“The Bible is written by inspired men, but it is not God’s mode of thought and expression.
It is that of humanity. God, as a writer, is not represented. Men will often say such an expression is not like God. But God has not put Himself in words, in logic, in rhetoric, on trial in the Bible. The writers of the Bible were God’s penmen, not His pen. . ..
“It is not the words of the Bible that are inspired, but the men that were inspired. Inspiration acts not on the man’s words or his expressions but on the man himself, who, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, is imbued with thoughts. But the words receive the impress of the individual mind. The divine mind is diffused. The divine mind and will is combined with the human mind and will; thus the utterances of the man are the word of God.”-Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, book 1, p. 21.
“The instruction that Paul sent the Thessalonians in his first epistle regarding the second coming of Christ, was in perfect harmony with his former teaching. Yet his words were misapprehended by some of the Thessalonian brethren. . . .
“In his second letter Paul sought to correct their misunderstanding of his teaching and to set before them his true position.”-Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 264.
- Does the truth of Scripture reveal itself more through intensive word-by-word study or in the broad themes that we can observe by way of wide reading? Or is there a time and place for both? Discuss the answer(s) in class.
- Read the Ellen White quote above regarding how inspiration works. How does this help us to understand the “human element” that appears at times in the Bible?
- Does the thought of the Second Coming frighten you, or does it bring you hope? What does your answer say about your relationship with God or about your understanding of the gospel? Or both?
- However much truth there is to the idea that trials can strengthen our faith and character, what do you say to people whose trials are not only causing them to be bitter, resentful, and angry (in other words, not character-building) but to lose their faith?
Summary: In the opening chapter of 2 Thessalonians, Paul rejoices over the way in which the Thessalonian believers remain faithful in spite of much affliction. He encourages them by pointing to the great reversal at the second coming of Jesus. Whatever happens now, we have the promise that God will execute divine justice.