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Theology Thursdays: What does it mean that the Bible is “inspired”?

Updated: Nov 9, 2019

by Joel

Inspiration is the breath (2 Tim. 3:16) of Creator God communicated through the words that make up the cannon of Scripture we call the Holy Bible. The inspiration of God is upon the words (or writings), not the authors. Why is this significant?

Although different books or sections of the Bible take on the author’s unique experience and literary style, the ideas or concepts did not originate from the author, but from God. Technically, God was the author and the ones who wrote the words were the scribes for God, but not The Origin of the words.

The word picture of “God breathed” (Gk. theopneustos or “from God’s breath”) is so vivid on the pages of the Holy Bible that it is almost as though you can smell God’s “coffee breath” from passages like Lam. 3:22-23 (“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”) or the garlic from Rom. 9:6-14. It is so important that the reader of Scripture sees (smells) God’s being (or breath) through the author’s (little “a”) words.

If one is convinced of the inspiration of the Scripture then disobeying its principles and commands carries an undeniable responsibility.

Polycarp in 155 AD referred to the Old and New Testaments, as scripture. This is significant for many reasons, but foundationally in that his reference came only 50 years or so after the Gospels were written.[1] Anyone could have denied him, but his claim was universally accepted and still holds today among the majority of theologians and even secular scholars.

2 Peter 1:19-20 says, “And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning start rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”


[1] Paul Hartog, Polycarp and the New Testament: the Occasion, Rhetoric, Theme, and Unity of the Epistle to the Philippians and Its Allusions to New Testament Literature (Tub̈ingen: Coronet Books, 2002), 205.

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