2 Peter 1:20-21
Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (ESV).
We have listened to Peter’s teaching that the Scriptures are the voice of God in written form. Next, he explains a little about the process. The Spirit acted in a way that made sure that the content was God’s word—as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
The process of the Spirit breathing out the word is full of mystery. This brief phrase is as close as the Spirit comes to explaining his communication of God’s message through human writers. He carried them along, is a forceful expression. Compare the use of the Greek word phero in Mark 2:3; 4:8; 12:15-16; Acts 27:15,17. But how did he carry them along? “We take the historic fact; but we decline every attempt to explain the inscrutable mode… no finite mind can venture, without presumption, to say how the human faculties concurred and acted with the Spirit’s activity in the expression of a divine oracle” (Smeaton, The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, p. 166). Suffice to say that the Spirit took them to his intended destination, which is the breathed-out word of God.
As God the Holy Spirit carried along the apostles and prophets, he “did not destroy the author’s individuality and talents, making the whole Bible stereotyped, with one style from Genesis to Revelation—the style of the Holy Spirit—with all the human differences of the writers overridden and ignored” (Palmer, The Holy Spirit, p. 50). Instead, the Holy Spirit did something different. He used “the experiences of the authors to govern their writing, their different emotions to color their thinking, their individual tastes to be expressed in the Bible” (Ibid.) What would the Bible be like without the strong faith of Abraham in Genesis 22, or the repentant prayer of David in Psalm 51, or Paul’s holy passion to know Christ in Philippians 3, or John’s tender exhortation to his dear friends to love one another in 1 John 4? You see, in the Scriptures you view our holy Maker getting down in the muck of human lives to draw forth gems for his glory and our good. You ought to worship a God like that!
The process of the Spirit breathing out the word is full of God’s sovereignty. This is seen in the various ways that he gave the Scriptures (Hebrews 1:1): “dreams, visions, individual illumination and research, as well as ordinary and extraordinary divine providences, are involved in the process” (Ferguson, The Holy Spirit, p. 27).
The Spirit carried along the men who spoke in many ways.
- By directing their heredity, family upbringing, education and personal history
- By his continual work in the history of redemption—all stood at a particular point of history for a selected purpose
- By his influence on their hearts through previous revelation
- By applying Christ’s redemptive work to their hearts
- By in some way revealing God’s mind to them so that they had to speak it—Jeremiah (Jer 1:4-10; 15:16; 20:9)
The Scriptures themselves are one of the brightest witnesses to the sovereign grace of God. The Lord the Spirit reached down among men in conformity with the Father’s choice, molded a life, drew that person to salvation, and worked through them in such a way, so that when they wrote the Scriptures, it was the Spirit of God speaking (2 Samuel 23:2; Matthew 22:43; Acts 4:25; 28:25). Now is the time to worship the Sovereign God, who can so powerfully work in human hearts! And here is hope. The same God still speaks through his word today! God the Spirit can use the written word of God to do great and good things to you and through you.
Grace and peace, David