Did God really inspire scripture
FAQ - frequently asked questions about the Christian faith
8.1 Is it true that the Bible is inspired by God?
Yes. To begin with, it should suffice to quote one of the many scriptures: "All scriptures are inspired by God" (2 Tim 3:16).
8.2 Is inspiration really that important?
Yes absolutely. If the Bible were not inspired, it would be just another book of world literature with no moral, spiritual, or practical authority. It would not be the revelation of God.
Without inspiration, we wouldn't have a word from God. We would lose the basis of any biblical teaching. All the numerous Christian principles, be it about the person of Christ and his work of redemption, about the congregation, the kingdom of God or prophecy - all of these can only be defended if the Bible text comes directly from God. Of course, a reliable translation is also required.
8.3 What does inspiration actually mean?
To inspire means to breathe in. All scripture is “breathed in” or “given in” by God, i.e. it comes directly from God. A helpful description of this process is found in Acts 1:16: "The scriptures had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit foretold through the mouth of David through Judas." This is inspiration: God speaks through the mouth of a person He has chosen for this purpose.
The men through whom God had the Bible written were "driven by the Holy Spirit" (2 Pet 1:21).
8.4 Did the personality of the writer not affect what and how they wrote?
Yes, definitely. John's style (simple but profound) is very different from Paul's (reasoning logically), and Paul's style, in turn, is different from Peter's. Paul had studied with the famous scholar Gamaliel. Peter was a simple fisherman from Galilee who had no college degree. God used both to achieve His intended goal.
For example, God also used the competence of the doctor and historian Luke, who was able to describe the human side of events in detail. In the Old Testament, God used David's experience to give content to his psalms, and He used David's poetic talent to write down those psalms as meaningfully as they are.
8.5 So are the scriptures human and therefore imperfect?
No, absolutely not. These scriptures are exactly what God intended. Every word is entered through Him (see 8.6).
8.6 How can the word carry the character of the writer and at the same time be the word of God?
Think of a sculptor working on a statue. He will use different tools. On the finished work we may still see the indentations that the various tools have left. But these traces are only there because the sculptor used his tools skillfully to achieve the desired result. Likewise, God chose and used the idiosyncrasies and circumstances of the various writers in order to achieve the intended goal.
8.7 Did the Lord ever correct anything the Old Testament scribes wrote?
Not at all. The Lord quoted from the Old Testament frequently, but never said anything that suggested that the scribe was wrong or made a mistake. His application of the scriptures shows that He regarded them as absolutely authoritative (see, for example: Mt 4, 7, 10; 21:16; 26:31, 54; Lk 4: 17-21; Jn 17:12). In Matthew 5:17, He explains: “Do not think that I have come to destroy the law or the prophets; I did not come to dissolve, but to fulfill. "
It is true that some quotations in the New Testament differ from the Greek translation of the Old Testament used in the time of the Lord and his apostles. But a thorough examination of the text shows that God used these deviations intentionally and for a specific purpose (compare e.g. Ps 68:19 with Eph 4.8; or Ps 40.7 with Heb 10.5).
8.8 Did the scribes understand what they were writing?
Not necessarily. It says of the Old Testament prophets that they “sought and inquired who prophesied of grace against you, inquiring what or what time the Spirit of Christ who was in them indicated when he of the sufferings that come upon Christ should, and testified of the glories afterwards »(1 Pet 1:10, 11). The New Testament writers generally understood what they were writing. Exceptions may be parts of Revelation where John could hardly understand the full scope of his visions.
8.9 Did God enter the words or just the contents?
God entered the words. Paul explains that the apostles taught in words that the Holy Spirit taught (1 Cor. 2:13). It was a principle of the earliest times that God said of the true prophet: "I will put my words into his mouth" (Deuteronomy 18:18, 20). At the end of Deuteronomy, Moses says: "These are the words of the covenant which the LORD commanded Moses in the land of Moab" (Deuteronomy 28:69). David puts it this way: "The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me, and his word was on my tongue" (2 Sam 23: 2). See also Ezra 7:11; Zechariah 7:12 and Revelation 22:18, 19. All of these passages relate to the words that God had spoken.
The Lord said: "Until heaven and earth pass away, not even an iota or a line shall pass from the law until all is done" (Mt 5:18). His use of the Old Testament scriptures showed absolute reliance on their wording (see e.g. Mt 22: 31, 32, 43, 44).
In Galatians 3:16, the apostle points out that Genesis 22:18 says "your offspring" and not "your offspring". He bases his argument on the fact that the term "your descendant" is singular (meaning Christ) and not plural (which would refer to children and grandchildren). This undoubtedly proves that he relied on the literal accuracy and inspiration of the script.
8.10 Why is literal inspiration so fundamental?
Because the Bible (and language in general) is made up of words. If you can't rely on the words, you can't rely on anything. A judge bases his judgment on the words of the law. An executor must be able to rely on the exact wording of the will in order to carry out his task. If words do not have a binding meaning, then the sentences and statements are meaningless and lose all their value.
8.11 Does inspiration extend to the entire Bible or just the doctrinal parts?
To the whole Bible. Some have mistranslated 2 Timothy 3:16: "All scriptures inspired by God are useful." This is not correct. The literal translation is: "All scriptures are inspired by God and useful for teaching ..." One may object that the scriptures of the Old Testament are meant here. But in 1 Corinthians 2:13 Paul writes: things "which we also proclaim, not in words, taught by human wisdom, but in words, taught by the Spirit". He includes the other apostles when he says "we".
Also in 1 Timothy 5:18 it says: "For the Scriptures say." This expression is followed by two quotations. One is from Deuteronomy and the other from the Gospel of Luke. This means that the term "Scripture" refers to both passages - the Old and New Testaments. Peter refers to the writings of Paul in the same way as to the other writings (2 Pet 3:16). By this he is saying that the writings of the apostle Paul were inspired.
8.12 Does the Bible Claim It is God's Word?
Yes absolutely. The sentence: "Thus saith the LORD", or similar, occurs almost 700 times in the five books of Moses and additionally:
- about 400 times in the history books
- about 400 times in the prophets
- about 150 of them in the book of Isaiah alone.
In Ezekiel, expressions like: "The word of the Lord came to me while he spoke" and the like appear about 350 times.
Finally, in the New Testament the expression: "It is written" appears about 80 times. There is no other book that even remotely claims to be God's word like the Bible does.
8.13 What is really inspired, the original texts, the transcripts or our translations?
The original, i.e. the texts as written by Moses, David, Paul and the other scribes.
8.14 But aren't the copies full of errors?
The original texts of the Old Testament have been reproduced using meticulous and extremely accurate copies. This was ensured by various techniques. For example, the number of individual letters was counted. If a letter in the copy did not appear in the same number as in the original, a new copy was made and the entire examination procedure was repeated.
Evidence of the accuracy of the transmission is abundant. Until 1947, the oldest known Old Testament manuscript was from around 1000 AD. Biblical critics claimed that these manuscripts must be very inaccurate because so many centuries have passed since they were written. The discovery of the famous Qumran Scrolls at the Dead Sea in 1947 proved otherwise. The caves in Qumran contained copies of all books of the Old Testament (except Esther) from the years 100–200 BC. A careful comparison showed that these copies were virtually identical to the manuscripts known from around AD 1000.
It is true that there are differences among the New Testament manuscripts, but those differences do not affect the fundamental themes of Christian teaching. All of these nuances can largely be explained. There is no comparable number of manuscripts from any other book of the same age (nine from Caesar's "Gallic War" and only one from Tacitus, but 5,500 from the Bible) and none from such an early period: some fragments of the New Testament date around the year 150 AD.
8.15 Aren't the translations very inaccurate?
Unfortunately, some of them do. One should not use the modern interpretive translations, nor those that try to improve the Bible - just because the translators cannot reconcile what they say with their own prejudices and human ideas.
One should try to use a translation of the original text that is as precise as possible.
8.16 Isn't a German Bible then the inspired word of God?
It should be remembered that the Lord and the writers of the New Testament did use one translation: the Septuagint, i.e. the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. They quoted from it and said: "It is written." Therefore, we can safely rely on a good translation and accept it as God's word even though it is not inspired.
8.17 Did the Lord Jesus say whether the Old Testament was inspired or not?
Yes, He did. Very often. He used the Old Testament as an absolute authority (see 8.7). He put the words of the Old Testament on the same level as his own words (compare Mt 5:18 with Mt 24:35).
He referred to Adam and Eve, Cain, Noah, Moses, David, Jonah, etc., each time presenting the Old Testament narratives as absolutely true and authoritative. For Jesus these scriptures were the basis of a definitive and definitive answer to all questions of life (the resurrection, marriage, divorce and many other subjects).
Finally, He introduced himself as the theme "in all scriptures" (Lk 24:27).
8.18 How do we know the New Testament is also inspired?
Different New Testament writers recognize each other's writings (1 Tim 5:18; 2 Pet 3:15, 16). They put it on a par with the Old Testament scriptures. See 8.11.
8.19 How do we know that the right books were selected to compile the Bible?
The inspired scriptures have such spiritual power that they recommend themselves. Spiritual men knew they were dealing with sacred, inspired scriptures - many of which claim to be God's Word.
Interestingly, the Lord referred to "the Prophets", "the Psalms" and "the Scriptures" as known and recognized collections (e.g. Mt 26:56; Lk 24:27), as did the writers of the New Testament.
8.20 Are there not contradictions in the Bible?
The Bible places man in the light of God. It is therefore the natural tendency of man to hate this book and try to find contradictions in it. However, 90% of the alleged contradictions are mere allegations due to ignorance or bad intent.
Then there are real difficulties, such as differences between the gospels or different descriptions of the same events in the books of Kings and Chronicles. Here it is a matter of prayer in asking God for help so that we may understand the divine plan of the scriptures. When we do that, the difficulties will go away and we will see the beauty of inspiration. Then it becomes clear that the difficulties arise from a clear divine intention to show us different points of view of the life of his Son or his people.
In very rare cases an error may have occurred: For example, in 2 Kings 8:26 the age is given as 22 years, while in 2 Chronicles 22: 2 it is 42 years - perhaps the result of a transcription error. But our faith is not based on such details.
8.21 What about the words spoken by wicked people that are found in the Bible?
The Bible contains words such as: "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we will die!" (1 Cor 15:32). Such verses are not the expression of the thoughts and truth of God, but they are true and inspired: they tell us that there are people who think and speak like this.
There are also statements of Satan recorded in the Bible (in the Book of Job and in the Gospels). God uses them to enlighten us about the role of Satan, what he is capable and incapable of, what God is doing to him, and about the Lord's victory over him. The way God reproduces the words of Satan is absolutely inspired.
The lies of the sons of Jacob to their father about the fate of Joseph are also inspired texts. They show us the human heart, the cause of God's discipline, and divine providence which, in spite of man's wickedness, brings about the purpose of grace.
The preacher's book contains explanations that are difficult to accept. Much of this book is not the revelation of divine truth. But it reveals human thinking "under the sun". This is all thoroughly inspired and true: God thereby reveals the condition of man and tells us how man thinks.
8.22 What Does the Bible Say About Itself?
It makes it clear that it is God's word. It takes for granted its full literal inspiration and therefore its infallibility. We should thank God that He liked to reveal himself to people with such reliability. The Bible is the safest point in the universe: "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away" (Lk 21:33).
8.23 Can we then rely on a testimony that the Bible bears about ourselves?
Yes, and only on it! Any testimony from a third party would only weaken it. When God - as every Christian believes - has revealed himself in his word, then his word will speak about and for itself. Extra-biblical evidence only tends to compromise the inherent authority of the Word. The only authority that can teach us whether the Bible is inspired and what that exactly means is the Bible! God's book speaks for itself.Next chapter »« Previous chapter
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