BLOG POST

by Phillip Vanwinkle
AUGUST 14, 2016

What Kind of Men Wrote the Bible?

When a person starts to ask questions about God, Christ and the Bible, one question which usually comes up is: “So, who wrote the Bible?” For the most part, if you have grown up in the Lord’s church, you give the standard answer. “More than forty men, over a certain amount of time, with God guiding them, wrote the Bible.” And that is true, but it does not really answer the question. Generally speaking, they are not asking for the names of the writers, nor are they concerned with how many writers there were. It seems to me that when this question comes up, they are wanting to know if they can trust the people who wrote the Bible. In other words, they want to know what separates the writers of the Bible from the writers of other religious, "holy" books. 

So, who wrote the Bible? What kind of men would write such a book?

There are three options, as far as I can tell:

  1. Good men
  2. Evil men
  3. God-inspired men

Good Men

First of all, since so many people in the world consider the Bible to be a "good book," even those who are not followers, it is at least possible that this book may have been written by good men. By “good men,” I mean that they were simply good men and nothing more. They were holy and righteous men, they were moral and spiritual men, but that's where it ended. They were simply “good men.”

There are plenty of good statements in the Bible. And the Bible does indeed teach us principles and rules that will make us good people if we follow them. Who wouldn't think that statements like “love your neighbor as yourself” and “honor your father an mother” are good statements written by good men? There is no doubt that these are good and correct statements.

But then we need to ask: What about the following statements?

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Peter 1:20-21)

Did you know that the phrase Thus says the Lord is found 413 times in the Bible? Also, the phrase God said... is used 46 times.

Isn't it strange to think that regular, common, "good" men would write a book of their own accord, and then claim that God was the one speaking through them? Another thing we know about these writers is that they believed that God spoke through prophets.

And they buried him; and all Israel mourned for him, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by the hand of his servant Ahijah the prophet. (1 Kings 14:18)

Should ye not hear the words which the Lord hath cried by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and in prosperity, and the cities thereof round about her, when men inhabited the south and the plain? (Zech 7:7)

These writers also tell us that the Spirit of the Lord spoke through people.

The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue. (2 Sam 23:2)

But Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah went near, and smote Micaiah on the cheek, and said, Which way went the Spirit of the Lord from me to speak unto thee? (1 Kings 22:24)

Then upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, came the Spirit of the Lord in the midst of the congregation; (2 Chron 20:14)

If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. (1 Cor 14:37)

Notice how one writer explained exactly how he was writing this book:

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand. (Revelation 1:1-3)

Did you notice? The revelation was:

  1. Given by Jesus
  2. Sent from God
  3. Revealed to John,
  4. Who was told to write it down.

But now we must ask this question: Keeping in mind all the statements these writers wrote about truth, honesty, integrity and morality, and all they wrote against lying, and deceiving people, why would good men make these claims? If they were common, but good people writing, why would they make these types of statements?

Think about it. If simply “good” men wrote the Bible, but claimed that they were writing from God, then that makes them liars, and unreliable. They talk about the importance of telling the truth, and being trustworthy, but they themselves write lie upon lie, if they are only "good people" and not inspired by God.

The fact is, if they were merely good men who claimed inspiration from God (that is, asserting that God is the real author of this book), that makes them liars, immoral, and thus in the end not good men after all.

So that brings us to our second option.

Evil Men

Did evil men write this book? Men who were liars, and cheaters? Men who were immoral and untrustworthy characters? Were these types of men the writers of what many in the world understand to be “the good book?”

Do the following words sound like words that come from the heart of evil men?

A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother. Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death. (Prov. 10:1-2)

The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them. (Prov 11:3)

A good man sheweth favour, and lendeth: he will guide his affairs with discretion. (Psalm 112:5)

Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour (Romans 13:7)

Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace. (Psalm 37:7)

My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:18)

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. (James 3:17)

Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain. (Proverbs 30:7-9)

These are just a very few of the numerous words that a person could read when he opens his Bible. The truth is, there are far too many words of goodness and kindness, and words which condemn things which are evil, for evil men to have written this book.

It simply is not logical for one to conclude that evil men wrote the Bible. So we know then, that the men who wrote the Bible were not simply "good men," and neither were they evil men. So who were they?

God-Inspired Men

What we mean by this is that God instructed men what to write. That is, word for word, God was telling these men what to write. The Bible was verbally and plenarily inspired by God. Now, what does that mean?

Verbally Inspired

Verbally means the actual words were inspired, not simply the “thought.” Wayne Jackson explains verbal inspiration thus:

The term verbal brings the issue into sharper focus. Verbal inspiration has to do with the actual formation and use of the words themselves. It involves the employment within sentences of nouns, verbs, prepositions, articles, etc. This verbal concept of inspiration contends that the Spirit of God guided the holy writers so that the very grammatical modes they employed were divinely orchestrated in order to convey subtle meanings of truth. While biblical scholars acknowledge that God used the individual talents and personalities of the holy writers, nonetheless it must be recognized that divine supervision was present so that the exact messages that Heaven intended were given. (For a full discussion see:  Christian Courier: Are the Scriptures “Verbally” Inspired of God?)

When Peter stood and preached in Acts 2 that the promise was to both Jew and Gentile (Acts 2:38-39), it was not his own thought that was inspired. Otherwise he would have understood that it was okay to preach and teach to the Gentiles. However, it took a divine vision three times to convince Peter to go to the Gentiles. There are plenty of other examples we could use, but for now this should suffice. The words themselves (not thoughts only) were given by inspiration of God.

Plenary Inspiration

Wayne Jackson summarizes plenary inspiration by saying: The term “plenary” simply means full, complete, entire. Generally, the term is employed to emphasize that all of the respective components of the Scriptures were given by God. This means that the Bible’s historical depictions are true, that incidental scientific references are factual as well, and, in a word, that all biblical documents are completely accurate. There are no qualitative differences between the various kinds of scriptural components. (Jackson, ibid)

The Bible can be trusted to teach complete truth. It does not contradict science, or history. It is—by the inspiration of God—His message to man today. It was written not by "good" men, not by evil men, but by men who were inspired by God.

Indeed, we do have the Bible as it is:

  1. Given by Jesus,
  2. Sent from God
  3. Revealed to John (or other writers)
  4. Who were told to write it down.

Be encouraged, brethren, for we can trust our Bibles. God inspired these men who wrote. And they wrote for our benefit (John 20:30-31).


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