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What is the Bible? The Inspiration of Scripture

If one is going to be a text-driven individual, a text-driven pastor, or a text-driven church, it is of first importance to know the “why” behind being text-driven. There are many great books, enlightened authors, and brilliant philosophers, all of which have mass followings, so what makes this book different? This series of articles entitled “What is the Bible?” sets out to answer that question. The first article will examine the inspiration of Scripture. What’s different about the Bible is that its author is God.

God-Breathed Scripture

The theology of inspiration is incredibly deep and examining every facet of it is beyond the scope of this article. For a broader examination of the topic, the corresponding episode on “Inspiration” in the “Text-Driven Podcast” would be helpful. Here, the authorship of God is in view. In 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul writes that all scripture is inspired by God. The phrase “all Scripture,” according to Lea and Griffin in their commentary on 2 Timothy, would be better translated as “every Scripture.”[1] Paul communicates that the entirety of the Bible, as a whole unit, and then each individual passage of Scripture is inspired by God. From Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21 and everything in between is what Paul describes. Paul then uses a word that has never been written before, theopneustos. The word is a compound word that means “God-breathed.” Goodrick writes that the Greek form would call for the word to be translated as “God breathes out.”[2] These specific renders of the Greek sentence give the translation “God breathes out every Scripture.” There’s an incredible weight to that sentence. To be theologically orthodox, one must confess that God is Spirit and, therefore, has no body, but the imagery used by Paul is best understood if God is temporarily given a body for the sake of illustration. If God had lungs, those lungs would fill with air and then would contract and push the air up. If God had a throat with vocal cords, that air would pass over the folds. If God had a mouth and a tongue, that air would flow through the mouth and over the tongue. If God had lips, the air would move out of His shaped lips, and the sound that would come out is every scripture. The Bible is God speaking. It is not merely the recording of what God has said, nor is it merely what God used to say, but rather it is God actively speaking. At all times and in all places, the Bible is God’s speech. The doctrine of inspiration tells us that God is speaking!

Who is God Speaking To?

In understanding the theology that the Bible is God speaking, the next question would be “Who is He speaking to?” The answer to that question is people. In certain senses, He is speaking to His redeemed people, and in other senses, He is speaking to all people, but the recipients of the speech of God are people. When one reads the Bible, God is speaking to that individual. When a church reads Scripture, God is speaking to that church. The Bible is not an abstract document that spews philosophy that has no intended recipient; rather, it is God's direct revelation to a person and to people that reveals Himself so that that person may be transformed. The doctrine of inspiration further tells us that God is speaking to you!


It’s been asked by many people, possibly even the person reading this article, “How do I hear from God?” Many feel like God has gone silent. Others are in a daze of confusion over whether their internal feelings are from God or from their own desires. The answer to the question is to read Scripture. If God is speaking when the Bible is read, then what every person must do is read the Bible. The doctrine of inspiration is not a lofty doctrine that has no practical purpose. The doctrine of inspiration is not for scholars, but rather it is for the common man. If you’re desperate to hear from God, the answer is not to empty your mind in Eastern mediation, but rather it is to fill your mind with Scripture so that the only thing you hear is the voice of God. The corollary question to “How do I hear from God?” is “Do I need to hear from God?” The doctrine of inspiration tells us that if God speaks, then it is vital to listen to Him. Recently a pastor posted on Facebook a satirical post about how it would be legalistic to say he needed to listen to his wife daily. Tongue-in-cheek, he said that if he was tired or had a long day, it would be okay to tune out his wife. He continued writing that while he loved his wife, her words weren’t that important and only needed to be heard once a week. If you were reading the post, not knowing he was being sarcastic, you’d rightly be offended. He then made his point, if it’s ridiculous to think that about one’s wife, it’s ridiculous to think that about God’s Word. God is speaking to you. Therefore, you must listen to Him by reading His word daily. Many different Bible reading plans may be of help to you, but one that would be of special benefit is to read through Psalm 119 every 22 days for a year. Psalm 119 is separated into 22 sections, each section associated with a Hebrew letter. If you were to read one section, that is one Hebrew letter, each day for a year, you’d read through Psalm 119 sixteen and a half times. Moving slowly and methodically through this chapter, often avoided because of its length, will build a firm resolve within you to read Scripture and hear from God.

The doctrine of inspiration sets apart the Bible from any other book. Unlike any other book, this book was written by God. This book is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). This book is God speaking to you. The question for us in light of this great truth is “Are we listening?”


Article written by Klayton Carson


[1] Thomas Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture, First Edition (Nashville, Tenn: Holman Reference, 1992). 235.


[2] Edward W. Goodrick, “Let’s Put 2 Timothy 3:16 Back in the Bible,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 25, no. 4 (December 1982): 484.

The "What is the Bible" series will also be on the Text-Driven Podcast. You can listen to the Text-Driven Podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or at


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