How did God Inspire the Scriptures? (Basic Bible Doctrine, Part 3)

How did God inspire the Scriptures? Did God merely dictate the words of Scripture to their respective human authors? Or did God ‘override’ the human authors reducing them to mere automatons in order to communicate His revelation? In short, neither. The method whereby God secured an infallible communication with fallen man, better known as the Inspiration of Scripture, is far more miraculous than either of these suggested methodologies. To be sure, certain sections of Scripture were dictated to the human authors. For example, consider the resurrected Christ’s messages to the seven churches beginning in Revelation 2:1: “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write…” (cf. Rev. 2:8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14). Surely, the Apostle John recorded what he audibly heard from the risen Christ. That being said, the vast majority of the biblical text was not dictated to the human authors. So, how did God inspire the Scriptures? And how does the Bible describe the method of Inspiration?

The Scriptural passage which most clearly describes the method which God used in inspiring the biblical text is 2 Peter 1:19-21. Verse 21 is especially instructive: “men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” First, the Ultimate Author of Scripture is the Holy Spirit as this verse unmistakably teaches. Second, each book of the Bible has its own human author who having been “moved by the Holy Spirit” spoke “from God.” If all Scripture was merely dictated to the human authors, one would reasonably expect to find greater uniformity within Scripture in terms of vocabulary, thought structure, and grammar. However, Paul’s vocabulary, thought structure, and grammar, which evince his extensive education under the Jewish scholar Gamaliel (Acts 22:2), are clearly distinguishable from that of John and Peter who were fishermen by trade (i.e. not formally educated). This is not to say that Paul’s writings are more inspired than that of John and Peter (as they are not), but a ‘dictation theory’ of inspiration cannot account for these plentiful authorial distinctions in both the Old and New Testaments.

Third, though each book of the Bible has its own respective human author, the Holy Spirit superintended the human author’s writing for His own Sovereign purpose. The Koine Greek word for moved in “moved by the Holy Spirit” is pheromenoi (φερόμενοι) from the verb pherō (φέρω) meaning to bear, carry, or lead. Thus, 1 Peter 1:21 could also be translated: “men carried along (or lead) by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” Similar to the sailing ship in Acts 27:17 which was carried along (epheronto – ἐφέροντο) by the wind, the Holy Spirit filled the ‘sails’ of the human author and carried them along as they communicated God’s revelation. Using the occasion for which each biblical book needed to be written, the Holy Spirit spoke through the human authors, guiding their thoughts, arguments, and word choice. The result is that God transmitted His infallible and inerrant Word to His people through these authors. That being said, the human authors fully participated with God in writing the Scriptures, supplying their own unique vocabulary, grammar, thought and structure to the Inscripturated Word. Behold, the miracle of Inspiration!

The Inspiration of Scripture shares remarkable similarities with Christ’s Incarnation. As a result, the doctrine of inspiration is frequently described with relation to the doctrine of the Incarnation. Like the method of Inspiration, the method of Christ’s Incarnation involves both a Divine Agent (i.e. the Holy Spirit) and a human agent (i.e. Mary). For example, without violating Mary’s virginity, sexual purity, and humanity, the Holy Spirit spoke to Mary’s ovum and womb. Resultantly, Mary became pregnant with the Lord Jesus Christ. Mary fully participated with the Holy Spirit since within her womb grew Christ Jesus, who possessed her genetic information, ensuring that He would be a biological descendant of David. The result: the Divine Son of God’s incarnation as a sinless human man. In a similar fashion, with regard to the book of Genesis, the Holy Spirit supernaturally spoke through Moses to write the Word of God without violating Moses’ mind, will, humanity, or purpose for writing. Moses fully participated by supplying his own mind, vocabulary, grammar, and thought structure, while the Holy Spirit superintended the work for His own Sovereign purpose. The result: the wholly infallible, wholly inerrant, and wholly authoritative book of Genesis.


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