Monday, January 4, 2021

The Bible: Authority and Authorship

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16).

The authority of the Bible comes from God. The writers of the books of the Bible claim for their own books and for the other books nothing less than divine inspiration. This does not mean that God breathed into them so that they felt inspired. Rather, it means that God breathed His own words through their personalities and pens, so that the finished literary product had two authors: one human and one divine. God superintended the writing of the Bible so that it was wholly His word and free from error and deception. Literally, 2 Timothy 3:16 says that the Bible is not “in-spired” by God but “out-spired” by Him.

Writing to his disciple Timothy, Paul says that evil men will go from bad to worse, deceiving other people and being deceived themselves (2 Timothy 3:13). It is noteworthy that the Bible consistently calls those who practice deception “evil.” Nowadays, we shrink from calling people evil, but the Bible says that those who deceive others are evil. A deception is a misleading of others, and anyone who consciously misleads people is evil.

In this context, Paul tells Timothy to cling to what he had been taught all his life, which is that all the Scriptures were breathed out by God. Just as we use breath to speak, and our breath carries our words, so the Breath (Spirit) of God carries His Word to us. In this context we have to realize that Paul is making an absolute claim. If the Bible contains one misleading statement, it is deceptive. Paul says that those who deceive are evil. If the Bible is anything less than perfectly inerrant, it is deceptive and therefore evil. Or, if Paul is lying about the infallibility of the Bible, then Paul is deceptive and therefore evil. There is no middle ground.

Think about this carefully. If the Bible came from God, and God allowed misleading statements to be put into it, then God is a deceiver. That, of course, is impossible, for the Word of the Lord is flawless. Therefore, either the Bible does not come from God at all (if it contains things that are not true), or the Bible does come from God and is absolutely inerrant and infallible (containing no errors).

People can, of course, misread the Bible and come to wrong conclusions. Have you ever been sure of what some passage of the Bible was saying, only later to learn that you had been wrong, that it was saying something else? Ask God to send His Spirit to help you understand His Word more accurately.