Respiration, the act of breathing, comes from the Latin spirare which means breathe. To re-spire means to breathe again. Similarly, inspire means to breathe into. The creation account found in Genesis 2 recounts how God formed man from the dust of the earth and “breathed into” him the breath of life. Adam was truly inspired by God. The same breath flows through our lungs, still.
This is perhaps not what we typically think about when we hear the word inspiration. I always conjure up images of a tinkering inventor or intrepid scientist making a discovery, shouting ‘Eureka’ as the lightbulb literally flashes over their head. Or maybe you are thinking about someone who is inspirational, a word many have used to describe Pope Francis in recent weeks.
In 2 Timothy 3:16, we read that “all scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” One way we can think about this is similar to the scientist or inventor mentioned above: God somehow worked through the people who faithfully recorded the message of scripture causing their personal lightbulb to go on and setting their quills to motion. Another way, and one I personally find profoundly beautiful, is that all scripture is breathed into by God with the breath of life. The same breath that filled Adam, the same breath that fills us, is the same breath that fills scripture, the sacred writing we know as the living Word of God. In fact, John’s gospel teaches us that the Word became flesh—living, breathing flesh—and lived among us. Whichever way we think about it, the ultimate truth is that the Bible is God’s word. It is for us. It lives, it breathes, because it is of God.