The Nature of the Apostles’ Inspiration

by Clarence Johnson
Sentry Magazine, September 1999

When Jesus sent the apostles out on what is sometimes called the limited commission to preach to the lost sheep of Israel. He told them, "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. And you will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you" (Matthew 10:16-20).

Perhaps there are many lessons that might be gleaned from these verses, but we want to center our attention on the nature of the inspiration the apostles received from the Spirit of God. Notice that when they spoke by Divine inspiration, it was not necessary for them to plan ahead what they would say, or how to say it. The Holy Spirit was to reveal to them, not only some vague thoughts, but the precise words they were to speak.

This corresponds with the teachings of the apostle Paul concerning inspiration in I Corinthians chapter two. In I Corinthians 2:8-9, Paul indicates that those who crucified Christ did not and could not know the details of the marvelous gospel because God had not yet made those details known. However, Paul then indicates that since the crucifixion, "God has revealed them to us through His Spirit." That is, Paul and the other inspired men had been selected to receive these revelations from God, and those same men were in the process of preaching and writing those truths for the benefit of mankind in general. Paul writes, "We have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (I Corinthians 2:12-13). The American Standard translation renders that last phrase, "combining spiritual things with spiritual words." God did not just reveal to them some vague thought and leave them to grope with how to put that thought across. God gave them the exact words they were to preach and write.

Further, in Ephesians 3:3-4, Paul indicates that when we read what he wrote, we can know what he knew about Christ and His gospel. We commend that gospel to you. Read it, believe it, obey it, and be blessed by it.

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