Words must be carefully defined when used, or else they take on meanings that were never intended. One such word frequently arising in discussions on the Bible is “inspiration.” While it is a biblical term, its real meaning is often obscured.

We find this word used in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;” (NASB). “Inspired” is the Greek word meaning “God-breathed.” God, in causing the human writers to pen His words, breathed out those words.

2 Peter 1:21 tells us that “men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” The writers wrote as the Holy Spirit carried them along. This same word “moved” is used in Acts 27:15, when Luke writes that the ship carrying them to Rome was driven along by the wind. As the men in the ship were in the power of the wind, so the human writers of Scripture were in the power of the Holy Spirit as they wrote. “God carried men along so that they wrote His message in the Bible,” (Basic Theology, by C. C. Ryrie, p. 71).

God oversaw the process of human writers recording His message. This does not mean that God simply dictated His words so that the human writers were little more than stenographers. But it does mean that the words those writers wrote accurately captured the ideas God wanted communicated to humanity. God used men with different languages, personalities, and vocabularies, all the while making sure that the material written was exactly as He desired. This further means that what was written was without error.

All other human writings, however impressive, cannot be said to be inspired directly from God and be absolutely trustworthy. Often, a song is said to be “inspired,” or a speech or sermon is said to be “inspired.” Yet only the Bible can make the absolute assertion that it comes directly from God. Let us be careful how we use this important word as we tell others about Christ.

–Craig Alan Myers