International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
BIBLE, THE, V INSPIRATION
1. Scripture a Unity:
Holy Scripture is not simply a collection of religious books: still less does it consist of mere fragments of Jewish and Christian literature. It belongs to the conception of Scripture that, though originating "by divers portions and in divers manners" (Hebrews 1:1), it should yet, in its completeness, constitute a unity, evincing, in the spirit and purpose that bind its parts together, the Divine source from which its revelation comes. The Bible is the record of God's revelations of Himself to men in successive ages and dispensations (Ephesians 1:8-10; Ephesians 3:5-9 Colossians 1:25, 26), till the revelation culminates in the advent and work of the Son, and the mission of the Spirit. It is this aspect of the Bible which constitutes its grand distinction from all collections of sacred writings-the so-called "Bibles" of heathen religions-in the world. These, as the slightest inspection of them shows, have no unity. They are accumulations of heterogeneous materials, presenting, in their collocation, no order, progress, or plan. The reason is, that they embody no historical revelation working out a purpose in consecutive stages from germinal beginnings to perfect close. The Bible, by contrast, is a single book because it embodies such a revelation, and exhibits such a purpose. The unity of the book, made up of so many parts, is the attestation of the reality of the revelation it contains.
2. The Purpose of Grace:
This feature of spiritual purpose in the Bible is one of the most obvious things about it (compare POT, 30). It gives to the Bible what is sometimes termed its "organic unity." The Bible has a beginning, middle and end. The opening chapters of Genesis have their counterpart in the "new heaven and new earth" and paradise restored of the closing chapters of Revelation (21; 22). Man's sin is made the starting-point for disclosures of God's grace. The patriarchal history, with its covenants and promises, is continued in the story of the Exodus and the events that follow, in fulfillment of these promises. Deuteronomy recapitulates the lawgiving at Sinai. Jos sees the people put in possession of the promised land. Backsliding, rebellion, failure, do not defeat God's purpose, but are overruled to carry it on to a surer completion. The monarchy is made the occasion of new promises to the house of David (2 Samuel 7). The prophets root themselves in the past, but, at the very hour when the nation seems sinking in ruin; hold out bright hopes of a greater future in the extension of God's kingdom to the Gentiles, under Messiah's rule. A critical writer, Kautzsch, has justly said: "The abiding value of the Old Testament lies above all in this, that it guarantees to us with absolute certainty the fact and the process of a Divine plan and way of salvation, which found its conclusion and fulfillment in the new covenant, in the person and work of Jesus Christ" (Bleibende Bedeutung des Altes Testament, 22, 24, 28-29, 30-31).
Fulfilment in Christ.
How truly all that was imperfect, transitional, temporary, in the Old Testament was brought to realization and completion in the redemption and spiritual kingdom of Christ need not here be dwelt upon. Christ is the prophet, priest and king of the New Covenant. His perfect sacrifice, "once for all," supersedes and abolishes the typical sacrifices of the old economy (Hebrews 9-10). His gift of the Spirit realizes what the prophets had foretold of God's law being written in men's hearts (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Jeremiah 32:39, 40 Ezekiel 11:19, 20, etc.). His kingdom is established on moveless foundations, and can have no end (Philippians 2:9-11 Hebrews 12:28 Revelation 5:13, etc.). In tracing the lines of this redeeming purpose of God, brought to light in Christ, we gain the key which unlocks the inmost meaning of the whole Bible. It is the revelation of a "gospel."
"Inspiration" is a word round which many debates have gathered. If, however, what has been said is true of the Bible as the record of a progressive revelation, of its contents as the discovery of the will of God for man's salvation, of the prophetic and apostolic standing of its writers, of the unity of spirit and purpose that pervades it, it will be difficult to deny that a quite peculiar presence, operation, and guidance of the Spirit of God are manifest in its production. The belief in inspiration, it has been seen, is implied in the formation of these books into a sacred canon. The full discussion of the subject belongs to a special article. (see INSPIRATION). Biblical Claim.
Here it need only be said that the claim for inspiration in the Bible is one made in fullest measure by the Bible itself. It is not denied by any that Jesus and His apostles regarded the Old Testament Scriptures as in the fullest sense inspired. The appeal of Jesus was always to the Scriptures, and the word of Scripture was final with Him. "Have ye not read?" (Matthew 19:4). "Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God" (Matthew 22:29). This because "God" speaks in them (Matthew 19:4). Prophecies and psalms were fulfilled in Him (Luke 18:31; Luke 22:37; Luke 24:27, 44). Paul esteemed the Scriptures "the oracles of God" (Romans 3:2). They are "God-inspired" (2 Timothy 3:16). That New Testament prophets and apostles were not placed on any lower level than those of the Old Testament is manifest from Paul's explicit words regarding himself and his fellow-apostles. Paul never faltered in his claim to be "an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God" (Ephesians 1:1, etc.)-"separated unto the gospel of God" (Romans 1:1)-who had received his message, not from man, but by "revelation" from heaven (Galatians 1:11, 22). The "mystery of Christ" had "now been revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit," in consequence of which the church is declared to be "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief corner stone" (Ephesians 2:20; Ephesians 3:5).
Marks of Inspiration.
It might be shown that these claims made by New Testament writers for the Old Testament and for themselves are borne out by what the Old Testament itself teaches of prophetic inspiration, of wisdom as the gift of God's spirit, and of the light, holiness, saving virtue and sanctifying power continually ascribed to God's "law," "words," "statutes," "commandments," "judgments" (see above). This is the ultimate test of "inspiration"-that to which Paul likewise appeals-its power to "make wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 3:15)-its profitableness "for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16)-all to the end "that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work" (2 Timothy 3:17). Nothing is here determined as to "inerrancy" in minor historical, geographical, chronological details, in which some would wrongly put the essence of inspiration; but it seems implied that at least there is no error which can interfere with or nullify the utility of Scripture for the ends specified. Who that brings Scripture to its own tests of inspiration, will deny that, judged as a whole, it fulfils them?
4. Historical Influence of the Bible:
The claim of the Bible to a Divine origin is justified by its historical influence. Regarded even as literature, the Bible has an unexampled place in history. Ten or fifteen manuscripts are thought a goodly number for an ancient classic; the manuscripts of whole or parts of the New Testament are reckoned by thousands, the oldest going back to the 4th or 5th century. Another test is translation. The books of the New Testament had hardly begun to be put together before we find translations being made of them in Latin, Syriac, Egyptian, later into Gothic and other barbarous tongues (see VERSIONS). In the Middle Ages, before the invention of printing, translations were made into the vernacular of most of the countries of Europe. Today there is not a language in the civilized world, hardly a language among uncivilized tribes, wherever missions have gone, into which this word of God has not been rendered. Thanks to the labors of Bible Societies, the circulation of the Bible in the different countries of the world in recent years outstrips all previous records. No book has ever been so minutely studied, has had so many books written on it, has founded so vast a literature of hymns, liturgies, devotional writings, sermons, has been so keenly assailed, has evoked such splendid defenses, as the Bible. Its spiritual influence cannot be estimated. To tell all the Bible has been and done for the world would be to rewrite in large part the history of modern civilization. Without it, in heathen lands, the arm and tongue of the missionary would be paralyzed. With it, even in the absence of the missionary, wondrous results are often effected. In national life the Bible is the source of our highest social and national aspirations. Professor Huxley, though an agnostic, argued for the reading of the Bible in the schools on this very ground. "By the study of what other book," he asked, "could children be so much humanized, and made to feel that each figure in that vast historical procession fills, like themselves, but a momentary space in the interval between two eternities, and earns the blessings or the curses of all times, according to its effort to do good and to hate evil, even as they are also earning their payment for their work?" (Critiques and Addresses, 61).
A few notes may be added, in closing, on special points not touched in the preceding sections.
1. Chapters and Verses:
Already in pre-Talmudic times, for purposes of reading in the synagogues, the Jews had larger divisions of the law into sections called Para-shahs, and of the prophets into similar sections called HaphTarahs. They had also smaller divisions into Pecuqim, corresponding nearly with our verses. The division into chapters is much later (13th century). It is ascribed to Cardinal Hugo de St Caro (died 1248); by others to Stephen Langton, archbishop of Canterbury (died 1227). It was adopted into the Vulgate, and from this was transferred by R. Nathan (circa 1440) to the Hebrew Bible (Bleek, Keil). Verses are marked in the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) as early as 1558. They first appear in the New Testament in Robert Stephens' edition of the Greek Testament in 1551. Henry Stephens, Robert's son, reports that they were devised by his father during a journey on horseback from Paris to Lyons.
2. The King James Version and Revised Version:
The King James Version of 1611, based in part on earlier English Versions, especially Tyndale's, justly holds rank as one of the noblest monuments of the English language of its own, or any, age. Necessarily, however, the Greek text used by the translators ("Textus Receptus"), resting on a few late manuscripts, was very imperfect. With the discovery of more ancient manuscripts, and multiplication of appliances for criticism, the need and call for a revised text and translation became urgent. Finally, at the instance of the Convocation of the Province of Canterbury, the task of revision was undertaken by Committees representing the best English and American scholarship. Their labors resulted in the publication, in 1881, of the Revised New Testament, and in 1885, of the Revised Old Testament (a revised edition of the Apocrypha was published in 1896). The preferencest of the American Revisers were printed in an appendix, a pledge being given that no further changes should be made for 14 years. The English Companies were disbanded shortly after 1885, but the American Committee, adhering to its own renderings, and believing that further improvements on the English the Revised Version (British and American) were possible, continued its organization and work. This issued, in 1901, in the production of the American Standard Revised Version, which aims at greater consistency and accuracy in a number of important respects, and is supplied, also, with carefully selected marginal references (see AMERICAN REVISED VERSION). Little could be done, in either the English Revised V ersion or the American Standard Revised Version, in the absence of reliable data for comparison, with the text of the Old Testament, but certain obvious corrections have been made, or noted in the margin.
3. Helps to Study:
In recent years abundant helps have been furnished, apart from Commentaries and Dictionaries, for the intelligent study of the English Bible. Among such works may be mentioned the Oxford Helps to the Study of the Bible; the valuable Aids to Bible Students (Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1898); Dr. Angus' Bible Handbook (revised by Green); A. S. Peake's Guide to Biblical Study (1897); W. F. Adeney's How to Read the Bible (1896); R. C. Moulton's The Modern Reader's Bible (1907); The Sunday School Teachers' Bible (1875); The Variorum Reference Bible and Variorum Teachers' Bible (1880); Weymouth's New Testament in Modern Speech (1909); The Twentieth Century New Testament (Westcott and Hort's text, 1904); S. Lloyd's The Corrected English New Testament (Bagster, 1905).
Compare articles in the Bible Dicts., specially Sanday on "Bible," and Dobschutz on "The Bible in the Church," in Hastings' Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, II; Westcott, The Bible in the Church (1875); W. H. Bennett, A Primer of the Bible (1897); A. F. Kirkpatrick, The Divine Library of the Old Testament (1896); J. Eadie, The English Bible; works on Introduction (Driver, etc.); books mentioned above under "Helps"; B. B. Warfield in Princeton Theological Review (October, 1910); C. A. Briggs, General Introduction to the Study of Holy Scripture (Scribners, 1899); W. H. Green, General Introduction to the Old Testament (Scribners, 1899); E. C. Bissell, The Pentateuch: Its Origin and Structure (Scribners, 1885); Zahn, Introduction to the New Testament.
1. Meaning of Terms
2. Occurrences in the Bible
3. Consideration of Important Passages
(1) 2 Timothy 3:16
(2) 2 Peter 1:19-21
(3) John 10:34 f
4. Christ's Declaration That Scripture Must Be Fulfilled
5. His Testimony That God Is Author of Scripture
6. Similar Testimony of His Immediate Followers
7. Their Identification of God and Scripture
8. The "Oracles of God"
9. The Human Element in Scripture
10. Activities of God in Giving Scripture
11. General Problem of Origin: God's Part
12. How Human Qualities Affected Scripture. Providential Preparation
13. "Inspiration" More than Mere "Providence"
14. Witness of New Testament Writers to Divine Operation
15. "Inspiration" and "Revelation"
16. Scriptures a Divine-Human Book?
17. Scripture of the New Testament Writers Was the Old Testament
18. Inclusion of the New Testament
1. Meaning of Terms:
The word "inspire" and its derivatives seem to have come into Middle English from the French, and have been employed from the first (early in the 14th century) in a considerable number of significations, physical and metaphorical, secular and religious. The derivatives have been multiplied and their applications extended during the procession of the years, until they have acquired a very wide and varied use. Underlying all their use, however, is the constant implication of an influence from without, producing in its object movements and effects beyond its native, or at least its ordinary powers. The noun "inspiration," although already in use in the 14th century, seems not to occur in any but a theological sense until late in the 16th century. The specifically theological sense of all these terms is governed, of course, by their usage in Latin theology; and this rests ultimately on their employment in the Latin Bible. In the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) Latin Bible the verb inspiro (Genesis 2:7; The Wisdom of Solomon 15:11; Ecclesiasticus 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:16 2 Peter 1:21) and the noun inspiratio (2 Samuel 22:16 Job 32:8 Psalm 18:15 Acts 17:25) both occur 4 or 5 times in somewhat diverse applications. In the development of a theological nomenclature, however, they have acquired (along with other less frequent applications) a technical sense with reference to the Biblical writers or the Biblical books. The Biblical books are called inspired as the Divinely determined products of inspired men; the Biblical writers are called inspired as breathed into by the Holy Spirit, so that the product of their activities transcends human powers and becomes Divinely authoritative. Inspiration is, therefore, usually defined as a supernatural influence exerted on the sacred writers by the Spirit of God, by virtue of which their writings are given Divine trustworthiness.
2. Occurrences in the Bible:
Meanwhile, for English-speaking men, these terms have virtually ceased to be Biblical terms. They naturally passed from the Latin Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) into the English versions made from it (most fully into the Rheims-Douay: Job 32:8; The Wisdom of Solomon 15:11; Ecclesiasticus 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:16 2 Peter 1:21). But in the development of the English Bible they have found ever-decreasing place. In the English Versions of the Bible of the Apocrypha (both the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American)) "inspired" is retained in The Wisdom of Solomon 15:11; but in the canonical books the nominal form alone occurs in the King James Version and that only twice: Job 32:8, "But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding"; and 2 Timothy 3:16, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." the Revised Version (British and American) removes the former of these instances, substituting "breath" for "inspiration"; and alters the latter so as to read: "Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness," with a marginal alternative in the form of, "Every scripture is inspired of God and profitable," etc. The word "inspiration" thus disappears from the English Bible, and the word "inspired" is left in it only once, and then, let it be added, by a distinct and even misleading mistranslation.
For the Greek word in this passage-theopneustos-very distinctly does not mean "inspired of God." This phrase is rather the rendering of the Latin, divinitus inspirata, restored from the Wycliff ("Al Scripture of God ynspyrid is.") and Rhemish ("All Scripture inspired of God is.") versions of the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) The Greek word does not even mean, as the King James Version translates it, "given by inspiration of God," although that rendering (inherited from, Tyndale: "All Scripture given by inspiration of God is." and its successors; compare Geneva: "The whole Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is.") has at least to say for itself that it is a somewhat clumsy, perhaps, but not misleading, paraphrase of the Greek term in theological language of the day. The Greek term has, however, nothing to say of inspiring or of inspiration: it speaks only of a "spiring" or "spiration." What it says of Scripture is, not that it is "breathed into by God" or is the product of the Divine "inbreathing" into its human authors, but that it is breathed out by God, "God-breathed," the product of the creative breath of God. In a word, what is declared by this fundamental passage is simply that the Scriptures are a Divine product, without any indication of how God has operated in producing them. No term could have been chosen, however, which would have more emphatically asserted the Divine production of Scripture than that which is here employed. The "breath of God" is in Scripture just the symbol of His almighty power, the bearer of His creative word. "By the word of Yahweh," we read in the significant parallel of Psalm 33:6 "were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth." And it is particularly where the operations of God are energetic that this term (whether ruach, or neshamah) is employed to designate them-God's breath is the irresistible outflow of His power. When Paul declares, then, that "every scripture" or "all scripture" is the product of the Divine breath, "is God-breathed," he asserts with as much energy as he could employ that Scripture is the product of a specifically Divine operation.
3. Consideration of Important Passages:
(1) 2 Timothy 3:16:
In the passage in which Paul makes this energetic assertion of the Divine origin of Scripture he is engaged in explaining the greatness of the advantages which Timothy had enjoyed for learning the saving truth of God. He had had good teachers; and from his very infancy he had been, by his knowledge of the Scriptures, made wise unto salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. The expression, "sacred writings," here employed (1 Timothy 3:15), is a technical one, not found elsewhere in the New Testament, it is true, but occurring currently in Philo and Josephus to designate that body of authoritative books which constituted the Jewish "Law." It appears here anarthrously because it is set in contrast with the oral teaching which Timothy had enjoyed, as something still better: he had not only had good instructors, but also always "an open Bible," as we should say, in his hand. To enhance yet further the great advantage of the possession of these Sacred Scriptures the apostle adds now a sentence throwing their nature strongly up to view. They are of Divine origin and therefore of the highest value for all holy purposes.
There is room for some difference of opinion as to the exact construction of this declaration. Shall we render "Every Scripture" or "All Scripture"? Shall we render "Every (or all) Scripture is God-breathed and (therefore) profitable," or "Every (or all) Scripture, being God-breathed, is as well profitable"? No doubt both questions are interesting, but for the main matter now engaging our attention they are both indifferent. Whether Paul, looking back at the Sacred Scriptures he had just mentioned, makes the assertion he is about to add, of them distributively, of all their parts, or collectively, of their entire mass, is of no moment: to say that every part of these Sacred Scriptures is God-breathed and to say that the whole of these Sacred Scriptures is God-breathed, is, for the main matter, all one. Nor is the difference great between saying that they are in all their parts, or in their whole extent, God-breathed and therefore profitable, and saying that they are in all their parts, or in their whole extent, because God-breathed as well profitable. In both cases these Sacred Scriptures are declared to owe their value to their Divine origin; and in both cases this their Divine origin is energetically asserted of their entire fabric. On the whole, the preferable construction would seem to be, "Every Scripture, seeing that it is God-breathed, is as well profitable." In that case, what the apostle asserts is that the Sacred Scriptures, in their every several passage-for it is just "passage of Scripture" which "Scripture" in this distributive use of it signifies-is the product of the creative breath of God, and, because of this its Divine origination, is of supreme value for all holy purposes.
It is to be observed that the apostle does not stop here to tell us either what particular books enter into the collection which he calls Sacred Scriptures, or by what precise operations God has produced them. Neither of these subjects entered into the matter he had at the moment in hand. It was the value of the Scriptures, and the source of that value in their Divine origin, which he required at the moment to assert; and these things he asserts, leaving to other occasions any further facts concerning them which it might be well to emphasize. It is also to be observed that the apostle does not tell us here everything for which the Scriptures are made valuable by their Divine origination. He speaks simply to the point immediately in hand, and reminds Timothy of the value which these Scriptures, by virtue of their Divine origin, have for the "man of God." Their spiritual power, as God-breathed, is all that he had occasion here to advert to. Whatever other qualities may accrue to them from their Divine origin, he leaves to other occasions to speak of.
(2) 2 Peter 1:19-21:
What Paul tells us here about the Divine origin of the Scriptures is enforced and extended by a striking passage in 2Pe (1:19-21). Peter is assuring his readers that what had been made known to them of "the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" did not rest on "cunningly devised fables." He offers them the testimony of eyewitnesses of Christ's glory. And then he intimates that they have better testimony than even that of eyewitnesses. "We have," says he, "the prophetic word" (English Versions of the Bible, unhappily, "the word of prophecy"): and this, he says, is "more sure," and therefore should certainly be heeded. He refers, of course, to the Scriptures. Of what other "prophetic word" could he, over against the testimony of the eyewitnesses of Christ's "excellent glory" (the King James Version) say that "we have" it, that is, it is in our hands? And he proceeds at once to speak of it plainly as "Scriptural prophecy." You do well, he says, to pay heed to the prophetic word, because we know this first, that "every prophecy of scripture." It admits of more question, however, whether by this phrase he means the whole of Scripture, designated according to its character, as prophetic, that is, of Divine origin; or only that portion of Scripture which we discriminate as particularly prophetic, the immediate revelations contained in Scripture. The former is the more likely view, inasmuch as the entirety of Scripture is elsewhere conceived and spoken of as prophetic. In that case, what Peter has to say of this "every prophecy of scripture"-the exact equivalent, it will be observed, in this case of Paul's "every scripture" (2 Timothy 3:16)-applies to the whole of Scripture in all its parts. What he says of it is that it does not come "of private interpretation"; that is, it is not the result of human investigation into the nature of things, the product of its writers' own thinking. This is as much as to say it is of Divine gift. Accordingly, he proceeds at once to make this plain in a supporting clause which contains both the negative and the positive declaration: "For no prophecy ever came (margin: "was brought") by the will of man, but it was as borne by the Holy Spirit that men spoke from God." In this singularly precise and pregnant statement there are several things which require to be carefully observed. There is, first of all, the emphatic denial that prophecy-that is to say, on the hypothesis upon which we are working, Scripture-owes its origin to human initiative: "No prophecy ever was brought-`came' is the word used in the English Versions of the Bible text, with `was brought' in the Revised Version margin-by the will of man." Then, there is the equally emphatic assertion that its source lies in God: it was spoken by men, indeed, but the men who spoke it "spake from God." And a remarkable clause is here inserted, and thrown forward in the sentence that stress may fall on it, which tells us how it could be that men, in speaking, should speak not from themselves, but from God: it was "as borne"-it is the same word which was rendered "was brought" above, and might possibly be rendered "brought" here-"by the Holy Spirit" that they spoke. Speaking thus under the determining influence of the Holy Spirit, the things they spoke were not from themselves, but from God.
Here is as direct an assertion of the Divine origin of Scripture as that of 2 Timothy 3:16. But there is more here than a simple assertion of the Divine origin of Scripture. We are advanced somewhat in our understanding of how God has produced the Scriptures. It was through the instrumentality of men who "spake from him." More specifically, it was through an operation of the Holy Ghost on these men which is described as "bearing" them. The term here used is a very specific one. It is not to be confounded with guiding, or directing, or controlling, or even-leading in the full sense of that word. It goes beyond all such terms, in assigning the effect produced specifically to the active agent. What is "borne" is taken up by the "bearer," and conveyed by the "bearer's" power, not its own, to the "bearer's" goal, not its own. The men who spoke from God are here declared, therefore, to have been taken up by the Holy Spirit and brought by His power to the goal of His choosing. The things which they spoke under this operation of the Spirit were therefore His things, not theirs. And that is the reason which is assigned why "the prophetic word" is so sure. Though spoken through the instrumentality of men, it is, by virtue of the fact that these men spoke "as borne by the Holy Spirit," an immediately Divine word. It will be observed that the proximate stress is laid here, not on the spiritual value of Scripture (though that, too, is seen in the background), but on the Divine trustworthiness of Scripture. Because this is the way every prophecy of Scripture "has been brought," it affords a more sure basis of confidence than even the testimony of human eyewitnesses. Of course, if we do not understand by "the prophetic word" here the entirety of Scripture described, according to its character, as revelation, but only that element in Scripture which we call specifically prophecy, then it is directly only of that element in Scripture that these great declarations are made. In any event, however, they are made of the prophetic element in Scripture as written, which was the only form in which the readers of this Epistle possessed it, and which is the thing specifically intimated in the phrase "every prophecy of scripture." These great declarations are made, therefore, at least of large tracts of Scripture; and if the entirety of Scripture is intended by the phrase "the prophetic word," they are made of the whole of Scripture.
(3) John 10:34 f:
How far the supreme trustworthiness of Scripture, thus asserted, extends may be conveyed to us by a passage in one of our Lord's discourses recorded by John (John 10:34-35). The Jews, offended by Jesus' "making himself God," were in the act to stone Him, when He defended Himself thus: "Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), say ye of him, whom the Father sanctified (margin "consecrated") and sent unto the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?" It may be thought that this defense is inadequate. It certainly is incomplete: Jesus made Himself God (John 10:33) in a far higher sense than that in which "Ye are gods" was said of those "unto whom the word of God came": He had just declared in unmistakable terms, "I and the Father are one." But it was quite sufficient for the immediate end in view-to repel the technical charge of blasphemy based on His making Himself God: it is not blasphemy to call one God in any sense in which he may fitly receive that designation; and certainly if it is not blasphemy to call such men as those spoken of in the passage of Scripture adduced gods, because of their official functions, it cannot be blasphemy to call Him God whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world. The point for us to note, however, is merely that Jesus' defense takes the form of an appeal to Scripture; and it is important to observe how He makes this appeal. In the first place, He adduces the Scriptures as law: "Is it not written in your law?" He demands. The passage of Scripture which He adduces is not written in that portion of Scripture which was more specifically called "the Law," that is to say, the Pentateuch; nor in any portion of Scripture of formally legal contents. It is written in the Book of Pss; and in a particular psalm which is as far as possible from presenting the external characteristics of legal enactment (Psalm 82:6). When Jesus adduces this passage, then, as written in the "law" of the Jews, He does it, not because it stands in this psalm, but because it is a part of Scripture at large. In other words, He here ascribes legal authority to the entirety of Scripture, in accordance with a conception common enough among the Jews (compare John 12:34), and finding expression in the New Testament occasionally, both on the lips of Jesus Himself, and in the writings of the apostles. Thus, on a later occasion (John 15:25), Jesus declares that it is written in the "law" of the Jews, "They hated me without a cause," a clause found in Psalm 35:19. And Paul assigns passages both from the Psalms and from Isaiah to "the Law" (1 Corinthians 14:21 Romans 3:19), and can write such a sentence as this (Galatians 4:21 f): "Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written." quoting from the narrative of Gen. We have seen that the entirety of Scripture was conceived as "prophecy"; we now see that the entirety of Scripture was also conceived as "law": these three terms, the law, prophecy, Scripture, were indeed, materially, strict synonyms, as our present passage itself advises us, by varying the formula of adduction in contiguous verses from "law" to "scripture." And what is thus implied in the manner in which Scripture is adduced, is immediately afterward spoken out in the most explicit language, because it forms an essential element in Our Lord's defense. It might have been enough to say simply, "Is it not written in your law?" But our Lord, determined to drive His appeal to Scripture home, sharpens the point to the utmost by adding with the highest emphasis: "and the scripture cannot be broken." This is the reason why it is worth while to appeal to what is "written in the law," because "the scripture cannot be broken." The word "broken" here is the common one for breaking the law, or the Sabbath, or the like (John 5:18; John 7:23 Matthew 5:19), and the meaning of the declaration is that it is impossible for the Scripture to be annulled, its authority to be withstood, or denied. The movement of thought is to the effect that, because it is impossible for the Scripture-the term is perfectly general and witnesses to the unitary character of Scripture (it is all, for the purpose in hand, of a piece)-to be withstood, therefore this particular Scripture which is cited must be taken as of irrefragable authority. What we have here is, therefore, the strongest possible assertion of the indefectible authority of Scripture; precisely what is true of Scripture is that it "cannot be broken." Now, what is the particular thing in Scripture, for the confirmation of which the indefectible authority of Scripture is thus invoked? It is one of its most casual clauses-more than that, the very form of its expression in one of its most casual clauses. This means, of course, that in the Savior's view the indefectible authority of Scripture attaches to the very form of expression of its most casual clauses. It belongs to Scripture through and through, down to its most minute particulars, that it is of indefectible authority.
It is sometimes suggested, it is true, that our Lord's argument here is an argumentum ad hominem, and that His words, therefore, express not His own view of the authority of Scripture, but that of His Jewish opponents. It will scarcely be denied that there is a vein of satire running through our Lord's defense: that the Jews so readily allowed that corrupt judges might properly be called "gods," but could not endure that He whom the Father had consecrated and sent into the world should call Himself Son of God, was a somewhat pungent fact to throw up into such a high light. But the argument from Scripture is not ad hominem but e concessu; Scripture was common ground with Jesus and His opponents. If proof were needed for so obvious a fact, it would be supplied by the circumstance that this is not an isolated but a representative passage. The conception of Scripture thrown up into such clear view here supplies the ground of all Jesus' appeals to Scripture, and of all the appeals of the New Testament writers as well. Everywhere, to Him and to them alike, an appeal to Scripture is an appeal to an indefectible authority whose determination is final; both He and they make their appeal indifferently to every part of Scripture, to every element in Scripture, to its most incidental clauses as well as to its most fundamental principles, and to the very form of its expression. This attitude toward Scripture as an authoritative document is, indeed, already intimated by their constant designation of it by the name of Scripture, the Scriptures, that is "the Document," by way of eminence; and by their customary citation of it with the simple formula, "It is written." What is written in this document admits so little of questioning that its authoritativeness required no asserting, but might safely be taken for granted. Both modes of expression belong to the constantly illustrated habitudes of our Lord's speech. The first words He is recorded as uttering after His manifestation to Israel were an appeal to the unquestionable authority of Scripture; to Satan's temptations He opposed no other weapon than the final "It is written"! (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10 Luke 4:4, 8). And among the last words which He spoke to His disciples before He was received up was a rebuke to them for not understanding that all things "which are written in the law of Moses, and the prophets, and psalms" concerning Him-that is (Luke 24:45) in the entire "Scriptures"-"must needs be" (very emphatic) "fulfilled" (Luke 24:44). "Thus it is written," says He (Luke 24:46), as rendering all doubt absurd. For, as He had explained earlier upon the same day (Luke 24:25), it argues only that one is "foolish and slow of heart" if he does not "believe in" (if his faith does not rest securely on, as on a firm foundation) "all" (without limit of subject-matter here) "that the prophets" (explained in Luke 24:27 as equivalent to "all the scriptures") "have spoken."
4. Christ's Declaration That Scripture Must Be Fulfilled:
The necessity of the fulfillment of all that is written in Scripture, which is so strongly asserted in these last instructions to His disciples, is frequently adverted to by our Lord. He repeatedly explains of occurrences occasionally happening that they have come to pass "that the scripture might be fulfilled" (Mark 14:49 John 13:18; John 17:12; compare John 12:14 Mark 9:12, 13). On the basis of Scriptural declarations, therefore, He announces with confidence that given events will certainly occur: "All ye shall be offended (literally, "scandalized") in me this night: for it is written." (Matthew 26:31 Mark 14:27; compare Luke 20:17). Although holding at His command ample means of escape, He bows before on-coming calamities, for, He asks, how otherwise "should the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?" (Matthew 26:54). It is not merely the two disciples with whom He talked on the way to Emmaus (Luke 24:25) whom He rebukes for not trusting themselves more perfectly to the teaching of Scripture. "Ye search the scriptures," he says to the Jews, in the classical passage (John 5:39), "because ye think that in them ye have eternal life; and these are they which bear witness of me; and ye will not come to me, that ye may have life!" These words surely were spoken more in sorrow than in scorn: there is no blame implied either for searching the Scriptures or for thinking that eternal life is to be found in Scripture; approval rather. What the Jews are blamed for is that they read with a veil lying upon their hearts which He would fain take away (2 Corinthians 3:15 f). "Ye search the scriptures"-that is right: and "even you" (emphatic) "think to have eternal life in them"-that is right, too. But "it is these very Scriptures" (very emphatic) "which are bearing witness" (continuous process) "of me; and" (here is the marvel!) "ye will not come to me and have life!"-that you may, that is, reach the very end you have so properly in view in searching the Scriptures. Their failure is due, not to the Scriptures but to themselves, who read the Scriptures to such little purpose.
5. His Testimony That God Is Author of Scripture:
Quite similarly our Lord often finds occasion to express wonder at the little effect to which Scripture had been read, not because it had been looked into too curiously, but because it had not been looked into earnestly enough, with sufficiently simple and robust trust in its every declaration. "Have ye not read even this scripture?" He demands, as He adduces Psalm 118 to show that the rejection of the Messiah was already intimated in Scripture (Mark 12:10 Matthew 21:42 varies the expression to the equivalent: "Did ye never read in the scriptures?"). And when the indignant Jews came to Him complaining of the Hosannas with which the children in the Temple were acclaiming Him, and demanding, "Hearest thou what these are saying?" He met them (Matthew 21:16) merely with, "Yea: did ye never read, Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings thou has perfected praise?" The underlying thought of these passages is spoken out when He intimates that the source of all error in Divine things is just ignorance of the Scriptures: "Ye do err," He declares to His questioners, on an important occasion, "not knowing the scriptures" (Matthew 22:29); or, as it is put, perhaps more forcibly, in interrogative form, in its parallel in another Gospel: "Is it not for this cause that ye err, that ye know not the scriptures?" (Mark 12:24). Clearly, he who rightly knows the Scriptures does not err. The confidence with which Jesus rested on Scripture, in its every declaration, is further illustrated in a passage like Matthew 19:4. Certain Pharisees had come to Him with a question on divorce and He met them thus: "Have ye not read, that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh?. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." The point to be noted is the explicit reference of Genesis 2:24 to God as its author: "He who made them. said"; "what therefore God hath joined together." Yet this passage does not give us a saying of God's recorded in Scripture, but just the word of Scripture itself, and can be treated as a declaration of God's only on the hypothesis that all Scripture is a declaration of God's. The parallel in Mark (10:5) just as truly, though not as explicitly, assigns the passage to God as its author, citing it as authoritative law and speaking of its enactment as an act of God's. And it is interesting to observe in passing that Paul, having occasion to quote the same passage (1 Corinthians 6:16), also explicitly quotes it as a Divine word: "For, The twain, saith he, shall become one flesh"-the "he" here, in accordance with a usage to be noted later, meaning just "God."
Thus clear is it that Jesus' occasional adduction of Scripture as an authoritative document rests on an ascription of it to God as its author.
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