There are few Biblical subjects more confounding. Since none of us have ever been inspired we have no frame of reference to fully understand how it works. We can theorize and speculate and analogize and illustrate but there’ll never be any way to totally get it. The idea that the words spoken or written were “directed” by God is an easy enough concept to grasp on a fundamental level, but it’s the nuance of it that is so confusing.

There are a few verses in the Bible, however, that shed a little light on the process. One is found in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians…

Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
(1 Corinthians 2:13)

Paul attributes his writing and teachings to things that did not come from the wisdom of man. That’s significant, considering the immense wisdom and scholarship Paul had. Instead he credits the Holy Spirit, and says that He compares spiritual things with spiritual. That last expression seems to be the clue to help us understand the inspiration equation. It’s not that the Holy Spirit whispered the words into the ears of the Bible writers, it’s that He took from their own vocabulary the words He wanted.

This is why Moses’ writings are vastly different than the writings of, say, Peter or Jeremiah. Each author has his own vocabulary, his own culture, history, etc. The Spirit uses those things to write His Spiritual words, selecting each word, phrase, idea, argument, memory, etc, from the writer’s own mind. But in the end…whose words are they? Are they Paul’s or are they the Spirit’s?

They are Paul’s, selected by the Spirit.

~ Matthew