theopneustos

by Raymond Kim

In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, the Apostle Paul makes a remarkable statement regarding the words of Scripture. He writes that “All Scripture is inspired by God (θεόπνευστος) and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (NASB). What is the nature of this divine inspiration and what relevance does this have for us today?

The phrase “inspired by God” is actually from a single Greek word, θεόπνευστος (theopneustos). It is a compound adjective comprised of the noun θεός (god, God) and the verb πνευω, (I am blowing), which gives the idea of something being God-breathed. Amazingly, θεόπνευστος occurs only once in the entire New Testament and is unique to 2 Timothy 3:16. While words and ideas are often repeated several times in Scripture for emphasis, the rarity of word usage is a significant consideration as well.

The translation rendered as “inspired by God,” in the NASB and others is misleading as it gives the impression that God inspired the biblical authors to write Scripture, when the language is clear that it is the Scripture itself that is “inspired by God,” literally God-breathed. As an adjective (God-breathed), it describes and gives quality to the noun phrase (all Scripture) that it modifies. It therefore asserts something about the noun, namely that all Scripture has the quality of being God-breathed. To correctly understand the doctrine of “inspiration,” it is important to grasp the fact that God did not “breathe into” the biblical authors or their writings, but rather that all Scripture has been “breathed out” by God. Although He used divinely appointed individuals to record His Word, God is the originator, source and ultimate author of all Scripture. The same breath that spoke the universe into being and gave life to Adam is the breath from which the Scriptures were brought forth.

What this means for us today is that as we hold our Bibles in our hands, we can have confidence that we are holding the very word of God. It means that we can place our faith in the Scriptures because all of it has been breathed out by God and reflects His wisdom, not the wisdom of this world. Since all Scripture is God-breathed, all of it possesses His authority to the extent that to disobey God’s Word is to disobey God Himself.

It means that everything in the Bible is important and all of it must be obeyed, not just the parts that we pick and choose. God’s word is our spiritual sustenance, that’s why Jesus said, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Thankfully, every word that has proceeded from the mouth of God has been recorded for us in the Scriptures for us to know, to study, to believe, to obey, and to live out. God didn’t just speak to an original audience thousands of years ago in the ancient near east. God is still speaking today through His eternal, inerrant, God-breathed Word; the question is, are you willing to listen?

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The Beacon is the monthly newsletter for Lighthouse Bible Church in San Diego, California. It covers a variety of subjects including LBC events, church history, current events from a Christan perspective, ministry profiles, and messages from our pastors and elders. To join the Beacon ministry, please contact Stephen Rodgers.

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