What does it mean that every part of Scripture is God-breathed? The English Standard Version translation says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man [and woman] of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Greek word theopneustos means ‘inspired by God’. It comes from the root word pneo, which means ‘to breathe,’ combined with the word Theo, which means ‘God.’ The English verb to inspire means ‘to fill someone with the urge to do something creative’, and it also means ‘to breathe in’. Therefore, the word of God is full of the divine breath of God and is intended to inspire us – to stir up the creative, generative impulse in us. As Paul wrote, “To equip us for every good work.”
The first chapter of Genesis tells us that God spoke creation into existence. Afterward Genesis 2:7 relates that “then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” Psalm 33:6 says, “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.” Job 33:4 states that, “The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”
The breath of God is not ordinary breath. The Hebrew for the Spirit of God in Job 33:4, “The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life,” is ruah el, which means ‘the Spirit of God’ or ‘the breath of power and might.’ In other words, the Spirit of God is the Breath of the Almighty.
Now that we see this, we can understand that when Paul wrote to Timothy that all scripture is breathed out by God, he was indicating that the scripture is ‘brought to life’ through the Holy Spirit. In fact, we can see in the Messianic prophecy in Isaiah 42:5, that life, spirit, and breath go together: “Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it…”
Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica, “For we know, brothers [and sisters] loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction…” (1 Thessalonians 1:4-5a). When we read the Word of God, we have the opportunity for an encounter with the Holy Spirit.
We do not have to wonder whether God is willing to speak to us. As Jesus said in John 14:26, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” It is God’s will that we be taught by his Holy Spirit, and it is through reading the Word of God that we can partake of intimate relationship with him. When Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church, his words were inspired through the Holy Spirit. It is that same Spirit who teaches us through God’s Word today.
As Peter wrote, “knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21).
Have you ever heard it said that the Bible is different than any other book because when we read the Bible, the Bible is reading us? That is because through the Word of God the Holy Spirit plays many roles in our sanctification process. Isaiah 11:2 describes him as the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge, and the Spirit of the fear of the Lord. It is these attributes of the Holy Spirit applied to our hearts and minds as we read our Bibles. And Job 32:8 explains “But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand.”
Therefore, Steps Six and Seven in how to hear from God are: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
For Step Six, please pick up your Bible and then take a moment and “Be Still.” Ask God to fill you with the inspiration of his Holy Spirit as you read. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you as Jesus promised he would in John 14:26. Then take a few deep breaths, quiet your heart and mind, and listen for the still, small voice of the Spirit of God welling up from your spirit as he guides you into all truth.
Step Seven is to “know that I am God.” This step illustrates why it is important to take our time as we read the scriptures. Do not be in a hurry! While it is perfectly wonderful to read the Bible straight through from Genesis to Maps, remember that the Word of God is the Bread of Life, and whenever we open our Bibles, God invites us to a feast! In the same way that our earthly bodies must partake of food every day to stay strong and healthy, our spirits require Daily Bread from God’s table.
If you had been in attendance at the Last Supper, would you have rushed through the meal? Certainly not! Jesus wants us to enjoy the Bread of Life and the Wine of Salvation with him today, and the Holy Spirit wants to linger with us at our Father’s table so he can teach us everything we need to know as the Body of Christ. Let the presence of the Holy Spirit in the scriptures nourish your spirit.
In fact, the nourishment that we receive from the Word of God is so powerful, that Jesus used this phrase to rebuke the enemy when he endured temptation in the wilderness: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
Paul understood this when he wrote, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man [and woman] of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Through the Word of God, the Holy Spirit of Truth speaks to God’s people. Welcome to the feast!
All scriptures are from the English Standard Version translation unless otherwise noted.