The Extent of Inspiration
1 Peter 1:10–11
1 Peter Lesson #039
February 11, 2016
“Father, we’re thankful for Your Word. We’re thankful that You have given Your Word to us. You have revealed these things to us and that it’s not a testimony about human beings’ relationship with You. And that it’s not a testimony to their thoughts about You but it is Your Word revealed through man to us.
Because You have guaranteed it and You are without sin and are omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent we know that it is absolute truth. Father, as we continue our study, reinforce and strengthen our understanding of Your Word, our understanding that it has an authoritative mandate for us to submit to it and to let it transform our thinking.
We know this isn’t just academic pursuit but has to do with our submission to Your absolute authority in our lives. Father, we pray You will help us to understand what we study and that our faith not only be strengthened but that we may be able to communicate these things to others as well.
We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.”
Today is February 11 and according to Robert Morgan’s “On This Day in Christian History: 365 Amazing and Inspiring Stories about Saints, Martyrs and Heroes” book which I like to look at every now and then because every day has a story from church history, he tells the story of William Sangster. He titles this “Four Rules for Dying”.
I think this is important. I know we have people who listen and others who are aware that they have life-threatening diseases which they will not recover from, whether it’s a year, two years, three or four years and that this is a very appropriate story to be aware of.
Even sickness can be a tool for God’s glory. When Jesus was asked in John 9 why the man was born blind Jesus said it happened so that God might be displayed in his life, that God would be glorified. Paul, if you recall, had a thorn in the flesh. Again, it was not only to humble him but to demonstrate that God’s grace was sufficient.
William Sangster was a Methodist pastor born in London in 1900. He had a remarkable ministry but toward the end of his life he had a muscular disease that eventually killed him. He wrote four rules for facing illness. A little bit about Sangster: he was born in London in 1900 and began to attend a Methodist Church at age 9. When he was 13 he became a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. When he was 16 he preached his first sermon on February 11, 1916.
He served in the military. He went to college and became a Methodist circuit preacher. He frequently worked himself to exhaustion. He continually said he couldn’t do enough but he was well loved as a pastor and as a preacher. In 1939, as World War II was beginning, he became the pastor of Westminster Hall which was a Methodist Church near London’s Westminster Abbey.
He announced to his congregation on his very first sermon that Britain and Germany were at war. He converted the church basement into an air raid shelter and for 1,688 nights he ministered to the various needs of all kinds of people who came there for protection from the air raids.
During that time he still managed to write, to preach, to earn his Ph.D., and to lead hundreds of people to Christ. After the war he led Britain’s Home Missions Department until he was diagnosed with progressive muscular dystrophy. For three years he slowly died.
As he was facing the reality of his disease, he wrote four rules for dying. Number one, I will never complain. Number two, I will keep my home bright. Number three, I will count my blessings. Number four, I will try to turn it to gain.
Apparently he did all of those things and his last years were a great testimony to God’s grace in his life. Something we should all pay attention to.
Tonight we’re continuing a topical study in the midst of our study of 1 Peter and we’re continuing to study on inspiration and inerrancy. I taught this, according to my notes, I think I taught this fairly exhaustively the last time when I was at Preston City. I’m adding a tremendous amount to it because I’m going back and studying a number of things.
I got a book this week so hot off the press that it almost singed my library when I brought it in the house. It is almost the size of a Houston Yellow Pages. It is written by a number of current professors and theologians dealing with contemporary issues, vital issues in inerrancy. It is dealing with where things are today. A lot of things in my library are older, a lot I bought when I was in seminary and a few things I bought after that.
This battle for the Bible continues. In every generation not only do we have to refight in terms of a military fight to reacquire and preserve our freedom but in every generation it seems we have to fight the battle for the Bible all over again to preserve our recognition of God’s authority.
We live in the devil’s world so the authority of the Bible is always under assault. That’s the real issue here, the authority of the Bible. For almost 1700 to 1800 years in the history of Christianity the issue of biblical authority and the infallibility of the Scripture and that the Scripture was revealed by God to man through man was not questioned. But starting in the middle to early 1700s as a by-product of the Enlightenment, the foundation was laid for what would develop in the nineteenth century as Protestant liberalism.
It begins as an assault on the text of Scripture and the authority of Scripture. There is a rejection of its authorship by God through man and a rejection of the doctrine of the authorial intent in Scripture which says the meaning in Scripture comes from the intent of the divine Author and the human author.
You get into things like source criticism and historic criticism and form criticism and all these other things which basically deny the human authorship claims of the Scripture. This erodes. It doesn’t become really popular or spread in popularity until you get into the early 19th century.
I’ve been developing a lot of material on that but we’re not going to get there tonight. We have to understand this. We have to understand this same issue as it continues to rear its ugly head. Ultimately what happens in almost every generation is you get a group of academics, a group of theologians who claim they are actually trying to preserve Christianity and to protect it in light of these intellectual realities that threaten our understanding of the truthfulness of God’s Word.
Under that guise of protecting Christianity and protecting the Bible what they end up doing is they end up completely revising Christianity and revising the Bible. Their solution ends up being more damaging than what the enemy was doing to begin with.
This happens in a broader base sense outside of conservative evangelical circles. In the last fifty years it’s happened twice within alleged conservative evangelical circles. There was sort of a first stage of this battle for the Bible that occurred in the 60s and 70s and now we’re getting a reiteration of it and we’ll talk about it.
This is why it’s important to understand this. This is just one other place where there is a battle being fought today. If you talk to anyone in witnessing that has been exposed to a lot of the skepticism towards Christianity in America, whether they’ve heard it in a college classroom or whether they’ve heard it on the Discovery Channel, History Channel, PBS, or any of those TV channels, then they’re going to repeat those things. They think that’s true because these kinds of documentaries on the Bible always seem to go to the most liberal, the most extreme, off-the-edge scholars who present some of the most outlandish theories that have absolutely no basis in fact.
People hear that and because the people presented have Ph.D.s from a number of different schools they think they must know and there must be genuine reason to doubt the historicity of the Bible, to doubt the accuracy of the Bible, and to doubt what the Bible says about science, history, or any number of other things.
It’s vital we understand these things because that’s part of where the major battle is being fought today. It’s an undermining of biblical authority. Even evangelical conservatives become prey to this because we think that somehow maybe the Bible is not quite so true. The sin nature wants to just latch onto these kinds of rationales in order to justify its own misbehavior.
We have to be guarded against that and we also have to be guarded because none of us get to the point where we aren’t prey to some doubts at times.
We have come under some serious pressure from disease, like when you go to the doctor and find out you have six months to live. Or you have a grandbaby or you have a baby that dies or you lose your job and you go thirty-six months without income and you lose just about everything you have. These are the kinds of intense pressure that really test someone’s belief in a good God who is going to bless them and whose Word is accurate and true.
I’ve got nine reasons why it’s important for us to understand the doctrine of inerrancy and infallibility. First of all, because the authority of the Bible is linked to the character of God. Is the Bible infallible? That becomes the question. It’s a direct attack ultimately on the character of God.
Second, inerrancy and inspiration are taught in the Bible. Inerrancy, infallibility, and inspiration are all taught in the Bible.
Third, it’s the historical belief of Christianity. As I said in the introduction, up until the early to mid-part of the 1700s this was unquestioned. Even if you didn’t believe the Bible, you still believed the Bible was the Word of God. Non-Christians knew that they were in rebellion against God. They may not like it but they still believed the Bible was the Word of God.
I remember even when I was in high school in the 60s, especially in the south, that if you were in a discussion with someone and you said that the Bible said something, that was pretty much a trump card. By the late 70s you could say that and people didn’t care. There was just a huge transformation in a period of about ten or fifteen years. But this was the historical belief of Christianity.
Fourth, it’s foundational to other doctrines. If you take away from the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture, it’s going to minimize the character of God. It’s going to have an impact on theology proper, on your understanding of who God is and what He says. It’s going to impact your understanding of who Jesus is. It’s going to impact your understanding of salvation.
It’s going to impact your understanding of anything the Bible says because how do you know that what it says in that particular verse is really true or not. People are going to come along and cherry-pick. “Well, I like this verse but I don’t like that verse.” That’s what that liberal “Jesus group” did back in the 1990s. So it’s foundational to other doctrines. Once this goes, other things will fall. This is the foundation for every other doctrine in the Scripture.
Fifth, it’s important because this is a critical part of the doctrinal statement, of the belief statement, of West Houston Bible Church. This is what we believe and we need to understand that. Part of the reason I try at times when we talk about different areas that are addressed in the doctrinal statement is to bring the doctrinal statement out and go through it so that people understand what it is that we believe. If you’re a member of the congregation you’re supposed to affirm the inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility of Scripture.
Sixth, we need to go through this to more fully understand what we affirm the Bible to be. We say, “I believe the Bible is the infallible and inerrant Word of God.” What does that mean? What are the implications of that? We understand these things. We’ve been taught these things. Everyone in this room believes that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God but do you really comprehend what all the implications and ramifications of that belief statement are? One of them is the sufficiency of Scripture yet there are many orthodox theologians today, so-called, who affirm inerrancy but they don’t believe in the sufficiency of Scripture.
They turn to science to assimilate the doctrines of origin and creation and their understanding of man. They compromise with psychology in the understanding of human behavior. They compromise with sociology in their understanding of the nature and function of a local church and how to build a local church. They compromise with them because for them the Bible is insufficient. If you don’t believe the Bible is sufficient, trust me, you really don’t believe in the inspiration and infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture. You just think you do.
As I pointed out earlier in this series when we talked about some of the quotes from Bob Wilkins, about these various New Testament scholars. Remember the title of that article was “Can We Trust New Testament Scholars?” It could just as easily have asked if we could trust Old Testament professors. Someone once said that when Satan fell, he fell into the choir loft but if he fell and if he landed in the choir loft, he bounced into the Old Testament department of our seminaries. Trust me, the heresies and apostasy has begun in more Old Testament departments.
Old Princeton. Dallas Seminary. Numerous other places started losing their practical application of inerrancy and the erosion occurred through the Old Testament departments. We need to fully understand why we affirm that the Bible is the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God.
Seventh, we need to be able to explain this to others. When you get involved in a witnessing situation and someone says, “Well, how come you really believe the Bible?” you need to be able to articulate why you really believe the Bible. When they ask if that’s circular reason when you say that the Bible says it’s the Word of God so you believe it’s the Word of God we need to be able to answer that.
If you were a Mormon. If you were a Jehovah’s Witness. If you were a Seventh Day Adventist. If you were in any number of cults and sects, you would be required to go through extensive training where you’re drilled over and over and over again in how to answer these questions so when you go out door knocking on the weekend and someone comes to the door and you try to convince them that your cult is the truthful one, you’d be able to answer all those questions.
In evangelicalism we don’t act that way with the members of the church. We let people come, sit, and soak up the Word on Sunday morning, maybe two or three times during the week, but we don’t give them tests and drill them until the point where they’re ready to throw up so they know exactly how to respond to each of fifteen different variants of the same question. As a result, most evangelicals are woefully ignorant of the Word of God.
We have a lot of people here that aren’t woefully ignorant of the Word of God. They know it. They believe it in their soul. They can comprehend it but if they’re sitting down with someone who is a skeptic and they start asking them a bunch of questions, they’re like “My pastor knows the answer. I’ve got that in my notebook at home.” Well, that isn’t going to do you any good. You have blown the opportunity to say something or to handle that particular situation. Any cultist will do a ten times better job of handling that type of situation. Isn’t that embarrassing? We need to move on. That’s too embarrassing. We need to be able to explain it to others.
Eighth, we need to be able to teach this to our children and our grandchildren and the neighbor’s children and the children in the CEF Good News Club. We need to be able to explain it at their level so they can understand that. As they grow up they need to understand more and more what the issues are.
The ninth point is that when people go through times of doubt, times of pressure, and times of stress, they need to be reminded of why they believe. A lot of apologetics is more significant to the believer than the unbeliever. A lot of apologetics is answering the question of why we believe what we believe. It has to do with strengthening the faith of the believer.
We don’t believe it just because it’s there. We’re not mindless. We’re not irrational. That’s what the liberals think that we are. We know the Word of God or at least we’re supposed to. We’re supposed to articulate rational answers but every now and then we need to have a reconfirmation in our own thinking of why we believe what we believe.
I’ve said this for years. I discovered this in my own spiritual life. This isn’t something you see in the Scripture but it’s something I have witnessed and observed in thirty or fifty years of being a Christian and at least thirty years of being in the ministry, actually thirty-five years of being in the ministry. That is that during your early years in life you’re asking all kinds of questions about what is right, what is wrong, what is truth, what’s my life all about, do I have meaning, purpose, value. You’re asking questions like that.
That’s particularly true if you become a believer. After you become a believer you want to know what you believe. Is Jesus God? What does that mean? How does that affect God being God and the Holy Spirit being God and you’re trying to probe all the ideas in the Trinity. Jesus is both man and God. How do you work that out? I need to understand my salvation a little more and on and on and on.
Probably up until you’ve been a Christian fifteen or twenty years and depending on how inquisitive you are, you will stop asking questions at some point because you’ve heard satisfactory answers to most of your questions. Getting answers to questions is what motivates a lot of believers for the first ten or fifteen years of their Christian life. That gets them through spiritual infancy.
That’s a characteristic of spiritual infancy on through spiritual adolescence but the real test of your Christianity is to make the transition in spiritual adolescence from going to Bible class to learn more and get your questions answered to going to Bible class to be reminded of what you already know. Some people fail at this because they say, “I’ve already heard this. I’ll just stay home tonight. I’ve heard Robby teach this before. I don’t need to hear it again.” Yes, you do. A thousand more times and so do I. We can’t just sit back and think that we’ve heard it so we know it.
I have friends and you do too who sat under good Bible teaching for five, ten, or fifteen years or they grew up under it so they think they understand everything and they don’t need to go to church. They say that they know Jesus died for them and they know God has a plan and they can confess their sins.
They ask, “What more do I need to know? I know five promises. I can claim them all day long.” We know people like that. They’re going to be failures at the Judgment Seat of Christ. They have a bar set so low only with a microscope can you tell it’s off the ground at all. They’re going to be spiritual failures because they think they know a lot when they don’t know much at all.
We can’t fall into that trap. We have to constantly be reminded. Every time we do this we suddenly recognize there’s a whole layer or three or five that we never thought of before. That’s what impresses me.
I got this book about vital issues in the inerrancy debate. I also got another book that’s almost as big called “The Jesus Quest: The Danger from Within”. I’ve got about two or three books about half that size that I picked up in the last week that I’m trying desperately to read through in light of this study I’m going through right now. That doesn’t count the books I’m trying to read through for Tuesday night in 1 Samuel or the stuff I’m trying to read through in Matthew.
One time one of my professors you’ve heard me mention before, Stan Toussaint, said when he began to teach at Dallas Seminary he had just gotten his Th.D. He was a brand new Th.D. and a brand new faculty member at Dallas Theological Seminary. He said, “I was still learning what I was lecturing on that morning when I got up. The first semester I got up and threw up every morning because I didn’t know everything I needed to know to complete the lectures for that morning.”
Sometimes I feel I’m one inch ahead of the hounds and y’all are the hounds and you’re chasing me. There’s so much more to learn. As I’ve gotten into some of these books I’m like, “Wow. This is just incredible.” And the implications for a lot of the things that are happening and the trends that are occurring today, not just the doctrine of inerrancy which is basically what we’re going through.
The next question is going to be even more significant. “So the Bible is the Word of God. How do you determine what it means?” What’s happening today is the attack, the assault that is taking place in the realm of hermeneutics. I can say that I believe Genesis 1 and 2 are the inerrant, infallible Word of God but this just fits in the category of creation myth which was a typical form of literature at that time and it’s not meant to communicate actual, real history. See what’s happened? I’ve used a hermeneutical grid that’s false in order to circumvent the implications of literal inerrancy and the verbal plenary inspiration of Scripture. This is happening all over the place.
What we’re looking at tonight is the extent of divine inspiration and just to remind you why we got into this as we look at 1 Peter 1:10–12 talking about the process of how the prophets still had to inquire. They had to search diligently what God revealed to them and fit it with other Scripture, previous revelation. They were diligently searching the Scripture to figure out what it meant. They wanted to figure out what God had revealed to them.
The Doctrine of Inspiration and Inerrancy of the Scripture: God the Holy Spirit so supernaturally directed the human writers of Scripture so that without waiving their human intelligence, vocabulary, individuality, literary style, personality, personal feelings, or any other human factor, His complete and coherent message to mankind was recorded with perfect accuracy in the original languages of Scripture, the very words bearing the authority of divine authorship.
We looked at 2 Timothy 3:15–17 which we’ll look at in more detail before we’re done so I’m just going to step past this right now. It’s the key verse that the Scripture is revealed by God through a process of THEOPNEUSTOS, God breathed it out into man. This is the foundation.
We also looked at 2 Peter 1:20–21 that these holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
Last time we also looked at some key words in terms of the definition from our doctrinal statement: plenary, verbal inspiration. Plenary means that the whole of Scripture is equally inspired and is fully revealed and inspired by God. Verbal means it extends down to each and every word and even the grammatical forms of the Word and then the definition of inspiration which means that God breathed.
I’ve added this at the top where we have a stool. For any platform to stand it has to have at least three legs. This stool is the stool of biblical or divine authority for Christian belief. What do we believe as Christians? The three legs are inspiration, infallibility, and inerrancy. Three “in”s. Isn’t that nice for alliteration?
So I’ve added a few things.
Here’s what I said last time but I’ve added to each of these definitions.
The first definition, “inspiration”, means God-breathed. THEOPNEUSTOS is the compound Greek word and it means the Bible is God’s complete and connected thought to mankind. It is coherent. It fits together. There are no contradictions. There are apparent contradictions but what is necessary is to probe and dig and study to resolve. They’re all resolvable. What you see is a lot of people who jump in and just see it at the surface and say, “This says this and this says that and they contradict each other. End of story. You can’t trust the Bible.”
You really have to understand what is going on in each one of those texts to understand what it means. Too many people today, scholars of the last 200 years, have been influenced by the critics and say, “Yeah, you’re right. That’s a problem.” They don’t truly, truly trust the coherent Scripture to take the time to understand it and put it together.
So inspiration means God-breathed and the Bible is God’s complete and connected thought to mankind. The term inspiration addresses the origin of the Bible. It originates with God, in God’s mind, in God’s thinking. It’s called the “mind of Christ” in 1 Corinthians 2:16.
The second word that we used was “infallible”. This means every word is equally authoritative. The Scripture is incapable of failing, cannot be wrong or broken, and its authority is permanent and eternal. The word infallible addresses the authority and the enduring nature of the Bible. John 10:34–35 and Matthew 5:18. Jesus says the Scripture cannot be broken. He says, “Every jot and tittle will be fulfilled.”
Then the word “inerrancy” means that no error existed in the original autographs of Scripture. Not errors of science. Not errors of history. Not errors of law or politics. There are no errors in anything that the Scriptures address. Some have seen the necessity to insert the word “unlimited” today because of the assaults. Some are trying to hold to limited inerrancy which to me is an oxymoron but the term of inerrancy addresses the accuracy, the truthfulness of God’s Word.
Charles Ryrie makes a comment in his work “Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth” that inerrancy is often described in terms of the negative, what it’s not. There are no errors in Scripture is describing something from the negative. He says that in terms of defining inerrancy positively “Perhaps the tension would be erased if we defined inerrancy positively. The inerrancy of the Bible means simply that the Bible tells the truth. Truth can and does include approximations, quotations, and languages of appearances …”
We talk about sunrise and sunset and people say, “Well that’s not scientific.” Scientists talk about sunrise and sunset all the time it’s the language of appearances and the language of accommodation. Continuing Ryrie, “Different accounts of the same event as long as these do not contradict.”
Okay, that’s just a review of that terminology.
The next point is new material. It’s the mechanics of inspiration. I’ve gone through 2 Timothy 3:16–17 but we’re going to go through it a little more detailed, looking at the exegesis. We always have to talk about what does the Bible say and talk about these things as much as we can within their original context. That’s why it’s important to teach verse-by-verse, phrase-by-phrase, word-for-word as we go through the Scripture because then we come to understand truly how these verses are used in the context, not just sort of proof texting.
Everybody does that to some degree but I’ve been amazed as we’ve gone through Matthew. You’ve heard me doing some corrections. When we really look at some of these verses in their context understanding the argument of Matthew that some of the ways some people have used these to defend certain theological views really doesn’t work. It hasn’t developed from a word-by-word, verse-by-verse exposition of Scripture.
This is one of the problems that we have today in so many of these “mega churches”. The pastors are only giving these short little sermonettes, such as a four-part series on marriage, a three-part series on how to have happy pets and make sure they go to Heaven. We’re going to have a six-point sermon on how not to go bankrupt.
You know, these kinds of sermons are silly little trivial things and most of the times they’re jerking passages out of context to use as a springboard to go into whatever their little pet peeve is. This not only happens in some of those mega churches but unfortunately it’s been a tradition in a lot of theological traditions and church traditions down through history.
Once you start really understanding verse-by-verse exegesis and exposition then it starts correcting a lot of those things. So inspiration, how did it take place? In the definition I use the term that God supernaturally directed the writers of Scripture. How did He do that? I don’t know. It’s a mystery to some degree.
Ryrie likes to use the term superintended, which is a good term, but I don’t think it’s a really user-friendly term. What does it mean that God superintended the writers of Scripture so that God wrote exactly what God wanted them to write but He didn’t abrogate their personality, their style, their education, their background, or any of those things?
Peter writes like Peter. Paul writes like Paul. The writer of Hebrews writes very differently from either one of them. John writes in a much different style and very simple vocabulary but when you stop to ask what did he really mean by that, it really stumps you. I think that John, my personal opinion, is that John writes a lot like Jesus talked. He was called the beloved disciple and you look at passages like in the gospel of John where Jesus is talking, at least in John 3:2 until you get to about John 3:15 and John 3:16 and 17 and 18 and by the time you get to verse 19 you know that Jesus isn’t talking anymore. John is talking. Where does Jesus stop and John start?
We’ve all experienced young men who emulate their professors when they get up and they talk. They emulate the pastor that meant more to them than anyone else. At times I’ve had people say, “You sound like so-and-so.” Other people say I sound like someone else.
You get football players that are that way. Or baseball players who have a coach or a mentor that at the beginning they emulate the person they admire. But if they’re worth their salt, if they have any sense at all, they’ll get out of that immature stage as they get a little experience and they’ll find their own voice. They won’t imitate anyone else.
God doesn’t make duplicates. We only need one Tom Landry. We don’t need fifteen Tom Landrys in the plan of God. God makes everyone individually and gifts them individually and you don’t have to emulate someone else to be used by God. That’s part of the growth process.
John, because he’s so young when he’s under the ministry of Jesus, even when he writes seventy years later still sounds like Jesus. All these writers had their own personality. How does God superintend and guarantee that they write exactly what God wants them to write but it’s in different vocabulary, different personality, and different background?
I can’t explain that but that is obviously what’s going on. The foundation is described as inspiration in 2 Timothy 3:16 and 17. We want to take a little bit of time to understand what is going on here in terms of the exegesis of the Scripture.
2 Timothy 3:16 starts off saying “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” So it’s given for a purpose and we need to go on to verse 17where the purpose of the Scripture is “that the man of God [this is not being sexist, it’s just talking about human beings, men and women, a believer who is following God] may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
See you go right from inspiration to the sufficiency of Scripture. Verse 17 flows out of verse 16. It’s connected.
The key word is one we’ve look at before, THEOPNEUSTOS. It is an adjective. We’re going to get into a little grammar here because this is important. The guys who are off the charts, who have fallen out of bounds, are making some misstatements related to grammar.
This is an adjective. You have the initial subject of the sentence, Scripture, modified by an adjective in the Greek and it’s the adjective PAS which means all, every, and the whole. We all know there are times when all doesn’t mean all. When John says that everyone who was in Judea went out to see John the Baptist, I don’t think he meant every single person in Judea and Galilee. It’s a generalization.
This isn’t a generalization. Paul is being very precise in terms of the context. He says every Scripture or all Scripture is given by inspiration of God. The problem that we have here is that the verb “is” is not in the original. We’ve all heard the famous line, “It all depends on what the meaning of is is.” Well, “is” isn’t there in the original. You have to look at that grammar.
It says “all Scripture.” So I want to camp out on that for just a minute. It says “all Scripture is breathed out by God” and what this means in context is primarily Old Testament passages. In 2 Timothy 3:15 Paul is talking about when Timothy was reared by his mother and his grandmother they reared him on the Scriptures, the holy writings, which is the Old Testament. Paul just flows right from there into all Scripture.
This is in 2 Timothy. 2 Timothy is Paul’s last book before he dies. Guess what is written before 2 Timothy. 1 Timothy. And in 1 Timothy Paul connects two passages, an Old Testament passage from Deuteronomy with a New Testament passage, and he calls them both Scripture.
Obviously when Paul writes 2 Timothy and he says “all Scripture”, it’s not just Old Testament Scripture. It clearly includes New Testament Scripture which has been written up to that point and that which will come afterwards, because Scripture is Scripture even if it hasn’t been written yet.
So in 1 Timothy 5:18 we read “For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing.’ [Deuteronomy 25:4] “And ‘The laborer is worthy of his wages [quoted as Scripture from Luke 10:7]’ ”. Luke was only written maybe five years before Paul wrote 1 Timothy, if that.
Remember the chronology which we studied in Acts. Paul goes to Jerusalem and then he’s held in prison in Caesarea-by-the-Sea for two years and then he takes a ship that gets shipwrecked and he ends up in Rome. While he is in Rome he’s writing 1 Timothy at approximately that time. Luke was with Paul in Judea and Caesarea. It’s probably during that time that he’s researching and interviewing all the eyewitnesses of the life of Jesus which is how he starts his gospel. We’ll look at that verse in a minute.
That’s maybe two or three years and Paul is already quoting the gospel of Luke as equally authoritative as Scripture as Deuteronomy, linking them both together as equal authority. This tells us that all Scripture is breathed out by God and has its source in God.
Another verse is in 2 Peter, which is written approximately the same time as 2 Timothy, and Peter says in 2 Peter 3:16 regarding Paul, “As also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.” So when you read through Ephesians and you read through Colossians, and you read through some of these things Paul says and you don’t get it, Peter thought the same thing, so you’re in good company. If there’s the “rest of Scripture” and you’re talking about Paul’s writings, then that means Paul’s writing were considered to be Scripture by Peter.
Already in the period of the writing of the New Testament there is the recognition that there are some writings that are breathed out by God and some that aren’t. Already there’s a recognition that Luke is Scripture, that Paul’s writings are Scripture, and that some others are Scripture.
When we look at the beginning and we read all Scripture is breathed out by God, this means the entire Bible, all thirty-nine books of the Old Testament, and all twenty-seven books of the New Testament are breathed out by God.
The New Testament uses the word Scripture fifty-one times and it always refers to some part of the canonical Bible. Sometimes it refers to the entirety of the Old Testament as in Luke 24:45. Sometimes it refers to a specific Old Testament passage as in Luke 4:21, and sometimes it refers to a particular New Testament passage as in 1 Timothy 5:18. Sometimes it refers just to a larger section of Scripture as we saw in 2 Peter 3:16 referring to Paul’s writings.
Right here we see how the New Testament is already recognizing what is Scripture. So all these things indicate Scripture.
What appears to be a verb in English, the way it’s translated as “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God”, is actually an adjective. As we look at this both THEOPNEUSTOS and the word translated profitable is OPHELIMOS, both of which have that OS ending, which indicates that they are both nouns. God breathed is an adjective and OPHELIMOS is an adjective and the way they’re structured, they both should be used with the insertion of the word “is”. They should be treated identically in terms of grammar as predicate adjectives.
They’re actually translated “all Scripture is given or is breathed out by God and is profitable”. The reason I make a point out of this is there are some who seek to avoid the implications of inspiration here and they translate this as “all Scripture inspired by God is also profitable”. They’re taking the “all Scripture”, translating the KAI here as also but they’re not treating the adjectives in the same way.
What’s wrong with the statement “all Scripture inspired by God is also profitable”? What’s the loophole? Well, there may be some Scripture that’s not inspired by God. Okay? See, it sounds good but that’s the deception. They say, “Maybe Genesis 1 isn’t inspired by God but Genesis 2 is. Maybe parts of the Old Testament are inspired by God but we just have to pay attention.”
That’s why they come up with the statement, “We believe the Bible is inspired by God in all areas of faith and practice.” But what about all the other areas mentioned in Scripture? Are they infallible there? They would say no but they don’t want to tell you that up front so it’s deceptive.
I want to document this grammatically by looking at a parallel passage. 1 Timothy 4:4, “Every creature of God is good and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving.” You have the same situation here. The “is” is supplied. PAS which is every creature of God and then you have two adjectives. KALOS, good, and APOBLETOS, rejected or refused. It has a negative in front of it.
This passage is not translated “For every good creature of God is not to be refused.” See it would completely change the meaning but grammatically it’s the same structure. You have the subject, every creature, and then you have two predicate adjectives which should be translated the same way. That’s why 2 Timothy 3:16 should be translated “Is breathed out by God and is profitable.” They both are predicate adjectives; therefore you have to be consistent and translate them both the same way.
Then we get into 2 Timothy 3:17 that says, “That the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” The word “every” is the same adjective as we have for “all Scripture”. It’s the adjective PAS meaning all, every, the whole of something. So to be consistent we have to understand that all Scripture which means all Scripture from Genesis to Revelation, all sixty-six books of the Bible, is profitable for “most” good works? No. It’s the same specificity for every good work. In other words, the Bible is stated here to be absolutely sufficient.
Theologically what we see here is that all Scripture is breathed out by God. That means every single statement in the Bible, all sixty-six books, is the Word of God. Not just all Scripture breathed out by God. God is the source. It indicates it’s a divine Source. God exhales the content through the soul of the prophet or the apostle that’s writing and then they write it out.
We can conclude that the entire Bible is God-breathed. That’s means of receiving it. God breathed it out. That also means the entire Bible is profitable. That word for “profitable” is a word that is only used one other time in the Scripture. It emphasizes that something is of value and of benefit and provides everything for someone.
When we get into 2 Timothy 3:17 you have two critical words. You have the word “complete,” which is the word ARTIOS. Then you have the word equipped which is EXARTIZO. Back in Ephesians 4:11–12 Paul talks about four gifted leaders in the church: apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher. What are they supposed to do? They are to equip the saints, that is to train the saints, to do the work of the ministry. That is the word ARTIZO. Here we have the word EXARTIZO which emphasizes the thoroughness, the completeness of that training.
It is through the Word of God that the pastor-teacher equips and trains the individual believer to be able to do the work of ministry. What this emphasizes is that the Scripture is absolutely and totally sufficient. We don’t have to go to sociology, psychology, science, or any other field of human endeavor in order to get truth which in those systems derives from either rationalism, which never can get you all truth, empiricism, which never can get you all truth, or mysticism.
The Bible gets you all truth. It is sufficient.
Another thing we need to note here is that inspiration is in words. That’s what I talked about last time in the verbal inspiration of Scripture. Two passages I want to bring out. 1 Corinthians 2:13 where Paul says, “These things [the things which are inspired by God the Holy Spirit] we also speak not in words.” I put that with an underline to emphasize it. “We speak not in words which man’s wisdom teaches.” So he’s talking about words but not words which come from the wisdom of man but from what the Holy Spirit teaches.
He’s still talking about words. The phrase emphasizes here it’s the words the Holy Spirit uses here to communicate. It is the specific words. He uses this word instead of that word for a reason. He communicates through words because words are that which reflect the creativity of God.
How did God create the heavens and the earth, the seas, and all that is in them? He spoke. It’s through words. We have to understand that God’s revelation is through words. It’s not just in ideas. It’s not just in concepts. It is in the very words that are used.
Then an Old Testament passage is Joshua 23:14 when Joshua is giving his last parting words before he dies to the Israelites. He says, “This day I am going the way of all the earth. [Fixing to die as we say in Texas.] And you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing of all the good things which the Lord your God spoke concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed.”
Every single word is important. God uses various sources for the writers of Scripture. He uses various personalities but they also use various other ways in which they get their information. He reveals it to them but there are different ways in which God gives them all that information.
One way is that God directly wrote Scripture. He wrote with His finger the Ten Commandments, Deuteronomy 9:10. Moses says, “Then the Lord delivered to me two tablets of stone written with the finger of God.” That’s dictation but that’s limited in Scripture. God wrote it Himself with the finger of God and on them were all the ideas which the Lord had spoken. Is that what it says? No, all the words.
See, it’s reaffirming that it’s the words. That’s why I take time to go through word studies. That’s why I go through the Greek and the Hebrew and the original language because if this is God’s Word we have to make sure we are truly understanding it. We can’t play fast and loose with it. That’s not always easy to do.
Another thing we see is the material that is used is a result of the research of the writers. For example in Luke where Luke writes at the beginning of his gospel in Luke 1:1, “Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us.” In other words he’s going to write about the life of the Messiah.
Luke 1:2, “Just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us.” He’s saying he went out and interviewed Mary and he interviewed the disciples that were around and the other people who saw the miracles and he wrote it down. He did his research.
Then under the superintendence of God the Holy Spirit he writes it down in “an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus”. [Luke 1:3]
Why? Luke 1:4, “That you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.” He’s talking about certainty of knowledge. It’s not something that God is hiding but something that God wants to reveal and expose and make sure that we understand.
We need to understand that a quarter of the Bible was predictive prophecy when it was given and according to the Bible it can only be accepted as legitimate prophecy if it becomes 100% true. It can only be 100% true if the ultimate Author of Scripture knows everything that is going to happen. That indicates it must come from an omniscient Source.
We also know there were historical sources that were used. For example, Luke would have talked with eyewitnesses who traveled with Paul in the book of Acts. Joshua would have written the things that he witnessed and the things that he saw. In the “toledotes” of Genesis, those passages that said that these are the generations or the record of Adam or Noah or Abraham, etc. that that indicates source material.
Those early people, Adam and Noah and Abraham, wrote down and recorded what happened. This somehow was passed along so when Moses writes Genesis he had source material.
We also know of other source material, for example, in the Old Testament there are references many times to the Book of Jasher. One example is in Joshua 10:13. Also we have the Book of the Word of the Lord mentioned in Numbers 21:4. Also there are several references to the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.
A lot of people misread that and think it must be 1 and 2 Chronicles but 1 and 2 Chronicles isn’t written until after they get back from Babylon. 1 and 2 Chronicles is giving a record of the kings of Judah, not the kings of Israel, so this is some other source book that’s mentioned in 1 Kings 14:19.
We also have a reference to the book of the acts of Solomon in 1 Kings 11:41, a reference to the book of the kings of Judah. That’s still not 1 and 2 Chronicles as we know it because that’s not written until after the exile. These references are in 1 Kings and that’s before the exile so these are just the record of what was going on and they were used as source material.
There’s also a reference to the book of Nathan the Prophet. So God isn’t just sort of mystically pumping data into the writers of Scripture. They’re using source material. God is overseeing the whole process as they write.
I’m going to stop there. I’ve got some other material but we’re already out of time but this works us through the major part of inspiration, understanding the exegesis of 2 Timothy 3:16–17. Next time we’ll talk about a few other interesting things related to Jesus’ use of Scripture.
One of the things I want to get to eventually before we get into some more contemporary things is some of the so-called contradictions in Scripture and how they’re resolved. So we’ll get to that. We’ve got at least two or three weeks of good material, maybe more. The more I’m studying, the more new things are coming up and y’all get the benefit.
“Lord, thank You for this time and for reminding us that Your Word is Your Word. It’s not just another book. It’s not just another source of information. It’s not just something that’s very helpful but it is the very truth of the almighty, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God who created the heavens and the earth and the seas and all that is in them.
And the one who sent us a Savior to die for us. We owe everything we are and everything we have to You because only through the gospel and through Jesus Christ do we have real life. The only place to learn about that life is in Your inerrant, infallible Word. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”