Sunday, November 26, 2017

"God Breathed"

2Ti 3:16  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

Have you ever wondered how sure you can be the Bible in your hand is truly what it says it is? Have you ever been challenged by someone's accusation insisting it is only a book contrived by men? Have you ever wondered about the so called other holy books held by the other religions of the world.

People of other religions are just as sure of their writings and prophets, some more so, as we are the Canons we hold. Many are willing to give their lives before denying their faith, some willing to kill to promote it. Have you ever pondered on these things, questioned the validity of your own faith? If not, I would suggest you do. If we truly take our faith seriously, it is necessary we understand what we believe and why. We need to know it is the truth, to believe a lie is to follow a path to destruction.

We must also consider how this effects others. Those who challenge us, who insist the Scriptures are only the writings of men need answers. To leave them with that assumption and produce no confidence or knowledge on our part to the contrary is a dereliction of our duty to defend the faith.

We must also consider the effects this will have on our children. If we are to lead our children in the Christian faith, must we not know its truth? Our Children must be prepared for persecution and live a life willing to suffer great loss as a result of their faith. Do they not deserve to see this confidence and diffusion of knowledge in our lives?

With these things in mind I want to consider in this post the Scripture above from 2 Timothy 3:16. In the first half Paul gives us its source using the word "theopneustos" which is translated from the Greek into English as "inspiration of God". Some later translations such as the NIV and the ESV have chosen to use "God breathed" as a translation. This is derived from the word "Theos" meaning God and "Pneo" meaning to breath. Thus, "theopneutos" God breathed.

But what does this mean? Which rendering is the most accurate? For centuries the translators chose "inspiration", only in the last 40 years are so have some decided on "God breathed". This has led many to pick up on this language and use it in conversation. It is a difficult word to define as it is used only once in Scripture, that being in the verse before us. And it is very rare in any other Greek literature. So it is hard for us to know why Paul under the influence of the Holy Spirit chose to use this particular word before others he could have chosen. Being one myself who does not accept change quickly, I suspect I will prefer and lean toward to older translations of "inspiration of God".

We understand the Decalogue was written with the finger of God, but what about the rest of Scripture? Did God breath on a sheet of papyrus and the words appear? No, we understand that men received thoughts and with their minds and hands placed the words upon written documents. (2Pe 1:21  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.)

We understand that the Scripture carries with it a noticeable human element as it flows through the writer. We also understand that God so moved upon the writer that the thought and intent was transmitted without error to the text.

This inerrant view is held only upon the original received text. It is understood that through copies and translations this perfection is subject to human errors. Yet there are many ways we are able to verify and confirm the accuracy of the Bible we hold in our hands. In God's Providence He has preserved for us these safe guards. It is interesting the translators did not insert the verb "was" given, or "was" profitable, but "is". They seem to understand from the text Paul was saying even the copies and translations "is" given to us in His Providence. The book in Timothy's hands would have been the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. Paul told him it was "theopneutos" and "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:" Jesus Himself quoted from this translation of the Scripture affirming it as authoritative.

If you hold a Bible in your hands that is in your native language, there are ways to know the accuracy of the text. So you can come to trust the text as inspired of God. How can we build our own confidence as well as respond to those suggestions that it was just written and contrived by men?

Here is a suggestion that has helped me, I'm not sure how effective it is in answering the critic, but it built my confidence. It also seems if the critic is truly inquisitive and honest about His insertion it should help him as well.

That suggestion is simply to read it and compare it to other writings. As I alluded to before, there is a noticeable human element to the text. One can study it and identify the different styles in the various writers. There is also a noticeable divine element imposed upon the text. After some reading one notices a uniform message and continuity from Genesis to Revelation. These words were pinned by over 40 different authors over thousands of years and yet it flows smooth presenting a wonderful theme of Redemption.

If you then begin to read the writings of the Church Fathers, they were the 2nd century generation of Christians. Some were disciples of the Disciples. Their writings are very helpful and much can be learned by studying them. But you will eventually notice the absence of the Divine element. Their understanding at times seemed to be strained. They have misunderstandings of one another. Their disagreements surface quite often.

You are made aware of a difference, it is not Scripture, it is missing this special level of "theopneustos". Seeing this helped me immensely. I began to understand how the Canon we have now took form. I have read some of the Apocrypha writings, they too are interesting, but I find the same missing element, they are not Scripture.

Why is the book of Barnabas not in the New Testament? One reading and you understand why. Why is the book of Enoch not included in the Old Testament Canon? One reading and you understand. What about the so called lost books of the Bible? There are no lost books of the Bible! There are lost books, some understand that perhaps Paul wrote a 3rd letter to the Corinthians that has been lost. That very well may be possible. I'm sure Paul and the other New Testament writers as well wrote many things beside those we have in the Bible. Everything Paul wrote was not "theopneustos" but when he was moved upon in that special way, every word he pinned was "theopneustos". God is not in the business of losing or misplacing His Divine revelation. Yes, we have the Word of God, His revelation to us. It may be through a translation to us in our language, but it is "theopneustos" and present with all the power necessary to transform our lives and bring us to regeneration. It is sufficient for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.

May the Grace of God be upon each of you,


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