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Hope. Inspiration. Trust.
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INSPIRATION by B. B. Warfield
1. Meaning of Terms
2. Occurrences in the Bible
3. Consideration of Important Passages
4. Christ’s Declaration that Scripture Must be Fulfilled
5. Christ’s Testimony That God is Author
6. Similar Witness of Apostles
7. Identification of God & Scripture
8. The “Oracles of God”
9. Human Element in Scripture
10. Activities of God in Giving Scripture
12. Effect of Human Qualities: Providential Preparation
13. “Inspiration” More than “Providence”
14. Witness of N.T. Writers to Divine Operation
15. “Inspiration” & “Revelation”
16. Scriptures a Divine-Human Book?
17. Scripture of N.T. Writers was the O.T.
18. Inclusion of New Testament
INSPIRATION by A. A. Hodge and B. B. Warfield
The Genesis of Scripture
Statement of the Doctrine
Proof of the Doctrine.
Critical Objections Tried
The Authenticity & Integrity of Books of O.T & N.T.
Detailed Accuracy of Statement
Historical & Geographical Accuracy
Complete internal harmony
Correct Application of the Old Testament
About CrossReach Publications
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B. B. Warfield
From The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, edited by James Orr, vol. 3 (Chicago: Howard-Severance Co., 1915), pp. 1473-1483.
The word “inspire” and its derivatives seem to have come into Middle English from the French, and have been employed from the first (early in the 14th century) in a considerable number of significations, physical and metaphorical, secular and religious. The derivatives have been multiplied and their applications extended during the procession of the years, until they have acquired a very wide and varied use. Underlying all their use, however, is the constant implication of an influence from without, producing in its object movements and effects beyond its native, or at least its ordinary powers. The noun “inspiration,” although already in use in the 14th century, seems not to occur in any but a theological sense until late in the 16th century. The specifically theological sense of all these terms is governed, of course, by their usage in Latin theology; and this rests ultimately on their employment in the Latin Bible. In the Vulgate Latin Bible the verb inspiro (Gen. 2:7; Wisdom of Solomon 15:11; Ecclesiasticus 4:12; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21) and the noun inspiratio (2 Sam. 22:16; Job 32:8; Psalm 18:15; Acts 17:25) both occur 4 or 5 times in somewhat diverse applications. In the development of a theological nomenclature, however, they have acquired (along with other less frequent applications) a technical sense with reference to the Biblical writers or the Biblical books. The Biblical books are called inspired as the Divinely determined products of inspired men; the Biblical writers are called inspired as breathed into by the Holy Spirit, so that the product of their activities transcends human powers and becomes Divinely authoritative. Inspiration is, therefore, usually defined as a supernatural influence exerted on the sacred writers by the Spirit of God, by virtue of which their writings are given Divine trustworthiness.
Meanwhile, for English-speaking men, these terms have virtually ceased to be Biblical terms. They naturally passed from the Latin Vulgate into the English versions made from it (most fully into the Rheims-Douay: Job 32:8; Wisdom of Solomon 15:11; Ecclesiasticus 4:12; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21). But in the development of the English Bible they have found ever-decreasing place. In the English versions of the Apocrypha (both the King James Version and the Revised Version) “inspired” is retained in Wisdom of Solomon 15:11; but in the canonical books the nominal form alone occurs in the King James Version and that only twice: Job 32:8, “But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding”; and 2 Tim. 3:16, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” the Revised Version removes the former of these instances, substituting “breath” for “inspiration”; and alters the latter so as to read: “Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness,” with a marginal alternative in the form of, “Every scripture is inspired of God and profitable,” etc. The word “inspiration” thus disappears from the English Bible, and the word “inspired” is left in it only once, and then, let it be added, by a distinct and even misleading mistranslation.
For the Greek word in this passage—θεοπνευστος, theopneustos—very distinctly does not mean “inspired of God.” This phrase is rather the rendering of the Latin, divinitus inspirata, restored from the Wyclif (“Al Scripture of God ynspyrid is ....”) and Rhemish (“All Scripture inspired of God is ....”) versions of the Vulgate. The Greek word does not even mean, as the King James Version translates it, “given by inspiration of God,” although that rendering (inherited from Tyndale: “All Scripture given by inspiration of God is ....” and its successors; cf. Geneva: “The whole Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is ....”) has at least to say for itself that it is a somewhat clumsy, perhaps, but not misleading, paraphrase of the Greek term in the theological language of the day. The Greek term has, however, nothing to say of inspiring or of inspiration: it speaks only of a “spiring” or “spiration.” What it says of Scripture is, not that it is “breathed into by God” or is the product of the Divine “inbreathing” into its human authors, but that it is breathed out by God, “God-breathed,” the product of the creative breath of God. In a word, what is declared by this fundamental passage is simply that the Scriptures are a Divine product, without any indication of how God has operated in producing them. No term could have been chosen, however, which would have more emphatically asserted the Divine production of Scripture than that which is here employed. The “breath of God” is in Scripture just the symbol of His almighty power, the bearer of His creative word. “By the word of the LORD,” we read in the significant parallel of Psalm 33:6 “were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.” And it is particularly where the operations of God are energetic that this term (whether רוח, ruach, or נשמה, neshamah) is employed to designate them—God’s breath is the irresistible outflow of His power. When Paul declares, then, that “every scripture” or “all scripture” is the product of the Divine breath, “is God-breathed,” he asserts with as much energy as he could employ that Scripture is the product of a specifically Divine operation.
(1) 2 Timothy 3:16. In the passage in which Paul makes this energetic assertion of the Divine origin of Scripture he is engaged in explaining the greatness of the advantages which Timothy had enjoyed for learning the saving truth of God. He had had good teachers; and from his very infancy he had been, by his knowledge of the Scriptures, made wise unto salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. The expression, “sacred writings,” here employed (verse 15), is a technical one, not found elsewhere in the New Testament, it is true, but occurring currently in Philo and Josephus to designate that body of authoritative books which constituted the Jewish “Law.” It appears here anarthrously because it is set in contrast with the oral teaching which Timothy had enjoyed, as something still better: he had not only had good instructors, but also always “an open Bible,” as we should say, in his hand. To enhance yet further the great advantage of the possession of these Sacred Scriptures the apostle adds now a sentence throwing their nature strongly up to view. They are of Divine origin and therefore of the highest value for all holy purposes.
There is room for some difference of opinion as to the exact construction of this declaration. Shall we render “Every Scripture” or “All Scripture”? Shall we render “Every (or all) Scripture is God-breathed and (therefore) profitable,” or “Every (or all) Scripture, being God-breathed, is as well profitable”? No doubt both questions are interesting, but for the main matter now engaging our attention they are both indifferent. Whether Paul, looking back at the Sacred Scriptures he had just mentioned, makes the assertion he is about to add, of them distributively, of all their parts, or collectively, of their entire mass, is of no moment: to say that every part of these Sacred Scriptures is God-breathed and to say that the whole of these Sacred Scriptures is God-breathed, is, for the main matter, all one. Nor is the difference great between saying that they are in all their parts, or in their whole extent, God-breathed and therefore profitable, and saying that they are in all their parts, or in their whole extent, because God-breathed as well profitable. In both cases these Sacred Scriptures are declared to owe their value to their Divine origin; and in both cases this their Divine origin is energetically asserted of their entire fabric. On the whole, the preferable construction would seem to be, “Every Scripture, seeing that it is God-breathed, is as well profitable.” In that case, what the apostle asserts is that the Sacred Scriptures, in their every several passage—for it is just “passage of Scripture” which “Scripture” in this distributive use of it signifies—is the product of the creative breath of God, and, because of this its Divine origination, is of supreme value for all holy purposes.
It is to be observed that the apostle does not stop here to tell us either what particular books enter into the collection which he calls Sacred Scriptures, or by what precise operations God has produced them. Neither of these subjects entered into the matter he had at the moment in hand. It was the value of the Scriptures, and the source of that value in their Divine origin, which he required at the moment to assert; and these things he asserts, leaving to other occasions any further facts concerning them which it might be well to emphasize. It is also to be observed that the apostle does not tell us here everything for which the Scriptures are made valuable by their Divine origination. He speaks simply to the point immediately in hand, and reminds Timothy of the value which these Scriptures, by virtue of their Divine origin, have for the “man of God.” Their spiritual power, as God-breathed, is all that he had occasion here to advert to. Whatever other qualities may accrue to them from their Divine origin, he leaves to other occasions to speak of.
(2) 2 Peter 1:19-21. What Paul tells us here about the Divine origin of the Scriptures is enforced and extended by a striking passage in 2 Peter (1:19-21). Peter is assuring his readers that what had been made known to them of “the power and coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ” did not rest on “cunningly devised fables.” He offers them the testimony of eyewitnesses of Christ’s glory. And then he intimates that they have better testimony than even that of eyewitnesses. “We have,” says he, “the prophetic word” (English versions, unhappily, “the word of prophecy”): and this, he says, is “more sure,” and therefore should certainly be heeded. He refers, of course, to the Scriptures. Of what other “prophetic word” could he, over against the testimony of the eyewitnesses of Christ’s “excellent glory” (KJV) say that “we have” it, that is, it is in our hands? And he proceeds at once to speak of it plainly as “Scriptural prophecy.” You do well, he says, to pay heed to the prophetic word, because we know this first, that “every prophecy of scripture ....” It admits of more question, however, whether by this phrase he means the whole of Scripture, designated according to its character, as prophetic, that is, of Divine origin; or only that portion of Scripture which we discriminate as particularly prophetic, the immediate revelations contained in Scripture. The former is the more likely view, inasmuch as the entirety of Scripture is elsewhere conceived and spoken of as prophetic. In that case, what Peter has to say of this “every prophecy of scripture”—the exact equivalent, it will be observed, in this case of Paul’s “every scripture” (2 Tim. 3:16)—applies to the whole of Scripture in all its parts. What he says of it is that it does not come “of private interpretation”; that is, it is not the result of human investigation into the nature of things, the product of its writers’ own thinking. This is as much as to say it is of Divine gift. Accordingly, he proceeds at once to make this plain in a supporting clause which contains both the negative and the positive declaration: “For no prophecy ever came (margin: “was brought”) by the will of man, but it was as borne by the Holy Spirit that men spoke from God.” In this singularly precise and pregnant statement there are several things which require to be carefully observed. There is, first of all, the emphatic denial that prophecy—that is to say, on the hypothesis upon which we are working, Scripture—owes its origin to human initiative: “No prophecy ever was brought—‘came’ is the word used in the English versions of the text, with ‘was brought’ in the Revised Version margin—by the will of man.” Then, there is the equally emphatic assertion that its source lies in God: it was spoken by men, indeed, but the men who spoke it “spake from God.” And a remarkable clause is here inserted, and thrown forward in the sentence that stress may fall on it, which tells us how it could be that men, in speaking, should speak not from themselves, but from God: it was “as borne”—it is the same word which was rendered “was brought” above, and might possibly be rendered “brought” here—“by the Holy Spirit” that they spoke. Speaking thus under the determining influence of the Holy Spirit, the things they spoke were not from themselves, but from God.
Here is as direct an assertion of the Divine origin of Scripture as that of 2 Tim. 3:16. But there is more here than a simple assertion of the Divine origin of Scripture. We are advanced somewhat in our understanding of how God has produced the Scriptures. It was through the instrumentality of men who “spake from him.” More specifically, it was through an operation of the Holy Ghost on these men which is described as “bearing” them. The term here used is a very specific one. It is not to be confounded with guiding, or directing, or controlling, or even leading in the full sense of that word. It goes beyond all such terms, in assigning the effect produced specifically to the active agent. What is “borne” is taken up by the “bearer,” and conveyed by the “bearer’s” power, not its own, to the “bearer’s” goal, not its own. The men who spoke from God are here declared, therefore, to have been taken up by the Holy Spirit and brought by His power to the goal of His choosing. The things which they spoke under this operation of the Spirit were therefore His things, not theirs. And that is the reason which is assigned why “the prophetic word” is so sure. Though spoken through the instrumentality of men, it is, by virtue of the fact that these men spoke “as borne by the Holy Spirit,” an immediately Divine word. It will be observed that the proximate stress is laid here, not on the spiritual value of Scripture (though that, too, is seen in the background), but on the Divine trustworthiness of Scripture. Because this is the way every prophecy of Scripture “has been brought,” it affords a more sure basis of confidence than even the testimony of human eyewitnesses. Of course, if we do not understand by “the prophetic word” here the entirety of Scripture described, according to its character, as revelation, but only that element in Scripture which we call specifically prophecy, then it is directly only of that element in Scripture that these great declarations are made. In any event, however, they are made of the prophetic element in Scripture as written, which was the only form in which the readers of this Epistle possessed it, and which is the thing specifically intimated in the phrase “every prophecy of scripture.” These great declarations are made, therefore, at least of large tracts of Scripture; and if the entirety of Scripture is intended by the phrase “the prophetic word,” they are made of the whole of Scripture.
(3) John 10:34-35. How far the supreme trustworthiness of Scripture, thus asserted, extends may be conveyed to us by a passage in one of Our Lord’s discourses recorded by John (John 10:34-35). The Jews, offended by Jesus’ “making himself God,” were in the act to stone Him, when He defended Himself thus: “Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), say ye of him, whom the Father sanctified (margin “consecrated”) and sent unto the world, Thou