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Q&A: Is ALL Scripture inspired by God?


This question comes from Emily:

In reading an article on the origins of the Old and New Testaments I found this quote:

"Others have sought to find a basis within the Bible itself for what is inspired. Bailey points out the frequent reference to  2 Timothy 3:16  “All scripture is inspired by God [theopneustos]…” The idea here is that scripture is “God breathed.” But “the scripture,” for the author of 2 Timothy, whether Paul or one of his students, could only be referring to two thirds of the Old Testament. The Jewish community had not fully selected all the texts that would come to be known as “scripture” and none of the New Testament books would be included. This passage can only refer to books known at that time 2 Timothy was written and this doesn’t ultimately help us resolve our question."
I'm NO bible scholar (why I'm asking for help on this), and just want to make sure I'm not using 2 Tim incorrectly because it's how we've done it before. I know it's a main scripture we use in studies to convince people the entire bible was inspired by God. Insights would be appreciated!


Thanks Emily, yes it is true that Paul would have strictly speaking only had in view the OT when he said that "all scripture" is God breathed (same with 2 Pet 1:20-21), and you should not over press the issue otherwise (for instance I sometimes state to people that Paul would have been referring specifically to the OT) . But that does not mean that the New Testament is not inspired by God.

For instance, Peter refers to Paul's writings that were circulating at the time as equal to the "other (OT) scriptures" (2 Pet 3:16) which would indicate at least for Peter that he considered Paul to be writing under the guidance and providence of the Holy Spirit and was on equal footing with the Old Testament writings (for more see Douglas Jacoby's articles here, and here).

For a great introductory work on this topic please see Lightfoot's "How We Got The Bible".

Also, I would state that 2 Tim 3:16 is not what we are necessarily using to "convince" people that the bible is inspired by God. The obvious objection to that would be that you are just saying the bible is inspired by God, because it says that it is, which obviously it does say it is, but that doesn't make it true.

Faith comes from hearing the word about Christ (Rom 10:17), and the primary place we can "hear" the word about Jesus is from the bible. Faith that the bible is actually divinely inspired (and thus an authority for our lives) often comes from us being exposed to it and reading it for ourselves.


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