Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 12, 1962
NUMBER 10, PAGE 5,12c-13

Who Is The Author Of The Bible

H. Osby Weaver

I Corinthians 2:10-13 affirms that God revealed to the apostles through the Spirit the deep things of God, which things the apostles of Christ spoke, "not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth; combining spiritual things with spiritual words." By inspiration, the apostles not only were given the "thing," but they were also given the "words" with which to express that "thing." This affirms "verbal inspiration," and declares that God is the author of the Bible, even though human agency was used in writing it.

In an address delivered May 28, 1893, before the Y. M. C. A. of the University of Missouri, J. W. McGarvey adequately expressed his confidence in the Bible as the word of God with the following proofs:

"Again and again, almost from time immemorial, it has been argued that if the Spirit of God had guided the sacred penmen after the manner affirmed by Paul, all the books would have been written in one style instead of being marked as they are by all the varieties of style and diction which naturally distinguished their respective writers. To this it has been as often answered, that the infinite Spirit of God could as easily guide a number of writers along the course of their own respective styles and within the limits of their own previously acquired knowledge of words, as in any other way. This seems to be a satisfactory answer. But still it must be conceded that if the Spirit of God exercised any direction over the selection by these men of their words, their modes of expression, or the matter of their narrations, it is but natural to suppose that we may find traces of the fact in characteristics which the writings would not otherwise possess — characteristics by which they may be distinguished as inspired writings. I believe that such characteristics can be pointed out, and that, when properly considered, they furnish conclusive proof of the inspiration in question. I shall confine myself, for the sake of brevity and concentration, to the historical writings of the New Testament, and to their matter rather than their style.

Attention Called To Sins Of Friends And Foes Alike

'We invite your attention, first of all, to a peculiarity of the historical writers of the New Testament which has often elicited wondering comment as a result of the unexampled impartiality with which they set forth the sins and follies of friends and foes alike. There is no attempt at concealment of their own sins; there is no toning down, no apology. They are described without hesitation, and with the same fullness of detail, as are the worst deeds of their enemies. The proposal of James and John to call down fire from heaven on an offending village, is as bluntly recorded as the murder of the innocents of Bethlehem by Herod; the dispute among the apostles as to who should be greatest in the kingdom of God, is as plainly set forth as the dissentions among the Pharisees concerning Jesus; and although, when the Gospels were written, Peter was a prominent and honored man in the church, they every one describe his cowardly denial of his Lord with as much fullness of detail as they do the dastardly betrayal by Judas. They offer no apologies for Peter; and they have no word of reproach for Judas. What writers since the world began, describing events in which their deepest feelings and their dearest interests were involved, have approached these writers in this particular? If they were guided by the impartial Spirit of God, this accounts for it; but who shall account for it on any other hypothesis?

Wrote With Calmness

"In the second place, you can scarcely fail to have observed the imperturbable calmness with which they describe all events alike — the most wonderful as the most commonplace, the most touching as the most indifferent. The most astounding miracles are described by them with no more manifestations of excitement in their manner than the most trivial everyday events. They betray no more feeling when they speak of the murder of John the Baptist, than when they speak of his voice crying out in the wilderness. They are as calm and self-possessed when describing the agony in the garden and the overwhelming scenes of Calvary, as when they tell of Jesus passing through the fields on the Sabbath, or taking his seat at Jacob's well. They use no word of exultation when Jesus arose from the dead, or when He ascended on high; and their tones betray no trembling or tearfulness amid His outcries on the cross, no tenderness as His mangled form is quietly laid in the tomb. Yet these are the very men of whom it is salt, that they were mourning and weeping when the first announcement of the resurrection broke upon their ears (Mark 18:10). Who can account for this — for this elevation of these plain men above all the emotions which characterize other men when writing scenes in which their tenderest sympathies and dearest hopes are involved? The experience is superhuman. It is accounted for only when we know that they were restrained by the Spirit of Him,

'Who sees with equal eye as God of all, A hero perish or a sparrow fall.'

Unexampled Brevity of Narratives

"In the third place, we invite attention to the unexampled brevity of the New Testament narratives; and first, to their brevity as whole books. Never since time began were a set of writers burdened with a theme so momentous in their own estimation, or so momentous in reality. Never were writers so oppressed, when they thought of brevity, by the multitude of wondrous details before them, and the difficulty of determining what to insert and what to omit, when the eternal wellbeing of a world depended on what they should write, One of them shows how keenly he felt this sense of oppression, when he exclaims with startling hyperbole: 'If they should be written, every one, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that should be written' (John 21:25). What, then, could have induced these four evangelists (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), thus weighted down by the abundance of their materials, overwhelmed with a sense of the importance of their theme and burning with a desire to vindicate the fame of their adored Master, to compress their accounts into thirty-six pages each of this little book which I hold in my hand? What, but some restraining and irresistible power, guided by superhuman judgment? As to the book of Acts, the argument is the same in kind, and perhaps greater in force; for this writer had to deal with the widespread and ever-varying fortunes of the church through a period of thirty years, the most eventful and thrillingly interesting period of is whole history to the present day; and yet he condenses the story into nearly the same narrow limits.

"When, secondly, we study the brevity with respect to the accounts given of single incidents, the wonder remains the same. Out of the many examples, we select a few. Few scenes have ever been witnessed on earth of deeper interest from several points of view than that of the baptism of our Lord. There was the humble yet lofty mien of him who came to be baptized; the surprising demeanor of the great preacher as he confessed his unworthiness to baptize such a person; the solemn act of baptism itself; the still deeper solemnity of the prayer on the river's bank; the startling voice which was heard from heaven — the voice of Jehovah — which had not thus broken the silence of the skies in four-hundred years; the graceful descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove; and the oracle, big with the fate of a lost world, in which God confessed his own beloved Son. What man with a writer's instinct could have stopped short of many pages in describing the scene so as to do it justice. But the sublime story is disposed of by the first evangelist in twelve short lines, in six each by the second and third; and a mere allusion quoted from the lips of another person by the fourth. Again, the one event which, above all others, these writers felt themselves obligated to set faith with overwhelming proof, was the resurrection of Jesus from the dead; the event, as they confessed on which their own pretensions and their eternal hopes depended; yet of the twelve appearances of Jesus after his resurrection, only two are mentioned by Matthew, only three by Mark, only three by Luke, and only four by John. We wonder why every one did not give all the evidence and press it home upon the reader by many words of comment. In the book of Acts the same surprise confronts us. Never did a writer have a more prolific theme, or one on which he would be more delighted to dwell than that wild commingling of prayers and maledictions, lamentations and silent despair, which filled every street of Jerusalem when Saul made havoc of the church, entering into every house and dragging to prison both men and women, until the ten thousand saints were driven to the four winds, and the church in Jerusalem was dispersed and apparently destroyed. A whole volume would scarcely have sufficed to describe all the harrowing scenes; and the writer to whom we owe what we know of it was a companion of the principal actor in it for many years; yet some irresistible constraining power shriveled his account of it into four short lines! Next to this event in the history of the young church, with respect to those tragic elements in which historians love to revel, stands the death by martyrdom of James, the son of Zebedee. The death of Stephen was tragical and heartrending, but that of the apostle James about eight years later, was far more so, both because he was one of the original twelve of whose labors the future of the whole church seemed to depend, and because it was a cold-blooded murder by a descendant of the tyrant who had butchered all the infants of Bethlehem in the vain effort to murder the Son of God. How you and I would love to know the exact motive of this murder! How we should be strengthened to know something of the brave or of the forgiving words which James uttered with his last breath — to know, in a word, how the first apostle who fell a martyr to his faith met the grim monster! And how it would have delighted any Christian who knew the facts to tell them to his brethren, and hand them down to posterity! But this New Testament writer was allowed only a sentence of seven words in the Greek for the whole story, and they are represented by only eleven in our English version. Truly, if it were said of Jesus, 'Never man spake like this man,' we must say, never man wrote like these men; and the only logical inference is that they wrote as he spoke under the restraining power of the Spirit of God.

Omission Of Remarkable Events

"But this argument from the brevity of the narratives is not seen in its full force until it is considered in connection with the omissions of remarkable events by which it was chiefly brought about. What sketch of a great man's career was ever written which told only of the last three years of his life, it the previous part were known to the writer? What biographer would consider himself at liberty to omit from even a brief sketch all that was known of the boyhood and early manhood of his hero? Yet two of these four Gospel writers, though they must have known the whole story, have not a word to say of the first thirty years of the life of Jesus; and the other two furnish us within that period nothing but a few glimpses of his unconscious infancy and a single adventure of his boyhood. Uninspired writers have not been content with this; for the Protevangelium, an apocryphal work of the second century, devotes twenty-five chapters to the period between the imaginary announcement of the birth of Mary and the slaughter of the babes of Bethlehem, while another, styled the Gospel of the Infancy, has fifty chapters, drawn from a very feeble Imagination, on the first twelve years of the life of Jesus. This may help us to imagine what our Gospels would have been had they come from the pens of uninspired men of the second century, as some rationalists have affirmed.

"Let us come to a different class of specifications. Who that was an eye witness of the splendid scene of the transfiguration, in which representatives from heaven, earth, and hades came together, arrayed in divine glory, and conversed together for a time on the most momentous theme which ever till then had occupied the thought of men or angels could have omitted it from an account of the career of Jesus? And who that has a heart to feel could have omitted the agonies of Gethsemane? Yet John, who witnessed both, and whose tenderness of feeling is beyond all question, says nothing of either. Again, who that saw the calling of Lazarus out of the tomb, with all the heart-breaking scenes which preceded and attended it, could have been persuaded by all the friends he had on earth to omit it from a narrative in which the divine power of Jesus was to be set forth; yet neither Matthew, Mark, nor Luke has a word to say of it. Were these men made of wood that they could not feel? Did they have hearts of stone? Were their minds absolutely bereft of imagination? Were they totally unlike all the other men who have taken pen in hand? They must have been if they were not overruled and constrained as to the matter of their narratives by that mysterious being whose thoughts are not our thoughts, nor his ways our ways.' This alone can solve the amazing problem.

"The same restraining power was felt by the writer of Acts, else how could he have omitted nearly all of the labors of ten of the apostles, and from the career of Paul, which occupies his chief attention, how could he have omitted many of its most thrilling incidents — those for example which are enumerated but not described in the eleventh and twelfth chapters of Second Corinthians? And what mortal man, unconstrained by some high power could have given us the account of the voyage from Caesarea to Rome, and left us without a word respecting Paul's trial before Nero. Compare with this trial those before Felix, Festus and Agrippa appear to us of minor importance; and its wondrous significance has so excited the imagination of a modern writer as to bring forth, in Farrar's graphic delineation of the Life of Paul, one of the finest specimens of word painting in the English language. Who persuaded Luke to leave it out?"

The only explanation is that "holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit of God" — 2 Peter 1:21; therefore God is the author of the Bible.

— Dallas, Texas