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Bible Lives  

14.  Paul

14-1 The Conversion Of Paul / Saul || 14-2-1 Paul And His Brethren || 14-2-2 The Weakness Of Paul || 14-2-3 Paul: A Character Study || 14-3 The Preaching Of Paul || 14-4 Saul Changed To Paul || 14-5 Paul's Relationship With Jesus || 14-6 Paul And Christ  (1) || 14-6-1 Paul's Use Of The Gospels  || 14-6-2 Paul's Quotations From The Gospels: Statistics || 14-6-3-1 Paul's Quotations From The Gospels: Analysis And Implications || 14-6-3-2 Inspiration: The Human Factor || 14-6-3-3 The Enigma Of John's Gospel || 14-6-3-4 The Nature Of The Gospel Records || 14-6-3-5 Memorizing Scripture || 14-6-4 The Supremacy Of Christ || 14-7 Paul And Christ (2) || 14-7-1 Paul's Use Of The Gospels: Further Observations || 14-7-2 Paul And The Parables || 14-7-3 Paul's Use Of The Sermon On The Mount (Mt. 5 - 7) || 14-7-4 Paul's Exposition Of Gethsemane || 14-7-5 Paul And The Characters In The Gospels || 14-7-6 Paul In The Gospels || 14-7-7 Paul And John The Baptist || 14-7-8 Saul, Paul And Stephen || 14-7-9 Following Elders || 14-7-10 Connections Between The Gospels And Epistles: Observations || 14-8 Paul's Heroes || 14-8-1 Paul And Moses || 14-8-2 Paul And King Saul || 14-9   Paul and Corinth || 14-10 Paul And His Weak Brethren || 14-11 Paul's Thorn In The Flesh || 14-12 Paul's Shipwreck  || 14-13 Paulís Self-Perception || 14-14 Paul, Philemon and Onesimus || 14-15 Chronology of Paulís Life

14-6-3-2 Inspiration: The Human Factor

It could be argued that because the Spirit was in Paul and also in the Gospel writers,  therefore these links are explicable. However, I would suggest that in addition to this, Paul was consciously making these connections and in doing so was expressing his familiarity with the Gospels. He was intellectually conscious of what he wrote. Luke's writings bear the marks of a doctor writing; he uses exact medical terms. Luke's medical language is clearly seen in how he records the Lord's words about " passing through the eye of a needle" (Lk. 18:25). He uses the Greek medical term belone- a surgeon's needle. Matthew and Mark use the more domestic word raphis (Mt. 19:24; Mk. 10:25). And Paul likewise  in his own way, reflects, on one level, his personal saturation with the Gospels, even though what he wrote was inspired. The fact that there are similarities of ideas between the books of the Bible is surely an indication that they are all written by the same Spirit. But the similarities of phrasing and word usage between Paul's letters and the Gospels suggests to me that this was not only the result of the Spirit, but it was also an outcome of Paul's phenomenal familiarity with them. Bro. Robert Roberts summed it up like this: " Two mentalities [i.e. God and the Bible writer] can co-operate in an operation which proximately appears to be the work of one...the Spirit of God could so guide men in their utterance that while the things said were the ipsissima verba of inspiration, they were at the same time the free utterances of the men made use of, and characterized by idiosyncrasies  natural to [the writer]...the literary form of the Spirit utterance would be affected by the phrenological apparatus employed in each case...how the Spirit affected the mentality of the writers in the process of writing by inspiration, we need not trouble ourselves with; it is the fact of inspiration that is all-important" (R. Roberts, Is The Bible The Work Of Inspiration?, pp. 9,10, Dawn Book Supply edition). In other words, the Bible writers were not always just fax machines (although sometimes some of them were); what they wrote was often what they wrote, a reflection of their thinking and Biblical and human understanding, but superintended and overridden by God's inspiring Spirit, so that they result was the word of God, not men. Thus it has been pointed out by F.F. Bruce (The Books And The Parchments, London: Pickering & Inglis, 1971 Ed., p. 71) that the NT writers reflect the influence of the Septuagint in their writing; they use Hebrew idioms, but express them in Greek language. This is proof enough that they were not purely fax machines conveying a message. Jeremiah's vision of the New Covenant was revealed to him in a dream as he was sleeping (Jer. 31:26), and it is shot through with allusions to Jacob. Is this because Jacob was so firmly embedded in Jeremiah's mind as he slept, that his subconscious mind affected what he saw and later wrote down? And yet, it must be stressed a hundred times over, the end result was not just a transcript of a dream; it was the very word of God.   The human element in inspiration is again discernible in the way that God used dreams to speak to people. Joseph dreamed of dominating his brothers. That dream surely reflected something of his own psychology, and the way his mother Rachel had projected onto him her jealousies and ambitions. Be that as it may, that dream was from God; just as Paul and Peter sat down to write letters to their brethren, and yet were used and inspired by God to write His words.

Many Bible students are sure Paul wrote Hebrews because of the similarity of style, reasoning and language between Hebrews and Paul's other letters. We accept that although Paul was inspired, his own personal choice of language still came through. On the same reasoning, it is evident to me that Paul was consciously referring to the Gospels as he wrote his letters. As he sat down to write or dictate them, he was not just a fax machine of the Spirit. The Spirit did not possess him and force him to write things with which he had no personal involvement. He sat down and wrote letters to his brethren from his heart, and his familiarity with the Synoptic Gospels came flowing out as he wrote. But this was not all there was to his writing. Through all this the Spirit was working, inspiring him, working through his own personal love of the word and concern for the brotherhood. Once we appreciate this, we will see that it is likely that Paul probably understood more of what he wrote than we might think. He himself had plumbed the depths of his Ephesian epistle; the way his reasoning in Eph. 2 is an extended commentary upon certain passages in  the Septuagint version of Isaiah (1) was therefore the product of his own private study of those Isaiah passages; although it was not only that; in Ephesians we have the word of the Spirit, albeit working through Paul's own personal expositions.


Notes

(1)

Ephesians 2

Isaiah (LXX)

:1  57:4
:12 " no hope" 56:10
:2 57:5
:14 57:19
:5 57:10 (RV)
:19  56:1
:6 57:15
:21 56:7
:12 56:7
:19  56:6 (RV)
:22 57:15

 


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