Inspiration of Scripture


                Both authority and authorship “contain the word author. The Reformers said that although the Bible…was written by human beings, the ultimate author of the Bible was not Paul, Luke, Jeremiah, or Moses, but God Himself. God exercised His authority through the writings of human authors who served as His spokesmen to the world.”

                2 Timothy 3:16 literally says: “All Scripture is breathed out by God.” “The Greek word that is translated here as ‘Scripture,’ simply means ‘writings.’” For the Jewish people, the term ‘writings’ “had specific reference to the Old Testament. Additionally, the phrase ‘It is written’ was a technical term that they understood to have specific reference to the biblical writings.” By extension the term Scripture “incorporates the writings of the Apostles in the New Testament, as the Apostles were conscious of their own authority to deliver the New Testament Word of God communicated to them by the Holy Spirit [For example, the Apostle Peter includes Paul’s writings with the rest of the Scripture; see 2 Peter 3:16. Paul is conscious of His own authority to issue binding revelation; see 1 Cor. 7:10-16].”


                The word translated ‘breathed out’ is a more accurate translation than ‘given by inspiration.’ “To breathe out is expiration, whereas to breathe in is inspiration, so technically…all Scripture is given by ‘expiration of God’ rather than by ‘inspiration.’ The point is that when Paul insists that all Scripture has been breathed out by God, he is saying that its ultimate origin is God. God is the source of these writings.” (27). Thus, “although God did not personally write down the words that appear on the pages of the Bible, they are no less His words than if they had been delivered to us directly from heaven” (26).

                When we speak of inspiration as a concept or doctrine, we are talking about “the way in which God superintended the writing of sacred Scripture” (28).

                We do not advocate “the dictation theory,” which is “the idea that the authors of Scripture merely took dictation from God, just as a secretary writes down word for word a letter as it is verbally dictated.”

                “We do not know how God superintended the recording of sacred Scripture.” The main point is that the Holy Spirit guided the human authors (with their different personalities and vocabularies) so that they wrote God’s message without error.


                Verbal inspiration means that every word of the Bible is inspired. “Every word carries divine authority…. Jesus regularly made a case against the devil or the Pharisees by the turn of a single word. He also said that not one jot or a tittle of the law shall pass away until all is fulfilled (Matt. 5:18). He meant that there is not a superfluous word in the law of God or a word that is open to negotiation.”   

                Biblical “Christianity claims that Scripture not only bears witness to the truth but is the truth. It is the actual embodiment of divine revelation. It does not simply point beyond itself; it gives us nothing less than the veritable Word of God.”

[Adapted from Everyone’s a Theologian by R.C. Sproul]