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 Vol. 3, No. 4 

Page 20

April, 2001

"God Breathed" Scriptures

By Hugo McCord

Divine Breathing

In the creation of the universe, "By the word of Jehovah were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth" (Psalm 33:6). "The Spirit of God was hovering above the waters" (Genesis 1:2).

In the creation of the "first man Adam" (1 Corinthians 15:45), God as a potter "formed" (yasar, "molded") some "dust" (`aphar, "clay") into the shape of a human being, and "breathed" (naphah) "the breath of life" into the dead clay, "and the man became a living being" (Genesis 2:7).

In the creation of the Bible, "every Scripture" was "God breathed" (theopneustos, 2 Timothy 3:16) into selected authors "guided by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21) to write "words taught by the Spirit" (1 Corinthians 2:13). The Greek word theopneustos, "God breathed," the lexicons (Thayer, B-G-D) translate as "inspired by God," which means divine breathing.

In anticipation of the day of Pentecost, May 28, A.D. 30, the birthday of the church and of the kingdom, Jesus "breathed on" the apostles, "and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit'" (John 20:22).

The ASV translation of 2 Timothy 3:16, "Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable," leaves the impression that some Scriptures are not inspired by God. The apostle Peter affirmed that all Scriptures are inspired by God: "Know this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of anyone's own origination (epilusis, "unloosing," "release"), for no prophecy ever came by the will of man, but men, being guided by the Holy Spirit, spoke from God" (2 Peter 1:20-21).

However, the ASV in its margin has another translation of 2 Timothy 3:16: "Every scripture is inspired by God and profitable," which translation is in full agreement with Peter's words.

The Scriptures are also called "living oracles" (logia zonta, Acts 7:38; Romans 3:2; Hebrews 5:12). An "oracle" (logion) is "any utterance of God" (Thayer, 379). Christians are to speak as "the oracles of God" (1 Peter 4:11).

Verbal Inspiration

In verbal inspiration, inspired men "guided by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21) did not have to think of what words that they should speak or write, for it was given to them "in that hour" what to say or write (Matthew 10:19). They were told, "Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate beforehand how to answer" (Luke 21:14). In such situations, they were "not the ones speaking, but" it was the "Spirit of the Father" speaking through them (Matthew 10:20). They were "filled with the Holy Spirit," and on occasion spoke "in other languages, as the Spirit was inspiring them" (Acts 2:4).

A startling example of verbal inspiration, "words taught by the Spirit" (1 Corinthians 2:13), is the word politeuomai, "to behave as a citizen" (Thayer, 528). Inspired letters were written to Timothy, to the Hebrews, to "scattered strangers throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia" (1 Peter 1:1) and to the Christians in Corinth, Thessalonica, Colosse, Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamus, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and to Laodicea, but to none of these would the word politeuomai (Philippians 1:27) be accurate. Only the Philippians could be told to "behave" as "citizens."

The inhabitants of other cities and districts were all subjects of Rome, but not citizens. On the contrary, the inhabitants of Philippi were citizens of Rome as if they lived in the seven-hilled metropolis. Philippi had been designated by Julius Caesar in 42 B.C. as a Roman "colony," and confirmed by Augustus Caesar in 31 B.C. (T. H. Horne, INTRODUCTION, I, 22; BIBLE DICTIONARY, 99), and mentioned by Luke (Acts 16:12).

A city designated as a "colony" of Rome was allowed self-government (libertas), freedom from imperial taxes (immunitas) and enjoyed the same rights as Italian citizens (jus Italicum, INTERPREPTERS' BIBLE). Citizens of Philippi took pride in saying that they were "Romans" (Acts 16:21), though they were some 300 miles away. Was Paul's singular use of the word politeuomai accidental? Or, should one simply stand in amazement at the preciseness of verbal inspiration?

Paul used a form of politeuomai a second time in the Philippian letter, this time not to teach Christians how to behave as Roman citizens, but, building on their political relationship, to teach them about their spiritual citizenship in a commonwealth better far than the Roman: "our citizenship is in heaven" (Philippians 3:20). On this earth, Philippi was a colony belonging to Rome, but those who were Christians in Philippi were also "a colony of heavenly citizens" (Dibelius in B-G-D, 686).

Paul's word "our" (hemon, Philippians 3:20) puts him into a class by himself among the apostles, and is another example of the preciseness of verbal inspiration. Paul is the only one of the apostles known to have been a Roman citizen ("I was Roman born," Acts 22:28), and so is the only one with a dual citizenship, one in Rome and one in heaven. Paul was united with the Philippian Christians, both being enfranchised in the earthly city of Rome and in the heavenly "city of God" Civitas Dei, "the Heavenly Commonwealth" (Augustine, 354-430 A.D., cited by David Smith, THE LIFE AND LETTERS OF ST. PAUL, 512).

Plenary Inspiration

Verbal inspiration is "inspiration that attaches to the very words used in voicing the inspired message" (Webster), whereas plenary inspiration is "inspiration that is perfect in the utterance of the inspired word," making it "full, entire, complete, absolute," but not in dictated words.

In plenary inspiration, inspired men "guided by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21), did think of what words that they would speak or write. "The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem," were not directly given, but were "pondered and sought out" by Solomon, with the result that he "set in order many proverbs" (Ecclesiastes 1:1; 12:9). "The Preacher sought to find out acceptable words, . . . words of truth" (Ecclesiastes 12:10).

Plenary inspiration, "guided by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21), means supervisory inspiration over Solomon's words in Ecclesiastes, Proverbs and the Song of Solomon (1 Kings 3:12; 4:29). Solomon's "wisdom" was what "God had put in his heart" (1 Kings 10:24). As a result, Solomon was "wiser than all men" and he spoke "three thousand proverbs; and his songs were a thousand and five" (1 Kings 4:31-32).

Similarly, supervisory inspiration was given to "Luke, the beloved physician" (Colossians 3:14). Doctor Luke engaged in careful research before writing a word, "having traced the course of all things accurately from the first" (Luke 1:3).

William Kirk Hobart, MEDICAL LANGUAGE OF ST. LUKE, found 480 medical terms in Luke-Acts, all of which became words of the Holy Spirit. Thus, God allowed the physician, in writing the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, to use Luke's own words from the medical profession.

The very first word written by the physician for the Gospel of Luke, Epeideper ("Forasmuch," Luke 1:1, ASV), was used by "the father of medicine," Hippocrates (460-337 B.C.), and Dr. Galen (another physician), in medical works (William Kirk Hobart, ibid.).

Luke's word (and so, what the Spirit approved) epecheiresan, "have taken in hand" (Luke 1:1, ASV), was also a medical term used by Hippocrates: "As many as have taken in hand [epecheiresan] to speak or write concerning the healing art."

Luke's word (and so, the Spirit's word) diagesin ("narrative," Luke 1:1, ASV) was used 75 times by Dr. Galen in referring to the writings of Hippocrates. In diagesin we see the word "diagnosis."

Luke's word (and so, the Spirit's word) autoptai ("eye witnesses," Luke 1:2, ASV) is the medical term for "autopsy." Somebody wrote that plenary inspiration produces "the word of God in the words of men."

A professor in one of "our universities" (?) teaches young preachers against Spirit controlled inspiration, both verbal and plenary, because Paul was "not able to remember whom he had baptized at Corinth" (1 Corinthians 1:16). The Spirit, who has a "mind" (Romans 8:27), and who "searches all things, yes, the deep things of God" (1 Corinthians 2:10), knows why he allowed Paul to tell of his lapse of memory, perhaps because the Spirit wanted us to know that who does the baptizing is not important.

As God allowed Solomon's "pondered and sought out" words to become the Spirit's words, and as he allowed Luke's "traced" out words to become the Spirit's words, so God, in his infinite wisdom (Psalm 147:5), allowed Paul's words to become the Spirit's words. The solid fact remains that Paul was "not speaking in words taught by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit" (1 Corinthians 2:13).

Copyright 2001 Louis Rushmore. All Rights Reserved.
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