THE HOLY SPIRIT INSPIRED WRITING THE SCRIPTURES
By: Frank G. Tunstall, D. Min.
In a culture that is birthing more and more Biblical illiteracy, it is imperative that we re-discover the Holy Spirit who authored the Holy Scriptures. A foundational responsibility of the Spirit as a member of the Trinity was to give to mankind a written revelation of God that presents Jesus Christ Himself as the living Word of God.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, KJV).
“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” (2 Peter 1:20-21, KJV).
Each of these statements by the Apostle Paul and the Apostle Peter were made with the Old Testament in mind; the New Testament was still being written when Paul and Peter wrote their epistles. What they said about the Old Testament, however, would apply to the New Testament as well: the same Holy Spirit inspired the writing of both Testaments.
The goal here is to give a summary of what is meant by the inspiration of Scripture. Seven principals of faith regarding the Scriptures are foundational.
- The Bible is a revelation from God that includes both the Old and the New Testaments. By revelation is meant God has disclosed Himself, giving information about Himself that could not be discovered any other way.
- By inspiration is meant the Holy Spirit chose and anointed people whose vocabularies were sufficient to express what the Spirit wanted said. Paul used the term, “God breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The writers wrote in their own writing style.
- By verbal inspiration is meant the anointing of the Spirit extended to the actual choice of each and all of the words in the original manuscripts, not merely to the ideas (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21).
- The Bible is inerrant, or without mistakes in its original autographs regarding every subject it addresses, including matters of moral living, science, history, or geography, for examples. This means the whole of the Bible is God’s infallible Word and sets the standard for faith and practice. The Bible is authoritative, the final authority, on any subject it addresses (Matthew 5:18; John 10:35).
- The Bible unveils God’s path to man by way of Jesus’ cross, and shows man his way to God in a new birth (John 3:3-7). The Bible describes the sacrificial death of Jesus as the only antidote that will cure the breach in man’s relationship with God. It presents Jesus Christ as the one and only path to peace with God and the guarantee of eternal life with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in the world to come (John 3:3, 7, 16; 5:39–47; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:13).
- The Bible as the written word of Truth reveals Jesus Christ as the logos, the Word, the first and last Word of Truth, and the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Truth (John 1:1, 14; 14:17; 1 John 4:6). This is not to say everything in the Bible is Truth. The words ascribed to Satan, for an example, are an accurate record of what Satan said, but must not be understood as truthful. Jesus Himself said Satan was a “murderer from the beginning” and “no truth was in him” (John 8:44, KJV).
- The inspiration of the Holy Spirit has given us the written Word of God in 66 books – 27 in the New Testament and 39 in the Old Testament. With these books, the Canon is closed, meaning no books can be deleted from the Bible and no new books added.
A sharp distinction must be made between the infallible revelation of God in the original autographs, and fallen man’s responsibility to interpret the Bible (John 16:13). For this reason, the Bible must be prayerfully studied, trusting the Holy Spirit to help the Lord’s followers rightly divide the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).
Oh! to be avid students of the Scriptures, living very close to the heart of Jesus and ever yearning to get it right.
With these seven in mind, an appropriate question follows: just how authoritative are the Scriptures? Peter’s answer is clear-cut: “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man” (1:20-21). Hence, the authority of Scripture comes only from God.
The next question logically follows. What then is the source of the Scriptures? Peter’s answer was straightforward, “Men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (1:21; see also 2 Timothy 3:16). This answer affirms the Deity of the Holy Spirit, showing how the Spirit was involved in writing the Scriptures. It also shows the role of the people the Holy Spirit chose to write the Scriptures; they were anointed to record accurately in their language and their vocabulary not merely the ideas but the words the Holy Spirit inspired.
When believers in Jesus Christ understand and assimilate this concept of the authority of the Scriptures, little wonder they can say the words of the Bible enjoy verbal inspiration (extending to the choice of words themselves) and plenary inspiration (covering the whole and the parts of each book of the Bible).
The “God-breathed” Bible is a treasure and the pearl of great price, handed down to us in earthen vessels (2 Timothy 3:16). While the Bible is priceless, we do not worship the book. Instead, we adore the Lord of the book.