Q.

Did the writers of Scripture know they were being inspired of God as they wrote? I’m not asking if they were inspired; we know they were.

Also, please deal with 2 Peter 1:20: “No prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation.” I thought that individual believers had the right to find out the meaning of Scripture for themselves.

A.
The writers of the books of the Bible would not have known all that would happen after their passing concerning the compilation of and inclusions in the canon of Scripture. Certainly they may not have known how far-reaching the effects of Scripture throughout the centuries of time would be. Nevertheless, it is apparent that they had a sense of God’s hand upon them as they wrote. They wrote with seriousness, purpose, and conviction to their recipients, believing that the Spirit of God was prompting them to write what they wrote. Several passages of Scripture suggest this awareness.

You mention Peter. Certainly he, who wrote two of our New Testament letters, was aware that the writers of the Old Testament were inspired. He stated, “Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). Peter might not have known how God would use his writings in the future, but Peter certainly was sure that what he was writing was absolute truth that God wanted fellow believers to know. Peter’s words were not of his own origin, and the apostle knew it.

The apostle Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, stated, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable” (2 Timothy 3:16). Paul also knew about the fact of inspiration. He, too, wrote with a sense of the Holy Spirit’s direction upon him. His writing wasn’t of his own doing. We read this over and over again in his letters.

The apostle John also knew the fact of inspiration. As we read the opening verses of the book of Revelation, we read how John knew God was inspiring him to write down what he did. It was not his own vision but God’s revelation to him. I should point out that those writers who also were apostles knew God’s hand on them as His representatives in the early church until the canon of Scripture was completed: “That you maybe mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior” (2 Peter 3:2).

Second Samuel 23:1 and 2 state,

Now these are the last words of David. . . . “The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue?” And the prophet Micah noted, “But truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the LORD. . . to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin” (Micah 3:8).

These verses also testify that the writers of Scripture were aware of God’s hand upon them.

Concerning 2 Peter 1:20, the mistake many people make is to think the verse deals with the way people handle (interpret) the Word, whether rightly or wrongly. Some people even believe the verse is saying that the church, not individuals, determines the Bible’s interpretation; one large denomination in particular has a history of this thinking. Actually the verse refers to those who already wrote—the origin of the Word. These writers did not give their own private interpretation but were moved by the Holy Spirit. Thus there is one correct interpretation of Scripture: God’s. Having noted this, we believers (priests!—1 Peter 2:9, 10) have not only the right but also the responsibility to search all of Scripture to find out, with the help of the Holy Spirit, what the Scriptures teach (Acts 17:11; 2 Timothy 2:15).

Do you have feedback or a Bible question to submit? Send to nolson@garbc.org or mail to Norman A. Olson in care of the Baptist Bulletin, 1300 N. Meacham Rd., Schaumburg, IL 60173-4806.

Reprinted from the Baptist Bulletin (February 2002).
© 2002 Regular Baptist Press. All rights reserved.
Used by permission.