“They Were Borne Along by Holy Spirit”
“Prophecy was at no time brought by man’s will, but men spoke from God as they were borne along by holy spirit.”—2 PET. 1:21.
POINTS TO PONDER
How was God’s message transmitted by holy spirit to Bible writers?
What evidence proves that the Bible is inspired of God?
What can you do daily to maintain your appreciation for God’s Word?
1. Why do we need the inspired Word of God?
WHERE do we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going? Why is the world the way it is? What happens to us when we die? People around the globe ask these questions. How would we know the answers to these and other important questions if we did not have the inspired Word of God? Without the Holy Scriptures, our primary teacher would be personal experience. With personal experience as our teacher, could we ever have the same sentiments as the psalmist had toward “the law of Jehovah”?—Read Psalm 19:7.
2. What will help us to maintain our appreciation for the Bible as a precious gift from God?
2 The sad reality, though, is that some have allowed the love they first had for Bible truth to cool off. (Compare Revelation 2:4.) They no longer walk in the way that pleases Jehovah. (Isa. 30:21) That does not have to happen to us. We can and should work at maintaining our appreciation for the Bible and its teachings. The Bible is an important gift from our loving Creator. (Jas. 1:17) What will help us deepen our appreciation for “the word of God”? A key is reflecting on how Bible writers were guided to write the Scriptures. That involves calling to mind some of the abundant evidence of its inspiration. Doing so should stimulate us to read from God’s Word daily and to apply its counsel.—Heb. 4:12.
“BORNE ALONG BY HOLY SPIRIT”—HOW?
3. How were the prophets and Bible writers “borne along by holy spirit”?
3 Over a period of 1,610 years—spanning from 1513 B.C.E. to 98 C.E.—some 40 different men wrote the Bible. Some were prophets “borne along by holy spirit.” (Read 2 Peter 1:20, 21.) The Greek expression rendered “borne along” has the sense “to bear or carry from one place to another,” and it “can be variously rendered: be moved, be driven, let oneself be moved.”a Acts 27:15 uses it in describing a boat that was seized and moved, or driven along a certain course, by the wind. Bible prophets and writers were “borne along by holy spirit” in that God communicated with, motivated, and guided them by means of his active force. That being the case, they wrote, not their own ideas, but God’s thoughts. Sometimes the inspired prophets and writers did not even know the meaning of what they foretold or were writing. (Dan. 12:8, 9) Yes, “all Scripture is inspired of God” and is free of human opinions.—2 Tim. 3:16.
4-6. In what ways did Jehovah convey his message to the Bible writers? Illustrate.
4 How, though, was God’s message transmitted by holy spirit to Bible writers? Did they receive precise wording or just ideas that they could express in their own words? Consider how a businessman might compose a letter. When precise wording is important, he writes the letter himself or dictates it to his secretary word for word. The secretary types it, and the letter bears the businessman’s signature. At other times, he provides only the principal ideas, and the secretary prepares the letter, using her own style or vocabulary. The businessman may then proofread the letter and have the secretary make any needed changes. In the end, the letter bears his signature and is viewed as coming from him.
5 Similarly, some parts of the Bible were supplied “by God’s finger.” (Ex. 31:18) Jehovah also used dictation when precise wording was crucial. At Exodus 34:27, for example, we read: “Jehovah went on to say to Moses: ‘Write down for yourself these words, because it is in accordance with these words that I do conclude a covenant with you and Israel.’” Likewise, Jehovah told the prophet Jeremiah: “Write for yourself in a book all the words that I will speak to you.”—Jer. 30:2.
6 In most cases, though, thoughts rather than specific words were miraculously conveyed to the hearts and minds of Bible writers, permitting them to choose their own words to express them. “The congregator sought to find the delightful words and the writing of correct words of truth,” states Ecclesiastes 12:10. The Gospel writer Luke “traced all things from the start with accuracy, to write them in logical order.” (Luke 1:3) God’s spirit ensured that human imperfection did not taint his message.
7. How is God’s wisdom made evident in his use of humans to write the Bible?
7 God’s great wisdom is made evident in his use of humans to write the Bible. Words convey not just information but also emotions and feelings. What if Jehovah had used angels as writers? Could they have conveyed with a human touch such emotions as fear, sorrow, and disappointment, so common to mankind? By allowing imperfect men to choose the wording for the ideas they received through holy spirit, God conveyed his message with warmth, variety, and the appeal of human emotions and feelings!
KEEP EVIDENCE IN SIGHT
8. Why can it be said that the Bible is like no other book of religion?
8 Evidence abounds that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. The Bible acquaints us with God like no other book of religion. For example, the writings of Hinduism include books of Vedic hymns, a collection of ritualistic commentaries about these hymns, philosophical treatises called the Upanishads, and the epic stories known as Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The Bhagavad Gita, a book containing moral instructions, is a part of the Mahabharata. Of Buddhism’s Tipitaka (Three Collections), one volume is mainly about rules and regulations of community living for monks and nuns. Another volume deals mostly with Buddhist doctrines. A third volume is a record of the oral teachings of the Buddha. Buddha himself did not claim to be a god, and he said very little about God. The texts of Confucianism are an amalgam of records of events, moral rules, magical formulas, and songs. Granted, the holy book of Islam teaches belief in one God and presents him as God who is omniscient and has foreknowledge, but it does not even reveal the name of God, Jehovah, which appears thousands of times in the Bible.
9, 10. What can we learn about God from the Bible?
9 While most major books of religion say very little, if anything, about God, the Bible acquaints us with Jehovah God and his activities. It helps us to see the many facets of his personality. The Bible reveals God not only as an all-powerful, wise, and just God but also as a God who loves us. (Read John 3:16; 1 John 4:19.) Moreover, the Bible tells us: “God is not partial, but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10:34, 35) In a sense, the availability of the Bible testifies to this truth. Linguists say that of some 6,700 languages spoken in the world today, approximately 100 cover 90 percent of the world’s population. Still, the Bible has been translated, either in whole or in part, into more than 2,400 languages. Nearly everyone in the world has access to at least parts of it.
10 Jesus said: “My Father has kept working until now, and I keep working.” (John 5:17) ‘From time indefinite to time indefinite Jehovah is God.’ So think of all of his accomplishments! (Ps. 90:2) The Bible alone acquaints us with God’s activities both past and present and reveals what he will do in the future. The Scriptures also teach us what pleases him and what displeases him, and they show how we can draw close to him. (Jas. 4:8) Let us not allow any personal pursuits or concerns to draw us away from him.
11. What vast and reliable wisdom is found in the pages of the Bible?
11 The vast and reliable wisdom found in the Bible also indicates that the book is from a Source higher than man. The apostle Paul wrote: “Who has come to know the mind of Jehovah, that he may instruct him?” (1 Cor. 2:16) That verse is based on what the prophet Isaiah asked those of his day: “Who has taken the proportions of the spirit of Jehovah, and who as his man of counsel can make him know anything?” (Isa. 40:13) The answer, of course, is no one. No wonder that applying Scriptural counsel on marriage, children, entertainment, association, industriousness, honesty, and morality brings superior results! We never get bad advice from the Bible. Humans, on the other hand, are simply not wise enough to recommend what always works. (Jer. 10:23) Their advice is constantly being revised and updated as they come to realize that earlier advice was flawed. “The thoughts of men,” says the Bible, “are as an exhalation.”—Ps. 94:11.
12. The Bible has survived what efforts over the centuries?
12 Another line of evidence that the true God is the Author of the Bible comes from what history reveals about efforts made to destroy its message. In 168 B.C.E., Syrian King Antiochus IV tried to seek out the inspired books of the Law to burn them. Roman Emperor Diocletian’s decree to demolish the meeting places of the Christians and to burn their Scriptures was issued in 303 C.E. The destruction continued for a decade. After the 11th century, popes led the efforts to suppress the spread of Bible knowledge, opposing the translation of the Scriptures into languages of the common people. Despite such attempts by Satan and his agents, the Bible has survived down to our day. Jehovah has not permitted anyone to eliminate his gift to mankind.
EVIDENCE THAT HAS CONVINCED MANY
13. We can point to what evidence of the Bible’s inspiration?
13 There is other evidence of the Bible’s inspiration: the internal harmony, scientific accuracy, fulfilled prophecies, unusual candor, power to transform lives, historical soundness, and satisfying answers to the questions mentioned in paragraph 1. Consider what helped certain ones to see that the Bible is from God.
14-16. (a) What convinced a Muslim, a Hindu, and an agnostic of the divine origin of the Bible? (b) What evidence of divine inspiration of the Bible do you like to use in the ministry?
14 Anwarb grew up as a Muslim in a Middle Eastern country. While he was temporarily living in North America, Jehovah’s Witnesses came to his door. “At that time,” says Anwar, “I had a negative opinion of Christian religions because of the Crusades and the Inquisition. However, being a curious person by nature, I agreed to a Bible study.” Before long, Anwar returned home and lost contact with the Witnesses. Years later, he moved to Europe, where he resumed his Bible study and came to this conclusion: “The fulfillment of Bible prophecies, the internal harmony of the Holy Scriptures, the absence of contradiction in the Bible, and the love among Jehovah’s worshippers convinced me that the Bible is God’s Word.” Anwar was baptized in 1998.
15 Sixteen-year-old Asha comes from a devout Hindu family. “I prayed only when I went to the temple or was going through rough times,” she says, “but never did I think of God when life was treating me well.” She continues: “When Jehovah’s Witnesses knocked on my door, however, my life took a 180 degree turn.” Asha studied the Bible and came to know God as her Friend. What convinced her that the Bible is inspired of God? She explains: “The Bible answered every question that I could ask. It helped me to have faith even without seeing God—that is, without my going to a temple to bow to an idol.”
16 Paula was reared a Catholic, but by the time she was a young adult, she considered herself an agnostic. Then something happened. “I met a friend whom I had not seen in months,” she relates. “That was in the hippie era. When I saw how he had changed—now clean-cut and happy—I asked him, ‘What happened to you, and where have you been?’ He said that he had been studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses and proceeded to witness to me.” Seeing Scriptural truth exert such power attracted this former agnostic to the message of the Bible, and she accepted it as inspired of God.
“YOUR WORD IS A LAMP TO MY FOOT”
17. What can reading God’s Word daily and meditating on it do for you?
17 The Bible is a marvelous gift that Jehovah has provided by means of his holy spirit. Take delight in reading it daily, and your love for it and its Author will grow. (Ps. 1:1, 2) Open each study session with prayer, asking for God’s spirit to direct your thoughts. (Luke 11:13) The Bible contains God’s thoughts, so as you meditate on what it says, you can make God’s thinking your thinking.
18. Why do you want to continue to learn from the Bible?
18 While you continue to grow in accurate knowledge of the truth, live by what you learn. (Read Psalm 119:105.) Peer into the Scriptures as you would into a mirror. If you thus see that you should make changes, do so. (Jas. 1:23-25) Utilize God’s Word as a sword to defend your beliefs and to cut away false teachings in the hearts of meek ones. (Eph. 6:17) As you do so, be grateful that the prophets and men who were used to pen the message of the Bible truly were “borne along by holy spirit.”
a A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature.
b Some names have been changed.
[Blurb on page 29]
Read the Bible daily, and your love for its Author will grow
[Picture on page 26]
A letter is viewed as coming from the person whose signature it bears