Revelation and Inspiration
“In our consideration of the written Word of God, we must take care not to confuse revelation and inspiration. Though both have to do with the divine origin of the Scriptures, they are not the same. Rev- elation is the communication of truth that cannot be otherwise discovered; inspiration has to do with the recording of the truth. “The writers of the Bible wrote many things they could not have known except by divine communication. An instance of this is Moses’ record of the Creation [in Genesis]. Neither personal observation nor research could have revealed these events to him; therefore, the knowledge had to come by special revelation. In the same way, the writer of the Book of Job required special revelation to know of the great conversation between God and Satan (1:6-12).
“Not all inspiration, however, required revelation, for the Bible writers frequently recorded those things they had discov- ered by research, or things they had personally seen or heard. . . . Though the Bible writers sometimes wrote revealed truth and sometimes wrote observed truth, they always wrote only that which they were inspired to write.”
Divine Inspiration of Holy Scripture
“All of the Bible is inspired of God. It is therefore His Word. Being inspired, it is of divine origin, the product of God’s creative energy. . . . What exactly is inspiration? The term itself comes from the Greek word theopneustos, which means, ‘God-breathed.’ By this process of inbreathing or inspiration, the divine mind was impressed upon the human mind so that what was written by man was written of God. This means there are both divine and human elements in inspiration.
“Almost all persons even casually acquainted with the Bible agree that it is an inspired book. What they mean by inspiration, however, may differ widely, for varying theories of inspiration are not wanting.” Of these various theories of inspiration, Conn said the plenary-verbal
America’s Bible IQ • 86% of U.S. households have at least one Bible in their home (Yankelovich Research Study).
• 66% of these Bible-owning households report that they read it less than once a month or never at all.
• 60% of Americans can’t name five of the Ten Commandments (USA Today, March 14, 2007). • 50% of Americans don’t know that Genesis is the first book of the Bible (NPR, Feb. 8, 2008).
• 50% of high school seniors think Sodom and Gomorrah were married (USA Today, March 14, 2007).
• 50% of Americans, including Christians, can’t name any of the four Gospels (NPR, Feb. 8, 2008).
• 22% of American teens think Moses was either one of Jesus’ 12 apostles, an Egyptian pha- raoh, or an angel (Bible Literacy Project, Inc., 2005).
• 17% of American teens think “the road to Damascus” is where Jesus was crucified (Bible Lit- eracy Project, Inc., 2005).
• 68% of American teens can’t identify who asked, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Bible Literacy Project, Inc., 2005).
theory is the only one “in accord with the Bible’s own statements concerning its inspiration. It means ‘full, complete.’ In this view, the Holy Spirit guided and directed the writers of the Scriptures, using words from the writers’ own vocabularies and utilizing their individual styles. “Let us look briefly at what the Bible says about its own inspiration. Two clear and emphatic verses, one by Paul and the other by Peter, demand our notice. They, without question, attest the plenary- verbal inspiration of Scripture. First, the statement of Paul:
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteous- ness (2 Timothy 3:16).
The expression ‘all scripture’ does not refer merely to the projected thoughts, but to the words with which they are pro- jected. Words are necessary vehicles for the transmission of explicit thought. “Now let us consider the statement of
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 1:21).
The ‘holy men of God’ were not ‘moved by the Holy Ghost’ merely to meditation and deep thought. They ‘spake,’ using words,
under inspiration. . . . In fact, it has been calculated that such expressions as ‘the Lord said,’ ‘the Lord spake,’ [and] ‘the word of the Lord came’ occur 3,808 times in the Old Testament.
“Writers of the New Testament were no less divinely inspired than the Old Testament writers. Though the words of Paul (2 Timothy 3:16) and Peter (2 Peter 1:21) concerning inspiration had particu- lar reference to the Old Testament, we may be sure that they also included the New. The apostles seemed well aware that they too were writing inspired Scriptures. “Paul knew that his writings were (1) the word of God, (2) the commandments of the Lord, and that (3) his teaching was the teaching of the Holy Ghost:
For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe (1 Thessalonians 2:13).”
* All of the quoted material is from the first edition of The Bible: Book of Books, by Charles W. Conn (Pathway Press).
Dr. Daniel L. Black is editor of adult literature for Pathway Press.
EVANGEL • AUG 2010 9
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