What is it about the Bible that makes it different from any other book? Is there any reason to give the Bible any special status over other books? Well, there is one thing that makes the Bible unique and different from any other book ever written- the difference is that God inspired the Bible.
What Is Inspiration?
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV).
The term “inspiration” is taken from the Greek word theopneustos. “Theopneustos” literally means God breathed just as we read above. The idea behind this word is that God “breathed-out” the Scriptures using the Biblical writers as His agents. The Biblical idea of inspiration also refers to God’s total oversight, guidance, and direction of each Biblical author so that they wrote exactly what He wanted written. Scholar-types like to call this plenary inspiration, meaning that the Bible is totally inspired by God in all its parts.
The Bible is different from every other book because it has this totally unique two-part authorship. God is completely responsible for the content of the Scriptures and each Biblical author’s role was to write down what was received from God. But God didn’t just give each Biblical writer an idea of what to say and then let them to figure out how to say it. God is personally responsible for every single word of the Scriptures, which is why Proverbs 30:5-6 reminds us not to add anything to His words.
Because of this, it may be surprising to see how God chose to use each Biblical writer’s personality, cultural background and writing style to communicate what He wanted written. You see, the Bible’s human authors were not simply robotic word processors or copy machines. The Scriptures display the humanity of each human author through things such as human research (Luke 1:1-4), human emotion (Nehemiah 13:25), and forgetful human memory (1 Corinthians 1:16).
How Did Inspiration Occur?
Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21 NIV).
In the Scripture quoted above, the apostle Peter helps us understand how this process of inspiration took place. To illustrate this, Peter used a seafaring word in the original language that meant to be moved or carried along in describing how the Scriptures were written. To get an idea of what this means, just picture a sailboat in your mind. Just as the wind moves a sailboat across the water, God also moved the Biblical writers. God “carried along” each Biblical writer so they went exactly where He wanted them to go in their writings just as the wind carries a sailboat across the water.
Each Biblical book had it’s beginnings in a message from God to each Biblical writer. These messages took many forms including…
- a voice from a burning bush (Moses in Exodus 3:2-5)
- a prophetic vision (Ezekiel, Isaiah and others)
- a study of some other prophecy (Daniel 9:2)
- the accumulation of a lifetime’s worth of experience (Solomon in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes)
- or an undefined means of communication such as, “The word of the Lord came to me…” or similar statements (which are found over 3800 times in the Old Testament)
So God used many different methods to reveal His message to each Biblical writer. This is summed up well by Hebrews 1:1 where it says, “Long ago God spoke in many different ways to our fathers through the prophets [in visions, dreams, and even face to face], telling them little by little about his plans.”
What The Bible Claims Regarding Inspiration
Over and over throughout the Bible, we find that it claims to be the written word of God. For example, the words God said and God spoke appear dozens of times within the pages of Scripture. In fact, the Bible records that the inspired Word of God was accepted by those who followed God (Acts 17:11) and even by those who didn’t (2 Kings 5:15).
The Scriptures also claim that God’s inspiration of the Bible covers both the Old Testament and the New Testament. This is seen in 1 Timothy 5:18 where we read, “…the Scripture says, ‘Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,’ and ‘The worker deserves his wages'” (NIV). So what’s so special about that? Well, 1 Timothy 5:18 quotes an Old Testament passage (Deuteronomy 5:24- “Do not muzzle an ox…”) right alongside the words of Jesus found in Luke 10:7 and refers to both of them as “Scripture.”
Here’s some more of what the Bible has to say regarding itself and it’s inspiration by God….
“He then said to me: ‘Son of man, go now to the house of Israel and speak my words to them…'” (Ezekiel 3:4).”
Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now, I have put my words in your mouth'” (Jeremiah 1:9).
“This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words” (1 Corinthians 2:13).
“And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13 NIV).
God “breathed out” His word through the Biblical writers so that you could have a written record of His message. Remember, all these things were written down for your benefit so that you might have an accurate understanding of who God is and of His power to work in your life. (see 1 Corinthians 10:11).