John MacArthur – How did God Guide the Biblical Writers?


Robots. To the unilluminated mind, that’s what we are under the control of a sovereign God—just mindless automatons executing divine orders for His pleasure. And while the Lord could control and direct His creations that way, He doesn’t—instead He works through our wills, our intellects, and our personalities to accomplish His sovereign ends.

Nowhere are God’s methods more obvious than in the writing of Scripture. God could have simply dictated His Word through one man, or maintained a consistent tone and vocabulary across several human authors. Instead, as we’ll see today, He worked through a diverse collection of authors and personalities to deliver His Word to His people, without sacrificing the continuity or character of Scripture.

What Inspiration Is

Last time we considered several common misconceptions about how the Lord inspired His Word. Today we’re going to consider what the Bible says about its own inspired quality.

Two passages of Scripture—2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:20-21—tell us what inspiration really is. Many versions of 2 Timothy 3:16 say something like, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (KJV, emphasis added). The English Standard Version is more accurate, however, when it translates the verse, “All Scripture is breathed out by God.” The Greek expression used here is pasa grafe theopneustos. Let us take a closer look at the meaning of these three crucial words.

Theopneustos is a combination of the Greek word theos (God) and pneu (breath). We get such English words as pneumatic and pneumonia from the Greek root pneu. Theopneustos then literally means “God-breathed.” The key to understanding the concept of “God-breathed” really comes out of the Old Testament. In Psalm 33:6 we read: “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host.” In other words, God breathed the universe into existence. In the same way, God breathed into existence His Word, the Bible. When Scripture speaks, God speaks. Romans 3:2 tells us that the Scriptures are the “oracles of God”—His very words.

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Michael lives in Belleville, IL, a suburb of St. Louis, MO with his wife Erica and daughter Alissa. An 8 year Navy veteran, he is now employed at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) where he oversees advanced educational programs. Michael holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Religion (Biblical Studies) from Liberty University. He is an avid reader and blogger operating the website Christian Apologetics and Intelligence Ministry ( which provides both original content and shares relevant posts and articles from around the web.

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