Better Bible Study Tip #30: The Bible is 100% Divine and 100% Human

The Bible presents itself to us as God’s word. Paul wrote that “All Scripture is breathed out by God” (1 Tim. 3:16). Peter said the prophets wrote Scripture as they were “carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21). It was not uncommon for the prophets to attribute their words directly to God, using phrases such as “The word of the LORD came to me” (Jer. 1:4). Paul said as much when he claimed that he was writing “things God has revealed to us through the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 2:10). When New Testament writers quoted from the Old Testament, they frequently attributed those writings directly to the Holy Spirit (eg. Heb. 3:7). The Bible is a divine book.

At the same time, the Bible doesn’t pretend to be anything less than a fully human book. The Bible says as much about itself. As Hebrews 1:1 says, “God spoke to our fathers by the prophets“. 2 Peter 2:21 says that “men spoke from God”. The Bible contains all the diversity you would except from a book written by dozens of men over hundreds of years. The writers spoke different languages. They wrote with different styles. The brought different experiences into their writings. They presented different perspectives and emphasized different facts. The Bible is a human book.

It’s important to remember that although the Bible is 100% divine, it did not simply drop from heaven on golden tablets, independent from human cultural and historical influences. It is filled with human fingerprints. When men wrote scripture, they wrote the words of scripture while they experienced real historical situations. Some authors wrote personal letters to address real life situations. Some authors wrote poems and prayers in response to real events they experienced. Several of the books even appear to have been compiled into their final form by editors, just the way other human books would be compiled. Luke even admits to using human sources to craft his book (Luke 1:1-4).

But recognizing the human element in Scripture does not mean that the finished product is anything less than 100% divine. The Bible is not 98% divine, but with a few human errors scattered throughout. The Bible is not 98% human, but with a few overarching divine ideas here and there. The Bible is 100% divine AND 100% human. Yes, the book was written by humans, but the Holy Spirit was involved in breathing out every single word. Yes, the book was compiled by humans, but they compiled scripture as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. In the end, God’s word is still God’s word. It is “perfect”, “sure”, “right”, “pure”, “clean”, and “true” (Ps. 19:7-9). Recognizing God’s word as divine doesn’t make it any less human. And recognizing God’s word as human doesn’t make it any less divine.

Here’s why this is important. We can recognize God’s word as inspired, and still ask questions about human authorship such as “What was the historical occasion that motivated the author to write this book?”, “When was this book edited into it’s final, canonical form?”, “How did this author’s culture and historical setting shape the way he was using certain images?” In the same way, when we identify the human author’s historical and cultural influences that shaped his writing, that shouldn’t lead us to the conclusion that the book is any less divine. The Bible is both 100% divine and 100% human.