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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [1]

the conveying of certain extraordinary and supernatural notices or thoughts into the soul; or it denotes any supernatural influence of God upon the mind of a rational creature, whereby he is formed to a degree of intellectual improvement, to which he could not have attained in his present circumstances in a natural way. In the first and highest sense, the prophets, evangelists, and Apostles are said to have spoken and written by divine inspiration. This inspiration of the Old Testament Scriptures is so expressly attested by our Lord and his Apostles, that among those who receive them as a divine revelation the only question relates to the inspiration of the New Testament. On this subject it has been well observed:—

1. That the inspiration of the Apostles appears to have been necessary for the purposes of their mission; and, therefore, if we admit that Jesus came from God, and that he sent them forth to make disciples, we shall acknowledge that some degree of inspiration is highly probable. The first light in which the books of the New Testament lead us to consider the Apostles, is, as the historians of Jesus. After having been his companions during his ministry, they came forth to bear witness of him; and as the benefit of his religion was not to be confined to the age in which he or they lived, they left in the four Gospels a record of what he did and taught. Two of the four were written by the Apostles Matthew and John. St. Mark and St. Luke, whose names are prefixed to the other two, were probably of the seventy whom our Lord sent out in his life time; and we learn from the most ancient Christian historians, that the Gospel of St. Mark was revised by St. Peter, and the Gospel of St. Luke by St. Paul, and that both were afterward approved by St. John; so that all the four may be considered as transmitted to the church with the sanction of apostolical authority. Now, if we recollect the condition of the Apostles, and the nature of their history, we shall perceive that, even as historians, they stood in need of some measure of inspiration. Plato might feel himself at liberty to feign many things of his master Socrates, because it mattered little to the world whether the instruction that was conveyed to them proceeded from the one philosopher or from the other. But the servants of a divine teacher, who appeared as his witnesses, and professed to be the historians of his life, were bound by their office to give a true record. And their history was an imposition upon the world, if they did not declare exactly and literally what they had seen and heard. This was an office which required not only a love of the truth, but a memory more retentive and more accurate than it was possible for the Apostles to possess. To relate, at the distance of twenty years, long moral discourses, which were not originally written, and which were not attended with any striking circumstances that might imprint them upon the mind; to preserve a variety of parables, the beauty and significancy of which depended upon particular expressions; to record long and minute prophecies, where the alteration of a single phrase might have produced an inconsistency between the event and the prediction; and to give a particular detail of the intercourse which Jesus had with his friends and with his enemies;—all this is a work so very much above the capacity of unlearned men, that, had they attempted to execute it by their own natural powers, they must have fallen into such absurdities and contradictions as would have betrayed them to every discerning eye. It was therefore highly expedient, and even necessary, for the faith of future ages, that, beside those opportunities of information which the Apostles enjoyed, and that tried integrity which they possessed, their understanding and their memory should be assisted by a supernatural influence, which might prevent them from mistaking the meaning of what they had heard, which might restrain them from putting into the mouth of Jesus any words which he did not utter, or omitting what was important, and which might thus give us perfect security, that the Gospels are as faithful a copy as if Jesus himself had left in writing those sayings and those actions which he wished posterity to remember.

But we consider the Apostles in the lowest view, when we speak of them as barely the historians of their Master. In their epistles they assume a higher character, which renders inspiration still more necessary. All the benefit which they derived from the public and the private instructions of Jesus before his death had not so far opened their minds as to qualify them for receiving the whole counsel of God. And he who knows what is in man declares to them, the night on which he was betrayed, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now,"  John 15:12 .

The purpose of many of his parables, the full meaning even of some of his plain discourses, had not been attained by them. They had marvelled when he spake to them of earthly things. But many heavenly things of his kingdom had not been told them; and they who were destined to carry his religion to the ends of the earth themselves needed, at the times of their receiving this commission, that some one should instruct them in the doctrine of Christ. It is true that, after his resurrection, Jesus opened their understandings, and explained to them the Scriptures; and he continued upon earth forty days, speaking to them of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. It appears, however, from the history which they have recorded in the book of Acts, that some farther teaching was necessary for them, Acts 1. Immediately before our Lord ascended, their minds being still full of the expectation of a temporal kingdom, they say unto him, "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" It was not till some time after they received the gift of the Holy Ghost, that they understood that the Gospel had taken away the obligation to observe the ceremonies of the Mosaic law; and the action of St. Peter in baptizing Cornelius, a devout Heathen, gave offence to some of the Apostles and brethren in Judea when they first heard it, Acts 11. Yet, in their epistles, we find just notions of the spiritual nature of the religion of Jesus as a kingdom of righteousness, the subjects of which are to receive remission of sins, and sanctification through his blood, and just notions also of the extent of this religion as a dispensation the spiritual blessings of which are to be communicated to all, in every land, who receive it in faith and love. These notions appear to us to be the explication both of the ancient predictions, and of many particular expressions that occur in the discourses of our Lord. But it is manifest that they had not been acquired by the Apostles during the teaching of Jesus. They are so adverse to every thing which men educated in Jewish prejudices had learned and had hoped, that they could not be the fruit of their own reflections; and therefore they imply the teaching of that Spirit who gradually impressed them upon the mind, guiding the Apostles gently, as they were able to follow him, into all the truth connected with the salvation of mankind. As inspiration was necessary to give the minds of the Apostles possession of the system that is unfolded in their epistles, so many parts of that system are removed to such a distance from human discoveries, and are liable to such misapprehension, that unless we suppose a continued superintendence of the Spirit by whom it was taught, succeeding ages would not have sufficient security that those who were employed to deliver it had not been guilty of gross mistakes in some most important doctrines.

Inspiration will appear still farther necessary, when we recollect that the writings of the Apostles contain several predictions of things to come. St. Paul foretels, in his epistles, the corruptions of the church of Rome, and many other circumstances which have taken place in the history of the Christian church; and the Revelation is a book of prophecy, of which part has been already fulfilled, while the rest will no doubt be explained by the events which are to arise in the course of Providence. But prophecy is a kind of writing which implies the highest degree of inspiration. When predictions, like those in Scripture, are particular and complicated, and the events are so remote and so contingent as to be out of the reach of human sagacity, it is plain that the writers of the predictions do not speak according to the measure of information which they had acquired by natural means, but are merely the instruments through which the Almighty communicates, in such measure and such language as he thinks fit, that knowledge of futurity which is denied to man. And although the full meaning of their own predictions was not understood by themselves, they will be acknowledged to be true prophets when the fulfilment comes to reflect light upon that language, which, for wise purposes, was made dark at the time of its being put into their mouth.

Thus the nature of the writings of the Apostles suggests the necessity of their having been inspired. They could not be accurate historians of the life of Jesus without divine inspiration, nor safe expounders of his doctrine, nor prophets of distant events.

2. Inspiration was promised by our Lord to his Apostles. It is not unfair reasoning to adduce promises contained in the Scriptures themselves, as proofs of their divine inspiration. It were, indeed, reasoning in a circle, to bring the testimony of the Scriptures in proof of the divine mission of Jesus. But that being established by sufficient evidence, and the books of the New Testament having been proved to be the authentic genuine records of the persons whose names they bear, we are warranted to argue, from the declarations contained in them, what is the measure of inspiration which Jesus was pleased to bestow upon his servants. He might have been a divine teacher, and they might have been his Apostles, although he had bestowed none at all. But his character gives us security that they possessed all that he promised. We read in the Gospels that Jesus ordained twelve that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach,   Mark 3:14 . And as this was the purpose for which they were first called, so it was the charge left them at his departure. "Go," said he, "preach the Gospel to every creature: make disciples of all nations,"  Mark 16:16;  Matthew 28:19 . His constant familiar intercourse with them was intended to qualify them for the execution of this charge; and the promises made to them have a special reference to the office in which they were to be employed. When he sent them, during his life, to preach in the cities of Israel, he said, "But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak; for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you,"  Matthew 10:19-20 . And when he spake to them in his prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem, of the persecution which they were to endure after his death, he repeats the same promise: "For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist,"  Luke 21:15 . It is admitted that the words in both these passages refer properly to that assistance which the inexperience of the Apostles was to derive from the suggestions of the Spirit, when they should be called to defend their conduct and their cause before the tribunals of the magistrates. But the fulfilment of this promise was a pledge, both to the Apostles and to the world, that the measure of inspiration necessary for the more important purpose implied in their commission would not be withheld; and, accordingly, when that purpose came to be unfolded to the Apostles, the promise of the assistance of the Spirit was expressed in a manner which applies it to the extent of their commission. In the long affectionate discourse recorded by St. John, when our Lord took a solemn farewell of the disciples, after eating the last passover with them, he said, "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him. But ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. I have yet many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear that shall he speak; and he will show you things to come,"  John 14:16-17;  John 14:26;  John 16:12-13 . Here are all the degrees of inspiration which we have seen to be necessary for the Apostles:

the Spirit was to bring to their remembrance what they had heard; to guide them into the truth, which they were not then able to bear; and to show them things to come; and all this they were to derive, not from occasional illapses, but from the perpetual inhabitation of the Spirit. That this inspiration was vouchsafed to them, not for their own sakes, but in order to qualify them for the successful discharge of their office as the messengers of Christ, and the instructers of mankind, appears from several expressions of that prayer which immediately follows the discourse containing the promise of inspiration; particularly from these words: "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee; that they may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me,"  John 17:20-21 . In conformity to this prayer, so becoming him who was not merely the friend of the Apostles, but the light of the world, is that charge which he gives them immediately before his ascension: "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world,"  Matthew 28:19-20; I am with you alway, not by my bodily presence; for immediately after he was taken out of their sight; but I am with you by the Holy Ghost, whom I am to send upon you not many days hence, and who is to abide with you for ever.

The promise of Jesus, then, implies, according to the plain construction of the words, that the Apostles, in executing their commission, were not to be left wholly to their natural powers, but were to be assisted by that illumination and direction of the Spirit which the nature of the commission required; and we may learn the sense which our Lord had of the importance and effect of this promise from one circumstance, that he never makes any distinction between his own words and those of his Apostles, but places the doctrines and commandments which they were to deliver upon a footing with those which he had spoken: "He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me,"  Luke 10:16 . These words plainly imply that Christians have no warrant to pay less regard to any thing contained in the epistles than to that which is contained in the Gospels; and teach us that every doctrine and precept clearly delivered by the Apostles, comes to the Christian world with the same stamp of the divine authority as the words of Jesus, who spake in the name of him that sent him.

The Author of our religion having thus made the faith of the Christian world to hang upon the teaching of the Apostles, gave the most signal manifestation of the fulfilment of that promise which was to qualify them for their office, by the miraculous gifts with which they were endowed on the day of pentecost, and by the abundance of those gifts which the imposition of their hands was to diffuse through the church. One of the twelve, indeed, whose labours in preaching the Gospel were the most abundant and the most extensive, was not present at this manifestation; for St. Paul was not called to be an Apostle till after the day of pentecost. But it is very remarkable that the manner of his being called was expressly calculated to supply this deficiency. As he journeyed to Damascus, about noon, to bring the Christians who were there bound to Jerusalem, there shone from heaven a great light round about him. And he heard a voice saying, "I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. And I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; and now I send thee to the Gentiles to open their eyes,"  Acts 26:12-18 . In reference to this manner of his being called, St. Paul generally inscribes his epistles with these words: "Paul, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will" or "by the commandment of God;" and he explains very fully what he meant by the use of this expression, in the beginning of his epistle to the Galatians, where he gives an account of his conversion: "Paul, an Apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead. I neither received the Gospel of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. When it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the Heathen: immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood, neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were Apostles before me; but I went into Arabia,"  Galatians 1:1;  Galatians 1:12;  Galatians 1:15-17 . All that we said of the necessity of inspiration, and of the import of the promise which Jesus made to the other Apostles, receives very great confirmation from this history of St. Paul, who, being called to be an Apostle after the ascension of Jesus, received the Gospel by immediate revelation from heaven, and was thus put upon a footing with the rest, both as to his designation, which did not proceed from the choice of man, and as to his qualifications, which were imparted, not by human instruction, but by the teaching of the Author of Christianity. The Lord Jesus who appeared to him might furnish St. Paul with the same advantages which the other Apostles had derived from his presence on earth, and might give him the same assurance of the inhabitation of the Spirit that the promises, which we have been considering, had imparted to those.

3. Inspiration was claimed by the Apostles: and their claim may be considered as the interpretation of the promise of their Master. We shall not find the claim to inspiration formally advanced in the Gospels. This omission has sometimes been stated by those superficial critics, whose prejudices serve to account for their haste, as an objection against the existence of inspiration. But if you attend to the reason of the omission, you will perceive that it is only an instance of that delicate propriety which pervades all the New Testament. The Gospels are the record of the great facts which vouch the truth of Christianity. These facts are to be received upon the testimony of men who had been eye-witnesses of them. The foundation of Christian faith being laid in an assent to these facts, it would have been preposterous to have introduced in support of them that influence of the Spirit which preserved the minds of the Apostles from error. For there can be no proof of the inspiration of the Apostles, unless the truth of the facts be previously admitted. The Apostles, therefore, bring forward the evidence of Christianity in its natural order, when they speak in the Gospels as the companions and eye-witnesses of Jesus, claiming that credit which is due to honest men who had the best opportunities of knowing what they declared. This is the language of St. John: "Many other signs did Jesus in the presence of his disciples. But these are written that ye may believe; and this is the disciple which testifieth these things,"   John 20:30-31;  John 21:24 . The Evangelist Luke appears to speak differently in the introduction to his Gospel,  Luke 1:1-4; and opposite opinions have been entertained respecting the information conveyed by that introduction.

There is a difference of opinion, first, with regard to the time when St. Luke wrote his Gospel. It appears to some to be expressly intimated that he wrote after St. Matthew and St. Mark, because he speaks of other Gospels then in circulation; and it is generally understood that St. John wrote his after the other three. But the manner in which St. Luke speaks of these other Gospels does not seem to apply to those of St. Matthew and St. Mark. He calls them many, which implies that they were more than two, and which would confound these two canonical Gospels with imperfect accounts of our Lord's life, which we know from ancient writers were early circulated, but were rejected after the four Gospels were published. It is hardly conceivable that St. Luke would have alluded to the two Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark without distinguishing them from other very inferior productions; and therefore it is probable that when he used this mode of expression, no accounts of our Lord's life were then in existence but those inferior productions. There appears, also, to very sound critics, to be internal evidence that St. Luke wrote first. He is much more particular than the other evangelists in his report of our Lord's birth, and of the meetings with his Apostles after his resurrection. They might think it unnecessary to introduce the same particulars into their Gospels after St. Luke. But if they wrote before him, the want of these particulars gives to their Gospels an appearance of imperfection which we cannot easily explain.

The other point suggested by this introduction, upon which there has been a difference of opinion, is, whether St. Luke, who was not an Apostle, wrote his Gospel from personal knowledge, attained by his being a companion of Jesus, or from the information of others. Our translation certainly favours the last opinion; and it is the more general opinion, defended by very able critics. Dr. Randolph, in the first volume of his works, which contains a history of our Saviour's life, supports the first opinion, and suggests a punctuation of the verses, and an interpretation of one word, according to which that opinion may be defended. Read the second and third verses in connection: Καθως παρεδοσαν ημιν οι απ ' αρχης αυτοπται και υπηρεται γενομενοι του λογου ‘Εδοξε καιμοι , παρακολουθηκοτι ανωθεν πασιν ακριβως καθεξης σοι

γραψαι , κρατιστε Θεοφιλε , "Even as they who were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word from the beginning delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having accurately traced," &c. By ημιν is understood the Christian world, who had received information, both oral and written, from those that had been αυτοπται και υπιρεται , "eye-witnesses and ministers." Καιμοι means St. Luke, who proposed to follow the example of those αυτοπται in writing what he knew; and he describes his own knowledge by the word παρακολουθηκοτι , which is more precise than the cicumlocution, by which it is translated, "having had understanding of all things." Perfect understanding may be derived from various sources; but παρακολουθεω properly means," I go along with as a companion, and derive knowledge from my own observation." And it is remarkable that the word is used in this very sense by the Jewish historian, Josephus, who published his history not many years after St. Luke wrote, and who, in his introduction, represents himself as worthy of credit, because he had not merely inquired of those who knew, but παρηκολουθηκοτα τοις γεγονοσιν , which he explains by this expression: Πολλων μεν

αυτουργος πραξεων , and to state in the third verse that he, πλειστων δ ' αυτοπτης γενομενος , an actor in many things, and an eye-witness of most. If this interpretation is not approved of, then, according to the sense of those verses which is most commonly adopted, St. Luke will be understood to give in the second verse an account of that ground upon which the knowledge of the Christian world with regard to these things rested, the reports of the "eye-witnesses and ministers," having collected and collated these reports, and employed the most careful and minute investigation, he had resolved to write an account of the life of Jesus. Here he does not claim inspiration: he does not even say that he was an eye- witness. But he says that, having, like others, heard the report of eye- witnesses, he had accurately examined the truth of what they said, and presented to the Christian world the fruit of his researches.

The foundation is still the same as in St. John's Gospel, the report of those in whose presence Jesus did and said what is recorded. To this report is added,

(1.) The investigation of St. Luke, a contemporary of the Apostles, the companion of St. Paul in a great part of his journeyings, and honoured by him with this title, "Luke, the beloved physician," Colossians

 Luke 4:14 .

(2.) The approbation of St. Paul, who is said, by the earliest Christian writers, to have revised this Gospel written by his companion, so that it came abroad with apostolical authority.

(3.) The universal consent of the Christian church, which, although jealous of the books that were then published, and rejecting many that claimed the sanction of the Apostles, has uniformly, from the earliest times, put the Gospel of St. Luke upon a footing with those of St. Matthew and St. Mark: a clear demonstration that they who had access to the best information knew that it had been revised by an Apostle.

As, then, the authors of the Gospels appear under the character of eye- witnesses, attesting what they had seen, there would have been an impropriety in their resting the evidence of the essential facts of Christianity upon inspiration. But after the respect which their character and their conduct procured to their testimony, and the visible confirmation which it received from heaven, had established the faith of a part of the world, a belief of their inspiration became necessary. They might have been credible witnesses of facts, although they had not been distinguished from other men. But they were not qualified to execute the office of Apostles without being inspired. And therefore, as soon as the circumstances of the church required the execution of that office, the claim which had been conveyed to them by the promise of their Master, and which is implied in the apostolical character, appears in their writings. They instantly exercised the authority derived to them from Jesus, by planting ministers in the cities where they had preached the Gospel, by setting every thing pertaining to these Christian societies in order, by controlling the exercise of those miraculous gifts which they had imparted, and by correcting the abuses which happened even in their time. But they demanded from all who had received the faith of Christ submission to the doctrines and commandments of his Apostles, as the inspired messengers of Heaven. "But God hath revealed it," not them, as our translators have supplied the accusative, "revealed the wisdom of God, the dispensation of the Gospel unto us by his Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things which are freely given us of God; which things, also, we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth,"   1 Corinthians 2:10;  1 Corinthians 2:12-13 . "If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord,"  1 Corinthians 14:37; that is, Let no eminence of spiritual gifts be set up in opposition to the authority of the Apostles, or as implying any dispensation from submitting to it. "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,"

 1 Thessalonians 2:13 . St. Peter, speaking of the epistles of St. Paul, says, "Even as our beloved brother Paul, also, according to the wisdom given unto him, hath written unto you,"  2 Peter 3:15 . And St. John makes the same claim of inspiration for the other Apostles, as well as for himself: "We are of God: he that knoweth God, heareth us: he that is not of God, heareth not us,"  1 John 4:6 .

The claim to inspiration is clearly made by the Apostles in those passages where they place their own writings upon the same footing with the books of the Old Testament; for St. Paul, speaking of the ιερα γραμματα , "Holy Scriptures," a common expression among the Jews, in which Timothy had been instructed from his childhood, says, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,"   2 Timothy 3:16 . St. Peter, speaking of the ancient prophets, says, "The Spirit of Christ was in them,"  1 Peter 1:11; and "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 . And the quotations of our Lord and his Apostles from the books of the Old Testament are often introduced with an expression in which their inspiration is directly asserted: "Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias;" "By the mouth of thy servant David thou hast said," &c,  Acts 1:16;  Acts 4:25;  Acts 28:25 . But with this uniform testimony to that inspiration of the Jewish Scriptures, which was universally believed among that people, we are to conjoin this circumstance, that St. Paul and St. Peter in different places rank their own writings with the books of the Old Testament. St. Paul commands that his epistles should be read in the churches, where none but those books which the Jews believed to be inspired were ever read,  Colossians 4:16 . He says that Christians "are built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets," επι τω θεμελιω των αποστολων και προφητων ,  Ephesians 2:20 : a conjunction which would have been highly improper, if the former had not been inspired as well as the latter; and St. Peter charges the Christians to "be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the Apostles,"  2 Peter 3:2 . The nature of the book of Revelation led the Apostle John to assert most directly his personal inspiration; for he says that "Jesus sent and signified by his angel to his servant John the things that were to come to pass;" and that the divine Person, like the Son of man, who appeared to him when he was in the Spirit, commanded him to write in a book what he saw. And in one of the visions there recorded, when the dispensation of the Gospel was presented to St. John under the figure of a great city, the New Jerusalem, descending out of heaven, there is one part of the image which is a beautiful expression of that authority in settling the form of the Christian church, and teaching articles of faith, which the Apostles derived from their inspiration: "The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb,"

 Revelation 1:1;  Revelation 1:10-19;  Revelation 21:14 .

These are only a few of the many passages to the same purpose which occur in reading the New Testament. But it is manifest, even from them, that the manner in which the Apostles speak of their own writings is calculated to mislead every candid reader, unless they really wrote under the direction of the Spirit of God. So gross and daring an imposture is absolutely inconsistent not only with their whole character, but also with those gifts of the Holy Ghost of which there is unquestionable evidence that they were possessed; and which, being the natural vouchers of the assertion made by them concerning their own writings, cannot be supposed, upon the principles of sound theism, to have been imparted for a long course of years to persons who continued during all that time asserting such a falsehood, and appealing to those gifts for the truth of what they said.

4. The claim of the Apostles derives much confirmation from the reception which it met with among the Christians of their days. It appears from an expression of St. Peter, that at the time when he wrote his second epistle, the epistles of St. Paul were classed with "the other Scriptures," the books of the Old Testament; that is, were accounted inspired writings,   2 Peter 3:16 . It is well known to those who are versed in the early history of the church, with what care the first Christians discriminated between the apostolical writings and the compositions of other authors however much distinguished by their piety, and with what reverence they received those books which were known by their inscription, by the place from which they proceeded, or the manner in which they were circulated, to be the work of an Apostle. In Lardner's "Credibility of the Gospel History," will be found the most particular information upon this subject; and it will be perceived that the whole history of the supposititious writings which appeared in early times, conspires in attesting the veneration in which the authority of the Apostles was held by the Christian church. We learn from Justin Martyr, that, before the middle of the second century, "the memoirs of the Apostles, and the compositions of the prophets," were read together in the Christian assemblies. We know, that from the earliest times, the church has submitted to the writings of the Apostles as the infallible standard of faith and practice; and we find the ground of this peculiar respect expressed by the first Christian writers as well as by their successors, who speak of the writings of the Apostles as "divine writings from the inspiration of the Holy Ghost."

To this general argument we may add that right views on the subject of the inspiration of the sacred writers are also necessary, because even some Christian writers have spoken obscurely and unsatisfactorily on the subject, dividing inspiration into different kinds, and assigning each to different portions of the holy volume. By inspiration we are to understand, that the sacred writers composed their works under so plenary and immediate an influence of the Holy Spirit, that God may be said to speak by those writers to man, and not merely that they spoke to men in the name of God, and by his authority; and there is a considerable difference between the two propositions. Each supposes an authentic revelation from God; but the former view secures the Scriptures from all error both as to the subjects spoken, and the manner of expressing them. This, too, is the doctrine taught in the Scriptures themselves, which declare not only that the prophets and Apostles spake in the name of God, but that God spake by them as his instruments. "The Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake." "Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet." "The prophecy came not of old time, by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." For this reason, not only that the matter contained in the book of "the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms," (the usual phrase by which the Jews designated the whole Old Testament,) was true; but that the books were written under divine inspiration, they are called collectively by our Lord and by his Apostles, "The Scriptures," in contradistinction to all other writings:—a term which the Apostle Peter, as stated above, applies also to the writings of St. Paul, and which therefore verifies them as standing on the same level with the books of the Old Testament as to their inspiration: "Even as our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given unto him, hath written unto you: also in all his epistles, speaking of these things, in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction." The Apostles also, as we have seen, expressly claim an inspiration, not only as to the subjects on which they wrote, but as to the words in which they expressed themselves. Farther, our Lord promised to them the Holy Spirit "to guide them into all truth;" and that he was not to fulfil his office by suggesting thoughts only, but words, is clear from Christ's discourse with them on the subject of the persecutions they were to endure for "his name's sake:"

"And when they bring you into the synagogues, and unto magistrates and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say; for the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say; for it is not ye that speak; but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you." This inspiration of words is also asserted by St. Paul as to himself and his brethren, when he says to the Corinthians, "Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth; but which the Holy Ghost teacheth." Thus we find that the claim which the sacred writers make on this subject is, that they were in truth what they have been aptly called, "the penmen of the Holy Ghost;" and that the words in which they clothed "the wisdom given unto them" were words "taught" by the Holy Spirit.

But it may be asked, How are we to account for that difference of style which is observable in each? that manner, too, so natural to each, and so distinct in all? with those reasonings, recollections of memory, and other indications of the working of the mind of each writer in its own character and temperament? Some persons, indeed, observing this, have concluded their style and manner to be entirely human, while their thoughts were either wholly divine, or so superintended by the Holy Ghost as to have been adopted by him, and therefore, although sometimes natural, to be of equal authority as if they had been exclusively of divine suggestion. This, indeed, would be sufficient to oblige our implicit credence to their writings, as being from God; but it falls below the force of the passages above cited, and which attribute to a divine agency their words also. The matter may be rightly conceived by considering, that an inspiration of words took place either by suggesting those most fit to express the thoughts, or by over- ruling the selection of such words from the common as if they had been exclusively of divine suggestion. This, indeed, would be sufficient to oblige our implicit credence to their writings, as being from God; but it falls below the force of the passages above cited, and which attribute to a divine agency the store acquired by, and laid up in, the mind of each writer, which is quite compatible with the fact, that a peculiarity and appropriateness of manner might still be left to them separately. To suppose that an inspiration of terms, as well as thoughts, could not take place without producing one uniform style and manner, is to suppose that the minds of the writers would thus become entirely passive under the influence of the Holy Spirit; whereas it is easily conceivable that the verbiage, style, and manner of each, was not so much displaced, as elevated, enriched, and controlled by the Holy Spirit; and that there was a previous fitness, in all these respects, in all the sacred penmen, for which they were chosen to be the instruments under the aid and direction of the Holy Ghost, of writing such portions of the general revelation as the wisdom of God assigned to each of them. On the other hand, while it is so conceivable that the words and manner of each might be appropriated to his own design by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, it by no means follows that both were not greatly altered, as well as controlled, although they still retained a general similarity to the uninfluenced style and manner of each, and still presented a characteristic variety. As none of their writings on ordinary occasions, and when uninspired, have come down to us, we cannot judge of the degree of this difference; and therefore no one can with any just reason affirm that their writings are "the word of God as to the doctrine, but the word of man as to the channel of conveyance." Certain it is, that a vast difference may be remarked between the writings of the Apostles, and those of the most eminent fathers of the times nearest to them; and that not only as to precision and strength of thought, but also as to language. This circumstance is at least strongly presumptive, that although the style of inspired men was not stripped of the characteristic peculiarity of the writers, it was greatly exalted and influenced.

But the same force of inspiration, so to speak, was not probably exerted upon each of the sacred writers, or upon the same writer throughout his writings, whatever might be its subject. There is no necessity that we should so state the case, in order to maintain what is essential to our faith,—the plenary inspiration of each of the sacred writers. In miracles there was no needless application of divine power. Traditional history and written chronicles, facts of known occurrence, and opinions which were received by all, are often inserted or referred to by the sacred writers.

There needed no miraculous operation upon the memory to recall what the memory was furnished with, or to reveal a fact which the writers previously and perfectly knew: but their plenary inspiration consisted in this, that they were kept from all lapses of memory, or inadequate conceptions, even on these subjects; and on all others the degree of communication and influence, both as to doctrine, facts, and the terms in which they were to be recorded for the edification of the church, was proportioned to the necessity of the case, but so that the whole was authenticated or dictated by the Holy Spirit with so full an influence, that it became truth without mixture of error, expressed in such terms as he himself ruled or suggested. This, then, seems the true notion of plenary inspiration, that for the revelation, insertion, and adequate enunciation of truth, it was full and complete.

The principal objections to this view of the inspiration of words are well answered by Dr. Woods, an American divine, in a recent publication, from which, as the subject has been lately debated in this country, the following extracts will be acceptable, although there is in them a repetition of some of the preceding observations:—

"One argument which has been urged against the supposition that divine inspiration had a respect to language, is, that the language employed by the inspired writers exhibits no marks of a divine interference, but is perfectly conformed to the genius and taste of the writers. The fact here alleged is admitted. But how does it support the opinion of those who allege it? Is it not evident, that God may exercise a perfect superintendency over inspired writers as to the language they shall use, and yet that each one of them

shall write in his own style, and in all respects according to his own taste? May not God give such aid to his servants, that, while using their own style, they will certainly be secured against all mistakes, and exhibit the truth with perfect propriety? It is unquestionable, that Isaiah, and St. Paul, and St. John might be under the entire direction of the Holy Spirit, even as to language, and, at the same time, that each one of them might write in his own manner; and that the peculiar manner of each might be adopted to answer an important end; and that the variety of style, thus introduced into the sacred volume, might be suited to excite a livelier interest in the minds of men, and to secure to them a far greater amount of good, than could ever have been derived from any one mode of writing. The great variety existing among men as to their natural talents,

and their peculiar manner of thinking and writing may, in this way, be turned to account in the work of revelation, as well as in the concerns of common life. Now, is it not clearly a matter of fact, that God has made use of this variety, and given the Holy Spirit to men, differing widely from each other in regard to natural endowments, and knowledge, and style, and employed them, with

all their various gifts, as agents in writing the Holy Scriptures? And what colour of reason can we have to suppose, that the language which they used was less under the divine direction on account of this variety, than if it had been perfectly uniform throughout?

"To prove that divine inspiration had no respect to the language of the sacred writers, it is farther alleged, that even the same doctrine is taught and the same event described in a different manner by different writers. This fact I also admit. But how does it prove that inspiration had no respect to language? Is not the variety alleged a manifest advantage, as to the impression which is likely to be made upon the minds of men? Is not testimony, which is substantially the same, always considered as entitled to higher credit, when it is given by different witnesses in different language, and in a different order? And is it not perfectly reasonable to suppose, that, in making a revelation, God would have respect to the common principles of human nature and human society, and would exert his influence and control over inspired men in such a manner, that, by exhibiting the same doctrines and facts in different ways, they should make a more salutary impression, and should more effectually compass the great ends of a revelation? All I have to advance on this part of the subject may be summed up in these two positions:

1. The variety of manner apparent among different inspired writers, even when treating of the same subjects, is far better suited to promote the object of divine revelation, than a perfect uniformity.

2. It is agreeable to our worthiest conceptions of God and his administration, that he should make use of the best means for the accomplishment of his designs; and, of course, that he should impart the gift of inspiration to men of different tastes and habits as to language, and should lead them, while writing the Scriptures, to exhibit all the variety of manner naturally arising from the diversified character of their minds.

"But there is another argument, perhaps the most plausible of all, against supposing that inspiration had any respect to language; which is, that the supposition of a divine influence in this respect is wholly unnecessary; that the sacred writers, having the requisite information in regard to the subjects on which they were to write, might, so far as language is concerned, be left entirely to their own judgment and fidelity. But this view of the subject is not satisfactory. For whatever may be said as to the judgment and fidelity of those who wrote the Scriptures, there is one important circumstance which cannot be accounted for, without supposing them to have enjoyed a guidance above that of their own minds; namely, that they were infallibly preserved from every mistake or impropriety in the manner of writing. If we should admit that the divine superintendence and guidance afforded to the inspired writers had no relation at all to the manner in which they exhibited either doctrines or facts; how easily might we be disturbed with doubts, in regard to the propriety of some of their representations! We should most certainly consider them as liable to all the inadvertencies and mistakes, to which uninspired men are commonly liable; and we should think ourselves perfectly justified in undertaking to charge them with real errors and faults as to style, and to show how their language might have been improved; and, in short, to treat their writings just as we treat the writings of Shakspeare and Addison. ‘Here,' we might say, ‘Paul was unfortunate in the choice of words; and here his language does not express the ideas which he must have intended to convey.' ‘Here the style of St. John was inadvertent; and here it was faulty: and here it would have been more agreeable to the nature of the subject, and would have more accurately expressed the truth, had it been altered thus.' If the language of the sacred writers did not in any way come under the inspection of the Holy Spirit, and if they were left, just as other writers are, to their own unaided faculties in regard to every thing which pertained to the manner of writing; then, evidently, we might use the same freedom in animadverting upon their style, as upon the style of other writers. But who could treat the volume of inspiration in this manner, without impiety and profaneness? And rather than make any approach to this, who would not choose to go to an excess, if there could be an excess, in reverence for the word of God?

"On this subject, far be it from me to indulge a curiosity which would pry into things not intended for human intelligence. And far be it from me to expend zeal in supporting opinions not warranted by the word of God. But this one point I think it specially important to maintain; namely, that the sacred writers had such direction of the Holy Spirit, that they were secured against all liability to error, and enabled to write just what God pleased; so that what they wrote is, in truth, the word of God, and can never be subject to any charge of mistake either as to matter or form. Whether this perfect correctness and propriety as to language resulted from the divine guidance directly or indirectly, is a question of no particular consequence. If the Spirit of God directs the minds of inspired men, and gives them just conceptions relative to the subjects on which they are to write; and if he constitutes and maintains a connection, true and invariable, between their conceptions and the language they employ to express them, the language must, in this way, be as infallible, and as worthy of God, as though it were dictated directly by the Holy Spirit. But to assert that the sacred writers used such language as they chose, or such as was natural to them, without any special divine superintendence, and that, in respect to style, they are to be regarded in the same light, and equally liable to mistakes, as other writers, is plainly contrary to the representations which they themselves make, and is suited to diminish our confidence in the word of God. For how could we have entire confidence in the representations of Scripture, if, after God had instructed the minds of the sacred writers in the truth to be communicated, he gave them up to all the inadvertencies and errors to which human nature in general is exposed, and took no effectual care that their manner of writing should be according to his will?

"Let us then briefly examine the subject, as it is presented in the Holy Scriptures, and see whether we find sufficient reason to affirm that inspiration had no relation whatever to language. 1. The Apostles were the subjects of such a divine inspiration as enabled them to speak ‘with other tongues;' here inspiration related directly to language. 2. It is the opinion of most writers, that, in some instances, inspired men had not in their own minds a clear understanding of the things which they spake or wrote. One instance of this, commonly referred to, is the case of Daniel, who heard and repeated what the angel said, though he did not understand it,  Daniel 12:7-9 . This has also been thought to be in some measure the case with the prophets referred to,  1 Peter 1:10-12 . And is there not reason to think this may have been the case with many of the prophetic representations contained in the Psalms, and many of the symbolical rites of the Mosaic institute? Various matters are found in the Old Testament, which were not intended so much for the benefit of the writers, or their contemporaries, as for the benefit of future ages. And this might have been a sufficient reason why they should be left without a clear understanding of the things which they wrote. In such cases, if the opinion above stated is correct, inspired men were led to make use of expressions, the meaning of which they did not fully understand. And, according to this view, it would seem that the teaching of the Spirit which they enjoyed, must have related rather to the words than to the sense. 3. Those who deny that the divine influence afforded to the sacred writers had any respect to language, can find no support in the texts which most directly relate to the subject of inspiration. And it is surely in such texts, if any where, that we should suppose they would find support. The passage,  2 Peter 1:21 , is a remarkable one. It asserts that ‘holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.' There is surely nothing here which limits the divine influence to the conceptions of their minds. They were moved by the Holy Ghost to speak or write. ‘All Scripture is divinely inspired,'  2 Timothy 3:16 . Does this text afford any proof that the divine influence granted to the inspired penmen was confined to their inward conceptions, and had no respect whatever to the manner in which they expressed their conceptions? What is Scripture? Is it divine truth conceived in the mind, or divine truth written? In   Hebrews 1:1 , it is said that ‘God spake to the fathers by the prophets.' Does this afford any proof that the divine guidance which the prophets enjoyed related exclusively to the conceptions of their own minds, and had no respect to the manner in which they communicated those conceptions? Must we not rather think the meaning to be, that God influenced the prophets to utter or make known important truths? And how could they do this, except by the use of proper words?

"I have argued in favour of the inspiration of the Apostles, from their commission. They were sent by Christ to teach the truths of religion in his stead. It was an arduous work; and in the execution of it they needed and enjoyed much divine assistance. But forming right conceptions of Christianity in their own minds, was not the great work assigned to the Apostles. If the divine assistance reached only to this, it reached only to that which concerned them as private men, and which they might have possessed though they had never been commissioned to teach others. As Apostles, they were to preach the Gospel to all who could be brought to hear it, and to make a record of divine truth for the benefit of future ages. Now is it at all reasonable to suppose, that the divine assistance afforded them had no respect to their main business, and that, in the momentous and difficult work of communicating the truths of religion, either orally or by writing, they were left to themselves, and so exposed to all the errors and inadvertencies of uninspired men? But our reasoning does not stop here. For that divine assistance which we might reasonably suppose would have been granted to the Apostles in the work of teaching divine truth, is the very thing which Christ promised them in the texts before cited. I shall refer only to  Matthew 10:19-20 , ‘When they shall deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak; for it shall be given you in the same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you.' This promise, as Knapp understands it, implies, that divine assistance should extend not only to what they should say, but to the manner in which they should say it. It is not, however, to be understood as implying, that the Apostles were not rational and voluntary agents in the discharge of their office. But it implies that, in consequence of the influence of the Spirit to be exercised over them, they should say what God would have them to say, without any liability to mistake, either as to matter or manner. From the above-cited promise, taken in connection with the instances of its accomplishment which are recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, it becomes evident that God may exert his highest influence upon his servants, so as completely to guide them in thought and in utterance, in regard to subjects which lie chiefly within the province of their natural faculties. For in those speeches of the Apostles which are left on record, we find that most of the things which they declared, were things which, for aught that appears, they might have known, and might have expressed to others, in the natural exercise of their own faculties. This principle being admitted, and kept steadily in view, will relieve us of many difficulties in regard to the doctrine of inspiration. The passage,   1 Corinthians 2:12-13 , already cited as proof of the inspiration of the Apostles, is very far from favouring the opinion that inspiration had no respect whatever to their language, or that it related exclusively to their thoughts.

‘Which things we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth.' The Apostle avoided the style and the manner of teaching which prevailed among the wise men of Greece, and made use of a style which corresponded with the nature of his subject, and the end he had in view. And this, he tells us, he did, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. His

language, or manner of teaching, was the thing to which the divine influence imparted to him particularly referred. Storr and Flatt give the following interpretation of this text: Paul, they say, asserts that the doctrines of Christianity were revealed to him by the almighty agency of God himself; and, finally, that the inspiration of the divine Spirit extended even to his words, and to all his exhibitions of revealed truths. They add, that St. Paul clearly distinguishes

between the doctrine itself, and the manner in which it is communicated."

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [2]

INSPIRATION. —The term employed to denote the action of the Divine Spirit upon the writers of Scripture. Literally signifying a breathing into , it has the secondary meaning of breathing a certain spirit into the mind or soul, and is therefore naturally employed to express the influence of God upon the sacred writers. ‘Inspiration in general is the influence of one person upon another; Divine inspiration is the influence of the Divine Person upon the human’ (Wood, A Tenable Theory of Insp . p. 10). In Scripture itself we find the idea in  Hosea 9:7 (LXX Septuagint) expressed by the word πνευματοφόρος—though in this case the inspiration was not Divine. In the NT ( 2 Peter 1:21) similarly ὑπὸ πνεύματος ἁγίου φερόμενοι. In non-Christian literature inspired men are spoken of as θεοδίδακτοι, θεόφοροι, θεοφορούμενοι, θεόδοχοι, θεόπνευστοι, ἔνθεοι, ἐπίπνοοι, βακχευόμενοι, μαινόμενοι, divino numine afflati, inspirati, furentes . The use of the word ‘inspiration’ to express the Divine factor in Scripture is probably derived from the fact that the words of  2 Timothy 3:16 πᾶσα γραφὴ θεόπνευστος are rendered in the Vulgate ‘omnis Scriptura divinitus inspirata.’ The definition given by Lee ( Insp . p. 27 f.) is sufficient as conveying the general idea attached to the word. ‘By inspiration I understand that actuating energy of the Holy Spirit, in whatever degree or manner it may have been exercised, guided by which the human agents chosen by God have officially proclaimed His will by word of mouth, or have committed to writing the several portions of the Bible.’ Sanday’s explanation of the word is excellent: ‘Just as one particular branch of one particular stock was chosen to be in a general sense the recipient of a clearer revelation than was vouchsafed to others, so within that branch certain individuals were chosen to have their hearts and minds moved in a manner more penetrating and more effective than their fellows, with the result that their written words convey to us truths about the nature of God and His dealings with man which other writings do not convey with equal fulness, power, and purity. We say that this special moving is due to the action upon those hearts and minds of the Holy Spirit. And we call that action Inspiration’ ( Bampton Lect. p. 127). Or we may say that as God revealed Himself in creation, in the history of His people, and especially, in Jesus Christ, He also enabled certain persons to perceive and express the significance of that revelation; and this ability is what we mean by inspiration.

Inspiration is claimed not only for our Scriptures, but for the other sacred books of the world. The Vedas, the books of Zoroaster and of the Buddhists, the Koran, all rest their claim to be received on the belief that they proceed from a Divine source. Even where tribes are too uncivilized to possess sacred writings, there exists a belief that God makes known His mind through dreams, oracles, or inspired individuals; and the presence and influence of God is frequently spoken of as an afflatus, the blowing of a breath or wind upon the inspired person. To the idea that knowledge is supernaturally conveyed to persons who are not in the historic line of Scriptural revelation, sanction is given in the OT by the instances of Abimelech, Pharaoh, and Balaam. And while in the sacred books of the world there is a great deal that is superstitious, contemptible, and degrading, there is also much that illustrates man’s thirst for God, and much also to show that God responds to that thirst. We naturally expect to find a fuller inspiration in those who were in touch with, and were called to record, the great progressive historical revelation which culminated in Christ; but we need not therefore deny all Divine response and assistance to those who on other lines were setting their faces Godwards.

1 . The claim of Scripture to be inspired.—The OT was accepted as inspired both by the NT writers and by all their Jewish contemporaries. At that date certain of the books eventually included in the OT had not been definitely admitted to canonical authority; but, speaking generally, the writings of the OT were universally held to be Divine, sacred, in some true sense the word of God. Of this there is abundant evidence.

( a ) Our Lord Himself appeals to the OT as a final authority ( Matthew 19:4,  John 5:46). He refers to it as the prophetic index to, and justification of, the providential dealings of God ( Luke 24:44,  John 10:35). Expressly, in citing Psalms 110, He introduces the quotation with the words, ‘David himself by the Holy Spirit said’ (αὐτὸς Δαυεὶδ εἶπεν ἑν τῷ πνεύματι τῷ ἁγίῳ),  Mark 12:36. And significantly in adducing the Law in contrast to the traditions of the elders, the highest human authority, He altogether neglects the human mediation of the writer, and simply says, ‘For God said’ ( Matthew 15:4). His personal reliance upon Scripture is visible in His use of it as His defence in the stress of temptation ( Matthew 4:4;  Matthew 4:7;  Matthew 4:10) and as the authentication of His ministry ( Luke 4:17-21). It was the OT which preserved the knowledge of the marvellous history of which He recognized Himself to be the culmination. In it He met all that was Divine in the past, and acknowledged the regulating Divine Spirit throughout.

( b ) As with the Master, so with the disciples. In the First Gospel the writer has ever in his eye τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ κυρίου διἀ τοῦ προφήτου ( John 1:22). In their first independent action the disciples were determined by their belief that they must fulfil the Scripture ἥν προεῖπεν τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἁγιον διἀ στόματος Δαυείδ ( Acts 1:16; cf.  Acts 28:25). For St. Paul as for St. Peter the utterances of the OT are the λόγια θεοῦ ( Romans 3:2;  1 Peter 4:11). ‘It is written’ is the ultimate authority. The Scripture is identified with God, so that St. Paul can say ( Romans 9:17) ‘the scripture saith unto Pharaoh’; and it is God who speaks in the prophets ( Romans 9:25). In the Epistle to the Hebrews the same conception of Scripture prevails. Quotations are introduced with the formula, ‘the Holy Spirit saith’; and the revelation of Christ is but the completion of the revelation of the OT. It was God who spoke in the prophets ( Hebrews 1:1). The very titles under which the OT Scriptures are designated sufficiently manifest the belief that they were written under the inspiration of God. (For these titles, see Ryle, Canon of OT , p. 302).

( c ) As representative of contemporary Jewish thought it is enough to cite Philo and Josephus. The former explicitly affirms the inspiration of Moses, speaking of him as ‘that purest mind which received at once the gift of legislation and of prophecy with Divinely inspired wisdom’ (θεοφορήτῳ σοφίᾳ, de Congr. Erud. c. 24, ed. Mangey, i. 538) and as καταπνευσθεὶς ὑπʼ ἔρωτος οὐρανίου ( dc Vita Mos. , Mangey, ii. 145). To Isaiah and Jeremiah ‘as members of the prophetic choir,’ he expressly ascribes inspiration (τοῦ προφητικοῦ θιασώτης χοροῦ, ὂς καταπνευσθεὶς ἐνθουσιῶν ἀνεφθέγξατο, de Conf. Ling . c. 12, Mangey, i. 411). Josephus is equally explicit. Vying with Philo in reverential esteem for the OT, he bases this esteem on the belief that the authors of the various books wrote under the influence of the Divine Spirit ( Ant . iv. viii. 49, iii. v. 4, x. ii. 2; cf. c. Apion . i. 7).

No belief of later Judaism was more universal or constant than this acceptance of the OT Scriptures as inspired. ‘Die heilige Schrift ist entstanden durch Inspiration des heiligen Geistes, stammt also von Gott selbst ab, der in ihr redet.’ This statement of Weber’s ( Lehren d. Talmud , p. 78) is amply justified by the passages he cites, as, e.g. , ‘He who affirms that the Thora is not from heaven, has no part in the future world’ ( Sanhed . x. 1). Bousset ( Die Religion d. Judentums , p. 125) reaches the same conclusion: ‘Die heiligen Schriften sind nach spätjüdischem Dogma inspiriert.’

This belief in the inspiration of the OT was the natural and inevitable result of the phenomena it presented; and was not, as has sometimes been suggested, the mere reflexion of the vague idea that all ancient writings, especially if poetical, were inspired.* [Note: Hatch, Hibbert Lect. p. 51.] Moses is represented as speaking face to face with God and as receiving the Law from Him. The prophets demand attention to their words by prefacing them with the announcement, ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ In  Exodus 4:10-12,  Isaiah 59:21,  Jeremiah 1:7-9 the equipment of the prophet is described by the expression, ‘I have put my words in thy mouth.’ From these two phenomena it was a necessary inference that at any rate the Law and the Prophets were inspired. Prof. Sanday ( Insp . p. 128) justly remarks that ‘the prophetic inspiration seems to be a type of all inspiration. It is perhaps the one mode in which the most distinctive features of Biblical inspiration can be most clearly recognized.’ It must, however, also be borne in mind that among the Jews themselves it was the Law, rather than the Prophets, which satisfied, and perhaps suggested, their idea of inspiration. Latterly they went so far as to say that, had the Law found in Israel recipients worthy of it, nothing beyond would have been required. The Law itself was a perfect and complete revelation, and neither Prophets nor Hagiographa were indispensable (see passages in Weber, Lehren d. Talm . p. 79). The response of conscience to the Law confirmed the traditional accounts of its origin, and the belief in its inspiration was inevitable. Possibly it was the belief that the whole OT was normative that prompted the usage by which even the Prophets and the Psalms were cited in the NT as ‘the Law’ (see  John 15:25;  John 10:34,  1 Corinthians 14:21,  Romans 3:19).

The inspiration of the NT stands on a somewhat different footing. The supreme instance of inspiration is our Lord Himself ( Luke 4:17-21); and He is also its source to His followers. At His Baptism, Jesus was formally called to, and equipped for, His ministry; and His equipment consisted in His receiving the fulness of the Holy Spirit. Under the influence of this Spirit all His works were done and all His words spoken. ‘He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God, for he giveth not the Spirit by measure’ ( John 3:34); ‘My teaching is not mine, but his that sent me’ ( John 7:16); ‘as the Father hath taught me, I speak these things’ ( John 8:28). And it is His words, spoken under the influence of the Divine Spirit, that form the nucleus of the NT Canon. They were the first portion of that Canon to be recognized as authoritative, and however difficult certain writings found it to gain access to the Canon, the words of our Lord were from the first, and universally, regarded as Divine by all Christians.

But those whom He appointed to be His witnesses and to explain to the world the significance of His manifestation, required above all else the inspiration of the Author of salvation. This was emphatically and reiteratedly promised to them. The presence of the Divine Spirit was promised not only to prompt and support them on critical occasions, as when they were summoned before magistrates ( Mark 13:11,  Matthew 10:20,  Luke 12:11), but as the Spirit of truth He was promised as the very substitute of Christ Himself: ‘He shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you’ ( John 14:26;  John 16:13). This promise cannot be understood as meant to assure the disciples that they would be able to recall every word their Lord had said; as little as this assurance is conveyed to all Christians by the words of St. John ( 1 John 2:27), ‘His anointing teacheth you concerning all things.’ At the same time it was meant to encourage them to believe that their sympathy with their Lord and their acceptance of His Spirit would give them a sufficient remembrance and understanding of His teaching.

That this promise was fulfilled is certain. The relation of the risen Lord to His Church, His presence with those who represented Him, and the aid He afforded them in accomplishing His purposes, compel the conclusion that His Spirit dwelt in those who taught and built up the Church by word and letter. Those who preached the gospel discharged their function ‘with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven’ ( 1 Peter 1:12). Of this the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost was the earnest. In guiding the Church the aid of this Spirit was experienced ( Acts 13:2;  Acts 15:28 etc.). In writing to the Galatians, St. Paul claims to have been instructed by the Lord in the gospel he preached. In  2 Corinthians 13:3 he is prepared to give ‘a proof of Christ that speaketh in me.’ And even in less essential matters regarding which he can claim no definite instructions or revelation, he yet in the exercise of his own judgment believes himself to be guided by the Spirit of God ( 1 Corinthians 7:40). In his enumeration of the various manifestations of the Spirit, the writing of sacred books, it is true, finds no place, neither do the writers of the Gospels claim to be inspired. But ‘the word of wisdom,’ ‘the word of knowledge,’ the charism of the prophet and the teacher, may quite reasonably, if not even necessarily, be supposed to include written as well as spoken discourse.

2 . The significance of the claim to be inspired, or the meaning and effects of inspiration.—Several opinions or theories present themselves. And in determining which of these is correct, we must be guided not by a priori ideas of the results which must flow from inspiration, but only by the phenomena presented in the Bible; in other words, by the actual effects of inspiration as these are seen in the writings of inspired men. ‘What inspiration is must be learned from what it does.… We must not determine the character of the books from the inspiration, but must rather determine the nature of the inspiration from the books’ (Bowne’s Christian Revelation , p. 45).

(1) The mechanical or dictation theory, or theory of verbal inspiration .—This is the theory that in writing the books of Scripture the human author was merely the mouthpiece of the Divine, and that therefore every word in the Bible as truly represents the mind of God as if He had dictated it. ‘Facts, doctrines, precepts, references to history or chronology, quotations from writers sacred or profane, allusions to scientific truth, visions or prophetic declarations, mere references to the most ordinary actions of life, according to this view, are not the work of man but of Omniscience. The only use which has been made of human agency in the book has been to copy down with pen, ink, and paper what has been dictated by the Divine Spirit.’ Absolute inerrancy is on this theory presumed to be the accompaniment of inspiration. As one of its defenders says: ‘God employed men in writing. But these men were so controlled by Him, that He is the Author of the writing and to the Author, that any charge of inaccuracy against the record, or Scripture, as originally given, must be preferred against Him’ (Kennedy, The Doctrine of Insp . 1878, p. 6). To use the common way of putting it, the writers were ‘the pens, not the penmen’ of God. They were possessed by God, so that it was not so much their own mind and their own experience, but the mind of God that was represented in their writings.* [Note: ‘Omnes et singulae res quae in S. Scriptura continentur, sive illae fuerint S. Scriptoribus naturaliter incognitae, sive naturaliter quidem cogniscibiles, actu tamen incognitae, sive denique non tantum naturaliter cogniscibiles, sed etiam actu ipso notae, vel aliunde, vel per experientiam, et sensuum ministerium, non solum per assistentiam et directionem divinam infallibilem literis consignatae sunt, sed singulari Spiritus S. suggestioni, inspirationi, et dictamini acceptae ferendae sunt’ (Quenstedt, cited with other similar dicta, in Hutterus Redivivus, s.v. ‘Inspiration’).]

This theory has all the prestige which antiquity can give it, for it runs back to those primitive stages of civilization in which possession by a deity was produced by inhaling fumes, or by violent dancings and contortions. This frenzied state being induced, the words spoken were believed to be Divine. The theory has also the prestige which is conferred by the advocacy of great names. Plato countenanced the idea that the inspired man is so possessed by the Divine that his words and thoughts are not his own. In the Timœus (p. 71) and in the Phaedrus (p. 244) he maintains that when a man receives the inspired word, either his intelligence is enthralled in sleep, or he is demented by some distemper or possession. The relation of the Divine to the human is viewed quantitatively. As the Divine comes in, the human must go out and make room for it. It was probably through Philo that this view gained currency in the Church. Philo’s account of Inspiration is quite explicit. ‘A prophet,’ he says, ‘gives forth nothing of his own, but acts as interpreter at the prompting of another in all his utterances; and as long as he is under inspiration he is in ignorance, his reason departing from its place and yielding up the citadel of his soul, when the Divine Spirit enters into it and dwells in it, and strikes at the mechanism of his voice, sounding through it to the clear declaration of that which he prophesieth’ ( de Sp. Legg . ii. 343, quoted in Sanday’s Insp . p. 74). Again (in the tract Quis rer. div. i. 511) Philo explains that ‘so long as we are masters of ourselves we are not possessed; but when our own mind ceases to shine, inspiration and madness lay hold on us. For the understanding that dwells in us is ousted on the arrival of the Divine Spirit, but is restored to its own dwelling when that Spirit departs; for it is unlawful that mortal dwell with immortal.’ A theory identical with or similar to this of Philo’s has been largely held in the Church.

There are also expressions in the NT which seem, at first sight, to countenance such a theory. In  Matthew 5:18 our Lord is reported as saying: ‘Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in nowise pass from the law, till all things be accomplished.’ But, as the context shows, that which our Lord intimates in these words is that it was in Himself the Law and the Prophets were to find their fulfilment. Immediately upon giving utterance to this saying He Himself proceeds to repeal commandments of the Law, substituting for them His own better principles, and thus showing that what He had in view was not Scripture as Scripture. Another passage which to the superficial reader might seem to countenance this theory is that in which St. Paul contrasts the wisdom of God with the wisdom of men ( 1 Corinthians 2:1-16). After speaking of the things revealed by the Spirit of God, he says, ‘which things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth’ ( 1 Corinthians 2:13). But a consideration of the passage makes it apparent that what he means is that he had arrived at the conclusion that his style of address should be in keeping with his subject, and that ‘the mystery of God’ did not require the garnishing of meretricious ornament or anything which the world might esteem as ‘excellency of wisdom,’ but such simplicity and directness as the Holy Spirit prompted. He is contrasting two methods, two styles, the worldly and the spiritual, and he is justifying the style he himself adopted. To conclude from this that St. Paul considered that every word he spoke was dictated by infallible wisdom is quite illegitimate.

This mechanical theory is beset by grave difficulties. ( a ) Inspiration and dictation are, as has more than once been pointed out, two different, even mutually exclusive, operations. Dictation precludes inspiration, leaving no room for any spiritual influence. Inspiration precludes dictation, making the prompting of words unnecessary by the communication of the right spirit.

( b ) It is irreconcilable with the phenomena presented in Scripture. The authors, instead of being passive recipients of information and ideas and feelings, represent themselves as active, deliberating, laborious, intensely interested. The material used by the historical writers has been derived from written sources, or, as in the case of the Third Gospel, from careful critical inquiry at the most reliable witnesses. They do not tell us that their knowledge of events had been supernaturally imparted, but either that they themselves had seen what they relate, or that they had it from trustworthy sources. The Apostles were inspired witnesses of Christ, and proclaimed what they had seen and heard. But if supernatural information was even more trustworthy, why should they have been chosen only from those who had been with our Lord during His ministry? ‘If they did not really remember those facts or discourses when they asserted their reality, they are found false witnesses of God. If they were the mere dictation of the Spirit to their minds, St. Peter’s declaration which he made to the Jewish Council, “We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard,” would have to be corrected into, “We cannot but speak the things which the Spirit has introduced into our minds” ’ (Row, Insp . p. 154). Similarly, if the intense emotions expressed in the Psalms or in the Epp. of St. Paul are not the outpouring of human sorrow and human experience, they at once become artificial and false. When St. Paul in  2 Corinthians 11:17 says, ‘That which I speak, I speak not after the Lord, but as in foolishness, in this confidence of boasting,’ it is intelligible to say that an inspired man is speaking, it is not intelligible to say that this is God speaking. The mind of God is discernible through the words, but it is not the mind of God we are directly in contact with.

( c ) Another class of phenomena presented by Scripture is inconsistent with this theory. For if God be the sole Author, then it is impossible to account for errors in grammar, imperfections of style, discrepancies between one part and another. But such errors, imperfections, and discrepancies exist. The sayings of our Lord are variously reported in the several Gospels. Even in reporting the Lord’s Prayer the Evangelists differ. It is impossible to remove from the Book of Acts all disagreement with the Pauline Epistles. And in the disagreement between Peter and Paul at Antioch, we see how possible it was that men equally inspired should hold divergent and even antagonistic opinions upon matters essential to the well-being of the Church. In the face of these discrepancies, it is impossible to suppose that inspiration carries with it literal accuracy of expression.

( d ) The manner in which the NT writers quote the OT books proves that while they believed these books to be authoritative and their writers inspired, they did not consider that their inspiration rendered every word they uttered infallible. Taking 275 quotations from the OT in the NT, it has been found that there are only 53 in which the Hebrew, the LXX Septuagint, and the NT writer agree: while there are 99 passages in which the NT quotation differs both from the Hebrew and from the LXX Septuagint, which also differ from one another, and 76 in which the correct rendering of the LXX Septuagint has been erroneously altered.* [Note: These statistics are taken from D. M‘Calman Turpie’s OT in the NT, 1868. There are many more quotations than those here given, but these give a fair sample of the whole. A full list of quotations is given in the 2nd vol. of Westcott and Hort’s Greek Testament. And Dittmar in his Vetus T. in Novo gives the NT text, the LXX, and the Hebrew.] No doubt when the correct citation of a single word serves the writer’s purpose, as in the insistence by St. Paul on the singular instead of the plural ( Galatians 3:16), there stress is laid upon the very word; but in the face of the general style of quotation above indicated, it is impossible to believe that inspiration was supposed to make each word infallible.

(2) To escape the psychological and other difficulties of a mechanical, verbal inspiration, other theories have been devised. Observing the different values of the various books of Scripture, the Jews themselves supposed that there were three degrees of inspiration corresponding to the tripartite division of the OT. Attempts were made by the Rabbis, by the schoolmen, and by some modern writers to differentiate between suggestion, direction, superintendence, and elevation. Thus Bishop Daniel Wilson ( Evidences of Christianity , i. 506, quoted by Lee) defines as follows: ‘By the inspiration of suggestion is meant such communication of the Holy Spirit as suggested and dictated minutely every part of the truths delivered. The inspiration of direction is meant of such assistance as left the writers to describe the matter revealed in their own way, directing only the mind in the exercise of its powers. The inspiration of clevation added a greater strength and vigour to the efforts of the mind than the writers could otherwise have attained. The inspiration of superintendency was that watchful care which preserved generally from anything being put down derogatory to the Revelation with which it was connected.’ Obviously this theory is very open to criticism. That there are different degrees of inspiration is true, but it is very questionable whether any such classification is complete. In this theory there are hints of truth, but not the whole truth.

(3) The so-called dynamical theory brings us somewhat nearer the truth, though it too falls short. This theory is a reaction against the mechanical, and affirms that the human qualities of the writers are not superseded, but are cleansed, strengthened, and employed by the Divine Author. ‘The Divine influence acted upon man’s faculties in accordance with their natural laws’; classical expression is given to this theory in the words of Augustine ( in Joan . i. i. 1), ‘inspiratus a Deo, sed tamen homo.’ The Divine Agent selects suitable media for His communications, and does not try ‘to play Iyre-musie on flutes, and harp-music on trumpets.’ The imperfections and weaknesses found in Scripture are human, the truths uttered are Divine. The theory in its most acceptable form, and as held by Erasmus, Grotius, Baxter, Paley, and many modern writers, suggests that the Biblical writers were so inspired as to secure accuracy in all matters of conduct and doctrine, while it declines to pledge itself to their perfect accuracy in non-essentials or subsidiary particulars. Hence it is sometimes called the ‘essential’ theory.

This theory, while it endeavours to recognize the facts of Scripture and to account for them, yet fails to give us an understanding of inspiration. It does not explain, or even attempt to explain, how writers should be possessed of supernatural knowledge while inditing one sentence, and in the next be dropped to a lower level. It fails to give us the psychology of that state of mind which can infallibly pronounce on matters of doctrine while it is astray on the often simpler facts of history. It makes no attempt to analyze the relation subsisting between the Divine mind and the human which produces such results. Nor does it explain how we are to distinguish essentials from non essentials, or disentangle the one from the other.

(4) Constructively we may make the following affirmations regarding Inspiration, derived from the facts presented in the Bible:

( a ) It is the men , not directly the writings, that were inspired. ‘Men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Ghost’ ( 2 Peter 1:21). Inspiration does not mean that one inspired thought is magically communicated to a man in the form in which he is to declare it to his fellows, and in no connexion with the previous contents and normal action of his mind. As he sits down to write, he continues in that state of mind and spirit in which he has been living and to which the Spirit of God has brought him. The book he produces is not the abnormal, exceptional product of a unique condition of mind and spirit, but is the natural and spontaneous outflow from the previous experience and thought of the writer. All his past training and knowledge, all his past strivings to yield himself wholly to the Spirit of Christ, enter into what he now produces.

( b ) When we say that a writer of Scripture is Divinely inspired, we mean that as he writes he is under the influence of the Holy Spirit . All Christians possess this same Spirit, and are by Him being led into a full knowledge of the truth that is in Christ, to a full perception of that whole revelation of God which is made in Christ; and when some of their number are characterized as inspired, this means that such persons are distinguished above their fellow-Christians by a special readiness and capacity to perceive the meaning of Christ as the revelation of God and to make known what they see.

( c ) Inspiration is primarily a spiritual gift, and only secondarily a mental one. The Spirit of God may dwell richly in a man and yet not render him infallible even in matters of religion. In  1 Thessalonians 4:9 St. Paul speaks of his converts as θεοδίδακτοι, but to one end, and that a spiritual not a mental end. Our Lord ( John 6:45) applies to all those who come to Him in Spirit the prophetic words, ‘They shall be all taught of God,’ but no one can suppose that this involves infallible knowledge. It cannot be summarily argued that because God dwells in a man, all that the man speaks partakes of the Divine omniscience. Inspiration operates as any newborn passion, such as maternal love, operates. It does not lift the person out of all limitations, but it seizes upon and uses all the faculties, elevating, refining, and directing to one purpose. It illuminates the mind as enthusiasm does, by stimulating and elevating it; it enriches the memory as love does, by intensifying the interest in a certain object, and by making the mind sensitive to its impressions and retentive of them. It brings light to the understanding and wisdom to the spirit, as purity of intention or a high aim in life does. It brings a man into sympathy with the nature and purposes of God, enables him to see God where others do not see Him, and to interpret His revelations in the same Spirit in which they are given.

Literature.—The history of opinion may partly be traced in Westcott’s Introd. to Study of Gospels , Appendix on ‘Primitive Doctrine of Insp.’; in Hagenbach’s Hist. of Doctrine  ; and in Sanday’s Bampton Lectures . Lutheran teaching is represented and traced in Hutterus Redivivus , and Anglican in Fitzjames Stephens’ Defence of the Rev. Rowland Williams (1862).—From the mass of literature one or two representative books may be named: The Insp. of Holy Scrip ., by William Lee, 1854; The Nature and Extent of Divine Insp ., by Rev. C. A. Row, M.A., 1864; Plenary Insp. of Holy Scrip ., by Gaussen; Insp. and the Bible , by R. F. Horton; A Tenable Theory of Insp ., by Professor Wood; cf. also the present writer’s The Bible: its Origin and Nature . Schleiermacher’s interesting statement of his views occurs in Der christliche Glaube , iv. §§ 128–132. Weiss gives an excellent specimen of moderate opinion in Die Religion d. NT , p.3 ff.

Marcus Dods.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [3]

The supernatural action of the Holy Spirit on the mind of the sacred writers whereby the Scriptures were not merely their own but the word of God. Scripture not merely contains but is the word of God. As the whole Godhead was joined to the whole manhood, and became the Incarnate Word, so the written word is at once perfectly divine and perfectly human; infallibly authoritative because it is the word of God, intelligible because in the language of men. If it were not human we should not understand it; if it were not divine it would not be an unerring guide. The term "scriptures" is attached to them exclusively in the word of God itself, as having an authority no other writings have ( John 5:39;  John 10:34-36). They are called "the oracles of God" ( Romans 3:2), i.e. divine utterances.

If Scripture were not plenarily and verbally sanctioned by God, its practical utility as a sure guide in all questions directly or indirectly affecting doctrine and practice would be materially impaired, for what means would there be of distinguishing the false in it from the true? Inspiration does not divest the writers of their several individualities of style, just as the inspired teachers in the early church were not passive machines in prophesying ( 1 Corinthians 14:32). "Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty" ( 2 Corinthians 3:17). Their will became one with God's will; His Spirit acted on their spirit, so that their individuality had free play in the sphere of His inspiration. As to religious truths the collective Scriptures have unity of authorship; as to other matters their authorship is palpably as manifold as the writers. The variety is human, the unity divine. If the four evangelists were mere machines narrating the same events in the same order and words, they would cease to be independent witnesses. Their very discrepancies (only seeming ones) disprove collusion.

The solutions proposed in Harmonies, being necessarily conjectural, may or may not be the true ones; but they at least prove that the differences are not irreconcilable and would be cleared up if we knew all the facts. They test our faith, whether on reasonable evidence we will unreservedly believe His word in spite of some difficulties, designedly permitted for our probation. The slight variations in the Decalogue between Exodus 20 and its repetition Deuteronomy 5, and in Psalm 18 compared with 2 Samuel 22, in Psalm 14 compared with Psalm 53, and in New Testament quotations of Old Testament, (sometimes from Septuagint which varies from Hebrew, sometimes from neither in every word), all prove the Spirit-produced independence of the sacred writers who under divine guidance and sanction presented on different occasions the same substantial truths under different aspects, the one complementing the other.

One or two instances occur where the errors of transcribers cause a real discrepancy ( 2 Kings 8:26, compared with  2 Chronicles 22:2). A perpetual miracle alone could have prevented such very exceptional and palpable copyists' mistakes. But in seeming discrepancies, as between the accounts of the same event in different Gospels, each account presents some fresh aspect of divine truth; none containing the whole, but all together presenting the complete exhibition of the truth. Origen profoundly says: "in revelation as in nature we see a self concealing, self revealing God, who makes Himself known only to those who earnestly seek Him; in both we find stimulants to faith and occasions for unbelief." The assaults of adversaries on seemingly weak points have resulted in the eliciting of beautiful and delicate harmonies unperceived before; the gospel defenses have been proved the more impregnable, and the things meant to injure "have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel."

When once it is admitted that the New Testament writers were neither fanatics nor enthusiasts, (and infidelity has never yet produced a satisfactory theory to show them to have been either,) their miracles and their divine commission must also be admitted, for they expressly claim these. Thus, Paul ( 1 Corinthians 14:37), "if any man think himself a prophet, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord." And not only the things but the words; ( 1 Corinthians 2:13) "we speak not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth." The "discerning of spirits" was one of the miraculous gifts in the apostolic churches. His appeal on the ground of miracles ( 1 Corinthians 2:4) which are taken for granted as notorious rather than asserted, (the incidental mention being a clear mark of truth because it excludes suspicion of design,) and to persons whose miraculous discernment of spirits enabled them to test such claims, is the strongest proof of the divine authority of his writings.

Peter ( 2 Peter 3:16) classes Paul's epistles with "the other Scriptures"; therefore whatever inspiration is in the latter is in the former also. That inspiration excludes error from Scripture words, so far as these affect doctrine and morals, appears from  Psalms 12:6, "the words of the Lord are pure words, as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times." As our Lord promised the disciples His Holy Spirit, to teach them how and what they should say before magistrates ( Matthew 10:19-20), much more did the Spirit "abiding" with the church "for ever" ( John 14:16) secure for the written word, the only surviving infallible oracle, the inspiration of the manner as well as the matter. So ( John 16:13) "the Spirit of truth will guide you into all (the) truth," namely, not truth in general but Christian truth.

Also ( John 14:26) "the Holy Spirit shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said unto you." "He shall testify of Me" ( John 15:26) "He will show you things to come ... He shall receive of Mine and shall show it unto you" ( John 16:13-14). Paul ( 2 Timothy 3:16) declares that no part of the written word is uninspired, but "ALL" (literally, "every scripture," i.e. every portion) is "profitable" for the ends of a revelation, "doctrine, reproof (conjuting error: the two comprehending speculative divinity; then follows practical), correction (setting one right,  1 Corinthians 10:1-10), instruction (disciplinary training:  Deuteronomy 13:5;  1 Corinthians 5:13) in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works"; as it makes him "perfect" it must be perfect itself.

Some parts were immediately communicated by God, and are called "apocalypse" or "revelation," as that to John, and to Paul ( 2 Corinthians 12:1;  Romans 16:25). Others, as the historical parts, are matter of human testimony. But inspiration was as much needed to write known facts authoritatively as to communicate new truths; else why should certain facts be selected and others be passed by? Inspired prohibition is as miraculous as inspired utterance. Had the evangelists been left to themselves, they doubtless would have given many details of Jesus' early life which our curiosity would have desired, but which divine wisdom withheld, in order to concentrate all our attention on Christ's ministry and death. The historical parts are quoted by Paul as God's "law," because they have His sanction and contain covert lessons of God's truth and His principles of governing the world and the church ( Galatians 4:21).

Considering the vast amount of Mariolatry and idolatry which subsequently sprang up, the hand of God is marked in the absence from the Gospel histories of aught to countenance these errors. Sacred history is like "a dial in which the shadow, as well as the light, informs us" (Trench). The Spirit was needed to qualify the writers for giving what they have given, a condensed yet full and clear portraiture of Messiah, calculated to affect all hearts in every nation, and to sow in them seeds of faith, hope, and love. The minor details, such as Paul's direction to Timothy to "bring his cloth and parchments," and to" drink a little wine for his stomach's sake and his infirmities," are vivid touches which give life and nature to the picture, making us realize the circumstances and personality of the apostle and his disciple, and have their place in the inspired record, as each leaf has in the tree.

The genealogies, as in Genesis 10; Matthew 1, form most important links between the progressive stages in the sacred history, and are anything but dry and profitless to the diligent student. There is a progress in the manifestation of the eternal and unchangeable principles of morality, in the New Testament as compared with the Old Testament God never sanctioned evil, but dealt with the nonage of the world as to revenge, divorce, etc. as its case required, less strictly marking sin than under the clear light, of New Testament. (See Revenge ; Divorce The mode of God's inspiring the writers it is not essential for us to know; the result is what momentously concerns us, namely, that their writings are our sure guide; for ( 2 Peter 1:21) "the prophecy of Scripture (the written word of men inspired, as 'prophet' means  1 Corinthians 14:29, not merely a foreteller) came not by the will of man, but holy men spoke as they were moved (literally, borne along,  Acts 2:2; rapt out of themselves, yet not losing self control  1 Corinthians 14:32) by the Holy Spirit."

Every word of inspiration is equally the word of God; but there is a progress in the mode of revelation and there are degrees in the importance of the words uttered. With the prophets God spoke in vision, but with Moses "face to face" and "mouth to mouth" ( Exodus 33:11;  Numbers 12:6-8). The highest revelation of all is that of God manifest in the flesh. But, however varied the mode, the result is that all Scripture alike is sanctioned as the word of God. Caiaphas is an instance showing that the words were sanctioned as divinely inspired; while the speaker himself did not know the deep significance of his own words ( John 11:50), "he spoke not of himself." So ( 1 Peter 1:11) the Old Testament prophets "searched what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory, ... unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves but unto us they did minister," etc.

They too knew not the full meaning of their own words. For "no prophecy of Scripture proves to be of private solution" (Greek text of  2 Peter 1:20), i.e. it is not the utterance of the mere individual, and so to be solved or interpreted by him, but of "the Holy Spirit" by whom the writer was "moved"; Scripture is not restricted to the immediate sense in the mind of the individual writer, but has in view "the testimony of Jesus," which is "the spirit of prophecy" in the "holy men moved by the Holy Spirit." The words of one compared with those of another from whom the former may be separated in age and in country often bring forth some truth evidently not contemplated by the writer, but designed by the ONE MIND who inspired, overruled, and sanctioned both. There is throughout the whole a consistently developed scheme, too grand for the mind of anyone writer. Our Lord and His apostles make vital truths hinge on single words. The force of Jesus' three answers, "It is written," to Satan's three temptations lies in single words (Matthew 4). So in  Matthew 19:4.

Also He confutes the Sadducees and proves the resurrection of the body from words which otherwise we should scarcely have regarded as proving it ( Matthew 22:32), "I am (not I was) the God of Abraham" (namely, the man in his integrity, body, soul, and spirit). The one word My is Christ's proof of His Godhead ( Matthew 22:43), "the Lord said unto MY Lord ( Psalms 90:1): if David call Him Lord, how is He His Son?" David could not have understood the full force of his own words (Psalm 22) as to the "gall," the "vinegar," the "parting of His garments," and "casting lots for the vesture," and other minute details fulfilled in Messiah. He who, working through means, creates the minute leaf as well as the mighty forest, saith of all His word, "till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law until all be fulfilled" ( Matthew 5:18; "law" means the whole Old Testament, as John ( Matthew 10:35) uses "law" of the psalms).

Christ's argument, "if He called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, say ye of Him whom the Father hath sanctified and sent, Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God?" rests on the one word "gods" being applied to rulers, as types of the Son of God, therefore still more applicable to the Antitype Himself. Our Lord makes it a fundamental principle "the Scripture cannot be broken," even as to one word ( John 10:35). So also Paul shows unhesitating confidence in the divine authority of special words, as "seed" not "seeds" ( Galatians 3:16), "all" ( Hebrews 2:8), "brethren" ( Hebrews 2:11), "today," and "My rest" ( Hebrews 4:1-11). To crown all, Revelation ( Revelation 22:19) at its close declares, "if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life."

Often it is a single verse that, by the same Spirit as inspired the word, has breathed new life into the sinner. The diligent student too is often struck by the unexpected light which one expression on examination affords, as in some masterpiece of art a single touch can impart life and meaning to the whole. Verbal inspiration does not require that every saying reported in Scripture should be a literal transcript of the speaker's words, but that it should be substantially a true statement, and such a one as the Spirit of God sanctions for the ends of the revelation. Moreover, in recording wicked men's sayings or doings, Scripture does not sanction but simply records them. So in the case of merely human utterances. In  1 Corinthians 7:5-6, Paul distinguishes his words "by permission" from those of commandment; and in  1 Corinthians 7:25-38 he gives his "judgment" as one faithful, but as having on the point "no commandment of the Lord."

Here his inspiration appears in his expressly declining to command as divinely authoritative a certain course as an apostle, and merely advising it as a Christian friend. How important it was to make this distinction appears from the subsequent error of the church in imposing vows of perpetual celibacy. So in  1 Corinthians 7:12-15 ( 1 Corinthians 7:10) he says on a particular case, "I, not the Lord," whereas he had on the main point said, "not I, but the Lord." Every word employed By the sacred writer in all cases is sanctioned as suited in its place for the Holy Spirit's purpose. Various readings in manuscripts do not invalidate verbal inspiration. It is the original Scriptures whose words have inspired authority, not the subsequent copies or versions. The words of the Decalogue were written by the finger of God, though the manuscripts transmitting them to us contain variations.

Like other gifts of God, this may be lost in whole or part by man's carelessness. Yet a remarkable providence has watched over Scripture, keeping the Jews from mutilating the Old Testament and the Roman and Greek Catholics from mutilating the New Testament though witnessing against themselves, (See Canon .) Moreover God has preserved by human means a multitude of manuscripts, patristic quotations, and ancient versions, enabling us to restore the original text almost perfectly for all practical purposes. The range of doubt remaining is confined within narrow limits. Exemption from all transcriptional errors would have needed a perpetual miracle, which is not God's mode of dealing with us. While some passages affecting vital doctrines are on examination rejected as not in the original, the doctrines themselves stand firm as ever, because they rest on the agreeing testimony of the whole of God's word; in other passages the orthodox truths are confirmed more fully by restoring the original text.

Irenaeus (Adv. Haeres., 2:47) says, "in the mauy voiced tones of Scripture expressions there is one symphonious melody"; Origen (Hom. 39), "as among plants there is not one without its peculiar virtue ... so the spiritual botanist will find there is nothing, in all that is written, superfluous." The prophets preface their prophecies with "thus saith the Lord," "the burden (weighty utterance) of the word of the Lord" ( Zechariah 9:1;  Zechariah 12:1;  Malachi 1:1). The apostles declare of them, "the Scripture must needs have been fulfilled which the Holy Spirit by the mouth of David spoke," "God showed by the mouth of all His prophets that," etc. ( Acts 1:16;  Acts 3:18;  Acts 3:21;  Acts 4:25). They rest the truth of the Holy Spirit's outpouring, Christ's resurrection, and the mystery of the admission of the Gentiles to be fellow heirs in the gospel, on the Old Testament as infallible ( Acts 2:16;  Acts 2:25-33;  1 Corinthians 15:3-4;  Romans 16:26).

If then the Old Testament prophets were infallible, much more the apostles in their New Testament Scriptures; as these and even the least in the gospel kingdom rank above those ( Matthew 11:11;  Ephesians 3:5;  1 Corinthians 2:9-10). Paul received the gospel which he preached, by extraordinary revelation; therefore he claims for it divine authority ( Galatians 1:11-12;  Ephesians 3:3). His word is "the word of God" which "he speaks in Christ," also "Christ speaking in Him" ( 2 Corinthians 2:17;  2 Corinthians 13:3). Just as Haggai was "the Lord's messenger in the Lord's message" ( 2 Corinthians 1:13), i.e. in vested with His commission; and  Nehemiah 9:30, "by Thy Spirit in Thy prophets"; and David ( 2 Samuel 23:2), "the Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was in my tongue."

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [4]

The conveying of certain extraordinary and supernatural notions or motions into the soul; or it denotes any supernatural influence of God upon the mind of a rational creature, whereby he is formed to any degree of intellectual improvement, to which he could not, or would not, in fact, have attained in his present circumstances in a natural way. Thus the prophets are said to have spoken by divine inspiration.

1. An inspiration of superintendency, in which God does so influence and direct the mind of any person as to keep him more secure from error in some various and complex discourse, than he would have been merely by the use of his natural faculties.

2. Plenary superintendent inspiration, which excludes any mixture of error at all from the performance so superintended.

3. Inspiration of elevation, where the faculties act in a regular, and, as it seems, in a common manner, yet are raised to an extraordinary degree, so that the composure shall, upon the whole, have more of the true sublime or pathetic than natural genius could have given.

4. Inspiration of suggestion, where the use of the faculties is superseded, and God does, as it were, speak directly to the mind, making such discoveries are to be communicated, if they are designed as a message to others. It is generally allowed that the Scriptures were written by divine inspiration. The matter of them, the spirituality and elevation of their design, the majesty and simplicity of their style, the agreement of their various parts; their wonderful efficacy on mankind; the candour, disinterestedness, and uprightness of the penmen; their astonishing preservation; the multitude of miracles wrought in confirmation of the doctrines they contain, and the exact fulfillment of their predictions, prove this.

It has been disputed, however, whether this inspiration is in the most absolute sense, plenary. As this is a subject of importance, and ought to be carefully studied by every Christian, in order that he may render a reason of the hope that is in him, I shall here subjoin the remarks of an able writer, who, though he may differ from some others as to the terms made use of above, yet I am persuaded his arguments will be found weighty and powerful. "There are many things in the Scriptures, " says, Mr. Dick, "which the writers might have known, and probably did know, by ordinary means. As persons possessed of memory, judgment, and other intellectual faculties, which are common to men, they were able to relate certain events in which they had been personally concerned, and to make such occasional reflections as were suggested by particular subjects and occurrences. In these cases no supernatural influence was necessary to invigorate their minds; it was only necessary that they should be infallibly preserved from error. It is with respect to such passages of Scripture alone, as did not exceed the natural ability of the writers to compose, that I would admit the notion of superintendence, if it should be admitted at all. Perhaps this word, though of established use and almost undisputed authority, should be entirely laid aside, as insufficient to express even the lowest degree of inspiration. In the passages of Scripture which we are now considering, I conceive the writers to have been not merely superintended, that they might commit no error, but likewise to have been moved or excited by the Holy Ghost to record particular events, and set down particular observations.

The passages written in consequence of the direction and under the care of the Divine Spirit, may be said, in an inferior sense, to be inspired; whereas if the men had written them at the suggestion of their own spirit, they would not have possessed any more authority though they had been free from error, than those parts of profane writings which are agreeable to truth. 2. "There are other parts of the Scriptures in which the faculties of the writers were supernaturally invigorated and elevated. It is impossible for us, and perhaps it was not possible for the inspired person himself, to determine where nature ended and inspiration began. It is enough to know, that there are many parts of Scripture in which, though the unassisted mind might have proceeded some steps, a divine impulse was necessary to enable it to advance. I think, for example, that the evangelists could not have written the history of Christ if they had not enjoyed miraculous aid. Two of them, Matthew and John, accompanied our Saviour during the space of three years and a half. At the close of this period, or rather several years after it, when they wrote their Gospels, we may be certain that they had forgotten many of his discourses and miracles; that they recollected others indistinctly; and that they would have been in danger or producing an inaccurate and unfair account, by confounding one thing with another.

Besides, from so large a mass of particulars, men of uncultivated minds, who were not in the habit of distinguishing and classifying, could not have made a proper selection; nor would persons unskilled in the art of composition have been able to express themselves in such terms as should insure a faithful representation of doctrines and facts, and with such dignity as the nature of the subject required. A divine influence, therefore, must have been exerted on their minds, by which their memories and judgments were strengthened, and they were enabled to relate the doctrines and miracles of their Master in a manner the best fitted to impress the readers of their histories. The promise of the Holy Ghost to bring to their remembrance all things whatsoever Christ had said to them, proves, that, in writing their histories, their mental powers were endowed, by his agency, with more than usual vigour. "Farther; it must be allowed that in several passages of Scripture there is found such elevation of thought and of style, as clearly shows that the powers of the writers were raised above their ordinary pitch.

If a person of moderate talents should give as elevated a description of the majesty and attributes of God, or reason as profoundly on the mysterious doctrines of religion, as a man of the most exalted genius and extensive learning, we could not fail to be convinced that he was supernaturally assisted; and the conviction would be still stronger, if his composition should far transcend the highest efforts of the human mind. Some of the sacred writers were taken from the lowest ranks of life; and yet sentiments so dignified, and representations of divine things so grand and majestic, occur in their writings, that the noblest flights of human genius, when compared with them, appear cold and insipid. 3. "It is manifest, with respect to many passages of Scripture, that the subjects of which they treat must have been directly revealed to the writers. they could not have been known by any natural means, nor was the knowledge of them attainable by a simple elevation of the faculties. With the faculties of an angel we could not discover the purposes of the divine mind. This degree of inspiration we attribute to those who were empowered to reveal heavenly mysteries, 'which eye had not seen, and ear had not heard, ' to those who were sent with particular messages from God to his people, and to those who were employed to predict future events. The plan of redemption being an effect of the sovereign councils of heaven, it could not have been known but by a communication from the Father of Lights. "This kind of inspiration has been called the inspiration of suggestion.

It is needless to dispute about a word; but suggestion seeming to express an operation on the mind, by which ideas are excited in it, is of too limited signification to denote the various modes in which the prophets and apostles were made acquainted with supernatural truths. God revealed himself to them not only by suggestion, but by dreams, visions, voices, and the ministry of angels. This degree of inspiration, in strict propriety of speech should be called revelation; a word preferable to suggestion, because it is expressive of all the ways in which God communicated new ideas to the minds of his servants. It is a word, too, chosen by the Holy Ghost himself, to signify the discovery of truths formerly unknown to the apostles. The last book of the New Testament, which is a collection of prophecies, is called the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Paul says, that he received the Gospel by revelation; that 'by revelation the mystery was made known to him, which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it was then revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit' and in another place, having observed that 'eye had not seen, nor ear heard, neither had entered into the heart of man the things which God had prepared for them that love him, ' he adds, "But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit, " Rev.i.1.  Galatians 1:12 .  Ephesians 2:5 .  1 Corinthians 2:9-10 . "I have not names to designate the other two kinds of inspiration. The names used by Doddridge, and others, Superintendence, Elevation, and Suggestion, do not convey the ideas stated in the three preceding particulars, and are liable to other objections, besides those which have been mentioned.

This account of the inspiration of the Scriptures has, I think, these two recommendations: that there is no part of Scriptures which does not fall under one or other of the foregoing heads; and that the different degrees of the agency of the Divine Spirit on the minds of the different writers are carefully discriminated. "Some men have adopted very strange and dangerous notions respecting the inspiration of the Scriptures. Dr. Priestley denies that they were written by a particular divine inspiration; and asserts that the writers, though men of the greatest probity, were fallible, and have actually committed mistakes in their narrations and their reasonings. But this man and his followers find it their interest to weaken and set aside the authority of the Scriptures, as they have adopted a system of religion from which all the distinguishing doctrines of revelation are excluded. Others consider the Scriptures as inspired in those places where they profess to deliver the word of God; but in other places, especially in the historical parts, they ascribe to them only the same authority which is due to the writings of well informed and upright men. But as this distinction is perfectly arbitrary, having no foundation in any thing said by the sacred writers themselves, so it is liable to very material objections.

It represents our Lord and his apostles, when they speak of the Old Testament, as having attested, without any exception or limitation, a number of books as divinely inspired, while some of them were partly, and some were almost entirely, human compositions: it supposes the writers of both Testaments to have profanely mixed their own productions with the dictates of the Spirit, and to have passed the unhallowed compound on the world as genuine. In fact, by denying that they were constantly under infallible guidance, it leaves us utterly at a loss to know when we should or should not believe them. If they could blend their own stories with the revelations made to them, how can I be certain that they have not, on some occasions, published, in the name of God, sentiments of their own, to which they were desirous to gain credit and authority? Who will assure me of their perfect fidelity in drawing a line of distinction between the divine and the human parts of their writings? The denial of the plenary inspiration of the Scripture tends to unsettle the foundations of our faith, involves us in doubt and perplexity, and leaves us no other method of ascertaining how much we should believe, but by an appeal to reason. But when reason is invested with the authority of a judge, not only is revelation dishonoured and its author insulted, but the end for which it was given is completely defeated.

"A question of very great importance demands our attention, while we are endeavouring to settle, with precision, the notion of the inspiration of the Scriptures: it relates to the words in which the sacred writers have expressed their ideas. Some think, that in the choice of words they were left to their own discretion, and that the language is human, though the matter be divine; while others believe, that in their expressions, as well as in their sentiments, they were under the infallible direction of the Spirit. It is the last opinion which appears to be most conformable to truth, and it may be supported by the following reasoning. "Every man who hath attended to the operations of his own mind, knows that we think in words, or that, when we form a train or combination of ideas, we clothe them with words; and that the ideas which are not thus clothed, are indistinct and confused.

Let a man try to think upon any subject, moral or religious, without the aid of language, and he will either experience a total cessation of thought, or, as this seems impossible, at least while we are awake, he will feel himself constrained, notwithstanding his utmost endeavours, to have recourse to words as the instrument of his mental operations. As a great part of the Scriptures was suggested or revealed to the writers; as the thoughts or sentiments, which were perfectly new to them, were conveyed into their minds by the Spirit, it is plain that they must have been accompanied with words proper to express them; and, consequently, that the words were dictated by the same influences on the mind which communicated the ideas. The ideas could not have come without the words, because without them they could not have been conceived. A notion of the form and qualities of a material object may be produced by subjecting it to our senses; but there is no conceivable method of making us acquainted with new abstract truths, or with things which do not lie within the sphere of sensation, but by conveying to the mind, in some way or other, the words significant of them.

In all those were written by revelation, it is manifest that the words were inspired; and this is still more evident with respect to those passages which the writers themselves did not understand. No man could write an intelligible discourse on a subject which he does not understand, unless he were furnished with the words as well as the sentiments; and that the penmen of the Scriptures did not always understand what they wrote, might be safely inferred from the comparative darkness of the dispensation under which some of them lived; and is intimated by Peter, when he says, that the prophets 'enquired and searched diligently what, and what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.'  1 Peter 1:10-11 . "In other passages of Scripture, those not excepted in which the writers relate such things as had fallen within the compass or their own knowledge, we shall be disposed to believe that the words are inspired, if we calmly and seriously weigh the following considerations.

If Christ promised to his disciples, that, when they were brought before kings and governors for his sake, 'it should be given them in that same hour what they should speak, and that the Spirit of the Father should speak in them.'  Matthew 10:19-20 .  Luke 12:11-12 . a promise which cannot be reasonably understood to signify less than that both words and sentiments should be dictated to them, it is fully as credible that they should be assisted in the same manner when they wrote, especially as the record was to last through all ages, and to be a rule of faith to all the nations of the earth. Paul affirms that he and the other apostles spoke 'not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost taught'  1 Corinthians 2:13 . and this general assertion may be applied to their writings as well as to their sermons. Besides, every person who hath reflected upon the subject, is aware of the importance of a proper selection of words in expressing our sentiments; and knows how easy it is for a heedless or unskillful person not only to injure the beauty and weaken the efficacy of a discourse by the impropriety of his language, but by substituting one word for another, to which it seems to be equivalent, to alter the meaning, and perhaps render it totally different.

If, then, the sacred writers had not been directed in the choice of words, how could we have been assured that those which they have chosen were the most proper? Is it not possible, nay, is it not certain, that they would have sometimes expressed themselves inaccurately, as many of them were illiterate; an by consequence would have obscured and misrepresented the truth? In this case, how could our faith have securely rested on their testimony? Would not the suspicion of error in their writings have rendered it necessary, before we received them, to try them by the standard of reason? and would not the authority and the design of revelation have thus been overthrown? We must conclude, therefore, that the words of Scripture are from God, as well as the matter; or we shall charge him with a want of wisdom in transmitting his truths through a channel by which they might have been, and most probably have been, polluted. "To the inspiration of the words, the difference in the style of the sacred writers seems to be an objection; because, if the Holy Ghost were the author of the words, the style might be expected to be uniformly the same. But in answer to this objection it may be observed, that the Divine Spirit, whose operations are various, might act differently on different persons, according to the natural turn of their minds.

He might enable one man, for instance, to write more sublimely than another, because he was naturally of a more exalted genius than the other, and the subject assigned to him demanded more elevated language; or he might produce a difference in the style of the same man, by raising, at one time, his faculties above their ordinary state; and by leaving them at another, to act according to their native energy under his inspection and control. We should not suppose that inspiration, even in its higher degrees, deprived those who were the subjects of it, of the use of their faculties. They were, indeed, the organs of the Spirit; but they were conscious, intelligent organs. They were dependent, but distinct agents; and the operation of their mental powers, though elevated and directed by superior influence, was analogous to their ordinary mode of procedure. It is easy, therefore, to conceive that the style of the writers of the Scriptures should differ, just as it would have differed if they had not been inspired. A perfect uniformity of style could not have taken place, unless they had all been inspired in the same degree, and by inspiration their faculties had been completely suspended, so that divine truths were conveyed by them in the same passive manner in which a pipe affords a passage to water, or a trumpet to the breath."

See Dick's Essay on the Inspiration of the Scriptures; Hawker on Plenary Inspiration; Appendix to 3d vol. of Doddridge's Expositor; Calamy and Bennett on Inspiration; Dr. Stennett on the Authority and Use of Scripture; Parry's Enquiry into the Nature and Extent of the Inspiration of the Apostles; Brown's Nat. and Rev. Relig. p. 78; and article CHRISTIANITY and SCRIPTURE, in this work.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [5]

According to long-standing Christian usage, the word ‘inspiration’ refers to that direct activity of God’s Spirit upon the writers of the Bible that enabled them to write what God wanted them to write. In the present article the words ‘inspiration’ and ‘inspire’ are used only in this special sense. They do not refer to the sort of inspiration that an inspired musician, poet or painter may at times experience.

Although the Bible was written under the inspiration of God, there are many things recorded in the Bible of which God disapproves. The Bible sometimes records the words of people who were wrong in what they said (e.g. the false arguments of Job’s friends or the misleading teachings of the Pharisees), for God reveals his truth by correcting what is false as well as by teaching what is right ( Romans 15:4;  1 Corinthians 10:11;  2 Timothy 3:16). It was not the speakers of those words who were inspired, but the writers who recorded them. God inspired the writers to record those things that would make his truth plain and expose human errors.

From God, through human writers

The Greek word translated ‘inspired’ means literally ‘God-breathed’ ( 2 Timothy 3:16). That is, God ‘breathed out’ his truth through human writers, so the words they wrote were the creation of God and bore his authority. The writers spoke from God. They were completely under the control of his Spirit and carried along by him to achieve his goals ( 2 Peter 1:19-20).

This does not mean that God used the writers without their personality or understanding playing any part. They were not impersonal instruments whom God used as a typist uses a typewriter. Rather they wrote intelligently out of circumstances that prompted them to write (e.g.  Jeremiah 29:1-9;  Micah 2:1-3;  John 20:30-31;  Galatians 1:6-9). They may have gathered their material from historical records, religious books, secular documents, conversations and other sources, but the whole work was under the direction of God. The final article was what God intended it to be ( Luke 1:1-4).

The writers may not have been aware that their writing was inspired and would one day be part of the Bible. Yet what they wrote was God-directed. It was his message for ordinary people, written in human language, but not corrupted by the sin of the writers. The Bible is not partly divine and partly human; every part of it is divine, yet every part of it is also human. Each book says what God wanted to say, yet says also what its author wanted to say.

Jesus and his followers acknowledged the Old Testament writings as God’s Word written by people who were inspired by God’s Spirit. They considered the divine and human authorship inseparable ( Matthew 22:43;  Acts 1:16;  Acts 4:25). Therefore, they could quote the spoken words of God as being the words of the Old Testament writer who recorded them (cf.  Isaiah 29:13 with  Matthew 15:7-9; cf.  Isaiah 65:1-2 with  Romans 10:20), or they could quote the words of the Old Testament writer himself as being the words of God (cf.  Psalms 104:4 with  Hebrews 1:7; cf.  Psalms 95:7-8 with  Hebrews 3:7-8).

Though the Spirit guided the Bible writers in the words they used, the writers wrote according to their own styles and vocabularies. John’s style is different from Peter’s. Amos’s vocabulary is different from Hosea’s. With each book of the Bible, God chose the particular person whose nature, training, background and temperament were most suited to his purpose at the time. He used a wisdom teacher such as Solomon to write proverbs for Israel’s guidance, and a university-trained person such as Paul to develop and apply Christ’s teaching for the benefit of the early church.

There were also many literary forms among the writings of the Bible, but God spoke through them all. Sometimes he used very simple forms such as stories and word-pictures, other times more complex forms that involved strange visions and symbolic figures. Whatever the form, it accurately communicated God’s message.

Choosing the right words

In spite of all the differences in the thinking and expression of the Bible writers, the actual words they wrote were those that God intended them to write. Words express thoughts, but they will express those thoughts correctly only if they are the right words. This is seen in some of the New Testament writers’ quotations from the Old Testament. They give such close attention to the words used that they may even base an explanation or teaching on a particular word in an Old Testament portion (cf.  John 10:34-35 with  Psalms 82:6; cf.  Galatians 3:16 with  Genesis 12:7).

At the same time it must be remembered that words are important only because of the truth they express. Therefore, the New Testament writers may at times quote Old Testament portions without a word-for-word exactness. They express the meaning without following the wording (cf.  Romans 11:8 with  Deuteronomy 29:4 and  Isaiah 29:10; see also Quotations ).

Authority of the Scriptures

Jesus acknowledged the Old Testament as the authoritative Word of God. It was a law that could not be lessened or cancelled ( John 10:34-35). He referred to the Scriptures (‘It is written . . .’; ‘Have you not read . . .’) as an absolute authority against which there could be no argument ( Matthew 4:4;  Matthew 4:7;  Matthew 4:10;  Matthew 21:13;  Matthew 21:16;  Matthew 22:29;  Matthew 22:31;  Luke 16:17). He claimed the same absolute authority for his own words, for he was the living Word of God ( Matthew 24:35;  Mark 8:38;  John 1:14;  John 1:18;  John 6:63;  John 7:16-17;  John 12:48-50).

The New Testament writers likewise upheld the absolute authority of the Scriptures ( Acts 17:2-3;  Acts 17:11;  Romans 1:17;  Romans 12:19;  Galatians 3:10;  Galatians 3:13;  2 Timothy 3:15-16;  1 Peter 1:16). To them the Scriptures were the ‘oracles of God’, the living, authoritative voice of God ( Romans 3:2;  Hebrews 5:12). What the Scriptures said, God said (cf.  Genesis 12:3 with  Galatians 3:8; cf.  Exodus 9:16 with  Romans 9:17). Just as the preaching of the biblical prophets were spoken revelations from God, so the books of the biblical writers were written revelations from God. Of both it was true to say, ‘Thus says the Lord’ ( Amos 1:1-3;  Amos 3:8;  Amos 3:13;  Micah 1:1-2;  Micah 3:8;  Isaiah 30:8-9;  Acts 11:28;  Acts 13:1-2;  1 Corinthians 14:37;  2 Peter 1:19-21;  Revelation 1:1-3).

During his earthly life, Jesus promised his apostles that after his return to the Father, the Holy Spirit would come to them to remind them of Jesus’ teaching and give them further teaching ( John 14:25-26;  John 16:13-15). They were to pass this teaching on to those who became Christians ( Matthew 28:19-20). They did this not only through preaching but also through putting Jesus’ teachings, and developments from them, into written form. And they claimed for their preaching and their writings the same authority as the Scriptures ( 1 Corinthians 2:13;  Galatians 1:8;  1 Thessalonians 2:13;  1 Thessalonians 4:2;  1 Thessalonians 4:15;  2 Thessalonians 2:15;  2 Thessalonians 3:14;  1 Peter 1:12;  2 Peter 3:2;  Revelation 22:18-19).

Paul and Peter were the two writers who spoke specifically of the Old Testament writings as being God-given ( 2 Timothy 3:16;  2 Peter 1:21). Yet both of them speak of New Testament writings as having the same authority as the Old Testament.

In  1 Timothy 5:18 Paul quoted as ‘Scripture’ a statement whose first part came from  Deuteronomy 25:4 and whose second part came from  Luke 10:7, showing that he considered Luke’s Gospel to have equal authority with the Old Testament. Likewise Peter, in  2 Peter 3:15-16, grouped the writings of Paul with ‘the other Scriptures’, showing that he considered Paul’s writings to have equal authority with the Old Testament.

Living and active Word

The early church as a whole readily recognized many of the early Christian writings as Scripture, particularly those that came from the apostles or had the apostles’ approval. But above all it was the truth within the books that impressed upon the readers that here indeed was God’s Word speaking to them. As a result a new collection of writings began to take shape, known to us as the New Testament (see Canon ).

Believers throughout the history of the church have likewise had an awareness that, as they read the Bible, God speaks to them through it ( Hebrews 4:12). The same Spirit who inspired the writers enlightens believers as they read, and they receive the words of the Bible as God’s final authority ( 1 Corinthians 2:12-15;  1 John 2:26-27;  1 John 5:7;  1 John 5:10; see Interpretation ).

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [6]

INSPIRATION . The subject comprises the doctrine of inspiration in the Bible, and the doctrine of the inspiration of the Bible, together with what forms the transition from the one to the other, the account given of the prophetic consciousness, and the teaching of the NT about the OT.

1. The agent of inspiration is the Holy Spirit (see p. 360) or Spirit of God, who is active in Creation (  Genesis 1:2 ,   Psalms 104:30 ), is imparted to man that the dust may become living soul (  Genesis 2:7 ), is the source of exceptional powers of body (  Judges 6:34;   Judges 14:6;   Judges 14:19 ) or skill (  Exodus 35:31 ); but is pre-eminently manifest in prophecy (wh. see). The NT doctrine of the presence and power of the Spirit of God in the renewed life of the believer is anticipated in the OT, inasmuch as to the Spirit’s operations are attributed wisdom (  Job 32:8 ,   1 Kings 3:28 ,   Deuteronomy 34:9 ), courage (  Judges 13:25;   Judges 14:6 ), penitence, moral strength, and purity (  Nehemiah 9:20 ,   Psalms 51:11 ,   Isaiah 63:10 ,   Ezekiel 36:26 ,   Zechariah 12:10 ). The promise of the Spirit by Christ to His disciples was fulfilled when He Himself after the Resurrection breathed on them, and said, ‘Receive ye the Holy Ghost’ (  John 20:22 ), and after His Ascension the Spirit descended on the Church with the outward signs of the wind and fire (  Acts 2:2-3 ). The Christian life as such is an inspired life, but the operation of the Spirit is represented in the NT in two forms; there are the extraordinary gifts (charisms) speaking with tongues, interpreting tongues, prophecy, miracles (  1 Corinthians 12:1-31 ), all of which St. Paul subordinates to faith, hope, love (ch. 13); and there are the fruits of the Spirit in moral character and religious disposition (  Galatians 5:22-23 ). Intermediate may be regarded the gifts for special functions in the Church, as teaching, governing, exhorting (  Romans 12:7-8 ). The prophetic inspiration is continued (  Romans 12:6 ); but superior is the Apostolic (  1 Corinthians 12:28 ) (see Apostles).

2. The doctrine of the inspiration of the NT attaches itself to the promise of Christ to His disciples that the Holy Spirit whom the Father would send in His name should teach them all things, and bring to their remembrance all things that He had said to them (  John 14:26 ); and that, when the Spirit of truth had come, He should guide them into all the truth, and should declare to them the things that were to come (  John 16:13 ). These promises cover the contents of Gospels, Epistles, and the Apocalypse. The inspiration of Christ’s own words is affirmed in His claim to be alone in knowing and revealing the Father (  Matthew 11:27 ), and His repeated declaration of His dependence in His doctrine on the Father.

3. Christ recognizes the inspiration of the OT (  Matthew 22:43 ), and the authority of the prophets (  Luke 24:25 ). The word ‘inspire’ is used only in Wis 15:11 ‘Because he was ignorant of him that moulded him, and of him that inspired into him an active soul, and breathed into him a vital spirit.’ The word ‘inspiration’ is used in this general sense in   Job 32:8 AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ‘But there is a spirit in man; and the inspiration (RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘breath’) of the Almighty giveth them understanding.’ In special reference to the OT we find in   2 Timothy 3:16 (RV [Note: Revised Version.] ) ‘every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching,’ etc. While the term is not used, the fact is recognized in   2 Peter 1:21 ‘For no prophecy ever came by the will of man; but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Ghost.’ It must be added, however, that both these passages are in writings the Apostolic authorship of which is questioned by many scholars. But the NT view of the authority of the OT is fully attested in the use made of the OT as trustworthy history, true doctrine, and sure prophecy; and yet the inaccuracy of many of the quotations, as well as the use of the Greek translation, shows that the writers, whether they held a theory of verbal inspiration or not, were not bound by it.

4. Although the doctrine of the inspiration of the Bible does not properly fall within the scope of a Bible Dictionary, a brief summary of views held in the Christian Church may be added: ( a ) The Theory of verbal inspiration affirms that each human author was but the mouthpiece of God, and that in every word, therefore, God speaks. But the actual features of the Bible, as studied by reverent and believing scholarship, contradict the theory. ( b ) The theory of degrees of inspiration recognizes suggestion, direction, elevation, and superintendency of the human by the Divine Spirit; but it is questionable whether we can so formally define the process. ( c ) The dynamical theory recognizes the exercise of human faculties in the author, but maintains their illumination, stimulation, and purification by the Spirit of God, in order that in doctrine and ethics the Divine mind and will may be correctly and sufficiently expressed; but this divorces literature from life. ( d ) We may call the view now generally held personal inspiration  : by the Spirit of God men are in various degrees enlightened, filled with zeal and devotion, cleansed and strengthened morally, brought into more immediate and intimate communion with God; and this new life, expressed in their writings, is the channel of God’s revelation of Himself to men. In place of stress on the words and the ideas of Scripture, emphasis is now laid on the moral character and religious disposition of the agents of revelation.

Alfred E. Garvie.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [7]

Though this word occurs in the Bible but once in reference to the scriptures, yet the one statement in which it is found is important and full of deep meaning: "Every scripture is divinely inspired [literally, 'God-breathed'], and is profitable for teaching, for conviction, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be complete, fully fitted to every good work."  2 Timothy 3:16,17 . This places all scripture on one basis as to inspiration, whether it be historical, doctrinal, or prophetic. We learn by this passage that not simply the persons who wrote were inspired, but the writings themselves are divinely inspired. Cf.   2 Peter 1:21 .

All writings are composed of words, and if these writings are inspired, the words are inspired. This is what is commonly called 'verbal inspiration.' Other passages speak of the importance of 'words:' Peter said, "To whom shall we go? thou hast the words (ῥήματα) of eternal life,"  John 6:68 : and we find those words in the Gospels. When it was a question of Gentiles being brought into blessing without being circumcised, James in his address appealed to the 'words' of the prophets.  Acts 15:15 . Paul in writing to the Corinthian saints said, "Which things also we speak, not in the 'words' (λόγοι)which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth."  1 Corinthians 2:13 . The Holy Spirit taught Paul what words to use. The whole of scripture forms the word of God, and both in the O.T. and in the N.T. we read of 'the words of God.'  1 Chronicles 25:5;  Ezra 9:4;  Psalm 107:11;  John 3:34;  John 8:47;  Revelation 17:17 . Neither must His word be added to, or taken from.  Deuteronomy 4:2;  Deuteronomy 12:32;  Revelation 22:18,19 .

The above passages should carry conviction to simple souls that every scripture is God-inspired. As nothing less than this is worthy of God, so nothing less than this would meet the need of man. Amid the many uncertain things around him he needs words upon which his faith can be based, and in the inspired scriptures he has them. The Lord Jesus said, "The words (ῥήματα) that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life."  John 6:63 . He had the words of eternal life; and, through the grace of God, many a soul has found them to be such, and has no more doubt of the plenary inspiration of scripture than of the existence of God Himself.

It may be noted that scripture records the sayings of wicked men, and of Satan himself. It need scarcely be said that it is not the sayings but the records of them that are inspired. Paul also, when writing on the question of marriage, makes a distinction between what he wrote as his judgement, and what he wrote as commandments of the Lord. "I speak this by permission," he says; and again, "I give my judgement."  1 Corinthians 7:6,10,12,25 . He was inspired to record his spiritual judgement and to point out that it was not a command.

Some have a difficulty as to what has been called the human element in inspiration. If the words of scripture are inspired, it has been asked, how is it that the style of the writer is so manifest? John's style, for instance, being clearly distinguishable from that of Paul. The simple answer is that it is as if one used, so to speak, different kinds of pens to write with. God made the mind of man as well as his body, and was surely able to use the mind of each of the writers He employed, and yet cause him to write exactly what He wished. God took possession of the mind of man to declare His own purposes with regard to man.

Further, it has been asserted that the doctrine of verbal inspiration is valueless, because of diversities in the Greek manuscripts, which in some places prevent any one from determining what are the words God caused to be written. But this does not in any way touch the question of inspiration, which is, that the words written were inspired by God. Whether we have a correct copy is quite another question. The variations in the Greek manuscripts do not affect any one of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity, and only in a few places are the words doubtful.

Another objection to the value of verbal inspiration is that most persons read scripture in a translation, the words of which cannot, it is alleged, be said to be inspired. But if the translation conveys exactly the same meaning as in the original, the words can be said to be inspired: for instance, the words 'God is love,' may surely be said to be the same as ὁ θεὸς ἀγάπη ἐστίν, or Deus caritas est, Dieu est amour, or Dio è carità , to those who can read them. It may be that the translations from which the above are taken cannot in all places be said to be the same as the Greek; but this only shows the great importance of each having a correct translation in his vernacular tongue. And it must not be forgotten that the Lord Himself and those who wrote the New Testament often quoted the Septuagint, which is a translation from the Hebrew; and they quoted it as scripture.

Nothing can exceed the importance of having true thoughts of the inspiration of scripture. As no human author would allow his amanuensis to write what he did not mean, so surely what is called the word of God is God's own production, though given through the instrumentality of man. Though there were many writers, separated by thousands of years, there is a divine unity in the whole, showing plainly that one and only one could have been its Author. That One can only have been the Almighty — Jehovah — now happily revealedto the Christian as his Father as well as his God.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [8]

That supernatural influence exerted on the minds of the sacred writers by the Spirit of God, in virtue of which they unerringly declared his will. Whether what they wrote was previously familiar to their own knowledge, or, as in many cases it must have been, an immediate revelation from heaven; whether his influence in any given case was dictation, suggestion, or superintendence; and however clearly we may trace in their writings the peculiar character, style, mental endowments, and circumstances of each; yet the whole of the Bible was written under the unerring guidance of the Holy Ghost,  2 Timothy 3:16 .

Christ everywhere treats the Old Testament Scripture as infallibly true, and of divine authority-the word of God. To the New Testament writers inspiration was promised,  Matthew 10:19,20   John 14:26   16:13; and they wrote and prophesied under its direction,  1 Corinthians 2:10-13   14:37   Galatians 1:12   2 Peter 1:21   3:15   Revelation 1:1,10-19 .

King James Dictionary [9]

INSPIRA'TION, n. L. inspiro.

1. The act of drawing air into the lungs the inhaling of air a branch of respiration, and opposed to expiration. 2. The act of breathing into any thing. 3. The infusion of ideas into the mind by the Holy Spirit the conveying into the minds of men, ideas, notices or monitions by extraordinary or supernatural influence or the communication of the divine will to the understanding by suggestions or impressions on the mind, which leave no room to doubt the reality of their supernatural origin.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.  2 Timothy 3

4. The infusion of ideas or directions by the supposed deities of pagans. 5. The infusion or communication of ideas or poetic spirit, by a superior being or supposed presiding power as the inspiration of Homer or other poet.

Webster's Dictionary [10]

(1): ( n.) The act or power of exercising an elevating or stimulating influence upon the intellect or emotions; the result of such influence which quickens or stimulates; as, the inspiration of occasion, of art, etc.

(2): ( n.) A supernatural divine influence on the prophets, apostles, or sacred writers, by which they were qualified to communicate moral or religious truth with authority; a supernatural influence which qualifies men to receive and communicate divine truth; also, the truth communicated.

(3): ( n.) The act of inspiring or breathing in; breath; specif. (Physiol.), the drawing of air into the lungs, accomplished in mammals by elevation of the chest walls and flattening of the diaphragm; - the opposite of expiration.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [11]

Inspiration. The influence of the Spirit of God on the mind, such as to guard against error in communicating God's will. The prophets and apostles spake "as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."  2 Peter 1:21. The divine Spirit acted upon each author according to his individuality, and used him, not as a machine, but as a free and responsible agent. Hence the differences of style and mode of treatment. The Bible is both human and divine, like the person of Christ, whom it reflects. There are various theories of inspiration, as to its modes and degrees; but all Christians agree that in the Bible, and in the Bible alone, we have a full and perfectly trustworthy revelation of God, and that it is the infallible rule of our faith and practice.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [12]

Inspiration. Dr. Knapp gives as the definition of inspiration, "An Extra-Ordinary Divine Agency Upon Teachers While Giving Instruction, Whether Oral Or Written, By Which They Were Taught What And How They Should Write Or Speak".

Without deciding on any of the various theories of inspiration, the general doctrine of Christians is that the Bible is so inspired by God that it is the infallible guide of men, and is perfectly trustworthy in all its parts, as given by God.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [13]

 2 Timothy 3:16

As to the nature of inspiration we have no information. This only we know, it rendered the writers infallible. They were all equally inspired, and are all equally infallible. The inspiration of the sacred writers did not change their characters. They retained all their individual peculiarities as thinkers or writers. (See Bible; Word Of God .)

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [14]

in - spi - rā´shun  :

1. Meaning of Terms

2. Occurrences in the Bible

3. Consideration of Important Passages

(1)  2 Timothy 3:16

(2)  2 Peter 1:19-21

(3)  John 10:34 ff

4. Christ's Declaration That Scripture Must Be Fulfilled

5. His Testimony That God is Author of Scripture

6. Similar Testimony of His Immediate Followers

7. Their Identification of God and Scripture

8. The "Oracles of God"

9. The Human Element in Scripture

10. Activities of God in Giving Scripture

11. General Problem of Origin: God's Part

12. How Human Qualities Affected Scripture: Providential Preparation

13. "Inspiration" More Than Mere "Providence"

14. Witness of New Testament Writers to Divine Operation

15. "Inspiration" and "Revelation"

16. Scriptures A D ivine-Human Book?

17. Scripture of the New Testament Writers Was the Old Testament

18. Inclusion of the New Testament


1. Meaning of Terms

The word "inspire" and its derivatives seem to have come into Middle English from the French, and have been employed from the first (early in the 14th century) in a considerable number of significations, physical and metaphorical, secular and religious. The derivatives have been multiplied and their applications extended during the procession of the years, until they have acquired a very wide and varied use. Underlying all their use, however, is the constant implication of an influence from without, producing in its object movements and effects beyond its native, or at least its ordinary powers. The noun "inspiration," although already in use in the 14th century, seems not to occur in any but a theological sense until late in the 16th century. The specifically theological sense of all these terms is governed, of course, by their usage in Latin theology; and this rests ultimately on their employment in the Latin Bible . In the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible , 390-405 ad) the verb inspiro (  Genesis 2:7; The Wisdom of Solomon 15:11; Ecclesiasticus 4:12;  2 Timothy 3:16;  2 Peter 1:21 ) and the noun inspiratio (  2 Samuel 22:16;  Job 32:8;  Psalm 18:15;  Acts 17:25 ) both occur 4 or 5 times in somewhat diverse applications. In the development of a theological nomenclature, however, they have acquired (along with other less frequent applications) a technical sense with reference to the Biblical writers or the Biblical books. The Biblical books are called inspired as the Divinely determined products of inspired men; the Biblical writers are called inspired as breathed into by the Holy Spirit, so that the product of their activities transcends human powers and becomes Divinely authoritative. Inspiration is, therefore, usually defined as a supernatural influence exerted on the sacred writers by the Spirit of God, by virtue of which their writings are given Divine trustworthiness.

2. Occurrences in the Bible

Meanwhile, for English-speaking men, these terms have virtually ceased to be Biblical terms. They naturally passed from the Latin Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible , 390-405 ad) into the English versions made from it (most fully into the Rheims-Douay:   Job 32:8; The Wisdom of Solomon 15:11; Ecclesiasticus 4:12;  2 Timothy 3:16;  2 Peter 1:21 ). But in the development of the English Bible they have found ever-decreasing place. In the English Versions of the Bible of the Apocrypha (both the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American)) "inspired" is retained in The Wisdom of Solomon 15:11; but in the canonical books the nominal form alone occurs in the King James Version and that only twice:  Job 32:8 , "But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding"; and  2 Timothy 3:16 , "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." the Revised Version (British and American) removes the former of these instances, substituting "breath" for "inspiration"; and alters the latter so as to read: "Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness," with a marginal alternative in the form of, "Every scripture is inspired of God and profitable," etc. The word "inspiration" thus disappears from the English Bible, and the word "inspired" is left in it only once, and then, let it be added, by a distinct and even misleading mistranslation.

For the Greek word in this passage - θεόπνευστος , theópneustos ̌ - very distinctly does not mean "inspired of God." This phrase is rather the rendering of the Latin, divinitus inspirata , restored from the Wycliff ("Al Scripture of God ynspyrid is....") and Rhemish ("All Scripture inspired of God is....") versions of the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible , 390-405 ad) The Greek word does not even mean, as the King James Version translates it, "given by inspiration of God," although that rendering (inherited from, Tyndale: "All Scripture given by inspiration of God is...." and its successors; compare Geneva: "The whole Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is....") has at least to say for itself that it is a somewhat clumsy, perhaps, but not misleading, paraphrase of the Greek term in theological language of the day. The Greek term has, however, nothing to say of in spiring or of in spiration: it speaks only of a "spiring" or "spiration." What it says of Scripture is, not that it is "breathed into by God" or is the product of the Divine "inbreathing" into its human authors, but that it is breathed out by God, "God-breathed," the product of the creative breath of God. In a word, what is declared by this fundamental passage is simply that the Scriptures are a Divine product, without any indication of how God has operated in producing them. No term could have been chosen, however, which would have more emphatically asserted the Divine production of Scripture than that which is here employed. The "breath of God" is in Scripture just the symbol of His almighty power, the bearer of His creative word. "By the word of Yahweh," we read in the significant parallel of   Psalm 33:6 "were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth." And it is particularly where the operations of God are energetic that this term (whether רוּח , rūaḥ , or נשׁמה , neshāmāh ) is employed to designate them - G od's breath is the irresistible outflow of His power. When Paul declares, then, that "every scripture" or "all scripture" is the product of the Divine breath, "is God-breathed," he asserts with as much energy as he could employ that Scripture is the product of a specifically Divine operation.

3. Consideration of Important Passages

(1)  2 Timothy 3:16

In the passage in which Paul makes this energetic assertion of the Divine origin of Scripture he is engaged in explaining the greatness of the advantages which Timothy had enjoyed for learning the saving truth of God. He had had good teachers; and from his very infancy he had been, by his knowledge of the Scriptures, made wise unto salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. The expression, "sacred writings," here employed ( 1 Timothy 3:15 ), is a technical one, not found elsewhere in the New Testament, it is true, but occurring currently in Philo and Josephus to designate that body of authoritative books which constituted the Jewish "Law." It appears here anarthrously because it is set in contrast with the oral teaching which Timothy had enjoyed, as something still better: he had not only had good instructors, but also always "an open Bible," as we should say, in his hand. To enhance yet further the great advantage of the possession of these Sacred Scriptures the apostle adds now a sentence throwing their nature strongly up to view. They are of Divine origin and therefore of the highest value for all holy purposes.

There is room for some difference of opinion as to the exact construction of this declaration. Shall we render "Every Scripture" or "All Scripture"? Shall we render "Every (or all) Scripture is God-breathed and (therefore) profitable," or "Every (or all) Scripture, being God-breathed, is as well profitable"? No doubt both questions are interesting, but for the main matter now engaging our attention they are both indifferent. Whether Paul, looking back at the Sacred Scriptures he had just mentioned, makes the assertion he is about to add, of them distributively, of all their parts, or collectively, of their entire mass, is of no moment: to say that every part of these Sacred Scriptures is God-breathed and to say that the whole of these Sacred Scriptures is God-breathed, is, for the main matter, all one. Nor is the difference great between saying that they are in all their parts, or in their whole extent, God-breathed and therefore profitable, and saying that they are in all their parts, or in their whole extent, because God-breathed as well profitable. In both cases these Sacred Scriptures are declared to owe their value to their Divine origin; and in both cases this their Divine origin is energetically asserted of their entire fabric. On the whole, the preferable construction would seem to be, "Every Scripture, seeing that it is God-breathed, is as well profitable." In that case, what the apostle asserts is that the Sacred Scriptures, in their every several passage - for it is just "passage of Scripture" which "Scripture" in this distributive use of it signifies - is the product of the creative breath of God, and, because of this its Divine origination, is of supreme value for all holy purposes.

It is to be observed that the apostle does not stop here to tell us either what particular books enter into the collection which he calls Sacred Scriptures, or by what precise operations God has produced them. Neither of these subjects entered into the matter he had at the moment in hand. It was the value of the Scriptures, and the source of that value in their Divine origin, which he required at the moment to assert; and these things he asserts, leaving to other occasions any further facts concerning them which it might be well to emphasize. It is also to be observed that the apostle does not tell us here everything for which the Scriptures are made valuable by their Divine origination. He speaks simply to the point immediately in hand, and reminds Timothy of the value which these Scriptures, by virtue of their Divine origin, have for the "man of God." Their spiritual power, as God-breathed, is all that he had occasion here to advert to. Whatever other qualities may accrue to them from their Divine origin, he leaves to other occasions to speak of.

(2)  2 Peter 1:19-21

What Paul tells us here about the Divine origin of the Scriptures is enforced and extended by a striking passage in 2 Pet ( 2 Peter 1:19-21 ). Peter is assuring his readers that what had been made known to them of "the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" did not rest on "cunningly devised fables." He offers them the testimony of eyewitnesses of Christ's glory. And then he intimates that they have better testimony than even that of eyewitnesses. "We have," says he, "the prophetic word" (English Versions of the Bible, unhappily, "the word of prophecy"): and this, he says, is "more sure," and therefore should certainly be heeded. He refers, of course, to the Scriptures. Of what other "prophetic word" could he, over against the testimony of the eyewitnesses of Christ's "excellent glory" (the King James Version) say that "we have" it, that is, it is in our hands? And he proceeds at once to speak of it plainly as "Scriptural prophecy." You do well, he says, to pay heed to the prophetic word, because we know this first, that "every prophecy of scripture ...." It admits of more question, however, whether by this phrase he means the whole of Scripture, designated according to its character, as prophetic, that is, of Divine origin; or only that portion of Scripture which we discriminate as particularly prophetic, the immediate revelations contained in Scripture. The former is the more likely view, inasmuch as the entirety of Scripture is elsewhere conceived and spoken of as prophetic. In that case, what Peter has to say of this "every prophecy of scripture" - the exact equivalent, it will be observed, in this case of Paul's "every scripture" ( 2 Timothy 3:16 ) - applies to the whole of Scripture in all its parts. What he says of it is that it does not come "of private interpretation"; that is, it is not the result of human investigation into the nature of things, the product of its writers' own thinking. This is as much as to say it is of Divine gift. Accordingly, he proceeds at once to make this plain in a supporting clause which contains both the negative and the positive declaration: "For no prophecy ever came (margin: "was brought") by the will of man, but it was as borne by the Holy Spirit that men spoke from God." In this singularly precise and pregnant statement there are several things which require to be carefully observed. There is, first of all, the emphatic denial that prophecy - that is to say, on the hypothesis upon which we are working, Scripture - owes its origin to human initiative: "No prophecy ever was brought - 'came' is the word used in the English Versions of the Bible text, with 'was brought' in the Revised Version margin - by the will of man." Then, there is the equally emphatic assertion that its source lies in God: it was spoken by men, indeed, but the men who spoke it "spake from God." And a remarkable clause is here inserted, and thrown forward in the sentence that stress may fall on it, which tells us how it could be that men, in speaking, should speak not from themselves, but from God: it was "as borne" - it is the same word which was rendered "was brought" above, and might possibly be rendered "brought" here - "by the Holy Spirit" that they spoke. Speaking thus under the determining influence of the Holy Spirit, the things they spoke were not from themselves, but from God.

Here is as direct an assertion of the Divine origin of Scripture as that of  2 Timothy 3:16 . But there is more here than a simple assertion of the Divine origin of Scripture. We are advanced somewhat in our understanding of how God has produced the Scriptures. It was through the instrumentality of men who "spake from him." More specifically, it was through an operation of the Holy Ghost on these men which is described as "bearing" them. The term here used is a very specific one. It is not to be confounded with guiding, or directing, or controlling, or even-leading in the full sense of that word. It goes beyond all such terms, in assigning the effect produced specifically to the active agent. What is "borne" is taken up by the "bearer," and conveyed by the "bearer's" power, not its own, to the "bearer's" goal, not its own. The men who spoke from God are here declared, therefore, to have been taken up by the Holy Spirit and brought by His power to the goal of His choosing. The things which they spoke under this operation of the Spirit were therefore His things, not theirs. And that is the reason which is assigned why "the prophetic word" is so sure. Though spoken through the instrumentality of men, it is, by virtue of the fact that these men spoke "as borne by the Holy Spirit," an immediately Divine word. It will be observed that the proximate stress is laid here, not on the spiritual value of Scripture (though that, too, is seen in the background), but on the Divine trustworthiness of Scripture. Because this is the way every prophecy of Scripture "has been brought," it affords a more sure basis of confidence than even the testimony of human eyewitnesses. Of course, if we do not understand by "the prophetic word" here the entirety of Scripture described, according to its character, as revelation, but only that element in Scripture which we call specifically prophecy, then it is directly only of that element in Scripture that these great declarations are made. In any event, however, they are made of the prophetic element in Scripture as written, which was the only form in which the readers of this Epistle possessed it, and which is the thing specifically intimated in the phrase "every prophecy of scripture ." These great declarations are made, therefore, at least of large tracts of Scripture; and if the entirety of Scripture is intended by the phrase "the prophetic word," they are made of the whole of Scripture.

(3)  John 10:34

How far the supreme trustworthiness of Scripture, thus asserted, extends may be conveyed to us by a passage in one of our Lord's discourses recorded by John ( John 10:34-35 ). The Jews, offended by Jesus' "making himself God," were in the act to stone Him, when He defended Himself thus: "Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), say ye of him, whom the Father sanctified (margin "consecrated") and sent unto the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?" It may be thought that this defense is inadequate. It certainly is incomplete: Jesus made Himself God ( John 10:33 ) in a far higher sense than that in which "Ye are gods" was said of those "unto whom the word of God came": He had just declared in unmistakable terms, "I and the Father are one." But it was quite sufficient for the immediate end in view - to repel the technical charge of blasphemy based on His making Himself God: it is not blasphemy to call one God in any sense in which he may fitly receive that designation; and certainly if it is not blasphemy to call such men as those spoken of in the passage of Scripture adduced gods, because of their official functions, it cannot be blasphemy to call Him God whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world. The point for us to note, however, is merely that Jesus' defense takes the form of an appeal to Scripture; and it is important to observe how He makes this appeal. In the first place, He adduces the Scriptures as law: "Is it not written in your law?" He demands. The passage of Scripture which He adduces is not written in that portion of Scripture which was more specifically called "the Law," that is to say, the Pentateuch; nor in any portion of Scripture of formally legal contents. It is written in the Book of Pss; and in a particular psalm which is as far as possible from presenting the external characteristics of legal enactment ( Psalm 82:6 ). When Jesus adduces this passage, then, as written in the "law" of the Jews, He does it, not because it stands in this psalm, but because it is a part of Scripture at large. In other words, He here ascribes legal authority to the entirety of Scripture, in accordance with a conception common enough among the Jews (compare  John 12:34 ), and finding expression in the New Testament occasionally, both on the lips of Jesus Himself, and in the writings of the apostles. Thus, on a later occasion ( John 15:25 ), Jesus declares that it is written in the "law" of the Jews, "They hated me without a cause," a clause found in  Psalm 35:19 . And Paul assigns passages both from the Psalms and from Isa to "the Law" ( 1 Corinthians 14:21;  Romans 3:19 ), and can write such a sentence as this ( Galatians 4:21 f) : "Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written ...." quoting from the narrative of Gen. We have seen that the entirety of Scripture was conceived as "prophecy"; we now see that the entirety of Scripture was also conceived as "law": these three terms, the law, prophecy, Scripture, were indeed, materially, strict synonyms, as our present passage itself advises us, by varying the formula of adduction in contiguous verses from "law" to "scripture." And what is thus implied in the manner in which Scripture is adduced, is immediately afterward spoken out in the most explicit language, because it forms an essential element in Our Lord's defense. It might have been enough to say simply, "Is it not written in your law?" But our Lord, determined to drive His appeal to Scripture home, sharpens the point to the utmost by adding with the highest emphasis: "and the scripture cannot be broken." This is the reason why it is worth while to appeal to what is "written in the law," because "the scripture cannot be broken." The word "broken" here is the common one for breaking the law, or the Sabbath, or the like (  John 5:18;  John 7:23;  Matthew 5:19 ), and the meaning of the declaration is that it is impossible for the Scripture to be annulled, its authority to be withstood, or denied. The movement of thought is to the effect that, because it is impossible for the Scripture - the term is perfectly general and witnesses to the unitary character of Scripture (it is all, for the purpose in hand, of a piece) - to be withstood, therefore this particular Scripture which is cited must be taken as of irrefragable authority. What we have here is, therefore, the strongest possible assertion of the indefectible authority of Scripture; precisely what is true of Scripture is that it "cannot be broken." Now, what is the particular thing in Scripture, for the confirmation of which the indefectible authority of Scripture is thus invoked? It is one of its most casual clauses - more than that, the very form of its expression in one of its most casual clauses. This means, of course, that in the Savior's view the indefectible authority of Scripture attaches to the very form of expression of its most casual clauses. It belongs to Scripture through and through, down to its most minute particulars, that it is of indefectible authority.

It is sometimes suggested, it is true, that our Lord's argument here is an argumentum ad hominem , and that His words, therefore, express not His own view of the authority of Scripture, but that of His Jewish opponents. It will scarcely be denied that there is a vein of satire running through our Lord's defense: that the Jews so readily allowed that corrupt judges might properly be called "gods," but could not endure that He whom the Father had consecrated and sent into the world should call Himself Son of God, was a somewhat pungent fact to throw up into such a high light. But the argument from Scripture is not ad hominem but e concessu  ; Scripture was common ground with Jesus and His opponents. If proof were needed for so obvious a fact, it would be supplied by the circumstance that this is not an isolated but a representative passage. The conception of Scripture thrown up into such clear view here supplies the ground of all Jesus' appeals to Scripture, and of all the appeals of the New Testament writers as well. Everywhere, to Him and to them alike, an appeal to Scripture is an appeal to an indefectible authority whose determination is final; both He and they make their appeal indifferently to every part of Scripture, to every element in Scripture, to its most incidental clauses as well as to its most fundamental principles, and to the very form of its expression. This attitude toward Scripture as an authoritative document is, indeed, already intimated by their constant designation of it by the name of Scripture, the Scriptures, that is "the Document," by way of eminence; and by their customary citation of it with the simple formula, "It is written." What is written in this document admits so little of questioning that its authoritativeness required no asserting, but might safely be taken for granted. Both modes of expression belong to the constantly illustrated habitudes of our Lord's speech. The first words He is recorded as uttering after His manifestation to Israel were an appeal to the unquestionable authority of Scripture; to Satan's temptations He opposed no other weapon than the final "It is written"! (  Matthew 4:4 ,  Matthew 4:7 ,  Matthew 4:10;  Luke 4:4 ,  Luke 4:8 ). And among the last words which He spoke to His disciples before He was received up was a rebuke to them for not understanding that all things "which are written in the law of Moses, and the prophets, and psalms" concerning Him - that is ( Luke 24:45 ) in the entire "Scriptures" - "must needs be" (very emphatic) "fulfilled" ( Luke 24:44 ). "Thus it is written," says He ( Luke 24:46 ), as rendering all doubt absurd. For, as He had explained earlier upon the same day ( Luke 24:25 ), it argues only that one is "foolish and slow of heart" if he does not "believe in" (if his faith does not rest securely on, as on a firm foundation) "all" (without limit of subject-matter here) "that the prophets" (explained in  Luke 24:27 as equivalent to "all the scriptures") "have spoken."

4. Christ's Declaration That Scripture Must Be Fulfilled

The necessity of the fulfillment of all that is written in Scripture, which is so strongly asserted in these last instructions to His disciples, is frequently adverted to by our Lord. He repeatedly explains of occurrences occasionally happening that they have come to pass "that the scripture might be fulfilled" ( Mark 14:49;  John 13:18;  John 17:12; compare  John 12:14;  Mark 9:12 ,  Mark 9:13 ). On the basis of Scriptural declarations, therefore, He announces with confidence that given events will certainly occur: "All ye shall be offended (literally, "scandalized") in me this night: for it is written ...." (  Matthew 26:31;  Mark 14:27; compare  Luke 20:17 ). Although holding at His command ample means of escape, He bows before on-coming calamities, for, He asks, how otherwise "should the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?" ( Matthew 26:54 ). It is not merely the two disciples with whom He talked on the way to Emmaus ( Luke 24:25 ) whom He rebukes for not trusting themselves more perfectly to the teaching of Scripture. "Ye search the scriptures," he says to the Jews, in the classical passage ( John 5:39 ), "because ye think that in them ye have eternal life; and these are they which bear witness of me; and ye will not come to me, that ye may have life!" These words surely were spoken more in sorrow than in scorn: there is no blame implied either for searching the Scriptures or for thinking that eternal life is to be found in Scripture; approval rather. What the Jews are blamed for is that they read with a veil lying upon their hearts which He would fain take away ( 2 Corinthians 3:15 f). "Ye search the scriptures" - that is right: and "even you" (emphatic) "think to have eternal life in them" - that is right, too. But "it is these very Scriptures" (very emphatic) "which are bearing witness" (continuous process) "of me; and" (here is the marvel!) "ye will not come to me and have life!" - that you may, that is, reach the very end you have so properly in view in searching the Scriptures. Their failure is due, not to the Scriptures but to themselves, who read the Scriptures to such little purpose.

5. His Testimony That God Is Author of Scripture

Quite similarly our Lord often finds occasion to express wonder at the little effect to which Scripture had been read, not because it had been looked into too curiously, but because it had not been looked into earnestly enough, with sufficiently simple and robust trust in its every declaration. "Have ye not read even this scripture?" He demands, as He adduces  Psalm 118 to show that the rejection of the Messiah was already intimated in Scripture (  Mark 12:10;  Matthew 21:42 varies the expression to the equivalent: "Did ye never read in the scriptures?"). And when the indignant Jews came to Him complaining of the Hosannas with which the children in the Temple were acclaiming Him, and demanding, "Hearest thou what these are saying?" He met them (  Matthew 21:16 ) merely with, "Yea: did ye never read, Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings thou has perfected praise?" The underlying thought of these passages is spoken out when He intimates that the source of all error in Divine things is just ignorance of the Scriptures: "Ye do err," He declares to His questioners, on an important occasion, "not knowing the scriptures" ( Matthew 22:29 ); or, as it is put, perhaps more forcibly, in interrogative form, in its parallel in another Gospel: "Is it not for this cause that ye err, that ye know not the scriptures?" ( Mark 12:24 ). Clearly, he who rightly knows the Scriptures does not err. The confidence with which Jesus rested on Scripture, in its every declaration, is further illustrated in a passage like  Matthew 19:4 . Certain Pharisees had come to Him with a question on divorce and He met them thus: "Have ye not read, that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh?... What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." The point to be noted is the explicit reference of  Genesis 2:24 to God as its author: " He who made them ... said"; "what therefore God hath joined together." Yet this passage does not give us a saying of God's recorded in Scripture, but just the word of Scripture itself, and can be treated as a declaration of God's only on the hypothesis that all Scripture is a declaration of God's. The parallel in Mk ( Mark 10:5 ) just as truly, though not as explicitly, assigns the passage to God as its author, citing it as authoritative law and speaking of its enactment as an act of God's. And it is interesting to observe in passing that Paul, having occasion to quote the same passage ( 1 Corinthians 6:16 ), also explicitly quotes it as a Divine word: "For, The twain, saith he, shall become one flesh" - the "he" here, in accordance with a usage to be noted later, meaning just "God."

Thus clear is it that Jesus' occasional adduction of Scripture as an authoritative document rests on an ascription of it to God as its author. His testimony is that whatever stands written in Scripture is a word of God. Nor can we evacuate this testimony of its force on the plea that it represents Jesus only in the days of His flesh, when He may be supposed to have reflected merely the opinions of His day and generation. The view of Scripture He announces was, no doubt, the view of His day and generation as well as His own view. But there is no reason to doubt that it was held by Him, not because it was the current view, but because, in His Divine-human knowledge, He knew it to be true; for, even in His humiliation, He is the faithful and true witness. And in any event we should bear in mind that this was the view of the resurrected as well as of the humiliated Christ. It was after He had suffered and had risen again in the power of His Divine life that He pronounced those foolish and slow of heart who do not believe all that stands written in all the Scriptures ( Luke 24:25 ); and that He laid down the simple "Thus it is written" as the sufficient ground of confident belief ( Luke 24:46 ). Nor can we explain away Jesus' testimony to the Divine trustworthiness of Scripture by interpreting it as not His own, but that of His followers, placed on His lips in their reports of His words. Not only is it too constant, minute, intimate and in part incidental, and therefore, as it were, hidden, to admit of this interpretation; but it so pervades all our channels of information concerning Jesus' teaching as to make it certain that it comes actually from Him. It belongs not only to the Jesus of our evangelical records but as well to the Jesus of the earlier sources which underlie our evangelical records, as anyone may assure himself by observing the instances in which Jesus adduces the Scriptures as Divinely authoritative that are recorded in more than one of the Gospels (e.g. "It is written,"  Matthew 4:4 ,  Matthew 4:7 ,  Matthew 4:10 (  Luke 4:4 ,  Luke 4:8 ,  Luke 4:10 );  Matthew 11:10; ( Luke 7:27 );  Matthew 21:13 (  Luke 19:46;  Mark 11:17 );  Matthew 26:31 (  Mark 14:21 ); "the scripture" or "the scriptures,"  Matthew 19:4 (  Mark 10:9 );  Matthew 21:42 (  Mark 12:10;  Luke 20:17 );  Matthew 22:29 (  Mark 12:24;  Luke 20:37 );  Matthew 26:56 (  Mark 14:49;  Luke 24:44 )). These passages alone would suffice to make clear to us the testimony of Jesus to Scripture as in all its parts and declarations Divinely authoritative.

6. Similar Testimony of His Immediate Followers

The attempt to attribute the testimony of Jesus to His followers has in its favor only the undeniable fact that the testimony of the writers of the New Testament is to precisely the same effect as His. They, too, cursorily Apostles speak of Scripture by that pregnant name and adduce it with the simple "It is written," with the implication that whatever stands written in it is Divinely authoritative. As Jesus' official life begins with this "It is written" ( Matthew 4:4 ), so the evangelical proclamation begins with an "Even as it is written" ( Mark 1:2 ); and as Jesus sought the justification of His work in a solemn "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer, and rise again from the dead the third day" ( Luke 24:46 ), so the apostles solemnly justified the Gospel which they preached, detail after detail, by appeal to the Scriptures, "That Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures" and "That he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures" ( 1 Corinthians 15:3 ,  1 Corinthians 15:4; compare  Acts 8:35;  Acts 17:3;  Acts 26:22 , and also  Romans 1:17;  Romans 3:4 ,  Romans 3:10;  Romans 4:17;  Romans 11:26;  Romans 14:11;  1 Corinthians 1:19;  1 Corinthians 2:9;  1 Corinthians 3:19;  1 Corinthians 15:45;  Galatians 3:10 ,  Galatians 3:13;  Galatians 4:22 ,  Galatians 4:27 ). Wherever they carried the gospel it was as a gospel resting on Scripture that they proclaimed it ( Acts 17:2;  Acts 18:24 ,  Acts 18:28 ); and they encouraged themselves to test its truth by the Scriptures ( Acts 17:11 ). The holiness of life they inculcated, they based on Scriptural requirement ( 1 Peter 1:16 ), and they commended the royal law of love which they taught by Scriptural sanction ( James 2:8 ). Every detail of duty was supported by them by an appeal to Scripture ( Acts 23:5;  Romans 12:19 ). The circumstances of their lives and the events occasionally occurring about them are referred to Scripture for their significance ( Romans 2:26;  Romans 8:36;  Romans 9:33;  Romans 11:8;  Romans 15:9 ,  Romans 15:21;  2 Corinthians 4:13 ). As our Lord declared that whatever was written in Scripture must needs be fulfilled ( Matthew 26:54;  Luke 22:37;  Luke 24:44 ), so His followers explained one of the most startling facts which had occurred in their experience by pointing out that "it was needful that the scripture should be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spake before by the mouth of David" ( Acts 1:16 ). Here the ground of this constant appeal to Scripture, so that it is enough that a thing "is contained in scripture" ( 1 Peter 2:6 ) for it to be of indefectible authority, is plainly enough declared: Scripture must needs be fulfilled, for what is contained in it is the declaration of the Holy Ghost through the human author. What Scripture says, God says; and accordingly we read such remarkable declarations as these: "For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, For this very purpose did I raise thee up" ( Romans 9:17 ); "And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand unto Abraham,... In thee shall all the nations be blessed" ( Galatians 3:8 ). These are not instances of simple personification of Scripture, which is itself a sufficiently remarkable usage ( Mark 15:28;  John 7:38 ,  John 7:42;  John 19:37;  Romans 4:3;  Romans 10:11;  Romans 11:2;  Galatians 4:30;  1 Timothy 5:18;  James 2:23;  James 4:5 f), vocal with the conviction expressed by James (  James 4:5 ) that Scripture cannot speak in vain. They indicate a certain confusion in current speech between "Scripture" and "God," the outgrowth of a deep-seated conviction that the word of Scripture is the word of God. It was not "Scripture" that spoke to Pharaoh, or gave his great promise to Abraham, but God. But "Scripture" and "God" lay so close together in the minds of the writers of the New Testament that they could naturally speak of "Scripture" doing what Scripture records God as doing. It was, however, even more natural to them to speak casually of God saying what the Scriptures say; and accordingly we meet with forms of speech such as these: "Wherefore, even as the Holy Spirit saith, Today if ye shall hear His voice," etc. ( Hebrews 3:7 , quoting  Psalm 95:7 ); "Thou art God ... who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage," etc. ( Acts 4:25 the King James Version, quoting   Psalm 2:1 ); "He that raised him from the dead ... hath spoken on this wise, I will give you ... because he saith also in another (place) ...." ( Acts 13:34 , quoting  Isaiah 55:3 and   Psalm 16:10 ), and the like. The words put into God's mouth in each case are not words of God recorded in the Scriptures, but just Scripture words in themselves. When we take the two classes of passages together, in the one of which the Scriptures are spoken of as God, while in the other God is spoken of as if He were the Scriptures, we may perceive how close the identification of the two was in the minds of the writers of the New Testament.

7. Their Identification of God and Scripture

This identification is strikingly observable in certain catenae of quotations, in which there are brought together a number of passages of Scripture closely connected with one another. The first chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews supplies an example. We may begin with  Hebrews 1:5 :"For unto which of the angels said he" - the subject being necessarily "God" - "at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee?" - the citation being from   Psalm 2:7 and very appropriate in the mouth of God - "and again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?" - from   2 Samuel 7:14 , again a declaration of God's own - "And when he again bringeth in the firstborn into the world he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him" - from  Deuteronomy 32:43 , Septuagint, or  Psalm 97:7 , in neither of which is God the speaker - "And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire" - from  Psalm 104:4 , where again God is not the speaker but is spoken of in the third person - "but of the Son he saith, Thy throne, [[O G]] od, etc." - from  Psalm 45:6 ,  Psalm 45:7 where again God is not the speaker, but is addressed - "And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning," etc. - from   Psalm 102:25-27 , where again God is not the speaker but is addressed - "But of which of the angels hath he said at any time, Sit thou on my right hand?" etc. - from  Psalm 110:1 , in which God is the speaker. Here we have passages in which God is the speaker and passages in which God is not the speaker, but is addressed or spoken of, indiscriminately assigned to God, because they all have it in common that they are words of Scripture, and as words of Scripture are words of God. Similarly in  Romans 15:9 we have a series of citations the first of which is introduced by "as it is written," and the next two by "again he saith," and "again," and the last by "and again, Isaiah saith," the first being from   Psalm 18:49; the second from  Deuteronomy 32:43; the third from  Psalm 117:1; and the last from  Isaiah 11:10 . Only the last (the only one here assigned to the human author) is a word of God in the text of the Old Testament.

8. The "Oracles of God"

This view of the Scriptures as a compact mass of words of God occasioned the formation of a designation for them by which this their character was explicitly expressed. This designation is "the sacred oracles," "the oracles of God." It occurs with extraordinary frequency in Philo, who very commonly refers to Scripture as "the sacred oracles" and cites its several passages as each an "oracle." Sharing, as they do, Philo's conception of the Scriptures as, in all their parts, a word of God, the New Testament writers naturally also speak of them under this designation. The classical passage is  Romans 3:2 (compare   Hebrews 5:12;  Acts 7:38 ). Here Paul begins an enumeration of the advantages which belonged to the chosen people above other nations; and, after declaring these advantages to have been great and numerous, he places first among them all their possession of the Scriptures: "What advantage then hath the Jew? or what is the profit of circumcision? Much every way: first of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God." That by "the oracles of God" here are meant just the Holy Scriptures in their entirety, conceived as a direct Divine revelation, and not any portions of them, or elements in them more especially thought of as revelatory, is perfectly clear from the wide contemporary use of this designation in this sense by Philo, and is put beyond question by the presence in the New Testament of habitudes of speech which rest on and grow out of the conception of Scripture embodied in this term. From the point of view of this designation, Scripture is thought of as the living voice of God speaking in all its parts directly to the reader; and, accordingly, it is cited by some such formula as "it is said," and this mode of citing Scripture duly occurs as an alternative to "it is written" ( Luke 4:12 replacing "it is written" in Mt;   Hebrews 3:15; compare  Romans 4:18 ). It is due also to this point of view that Scripture is cited, not as what God or the Holy Spirit "said," but what He "says," the present tense emphasizing the living voice of God speaking in Scriptures to the individual soul ( Hebrews 3:7;  Acts 13:35;  Revelation 1:7 ,  Revelation 1:8 ,  Revelation 1:10;  Romans 15:10 ). And especially there is due to it the peculiar usage by which Scripture is cited by the simple "saith," without expressed subject, the subject being too well understood, when Scripture is adduced, to require stating; for who could be the speaker of the words of Scripture but God only ( Romans 15:10;  1 Corinthians 6:16;  2 Corinthians 6:2;  Galatians 3:16;  Ephesians 4:8;  Ephesians 5:14 )? The analogies of this pregnant subjectless "saith" are very widespread. It was with it that the ancient Pythagoreans and Platonists and the medieval Aristotelians adduced each their master's teaching; it was with it that, in certain circles, the judgments of Hadrian's great jurist Salvius Julianus were cited; African stylists were even accustomed to refer by it to Sallust, their great model. There is a tendency, cropping out occasionally, in the Old Testament, to omit the name of God as superfluous, when He, as the great logical subject always in mind, would be easily understood (compare  Job 20:23;  Job 21:17;  Psalm 114:2;  Lamentations 4:22 ). So, too, when the New Testament writers quoted Scripture there was no need to say whose word it was: that lay beyond question in every mind. This usage, accordingly, is a specially striking intimation of the vivid sense which the New Testament writers had of the Divine origin of the Scriptures, and means that in citing them they were acutely conscious that they were citing immediate words of God. How completely the Scriptures were to them just the word of God may be illustrated by a passage like  Galatians 3:16 : "He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ." We have seen our Lord hanging an argument on the very words of Scripture (  John 10:34 ); elsewhere His reasoning depends on the particular tense ( Matthew 22:32 ) or word ( Matthew 22:43 ) used in Scripture. Here Paul's argument rests similarly on a grammatical form. No doubt. it is the grammatical form of the word which God is recorded as having spoken to Abraham that is in question. But Paul knows what grammatical form God employed in speaking to Abraham only as the Scriptures have transmitted it to him; and, as we have seen, in citing the words of God and the words of Scripture he was not accustomed to make any distinction between them. It is probably the Scriptural word as a Scriptural word, therefore, which he has here in mind: though, of course, it is possible that what he here witnesses to is rather the detailed trustworthiness of the Scriptural record than its direct divinity - if we can separate two things which apparently were not separated in Paul's mind. This much we can at least say without straining, that the designation of Scripture as "scripture" and its citation by the formula, "It is written," attest primarily its indefectible authority; the designation of it as "oracles" and the adduction of it by the formula, "It says," attest primarily its immediate divinity. Its authority rests on its divinity and its divinity expresses itself in its trustworthiness; and the New Testament writers in all their use of it treat it as what they declare it to be - a God-breathed document, which, because God-breathed, is through and through trustworthy in all its assertions, authoritative in all its declarations, and down to its last particular, the very word of God, His "oracles."

9. The Human Element in Scripture

That the Scriptures are throughout a Divine book, created by the Divine energy and speaking in their every part with Divine authority directly to the heart of the readers, is the fundamental fact concerning Scripture them which is witnessed by Christ and the sacred writers to whom we owe the New Testament. But the strength and constancy with which they bear witness to this primary fact do not prevent their recognizing by the side of it that the Scriptures have come into being by the agency of men. It would be inexact to say that they recognize a human element in Scripture: they do not parcel Scripture out, assigning portions of it, or elements in it, respectively to God and man. In their view the whole of Scripture in all its parts and in all its elements, down to the least minutiae, in form of expression as well as in substance of teaching, is from God; but the whole of it has been given by God through the instrumentality of men. There is, therefore, in their view, not, indeed, a human element or ingredient in Scripture, and much less human divisions or sections of Scripture, but a human side or aspect to Scripture; and they do not fail to give full recognition to this human side or aspect. In one of the primary passages which has already been before us, their conception is given, if somewhat broad and very succinct, yet clear expression. No 'prophecy,' Peter tells us ( 2 Peter 1:21 ), 'ever came by the will of man; but as borne by the Holy Ghost , men spake from God.' Here the whole initiative is assigned to God, and such complete control of the human agents that the product is truly God's work. The men who speak in this "prophecy of scripture" speak not of themselves or out of themselves, but from "God": they speak only as they are "borne by the Holy Ghost." But it is they, after all, who speak. Scripture is the product of man, but only of man speaking from God and under such a control of the Holy Spirit as that in their speaking they are "borne" by Him. The conception obviously is that the Scriptures have been given by the instrumentality of men; and this conception finds repeated incidental expression throughout the New Testament.

It is this conception, for example, which is expressed when our Lord, quoting  Psalm 110:1-7 , declares of its words that "David himself said in the Holy Spirit" ( Mark 12:36 ). There is a certain emphasis here on the words being David's own words, which is due to the requirements of the argument our Lord was conducting, but which none the less sincerely represents our Lord's conception of their origin. They are David's own words which we find in  Psalm 110:1-7 , therefore; but they are David's own words, spoken not of his own motion merely, but "in the Holy Spirit," that is to say - we could not better paraphrase it - "as borne by the Holy Spirit." In other words, they are "God-breathed" words and therefore authoritative in a sense above what any words of David, not spoken in the Holy Spirit, could possibly be. Generalizing the matter, we may say that the words of Scripture are conceived by our Lord and the New Testament writers as the words of their human authors when speaking "in the Holy Spirit," that is to say, by His initiative and under His controlling direction. The conception finds even more precise expression, perhaps, in such a statement as we find - it is Peter who is speaking and it is again a psalm

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [15]

(Lat. a breathing into), a term employed to designate the divine origin of Holy rcnilture (q.v.).

I. Definition.

1. The word "inspiration" "is sometimes used to denote the excitement and action of a fervent imagination in the poet or orator. But even in this case there is generally a reference to some supposed divine influence, to which the excited action is owing. It is once used in Scripture to denote that divine agency by which man is endued with the faculties of an intelligent being, when it is said the inspiration ( נְשָׁמָה Breath, as in Genesis 2, 7) of the Almighty giveth him understanding ( Job 32:8). But the inspiration now to be considered is that which belonged to those who wrote the Scriptures, and which is particularly spoken of in  2 Timothy 3:16, and in  2 Peter 1:21. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God;' Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.' These passages relate specially to the Old Testament, but there is at least equal reason to predicate divine inspiration of the New Testament."

2. The Greek expression " Θεόπνευστος ( 2 Timothy 3:16) signifies a divine action on the perceptions ("Nemo vir magnus sine aliquo afflatu divino unquam fuit," Cicero, Pro Archia, c. 8). The breath of God is used as a material expression for his power (as in Δύναμις Ὑψἰστου for Πνεῦμα Ἃγιον ,  Luke 1:35;  Luke 24:49). In this sense, also, the classics speak of a Θεόπνευστος Σοφίη (Phocylides, 121), Θεόπνευστοι Ὄνειροι (Plutarch, De Plac. Philos. 5, 2; comp. Ὑπὸ Πνεύματος Ἁγίου Φἐρομενοι Ἐλάλησαν Ἃγιοι Θεοῦ Ἄνθρωποι ,  2 Peter 1:21). The neutral form, in the sense of "God-inspired," is used by Nonnus (Paraphr. Ev. Jo. 1, 27), and applied to Scripture by Origen (Hom. 21, In Jerem. vol. 2, de la Rue: "Sacra volumina spiritus plenitudinemr spirant").

3. A psychological definition of the relation of this divine, consequently passively received perception to human spontaneity, is given by Plato in his doctrine of the divine Μανία , the Ἔνθεος Εϊ v Ναι . This position is the root of the divinely implanted tendency to knowledge which has not yet attained a clear consciousness (Zeller, Griech. Phil. 2, 166, 275; Brandis, 2, 428). Of this, in so far as it includes the idea in the form of beauty, artists and authors say: Οὐ Τέχνη Ταῦτα Τὰ Καλὰ Λέγουσι Ποιήματα , Ἀλλ᾿ Ἔνθεοι Ὄντες Καὶ Κατεχόμενοι (Ion. 533). Οὐ Γὰρ Τέχνη Ταῦτα Λεγουσιν , Ἀλλὰ Θείᾷ Δυνάμει (Ib. p. 534). This gives rise to the Μαντική , which requires the Προφήτης for its interpreter (Timceus, 72). This doctrine of Plato concerning inspiration has had great influence on the Jewish and Christian doctrine. Philo admits it, and derives from it the incompatibility of divine and human knowledge (Quis reruza d. h. 1, 511, Mang.); Ὅτε Μὲν Φῶς Ἐπιλάμψει Τὸ Θεῖον , Δύεται Τὸ Ανθρώπινον· Ὅτε Δ Ἐκεῖνο Δύει , Τοῦτ᾿ Ἀνίσχει Καὶ Ἀνατέλλει .

Yet he does not limit the divine influence to the inspiration of the sacred books, and does not hesitate to ascribe to himself an occasional Θεοληπτεῖσθαι (De Cherubim, 1, 143). Some of the Greek fathers also describe the state of inspiration as purely passive (Justin, Cohort. c. 8: Οὔτε Γὰρ Φύσει Οὔτε Ἀνθρωπίνῃ Ἐννοίᾷ Οὕτω Μεγάλα Καὶ Θεῖα Γίνώσκειν Ἀνθρώποις Δυνατόν , Ἀλλὰ Τῇ Ἄνωθεν Ἐπὶ Τοὺς Ἁγίους Ἀνδρας Τηνικαῦτα Κατελθούσῃ Δωρεᾶ '/, Οϊ v Σ Οὐ Λόγιον Ἐδέησε Τέχνης , Ἀλλὰ Καθαροὺς Ἑαυτοὺς Τῇ Τοῦ Θείου Πνεύματος Παρασχεῖν Ἐνερ Γείᾷ , Ἵν᾿ Αὐτὸ Τὸ Θεῖον Ἐξ Οὐρανοῦ Κατιὸν Πλῆκτρον , É Σπερ Ὀργάνῳ , Κιθάρας Τινὸς Λύρας Τοῖς Δικαίοις Ἀνδράσι Χρώμενον , Τὴν Τῶν Θείων Ἡμῖν Ἀποκαλύφῃ Γνῶσις : Athenag. Legat. c. 9: No , Μίζω Ὑμᾶς Οὐκ Ἀνοήτους Γεγονέναι Οὔτε Τοῦ Μωϋσέως Οὔτε Τοῦ ᾿Ησαϊ v Ου Καὶ Τῶν Λοιπῶν Προφητῶν , Ο Κατ῎ Ἔκστασιν Τῶν Ἐκ Αὐτοῖς Λογισμῶν Κινήσαντος Αὐτοὺς Τοῦ Θείου Πνεύματος , Ἐνηχοῦντο Ἐξεφώνησαν , Συγχρησαμένου Τοῦ Πνεῦματος , Ώσεὶ Καὶ . Αὐλητὴς Αὐλὸν Ἐμπνεῦσαι ). We therefore find at an early time the notion of a Literal inspiration (Iren. 3:16, 2: "Potuerat dicere Matthaeus: Jesu generatio sic erat. Sed previdens Spiritus S. depravatores et praemuniens contra fraudulentiam eorum, per Matthaum ait: Christi generatio sic erat." Clemens, Cohort. 1, 71, ed. Pott.: Ε᾿Ξ ῏Ων Γραμμάτων [he means the Ἱερὰ Γρὰμματα ,  2 Timothy 3:14] Καὶ Συλλαβῶν Τῶν Ἱερῶν Τὰς Συγκειμένας Γραφὰς Αὐτὸς Ἀκολούθως Ἀπόστολος Θεοπνεύστους Καλεῖ . Origen, Hom. 21 In Jeremiah: "Secundum istiusmodi expositiones decet sacras litteras credere nec unum quidem apicem habere vacuum sapientia Dei"). Yet all these expressions represent rather the general religious impression than the settled dogma; hence we find the ante-Nicene fathers recognizing some of the heathen books as inspired, e.g. the Sibyllian books (Theoph. Ad Autol. 2, 9), whilst at the same time they expressed views excluding the idea of all parts of Scripture being Equally inspired.

4. The definition which Dr. Knapp gives of inspiration is one which most will readily adopt. He says: "It may be best' defined, according to the representations of the Scriptures themselves, as An Extraordinary Divine Agency Upon Teachers While Giving Instruction, Whether Oral Or Written, By Which They Were Taught What And How They Should Write Or Speak." The nature, permanence, and completeness of this inspiration are matters upon which orthodox believers have differed. (See below.)

II. The Fact Of The Inspiration Of The Bible. (On this point we condense the arguments of Dr. Leonard Woods in Kitto's Cyclopeadia, s.v., confining ourselves chiefly to the- question of the inspiration of the Written word.) To prove that the Scriptures are divinely inspired, we might with propriety refer to the excellence of the doctrines, precepts, and promises, and other instructions which they contain; to the simplicity and majesty of their style; to the agreement of the different parts, and the scope of the whole; especially to the full discovery they make of man's fallen and ruined state, and the way of salvation through a Redeemer; together with their power to enlighten and sanctify the heart, and the accompanying witness of the Spirit in believers. But the more direct and conclusive evidence that the Scriptures were divinely inspired is found in The Testimony Of The Writers Themselves. As the writers did, by working miracles and in other ways, sufficiently authenticate their divine commission, and establish their authority and infallibility as teachers of divine truth, their testimony, in regard to their own inspiration, is entitled to our full confidence. For who can doubt that they were as competent to judge and as much disposed to speak the truth on this subject as on any other? If, then, we admit their divine commission and authority, why should we not rely upon the plain testimony which they give concerning the divine assistance afforded them in their work? To reject their testimony in this case would be to impeach their veracity, and thus to take away the foundation of the Christian religion.

1. The prophets generally professed to speak The Word Of God. What they taught was introduced and confirmed by a "Thus saith the Lord;" or "The Lord spake to me, saying." In one way or another they gave clear proof that they were divinely commissioned, and spake in the name of God, or, as it is expressed in the New Testament, That God Spake By Them.

2. The Lord Jesus Christ possessed the spirit of wisdom without measure, and came to bear witness to the truth. His works proved that he was what he declared himself to be-the Messiah, the great Prophet, the infallible Teacher. The faith which rests on him rests on a rock. As soon, then, as we learn how He regarded the Scriptures, we have reached the end of our inquiries. His word is truth. Now every one who carefully attends to the four Gospels will find that Christ everywhere spoke of that collection of writings called the Scripture as the word of God; that he regarded the whole in this light; that he treated the Scripture, and every part of it, as infallibly true, and as clothed with divine authority - thus distinguishing it from every mere human production. Nothing written by man can be entitled to the respect which Christ showed to the Scriptures. This, to all Christians, is direct and incontrovertible evidence of the divine origin of the Scriptures, and is by itself perfectly conclusive.

3. But there is clear concurrent evidence, and evidence still more specific, in the writings of the apostles. Particularly in one passage ( 2 Timothy 3:16), Paul lays it down as the characteristic of "all Scripture" that it "is given by inspiration of God" ( Θεόπνευστος , "divinely inspired"); and from this results its profitableness. Some writers think that the passage should be rendered thus: All Divinely Inspired Scripture, or, All Scripture, being divinely inspired, is profitable. According to the common rendering, inspiration is predicated of all Scripture. According to the other, it is presupposed as the attribute of the subject. But this rendering is liable to insuperable objections.

For Θεόπνευστος and Ώφέλιμος are connected by the conjunction Καί , and must both be predicates, if either of them is; and unless one of them is a predicate there is no complete sentence. Henderson remarks that the mode of construction referred to is at variance with a common rule of Greek syntax, which requires that when two adjectives are closely joined, as Θέοπνευστος and Ὠφέλιμος here are, if there be an ellipsis of the substantive verb Ἐστί , this verb must be supplied after the former of the two, and regarded as repeated after the latter. Now there exists precisely such an ellipsis in the case before us; and as there is nothing in the context which would lead to any exception to the rule, we are bound to yield to its force." He adds that "the evidence in favor of the common rendering, derived from the fathers, and almost all the versions, is most decided." It cannot for a moment be admitted that the apostle meant to signify that divine inspiration belongs to a part of Scripture, but not to the whole; or that he meant, as Semler supposes, to furnish a criterion by which to judge whether any work is inspired or not, namely, its utility. "That author proceeds fearlessly to apply this criterion to the books of the Old Testament, and to lop off eight of them as not possessing the requisite marks of legitimacy. Many of the German divines adopt Semler's hypothesis." But it is very manifest that such a sense is not by any means suggested by the passage itself, and that it is utterly precluded by other parts of the New Testament. For neither Christ nor any one of his apostles ever intimates a distinction between some parts of Scripture which are inspired and other parts which are not inspired. The doctrine which is plainly asserted in the text under consideration, and which is fully sustained by the current language of the New Testament, is, that all the writings denominated the Scriptures are divinely inspired.

What particular books have a right to be included under this sacred designation in the general opinion of the Church is a question considered under the article Canon Of Scripture

III. The Manner Of Inspiration - The Interior Process of the Spirit's action upon the minds of the speakers or writers was of course inscrutable ( John 3:8) even to themselves. That they were Conscious, however, of such an influence is manifest from the Authority with which they put forth their words; yet, when they sat down to write, the divine and the human elements in their mental action were perfectly harmonious and inseparable ( Luke 1:3).

As to the outward method, "God operated on the minds of inspired men in a variety of ways, sometimes by audible words, sometimes by direct inward suggestions, sometimes by outward visible signs, sometimes by the Urim and Thummim, and sometimes by dreams and visions. This variety in the mode of divine influence detracted nothing from its certainty. God made known his will equally in different ways; and, whatever the mode of his operation, he made it manifest to his servants that the things revealed were from him." All this, however, relates rather to revelation than simple inspiration, a distinction that is ably made by Prof. Lee in his work on the subject.

"But inspiration was concerned not only in making known the will of God to prophets and apostles, but also in giving them direction in writing the sacred books. In this, also, there was a diversity in the mode of divine influence. Sometimes the Spirit of God moved and guided his servants to write things which they could not know by natural means, such as new doctrines or precepts, or predictions of future events. Sometimes he moved and guided them to write the history of events which were wholly or partly known to them by tradition, or by the testimony of their contemporaries, or by their own observation or experience. In all these cases the divine Spirit effectually preserved them from all error, and influenced them to write just so much and in such a manner as God saw to be best. Sometimes he moved and guided them to write a summary record of larger histories, containing what his infinite wisdom saw to be adapted to the end in view, that is, the benefit of his people in all ages. Sometimes he influenced them to make a record of important maxims in common use, or to write new ones, derived either from their own reason or experience, or from special divine teaching. Sometimes he influenced them to write parables or allegories, particularly suited to make a salutary impression of divine things on the minds of men; and sometimes to record supernatural visions. In these and all other kinds of writing the sacred penmen manifestly needed special divine guidance, as. no man could of himself attain to infallibility, and no wisdom, except that of God, was sufficient to determine what things ought to be written for permanent use in the Church, and what manner of writing would be best fitted to promote the great ends of revelation."

"Some writers speak of different modes and different kinds, and even different degrees of inspiration. If their meaning is that God influenced the minds of inspired men in different ways; that he adopted a variety of modes in revealing divine things to their minds; that he guided them to give instruction in prose and in poetry, and in all the different forms of composition; that he moved and guided them to write history, prophecy doctrines, commands, promises, reproofs, and exhortations, and that he adapted his mode of operation to each of these cases-against this no objection can be made. The Scriptures do exhibit these different kinds of writing and modes of divine instruction. Still every part of what was written was divinely inspired, and equally so. It is all the word of God, and clothed with divine authority, as much as if it had all been made known and written in one way."' While this is true of the word as written or as originally uttered, it is not true that all the subject matter is equally revealed; for some of the facts, doctrines, and views were known to the writers in their ordinary intelligence, while others were specially communicated by immediate divine afflatus. In other words, all is inspired, but not all revealed.

IV. Theories Of Inspiration. These may be concisely stated thus:

(1.) The Orthodox, or generally accepted view, which contents itself with considering Scripture to be inspired in such a sense as to make it infallibly Certain when apprehended in its legitimate sense, and of absolute Authority in all matters of faith and conscience. This theory has lately been, with great propriety, designated as the dynamical, purporting that the power or influence is from God, while the action is human.

(2.) The Mystical, or. extremely strict view, thought to have been held by Philo, Josephus, and some of the primitive Christian fathers (but condemned by the early councils as savoring of heathenish Μαντεία ), which regarded the sacred writers as wholly possessed by the Spirit, and uttering its dicta in a species of frenzy. This, in opposition to the former, has justly been characterized as the mechanical view, denoting the passivity of the inspired subject.

(3.) The Latitudinarian view, entertained by Rationalists of all orders, which deems inspiration but a high style of poetic or religious fervor, and not inconsistent with errors in fact and sentiment.

This last view is not to be confounded, however, with that of those who limit inspiration to such matters in holy Scripture as directly pertain to the proper material of revelation, i.e. to strictly religious truth, whether of doctrine or practice. Among English divines, those who have asserted this form of theory are Howe (Divine Authority of Scripture, lect. 8 and 9), Bp. Williams (Boyle Lect. serm. 4:p. 133), Burnet (Article 6:p. 157, Oxf. ed. 1814), Lowth (Vind. of Div. Auth. and Inspir. of Old and New Testament, p. 45 sq.), Hey (Theol. Lect. 1, 90), Bp. Watson (Tracts, 4:446), Bp. Law (Theory of Religion), Tomline (Theology. 1, 21), Dr. J. Barrow (Dis. sertations, 1819. 4th diss.), Dean Conybeare (Theological Lectures, p. 186), Bp. Hinds (Inspiration of Scripture, p. 151), Bp. D. Wilson (lecture 13 on Evidences, 1, 509), Parry (Inquiry into the Nature of the Inspiration of the Apostles, p. 26, 27), and Bp. Blomfield (Lectures on Acts, 5, 88-90). Others have even gone so far as to avow that the value of the religious element in the revelation would not be lessened if errors were acknowledged in the scientific and miscellaneous matter which accompanies it. Among those who have held this form of the theory are Baxter (Method. Theol. Chr. pt. 3, ch. 12:9, 4), Tillotson (Works, fol. 3:449, sermon 168), Doddridge (On Inspir.), Warburton (Doctr. of Grate, bk. 1, ch. 7), Bp. Horsley (serm. 39 on Ecclesesiastes 12:7, Works, 3:175), Bp. Randolph (Rem. on Michaelis' Introd. p. 15, 16), Paley (Evid. of Christianity, pt. 3, ch. 2), Whately (Ess. on Dif. in St. Paul, ess. 1 and 9; Sermons on Festivals, p. 90; Pecul. of Christianity, p. 233), Hampden (Bampton Lect. p. 301), Thirlwall (Schleiermacher's Luke, Introd. p. 15), Bp. Hebef (Barnpt. Lect. 8:577), Thomas Scott (Essay on Inspir. p. 3), Dr. Pve Smith (Script. and Geol. p. 276, 237, 3rd ed.), and Dean Alford (Proleg. to Gosp. ed. L859, vol. 1, ch. 1, § 22). (For other Writers who have held the same views, see Dr. Davidson's Facts, Statements, etc., in defense of his vol. 2 of Horne's Introd. 1857.) The inadmissibility, however, of either of these limitations to inspiration is evident from two considerations: 1st, That the sacred writers themselves make no such discrimination in their professions of divine sanction; and it would, in fact, be subversive of the above distinction between inspiration and Revelation

2 ndly, The line of demarcation between what is important to religion and what is not is too fine, to be traced by any expositor, so that we would thus unsettle our whole confidence in the truthfulness of the Scriptures. We therefore are compelled by the necessity of the case, no less than the positive declarations of the Bible itself, to maintain that "all Scripture is divinely inspired," and not some of its parts or statements alone. At the same time we may, without inconsistency-nay, we must, in the light of just criticism-admit that the phraseology in which these statements is couched is oftentimes neither elegant nor exact. Yet this does not. impair their essential truth, as the testimony of an illiterate witness may be scrupulously truthful, although confused in order and unscientific in form. Provided the facts are substantially given, the want of logical, rhetorical, and grammatical precision is comparatively unimportant, and forms no ground of impeachment. The mental habits of the sacred writers must be taken into account in order to arrive at their meaning, and this last, indeed, in the case of any writer, is what the reader is in search of, and of which language, whether clear or obscure, is legitimately but the vehicle. The errors imputed to the Scriptures by certain scientific men have accordingly all been explained, sooner or later, as being merely apparent, and due to the popular style of the sacred writers. Even the most difficult instances of these, such as the omissions and general enumerations in the genealogies, (See Genealogy Of Christ), are susceptible of the same explanation, since these were evidently Copied Faithfully from public registers, which, however incorrect they may seem to us, were of unquestioned currency at the time. A nicety in stopping to rectify these (for, be it observed, no one was led into error by the transcription, since the writers, and, indeed, the whole public, were perfectly aware of the discrepancy) would have been a far greater piece of pedantry than for a modern divine to pause in the midst of a quotation of Scripture to correct an unimportant mistranslation in the Authorized Version. Just so when our Lord and the apostle Paul freely cite passages according to the inexact rendering of the Septuagint, and sometimes even make them the point of an argument; it is no disparagement either to their intelligence or inspiration, but rather an evidence of their appreciation of the literary aptitudes of those whom they addressed. (See Accommodation). On the other hand, within the bounds of the orthodox view of inspiration, as above stated, there are two epithets currently employed which seem to border too closely upon the extravagant, and are equally unnecessary and incorrect.

1. "Plenary Inspiration" is a phrase nowhere warranted by the Scriptures as predicated of themselves. Christ alone was plenarily inspired ( John 3:34) of all human beings. The term plenary authority would be far more scriptural and definite.

2. " Verbal Inspiration" is an expression still more objectionable as applied to the Scriptures. For,

(I.) Words, as such, are incapable of inspiration. They are either oral, consisting of certain sounds, or written, consisting of certain marks on paper; both material signs of which a spiritual element cannot properly be predicated. Thought, ideas, sentiments only can be inspired; and this is really what the theorists mean. It is better to say so plainly.

(II.) The assumption by these theorists that we think only in words is plentifully contradicted by every man's consciousness. As children, we have conceptions long before we have words. The dog that lies dreaming of the chase has rapid trains of thought, but not a syllable of a word. We are constantly exercising perceptions of shades of color, and shapes of matter, for which there is no name. He must have a feeble power of consciousness, or a mighty power over words, who is not often possessed of a thought for which he pauses for the word. We hold the conception fast, waiting for its correlative term to come.' Who does not often think of a friend's face without being able to recall his name? Words, it is true, enable us to express our ideas, and generally that expression renders the conception itself more distinct. But surely God is shut up to no such necessity in communicating his mind to men. His Spirit even gives us thoughts beyond the compass of language ( Ἀλάλητα ,  Romans 8:26; Ἄῤῥητα ,  2 Corinthians 12:4).

(III.) The suggestion of the Ipsissima Verba to the minds of the sacred writers is incompatible with their free action, as evinced in the varieties and even blemishes of style. These are clearly the Human element, partaking of the imperfection and diversity inseparable from man's productions. To say that God makes use of them is only evading the point. He does not directly supply them nor authorize them; he only suffers them. The inconsistency of statement by Gaussen and other verbalists on this head is palpable, and shows the untenableness of their position in the face of infidel objections and rationalistic criticism. Equally inconclusive and self-contradictory is their method of disposing of the objection that if the actual Greek and Hebrew words are inspired, no translations can in any correlative sense be called "the word of God."

(IV.) Nothing is gained by asserting the verbal theory that is not equally secured in point of divine sanction and infallible truth by simply claiming for the Holy Scriptures that their statements and sentiments substantially and in their essential import represent the mind and will of God: that they contain divine thoughts clothed in merely human language. Such is the obvious fact, recognized by every devout and judicious interpreter. Such a view, indeed, gives far more dignity to the sacred volume than the mechanical theory of a mere amanuensis. It is the power of God in earthen vessels ( 2 Corinthians 4:7).

(V.) The theory of verbal inspiration is comparatively recent in the history of theology.

[1.] There is no such theory stated in the Scriptures. Scriptural authority would preclude all citation of names, great or small, among the theologians. The passages adduced in its favor have no pertinence.

[2.] The fathers had no definite theory of inspiration at all. Sometimes, in dwelling upon the perfection of Scripture, they used striking figures and strong expressions, from which we might infer a belief in verbal inspiration. But, on the other hand, their ordinary mode or commenting on Scripture, of quoting it, and of defending it, is inconsistent with such a belief.

(a.) John, the presbyter, who is believed to have been One Of Our Lord'S Disciples, speaking of Mark's Gospel, says that Mark "wrote it with great accuracy, as Peter's interpreter He committed no mistake when he wrote down things as he remembered them. He was very careful to omit nothing of what he had heard, and to say nothing false in what he related" (Eusebius, Hist. Eccles. 3: 39).

(b.) Justin Martyr, after using the figure of the "lyre," which is so much relied upon by the advocates of verbal inspiration, goes on to limit his remark to "those things in Scripture which are necessary for us to know" (Just. Ad Graec. § 8). (c.) Irenceus, in a fragment on "the style of St. Paul," alludes to the fact that his sentences were sometimes "unsyntactic," and accounts for it by the "rapidity of his utterances (Velocitas Sermonum), and the impulsiveness of spirit which distinguished him."

(d.) Clemens Alexandrinus states that "Peter having preached the Gospel at Rome many present exhorted Mark to write the things which had been spoken, since he had long accompanied Peter, and remembered what he had said; and when he had composed the Gospel, he delivered it to them who had asked it of him" (Eusebius, Hist. Eccles. 6:14).

(e.) Origen, speaking' of the Epistle to the Hebrews, remarks that the "thoughts are Paul's, but the language belongs to some one who committed to writing what the apostle said, and, as it were, reduced to commentaries the things spoken by his master. But the ideas are admirable, and not inferior to the acknowledged writings of the apostle." Again, speaking of an apparent discrepancy between John and Matthew, Origen says, "I believe it to be impossible for those who upon this subject direct attention merely to the external history, to prove that this apparent contradiction can be reconciled" (Origen, in Johann. 1, 183).

(f) Chrysostom remarks on  Acts 26:6 : "Here Paul speaks humanly, and does not throughout enjoy grace but is permitted to intermix even his own materials."

(g.) Augustine declares that the evangelists wrote more or less fully, "according as each remembered, and as each had it in his heart (ut quisque meminerat, et ut cuique cordi erat);" and asserts that the "truth is not bound to the words," and that the "language of the evangelists might be ever so different, provided their Thoughts were the same" (August. De Consensu Evangelist. 2, 12,28).

[3.] The period between the fathers and the schoolmen is of so little value in the history of theology that it is hardly worth while to refer to it. One or two writers of some note in this period adopted verbal inspiration, but there was no received theory of the kind. Agobard, archbishop of Lyons, in answer to Fredegis (who is cited by Prof. Harris), asks, "What absurdity follows if the notion be adopted that the Holy Spirit not only inspired the prophets and apostles with the sense of their teachings, but also fashioned on their lips the very words themselves, bodily and outwardly (corporea verba extrinsecus in ora illorum)" (Agobard, Contra Fredegisum, c. 12). [4.] By the schoolmen, and subsequently by the doctors of the Church in general, a distinction was made in inspiration between, revelatio and assistentia.

[5.] Of the great reformers, Luther, Melancthon, Calvin, and Zwinglius, not one maintained any such doctrine as that of verbal inspiration, while they all speak in the strongest possible language of the divinity, credibility, and infallibility of the sacred writings.

[6.] It was in the 17th century that the notion of verbal inspiration, which had before only floated about from one individual mind to another, took the shape of a definite theory, and received a proper ecclesiastical sanction. The subject was treated at length by Calovius (the bitter opponent of Grotius and Calixtus). who set forth the verbal theory very fully; and later writers, both Lutheran and Reformed, carried it so far as to extend inspiration to the vowel-points and the punctuation. The Formula Consensus Helvetici declares that the Old Testament "is Θεόπνευστος , equally as regards the consonants, the vowels, and the vowel-points, or at least their force."

V. Literature. Early treatises on the subject, of a general character, are those of Quenstedt, Carpzov, Weger, Lange, Le Clerc, Lowth, Lamothe, Clarke,Doddridge, etc., which rather belong to the province of "Introduction" (q.v.); more explict are the works of Bayly, Essay On Inspiration (London, 1707, 1708); Jaquelot, La Ve Ite Et L'Inspiration Des Livres Du V. Et N.T. (Rotterd. 1715); Calamy, Inspiration Of Old And N.Test. (London, 1710); Martense, Christiana Doctrinae De Divina Sacrarum Litterarum Inspir. Vindicic (Jena, 1724); Klemm, Theopneust. Sacrorum Litt. Asserta (Tub. 1743); Stosch, De Duplici Apostoll. Theopneustia, Turn Generali Turn Speciali (Guelpherb. 1754); Bullstedt, De vera S. S. inspirationis indole (Coburg, 1757 sq.); Teller, De inspir. divina Vatum Sacrorum (Helmst. 1762); also Diss. de Inspir. Script. Sac.judiciofornmando (Helmst. 1764); Tollner, Die Gottliche Eingebung der heiligen SchriJt untersucht (Mittau and Leipzig, 1772); Jablonsky, De Eo7r',evarai Scriptorum Sacrorum N.T. [in his Opusc. ed. te Water, 4:425-54); Wakefield, Essay on Inspiration (Lond. 1781); Meyer, De Inspiratione S. S. (Tr. ad Rh. 1784); Hegelmaier, De Theopneustia ejusqute statu in viris sanctis Libb. Sacc. auctoribus (Tub. 1784); Miller, Cum theopneustia Apostolorum nec osmniscientiams quasi aliquam, nec anamartesiam fuisse (Gott. 1789); Henckel, Inspirationem Evv. et Act. Sine Ullo Religionis Damno Negari Posse Dubitatum (Freft. ad V. 1793): the definite questions of the extent and character of inspiration, however, are specially discussed in the works of Moore, Plenary Inspiration of the N.T. (Lond. 1793); Jesse, Of the Learning and Inspiration of the Apostles (London, 1798); Findlay, The Divine Inspiration of the Jewish Scriptures, etc. (Lond. 1803); Dick, Essay on the Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures (Glasgow, 1800; 4th edit. 1840); Sontag, Doctr. inspirationis ejusque ratio, hist. et ususpopularis (Heidelberg, 1810); Dullo, Ueber d. gottl. Eingebung des N.T. (Jena, 1816); H.Planck, Ueber Offenbarung u. Inspiration [opposed to Schleiermacher's views] (Gott. 1817); Rennel, Proofs of Inspiration [N.T. compared with Apocrypha] (Load. 1822); Parry, Inquiry into the Nature and Extent of the Inspiration of the Writers of the N.T. (2nd edit. London, 1822); Macleod, View of Inspiration [general statement of fact] (Glasg. 1827); Carson, Theories of Inspiration [review of Wilson, Pye Smith, and Dick] (Edib. 1830); Haldane, The Books of the O.T and N.T. proved to be canonical, and their Verbal Inspiration maintained and established, etc. [a brief partisan treatise] (5th ed. Edinb. 1853); Hinds, Bp., Proofs, Nature, and Extent of Inspiration (Oxford, 1831); Fraser, Essay on the Plenary and Verbal Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures [a popular view] (in New Family Library, vol. 2, Edinb. 1834); Henderson, Divine Inspiration [a calm and judicious treatise, endeavoring to reconcile the extreme theories, and therefore somewhat inconsistent with itself ] (London, 1836; 4th edit. 1852)'; Carson, Divine Inspiration [strictures on Henderson] (London, 1837); Gaussen, Theopneustie [a rhetorical rather than logical plea for the extreme view] (2nd ed. 1842; translated into English, Edinburgh, 1850; Boston, 1850); Jahn, Ad quosdam pertinent promiss. Sp. S. sec. N. Test. (Basle, 1841); Leblois, Sur l'Inspiration des premiers Chretiens (Strasburg, 1850); Carson, Inspiration [violent] (Dublin, 1854); Lee, Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures [an excellent work, making many good distinctions, and giving the history, but defective in arrangement and exactness] (Dublin, 1857, 2nd edit.); Wordsworth, Inspiration of Canon [apologetic] (London, 1848,1851; Philadelphia, 1854); Lord, Plenary Inspiration of the Scriptures [an extremist] (New York, 1858); Macnaught, Inspir. Infall. and Author of Scrip sort of somnambulic state, the inspired person receives and manifests the divine inspiration: this manifestation consists sometimes only in convulsive motions, or in broken sentences, which latter are generally invitations to repentance and amendment, or denunciations of some adversary. The congregations are governed by a chief and two elders, and they hold occasional conferences together. They have no regular ministry, but all members, of both sexes, are required to contribute to the common edification by praying aloud in the assemblies; besides this, if an Inspired teacher is present, and feels inspired, he preaches; if not, he reads some passages of Scripture, or the recorded utterances of some Inspired members. They have also a particular collection of hymns. Their principal festivals are love-feasts, at which preaching is generally part of the order of exercises of the day. These festivals are announced long beforehand, but none take part in them except those who are personally invited to do so by the Inspired leaders. The week before a love-feast is always a season of especial fasting, penitence, and prayer, and the day preceding it is still more strictly observed. Prayer, singing, prophesying, and feet-washing always precede the love-feast, at which the persons invited partake of cake and wine. See M. Gobel, Gesch. c. wahren Inspirationsyem veinden von 1688- 1854 (in the Zeitschriftfur hist. Theologie, 1854); Schrockh, Kirchengeschichte s. d. Reformation, 8:401 sq.; Schlegel, Kirchengeschichte d. 18tel Jahrhunderts, 2, div. 2, 1047 sq.; Baumgarten, Geschichte d. Relig. Partheien, p. 1048 sq.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [16]

This word is sometimes used to denote the excitement and action of a fervent imagination in the poet or orator. But even in this case there is generally a reference to some supposed divine influence, to which the excited action is owing. It is once used in Scripture to denote that Divine agency by which man is endued with the faculties of an intelligent being, when it is said, 'the inspiration of the Almighty giveth him understanding.' But the inspiration now to be considered is that which belonged to those who wrote the Scriptures, and which is particularly spoken of in , and in : 'All Scripture is given by inspiration of God;' 'Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.' These passages relate specially to the Old Testament; but there is at least equal reason to predicate Divine inspiration of the New Testament.

The definition which Dr. Knapp gives of inspiration is the one we shall adopt. He says, 'It may be best defined, according to the representations of the Scriptures themselves, as an extraordinary Divine agency upon teachers while giving instruction, whether oral or written, by which they were taught what and how they should write or speak.' Or we may say more briefly that the sacred penmen were completely under the direction of the Holy Spirit, or that they wrote under a plenary inspiration. Dr. Calamy's definition agrees substantially with that of Dr. Knapp.

To prove that the Scriptures are divinely inspired we might with propriety refer to the excellence of the doctrines, precepts, and promises, and other instructions, which they contain; to the simplicity and majesty of their style; to the agreement of the different parts, and the scope of the whole; especially to the full discovery they make of man's fallen and ruined state, and the way of salvation through a Redeemer; together with their power to enlighten and sanctify the heart, and the accompanying witness of the Spirit in believers. These are circumstances of real importance, and the discerning advocates of inspiration have not overlooked them. But the more direct and conclusive evidence that the Scriptures were Divinely inspired is found in the testimony of the writers themselves. And as the writers did, by working miracles, and in other ways, sufficiently authenticate their Divine commission, and establish their authority and infallibility as teachers of Divine truth, their testimony, in regard to their own inspiration, is entitled to our full confidence. For who can doubt that they were as competent to judge of, and as much disposed to speak the truth on this subject as on any other? If then we admit their Divine commission and authority, why should we not rely upon the plain testimony which they give concerning the Divine assistance afforded them in their work? To reject their testimony in this case would be to impeach their veracity, and thus to take away the foundation of the Christian religion. And it is well known that those who deny the justice of the claim which they set up to Divine inspiration do in fact give up the infallible truth and authority of the Scriptures, and adopt the principles of deism.

It is, then, of the first importance to inquire what representations are made by the prophets, and by Christ and His Apostles, respecting the inspiration, and the consequent authority, of the sacred Scriptures.

The prophets generally professed to speak the word of God. What they taught was introduced and confirmed by a 'Thus saith the Lord;' or 'The Lord spake to me, saying.' And, in one way or another, they gave clear proof that they were Divinely commissioned, and spoke in the name of God, or as it is expressed in the New Testament, that God spake by them.

But the strongest and most satisfactory proof of the inspiration and Divine authority of the Old Testament writings, is found in the testimony of Christ and the Apostles.

The Lord Jesus Christ possessed the spirit of wisdom without measure, and came to bear witness to the truth. His works proved that He was what He declared Himself to be—the Messiah, the great Prophet, and the infallible Teacher. The faith which rests on Him rests on a rock. As soon then as we learn how He regarded the Scriptures, we have reached the end of our inquiries. His word is truth. Now everyone who carefully attends to the four Gospels will find that Christ everywhere spoke of that collection of writings called the Scripture as the word of God; that He regarded the whole in this light; that He treated the Scripture, and every part of it, as infallibly true, and as clothed with divine authority, thus distinguishing it from every mere human production. Nothing written by man can be entitled to the respect which Christ showed to the Scriptures. This, to all Christians, is direct and incontrovertible evidence of the Divine origin of the Scriptures, and is by itself perfectly conclusive.

But there is clear concurrent evidence, and evidence still more specific, in the writings of the Apostles. In two texts in particular Divine inspiration is positively asserted. In the first , Paul lays it down as the characteristic of 'all Scripture,' that it 'issgiven by inspiration of God,' and from this results its profitableness.

The other text teaches that 'Prophecy came not by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.' This passage, which the Apostle Peter applied particularly to the subject of which he was speaking, may be considered as explanatory of what is intended by inspiration. For to say that all Scripture is Divinely inspired, and that men of God wrote it as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, is one and the same thing.

The various texts in which Christ and the Apostles speak of Scripture as the word of God, and as invested with authority to decide all questions of truth and duty, fully correspond with the texts above considered.

From this view of the subject it follows that the attempt which has been made by a certain class of writers to account for the production of the whole or any part of the Scriptures by the will or agency, the ingenuity, diligence, or fidelity of men, in the use of the means within their reach, without the supernatural influence of the Spirit, is utterly at variance with the teachings of Christ and the Apostles as to the origin of the Sacred Writings.

As the Christian dispensation surpasses the former in all spiritual privileges and gifts, it is reasonable to presume that the New Testament was written under at least an equal degree of Divine influence with the Old, and that it comes recommended to us by equal characteristics of infallible truth. But of this there is clear positive evidence from the New Testament itself. In the first place, Jesus Christ, whose works proved Him to be the great unerring Teacher, and to be possessed of all power in Heaven and earth, gave commission to His Apostles to act in His stead, and to carry out the work of instruction which He had begun, confirming their authority by investing them with power to perform miracles. But how could such a commission have answered the end proposed, had not the Divine Spirit so guided the Apostles as to render them infallible and perfect teachers of Divine truth?

But, secondly, in addition to this, Jesus expressly promised to give them the Holy Spirit, to abide with them continually, and to guide theminto all the truth. He said to them, 'When they shall deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak for it shall be given you in the same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you,' . Storr and Flatt think this is the idea intended: 'The instructions which ye in general give are derived not so much from yourselves as from the Holy Spirit. Hence, when ye are called on to defend your doctrines, ye need feel no anxiety, but may confidently rely on the Holy Spirit to vindicate His own doctrines, by suggesting to you the very words of your defense.' If these promises were not fulfilled, then Jesus was not a true prophet. If they were fulfilled, as they certainly were, then the Apostles had the constant assistance of the Holy Spirit, and, whether engaged in speaking or writing, were under Divine guidance, and, of course, were liable to no mistakes either as to the matter or manner of their instructions.

In the third place, the writers of the New Testament manifestly considered themselves to be under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and their instructions, whether oral or written, to be clothed with Divine authority, as the word of God.

'We speak,' they say, 'as of God,' . Again, 'Which things we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but in words which the Holy Ghost teacheth,' . They declared what they taught to be the word of God, and the things they wrote to be the commandments of God, . Now the Apostles, being honest, unassuming, humble men, would never have spoken of themselves and their writings in such a manner, had they not known themselves to be under the unerring guidance of the Holy Spirit, and their instructions perfectly in accordance with the mind of God.

It is perfectly consistent with the plenary inspiration here maintained, that God operated on the minds of inspired men in a variety of ways, sometimes by audible words, sometimes by direct inward suggestions, sometimes by outward visible signs, sometimes by the Urim and Thummim, and sometimes by dreams and visions. This variety in the mode of Divine influence detracted nothing from its certainty. God made known His will equally in different ways; and, whatever the mode of His operation, He made it manifest to His servants that the things revealed were from Him.

But inspiration was concerned not only in making known the will of God to prophets and Apostles, but also in giving them direction in writing the Sacred Books. They wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. And in this, also, there was a diversity in the mode of Divine influence. Sometimes the Spirit of God moved and guided His servants to write things which they could not know by natural means, such as new doctrines or precepts, or predictions of future events. Sometimes He moved and guided them to write the history of events which were wholly or partly known to them by tradition, or by the testimony of their contemporaries, or by their own observation or experience. In all these cases the Divine Spirit effectually preserved them from all error, and influenced them to write just so much and in such a manner as God saw to be best. Sometimes He moved and guided them to write a summary record of larger histories, containing what His infinite wisdom saw to be adapted to the end in view, that is, the benefit of His people in all ages. Sometimes He influenced them to make a record of important maxims in common use, or to write new ones, derived either from their own reason or experience, or from special Divine teaching. Sometimes He influenced them to write parables or allegories, particularly suited to make a salutary impression of Divine things on the minds of men; and sometimes to record supernatural visions. In these and all other kinds of writing the sacred penmen manifestly needed special Divine guidance, as no man could of himself attain to infallibility, and no wisdom, except that of God, was sufficient to determine what things ought to be written for permanent use in the church, and what manner of writing would be best fitted to promote the great ends of revelation.

Some writers speak of different modes and different kinds, and even different degrees of inspiration. And if their meaning is that God influenced the minds of inspired men in different ways; that He adopted a variety of modes in revealing Divine things to their minds; that He guided them to give instruction in prose and in poetry, and in all the different forms of composition; that He moved and guided them to write history, prophecy, doctrines, commands, promises, reproofs, and exhortations, and that He adapted His mode of operation to each of these cases—against this no objection can be made. It is a fact, that the Scriptures exhibit specimens of all these different kinds of writing and these different modes of Divine instruction. Still each and every part of what was written was Divinely inspired, and equally so. It is all the word of God, and clothed with Divine authority, as much as if it had all been made known and written in one way.

Dr. Henderson, who labors perhaps with too much zeal against carrying inspiration to extreme lengths, still says that if those who hold to different modifications of inspiration intend that there are different modifications and degrees of authority given to Scripture, their opinion must meet with unqualified reprobation from every sincere believer. He insists that a diversity in the modes and degrees of Divine operation did exist in the work of inspiration, and that this diversity was the result of infinite wisdom adapting itself to different circumstances. He thinks that, unless we admit such a diversity, we cannot form correct ideas of the subject. But he is confident that the distinction which he endeavors to establish is not in the slightest degree hostile to the Divine authority of Scripture. He affirms that no part of that holy book was written without miraculous influence; that all parts were equally inspired; that in regard to the whole volume the great end was infallibly attained, namely, the commitment to writing of precisely such matters as God designed for the religious instruction of mankind; that the sacred penmen wrote what had for its object not merely the immediate benefit of individual persons or churches, but what would be useful to Christians in all future times; and that in regard to the most minute and inconsiderable things which the Scripture contains we are compelled to say, This also cometh from the Lord.

The controversy among orthodox divines respecting what is called verbal inspiration, appears to arise, in a great measure, from the different senses affixed to the phrase.

The real question, and the whole question at issue, may be stated thus: did the work of the Divine Spirit in the sacred penmen relate to the language they used, or their manner of expressing their ideas; and if so, how far, and in what way?

All those with whom we are concerned in the discussion of this question, hold that Divine inspiration had some respect to the language employed by the inspired writers, at least in the way of general supervision. And Dr. Henderson shows, in various passages of his excellent lectures, that there is no material difference between him and those who profess to maintain higher ground. He allows that, to a certain extent, what is called verbal inspiration, or the inspiration of words, took place. 'In recording what was immediately spoken with an audible voice by Jehovah, or by an angel interpreter; in giving expression to points of revelation which entirely surpassed the comprehension of the writers; in recording prophecies, the minute bearings of which they did not perceive; in short, in committing to writing any of the dictates of the Spirit, which they could not have otherwise accurately expressed, the writers,' he alleges, 'were supplied with the words as well as the matter.' He says, that even when Biblical writers made use of their own faculties, and wrote each one in his own manner, without having their mental constitution at all disturbed, they were yet 'always secured by celestial influence against the adoption of any forms of speech, or collocation of words, that would have injured the exhibition of Divine truth, or that did not adequately give it expression;' that the characteristic differences of style, so apparent among the sacred writers, were employed by the Holy Spirit for the purposes of inspiration, and 'were called forth in a rational way;' that the writers, 'being acted upon by the Divine Spirit, expressed themselves naturally; that while the Divine influence adapted itself to whatever was peculiar in the minds of inspired men, it constantly guided them in writing the Sacred Volume.' He declares his belief that the Scriptures were written not under a partial or imperfect, but under a plenary and infallible, inspiration; that they were entirely the result of Divine intervention, and are to be regarded as the oracles of Jehovah.

The doctrine of a plenary inspiration of all Scripture in regard to the language employed, as well as the thoughts communicated, ought not to be rejected without valid reasons. The doctrine is so obviously important, and so consonant to the feelings of sincere piety, that those evangelical Christians who are pressed with speculative objections against it, frequently, in the honesty of their hearts, advance opinions which fairly imply it. This is the case, as we have seen, with Dr. Henderson, who says that the Divine Spirit guided the sacred penmen in writing the Scriptures; that their mode of expression was such as they were instructed by the Spirit to employ; that Paul ascribes not only the doctrines which the Apostles taught, but the entire character of their style, to the influence of the Spirit. He indeed says that this does not always imply the immediate communication of the words of Scripture; and he says it with good reason. For immediate properly signifies acting without a medium, or without the intervention of another cause or means, not acting by second causes. Now those who hold the highest views of inspiration do not suppose that the Divine Spirit, except in a few instances, so influenced the writers of Scripture as to interfere with the use of their rational faculties or their peculiar mental habits and tastes, or in any way to supersede secondary causes as the medium through which His agency produced the desired effect.

In regard to this point, therefore, there appears to be little or no ground for controversy. For, if God so influenced the sacred writers that, either with or without the use of secondary causes, they wrote just what He intended, and in the manner He intended, the end is secured; and what they wrote is as truly His word, as though He had written it with His own hand on tables of stone, without any human instrumentality. The very words of the Decalogue were all such as God chose. And they would have been equally so if Moses had been moved by the Divine Spirit to write them with his hand. The expression, that God immediately imparted, or communicated to the writers the very words which they wrote, is evidently not well chosen. The exact truth is that the writers themselves were the subjects of the Divine influence. The Spirit employed them as active instruments, and directed them in writing, both as to matter and manner. They wrote 'as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.' The matter, in many cases, was what they before knew, and the manner was entirely conformed to their habits; it was their own. But what was written was none the less inspired on that account. God may have influenced and guided an Apostle as infallibly in writing what he had before known, and that guidance may have been as really necessary, as in writing a new revelation. And God may have influenced Paul or John to write a book in his own peculiar style, and that influence may have been as real and as necessary as if the style had been what some would call a Divine style. It was a Divine style, if the writer used it under Divine direction. It was a Divine style, and it was, at the same time, a human style, and the writer's own style, all in one. Just as the believer's exercises, faith and love, are his own acts, and at the same time are the effects of Divine influence. The mental exercises of Paul and of John had their own characteristic peculiarities, as much as their style. God was the author of John's mind and all that was peculiar to his mental faculties and habits, as really as of Paul's mind and what was peculiar to him. And in the work of inspiration He used and directed, for His own purposes, what was peculiar to each. When God inspired different men He did not make their minds and tastes all alike, nor did He make their language alike. Nor had He any occasion for this; for while they had different mental faculties and habits, they were as capable of being infallibly directed by the Divine Spirit, and infallibly speaking and writing Divine truth, as though their mental faculties and habits had been all exactly alike. And it is manifest that the Scriptures, written by such a variety of inspired men, and each part agreeably to the peculiar talents and style of the writer, are not only equally from God, but, taken together, are far better adapted to the purposes of general instruction, and all the objects to be accomplished by revelation, than if they had been written by one man, and in one and the same manner.

This view of plenary inspiration is fitted to relieve the difficulties and objections which have arisen in the minds of men from the variety of talent and taste which the writers exhibited, and the variety of style which they used. See, it is said, how each writer expresses himself naturally, in his own way, just as he was accustomed to do when not inspired. And see too, we might say in reply, how each Apostle, Peter, Paul, or John, when speaking before rulers, with the promised aid of the Holy Spirit, spoke naturally, with his own voice, and in his own way, as he had been accustomed to do on other occasions when not inspired. There is no more objection to plenary inspiration in the one case than in the other. The mental faculties and habits of the Apostles, their style, their voice, their mode of speech, all remained as they were. What, then, had the divine Spirit to do? What was the work which appertained to Him? We reply, His work was so to direct the Apostles in the use of their own talents and habits, their style, their voice, and all their peculiar endowments, that they should speak or write, each in his own way, just what God would have them speak or write, for the good of the Church in all ages.

The fact that the individual peculiarities of the sacred penmen are everywhere so plainly impressed on their writings, is often mentioned as an objection to the doctrine, that inspiration extended to their language as well as their thoughts. This is indeed, one of the most common objections, and one which has obtained a very deep lodgment in the minds of some intelligent Christians. It may, therefore, be necessary to take some further pains completely to remove it. And in our additional remarks relative to this and other objections, it will come in our way to show that such a writer as Gaussen, who contends with great earnestness and ability for the highest views of inspiration, does still, on all important points, agree with those who advocate lower views of the subject.

Gaussen says, 'Although the title of each book should not indicate to us that we are passing from one author to another; yet we could quickly discover, by the change of their characters, that a new hand has taken the pen. It is perfectly easy to recognize each one of them, although they speak of the same master, teach the same doctrines, and relate the same incidents.' But how does this prove that Scripture is not, in all respects, inspired? 'So far are we,' says this author, 'from overlooking human individuality everywhere impressed on our Sacred Books, that, on the contrary, it is with profound gratitude, and with an ever-increasing admiration, that we regard this living, real, human character infused so charmingly into every part of the Word of God. We admit the fact, and we see in it clear proof of the Divine wisdom which dictated the Scriptures.'

Those who urge the objection above mentioned are plainly inconsistent with themselves. For while they deny the plenary inspiration of some parts of Scripture, because they have these marks of individuality, they acknowledge inspiration in the fullest sense in other parts, particularly in the prophecies, where this individuality of the writers is equally apparent.

In truth, what can be more consonant with our best views of the wisdom of God, or with the general analogy of his works, than that He should make use of the thoughts, the memories, the peculiar talents, tastes, and feelings of His servants in recording His Word for the instruction of men? Why should He not associate the peculiarities of their personal character with what they write under His personal guidance? But, independently of our reasoning, this matter is decided by the Bible itself. 'All Scripture is Divinely inspired,' and it is all the Word of God. And it is none the less the Word of God, and none the less inspired, because it comes to us in the language of Moses, and David, and Paul, and the other sacred writers. 'It is God who speaks to us, but it is also man; it is man, but it is also God.' The word of God, in order to be intelligible and profitable to us, 'must be uttered by mortal tongues, and be written by mortal hands, and must put on the features of human thoughts. This blending of humanity and Divinity in the Scriptures reminds us of the majesty and the condescension of God. Viewed in this light, the Word of God has unequalled beauties, and exerts an unequalled power over our hearts.'

There are some who maintain that all which was necessary to secure the desired results was an infallible guidance of the thoughts of the sacred writers; that with such a guidance they might be safely left to express their thoughts in their own way, without any special influence from above.

Now, if those who take this view of the subject mean that God not only gives the sacred penmen the very ideas which they are to write, but, in some way, secures an infallible connection between those ideas and a just expression of them in words; then, indeed, we have the desired result—an infallible revelation from God, made in the proper language of the writers. But if any one supposes that there is naturally such an infallible connection between right thoughts and a just expression of them in language, without an effective Divine superintendence, he contradicts the lessons of daily experience. But those to whom we refer evidently do not themselves believe in such an infallible connection. For when they assign their reason for denying that inspiration related to the language of the Scriptures, they speak of the different, and, as they regard them, the contradictory statements of facts by different writers. But it is easy to see that the difficulty presses with all its force upon those who assert the inspiration of the thoughts. For surely they will not say that the sacred writers had true thoughts in their minds, and yet uttered them in the language of falsehood. This would contradict their own idea of a sure connection between the conceptions of the mind and the utterance of them in suitable words, and would clearly show that they themselves feel it to be necessary that the Divine guidance should extend to the words of inspired men as well as their thoughts. But if the inspired writer through inadvertence committed a real mistake as to a matter of fact, it must have been a mistake in his thoughts as well as in his words. If, then, there was a mistake, it lay in his thoughts. But if there was no mistake, then there is nothing to prove that inspiration did not extend to the language. If, however, there was a real mistake, then the question is not, what becomes of verbal inspiration, but what becomes of inspiration in any sense.

It is sometimes said that the sacred writers were of themselves generally competent to express their ideas in proper language, and in this respect had no need of supernatural assistance. But there is just as much reason for saying that they were of themselves generally competent to form their own conceptions, and so had no need of supernatural aid in this respect. It is just as reasonable to say that Moses could recollect what took place at the Red Sea, and that Paul could recollect that he was once a persecutor, and Peter what took place on the mount of transfiguration, without supernatural aid, as to say that they could, without such aid, make a proper record of these recollections. We believe a real and infallible guidance of the Spirit in both respects, because this is taught in the Scriptures. And it is obvious that the Bible could not be what Christ and the Apostles considered it to be, unless they were Divinely inspired.

The diversity in the narratives of the Evangelists is sometimes urged as an objection against the position we maintain in regard to inspiration, but evidently without reason, and contrary to reason. For what is more reasonable than to expect that a work of Divine origin will have marks of consummate wisdom, and will be suited to accomplish the end in view. Now it will not be denied that God determined that there should be four narratives of the life and death of Jesus from four historians. If the narratives were all alike, three of them would be useless. Indeed such a circumstance would create suspicion, and would bring discredit upon the whole concern. The narratives must then be different. And if, besides this useful diversity, it is found that the seeming contradictions can be satisfactorily reconciled, and if each of the narratives is given in the peculiar style and manner of the writers, then all is natural and unexceptionable, and we have the highest evidence of the credibility and truth of the narratives.

We shall advert to one more objection. It is alleged that writers who were constantly under a plenary Divine inspiration would not descend to the unimportant details, the trifling incidents, which are found in the Scriptures. To this it may be replied that the details alluded to must be admitted to be according to truth, and that those things which, at first view, seem to be trifles may, when taken in their connections, prove to be of serious moment. And it is moreover manifest that, considering what human beings and human affairs really are, if all those things which are called trifling and unimportant were excluded, the Scriptures would fail of being conformed to fact; they would not be faithful histories of human life: so that the very circumstance which is demanded as proof of inspiration would become an argument against it. And herein we cannot but admire the perfect wisdom which guided the sacred writers, while we mark the weakness and shallowness of the objections which are urged against their inspiration.

On the whole, after carefully investigating the subject of inspiration, we are conducted to the important conclusion that 'all Scripture is Divinely inspired;' that the sacred penmen wrote 'as they were moved by the Holy Ghost;' and that these representations are to be understood as implying that the writers had, in all respects, the effectual guidance of the Divine Spirit. And we are still more confirmed in this conclusion because we find that it begets in those who seriously adopt it an acknowledgment of the Divine origin of Scripture, a reverence for its teachings, and a practical regard to its requirements, like what appeared in Christ and his Apostles. Being convinced that the Bible has, in all parts and in all respects, the seal of the Almighty, and that it is truly and entirely from God, we are led by reason, conscience, and piety to bow submissively to its high authority, implicitly to believe its doctrines, however incomprehensible, and cordially to obey its precepts, however contrary to our natural inclinations. We come to it from day to day, not as judges, but as learners, never questioning the propriety or utility of any of its contents. This precious Word of God is the perfect standard of our faith, and the rule of our life, our comfort in affliction, and our sure guide to heaven.

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [17]

An earnest, divinely-awakened, soul-subduing sense and perception of the presence of the invisible in the visible, of the infinite in the finite, of the ideal in the real, of the divine in the human, and, in ecstatic moments, of very God in man, accompanied with a burning desire to impart to others the vision revealed; distinguished as "seraphic" from insanity as "demonic" by this, that the inspired man sees an invisible which is there, and the insane an invisible which is not there, states of mind so like otherwise that the one may be, and often is, mistaken for the other, the inspired man taken for an insane, and the insane man for an inspired.