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What does it mean that the Bible was inspired?

Q: "What does it mean that the Bible is 'inspired' (as it claims)?"

our A: Just as an employer would delegate work to his/her employees, God delegated writing to various people over the course of history, to record His interaction with people, so that His message of salvation could be known throughout the earth.

Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible, recording what happened in that time period. Isaiah recorded what God told him to say to the Israelites. Jeremiah recorded all the events of speaking to the Israelites and their reaction to his messages. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John wrote down details of Jesus' life and words. And so on.

In all there are 40 different writers, over a huge time period (1500 years), from different geographical settings. Yet, their description of God and their message about how we can know God is the same.

Inspired literally means God-breathed, or from God's Spirit. God was completely involved. It was like the collaborative work of two writers (God being the primary author, then each of the human authors). God guided them regarding what to say, write, include.

And in many cases, even though God was working through them, their own unique writing styles and emphases are apparent. For example, the writers of the gospels (recording Jesus' life and words) were Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They all gave an account of what Jesus did and said, yet each emphasized different things. John spent more time recording what Jesus said about His deity. Matthew and Luke spent more time on the circumstances around Jesus' birth. Mark gave only a quick summary of Jesus' life.

Here are a few places in the Bible that clearly show the human authors were being guided by God as to what to write:

Then the Lord said to Moses, "Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel." (Exodus 34:27)

In the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord: "Take a scroll and write on it all the words I have spoken to you concerning Israel, Judah and all the other nations from the time I began speaking to you in the reign of Josiah till now." (Jeremiah 36:1-2)

"Go now, write it on a tablet for them, inscribe it on a scroll, that for the days to come it may be an everlasting witness." (Isaiah 30:8)

When I saw him [Jesus], I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later." (Revelation 1:17-19)

Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us... Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. (Luke 1:1-4)

Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31)

...you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed [God-inspired] and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2Timothy 3:15-17)

You must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. (2Peter 1:20-21)

He [Jesus] said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. (Luke 24:25-27)

He [Jesus] said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms." Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. (Luke 24:44-45)

You might also find the following information useful: Why You Can Believe the Bible. To beginning reading the Bible, click here.

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