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Concise Handbook of Biblical Inspiration:

Almost 800 Internal Assertions

of Accuracy and Revelation

 

 

 

 

by:

 

Roland H. Worth, Jr.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2012 by author

Reproduction of this book for non-profit circulation by any electronic or print media means is hereby freely granted at no cost—provided the text is not altered in any manner. 

 If accompanied by additional, supplemental material—in agreement or disagreement—it must be clearly and visibly distinguishable from the original text.

 

 

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

            This compilation of evidence was compiled c. 1985 at the latest—judging from the date of the resources I utilized and the style of footnoting that I utilized.  It consists of about 60% of a longer work that included a lengthy segment arguing in behalf of the absolute accuracy of the text as originally given.  This portion covers the multitude of scriptural texts that, cumulatively, enhance the credibility of the case made in the omitted material. 

It seemed useful to “spin off” these citations as a guide that would be useful in its own right and because I do not remember ever encountering an analysis quite like this one (yes, at 69, my memory might be playing me false)—that is a detailed listing of all, or at least a vast cross section, of texts that indicate the reliability, historicity, or inspiration of the scriptural text.  Material worthy of consideration and examination in its own separate, shorter volume. 

Hence the present work was revised and “computerized” perhaps in 2006.  It is another of my “orphan” manuscripts that has never been published.  To me, its contents involve one of the most important topics in all of Christian apologetics:  what does the Bible claim for itself?  One may accept it or reject its claim, but one should candidly recognize it for what it is. 

[Page 2]               But what is the claim?  Is it one of being a Divine revelation rather than representing mere human insight?  And if it is the former, is it only an occasional assertion, one that might not be intended to apply to bulk of the Old and New Testaments? 

As we see in the following in-depth analysis, it is a pervasive and consistent theme of the two testaments.  If I were to compile this work today, it likely would have more “scholarese” and provide for greater citation of others, but even in its present state (mildly polished from the draft version it was in) it should prove useful as a jumping off point for those wishing to study the subject further.  In addition to the almost 800 texts cited, there were a few I missed entirely, I’m sure.  Unlike the Bible writers, I do not claim inspiration! 

And, it should be added, there are segments of text where multiple inspiration claims are found in the same verse and are here counted as only one.  Also there are many “I” references in other verses that clearly refer to the speaker textually identified by such labels as “God,” the “Lord,” the “Lord God,” etc.  In short the total of such references would be far, far higher than the more limited number I have claimed.  I have simply pointed out the ones that are least escapable.

 

            True faith is rooted in evidence--not emotion, preference, or personal prejudice.

John's gospel is the most overtly theological of the four gospels.  Its assertions of the Deityship of Jesus are far more openly stated than usually the case in the other gospels and it makes far more explicit the spiritual lessons Jesus intended.  In addition, certain of its assertions (such as the eternal pre-existence of Jesus as the Word [John 1]) are touched on only lightly or by implication in the other accounts.

            Even so John stresses that what He records is based on evidence rather than on speculation or supposed personal insight, "And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" (John 20:30-31).  The reasoning is clear:  Jesus did these acts; therefore His explicit and implicit supernatural claims to being the prophesied “Christ” (Messiah) and being “the Son of God” are fully credible.  This text's plea for faith is often utilized from the pulpit, but the fact that it was an evidence/fact-based faith often does not always receive the stress that is its due.

            We walk in John's footsteps when we present the evidence for faith.  Here we confine ourselves to one narrow aspect of the subject, yet one that is rarely examined in the depth and detail it deserves.  When the inspiration of the scriptures is argued, we usually find only a handful of central texts presented and the case then closed.  In actual fact there are at least 789 texts that assert the Bible's inspiration, credibility, and reliability. 

No other volume I am aware of brings all of these texts together in a single reader-friendly, usable handbook as this one does.   When one rejects these central concepts of the Bible's true nature, one is not at war with a single text or even a handful of verses, but with the repeated assumption of the entire Biblical canon. 

            This is not to say that all Bible books express these concepts in the same manner.  The Bible was written over at least a millennium and a half--and quite possibly much longer.  Hence we can not expect everything to be asserted in identical phrases in each [Page 3]   individual Biblical book.  What we discover are a number of different ways to get across the basic points of authoritativeness and reliability, which are both the prerequisite and result of inspiration. 

An inspiration from within, a conjuring up of spiritual insight, could well be subjective, but that which is asserted in these varied forms powerfully argues for inspiration as coming from the external source we call God.  In turn, if we understand His nature in the Biblical senses of omniscience, eternality, and such like, the nature of that inspiration must be in-depth and thoroughly profound.  These many texts rarely argue that point, but their repetition by the hundred indicates they share in the assumption of an inspiration of such a nature.

            In addition to examining in detail the overt and implied claims of inspiration found in both testaments, we will examine in detail the two testaments endorsements of events recorded in other Bible books.   This primarily concerns events in the Old Testament referred to in the New.  The confirmatory role comes in three forms:

            (1)   The New Testament affirms the inspiration of the Old Testament in general as well as specific Old Testament books.

            (2)  The New Testament accepts as real history Old Testament events that are rejected as mythical or semi-mythical by hostile forms of religious scholarship.

            (3)  The New Testament endorses the authorship of the Old Testament books by the authors whose names they popularly bear. 

            In this volume we will argue few texts in depth and even those in far lesser depth than most books would devote to them.  We are concerned here with presenting a concise and usable handbook of evidence rather than arguing from the evidence.  We present many modest length extracts of the text so the reader can judge for himself or herself what is actually being asserted by a specific passage.  This is to remove the temptation to dismiss what is said as just the interpretation of the writer-compiler and to permit the reader to personally wrestle with the passages and their true intent.

            When Old Testament incidents are referred to in the New, we usually opt for a listing of texts rather than direct citation.  Likewise in certain cases where a key phrase is used repeatedly.  Lengthy citation in such cases is far more likely to breed boredom and discontent within the reader rather than enlightenment.  Yet the passages are there--readily available for the individual who wishes to pursue the matter in greater detail.

            In a few cases we wander into subjects not directly concerned with the topic but which because of widespread hostile criticism of the Biblical books requires at least passing attention.  These are also handled concisely and to the point in order to maximize the usefulness of this handbook.

            Some have gone so far as denying that the individual books were ever intended to constitute an authoritative volume.  The New Testament epistles of Paul, for example, have been dismissed as mere "occasional" writings of the apostle, solely dictated by the spiritual needs of the churches he had worked with.  The intent of any wider authoritativeness is denied, much less the authoritativeness for churches of today.

Unfortunately for such approaches, the epistles themselves both assert and imply a far wider scope of relevance.  Whether one accepts such Biblical portraits of authoritativeness is another matter, of course.  Here we are concerned with vindicating in unprecedented depth, that the core Biblical assumption is that such authoritativeness exists.  For if it does exist, one can not cavalierly dismiss the matter as spiritually

[Page 4]   irrelevant:  if one rejects a fundamental, central premise of both testaments one must answer the question how one can claim to be a "believer" in that book while rejecting its core beliefs and assumptions.

            Now as to some technical matters.  In some lists the passage are numbered in consecutive order.  In other cases the number of entries is noted and the various passages are then listed as a group.  At the end of each book a summary count of all passages is entered, the number of passages already examined and presented noted, and a running total of how many have so far been presented. 

Serious consideration was given to numbering each and every single text, but that seemed too likely to visually confuse the reader in a volume where several different formats are utilized to present the data.  And, to be candid, the idea of discovering at the book of Revelation that I had misnumbered an entry back in Leviticus and had to change the many hundreds of entries that came later also argued that this was an unwise approach!  In short, this listing tells you the minimum number of such entries that exist and not the full total.

            One could quibble with our count of New Testament references confirming Old Testament events.  Historical events of the patriarchal age, for example, may be referred to in more than one gospel account.  Here we count it as just one inter-testamental confirmation.  We could equally justly count it as a larger number, by counting each gospel account as a separate confirmation:  whatever scenario one prefers to explain the relationship of the four gospels, they unquestionably come from multiple hands.  Hence the justness of counting the “duplicates” as separate pieces of confirmatory evidence.

            On the other hand, there are probably a few texts and references we missed entirely.  These are certainly far fewer than the "missed" cases of multi-textual confirmation just referred to. 

 

            There are several very fine translations currently available to choose between.  For the purpose of this volume, I decided to retain the New American Standard Bible since that was the one utilized in my original research back in the 1980s.   With modest verbal differences, the same essential readings will be found in other translations as well.   Hence the central power of this book's argument comes not from the particular translation utilized but from the intent of the texts themselves—one that varies little if any from one translation to another.

             

 

                                                                                                Roland H. Worth, Jr.

 

 

 

 

 

Per the publisher’s standardized request, the following informational comment is included:  Unless otherwise noted, "Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission."

 

I have no idea which of the above editions my quotations come from; this might, occasionally, create minor discrepancies from the edition you may be utilizing.

 

 

[Page 5]

 

 

 

 

Chapter One:

Over-View Texts

 

 

 

            In this initial chapter, we will be discussing those passages that occupy the center of attention in most discussions of the Bible's internal claims to inspiration.  These are texts that, at the minimum, discuss the Old Testament as a whole.  Because of the New Testament conviction that the true spirit of prophecy was once again alive in the land, these passages also carry an implicit endorsement of similar attitudes toward the New Testament as well.

 

 

1.  Second Timothy 3:16-17

 

            To best understand the intent of these two verses, it is useful to begin the reading  at verse 14,

 

You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them; and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

           

            The reference in verse 15 to the "sacred writings" certainly alludes to the Old Testament:  We would naturally assume this from the fact that these were writings that Timothy had known from "childhood."  Furthermore, non-Biblical usage of the term also points in the same direction.  "The expression 'sacred writings,' here employed is a technical one, not found elsewhere in the New Testament, it is true, but occurring currently in Philo and Josephus to designate that body of authoritative books which constituted the Jewish 'Law' " (quoted by 18-79).

 

            Verse 14, however, also alludes to a different body of teaching:  "Continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them."  "From whom" (rather than "from which") indicates the teaching came [Page 6]    from individuals rather than a book.  Since this teaching is contrasted with the Old Testament in the following verse, a process of elimination leaves us with the "whom" being one or more New Testament era preachers of the gospel.  At least one of these teachers was the apostle Paul. 

Indeed, in 2 Timothy 1:13, he presents himself as pre-eminently the teacher of Timothy, "Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus."

            Since Timothy is pointed to both the Old Testament (verse 15) and apostolic teaching as reliable, authoritative, and binding (verse 14), the "scripture" of verse 15 should be interpreted as including both.  2 Timothy 3, therefore, looks both backward and forward:  backward at those Old Testament principles and concepts that form much of the moral and ethical foundation of the gospel system; and forward to the completed message of the New Testament from inspired sources such as Paul. 

By, in effect, defining scripture as inspired works, the text allowed for the inclusion of the writings of both apostles and other first century inspired authors in that category.  Therefore it comes as no greater surprise in the light of the use of "scripture" in this text, that the term is used by Peter to apply to the writings of the apostle Paul (2 Peter 3:15-16). 

            The Greek term (theopneustos) rendered "inspired" in 2 Timothy 3 provides a vivid verbal portrayal of the external rather than internal and subjective origin of scripture.  It means "God-breathed." 

God sent the Scriptures forth from Himself just as we send our breath forth from our bodies.  Just as our breath comes from our "inner" self, God's message came from His most inner self (to speak in human terms; cf. 1 Corinthians 2:11-13).  Scripture therefore reveals the inner essence of God, His basic nature and attitudes. 

Also note that what is described as "God-breathed" is not merely the spoken word, but the written word as it has been preserved in the Scriptures.  In short, God originated not just the verbally spoken message but also that which was committed to the written page for following generations.  

            Debate has arisen over whether to translate the opening words of verse 16 as "all scripture is inspired of God" or as, "All scripture inspired by God."  Benjamin B. Warfield effectively argues that either rendering produces the same concept of the nature of scriptural authority,

 

                        No doubt both questions are interesting, but for the main matter now     engaging our attention they are both indifferent.  Whether Paul looking back at

the Sacred Scriptures he had just mentioned, makes the assertion he is about to

add, of them distributively, of all of their parts, or collectively, of their entire mass

is no moment; to say that every part of these Scriptures is God-breathed and to

say that the whole of these Sacred Scriptures is God-breathed, is for the main

matter, all one. 

                        Nor is the difference great between saying that they are in all their parts,

            or in their whole extent God-breathed and therefore profitable, and saying that

they are in all their parts or in the whole extent, because God-breathed as well   profitable.

                        In both cases these Sacred Scriptures are declared to owe their value to

their Divine origin; and in both cases their Divine origin is energetically asserted of their entire fabric (18-80).

 

 

[Page 7]

 

2.  Romans 3:1-2

 

            In these opening verses of Romans three, the apostle Paul provides different wording to stress the Divine origin of the Old Covenant, "Then what advantage has the Jew?  Or what is the benefit of circumcision?  Great in every respect.  First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God."

              Since that which the Jews possessed were the Scriptures, it is clear that he uses the expressions as synonymous.  "It is as Scripture that these oracles were committed to the Jews; only in this form could the Jews be said to have been entrusted with them" (19-93) 

In discussing this body of revelation, Paul does not distinguish between that which originated from God and that which originated from the inner psychic workings of the human prophet.  Rather, the expression "oracles of God" conveys the idea that the Divine element was so pervasive that the effective result was a book in which God had so used the individual recipient that the result was exclusively and entirely the message that God wished revealed.  All human biases and prejudices that would have obscured or diluted the presentation of the Divine intent were effectively reined in under the power of the supernatural revelation.

            The term "oracle" itself is significant.  Vine, in his Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words defines the term as "a word, narrative, statement; denotes a Divine response or utterance, an oracle . . . " (20).

            Western civilization is so cut off from its cultural past, that many are probably unaware of the conceptual background.  Although originating in polytheistic religious practices, the concept the term embodied is one that fit comfortably in with that of the true God of Israel as revealer of moral and spiritual truths,

 

                        The word comes from the Greek and Latin mythology and idolatry.  There         was supposed to be a place, the temples in particular, where they could get

specific utterances from their gods.  These places were called oracles.  Also there

were men about these places, the priests in particular, who were supposed to be

the mouthpieces for these divine utterances.  These were called oracles.

Consequently, the things which were uttered by these men at these places came to

be called oracles (21-62).

 

            In Acts 7:38 the same Greek word is used to describe the "living oracles" given by Moses.   The term "living" is significant.  What the pagans had was an imitation of it, the Jews had the reality.  They were real oracles, vibrant, full of power and reformative potential when accepted in the hearts of men.   By describing the Old Testament in such terms, any distinction is obliterated between the message as received by a prophet and delivered orally to the people and that message which the prophet recorded with pen and ink (Cf. the remarks on this theme of 19-93).  Both are made equivalent in terms of source, authority, and power.

[Page 8]              In light of the use of the expression to describe the Divine origin and authority of the Old Testament, it is of more than passing interest that the same term is used to describe the authoritativeness of the message and teachings recorded in the New Testament as well.  Hence the Hebrews writer speaks of how certain Christians had not spiritually grown:  they needed "someone to teach you [again] the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food" (Hebrews 5:12).  In 1 Peter 4:11, the writer urges his listeners, "Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances [Greek:  oracles] of God. . . ."

            Since the term "oracle" is intended to express the idea that the message was conveyed directly from God to the human audience, it follows that the application of the term to the New Testament teaching conveys the idea that the New is on a par with the Old:  both testaments were the expression of the Divine will to the human race.  And because they are both true oracles, they represent the penetration of the Deity into the very essence of the message being conveyed to assure that both testaments successfully presented the Divine intent and purpose unhampered by dilution from human nature or the human will. 

 

 

3.  Acts 24:14:  Paul's Confidence in the Old Testament

 

            Defending himself against charges of troublemaking in the Palestinian Jewish community and elsewhere, the apostle Paul strongly emphasized his commitment to the truthfulness of the Old Testament records, "But this I admit to you, that according to the way they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law, and that is written in the prophets."

            The fact that he accepted "everything" in the Old Testament indicates that he found nothing in the Torah or prophets as then known to be rejected--as untruthful, inaccurate, or contradictory to God's intent in the original revelation of those books.  From our standpoint, this (and many other texts we will examine later) function as invaluable confirmation of the accuracy and reliability of the Old Testament narratives.             Even if one does not accept that view, at the very minimum such texts point to the grave difficulty of segregating the credibility of the two testaments.  The New fully endorses that of the Old.  The only way one can consistently reject the accuracy of the events in the Old Testament text, is by denying the reliability of the New in accepting these events and treating them as if part of genuine, authentic history.  Those who take that step are, at least, consistent. 

The desire to accept one while rejecting the other, however, remains a powerful temptation for many.  The apostle Paul found such an approach unviable:  His acceptance of Christianity altered not in one iota his acceptance of the full credibility of the Old Testament.    

 

[Page 9]

 

4.  Luke 16:17/Matthew 5:17-18:  The Surviving Power of the Old Testament Text

 

            In Luke 16:17 we read, "But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter (KJV: tittle) of the Law to fail."

            More well known and dealing with the subject in greater detail is the similar statement found in Matthew 5:17-18,  "Do not think that I came to abolish (KJV:  destroy) the law or the prophets; I did not come to abolish (KJV: destroy) but to fulfill.  For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter (KJV: jot) or stroke (KJV: tittle) shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished (KJV: fulfilled)."

            The King James Version's "jot" is the Greek iota, the smallest letter of the Greek alphabet.  Hence the NASB's rendering "the smallest letter."  A similar emphasis on smallness is inherent in the meaning of "tittle."  This is commonly interpreted as referring to the tiny projections that are the sole means of telling apart certain Hebrew and Aramaic words.  Hence the "smallest . . . stroke" of the NASB conveys the idea quite effectively.

            To make the point even plainer in our minds, Richard Glover suggests the analogy of "our dots over the i's and crossings of the t's" (23-48).  Jerome illustrated the meaning of a jot or tittle by pointing to the tiny cross bar that is the means of telling apart a capital C and capital G (24-83).

            The assertion that even the tiniest details of the Law must remain authoritative until they were fulfilled, carries the idea that as originally given these details came from God.  Only if that were the case, would there be a reason to protect and assure their survival until their ultimate fulfillment.

            Hence the Divine oversight extended to expressions found in the minute details of the text.  If even those seemingly insignificant aspects of the verse were supernaturally protected how could the broader and more obvious areas of direct statement, historical allusion, and future prophecy have been allowed to degenerate from the Divine intention between the act of revelation and the recording of that same revelation with pen and ink?   Whatever terminology one prefers to express the concept, the idea remains the same:  full protection against corrupting error is the "theory" of inspiration Jesus accepted (Note 1). 

            Since Jesus worked from this assumption, it will not be startling to discover, time and again, how He accepts the individual inspiration of various disputed Old Testament authors and the historical reality of events that major elements in the modern “Christian” denominational tradition insist upon dismissing as mythological.   These specific attestations can not be dismissed as Jesus merely echoing the sentiments of His age:  In the light of His convictions on the nature of the Old Testament revelation such acceptance was inevitable.  Given the premise He worked from the conclusions were unavoidable.

 

 

5.  John 10:34-36:  Scripture Cannot be Broken

 

            Jesus' attestation of the Divine oversight of the written text can be presented in other ways as well.  On one occasion when His enemies charged Him with blasphemy because of His supernatural claims, "Jesus answered them, 'Has it not been written in your Law, I said, You are gods?  If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came [Page 10]    (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, You are blaspheming because I said, I am the Son of God?"

            Jesus uses the expression "word of God" and "scripture" in this reading as equivalent terms.  Just as the Godhead bodily is embodied in Jesus as the Word of God (John 1:1ff), the will of God is embodied in the word of God (lower case) as "scripture."  In one case Deity lies within the Word; in the written word, Deity lies behind, in the revelation of the word, and in its recording.

            Of this scripture-word of God, Jesus asserts that it cannot be "broken."  That word means "to loose, dissolve, sever, break, demolish" (20, under “destroy”).  Contextually, it is used of doing so in opposition to the will of God, as an act of intentional defiance and stubborn rebellion.

            Hence the central idea is that the power and authority of Scripture can not be destroyed by anything within the power of humankind.  By its very nature, Scripture continues it role of judgement upon the behavior, belief, and conduct of humanity. 

            Now, could the Old Testament have possessed this power unless it were so uniquely the word of God that no human element in its giving and recording had changed or destroyed the Divine intent?  Supervising, superintending, assuring that the end result constituted the pure and unchanged will of God?

            It should be stressed that it is "the Old Testament, as it lies there in written form" that is both labeled the word of God and as unbreakable by humankind's power and opposition (25-128).  It is not the oral revelation as first given, but the written record of the revelation of which Jesus speaks.

            The particular text Jesus chose in making His assertion of the unshakability of Scripture represents a fascinating insight into His conception of the uniformity of the Divine power in authoritatively revealing all scripture.  "Notice that he says this, not in connection with some declaration which might be regarded as among the key declarations of the Old Testament, but of what we might perhaps call without disrespect a rather run-of-the-mill passage" (26-526).  If such a, relatively, "secondary" text is of this calibre, then all the rest of the body of Scripture must possess at least a similar nature.

            Some have attempted to remove the significance of this evidence by arguing that Jesus was merely making an ad hominem argument, arguing against the Pharisees on the basis of their convictions rather than His own.  However Jesus did not say "You believe the scripture cannot be broken, which conceivably might indicate a disassociation from the views being expressed. 

Doubtlessly, they did so believe.  But it is not on that basis that He makes His argument.  Rather He blanketedly asserts, "the Scripture cannot be broken," indicating His own sympathy with and acceptance of that belief as well.

 

 

6.  2 Peter 1:19-21:  All Prophetic Scripture Was Revealed by God

 

            In this text, the author stresses that the message the Holy Spirit revealed came from God the Father,

 

[Page 11]

                        And so we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well

            to pay attention as a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the     morning star arises in your hearts.  But know this first of all, that no prophecy of     scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made    by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.       

 

            As presented by Peter, the Old Testament writers did not carry the immense burden of determining what they would write.  Instead, the Holy Spirit played the determining role by providing them the message of God.  Clearly implied is that they did not write anything without the Spirit's approval.  Hence it was not a matter of their own interpretation of what was important enough to write; the Spirit determined such matters for them.

            These men are described as being "moved" by the Spirit.  Some idea of the intense power behind that expression can be found in the narration of the shipwreck of Paul in Acts.  There we read, in the King James translation, "And when the ship was caught . . . we let her drive" (KJV).  "This is precisely the word here translated 'moved.'  'Men spake from God, being moved',' driven by the Holy Ghost as Paul's ship was driven by the wind” (27-269). 

In short, the Spirit was the controlling factor rather than the will or intent of the human scribe.  Not that the later was not utilized but that it was utilized in such a manner and in such a form that the Spirit was assured that the final result was fully acceptable to God.

            To how much of the Old Testament does Peter intend to apply this doctrine of inspiration?  (Even if he only has in mind a certain segment, that would not rule out the remainder being inspired in the same way and in the same fashion; it would only show that this is the wrong text to prove it from.)  We raise this question because an expression like "prophecy of scripture" could be taken as either a description of the entire Old Testament or as limited to those sections explicitly prophetic in nature. 

In favor of the latter is our tendency to distinguish between prophecy and other Biblical literature.  On the other hand, a prophet was as much a "forth-teller" of the divine will as a "fore-teller" of the future.  Paul himself uses the expression in the sense of a teacher of right and truth (1 Corinthians 14:23-25).  An examination of many of the Old Testament prophets reveals them to be using their predictions as a teaching tool to obtain reformation of behavior in the here and now.  In addition, they are shown as teachers to the current age in addition to speaking of the future that had not then arrived.     

             At the most, first century Jews such as Jesus divided the Old Testament into three broad sections:  the Mosaical Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets (cf. Luke 24:44).  (The more common division seems to have been into the Law and the Prophets.)  Further indication that the "prophecy" was intended to include all the Old Testament can be derived from the fact that the authorship of all three of these sections was attributed to prophets.  Although the citations could be multiplied, we will limit ourselves to a handful of examples that make this connection.

           

1.  The Mosaical Law was written by a prophet.  At the conclusion of Deuteronomy Moses is pictured in just this way, "Since then no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face" (34:10).  Stephen speaks in similar [Page 12]    terms when he cites an Old Testament prophecy applicable to Jesus, "This is the Moses who said to the sons of Israel, 'God shall raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren" (Acts 7:37).

           

2.  Obviously, prophets wrote the books of prophecy.   Indeed, at least two passages from Paul can be read as the direct assertion that prophets wrote all the books of scripture.  In Romans 1:2, he said, "Which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy scriptures."  Even more compelling is the wording in Romans 16:26, "But now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith."              

 

            3.  The psalms were written by men with the prophetic gift.  Peter himself portrayed David as a prophet of the future when it came time to replace the fallen Judas, "Brethren, the Scripture has to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus" (Acts 1:16).   In Acts 2:29-30, Peter explicit applies the label prophet to David, "Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.  And so, because he was a prophet, and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants upon his throne."

 

            So far we have been concerned with the Old Testament implications of the text.  Peter, however, seems to have in mind the revelation through Jesus as well.   The verses that precede our text in 2 Peter 3:19-21 deserve attention in this regard,

 

                        For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you         the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His            majesty.  For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an        utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, "This is My beloved

Son with whom I am well-pleased"--and we ourselves heard this utterance made

from heaven when we were with Him on the Holy mountain.  And so we have the

prophetic word made more sure . . . for no prophecy was ever made by an act of          human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God (1:16-21). 

 

            Just as 2 Timothy 3 looks both backward to the Old Testament and forward to the completed New Testament revelation, 2 Peter 1 seems to do the same.  He puts the revelation through Jesus on a superior level to that of the Old Testament, a key argument of the book of Hebrews but one Peter does not choose to do more than allude to.  After narrating the Transfiguration of Jesus he immediately ties it in with the prophetic word of the Old Covenant, "And so we have the prophetic word made more sure." 

Hence, the revelation of Jesus is even superior to the "normal" prophetic word and that prophetic word was one spoken by God through the Holy Spirit.    Probably the reason for that revelation being considered "more sure" is that it is vouched to by the Son rather than just by the Spirit.  Although the latter would be more than adequate to establish its authority, Jesus' unique role of Sonship and kingship inherently carried with it the "visible" appearance of great authoritativeness.  Hence, the revelation given to and [Page 13]    through Jesus had to be at least on a par of certainty and reliability as that attributed by Peter to the Old Testament.

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

Texts analyzed in depth                                                                                     7

Supplemental texts affirming inspiration studied in the in-depth sections                3

Attributions of a prophetic origin to the three divisions of the Old Testament       6

 

Total                                                                                                                           16