In His work of inspiration the Holy Spirit did not obliterate the personality, vocabulary, or idiosyncrasies of the human person who was physically writing down Scripture. God used all of those things to provide His special revelation to mankind. A simple example of this would be how an author might use a pen to write down a letter to a loved one. No doubt God is the ultimate author of Scripture and He used human authors to write it down. Any human author must do a few things. The writer must first have a purpose for the letter and choose a pen to write with. The purpose does not change in the letter but the way it is described will. The pen itself may look different. The ink may be black, red, blue, purple, or green for example. The tip of the pen may be fine or bold in how it lays down the ink. The pen is simply the tool or instrument the author uses to write with. Depending on the pen things seem different. Flaws the pen has may show through at times like ink blots but the authors intended message is never diminished. In that instance the reader should recognize that the pen is fallible but the author was not. In terms of Scripture God may well be proving that very thing as He used fallible men to write. Obviously their faults are perfectly used by a perfect God to provide His intended message. Readers of Scripture need to know that they should not rely on the man but on the God who is ultimately writing the 66 books of the Bible. Believers should not follow David, Paul, Peter, or anyone else used to write Scripture. Believers follow the God who used those men as instruments in his mighty hand!
God used various men as instruments to write Scripture with the purpose of revealing Himself more specifically and the redemptive history of mankind. God is the one who makes 2 Timothy 3:16 and every other passage true. He used a combination of divine and human elements as He inspired the human instruments of His revelation (Erickson, p. 175) It is God who breathed out the message to the chosen men who then by God’s inspiration used their own characteristics to write the information down.
By the providence of God Paul was educated by Gamaliel who was highly trained in the law of God. The training Paul had was used by God to not only help him recognize the importance of the law but also to eventually help him know the law is not what saves a person from the wrath of God. Paul’s zeal to keep the law of God was turned into a zeal to also preach the grace of God through the person and work of Jesus Christ. His passion oozes into the writings as he called himself a slave of Christ in Romans chapter 1. His education helped him be a great apologist for the faith as he contended against the pagan gods of Athens in Acts 17:23. He knew the “unknown God” that they didn’t. They had many gods and wanted to make sure they didn’t offend any of them so they made sure to include the God they might not know yet. Paul had the education to walk them through their depravity and show them the one and only God that saves people from sin.
It is also noticed that these writers are shown asking for forgiveness of sin such as David in Psalm 51. The great men are also shown to be nothing as they fail to live up to their faith such as Peter. Peter denied Christ three times after Jesus was taken into custody. If a person was to create a religion for the sake of a religion it would be unwise to make the trusted writers look like weaklings. Paul seems to lack understanding if he had baptized more than a couple people. God does not want the readers focused on the human writer but on His own redemptive work. Paul was used by God to show this in 1 Cor. 1:13-16. A readers focus should not be on the work of the Apostle because it was Jesus who completed the law like no human being could. The Holy Spirit was provided to apply that work to the life of people which included the human authors of the books. In terms of redemptive history, the human beings are insignificant but their characteristics are helpful in understanding the depraved weakness of mankind as a whole.
Bock, Darrell L. Acts. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007.
Erickson, Millard. Christian Theology. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013.
Rogland, Robert. Romans a Study Manual. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1988.
Ryrie, Charles. Basic Theology. Chicago: Moody Press, 1999.
Warfield, Benjamin Breckinridge. The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible. Philadelphia: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1948.