As I am writing this, I have my Bible open on my desk. I claim that the Bible that I have on my desk is the Word of God. Therefore, it is the foundation of what I believe and preach as a pastor. It was written over the course of 1500 years by 40+ human authors in three different languages. Now although it was penned by human authors, to be the Word of God, God must have had a part it. In fact, to call it God’s Word, He somehow had to get human authors to write His words. How did He do that?
Also, if He did that, which I believe He did, how can we be sure that the text that we have today is the same Word that He gave the human authors 3500 to almost 2000 years ago? How did God preserve His Word?
And if He preserved His Word, then how do we have so many different translations? There are over twenty major, popular English translations. If we leave English, we see that the Bible as a whole has been translated into 2,798 languages; the New Testament has been translated into 1,275 languages; and part of the Bible has been translated into 1,005 languages. That is a grand total of 5,078 languages. So out of 6,877 languages that are known to exist in the world, we have the Bible in some shape or form in 5,078 of them. That’s about 74%, which is awesome, but it makes us continue to ask, “Are these different translations really the Word of God? And how can we know?”
Well those are the three major questions that we want to try to answer throughout this study.
How did God deal with human authors to give us His very Word?
Now when we talk about God dealing with human authors, we use the word “inspiration.” We say that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. But when we talk about inspiration, we are going to need to address several questions.
1) Should our basis be the Bible’s teaching about itself or the characteristics which the Bible itself displays?
2) Does inspiration apply to some portions of Scripture but not others or to Scripture as a whole as well as every part of it?
3) Does inspiration apply only to ideas/concepts in Scripture or does it apply to the very words themselves?
4) How is verbal inspiration different from mechanical dictation?
5) Is inspiration attributed to the biblical writer or to the biblical writing?
6) Is Scripture in any way human in authorship?
So as we walk through this first part of this study, we are going to answer those questions.
Where did the idea of inspiration come from?
Second Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God…” The King James says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God…” The Holman and the New American Standard say, “All Scripture is inspired by God…” The idea of inspiration comes from the Greek word theópneustos which translates literally as “breathed out.” So God breathed and out of His mouth came Scripture, which was previously nonexistent. That is the basis of the idea of inspiration. In some way, shape, or form God gave us His Word. But just how did He do that?
There have been seven models given to explain how this worked:
1) Illumination Model: God granted insight into His truth; men recorded it.
2) Intuition Model: From time to time natural religious insight was heightened to discover “divine truth.”
3) Existential Model: At the “moment of meaning,” the Bible becomes the Word of God to the individual
4) Demythologizing Model: The Bible becomes revelation when the proper demythologized interpretation is found.
5) Mechanical Dictation Model: Every word was dictated by God.
6) Dynamic Inspiration Model: God gave the thought or idea; the writer put it in his own words.
7) Plenary Verbal Inspiration Model: God directed the expressions of the writer’s thoughts without disturbing the free exercise of the writers’ personalities.
Now out of those seven, our only choices are the last three. So let’s just remove the first four. Out of the three that are left, the best choice is the Plenary Verbal Inspiration Model. Why? Let’s look a little deeper into this model.
First of all, we need to define the terms. “Plenary” refers to Scripture as a whole as well as every part of it. So by adding the term, we are saying that we believe that all of Scripture is inspired. More than that, “verbal” refers to the very words themselves. So when we say “plenary verbal,” we are including every single part and word of Scripture, as well as Scripture in its entirety. There is nothing left out!
This is the best solution because of 2 Timothy 3:16, which says, “All Scripture…” In the Greek it is pasa graphē. Literally, it means Scripture as a whole and every part of it. Isn’t that what we just said about the Plenary Verbal Inspiration Model? Yes, and that is why it is the best model of the three that are actually available for us to believe.
Thank you for taking the time to read, and I hope you look forward to part two coming hopefully next week. Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think.