The Nature of Inspiration

In view of the various modern uses of the word, it is hardly enough to say that the Bible is inspired. Almost any modernist will admit that it is inspired, if you will let him define what he means. In like manner he will grant that Christ is divine, but he means only in the sense that we all are divine. He will not admit the deity of Jesus. As a rule, in granting that the Bible is inspired, he means it only in the same sense that Shakespeare, Milton, and Browning were inspired. He strips the Bible of its inspiration just as he strips Christ of his deity. All modernistic views of inspiration are wholly inadequate.

While the Holy Spirit moved the penmen of the Bible to write, yet they were free to speak through their own individual background, personality, vocabulary, and style.

“Inspiration did not involve the suspension or suppression of the human faculties, so neither did it interfere with the free exercise of the distinctive mental characteristics of the individual. If a Hebrew was inspired he spoke Hebrew; if a Greek, he spoke Greek; if an educated man, he spoke as a man of culture: if uneducated, he spoke as such a man is wont to speak. If his mind was logical, he reasoned as Paul did; if emotional and contemplative, he wrote as John wrote.”

Their inspiration was not purely mechanical. There may be a few cases of mechanical, or near mechanical, inspiration in the Bible; but it is the exception, not the rule. When Balaam’s ass spoke, that was mechanical; and when men spoke in unknown tongues, as on Pentecost, that was mechanical, or seemingly so. If the writers had been mere pens, instead of penmen, in the hands of God the style and vocabulary of the Bible would be uniform. But such is not the case. Take, for example, the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Their plan, style and peculiar expressions are strikingly different. Matthew was a Jew. He writes with a Jewish background. He gives detailed reports of what Jesus said, quotes often from the Old Testament, and speaks of the “kingdom of heaven,” whereas the other writers say “kingdom of God.” Mark features the mighty works of Jesus. He uses the word “straightway,” or immediately, many times. Luke was a Gentile and a physician. He uses the expression “a certain” frequently. His medical background is evident in his writing. When Jesus said that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God, Matthew and Mark use the Greek word raphis, which means an ordinary needle; but Luke uses the word belone, which means a surgeon’s needle. (Matt. 19:24: Mark 10: 25; Luke 18:25).  In describing a man who had dropsy (Luke 14:2), Luke said he was a “dropsical man,” hudropikos. This is a medical term common in the writings of the Greek physicians. It is not found elsewhere in the New Testament. John records much that is not mentioned by the other writers, He uses the solemn “verily, verily” twenty-five times. He is the only writer who uses this expression.

Many other examples could be cited which show the differences of style and expression found among inspired writers.

SERMONS AND LECTURES

 – B.C. GOODPASTURE-

 1968

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