A. Origin of the Bible
In his article “The Doctrine of Revelation,” Rick Wade sums up the term “revelation” by saying, “revelation is knowledge we can have no other way than by being told” (Wade). With that being said, one who desires to understand where we got the Bible can see more clearly with knowing what the definition of “revelation” is when speaking of the revelation of God. In other words, in consideration of the citation above, the origin of the Bible comes to us from God who used a few selected men. The Bible says, “All Scripture is inspired by God 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 2 Tim. 3:16-17).
Many questions come after we learn that the origin of the Bible comes from the revelation of God, and so we need to look at each of these issues, and address them with passages of scripture, as well as outside material.
B. General Revelation
“General or unwritten revelation, consequently, includes all that belongs to ethics and natural religion. In Scripture, that moral and religious truth which man perceives immediately by reason of his mental constitution is called ‘revelation’” (Greenough, Shedd and Gomes 84). General revelation is the revelation that everyone can see plainly. For example, we see that there are trees, ponds, and mountains; and since we see these with our own eyes, we have a revelation that something created it because we, as adults, know that design must have a designer. The book of Romans clears things up plainly: “What may be known about God is plain… because God has made it plain… For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (NIV Romans 1:19-20).
C. Special Revelation
Special revelation pretty much boils down to what can’t be known by vehicle of general revelation. In other words, if it isn’t plain to us, then if God wants to communicate to us further, there must be further action taken. A theophany, for example (A visible manifestation of God), is one way of showing us what a special revelation is. “Special revelation has taken different forms: the spoken Word, the written Word, and the Word made flesh” (Wade).
The spoken word can be seen in the Bible where God came to Saul, for example, in the book of Acts chapter nine. “He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:4-5).
The written word is special revelation in a sense that the reader of a text is the one who has the revelation. The author of the text is the one who has received the revelation from God. We can see an example of this in 2 Peter 3:15-16 where Peter says, “Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand” (Peter 3:15-16).
The Word made flesh is simply the fact that the incarnate Jesus came and revealed many things to us. In other words, Christ Himself is a special revelation.
Second Timothy chapter three verses sixteen and seventeen clearly teaches us the Biblical perspective of the doctrine of inspiration: “All Scripture is inspired by God 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 2 Ti 3:16-17). Inspiration is like the authors holy motivation, so to speak. Where did the human authors of the Bible get the words for the Bible? They got them through the breath of God. Levels or degrees of inspiration (which is a huge subject) deal with the question of “how much of God’s hand actually wrote the scriptures?” Were the hands of the authors under complete control of God, as in verbatim? Or was there a considerable amount of the actual authors’ personality involved in the revelations. On the far end, was it mostly the author’s hand that wrote the revelations which we call scripture.
As with Inspiration, there are also levels of inerrancy that question how inerrant the scripture actually is. One may ask, “Is the Bible fully inerrant? Or “is the Bible partially inerrant,” or again, on the far end, “is the Bible barely inerrant?” The logical mind would ask itself, “how much of the scripture is truth?” We can see above, that “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness,” which is the Bible making its own claim of itself. One might say that this is a form of circular reasoning, but God’s inerrant word does not stop with this. “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil” (NIV 1 Thess. 5:21-22). Testing everything would include testing the Bible. God challenges the readers of His word to search Him out so they can find out that He has nothing to hide, so to speak.
“Canon” is the term that is used to describe the books of the Bible, and not only that, but the books that were chosen to be in the Bible. Canonicity addresses by what means we consider which books to be in the Bible. Since there are other “books” of the Bible written during the same time period that are now not considered Canon, the question lies in how it was decided to have what we now know as the Bible today. “The Gospel of Thomas” and “The Lost Gospel according to Peter” are a few examples that didn’t make Canon for either Catholic bibles or protestant Bibles. A Catholic version of Canon contains other books such as “1 & 2 Maccabees” and “Sirach” that the protestant Bible does not have. The issue is whether or not books such as these are canonical in nature. Are they a revelation of God? Modern challenges against the accepted canon are books such as the Da Vinci Code and the Gospel of Judas. These books are in fact inserting another branch to the Gospel that disagrees with it. Gnosticism at its finest is nothing more than a heresy which teaches that God is imperfect, and that humans are nearly divine in nature, trapped in a material world (1). One major problem with this is that Christianity is an intolerant “religion.” This means precisely what John 14:6 says is correct: “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (NIV John 14:6, emphasis mine). In other words, the point is that there is only one way to God; not by works, not by any other means than Christ Himself.
Composition raises the question of what allowed the receivers of the revelation of God to compose them in a manner that would properly express God’s will, or prophecy, or something of that nature. The answer to this is simple. 2 Timothy 3:16 says “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (NIV 2 Tim. 3:16). So the answer to the question of “where did they get it?” is simply from God. God allowed the receivers of the revelation of God to compose them in a manner that properly expressed God’s desires.
“Even while applying proper hermeneutics and methodology, there is a divine element to understanding God’s truth. The believer is aided by the Holy Spirit’s ministry of illumination in guiding the believer to an understanding of divine truth (1 Cor. 2:11–13)” (Enns 150). Illumination, in other words, is like a spark inside of oneself, and the Holy Spirit is who applies fuel for the light. The flow of the fuel is decided by the Holy Spirit.
I. InterpretationInterpretation is a huge subject. To put it in simple terms, there are processes that allow us to interpret the Bible at differing levels, which help us to attack the Bibles great wisdom at every angle. The bottom of the level might be something like a small group bible study, and if we were to go up a level or so, we might find exegesis and hermeneutics, which helps us understand the meaning of the Bible sections at a time, where Biblical theology allows us to interpret the Bible at a level that puts the Bible as a whole, and finally, systematic theology allows us to interpret the Bible using every possible means to do so, with scholarly discretion.
Written by Nace Howell through the grace of the Lord Jesus
Wade, Rick; The Doctrine of Revelation: (http://www.probe.org/site/c.fdKEIMNsEoG/b.4225695/k.8518/The_Doctrine_of_Revelation.htm Probe Ministries 2003).
New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).
William Greenough Thayer Shedd and Alan W. Gomes, Dogmatic Theology, 3rd ed. (Phillipsburg, N.J.: P & R Pub., 2003).
The Holy Bible: New International Version, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984).
Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press, 1997, c1989).
J. Scott Horrell: In The Name Of The Father, Son And Holy Spirit: Constructing A Trinitarian Worldview (http://bible.org/article/name-father-son-and-holy-spirit-constructing-trinitarian-worldview)