Is All Scripture Given by Inspiration of God?
Dear brothers and sisters, may you find peace in the Lord! Thanks be to the grace of God that we have been brought together today, and the question we will be fellowshiping is: Is all Scripture given by inspiration of God?
Is All Scripture Given by Inspiration of God?
When we talk about this issue, there are perhaps some brothers and sisters who will say, “Do you really need to ask this question? In 2 Timothy 3:16, it tells us clearly that ‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God.’ It is therefore clear that the Bible contains only the words of God, so what more could one wish to know?” Brothers and sisters, we conclude that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and that the Bible contains only the words of God only on the basis of this one statement from Paul, but is there a foundation in God’s words for this view? Did the Lord Jesus ever say such a thing? Did the Holy Spirit ever say such a thing? If there is no foundation in God’s words for this view, what will the consequences be if we continue to cling to it? The Lord Jesus said, “He that is not with Me is against Me; and he that gathers not with Me scatters abroad” (Matthew 12:30). As believers in God, we should always speak and act on the basis of God’s words and the facts of His works. If our views are at odds with God’s words and the facts of His works to the point where they run contrary to them, then in God’s eyes we become people who are opposed to Him, and we will certainly not earn His praise. Understanding the question, “Is all Scripture given by inspiration of God?” is therefore crucial to each and every one of us.
Brothers and sisters, if we do actually wish to understand this question, then we must first understand that the Bible is just a testimony to God, it is a record of God’s works and a historical book. Besides the words spoken by Jehovah, besides the words Jehovah directed the prophets to relay, the words of the Lord Jesus and the words in Revelation which God revealed to John, the rest of the words in the Bible are not the words of God, and most are actually the words of man, with some also being the words of Satan, the old serpent. Furthermore, most of the Four Gospels and the epistles of the other apostles were written by the disciples and apostles who followed the Lord Jesus, and they wrote them based on their own memories and from the accounts of other people. Although some of the words in these epistles arose from the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit and are of some benefit to people, they are still only the words of man and they cannot be said to be God’s words. This is because people are mere created beings, because we have been deeply corrupted by Satan, and because we do not possess the truth, much less are able to express the truth. God, on the other hand, is the Lord of creation, the source of all life, and His words are the expression of the truth, the way and the life. Consequently, God’s words will ever be God’s words and man’s words will ever be man’s words; Satan’s words will also only ever be Satan’s words, and they will only ever be fallacious, false and heretical. If we say that all the words of man and of Satan that are in the Bible are the words of God, and that they are given by inspiration of God, would we not be distorting the facts and confusing right with wrong? Would we not be defying and blaspheming God? It is therefore evident that the words spoken by Paul, that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God,” arose from his own conceptions and imaginings and are simply at odds with the words of God. Similarly, all of us brothers and sisters who today follow the Lord have been affected by Paul’s statement, and we believe that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and that the Bible contains only the words of God. This understanding does not accord with the facts, nor does it accord with the words of God. God’s words speak clearly on this matter, so let’s read them together. God says, “Today, people believe the Bible is God, and that God is the Bible. So, too, do they believe that all the words of the Bible were the only words God spoke, and that they were all said by God. Those who believe in God even think that, although all of the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testament were written by people, they were all given by inspiration of God, and a record of the utterances of the Holy Spirit. This is the erroneous comprehension of man, and it does not completely accord with the facts. In fact, apart from the books of prophecy, most of the Old Testament is a historical record. Some of the epistles of the New Testament come from people’s experiences, and some come from the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit; the Pauline epistles, for example, arose from the work of a man, they were all the result of the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment, and they were written for the churches, and were words of exhortation and encouragement for the brothers and sisters of the churches. They were not words spoken by the Holy Spirit—Paul could not speak on behalf of the Holy Spirit, and neither was he a prophet, much less did he see the visions that John beheld. His epistles were written for the churches of Ephesus, Philadelphia, Galatia, and other churches. And thus, the Pauline epistles of the New Testament are epistles that Paul wrote for the churches, and not inspirations from the Holy Spirit, nor are they the direct utterances of the Holy Spirit. They are merely words of exhortation, comfort, and encouragement that he wrote for the churches during the course of his work. So, too, are they a record of much of Paul’s work at the time. … All he said that was edifying and positive to people was right, but it did not represent the utterances of the Holy Spirit, and it could not represent God. It is an egregious understanding, and a tremendous blasphemy, for people to treat the records of a man’s experiences and a man’s epistles as the words spoken by the Holy Spirit to the churches!” (“Concerning the Bible (3)”).
We understand from God’s words that not all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and that the Bible contains both the words of man as well as the words of God—it explains this clearly within the Bible itself. If we wish to distinguish which words are man’s words and which are God’s words within Scripture, we have only to see whom the words are being spoken by in order to understand. The words spoken by God are certainly God’s words, and the words spoken by man are certainly man’s words, except for the words of God that are relayed by man, of course. And the words of Satan are certainly outright lies. By mastering this principle, we will be able to clearly distinguish which of the words within Scripture are God’s words.
Are There Really No Errors Within Scripture?
There may perhaps be some brothers and sisters who believe that there is no error to be found in all the content of the Bible that was written by over 40 different authors. They believe that this shows that the Bible’s true author is God and that all the words in Scripture come from the Holy Spirit and are but the words of God. But is this really the case?
With regard to this issue, let’s first read two passages of God’s words: “The Gospel of Matthew of the New Testament documents Jesus’ genealogy. At the start, it says that Jesus was a descendant of Abraham and of David, and the son of Joseph; next it says that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of a virgin—which would mean He was not the son of Joseph or the descendant of Abraham and of David. The genealogy, though, insists on associating Jesus with Joseph. Next, the genealogy begins to record the process by which Jesus was born. It says Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, that He was born of a virgin, and not the son of Joseph. Yet in the genealogy it is clearly written that Jesus was the son of Joseph, and because the genealogy is written for Jesus, it records forty-two generations. When it goes to the generation of Joseph, it hurriedly says that Joseph was the husband of Mary, words which are given in order to prove that Jesus was the descendant of Abraham. Is this not a contradiction? The genealogy clearly documents Joseph’s ancestry, it is obviously the genealogy of Joseph, but Matthew insists that it is the genealogy of Jesus. Does this not deny the fact of Jesus’ conception by the Holy Spirit? Thus, is the genealogy by Matthew not a human idea? It is ridiculous! This is how you can know that this book did not come entirely from the Holy Spirit” (“Concerning the Bible (3)”). “If the Four Gospels all came from the Holy Spirit, then why is it that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John each said something different about the work of Jesus? If you do not believe this, then look at the accounts in the Bible of how Peter denied the Lord three times: They are all different, and they each have their own characteristics. … Carefully read the Four Gospels; read what they recorded about the things that Jesus did, and the words He spoke. Each account is quite simply different, and each has its own perspective. If what was written by the authors of these books all came from the Holy Spirit, then it should all be the same and consistent. Why then are there discrepancies? Is man not extremely foolish, to be unable to see this?” (“Concerning Appellations and Identity”).
God’s words speak very clearly: The words in the Bible do not come entirely from the Holy Spirit and are not all given by inspiration of God. Because the more than 40 different authors of the Bible were of widely varying education and possessed very different calibers, there are also differences in the events they recorded, and therefore the Bible necessarily contains some errors and adulterations brought about by the ideas of man. As God’s words reveal, for example, Matthew knew perfectly well that the Lord Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, but he still insisted on making a genealogy for the Lord Jesus, saying that He was the descendant of David and the son of Joseph. By doing this, is Matthew not directly denying the fact that the Lord Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit? Are Matthew’s words not self-contradictory? In John 8:58, it clearly states, “Truly, truly, I say to you, Before Abraham was, I am.” We can see from the Lord Jesus’ words that He was God Himself and that He bore no relation to Joseph. And yet Matthew insisted on forming a connection between them, and so it is clear that it was not the Holy Spirit who directed him to make this genealogy, but rather it was his own idea. Furthermore, although the matters recorded by verses in many places in Scripture record the same event, their meanings differ. Take Peter denying the Lord Jesus three times, for example. In Matthew’s record of this event, it is recorded as, “Before the cock crow, you shall deny Me thrice” (Matthew 26:75), whereas in Mark’s record, it is recorded as, “Before the cock crow twice, you shall deny Me thrice” (Mark 14:72). There is also Jehoiachin’s ascendance to the throne. In one verse he is recorded as having ascended to the throne when he was 18 years old and that he ruled as king for three months (see 2 Kings 24:8). In another verse, however, it records him as having ascended to the throne when he was eight years old and that he ruled for three months and 10 days (see 2 Chronicles 36:9). From these examples, we can see that there are some words within Scripture that come from the records of man and are not given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. If Scripture was all inspired by the Holy Spirit, then it should all be entirely accurate, without any error whatsoever. In Luke 1:1–2, it clearly states: “For as much as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them to us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word.” It can therefore be seen that some of the words in Scripture arose from the author’s own experiences, and that some were based on what was preached to the author, and were written after the author had investigated it himself; they were not given to the authors as direct inspiration from God, they did not entirely come from God and are not all God’s words. If we say that words which carry the adulterations of man’s own ideas are the words of God, then our understanding is skewed, and this is an even greater blasphemy to God.
Seeing as not all Scripture is inspired by God, nor are all the words in Scripture God’s words, who were its real authors? And how should we approach Scripture?
Who Exactly Were the Real Authors of Scripture? How Can We Take the Correct Approach to the Bible?
God says, “In fact, it is merely a human record. It was not personally named by Jehovah, nor did Jehovah personally guide its creation. In other words, the author of this book is not God, but men. The Holy Bible is only the respectful title given to it by man. This title was not decided by Jehovah and Jesus after They had a discussion amongst each other; it is nothing more than a human idea. For this book was not written by Jehovah, much less by Jesus. Instead, it is the accounts given by many ancient prophets, apostles, and seers, which were compiled by later generations into a book of ancient writings that, to people, seems especially holy, a book that they believe contains many unfathomable and profound mysteries that are waiting to be unlocked by future generations” (“Concerning the Bible (4)”). God’s words tell us clearly that the authors of Scripture were human beings, not God, and it is precisely because Scripture is a human record that there inevitably exist some errors and adulterations brought about by man’s own ideas.
Brothers and sisters, I trust that, through the above fellowship, we have come to have some true understanding and discernment of the statement made by Paul that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God,” and I trust that we now truly comprehend the inside story and essence of the Bible. What we must understand, however, is that our aim in fellowshiping these things is not to deny the Bible, much less deny the value of using the Bible, but rather it is to enable people to take the correct approach to the Bible, for the Bible is a record of God’s works and it is a great help to us in understanding God’s past work, and in understanding God’s will and requirements toward the people of those days. Just as God’s words say: “[W]hat I am teaching you is simply the substance and inside story of the Bible. I am not asking that you do not read the Bible, or that you go around proclaiming that it is devoid of value, only that you have the correct knowledge and view of the Bible. Do not be too one-sided! Although the Bible is a history book that was written by men, it also documents many of the principles by which the ancient saints and prophets served God, as well as the recent apostles’ experiences in serving God—all of which were really seen and known by these people, and can serve as reference for the people of this age in pursuing the true way” (“Concerning the Bible (4)”). Brothers and sisters, now that we understand what kind of book the Bible is exactly, we should take the correct approach to it. We must not believe in it blindly, we must not foolishly think of it as being all given by inspiration of God and treat all the words within it as though they were the words of God, but neither must we deny the reference value of the Bible. When we encounter all the many different kinds of situations in our lives, or in respect to the important matter of welcoming the coming of the Lord, we should always contemplate and seek more within the words of God in the Bible, and we should practice in accordance with God’s words and in accordance with His will and requirements. Only in this way will we be able to obtain the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit, and only then will our actions accord with the will of God.
Thanks be to the enlightenment and guidance of God, and may God be with us all. Amen!
Editor’s Note: Through the above fellowship, we now understand that the Bible is not all given by inspiration of God and that not all the words found within the Bible are the words of God. I would therefore like to recommend to you some wonderful movie clips about Scripture that can help you to take the correct approach to the Bible: "Disclose the Mystery About the Bible" (1) - Is There God's Work and Word Outside the Bible? "Disclose the Mystery About the Bible" (4) - Inside Story of the Bible