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The Process of Inspiration

It is often said that the Bible is the “inspired” word of God. This language is derived from 2 Timothy 3:16 where Paul writes, “All scripture (the written word) is given by inspiration of God.” But what does it mean that the Bible is inspired? There is some confusion on this point.
The Encarta Dictionary defines inspiration as, “stimulation for the human mind to creative thought or to the making of art.” Of course, this is how we generally use the word inspiration. On a secular level, an author may say that a certain event inspired them to write a book; an artist may say that a childhood excursion to an art museum inspired them to pick up a paintbrush for the first time. On a more spiritual level, even I may say that a certain event inspired my recent sermon.
However, this is not what we mean when we say that the Bible is the inspired word of God. In other words, God didn’t merely “inspire” the apostles and prophets by stimulating them to creative thought. So what does it mean, then, that the Bible is inspired? Let’s go back for a moment to 2 Timothy 3:16, which is where we find this word “inspiration” in reference to the scriptures. The word itself is from the Greek word theopneustos and means, “divinely breathed in.” So the words that comprise the “scriptures” have been breathed by God. This means that the words from Genesis to Revelation are not the words of men that have been “inspired” or “stimulated” by spiritual experiences; rather, these are the very words of God.
For more insight on this process, let’s consider 2 Peter 1:19-21…
“And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
Peter is giving us insight into the manner in which the scriptures are inspired. It’s not as if these holy men of God received an inspired thought that theyfallibly interpreted and recorded. Instead, those men wrote exactly what the Spirit of God moved them to write. There are many other verses that confirm that this was indeed how the process unfolded.
Moses, David, Luke, Paul and all the other men who penned the scriptureswere NOT simply stimulated to creative thought by their own unique experiences. These men were moved by the Holy Spirit to record the very words of God, breathed out by God Himself, so that we might know, not what Paul thinks about God, but what GOD says about Himself and His will.
This article may inspire other questions, but I simply wanted to offer a brief, biblical explanation of the meaning and process of inspiration. Feel free to submit any comments or questions below!
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