What is the Bible and where does it come from? The answers to these two questions are foundational to the Christian life. How we answer these questions has massive implications for the way that we think and live. If we answer these questions incorrectly we will believe and act in ways contrary to God’s will.
Put simply the Bible is God’s Word. God is the source from which the Bible came. It is the Word of God. “Not that it contains the word of God, or becomes the word of God, or that the event in which God speaks to us through the Bible is the word of God” (DeYoung, Taking God At His Word) No. It is His Word, not man’s. “The Bible is unlike any other book because its ultimate Author is God.”
If the Bible is not God’s Word then anything else we might say about it won’t matter. We cannot trust its claims for how we can be saved nor can we trust what it reveals to us about God if it is not from Him if it’s not His word. This is foundational for our understanding of God and the Bible.
The Bible is Inspired by God
We see that the Bible comes from God in 2 Tim. 3:16. Paul writes to Timothy, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”
The phrase “breathed out by God” is where we get the term inspiration. The Bible is inspired by God, not in the sense of an inspirational quote or a speech that inspires us to do something, as if something from the outside were affecting us, or inspiring us. It is inspired because it comes from God.
The image we have here in 2 Tim 3:16 is of God exhaling, breathing out, and the result is His Word. Think back to creation where God speaks and everything comes into existence. All of creation is from God. Scripture comes from God. It is directly from Him. It comes from within Him to us.
What About the Human Authors?
At this point, you might be thinking, “Wasn’t the Bible physically written by human authors?” That is a great question and the answer is yes.
Peter writes in 2 Pet. 1:19-21,
And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 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.
Peter clearly says here that no prophecy, no word from God, was ever produced by the will of man. Rather, men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. Their declaration of God’s Word was at the prompting and working of the Holy Spirit. God, through the Holy Spirit, is the one who produced it.
Imagine Paul writing His letter that we call Ephesians. He sits down to write and as he is writing his words are God’s words. Paul wrote the words the Holy Spirit wanted him to. But we still see Paul’s personality as he writes. God breathed out the words of Ephesians. Paul’s words and God’s words are the same because God caused Paul to write them and Paul wrote exactly what God wanted. Scripture finds its source and origin in and from God. Therefore, it is God’s Word.
The heart of the matter is that Scripture comes from God. This is Scripture’s own claim. It claims to be the Word of God. Every time you read the phrase “thus says the Lord” or “God declares” Scripture is claiming to be directly from God.
What is the Bible? The Bible is God’s Word.
When you open and read the Scriptures you are hearing directly from God.
In our next lesson, we’ll look at the sufficiency of Scripture and see how God’s Word is enough. We do not need anything else to help us in matters of faith and practice. The Bible contains everything we need to live a godly life.
May God open our eyes to behold wondrous things in His Word.
Reflection and Application Questions
- What does “breathed out by God” mean in 2 Timothy 3:16?
- According to 2 Peter 1:21, how did we get the Bible?
- Why is it important that we acknowledge the Bible as being inspired by God?
- What errors could come if we do not accept the Bible as the Word of God?
- How should reading and hearing the Bible affect us knowing that it is from God?