WHAT IS INSPIRATION?
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (2Timothy 3:16)
The word “inspiration” means “God breathed”. Here we read that the Scripture, meaning God’s holy writings or the Bible, is inspired or God breathed or coming directly from God, not the men who wrote it. So the words are inspired but as 2Peter 1:21, below, tells us that it was the writers who were moved to write God’s Word. Inspiration was the action of the Holy Spirit moving and controlling those who make God’s words known to others. This was the origin of the Bible. Consequently the inspired word is not the result of great human intelligence nor congregations of people deciding what God should say.
WHO WERE INSPIRED TO WRITE THE BIBLE?
“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2Peter 1:20-21)
People say that as man wrote the Bible it cannot be accurate because man is imperfect. While men did write God’s words, it was only, say, 10% of the situation. They spoke and the Bible was written as they were ‘moved’, or ‘carried along’, or urged, by the Holy Spirit’s power. So Peter says in effect that prophecy was not man’s interpretation or explanation of history. It was not originated or produced by man. It did not come by the will of men at all but it all came from God and so is Divinely inspired.
Divine inspiration applies to the written Word of God. While, in the past, divine inspiration was both written and unwritten we only have the written part today. We do not know the spoken words of people in biblical times unless it was written down.
HOW WERE THE WRITERS OF THE BIBLE INSPIRED?
We do not know exactly how the Holy Spirit worked on the minds of those authors to produce these books. The men were not just computer processors which gave out the information that they were given. This is seen when, at times, they themselves were answering questions, speaking about various situations and praying. However the Holy Spirit over ruled in the situations of their lives to write God’s word. The purpose of the Holy Spirit was not that the men were inspired but that the books of God’s word were produced. The point is not about the writers but about the writings.
ARE PEOPLE STILL INSPIRED TO WRITE GOD’S WORD TODAY?
Jude 1:3 speaks of “… the faith (meaning God’s teachings i.e. the Bible which we are to believe) which was once (meaning “once for all”) delivered unto the saints (a New Testament word for believers in the Lord Jesus).” So Divine inspiration finished during the first century people. As a result we have the complete Word of God today which covers every aspect of life. This does not say that there is a rule for every situation of life because if that was so the Bible would be too large to read. However the Bible gives both general principles that cover many situations as well as those that cover specific rules for certain situations.
THE ACCURACY OF GOD’S WORD
This Divine inspiration means that not only were the writers of the Bible kept from error (i.e. Inerrancy which means the Bible was perfect or without error in its original writing) but also kept from missing out parts of God’s Word. So their writings were accurate and complete. Therefore it was God Who had determined the limits of the Bible which therefore has the exact number of books with the exact content that God wanted. God is truthful and perfectly reliable:
“For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth.” (Psalm 33:4)
“O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me …” (Psalm 43:3).
“Thou art near, O LORD; and all thy commandments are truth.” (Psalm 119:151)
“Jesus saith unto him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.’” (John 14:6)
“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3)
Jesus Christ said in a prayer to God “… thy word is truth.” (John 17:17).
“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation …” (Ephesians 1:13)
So we can believe in the total truthfulness and reliability of God’s words. This lack of error is not just in passages that speak about salvation, but also applies to all historical and scientific statements as well. It is not only accurate in matters related to faith and practice, but it is accurate and without error regarding any statement. That is why the faith of the believer in Christ is based on such a firm foundation.
THE INFALLIBILITY AND AUTHORITY OF GOD’S WORD
As the Bible is Infallible, i.e. it is never wrong, failing or making a mistake, it is therefore is permanently truthful and its authority cannot be broken and so effects our lives.
“… the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. v24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: v25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” (1 Peter 1:23-25)
Jesus said, “the Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:34-35).
“For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle (these are very small Hebrew letters) shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18). So God’s Word will outlast time. So the Bible is the perfect guide to faith and practise.
ARE THERE MISTAKES IN THE BIBLE?
Some people will say that there are mistakes in the Bible. The reasons for this are:
1. Because they do not read the Bible properly and therefore come to the wrong conclusions.
2. Bible verses are taken out of their context. It is essential to read the Bible verses in their context. For example, God will not write the same things about believers in Christ as He does about unbelievers.
Would God, Who is the truth and knows that people’s eternal destiny is one of the big issues of life, and loves the world, would actually write a book that could be genuinely mocked by sinful people?
WHAT LANGUAGES WERE USED TO WRITE THE ORIGINAL BIBLE?
Almost the entire Old Testament was written in the Hebrew language over a period of about 1,400 years. However a few chapters in the prophecies of Ezra and Daniel were written in a language called Aramaic which became very popular in the ancient world. The New Testament was written in the Greek language because Greek was a much used language of those times. The New Testament was written from about 45 to 90 AD. Therefore the 66 books of the Bible were written in various times over approximately 1,500 years.
THE TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE INTO ENGLISH
How does translation affect the inspiration, inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible? First, a translator or translation team, that believes in the inspiration, inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible will take great care about the accuracy of any translation produced. If a person considers the Bible to be God’s perfect revelation to humanity, he or she, will try to faithfully translate each word and phrase in the way that that best communicates this revelation to the people of the language. Examples of these translations are the King James Version (KJV), the new King James Version (NKJV), and the New American Standard Bible (NASB). Are todays translations inspired? No, they are not. God nowhere extends the promise of inspiration to translations of His Word. While many of the translations available today are of a very good quality, they are not inspired by God, and are not perfect. Does this mean we cannot trust a translation? Again, the answer is no, because due to the faithful efforts of dedicated Christian translators, there are translations available today that are trustworthy. We can properly understand, interpret, and apply the Bible to our lives.
Some translators think that they must give a “functional equivalent translation” communicating the broader meaning of the original text instead of translating it word for word. Examples are The New International Readers Version (NIrV) and the Contemporary English Version (CEV), Revised English Bible (REV), Good News Translation (GNT) which are not so good as the ones mentioned above. Others paraphrase the Bible i.e. put God’s words in their own words e.g. The Living Bible and The Message, which we do not recommend to read.