“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17, ESV)
Here, in the English Standard Version (ESV), translators have chosen to interpret the word “inspired,” which is found in older translations, as “breathed out.” This is an appropriate decision as it better reflects the meaning of the word inspired. Today, inspiration is commonly credited for exemplary works of art or for stunning landscapes. Originally however, to be inspired meant to be given divine truth for transmission to mankind. In other words, the Bible writers were to record the words breathed out by God.
We offer the following human definition of Biblical inspiration which might help:
“Biblical inspiration is the transmission of truth from God, to man, through man and for man.”
The words of the Bible are not like the words of any other literature. They are the very thoughts of God as revealed to mankind. Inasmuch as the words of God are truth (John 17:17) we should seek them for the benefit they bring. We should also handle carefully the truth (2 Timothy 2:15) like we would a sharp weapon (Hebrews 4:12, Revelation 1:16, Revelation 2:12).
Inspiration provides for man the only truth needed for his eternal existence. It is complete (Jude 3) and allows a man to become complete before God. The words of the Bible are verified through great signs and wonders performed by God’s approved messengers. Since there are no true miracles occurring today, there is no confirmation of any supposed new or fresh word from God. We now have the truth and it is able to make us complete and to prepare us for every good work.
The Holy Spirit is integral in the work of inspiration. Peter defends the truthfulness of the apostolic message and the inspired word given through the work of the Holy Spirit.
“And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:19-21)
Here, the unique nature of prophecy, which is a part of Scripture, is affirmed as being beyond mortal abilities. Instead the source of that inspiration is the Holy Spirit. This comports well with Jesus own promise to the apostles to send the Spirit who would then “guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13). Make note that the passage speaks of “all the truth,” not some of it or a portion of it, but all the truth.
The Divine Workman has provided us every scintilla of truth needed for our eternal journey. There is nothing more. Let us give glory to the Spirit who has supplied our need so richly.
Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at bryantevans.com. You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.