Are Accurate Copies and Translations of Scripture-Such as the KJV-Inspired? A Study of 2 Timothy 3:16, part 1
Scripture teaches that the words of Scripture are inspired by God, and thus the entirety of the canonical Scriptures are inspired, 2 Timothy 3:16. God did not inspire people like Moses, Jeremiah, or Matthew; rather, the words that He gave to mankind through them are inspired. Since “inspired” means “God breathed,” and Matthew 4:4 states, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God,” believers are to live by inspired words. Since the present tense verb “proceedeth” in Matthew 4:4represents continuing action, as is also found in other very closely related uses of the verb,[i] the breath of God, that is, inspiration, remains in the words of the copies of the autographs, and men are to live by every word of those inspired copies. The fact is that neither 2 Timothy 3:16 nor Matthew 4:4 actually refer toinspiration as a process, rather than a product.[ii] Standard Greek lexica provide ample evidence for the use ofTheopneustos, God-breathed, as a quality of actual written copies of the Scriptures.[iii] 2 Peter 1:16-21 does not employ the word “God-breathed” nor any phraseology like “proceedeth out of the mouth of God” likeMatthew 4:4 does. 2 Timothy 3:16 teaches that a quality or attribute of Scripture, whether of autographs or apographs, is that it has the breath of God in it.[iv]
One can use the word inspiration to refer to the process whereby God dictated His Words to the prophets as described in 2 Peter 1:16-21. However, the meaning of 2 Timothy 3:16 is that the breath of God/inspiration remains in every Word perfectly preserved in Hebrew and Greek, just as it does in the original manuscripts. Thus, the perfectly preserved words in the Greek and Hebrew Received Texts underneath the Authorized Version represent a text just as inspired as the original copies dictated to Moses, Paul, or Luke, as the words in the Received Text are identical to those in the autographs.
Recognizing inspiration as equal to the continuing action of “proceeding out of the mouth of God” that pertains to the product of what was originally dictated by the Holy Ghost to men moved by Him (2 Peter 1:16-21) helps to solve of the debate over the propriety of the use of the word inspired for accurate translations such as the King James Version.
i] See Matthew 15:11, 18; cf. Luke 4:22; Revelation 1:16; 19:15. Note the unquestionable continuing action in Revelation 22:1. A denial of continuing action in John 15:26 would overthrow the classical doctrine of the interpersonal relations in the Trinity by denying the Spirit’s eternal procession from the Father (and the Son). Note that while ekporeuomai is not very common in the aorist or perfect tenses, it is found in these forms outside the NT (2 Samuel 19:8 (), aorist, clearly a one time action; Numbers 31:28, 36;Deuteronomy 11:10 (), perfect tense, retaining the fundamental idea of the Greek perfect), although not within the NT itself.
[ii] “The Greek word of this passage—Theopneustos . . . says of Scripture . . . that it is breathed out by God, ‘God-breathed,’ the product of the creative breath of God. In a word, what is declared by this fundamental passage is simply that the Scriptures are a Divine product, without any indication of how God has operated in producing them. . . . Paul declares, then, that ‘every scripture,’ or ‘all scripture’ is the product of the Divine breath, ‘is God-breathed,’ [and so] he asserts with as much energy as he could employ that Scripture is the product of a specifically Divine operation” (pg. 60, Revelation and Inspiration, Benjamin B. Warfield. Elec. acc. Rio, WI: AGES Digital Software, 2006; orig. pub. New York: Oxford University, 1927).
Nevertheless, the Greek-English Lexicon to the New Testament, J. Parkhurst (2nd ed. 1794; elec. acc. http://books.google.com) defines qeo/pneustoß as: “from qeo/ß, God, and pepneusai, 3rd pers. sing. perf. pass. of pnew, fut. pneusw, to breathe. Breathed or inspired by God, divinely inspired, given by divine inspiration . . . 2 Tim 3:16.” The perfect tense root underlying qeo/pneustoß would make the idea of a completed action in which the Scriptures were dictated, with the result that the breath of God remains upon the words, possible, and thus gives some justification for employing the word inspired for the process of giving the Biblical autographs. However, the actual use of Theopneustos in 2 Timothy 3:16, and frequently in KoinéGreek, for a product, indicates that considering actual original language copies of Scripture as both inspiredand profitable is the correct exegesis of the verse. The predicate adjective wÓfe÷limoß, profitable, in2 Timothy 3:16, does not specify a process, but a product—so does the predicate adjective qeo/pneustoß. Of course, if Scripture has the quality of being qeo/pneustoß, when it came into being, it must have been supernaturally spoken by God, so there is nothing wrong with speaking of inspiration as the process of the giving of the autographs. To deny, however, the fact that 2 Timothy 3:16 ascribes the breath of God as a quality to apographs of Scripture and shut up Theopneustos to only the giving of the autographs is to neglect the exegesis of 2 Timothy 3:16, and the idea expressed in that text by the Holy Ghost through the apostle Paul, because of a secondary, although certainly legitimate, sense of the word.
[iii] G. W. Lampe’s Patristic Greek Lexicon (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2007, 20th ed.) reads: “qeo/pneustoß . . . divinely inspired . . . of Scripture (cf. 2 Tim. 3:16) . . . qeo/pneustoß . . . as a frequent epithet of grafai/ or of grafh/ or applied either to contents of scriptures or to the actual volumes.” Lampe provides vast amounts of evidence for the use of qeo/pneustoß as a quality of copies of Scripture in patristic literature, including passages where the actual copies in hand that were being read among the Christians are called inspired (qeo/pneustwn aÓnagnsma¿twn) and it is obvious that no reference to the one-time process of giving the autographs is in view. When the classical Greek-English Lexicon ofH. G. Liddell & R. Scott (9th ed., New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1996) provides examples of the adjective qeo/pneustoß used for dreams (o¡neiroi) and artwork or craftsmanship (dhmiou/rghma), clearly employing qeo/pneustoß as a quality of the substantive modified, not making reference to God breathing out a piece of artwork in a one-time process. TheGreek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, 3rd. ed. (BDAG), William F. Danker (ed.), (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000), mentions, among many other examples, the “God-breathed ointments” (muri÷smasi qeopneu/stoiß) of the Testament of Abraham 20:11. Similarly, Warfield documents the very common use of qeo/pneustoß as a quality of apographs through patristic quotations such as: “truly holy are those letters . . . and the writings or volumes that consist of these holy letters or syllables, the same apostle consequently calls ‘inspired by God, seeing that they are profitable for doctrine,’”; “sing . . . the inspired Scriptures”; “All bread is nutritious[.] . . . All Scripture is God-inspired (pa◊sa grafh\ qeo/pneustoß) and profitable”; (Revelation and Inspiration, chapter 7, “God-inspired Scripture”).
[iv] Note that the –toß ending on qeo/pneustoß supports the view that the sense is passive (“Scripture is God-breathed”) rather than active. A. T. Robertson wrote: “The verbal in – toß goes back to the original Indo-Germanic time and had a sort cf perfect passive idea,” while cautioning that “we must not overdo this point. . . . Strictly this pro-ethnic –tos has no voice or tense and it never came to have intimate verbal connections in the Greek as it did in Latin and English” (A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, 4th ed. Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1934, pg. 1095, cf. 157–58). Warfield discusses the question in Revelation and Inspiration chapter 7, “God-breathed Scripture.”