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of what he himself, with James and John, had seen and heard on the Mount of Transfiguration, he adds:-“We have also a more sure word of prophecy."* Some have rashly concluded that Peter here speaks of the word of the ancient prophets as more certain, and entitled to greater confidence than the word of the Apostles. But this is a quite ill-founded conclusion. After having made the solemn declaration, “ We have not followed cunningly-devised fables when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye-witnesses of his Majesty;" and after repeating the glorious attestation, “ This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased,”—who could have expected that the inspired writer would, with the same breath, describe this voice from the excellent glory, or the testimony of Apostles respecting it, as impaired in the slightest degree by dubiety, or even as surpassed in certainty and trust-worthiness by any other voice or testimony? By some commentators the meaning is supposed to be, that the whole series of ancient prophecies to which, as appears from the succeeding verses, the Apostle unquestionably refers, affords a stronger demonstration of the Messiahship and Divinity of Jesus than any single miraculous fact, as was the transfiguration on the holy mount, however well attested or decisive. Others imagine that the comparative is used in place of the positive, and that the original expression only signifies a very sure prophetical word.t Wetstein, however, who follows the Greek interpreters, seems to give the genuine meaning, namely, that the ancient word of prophecy is now more confirmed than formerly, by the great events in which it is fulfilled. At any rate, Peter says nothing derogatory to the apostolic testimony. In this same Epistle, as was noticed in a preceding chapter, he expressly represents the authority of Apostles as equal to that of Old Testament Prophets.
It is a singular circumstance, that though none of all the • 2 Pet. i. 19. + Βεβαιοτερον τον προφητικον λογον. See Dr Dod.
See Dr Dod. Note in loc. I And we (the Apostles) have the prophetic word (of the Old Testament, v. 20, 21) more confirmed, i. e. in consequence of what we saw and heard on the Mount." “ He," the Apostle, “ does not oppose," says Wetstein, “ the prophetic word to fables, or to the transfiguration seen by himself, ..... but the prophetic word is more firm now, after it has been confirmed by the event, than it was before the event." See more in Parkhurst, on the term Bißalotigos.
Apostles asserts the inspiration by which he wrote in more decided terms than Paul, yet several phrases used by this Apostle have been particularly understood as explicitly disclaiming inspiration, with reference to certain points on which he pronounces his opinion. The expressions in question are chiefly those contained in 1 Corinth. vii. 6, 10, 12, 25, 40. Bishop Tomline considers the Apostle as “ declaring that, upon those particular subjects, some points on which they had consulted him, he only delivered his own private opinion, though always under the superintending influence of the Holy Spirit.” Dr Marsh, the translator of Michaelis, more correctly observes, that the distinction made by Paul in 1 Corinth. vii. 10-12, is not betwixt inspiration and non-inspiration, but betwixt those commands which had been actually given by Christ during his ministry on earth, and those which had not been then given by him.f The same opinion, too, is maintained by the generality of learned and judicious expositors. On verse 6th, “ But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment," Beza remarks, that " in the second verse the Apostle might appear to have inculcated marriage on all, and even as if it were commanded; but for explanation he here states, that he does not urge it as so peremptorily enjoined, that every one who neglects it, offends God.” Dr Hammond's paraphrase on the sixth verse is to the same effect: “ What I thus say, verses 2, 3, 4, 5, I say only by way of counsel, what appears to me to be best for men, generally speaking, all being not able to contain; but herein I am far from laying any precept on any to marry." These comments completely supersede the notion, that the Apostle, in the sixth verse, tells the Corinthians that the Spirit permitted, but did not command, him to state what he had said in the preceding verses. He makes no allusion at all, in this verse, to the nature of that authority by which he spoke. It has been justly observed, that “ in the second epistle to the same church, ch. viii. 8, the Apostle expresses himself to the same purpose, in a passage which no one misunderstands.” S In verses 10th, 12th, and 25th, Paul does refer, no doubt,
Elements of Ch. Theology, vol. i. † Marsh's Michaelis, Introd. vol. i. ch. iii. $ 2, notes.
I“ Videtur hoc pertinere ad id quod scriptum est supra, v. 2. Visus enim erat conjugium ab omnibus, et quidem ut præceptum, exigere. Hoc igitur nunc explicat, docetque se conjugium non flagitare præcise ut præ ceptum, quod quisquis negligat, Deum offendat."-Beza in loc.
$ Haldane's Evidence and Authority, &c., vol. i. p. 170.
to his authority; but instead of disavowing inspiration, he only distinguishes betwixt the commands delivered immediately hy our Lord himself, and those which his servant was now instructed by his Spirit to declare. On this point we may quote the expressions of Pictet, as follows:
“ After having said, verse 10th, And unto the married I command, yet not I but the Lord, let not the wife depart from her husband, &c., he adds, verse 12th, But to the rest speak 1, not the Lord. Lest any one should say to him, would you have us to believe a doctrine which you have not received from the Lord? he answers, that in truth Jesus Christ had taught nothing on that matter during his abode on the earth, before his ascension into heaven; but that, nevertheless, he (Paul) said only that which had been inspired into him by the Spirit of God, by whom he was guided.”
A similar interpretation, it is obvious, should be put on the 25th verse, where the Apostle says, “ Now, concerning virgins, I have no commandment of the Lord; yet I give my judgment as one that hath obtained merey of the Lord to be faithful.”—“ In these words,” says Beza, “ the Apostle asserts the authority of his ministry, that his judgment might not be contemned by the Corinthians, as if it proceeded from man, and not from God.”+
With regard to the expression, verse 40th, “ I think I have the Spirit of God,” instead of intimating that Paul entertained doubts of his being inspired by the Spirit, it is a declaration of positive certainty. Dr Macknight accordingly thus renders it, “ I am certain that even I have the Spirit of God.”The original term, translated I think, usually denotes full conviction, whether well or ill founded.* In this same Epistle, Paul repeatedly expresses his firm and well-grounded persuasion of his own inspiration. Thus, in a former chapter, he had said, “ We have the mind of Christ;" and, in a subsequent one, he adds, “ If any man think himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.”+ To have intimated the faintest doubt or suspicion regarding his inspiration would have been quite contrary to the tenor of the passage. To impress the Corinthians with a deep sense of the truth and importance of his doctrines on the point in question, he assures them that on this, as well as every other topic pertaining to the Christian system, he delivered not merely the opinion of a fallible man, but the mind of the infallible Spirit. Calvin not unnaturally supposes that the expression involves a tacit re proof to those false Apostles who attempted to deceive the churches by arrogant pretensions to divine inspiration.
* “ Apres avoir dit, Quant aux mariez, je leur comande, non pas moi mais le Seigncur, que la femme ne se separe point du mari, &c., il ajoûte au vers 12.
Mais aux autres je leur dit, non point le Seigneur: De peur que quelq'un ne lui eût dit, veux tu que nous croyions une doctrine que tu n'as pas receuè du Seigneur? İl repond qu' à la verité Jesus Christ n' avoit rien enseigné sur la matiére qu'il traitoit, pendant qu'il étoit sur la terre, avant que de monter au ciel; mais que cependant il ne disoit rien, qui ne lui eut éte inspiré par l'esprit de Dieu, par lequel il etoit conduit.” -La Theol. Chretienne, Par B. Pictet, tome i. p. 85.
+ “ Asserit autem his verbis Apostolus ministerii sui auctoritatem, ne spernatur a Corinthiis ipsius sententia, quasi ab homine, non a Deo profecta."-Beza in loc.
# Macknight vindicates this translation in a note. The same version is supported by the Rev. William Lothian in his valuable Lectures on the Epistles to the Corinthians, as well as by Wolfius in loc. See Parkhurst on the word doxiw.
From these illustrations it appears, that in this chapter Paul does not really disclaim inspiration, even with regard to the questions on which he here delivers his judgment. But, as many have justly observed, supposing him to admit that on these matters he was uninspired, or felt himself uncertain whether or not he were inspired, his candid admissions only serve the more clearly to establish the full inspiration of every passage in his writings, where he gives no express notice to the contrary. “ If, as some understand it,” says Dr Guyse, “he thereby means that he then spoke the particulars there mentioned as his private opinion, and not by divine suggestion, this shows his great integrity and honest simplicity in giving such plain notice, when he ventured to offer only his private thoughts; and is a good argument that, where he does not give the like notice, he is to be understood as speaking under inspiration.” 1
Nay, further :-“ Admitting,” says a warm advocate in this cause, “that Paul disclaims inspiration on this point, I maintain that the chapter containing the admission, as a part of Scripture, is inspired equally with any chapter in the Bible. Though he was not inspired to decide the question, he was inspired to write the account which he has given of the matter. If the Apostle has told us that he is not inspired on this point, he has been inspired to make the denial. Not a line has he
See Mat. vi. 7_ Luke xiji. 2, 4; ch. xvi. 9-Job v. 39; ch. xvi. 2 Acts xxvi. 9, &c.
† Chap. ii. 16; ch. xiv. 37. Guyse's Standing Use of the Scripture, p. 214.
written in that chapter that is not immediately from the Holy Ghost."*
III. It is objected, “ that each of the sacred writers is distinguished by his own words, manner, and style.”
This has been deemed a most formidable objection to full and Verbal Inspiration, and has, more perhaps than any other, served to steel the minds of not a few against all that is advanced in its behalf. “ The great diversity of style and diction,” says a learned author, " which may be observed in several books, is almost a sure indication that they themselves had some share in the composition, and that the Holy Ghost was not the sole author of every word and expression; for if this had been the case, the style of each book had been alike and uniform; at least there had not been that apparent difference in it which we now see. If the Holy Ghost had dictated every word, I say, why should Isaiah, who was bred in a court, be more florid and magnificent in his expression than Amos, who had his education among the herds? It is the more easy supposition, therefore, of the two, that God should suggest the matter of his revelation first to their minds, and then leave them to weigh it in their thoughts (as they did other truths), and so put it into such a form of words as their own minds, or the tenor of their education, naturally inclined to."?
This reasoning, though specious, is not unanswerable. A little dispassionate inquiry has enabled wise men to conquer difficulties still more Herculean.
The diversity of diction apparent in the Scriptures is fully admitted. It arises in part, we should recollect, from the diversity of the matter. Variety of subject often gives occasion to very considerable variety of expression and style in the works of the same author. The diversity of style, however, apparent in the Bible, corresponds in a great degree, we concede, with the discriminating features of the age and country in which the writers respectively lived; and, at the same time, with the distinctions amongst these writers, in reference to talent, education, temper, and habit.
Yet, it may be asked, was not this diversity desirable? Human nature is so formed, that it delights far more in variety than in a continued monotony. The wonderful variety which characterizes, as well the diction as the matter of the Sacred Oracles, allures thousands to peruse them, who, otherwise,
Carson on Theories of Inspiration, p. 153.