
influenced the thinking of the authors (perhaps unrealized)
authors had been providentially prepared by God for the task
authors employed their individual characteristics
and human elements in inspiration of Scripture
III. Divine and human elements in "inspiration"
A. Divine element
statements emphasize Divine source and origination
ek theos, not ek anthropos
Not product only of human initiation or impulse
of Scripture divinely transmitted/originated in minds of the
writers as they "listened under"
God in obedience
product of written scripture is
word of God (John 10:35)
testimony of God (I Cor. 2:1)
God's wisdom (I Cor. 2:7)
revealed by God through Spirit (I Cor. 2:10)
B. Human element
indicates human agency and instrumentality
"men...spoke from God" (II Pet. 1:21)
"Moses says" - (Matt. 22:24; Acts 3:22; Rom. 10:5,19)
"David says" - (Mk. 12:36; Lk. 20:42; Acts 2:25; Rom.
"Isaiah says" - (Jn. 1:23; 12:39; Rom. 9:27,29; 10:20)
writers engaged in usual preparation for writing
investigated (Lk. 1:3), collected facts
conducted interviews (Lk. 1:2)
compiled (Lk. 1:1)
laid out in logical, consecutive order (Lk. 1:3)
composed the words
structured material for particular audience
writers utilized their personal traits
backgrounds - religious, racial, national
cultural conditioning (cf. head-coverings)
personal preferences (Paul and marriage)
style and format
this allow that what they wrote might be colored or tainted by
their own thoughts, personalities
God providentially prepared these men for such a task.
Even for the development of their personalities, vocabularies,
C. Divine/human interaction
the same as Person of Jesus being divine and human
union much deeper than process of inspirational inscripturation
D. Processes and procedures God used
in influencing man and transmitting content are not explained.
did "God breathe"? (II Tim. 3:16)
were they "moved by Holy Spirit"? (II Peter 1:21)
did the "word of God come"? (John 10:35)
did God control, guide, direct, lead, influence, etc.?
IV. Contemporary considerations of the "inspiration"
A. Modern "fundamentalist"
and "evangelical" affirmation
statement of belief
believe in the verbal, plenary inspiration of Scripture; that
the Holy Bible is the divine Word
of God and is the absolute, infallible and inerrant authority
for Christians in the Church,
when literally and accurately interpreted."
to be considered
Does "verbal" mean exact "word for word"
dictation? (cf. II Cor. 2:13)
Does "plenary" (full, complete) mean that every part
is equally inspired and equally profitable
(cf. II Tim. 3:16)
God is holy. Should we attribute such to the Bible?
God is divine. Should we attribute such to the Bible?
Christ is the Word of God (Jn. 1:1,14). Should we refer to the
Bible as such?
God is absolute. Should we attribute such to the Bible?
God is infallible. Should we attribute such to the Bible?
God is inerrant. Should we attribute such to the Bible?
Christ is authority (Matt. 28:18). Should we attribute such to
Does "literal" mean only direct and physical, or does
it pertain to the literary genre of the literature
and the literary intent of the author, which may be figurative
Does accurate interpretation mean conformity to the thought and
opinion of a particular group,
or can we allow Christians to "agree to disagree"?
Are some Christians in danger of deifying the Bible, and engaging
in Bibliolatry? (cf. Jn. 5:39)
literalism - "letterism" (II Cor 3:6: Rom. 2:29; 7:6)
B. Additional considerations about "inspiration"
1. Is "inspiration"
only to be attributed to the original text of Scripture?
No original manuscripts exist
This becomes an undocumentable and hypothetical argument.
2. Do the
New Testament references refer only to the "inspiration"
of the Old Testament scriptures?
New Testament authors recognized they were speaking and writing
"in the Spirit"
Cor. 2:13 - "we also speak..as those taught by the Spirit"
Cor. 14:37 - "things which I write are the Lord's commandment"
Peter recognized Paul's writing as "scripture"
Pet. 3:15,16 - "Paul...wrote in his letters...untaught and
unstable distort, as they do also
the rest of the Scriptures..."
V. The place of the inspired Scriptures in Christian lives
A. Must recognize the Christocentric
emphasis of Scripture
- "it is these that bear witness of Me"
- "explained the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures"
B. Must employ acceptable hermeneutic
accurately - II Tim. 2:15
in exegesis; not eisegesis
for diversity of interpretation
C. Must recognize the ongoing activity
of the Holy Spirit in understanding the "inspired"
Spirit empowers our understanding (Matt. 22:29)
Spirit illumines, enlightens, reveals (Eph. 1:18; Phil. 3:15)
Spirit allows us to appraise and know (I Cor. 2:6-16)
D. Must accept the Scriptures as
but not "absolute authority"
Scripture fulfilled - Mk. 14:49; Jn. 13:18; 17:12
"It is written" - Matt. 4:4,7,10; Lk. 24:46
"Have you not read?" - Matt. 19:4; 21:42; Mk. 12:10
Cannot be broken - Jn. 10:35
Not to be annulled - Matt. 5:19
Written for our instruction - Rom. 15:4; I Cor. 10:11
"Profitable for teaching,..training - II Tim. 3:16
Learn and become convinced - II Tim. 3:14
able to give wisdom - II Tim. 3:15
lead to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus - II Tim. 3:15
15:4 - "through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might