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Scripture is "breathed out by God" (2 Tim. 3:16). This is the authoritative declaration of where the Bible comes from. It is "breathed out" (inspired, ASV et al) by God.
Some do not understand "breathed out", or "inspired". They freely attribute inspiration to Shakespeare, or Mark Twain or other -- brilliant -- human authors -- and we do not dispute the brilliance of such men. It is, however, simply insupportable to equate this with "breathed out by God," inspiration, as is used in the Bible.
The apostle Paul addressed this matter in his first letter to the Christians in Corinth. "But as it is written, 'What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared fro those who love Him' -- these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit Who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God" (2:9- 12). Paul tells these brethren that things of the mind of God had been revealed to those who had received the Spirit of God, so that they could understand the things of God. So: the Holy Spirit revealed the mind/will of God to men chosen by God to proclaim that revelation.
The next question then is, how did He do this? Did He give them ideas that they were to clothe with words of their own choosing? This is a notion favored by some, and it might have merit except that Scripture denies it. The Holy Spirit followed what we have just read from 1 Cor. 2 by having Paul write, "And we impart this in Words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit," vs.13. How did they impart the things "freely given us by God"? Not in words of their own imaginings, of human brilliance; Paul said, "in words... taught by the Spirit."
The apostle Peter supported this concept, if indirectly, by writing "Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look" (1 Pet. 1;10-12)
Now, think about this. Here were genuine prophets, prophesying. They spoke words about some person or time, but they knew not whereof they spoke. It would be the same if someone told me to explicate Einstein's "Theory Of Relativity". Now, I could recite the formula "E=MC2" -- but that would be the end of it. I would have no idea of what I had said, though I had spoken precisely.
In the Preface to the English Standard Version, the Translation Oversight Committee wrote "The ESV is an 'essentially literal' translation that seeks as far as possible to capture the precise wording of the original text and the personal style of each Bible writer. As such, its emphasis is on 'word-for-word' correspondence... In contrast to the ESV, some Bible versions have followed a 'thought - for - thought' rather than 'word - for - word' translation philosophy ... A 'thought-for- thought translation is of necessity more inclined to reflect the interpretive opinions of the translator..."
So with the prophets of whom Peter wrote. They were not given ideas to express with words of their own wisdom; they were given the very words expressive of the ideas, which they then sought to understand. And so it is with all Scripture.
The Bible reveals the Will of God to us. it contains words of the devil and of men antagonistic to God, but even these are included to set the stage for the righteous verdicts of God. "All Scripture is breathed out by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equiped completely for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:16,17).
By Patrick Farish, via Abundant Life, Vol. 41, No. 2, Feb. 2006.
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