Wednesday, January 29, 2014

How inspiration worked...

Okay, sorry that this will not be mind boggling.  However, I've always appreciated G. B. Caird's dictum to move from the clear to the unclear, and I think there's a little clarity in this thought.

It really came home to me in the last few weeks that Paul did not know he was writing Scripture. He knew he had the Spirit. He wrote with authority. But he had no idea we would package his letters with the Jewish Scriptures and be reading them in our "synagogues" 2000 years later.

What's the evidence? 1 Corinthians 7. So a problem arises at Corinth. Paul is at Ephesus, a skip across the sea. They send him a letter with questions, one of which has to do with sex (7:1). In part of his response, Paul addresses the question of divorce in the congregation.

What is interesting is the distinction he makes between what the Lord has to say on the topic and what he has to say. So in 7:10 he refers to what Jesus (probably what he means by "Lord") said on the subject. He seems to imply that this instruction has greater authority than what he has to say in 7:12. Even though much of the chapter is his advice, he indicates that he believes what he is saying is also from the Spirit (7:40).

Basically, it's clear here that Paul did not know he was writing Scripture. He was writing a letter. He did not go into a trance and wake up with the papyrus all filled out in front of him. Indeed, he probably used a "secretary" to help compose his letters (cf. Rom. 16:22).

God knew Paul was writing Scripture. Paul believed he had the Spirit guiding his thoughts. He wrote with authority. But I think he would be surprised to know he and Moses would be bound together as Scripture within a few centuries.

This means that the personalities, writing style, and thought categories of at least some biblical authors were part of the mix in inspiration. In some mystical way, the books of the Bible are both the words of God and the words of human authors. The minds of the biblical authors were fully engaged.


Mark Kennedy said...

Very interesting piece, Ken. Thanks for sharing.

Pastor Bob said...

I was taught that though they were letters to churches they were to be shared with all believers. 1Thess. 5:27 " I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren." And Dr. Amos Henry said he thought other letters were shared as well. Though Paul had those near who helped in many ways, I am persuaded that he was convinced of Holy inspiration and did not need to ask any one of their opinion. He knew it was God telling him to write. The one occasion where he says he thought he had mind of the Spirit being an exception. Did he know he was writing scripture, I doubt it, but he knew he writing what the Holy Spirit inspired. Just an old pastors opinion.