The Inspired Word

In my second year of college I took a religious course titled “New Testament”. It was a required course at the public institution I was attending. Before the course started I imagined that this class would be nothing more than a good refresher on the New Testament Scriptures. In reality, the course was built around an atheist-authored text book and based on the premise that all books of the Bible were crafted by the simple minds of men. The course presented the New Testament in a deliberate effort to undermine any notion that these words might have been inspired by an almighty God. Not surprisingly, my faith was shaken. In the next few weeks I’d like to hear your thoughts on the inspiration of the Bible and consider what the Bible itself says about its origin. If the Bible is inspired, what does that mean? What does that say about the authority of the Bible? What is the evidence that the Bible is, in fact, the work of an omnipotent God?

Here’s a good place to start – 2 Timothy 3:16-17:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.


[youtube-feed feed=1]
Tad Morris Written by:


  1. Aaron
    June 4, 2014

    Hi, Tad! I took a similar course to the one that you are describing during my past semester of college. I found it to be a rather thought-provoking experience. The topic that you have broached here has, indeed, been on my mind for quite some time.
    II Timothy 3:16-17 appears to reference works that we would classify as the “Old Testament”. As is always said, Timothy wasn’t learning from the New Testament as a child, for a majority of the works, most likely, weren’t in existence. Interestingly, history would have us believe that the Septuagint was the prominent translation of the “Hebrew Bible” that was being circulated. If I’m remembering correctly, history tends to peg the date of its completion at 132 BC or so. I have no trouble believing that the young man read from this translation as a child; his father, after all, was a Greek! However – as a means of furthering discussion – the Septuagint included works that we now refer to as the “Apocrypha”. Now, Paul is saying that the works that Timothy read – works able to make one wise for salvation – are inspired works. Inspired, by the way, appears to mean, simply, that God played a role in their creation; indeed, the modern terminology would say that God “touched” or “breathed out” the works. What do we say, though, about the idea of the Apocrypha being referenced by Paul?

  2. Craig H
    June 7, 2014

    Tad2 Timothy 3:16-17 seems to be referring to what we call the Old Testament. So that seems to be good evidence that, at least, the OT is God inspired. My own view is that Paul is pointing out a characteristic of one way that God communicates with man. So I don’t think that it is a stretch to also have the opinion, via faith, that the New Testament follows the same pattern.

    Much of the answer to your question is based on faith. My opinion is that the Bible was never meant to be a history or science book or a book of how to organize an earthly government. It is a book of spiritual guidance from God to address our earthly life to lead us to eternal life. Christians have had problems for years taking considering the Bible to be a book of the history of man or a guide to how a human government should work. I think that the following verse supports my opinion. 2 Peter 1:3 (NIV) His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

    As for proof that God inspired the New Testament writers: primarily my proof is faith. It is s separate topic on why so called “scientific proof” has more validity that faith, but in a quick summary: shouldn’t Christians favor faith. We all believe that Nero lived and was a lousy emperor because people wrote about it. Maybe the people that wrote about it disliked him and he was really a super nice guy. Sounds silly, but at some point there is a level of confidence, or faith I guess, that enters most everything that we haven’t seen. Faith has value. My question is: why would Paul or any other of these writers have written what they did if Christ didn’t do what they said. Paul was stoned, chased, imprisoned and probably killed because of it. So was Peter. John was exiled and lonely. They left their families and lived hard lived because they believed what they were doing. A skeptic will say, crazy people have always done this. The problem with that is that these men did the ‘craziness’ for someone else and their writings compliment each other and all tell the same story about Christ, how Christians should live and that God wants is to live eternally.

  3. Craig H
    June 8, 2014

    A pretty good book that is generally on this topic is: Evidence That Demands A Verdict by Josh McDowell. The book was written in the late 1970’s. The same author has written an updated and expanded book called New Evidence that Demands a Verdict within the past couple of years.

  4. Tad
    June 8, 2014

    @Aaron Thanks for your thoughts, Aaron. The subject of the Apocrypha is interesting – I’m glad you brought it up. While some of the apocryphal books do appear in the Septuagint, the New Testament books have exactly zero references to these texts. This silence, in my mind, speaks volumes. With one exception (Esther) every book of the accepted Old Testament canon is validated by references in the New Testament text. Along with several other issues, this lack of New Testament validation would seem to indicate that neither Jesus, nor the Apostles, nor any other author of the New Testament understood the books of the Apocrypha to be inspired. Agreed?

  5. Tad
    June 8, 2014

    @Craig H Thanks, Craig! You’re right – 2 Timothy 3:16-17 clearly defines the Old Testament (OT) as inspired. Here’s an extension of that thought that applies to the New Testament (NT). 1) Paul defines “scripture” as “inspired”. 2) Peter defines the writings of Paul in the NT also as “scripture” (2 Peter 3:15-16). 3) Therefore, the writings of Paul, and presumably the rest of the NT works, should be understood as “scripture” and inspired by God.
    Another point I’d like to comment on… On some level it is true that the most important role of the Bible is not as a history book or a science book, but the Bible is in fact both of those things. I believe, and I think you’ll agree, that the Bible presents a significant amount of history. This is real history that describes the most important events in the human existence (Romans 15:4). In the same way, it is also a book of science. “Science” is much less of a concern in the Bible compared to human history, but the Bible certainly does cross over into the biological sciences on a regular basis. The first example would of course be the first chapter of the Bible describing the origin of the universe.

    I say all this only to emphasize that if the Bible is inspired, we have to also side with the Bible when God’s book disagrees with uninspired science and history.

  6. Tad
    June 8, 2014

    @Craig H Another thought I forgot to mention!
    I think that the story of the Apostles is a good way to talk about the validity of the NT books. It’s one thing to die for something you BELIEVE, it’s quite another to die for something that you claim to have SEEN. All the Apostles suffered greatly for their preaching and all but John died as martyrs. If the miraculous things they claimed to have seen with their own eyes (1 John 1) were not true, why were they willing to die as liars?

    To your point – the natural conclusion is that their preaching was inspired truth.

  7. Craig H
    June 8, 2014

    @tadA couple of additional points. I tend to agree with your point on Peter referring to Paul’s writings being Scripture but I do think that skeptics could have a problem with that, so I like to be careful and not say that Peter’s statement alone provides proof. HOWEVER, when added to Paul’s writings: 1 Thes. 4:15 where he says that he is writing “according to the Lord’s own word” and in Gal 1:12 when he says that he got the information that he is passing on a “revelation from Jesus Christ,” I think that it is MORE than clear that the NT writers believed that they were writing the inspired word of God. Add that to the consistency in message and the case is very strong.

    1 Thessalonians 4:15 (NIV)
    15 According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.

    Galatians 1:11-12 (NIV)
    11 I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

  8. Craig H
    June 8, 2014

    @TadLet me clarify my point on the Bible not being an history or science book nor a thesis on human governments.

    The historical record of the Bible is flawless. It isn’t wrong on events that happened like the Babylonian, Greek of Roman empire. But it wasn’t written to tell the story of world events. It touched on the events that led to Christ. While it tells a history of the Israelite nation, it is a limited history and that history is limited to the events that led to Jesus and God’s plan. That is the reason that nearly every OT story has a spiritual application for us today.

    It isn’t a science book, but one of the main proofs that the Bible is true is the way that it expresses scientific truths centuries before science realize that the message was true: Job 26:7 “He spreads out the northern [skies] over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing,” and Isaiah 40:22 “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in,” just to name two cases.

    Now this part is my opinion, but I think Christians, to often, try to use the Bible as a history of science book to prove things that God did not expect to be proven with the Bible. Creation, for example; the Genesis account was not meant to be used as scientific proof of what God did. It was expressing an event in a summary form and it laid out patterns that would be used later in the Bible such as the sabbath, man being a creature created in a special way separate from all the rest of creation and etc. I think that one of the reasons that creationists have such a difficult time explaining the truth to evolutionists is that they try to use the creation account as an exact physical description and historical account rather than a spiritual description. To say it in another way: I think God was saying “There is no possible way that you humans can understand how I made everything, so I’m not explaining it in detail. It would be too much for you to read anyway. But here is a summary of how everything was created. If you think about how perfect this all works together you will realize how everything I did was done for a reason.” Like I said, just my opinion,

    As for the Bible not being an outline for human governments. Once again, just my opinion but I think that way too many present day Christian find it more important to believe that the good ol’ US of A was established by God than they do that the Church was established by Christ. While that is an extreme, even a small measure of that idea can be dangerous. I don’t believe that it was God’s plan for our country to be pure but for His Church to be pure. Once again, there is much more on this topic too. But the inspired Word of God should lead our lives and the church. We should pray for government to be more righteous, but the instructions in the Bible are for the church and its members and our efforts should be to reach out to the lost.

  9. Craig H
    June 9, 2014

    More proof:
    The Bible lays out proof of scientific facts long before the scientific world discovered them, I when I say long I mean hundreds of years.

    Round earth – Isaiah 40:22
    Hydrological cycle – Eccl. 1:7-8
    The earth hangs (gravity?) Job 26:7
    Ocean springs Job 38:16
    Ocean currents Psa 8:8

    There are loads more. How did the writers know this information? There are two possibilities they were inspired and led by God or they were great scientists. If they were great scientists they were ones that believed in God and thought he was responsible for creation.

  10. June 9, 2014

    @Aaron Great thread guys. A few years ago, I was asked to prepare a series of classes on canonicity. One thing that is essential to remember is that God determines canonicity, man discerns canonicity. Whether or not a book is classified as the word of God is determined by God and discerned by man. In my research, I found five principles that can help us discern whether or not a book is Scripture. a. Is it authoritative? Does this book come with a divine, “Thus saith the Lord”? Does it have a self-vindicating authority that commands attention as it communicates? (Mark 1:22 And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.)
    b. Is it prophetic? Was it written by a man of God? (2 Peter 1:21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.)
    c. Is it authentic? Does the book tell the truth about God, man, etc. as it is already known by previous revelations? (2 Peter 3:14-16 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; (15) and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation–as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, (16) as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.)
    d. Is it dynamic? Does it come with the power of God? Can it help reshape lives? (Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.)
    e. Was it received? Has this book been accepted generally by the people of God? (1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.)

    I’d be happy to talk about this a little further if you like…

  11. Aaron
    June 10, 2014

    You make a valid point about the lack of Apocryphal quotations present within the New Testament. There is something to say about the diligence with which the authors of the Bible presented works that Christ and His followers readily used and quoted from. I would be curious to hear your thoughts on the passage in Jude. Many, indeed, do believe the prophecy of Enoch to have come from the Book of Enoch, which, as far as I’m concerned, is a work as close to being considered Apocryphal as any other prominent work in that category. It is not improbable, even more, as many will state, that the early Christians – Timothy, obviously, included – read from and learned from Apocryphal works. History seems to testify that the works of the Apocrypha – especially those originally written in Greek – were not held in the highest esteem by the Israelites nor the early Christians. More specifically, I can recognize that many of the works were not viewed in the same way in which the “Law and Prophets” were. However, it appears – based upon, for me, the somewhat strong hold that they held on the world for somewhere around a millennium – as if they were still read and learned from. I don’t know why they wouldn’t be, for we still do the same when desiring to learn about the history of certain ages and the ways in which God was viewed and depicted. Indeed, Apocryphal works, as far as I can tell from my own readings, do a decent job of falling in line with how other books that we consider to be inspired present accepted subjects or views. In this line of thinking, it seems that many could come to the conclusion that these works are profitable in the great task of equipping us for good works, and that, according to Paul’s line of thinking in the passage that you have referenced, gives something of an indication that these works had God’s hand behind them. I suppose I should say that I would have to receive a fairly lucid definition of inspiration from you in order to concur with the thoughts running through your mind.

  12. Aaron
    June 10, 2014

    @Craig H
    Hi, Craig! I agree with your conclusions about the purpose of the written works that we have before us. The passages that we see in the Bible testify that the primary – solitary, perhaps – reason for the written works being preserved for us is so that we can be spiritually learned and encouraged. Tad referenced Romans 15:4, which is a fantastic verse that gives us so much confidence in the idea of written works being preserved for further generations. Interestingly, this verse testifies that the purpose of the ancient works was to promote learning, and, furthermore, the whole purpose of the provision of learning is to foster comfort and perseverance in the minds of individuals. Presumably, the idea of fostering these characteristics is so that people will continue in the ways of God. This, perhaps, is the idea of “[having] hope.” Paul’s words in I Corinthians 10:11 concur with his words in Romans 15. Funny how that works. John tells us that he wrote down what he did in his recording of Christ’s life so that individuals might “believe that Jesus is the Christ,” and Paul, again, states that he wrote down what he did so that Timothy would know how to conduct himself in the house of God, which is to be the “pillar and ground of the truth” (John 20:30-31; I Timothy 3:16). All of these verses, it would seem, indicate that the purpose of godly men writing godly works in times past was so that they could encourage godly actions. As you and Tad have affirmed, the Bible, or, more specifically, the works of the Bible, don’t appear to be meant as history or science textbooks. The information that is presented does detail these aspects of our education and does, as we would expect, put these details forth as the truths of God, but the whole purpose of presenting them was so that individuals might be spiritually learned and strengthened.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *