The fifth thing that the Bible teaches regarding the Inspiration of the Prophets and the Apostles and their utterances, is that the Holy Spirit was the real speaker in the prophetic utterances, that what was said or written was the Holy Spirit’s Word that was upon the Apostle’s tongue, and not the word of the Prophet or Apostle. This is said in the Bible in so many words, over and over again. For example, in Heb. 3:7 we read: “Wherefore, even as the Holy Spirit saith, To-day if ye shall hear His voice, harden not your hearts, etc.” The author of the epistle to the Hebrews is quoting Ps. 95:7, 8 and says that what the Psalmist is recorded as saying “the Holy Spirit saith.” Again in Heb. 10:15, 16, we read: “And the Holy Spirit also beareth witness to us; for after He had said, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord: I will put my laws on their heart, and upon their mind also will I write them.” Now the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews is quoting Jer. 31:33, and he does not hesitate to say that the testimony that Jeremiah there bore is the testimony of the Holy Ghost, that the Holy Ghost was the real speaker.
Again we read in Acts 28:25, 26 that Paul said, “Well spake the Holy Spirit through Isaiah the prophet, unto your fathers, saying, Go thou unto this people and say, By hearing ye shall hear and shall in no wise understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall in no wise perceive, etc.” Here Paul is quoting Isaiah’s words as recorded in the 6th chapter of Isaiah, the 9th and 10th verses, and he distinctly says that the real speaker was not Isaiah, but “the Holy Spirit” who spoke “through Isaiah the prophet.”
Turning now to the old Testament we read in 2 Sam. 23:2 this assertion by David regarding the things that he said and wrote: “The Spirit of Jehovah spake by me, and his word was upon my tongue.” There can be no mistaking the meaning of these words on the part of any one who goes to the Bible to find out what it really claims and teaches. The Holy Spirit was the real speaker in the prophetic utterance. It was the Holy Spirit’s utterance that was upon the prophet’s tongue. The prophet was simply the mouth by which the Holy Spirit spoke. Merely as a man, except as the Holy Spirit taught him and used him, the prophet was fallible as other men are fallible, but when the Spirit was upon him, when he was taken up and borne along by the Holy Spirit, then he became infallible in his teachings; for his teachings were not his, but the teachings of the Holy Spirit. It was God who was then speaking, not the Prophet. For example, Paul merely as a man, even as a Christian man, doubtless had many mistaken notions on many things, and was more or less subject to the ideas and opinions of his time, but when he taught as an Apostle, under the power of the Holy Spirit he was infallible, or rather the Spirit who taught through him was infallible, and the teachings that resulted from the Spirit’s teaching through him, were infallible, as infallible as God. Common sense demands of us that we carefully distinguish between what Paul may have thought as a man, and what he actually taught as an apostle. In the Bible we have the record of what he taught as an Apostle. Some one may cite as a possible exception to this statement 1 Cor. 7:6, 25, where he says: “But this I say by way of concession, not of commandment. . . . Now concerning virgins, I have no commandment of the Lord, but I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be trustworthy.” There are those who think that Paul does not seem to have been sure here that he had the word of the Lord in this particular matter, but that is not the meaning of the passage. The meaning of v. 6 is that his teaching which he had just given was by way of concession to their weakness, and not a commandment as to what they must do. And the teaching of v. 25 is that the Lord, during His earthly life, had given no commandment on this subject, but that Paul was giving his judgment; but he says distinctly that he was giving it as one who had obtained mercy of the Lord to be trustworthy and furthermore, in the 40th verse of the chapter he distinctly says that in his judgment he had the Spirit of God. But even allowing that the other interpretation of this passage is the correct one, and that Paul was not absolutely sure in this case that he had the Word of the Lord and the mind of the Lord, that would only show that where Paul was not absolutely sure that he was teaching in the Holy Ghost he was careful to note the fact, and this would only give additional certainty to all other passages that he wrote.
It is sometimes said that Paul taught in his earlier epistles that the Lord would return during his lifetime, and that in this matter he certainly was mistaken. But Paul never taught in his earlier epistles, or any other epistles, he never taught anywhere, that the Lord would return during his lifetime. This assertion is contrary to fact. He does say in 1 Thess. which was his first epistle, the 4th chapter and 17th verse: “Then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them (i.e., the believers who had already fallen asleep) be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” He does here put himself in the same class with those who were still alive when he wrote the words. He naturally and necessarily did not include himself with those who had already fallen asleep. In speaking of the Lord’s return he does not say nor hint that he will be still alive when the Lord returns. It is quite probable that Paul did believe at this time that he might be alive when the Lord returned but he never taught that he would be alive. The attitude of expectancy is the true attitude in all ages for every believer. This was the attitude that Paul took until it was distinctly revealed to him that he would depart before the Lord came. I think it very probable that Paul in the earlier part of his ministry was inclined to believe that he would live until the coming of the Lord, but the Holy Ghost kept him from so teaching, and also kept him from all other errors in his teachings.