2 Peter 1:21 Verbal Inspiration

21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Verbal Inspiration

Believers in inspiration will say that the Bible is inspired by God.  This does not mean that the Bible was dictated.  It means that the Holy Spirit put ideas into the minds of the original authors and they wrote the ideas faithfully.  The words themselves were also inspired, but at the same time they reflected the personality and craftsmanship of the writers who wrote them.

Objectors to this view have arisen over the years, but none of the objections can not be answered by people of faith.  It comes down to whether you want to believe the Bible is the reliable word of God or whether you want to dismiss it.  Some people will claim that they wanted to believe the Bible was inspired but lost confidence in it for some reason.

The more I read the Bible, the more I find that it is a wholly remarkable book.  The internal coherence is remarkable when you think of the diversity of the authors.  The content, although containing many stories, is still one story.

Questions

  1. What is the doctrine of verbal inspiration?
  2. Why do some people object to it?
  3. Have you struggled with the idea that God inspired scripture?
  4. What difference does it make whether God inspired the authors or not?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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2 Responses to 2 Peter 1:21 Verbal Inspiration

  1. Christina Zezulak says:

    The doctrine of verbal inspiration says that the Holy Spirit and man are both 100% the authors of Scripture. The Holy Spirit leads men to write faithfully while the writings reflect the uniqueness of them, their culture, and their time period. I think some people object it because it appears too complex. Muslims say that the Quran was 100% dictated by God and simply copied by man, which can somehow be easier for people to accept. Skeptics say that the Bible was 100% written by man, which makes it easier for people to disregard its essential aspects. I don’t recall struggling too much with the idea of God-inspired scripture, although I cannot say that I never questioned it. But the more I learn about the Bible and study it, I become more and more convinced of its inspiration.

  2. kevin w. says:

    This doctrine, perhaps more than any other, has been one I have revisited many times. While the basic definition which I currently adhere to is not hard to grasp conceptually, it is hard to then correlate this with some of the internal contradictions (or to be more orthodox, paradox?). Basically verbal inspiration is the idea that God is the ultimate author of the Bible, inspiring His prophets and apostles to write what He wanted them to. However, this is different from the Muslim idea of literal dictation (word for word) of their holy scriptures. I believe this, and this is where the doctrine of inerrancy is derived.
    My difficulty, then, is how this correlates with the differences in the details of some of the stories. For example, there are real differences which definitely seem to be flat contradictions between the grave accounts of the Gospels concerning the angels (how many, where they were, what they were doing, etc.). Chronicles and kings have details which are in opposition to one another as well. I think these are some of the reasons why a lot of people have a hard time or reject the doctrine of verbal inspiration. Some react by adjusting the doctrine to make these tensions disappear, but then I think they are left with even bigger tensions.
    If God did not inspire the authors, then the critical historians of the modern and postmodern era are right in their quest for the historical Jesus. We have no confidence that the Bible is correct and no way of knowing with any certainty which parts are false. It becomes subjective.

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