OceanSide church of Christ
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Victor M. Eskew
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God…” (II Tim. 3:16-17). The Greek word that is translated “inspiration” is theopneustos. The Greek word is a compound term. Theo means “God.” Pneustos is defined as “breath.” Thus, all scripture is “God-breathed.” The Bible, therefore, has two authors, man and God. God was the revealer of the message. Man was the penman. Thus, Paul could write: “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after men. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:11-12).
The Scriptures did not originate in the mind of man. Each word was provided by the Holy Spirit of God. “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of 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” (II Peter 1:20-21). Had the Holy Spirit not been involved in the process, God’s Word would have never been revealed. Only the Holy Spirit is able to know the mind of God. “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God” (I Cor. 2:11). It was the Spirit who searched “all things, yea, the deep things of God” (I Cor. 2:10). He, then, revealed these things in words to human beings. Paul wrote: “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual” I Cor. 2:12-13).
Some believe that such a view of inspiration is nothing more than dictation. There is a distinction, however, between verbal inspiration and dictation. Brother Keith A. Mosher, Sr. does an excellent job in making this distinction in his work, The Book God “Breathed.”
“The Bible writers were ‘inspired’ not just in some intuitive way, but in
a way that insured what they penned would be God’s message. The mess-
age was ‘God-breathed.’ The Holy Spirit ‘moved’ those ancients to write,
and the writers submitted their minds and wills to the Spirit (2 Peter
1:20-21). The writer’s normal cognitive functions, however, were not aban-
doned as if they were dictation machines, for their styles and thought
processes were maintained as they wrote. This is ‘verbal’ inspiration but
not ‘dictation.’ God can and did use the words that the writer would al-
ready know, but the writer would not pen his own message but God’s” (p. 29).
We see an example of verbal inspiration in Acts 7. Stephen was a man full of the Holy Ghost (Acts 6:3, 8, 10). As he stood before the supreme court of the Jews, he spoke using his own vocabulary and style. His language was not turned into some type of divine terminology. However, when the Jews rejected Stephen’s words, he said: “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye” (Acts 7:51). It was the Holy Spirit who was providing Stephen with his message. However, the words and the style were the words and style of Stephen. When the Jews rejected Stephen, they also rejected the Holy Spirit. As we stated earlier, the Bible has two authors, God and man.
Inspiration was a marvelous, divine, miraculous process. But, it is not a process that is difficult to understand. The Holy Spirit searched out the mind of God. The Spirit then revealed the mind of God to inspired men. When these inspired men spoke or wrote, they revealed the Spirit’s message to humanity. Their message, however, was in their own vocabulary and style. In the course of time, these inspired writings were collected and placed into a book, the Bible. Today, we have the inspired, God-breathed, Book of God in our hands. It is the Book of books. There is none like it on the earth. Let us cherish it, read it, study it, and apply it to our lives.