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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Holy Spirit: How He Works

Don Stewart :: How Did the Holy Spirit Work in Relation to the Authorship of Scripture?

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How Did the Holy Spirit Work in Relation to the Authorship of Scripture?

The Holy Spirit: How He Works – Question 3

The Bible says that God the Holy Spirit was intimately involved in the writing of Scripture. In fact, it was the Holy Spirit who revealed Himself to the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament prophets. We can make the following observations.

1. The Holy Spirit Is the Ultimate Author of Scripture

The Bible makes it clear that the Holy Spirit is the ultimate author of Scripture. To begin with, Paul wrote the following to Timothy stating the fact that all Scripture comes from God.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16 HCSB).

According to Paul, God is the ultimate source behind Scripture.

Peter acknowledged this fact. He then went on to say that it was actually the Spirit of God who was ultimately behind the words of Scripture. He put it this way.

For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21 NIV).

The words of Scripture are the words the Holy Spirit wanted written. No more, no less.

2. The Holy Spirit Revealed the Truth to the Writers of Scripture

The Holy Spirit is the One who reveals the truth about God to humanity. Paul wrote the following about this to the church at Ephesus.

If indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets (Ephesians 3:2-5 NKJV).

Paul says that the truth of Christ has been revealed by the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, to His apostles and prophets.

Peter also emphasized the role of the Holy Spirit with the prophets. He stated that it was the Spirit of Christ who revealed the truth to them. We read the following words.

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours made careful search and inquiry, inquiring about the person or time that the Spirit of Christ within them indicated when it testified in advance to the sufferings destined for Christ and the subsequent glory. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in regard to the things that have now been announced to you through those who brought you good news by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look! (1 Peter 1:10-12 NRSV).

The Holy Spirit worked in unique ways with the prophets. Indeed, He revealed God’s truth to them in a special way.

3. The Holy Spirit Is behind All Genuine Prophetic Utterances

We also find that the Holy Spirit is the one who is behind all genuine prophetic utterances. Ezekiel the prophet had his spirit-led words put into Scripture.

The Testimony of Ezekiel

We read the following testimony of the prophet Ezekiel how the Lord guided His words.

Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon me, and he told me to say: “This is what the LORD says: That is what you are saying, O house of Israel, but I know what is going through your mind” (Ezekiel 11:5 NIV).

These words of Ezekiel were led by God the Holy Spirit. Consequently they had God’s authority behind them.

The Testimony of Zechariah

Zechariah the prophet attributed the words of the earlier prophets to the words of the Spirit of the Lord. He wrote the following.

They made their hearts adamant in order not to hear the law and the words that the LORD of hosts had sent by his spirit through the former prophets. Therefore great wrath came from the LORD of hosts (Zechariah 7:12 NRSV).

This is an acknowledgement that certain prophets, who speak God’s Word, were in existence before Zechariah.

When God’s Word is proclaimed, the Holy Spirit is always behind the proclamation.

4. Words Attributed to the Lord in the Old Testament Are Attributed to the Holy Spirit in the New Testament

There are a number of occasions where the Old Testament attributes a particular saying to the Lord Himself. However, as we read the New Testament, we find that it attributes this same saying to the Holy Spirit.

The People of Israel Heard the Voice of God

The psalmist wrote how the people of Israel heard the voice of God. He put it this way.

For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, the sheep under His care. Today, if you hear His voice: “Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah, as on that day at Massah in the wilderness” (Psalm 95:7, 8 HCSB)

In the wilderness, the voice of God was heard by the people.

The People of Israel Heard the Voice of the Holy Spirit

The writer to the Hebrews attributes this particular prophetic utterance of God to the Holy Spirit. He wrote the following.

That is why the Holy Spirit says, “Today you must listen to his voice” (Hebrews 3:7 NLT).

Therefore, the voice of God and the voice of the Holy Spirit are the same.

The Lord Will Make a Covenant with His People

Scripture spoke of a particular covenant or agreement which God would make with the people. Jeremiah recorded the following prediction.

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people (Jeremiah 31:33 NKJV).

The Lord will make a new covenant with His people where he will write His law on their hearts. This was His promise.

The Holy Spirit Will Make the New Covenant with the People

While the Old Testament said that the Lord would make a “new covenant” with His people, the writer to the Hebrews attributed this to the Spirit of God.

The Holy Spirit tells us the same thing: “This is the promise that I will make to them after those days, says the Lord: ‘I will put my teachings in their hearts and write them in their minds’” (Hebrews 10:15, 16 God’s Word)

It was the Holy Spirit who made the New Covenant.

God Spoke through Isaiah the Prophet

Isaiah the prophet recorded God saying the following.

He said, “Go and tell this people: Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving. Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed” (Isaiah 6:9, 10 NIV).

It was God Himself who spoke through Isaiah.

The Holy Spirit Spoke through Isaiah

The Apostle Paul said that it was actually the Holy Spirit who spoke through Isaiah the prophet. We read in the Book of Acts.

So they disagreed with each other; and as they were leaving, Paul made one further statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your ancestors through the prophet Isaiah, ‘Go to this people and say, You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive’” (Acts 28:25, 26 NRSV).

Therefore, God, in this case, was God the Holy Spirit.

These passages equate the words of the Holy Spirit with the words of God. This is further evidence that the Holy Spirit is God.

The Holy Spirit Gave the Words and Thoughts to the Prophets

We are also told that the Holy Spirit gave the prophets the very words and thoughts. The Apostle Paul wrote the following to the church at Corinth.

When we tell you this, we do not use words of human wisdom. We speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths (1 Corinthians 2:13 NLT).

Spiritual truth only comes from the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit Gave David His Words to Say

We read in Second Samuel that it was the Spirit of the Lord who gave David the words to say. The Bible says.

The spirit of the LORD speaks through me, his word is upon my tongue (2 Samuel 23:2 NRSV).

Therefore, when David spoke as a prophet, he spoke by means of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit Spoke to the Churches

The Book of Revelation records what the Holy Spirit had to say to the churches. The Scripture puts it this way.

Let the person who has ears listen to what the Spirit says to the churches (Revelation 3:13 God’s Word).

It was the Spirit Himself which spoke to the churches.

The Spirit Guided the New Testament Writers

Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would guide the New Testament writers into all truth. He said the following to His disciples on the night of His betrayal.

When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come (John 16:13 HCSB).

After Jesus had risen and ascended into heaven, the Spirit of God would then declare the truth of Jesus Christ to His disciples. They, in turn, would truthfully declare it to the people.

Consequently, we find that the words of the biblical prophets were ultimately the words of the Holy Spirit of God. Therefore, the ultimate author behind the Scripture is the Holy Spirit.

Summary – Question 3
How Did the Holy Spirit Work in Relation to the Authorship of Scripture?

The Bible says that the Holy Spirit is behind the authority of the Scriptures as its ultimate author. We discover this in a number of ways.

First, He is the one who divinely inspired the prophets when they gave their prophetic utterances. Indeed, they could only speak the truth of God if they were filled with the Holy Spirit and guided by the Spirit.

We are also told that the Holy Spirit guided the words and thoughts of the biblical writers so that they would write exactly what God wanted them to write. This means that their words were ultimately His words. Consequently we should expect the Bible to contain the exact words which the Lord wanted revealed to humanity with nothing added and nothing deleted.

Furthermore, some of the statements which the Old Testament attributes to God or to the Lord are specifically attributed to the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. This is further evidence that the words of God are the words of the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, the ultimate authorship of the Bible should be attributed to God the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity.

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What Is the Role of the Holy Spirit in Relation to Interpreting the Scripture? Next Section →
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