Inspiration -- By: W. H. Griffith Thomas

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 118:469 (Jan 1961)
Article: Inspiration
Author: W. H. Griffith Thomas


W. H. Griffith Thomas

[Editor’s Note: This article is published in recognition of the centennial of the birth (Jan. 2, 1861) of W. H. Griffith Thomas, famous Anglican scholar, who co-operated with Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer in plans for the founding of Dallas Theological Seminary in 1924. Among his works are commentaries on Genesis (3 vols.), Romans (3 vols.), Christ Pre-eminent (Col), Let Us Go On (Heb). In pastoral theology he wrote The Work of the Minister, later published under the title Ministerial Life and Work. His Principles of Theology is an exposition of The Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England. Other works include Grace and Power, The Prayers of Saint Paul, and biographical studies of the Apostle John and the Apostle Peter which include outline studies of the Scriptures they wrote. This article has not been previously published.]

The word inspiration comes from inspiratio meaning “to breathe in,” and is applied in Scripture as follows: (1) to God as the Author of man’s intelligence (Job 12:8), and (2) to Scripture itself as inspired by God (2 Tim 3:16). In the latter passage it clearly denotes some action of God in the provision and conveyance of His revelation to man. While primarily spoken of the Old Testament, the term may rightly be extended to the New Testament also as part of the literature which is regarded as Scripture. The word means “God-breathed” and indicates that primary and fundamental quality which gives Scripture its character of authoritativeness over spiritual life, and makes it profitable for the various aspects of human need.

What inspiration is can best be gathered from the claim of Scripture itself. Old Testament prophets claimed to speak as God gave them their messages. The New Testament claims this quality of divine authority for the Old Testament. In harmony with this, Scripture is everywhere spoken of as “the word of God.” Such titles as “the scriptures” and “the oracles of God” (Rom 3:2), with such phrases as “it is written,” clearly involve this. Then again the words of Scripture are attributed to God as their Author (Matt 1:22; Acts 13:34) or to the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:16; Heb 3:7), and the writers are said to have spoken in or through the Holy Spirit (Matt 2:15), and so the very words of Scripture are regarded as divinely authoritative (

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