IS THE ENTIRE BIBLE INSPIRED?
T PIERCE BROWN
If we were asked that question, probably those of us who think of ourselves as sound, conservative Christians would answer immediately, “Of course!” Suppose the person who asked the question then said, “I found a statement in the Bible that said, ‘There is no God.’ Is that an inspired statement?” We would probably then try to explain, “Not every statement in the Bible was made by an inspired man. So, although every statement in the Bible was included by inspiration, not every statement that is recorded in the Bible was true or an inspired statement.”
An awareness of that fact would help us understand or explain some statements in the Bible, and might create problems with some others. For example, many persons have read in the book of Job the statements of Bildad or some other of Job’s “friends” and have assumed that since they are in the Bible, they must be true. The truth is that God said in Job 42:7 to Eliphaz, “My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.” It should be evident that he did not tell the truth in some instances, and if one reads his words assuming that everything he said was inspired of God, he may make serious errors. We believe it to be recorded by inspiration, but not uttered by inspiration.
However, this may cause us some problems. For example, Paul was an inspired Apostle. Does this mean that every statement uttered by Paul was by inspiration, implying that he was almost infallible or omnipotent? The most likely answer is, “No.” Let’s suppose that while Paul was making a tent someone asked him, “What is the best way to make this kind of tent?” Paul replied, “This is the way it should be done.” It is my judgment that we could safely assume that since Paul was a professional tent-maker, it would be well to follow his advice, but there is nothing in the record that indicates that such a statement was inspired of God.
But donotMt.10:19and Mark 13:11 indicate otherwise. Note exactly what is said in Mark 13:11, “But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.” It should be evident that Jesus is not promising the Apostles that every word they ever uttered or wrote would be by inspiration, but how they would respond when they were arrested for preaching the gospel would be inspired.
This may help to explain what might otherwise be a difficult passage where Paul says in Acts 27:10, “Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives.” Yet in Acts 27:22 he says, “And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship.” If one assumes that the first statement of Paul was by inspiration, then he would probably explain that Paul the “hurt and damage” of their lives did not mean that they would lose their lives, but that they would suffer much.
It is my judgment that we are not required to assume that the first statement was by Divine revelation, for his second statement is specifically said to be so. From what little we are able to understand, at the present moment this seems a logical and scriptural conclusion to draw: When Paul or other inspired men were speaking of the gospel or things that relate to salvation, their words would be given by the Holy Spirit, but when they were merely speaking about ordinary events, such as how to make tents, or whether it might rain tomorrow, there is no reason to assume that the Holy Spirit guided their every assumption, thought, word, or conclusion. If this is not the proper conclusion, then we find it impossible to explain satisfactorily Acts 15:38-39 where Paul thought it not wise to take John Mark, and Barnabas disagreed with him, yet Barnabas is nowhere pictured as rejecting the direction of the Holy Spirit or being in sin because he disagreed with Paul.
T. Pierce Brown
1068 Mitchell Ave.