What Does Biblical Inspiration Mean, Really? (Part 7)


Part 6

The scriptures can be inspired and still have mistakes and contradictions

Inspiration doesn’t have to mean that God controlled what was written in any way. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if there are contradictions or not, since it is Holy Spirit who’s going to teach us from it anyways, not logical analysis. Whether the scriptures are inspired or not doesn’t affect Holy Spirit’s ability to speak to us through them. The scriptures can lead us into an encounter with God by pointing to Jesus. Like any book, it is not necessary for them to be “divinely inspired” for Holy Spirit to use them in that way.

Bibles can also be helpful for teaching, reproof, and correction in showing what not to believe, even if it doesn’t say that what is written is mistaken. It requires us to practice discerning by Holy Spirit. Some people would call this picking and choosing, but truth be told everyone picks and chooses – even if we believe that everything that is written is theologically correct, we still must pick and choose the interpretations we will believe.

The Greek word for “inspired by God” (theopneustos) occurs only once in the scriptures (2 Timonty 3:16) and rarely occurs in other Greek literature. It’s meaning is therefore a bit obscure. The word is derived from the Greek words for God (theos) and breathe (pneo), which is why it is sometimes said that the scriptures are “God-breathed” (yet keep in mind that, just like the Latin derivations of our English words, the etymology of a word cannot tell us its real, full meaning). But what if the word was really trying to communicate is not that God breathed the scriptures out but that he breathes on the scriptures, or, in other words, that he simply uses them to speak to us?

If there is anything similar to being God-breathed in the rest of scriptures, it is that God breathed life into Adam and Jesus breathed on his disciples as an act symbolizing the pouring out of Holy Spirit. In both these cases, the “product,” that which is breathed in or on, are fallible human beings. So we could say that people are also God-breathed, and yet people can make mistakes. Apparently God’s okay with that.

“Inspiration” did not always have the meaning it has been given in modern times

I’m taking biblical inspiration to mean that the people who wrote it had a relationship with God. That is also true of writers today. But that doesn’t make the value of all writings of people with relationships with God equal…

God still “inspires” people today because he has living relationships with people he loves and they communicate with each other.

Books written today can also be “profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness.”


I view the scriptures as a collection of writings composed by fallible human beings who had certain experiences with God and interpreted them according to their beliefs. The writers probably had no clue that someday their writings would be put together to make up what we now have as bibles. The authors likely did, however, communicate with God about what to write. They wrote to their audience what they knew about God through their own personal revelation (sounds like what people do nowadays, doesn’t it?). The writers of the scriptures all used a different vocabulary and language to convey their thoughts and held different beliefs (even when it came to essentials; e.g. Paul had to confront Peter for choosing to not eat with Gentiles). Thus some had a fuller revelation of the Gospel than others, and they were all growing in their understanding, just like we are.

This does not mean that I hold a lower view of the scriptures compared to those who believe in inspiration in the modern sense or that I have less respect for the scriptures (although some are will surely conclude so). As a matter of fact, most of what I currently understand God to be has come in one way or another from the scriptures. Then again, this is not surprising because that’s the book I’ve spent the most time reading in my life. Part of the reason for that was because I previously did believe that the scriptures were inspired in the modern sense. I thus subconsciously devalued all other books in my mind and did not expect God to speak to me through them. I am now learning to listen to God through everything without thinking that he set apart certain texts as sacred.


One thought on “What Does Biblical Inspiration Mean, Really? (Part 7)

  1. Pingback: What Does Biblical Inspiration Mean, Really? (Part 6) | Supernatural Gospel

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