The Inspiration and Authority of Scripture
2 Timothy 3:16-17
By Pastor Ron Jones, D.D.
©The Titus Institute, 2011
People have various views of what the Bible is.
The Encyclopedia Americana probably best sums up many people's opinions about the Bible when it says:
"It is now viewed as an ethical and religious treasure whose inexhaustible teaching promises to be even more valuable as the hope of a world civilization increases."
That's what many people believe the Bible to be - an ethical and religious treasure filled with moral and spiritual principles which if followed can bring a certain amount of peace and happiness to one's life.
The problem with that view is that is not what the Biblical writers claim about themselves and about each other’s works.
They claim that they have written far more than ethical and religious teachings - they claim that they have written divine revelation under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
But many people have never seriously read the Bible to see what it says about itself.
They often believe that the Roman Catholic Church or the Protestant Churches at some point in time got together in a meeting.
Someone said, “This stuff is good.” Then someone else said, “This stuff is great.” Then another said, “Hey, this stuff must be inspired by God." Then they all went out and began sharing that with the world. But that’s not what happened at all.
They don't realize that the claim of believers that the Bible is inspired by God is merely a statement of what the Biblical writers claim about themselves, “We speak from God.”
This is of crucial importance.
E.M. Blaiklock, a scholar on Greek and Latin literature and language and a Christian, spent a lifetime studying ancient documents from the Greeks and Romans.
In speaking of studying any ancient documents including the New Testament he wrote,
"I knew that the first task in understanding a document, any piece of literature or history, was to ask what it has to say, to read it... Only then is it profitable...and...necessary to turn to what others have to say about it."
Blaiklock's classical training taught him that there is an order in studying carefully ancient documents.
First, read an ancient document to understand clearly what the writer is saying and claiming.
Then, second, search out what others have said about it.
Most people have skipped this first step. They have never carefully read and studied the Bible to see what the writers claim. Instead, they have believed what others have said about the Bible.
This is what I want to talk about in this session. I want to answer the following questions:
Do the Biblical writers actually claim to speak from God and write divine revelation under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit?
And if so, where?
If they do, then people must accept or reject their claims exactly as they are made.
They cannot say, "it is a wonderful book written by conscientious individuals or good, religious, and sincere men."
If men claim that their writings are divine revelation from God they either are or they aren't. If they aren't, these men are either lying or are self-deceived. If they are, then they are telling the truth and all men should listen to what God has to say.
What we as believers claim about the Bible does not originate from us, it is not our claim - it is the Biblical writers claim about themselves.
And what is so fascinating about the Bible is that the Biblical writers never defend their claim. They state it and that’s it.
God defends their claims by doing miracles through them to authenticate their claims, but when the writers state those claim, they expect to be believed by those who love God.
The writer makes that claim and then God works in the life of the person who is reading it by the power of the Holy Spirit to recognize that that claim is true.
So, let's look at what the Bible claims about itself.
This is also important for all believers no matter how long you have been a Christian.
Peter says that we are to make a defense for the hope that is in us - that means we are to be able to explain why we believe as we do.
It is not apologetic evidences so much as being able to explain exactly what the Bible says and where it says it as the basis of our faith.
To say the Bible says that it is the Word of God and I believe it is not a defense.
To say let me show you exactly what the Bible says about itself and then point out exact Scriptures - that is a true defense of the faith.
This is what I want to share with you this morning - exactly where the Bible says it is the Word of God
Also, we read the Bible, study the Bible and obey the Bible because it is the Word of God - it is God speaking.
We tend to allow the Bible to lose its awesome character and authority in our lives.
This morning I want to raise our minds and hearts to see the Bible afresh as to its true nature.
We'll begin by looking at the definition of inspiration.
Let’s look at 2 Tim.3:16.
This is one of the key Scriptures you need to go to that clearly claims that the Bible is inspired by God.
2 Tim 3:16
v.16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
v.17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
It is the mid 60’s AD. Paul was released from prison a couple of years previously and went on a missionary journey. Unfortunately when he returned to Rome, he was imprisoned again by the Emporer Nero. This time he will not be released, but martyred. From prison, he writes to Timothy who is ministering to Christians as Paul’s representative.
In these verses, Paul gives a powerful statement to Timothy of the nature and usefulness of the Scriptures. He desires to remind Timothy of the basis of his ministry and all that he and the apostles were doing for Christ.
Paul gives two key points:1. The nature of Scripture
2. The usefulness of Scripture
Let’s start with the first one.
1. The nature of Scripture - it is inspired by God.
1) Inspiration is an act of God.
"inspired by God" – all one word in the Greek = literally, God-breathed
v.16 “Scripture” means “the writing, what was written down.”
The Greek word translated “inspiration” means literally “God-breathed”, literally “from the mouth of God.” That is a figurative way of saying is the Scripture is “the Word of God.”
The Scripture comes from God speaking and it is God’s Word. The Scripture is from God Himself.
The author of the Scriptures is declared by Paul to be God Himself and He "breathed" the words through the mouths and pens of the prophets and writers of the Scriptures by the power of the Holy Spirit so that it is the Word of God.
All Scripture owes its origin and contents to God.
Notice is says, "Scripture.”
“Scripture” means "writing" and refers to the revelation of God in written form.
It is in the singular and refers to all the books of the Bible as one whole revelation.
It also reveals that God’s intent was never to depend solely on verbal revelation by the prophets to hand down his word from generation to generation. His plan was to have his revelation written down so it could be read and understood from an objective written document.
God’s revelation was given to be written down and preserved throughout history just as we have it today.
Revelation is God revealing his word to the prophets and apostles and inspiration is God using the Holy Spirit to work in their lives to write it down accurately so that the written word is from God."All" - every word of it
Not just the words of Scripture that deal with the spiritual truths, but the historical and geographical parts as well from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21.
If you have ever heard the expression the verbal plenary inspiration of Scripture. This is the plenary aspect.
All of the Bible is inspired, not just part of it.
2) Inspiration is accomplished by the Spirit of God.
V.20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation.
V.21 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.
"No prophecy of Scripture" - here he is talking specifically about the words of the prophets in the O.T.
"of one's own interpretation" - it is not dependent on the personal understanding of any human being to figure out what it means
"never came by the will of man" - the prophets did not decide they were going to have a prophecy from God
"but holy men of God spoke" men who were set apart for this purpose to speak for God
"as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" -
"moved" - "carried along" - the word is used with reference a ships that are carried along on a
certain course by the wind
The Holy Spirit moved in the minds and hearts of these men to give the revelation of God first in the words of their mouths then in the words they wrote
The prophecies in this context are the written prophecies handed down in the O.T.
So "All Scripture is inspired by God" means that God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, guided the human authors so that what they wrote down was the very Word of God.
Revelation is what God reveals to man.
Inspiration is the process where the Holy Spirit guides the writers to write down the revelation so that it is exactly what God wants.
Because the Bible is inspired by God; all of it is the revelation of God.
It is not dictation. Although some parts are quotes of God's actual words.
The Holy Spirit worked within the individual personalities of the writers to write what he wanted.
That is why there are differences in style in the Scriptures - God never use human beings as robots always as human beings.
So this is a basic definition of inspiration. And this is exactly what the Bible writers claim about themselves.
Not only do they claim it about what they themselves were writing, but also about what other Scripture writers wrote.
Now what writings are referred to?
3) “Scripture” refers to the Old Testament writings.
This is in the context.
v.14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it,
v.15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
These verses clearly refer to the Old Testament.
The Old Testament prophets claimed to speak from God.
3,808 times claims such as "Thus says the Lord" or the Word of the Lord came" occur
David was well aware of the fact that God spoke to him and through him
God spoke to me and has commanded me to speak those words to you
There is no defense of their claims – they expect to be believed. Nor do we have to defend their claims. The Holy Spirit opens people’s hearts to believe their claims.
NOTE: These people lived at different times and different locations and yet they each claim to speak direct
revelation from God
The Old Testament writers were commanded by God to write down their words.
"words" not just the ideas or concepts
God had always intended for his revelation to be written down and preserved for the following generations. And that all those writings would form the revelation of God.
God did not just inspire the ideas or concepts and let the authors write it down in their own words without
the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
The Old Testament Writers recognized previous O.T. writers as speaking and writing from God.
"by the books ... by the Word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet
Notice: It is not oral tradition of divine revelation, but the written Word of God
He reveals His secrets to His servants the prophets
The people of Israel including the prophets themselves believed that the earlier prophets spoke and wrote divine revelation from God
What about the New Testament writers? What did they feel about the Old Testament?
Jesus and the apostles claimed that God spoke through the Old Testament.
Jesus quoted the book of Exodus which is the written record of what Moses said and he called that the Word (logos) of God.
Jesus is contrasting what the Lord says in the OT v. what the Pharisees and teachers of Israel had added later.
“the commands of God” v. “the traditions of men”
“the commands of God” = “Moses said…”
“the traditions of men” = “you say…”
Exod.20:12 “honor father and mother”
Exod.21:17 “curses father and mother”
Notice, that Jesus calls what was written down in the book of Exodus, the Word of God.
This is very significant.
v.44 He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms."
v.45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.
The “Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms” was the Jewish way of referring to the OT. Sometimes they shortened it to the Law and the Prophets.
Jesus talks to them about what is revealed about him in the OT. Luke calls it the Scriptures because that
is what it revealed.
2 Timothy 3:16
So all Scripture refers to the Old Testament which had been written and completed long before Timothy was born.
4) “Scripture” refers to the writings of the New Testament
Does it also refer to the N.T. - the writings of the apostles and their associates as they were in the process of being written and completed at that time?
The answer is yes.
Did Jesus give his apostles authority to preach and teach the Word of God?
But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.
Jesus promised his apostles that the Holy Spirit would come upon them and gudie them into all truth. This would be an internal supernatural power and authority by God’s Spirit.
Did the NT writers believe that they were writing Scripture as they were writing it?
Or another way of saying it is, “Did they believe that they were preaching and writing the Word of God?”
Paul believed he was preaching and writing the Word of God.
1 Thessalonians 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 5:27
I charge you before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers.
After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.
Paul quoted Luke’s gospel as Scripture in his first letter to Timothy.
1 Timothy was probably written around 64 AD. The first three gospels were written between 60 and 64 AD.
1 Tim. 5:18
v.18 For the Scripture says, "Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain," and " The worker deserves his wages."
v. 18 “For the Scripture says”
"You shall not muzzle an ox... is a quote from Deut.25:4 of the O.T.
"The laborer is worthy of his wages" is an exact word for word quote of Jesus himself in Lu.10:7.
Both are called by Paul Scripture which shows that already as the N.T. was being formed it was being considered Scripture inspired by God.
As the NT was being written down, already the apostle Paul was calling it Scripture.
There was a recognition by the apostles that what was being written down was equal with the OT Scriptures.
Notice, both Paul’s quote from Deuteronomy and his quote from Luke are equal.
So when Paul writes at the end of his life, he is already talking about the NT as equal with the OT as it was being formed by the apostles and their close associates.
When Paul wrote 2 Timothy in around 66AD and used the term “All Scripture” he had already referred to Luke’s gospel as Scripture in 1 Timothy.
2 Peter 3:16
v.15 Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.
v.16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
2 Peter was written in the mid 60’s before Peter’s death at the hands of Nero. By the time it was written, Paul’s early letters, which are all of them except the pastoral epistles (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus) were well-known and circulating all over the M Mediterranean world.
Peter calls Paul’s letters Scripture.
26But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
Jesus gives his apostles a promise that the Holy Spirit will come upon them and that he will do two things:
1) teach them all things (that they need to know to fulfill their mission)
2) bring to their remembrance all that Jesus said
This promise can only refer to the apostles and not Christians in general because only the apostles heard Jesus and could remember what he said.
This promise is the basis of the inspiration of the NT.
All the books in the NT were written by and apostle or a close associate of an apostle and that is why they were included in the NT.
Also, look back at 2 Tim.3:16-17.
The “man of God” refers to the Christian. Paul is talking to Timothy who is ministering to Christians.
The Scripture could not be useful to the Christian for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in
righteousness with the OT alone. It is not enough revelation for the believer in Jesus Christ. It must
also include N.T.
2. The usefulness of Scripture
1) Scripture is useful for teaching – teaching God’s truth
2) Scripture is useful for rebuking – revealing sin and wrong behavior in our lives
3) Scripture is useful for correcting – revealing what is right behavior
4) Scripture is useful for training in righteousness – training us in God’s way of doing things
“so that as a result the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
Scripture helps us grow in Christ and gives us the spiritual maturity and understanding to be effective in doing good works.