Although the Bible was given by the inspiration of God, word-for-word, there are some
important points that need to be remembered concerning that inspiration.
1. Peculiar Styles. The fact of inspiration did not change the peculiar styles of the individual
writers. Thus, there are differences in style between Moses, David, Jeremiah, Matthew and
John, as there are between all the writers of the Bible. Even when discussing similar, or the
same topics or events, the grammatical and literary styles of the prophets and apostles vary.
Too often people think of inspiration as dictation rather than guidance. It is true that certain
portions of the scriptures are the result of dictation; but, it is also true that vast portions of the
Bible are not. The Holy Spirit guided these men in the selection of the proper words, assuring
the accurancy in doctrine and fact of that which they wrote, while still leaving them free to utilize
their own peculiar style.
J.W. McGarvey used the illustration of a well trained horse to emphasize this point. A
well-trained horse will travel down the road in the direction it is pointed; but, it must be directed
down the road. The old milk wagon that used to travel from house to house was pulled by a
horse that many times needed little direction. Yet, the reigns were there for the driver to use if
necessary. An unexpected backfire of a new-fangled horseless carriage, the barking of a dog,
the bolting of a cat, or any number of distractions could occur to cause the horse to veer from
its original course. The well-trained horse would need little direction except in busy and
In much the same way, the prophet or apostle would be free to utilize his own style and
vocabulary to describe the message of God; yet, the reigns would be in place to guide the
writer to the proper word. At times a tighter reign would be necessary because of the
knowledge or circumstances of the writer, even to the point that dictation would in essence
take place. Yet, even at the times when the reigns were looser, the selection of each word is
checked to make sure that no inaccuracies would intrude upon the message of God. But, the
personal style of each writer would be imprinted upon his work; as God utilized his vocabulary
and style to present his message.
2. Personal Feelings Allowed Expression. The Holy Spirit did not stifle the emotions of the
writer; but, he allowed them to be expressed, even utilizing these feelings to deepen the
expression of divine truth. One cannot read the Psalms of David, the Lamentations of
Jeremiah, or the Epistles of Paul without recognition of the expression and utilization of
personal feelings and emotions.
3. Imperfect Characters of Inspired Men. From Moses to Peter the Bible is full of examples of
the imperfection (sin) of inspired men. The promise and the reality of inspiration was not the
guidance of the character, but the guidance of the doctrine or teaching. Thus, the inspiration
these men received did not cause them to be sinless in their lives; inspiration
caused them to be infallible in their doctrine.
Moses failed to enter the Promised Land because of his sin at Meribah in bringing water out of
the rock for the nation of Israel.
Peter denied Jesus at His trial before the crucifixion. He also was carried away with the
prejudices of the Jews against the Gentiles.fr/ie Epistle of Paul to the Galatians chapter 2,
4. Personal Remarks. As inspiration did not squelch the expression of personal feelings,
neither did it eliminate the inclusion of personal remarks. Especially in the epistles of Paul
some personal remarks are included. Inspiration assures the truthfulness of what is said, but
these remarks are still of a personal nature between Paul and singular individuals. See, for
example. The Second Epistle of Paul to Timothy, chapter 4, verses 19 through 21: "Salute
Prisca and Aquila, and he household of Onesiphorus. Erastus abode at Corinth: but
Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick. Do thy diligence to come before winter. Eubulus greeteth
thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and ail the brethren."
5. Quotations From the Old Testament Are From the Septuagint (LXX) and Free. Quotations
from the Old Testament in the new Testament sometimes differ from the Hebrew text of the
Old Testament passage. This is true because the quotation is either taken from the
common translation of the Old Testament into the Greek, called the Septuagint (LXX), or
are free or indirect quotations.
Inspiration assures the accuracy of the reference and application of the passage; however,
inspiration does not demand that the passage be quoted word-for-word, either from the
Hebrew or the Greek. It is universally recognized that accuracy and truthfulness in reference to
the statements of others need not depend upon exact quotation. The Holy Spirit, as any other
author, is free to exercise that right concerning his own compositions, the words of scripture.
6. Quotations From Jesus are Indirect and Free. Expecially in the Gospels as the words of
Jesus are considered, it is important to recognize that in the original language (the Greek)
there is no indication that direct, word-for-word, quotations are being given: there are no
quotation marks. The Holy Spirit assures the accuracy of what was said, not necessarily the
exact words Jesus used. Thus, as the statements of Jesus are compared, especially between
Matthew and Mark and Luke, there exist some differences, but no contradictions. Every
difference is able to be reconciled. The use of indirect and free quotation under the guidance
of the Holy Spirit, explains all difficulties.
7. Ignorance on Certain Points. The Holy Spirit brought to mind for the writers of the scripture
all things that were necessary to sustain the doctrine presented; however, inspiration did not
grant them a perfect memory concerning all things.
Read again from The Gospel According to John, chapter 14, verses 15 through 17 and 26;
chapter 15, verses 26 and 27; and, chapter 16, verse 13.
An example is Paul's failure to remember how many he had baptized at Corinth (The First
Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, chapter 1, verse x). This fact is unimportant and
unnecessary to the point of doctrine being made. In fact, in this case, memory of this point
would have weakened his position. Therefore, in discussions of inspiration, ignorance on
certain points must be allowed for. However, it must also be recognized that ignorance is not
error or misrepresentation.