“Given by Inspiration” — the implication of theopneustos
Charles e. Whisnant ( Gleaned from Jon Gleason) February 05, 2012 #5
The fifth on Bibliology (the study of what the Scriptures are, and how they came to us) dealt with the inspiration of the Scriptures, from II Timothy 3:16.
Now I’d like to consider two additional pieces of evidence as to its meaning.
Form — Adjective
Theopneustos is an adjective, used to give information about (or describe) a noun (“Scripture”). “Breathed by God” or “Given by inspiration” may sound like a verb (an action of God), but it isn’t.
- Paul didn’t use the verb pneo, “to breathe”, to describe action – the Holy Spirit rather guided him to use an adjective, describing the Scriptures. Though an action (breathing) is in view, the focus is not on the action of God, but on something about the Scriptures.
- If Paul wanted to draw our attention primarily to the action, he almost certainly would have used a verb.
- The “adjectival discussion” by saying that theopneustos (“Breathed by God” or “Given by inspiration of God”) is an adjective describing the A) source B) nature and/or C) effects of the Scripture. The adjectival form gives no evidence as to whether one or more of these are in view, which one(s), or to what extent.
Connotations: (1) in logic, the characteristic or set of characteristics that makes up the meaning of a term and thus defines the objects to which a term can be applied. (2) the implying or suggesting of an additional meaning for a word or phrase apart from the literal or main meaning.
- What is “connotation”?
- We might say it is an idea or meaning suggested by or associated with a word or thing, generally related but not identical to the explicit meaning of the word or thing
- A connotation is something that the word brings to mind, even if it isn’t what the word means — and often, that is intentional on the part of the speaker or writer. He wants you to think, not just of the meaning of the word, but of the connotations, that other idea which the word brings to mind.
- A few months ago, if you were on Wall Street in New York and heard someone talking about “99%”, they may have been talking about a great return on investment. Today, with the advent of the Occupy Wall Street crowd, if you heard someone on Wall Street call out ”99%” you would recognize it as probably being a political statement
In the Bible, when God breathes, things happen
- · Genesis 2:7, Job 33:4; Psalms 33:6; 104:30, John 3:6-8, John 20:22, Hebrews 4:12
- When God breathes into man, man begins to breathe (and goes on breathing). The same general sense is seen in the famous “dry bones” passage in Ezekiel 37.
The Word of God is living! It is not an empty, dead book. It is powerful, heart-exposing, living and life-giving and life-changing. It is a fire and a rock-crushing hammer (Jeremiah 23:29). Faith (and thus life) comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). The Bible has been breathed into by God, and it lives, and gives life. So I’ll say this, and I’ll set it off so no one misses it:
- · Those who translated theopneustos for hundreds of years using the words “inspired” or “inspiration” weren’t just making stuff up. There was a very real basis in the connotations of the breath of God for the translational choice they made.
I’ll quote Arthur Pink, speaking just down the road in Falkirk in 1936:
- The word “inspire” signifies to in-breathe, and breath is both the means and evidence of life; for as soon as a person ceases to breathe he is dead. The Word of God, then, is vitalized by the very life of God, and therefore it is a living Book. Men’s books are like themselves—dying creatures; but God’s Book is like Himself—it “lives and abides forever” (1 Peter 1:23).
- There are life-giving connotations to the breath of God. There is an indisputable link between God’s Word and life, both as to the nature of God’s Word and its life-giving power (effect). II Timothy 3:16 (and specifically the Greek word theopneustos) stands beside Hebrews 4:12 and I Peter 1:23, a trio of towering monuments to the continuing, living, ever-enduring nature and power of God’s Word.
- 2 Peter 1:20-21
God breathed the Scriptures into existence and God breathed life and vitality into the Scriptures.
“That Book in Timothy’s Hand”?
- It was a living, powerful Book, with life breathed into it by God Almighty. He was not being challenged by Paul to preach a “dying creature”, to use Arthur Pink’s words. He was to preach the rock-crushing hammer of God, the life-breathing words of the Spirit, the enduring fire of God’s Word. It is the same, living, and life-giving, and life-changing.
- If connotations mean anything, this is what theopneustos means for the Book in your hand.