Quest. 9: What is meant by the “inspiration” of Scripture?
Ans: “Inspiration” is the work of God upon the hearts, minds and hands of men to give us the very Word of God in written form.
2 Tim. 3:16. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
2 Pet. 1:20–21. 20Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21For 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.
See also: Isa. 8:20; 1 Cor. 2:9–14; Heb. 1:1–3.
The term inspiration derives from the Lat. inspiro, “to breathe into,” referring to the human authors. The actual issue, however, is that the Scriptures themselves are “God–spirated,” i.e., God–breathed [theopneustos] (2 Tim. 3:16).
The great truth of Divine revelation is that God has spoken to men (Heb. 1:1–3). He has not only spoken to men, but he has spoken in understandable terms. The great truth of inspiration is that this revelation is preserved and protected as the very Word of God inscripturated. Inspiration is the supernatural influence exerted on the sacred writers by the Spirit of God, by virtue of which their writings are the very Word of God. Thus, Divine inspiration extends to the very writings themselves. Any view of Divine inspiration which does not pertain to the very text itself as inspired, is both inadequate and defective. Inspiration is thus both verbal [extending to the very words, and therefore to the nuances of grammar and syntax in the original languages] and plenary [full or equal throughout].
There is a distinct difference between a translation and a version. The plethora of modern versions makes this discussion necessary. A strict translation begins with the original language and, while expressing itself in another language, keeps as closely as possible to the text in the original language with its grammatical intricacies, syntax and idioms—even to the sacrifice of style. A version differs from a translation in that it is a version of a previous translation in a second language, uses the grammar, syntax and idioms of that second language and makes much greater allowances for smoothness of reading and expression of thought. In short, a translation holds more closely the original language while a version holds more closely to the second language. To the extent that a given translation or version expresses the thought and truth of the original language, such a translation or version is the authoritative Word of God. This necessarily takes into consideration the idiomatic expressions of a language, the incapacity of some secondary languages to express the fullness of the original, and a determined faithfulness to the grammar, syntax, context and theology of the text.
Many modern “versions” are wholly inadequate, as they are not based on any given text, but are in reality paraphrases, and some have actually changed the meaning of the text and so altered its doctrinal teaching. There is no substitute for a knowledge and study of the original languages.
The Divine inspiration of Scripture is the primary presupposition of Christianity. It is Divinely revealed religion and thus stands unique among the religions of the world. The Scriptures are then the pou sto [Lit: “a place where I may stand”] or point–of–reference for the Christian. Biblical Christianity is Christian Theism, i.e., the truth of the triune, self–disclosing God of Scripture. All subsequent faith [what is to be believed] and practice [how we are to live] derive from this truth. The Scriptures are thus our only rule of both faith and practice. How vitally important it is then both to know them and to correctly interpret them. Is Scripture your rule of faith and practice?
By Dr. W.R. Downing