Inspiration and Transmission of the Scriptures
By John Leadley Dagg, 1857
The Bible, though a revelation from God, does not come immediately from him to us who read it, but is received through the medium of human agency. It is an important question, whether its truth and authority are impaired by passing through this medium. Human authority was employed in the first writing of the Scriptures, and agency was employed in the first writing of the Scriptures, and afterwards in transmitting them, by means of copies and translations, to distant places, and succeeding generations. The men who originally wrote the Holy Scriptures, performed the work under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Such was the extent of this influence, that the writing, when it came forth from their hands, was said to be given by inspiration of God. So Paul said, with special reference to the Old Testament: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable . . . that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto good works.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) Though Moses and the prophets executed the writing, it is said to have been given by God, and the perfection attributed to it demonstrates that it had not suffered by the instrumentality which he had chosen to employ. Christ referred to the Hebrew Scriptures, as the word of God (Mark 7:13). Paul represents what was spoken by the prophets, as spoken by God (Hebrews 1:1). Peter attributes to the writings of Paul equal authority with that of the Old Testament Scriptures (2 Peter 3:16). Paul also claims equal authority for what he spoke and wrote (1 Corinthians 14:37). Christ promised to his apostles, after his departure, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and described the effect of his influence on them in these words: “It is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your father which speaks in you.” (Matthew 10:20) This gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out upon them on the day of Pentecost; and their possession of it was proved by their power to speak with tongues, and work miracles. From all this, we learn that what was spoken and written by inspiration, came with as high authority as if it had proceeded from God without the use of human instrumentality. While Peter said to the lame man, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up, and walk,” (Acts 3:6) the voice which spoke was Peter’s, but the
power which restored the ankle bones was God’s. The words, though Peter’s, were spoken under divine influence, or the divine power would not have accompanied them. So the gospel, received from the lips of the apostles, was received, “not as the word of men, but as it is in truth the word of God.” (1 Thessalonians 2:13) The men who spoke and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, were the instruments that God used to speak and write his word. Their peculiarities of thought, feeling, and style, had no more effect to prevent what they spoke and wrote from being the word of God, than their peculiarities of voice or of chirography.
[From John Leadley Dagg, Manual of Theology, 1857, pp. 22-23; internet edition. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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