“That Book in Your Hand”
My first sermon on Bibliology (the study of what the Scriptures are, and how they came to us) focused on the inspiration of the Scriptures, from II Timothy 3:16. In writing on that sermon, I focused extensively on the divine nature of the Scriptures. My second sermon (introduced here) was on how that divine nature came into being, from II Peter 1:19-21:
19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
Moved by the Spirit
In the last post, we looked at this passage from II Peter. The Holy Spirit “moved” the human authors of Scripture, bearing them or carrying them along in the giving of the Scriptures, called “immediate inspiration” or “inscripturation” (definitions). The result is that the Bible is God’s Book. It is not a human creation, it came from God and not man. It has a true meaning, and that meaning is the one God intended, because the Holy Spirit carried the authors to His intended destination. The Scriptures say what God intended them to say.
The Spirit Moved in the Very Words
The Spirit’s moving in the giving of the Scriptures extended to the very words which were written. Every word was God’s. Exodus 31:18 tells us that God wrote the words of the Ten Commandments on the tables of stone, though that is obviously a special case — most of the Scriptures weren’t written by the finger of God on stone tablets.
In Deuteronomy 18:18 God said He would “put My words” in the mouth of the prophets. Someone could read this as figurative language meaning, “I gave them a message.” If that were true, it would mean that the general idea was God’s, but the prophets were the ones who put it into words. However, when we see how the Saviour and the Apostle Paul used the Scriptures, we learn that could not be the case. Not only the ideas or concepts, but also the exact words, every individual one, are authoritative because they are from God.
1. Jesus Refuted His Enemies Based on the Truth of One Word. Jesus affirmed the authority of a single word from Psalm 82:6. John 10:34-35:
34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?
35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;
The Hebrew word Elohim is most often used of Almighty God. It is a plural form, and is used in reference to the Lord in what is known as the “plural of majesty,” somewhat similar to the royal “we” in English. It is also commonly used in the more normal plural sense to refer to false gods, or idols. Less commonly, it is used of judges, to emphasise their duty to judge righteously, because all judging is ultimately God’s so any judge is His representative. The context shows clearly that this latter sense is in view in Psalm 82:6.
Here, Jesus refutes those who were challenging His deity by saying that, if God called the children of Israel “gods” because they had the responsibility to judge in a way that showed they were representing God, how much more should He, the One who came from the Father, be known as the Son of God?
I’ve spent some time explaining the different meanings of this word for a purpose which I’ll elaborate in my next post, Lord willing. For the purposes of the discussion in this post, we simply need to recognise that Christ implied the authority of a single word by using it to demonstrate truth. But lest we miss the point, He went further than “implied” — He explicitly endorsed the authority of a single word with His statement that, “The Scripture cannot be broken.”
Nor is this instance of teaching based on a single word unique in Jesus’ ministry. In Matthew 22:32, He taught the truth of the resurrection based on the fact that God said, “I am,” instead of “I was.” Later in the same chapter, he taught that Messiah is not only the Son of David but also the Son of God, based on the single word “Lord.”
2. Paul Taught Truth Based on the Form of a Word. In Galatians 3:14-16, Paul taught that the promise to Abraham’s seed was a reference to Christ:
14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
15 Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto.
16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
The key to Paul’s teaching in verse 16 is the fact that the word was singular instead of plural (“seed” instead of “seeds”). Thus, Paul was demonstrating that even the form of a word in the Scriptures is authoritative and profitable for our learning.
In these two passages, we see that individual words were considered by both Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul to have the full authority of Scripture. This could only be if the individual words were from God Himself. I’ll write more on these passages in my next post, Lord willing. For now, I’ll leave it with this statement:
God the Holy Spirit “moved” His prophets and apostles not only in the thoughts but also in the detailed choice of the individual words of Scripture.
Update: Main article.