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  • Writer's pictureWill Hawk

Was Scripture Written by Men?

We can answer the query with a resounding, yes. Divinely inspired men were the human writers/authors of Scripture. Nearly, all else that is known about Scripture is asserted by Scripture itself and must first, be believed by faith, and second, be defended with argumentation. Scripture was written by men, however, God is the ultimate Author. Here, the phrase “divinely inspired” has significance and needs to be understood clearly as regards the means by which men wrote. The term “inspiration” is used to convey the idea that 2 Peter 1:20-21 explains, “Knowing this first of all that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” The phrase “carried along” gives the sense that writers of Scripture were acted upon by the power of the Holy Spirit causing them to be moved or driven to write. The term “inspiration” then is used by theologians to express the “supernatural influence exerted on the sacred writers by the Spirit of God, by virtue of which their writings are given Divine trustworthiness.”[1] It may appear that inspiration is merely dictation in which God spoke and the writers copied exactly what was spoken. If we take this view alone, we might assume that the biblical writers were, “unintelligent instruments or pens used by the Holy Spirit.”[2] In addition, this single concept does not begin to relate the various modes that could possibly be utilized by the Holy Spirit nor the differing styles and personalities represented by the human agents. For example, it is clear that each of the New Testament writers used different styles and skills. Paul’s letters are intricate in detail and technical writing skill. He makes use of an extensive vocabulary and his knowledge of the Old Testament, indicating that he was well educated. Luke makes use of research skills as he was inspired to provide a thorough account of the life of Jesus and the actions of the Holy Spirit to Theophilus. The other gospel writers possessed a variety of writing skills and seemed to depend heavily on firsthand knowledge to convey their message. This assortment is enough to refute the notion that the human authors were dictated the exact words of scripture. Instead the exact message conveyed by human authors was inspired by a variety of modes but limited to a single means. So, the mode of inspiration is secondary to the means of inspiration. 2 Timothy 3:16 reveals that, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” Some translations render “breathed out by God” as “inspired by God” or some equivalent. This indicates nothing about the mode of inspiration but everything about the means. What is expressed is Scripture exists by means of the prompting of God. It was God the Holy Spirit who initiated Scripture and inspired men to write by various modes.

[1] Benjamin B. Warfield, Revelation and Inspiration, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1932), 77–78.

[2] Edgar Y. Mullins, Freedom and Authority in Religion, (Philadelphia: The Griffith & Rowland Press, 1913), 379.

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