Inspiration, Quiet Time, and Slaying Your Giants

Episode 7
1hr 19m
November 1, 2021
How were the books of the Bible selected? What should we do if we have a hard time reading the Bible? How does the Bible apply to daily life? In this episode, Tim, Jon, and Carissa respond to your questions from the Paradigm series so far. Thanks to our audience for all your incredible questions!
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Show Notes


It's crucial that we read [the story of David and Goliath] in light of its messianic fulfillment because Jesus was facing his Goliath in the form of the Roman and Jerusalem power regimes. But he did not chop off their heads. In fact, he wouldn’t have been faithful to his calling as Messiah if he did chop off their heads. The whole point was that he let them chop off his head, so to speak. And if you don’t read the David and Goliath story through that messianic lens, then you get the opposite wisdom from it that you’re supposed to get. And then what do you do when you get to Paul, who says in Ephesians, “the enemy of a follower of Jesus is never another human but the principalities and powers [of darkness]”? … When you don’t read the Bible as a story leading to the Messiah, you end up with the wrong life lessons.


  • Historical accounts in the Bible are told in a different way from modern historiography, but this does not make them untrue. For instance, biblical authors sometimes use symbolic numbers or summarize details in an artistic way. But literary creativity in a narrative doesn’t make it historically inaccurate.
  • The word of God is a shorthand phrase for the story of Jesus, which includes the entirety of Scripture leading up to his life, death, and resurrection, and it is an appropriate name for the Bible.
  • Because the Bible is wisdom literature, it should (and will) provide us with practical life lessons. But if we don’t also read the Bible as messianic literature, we may end up with the wrong life lessons.

Do Christians Need To Have a Daily Quiet Time?

Grant from Texas (0:38)

Jon, in Episode 1 of this series, you shared your story of struggling with a "quiet time" Bible study paradigm. Every part of this story rang so true to my experience. So I was disappointed it ended with you as a "post-Bible Christian." Can you continue telling this story? What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with this paradigm? Do you maintain something like a quiet time Bible study now? If so, how has it evolved and matured? If not, what have you replaced it with?

When Jon called himself a “post-Bible Christian,” he meant that, at one time, he was trying to follow Jesus without consistently reading the Bible. However, despite his frustrations in reading the Bible on his own, he refused to give up on his attempts to understand it. In fact, he attributes the birth of BibleProject, in part, to his personal quest for understanding. While he still struggles with the routine of a daily quiet time, Jon no longer sees himself as a post-Bible Christian but as a follower of Jesus who loves the Bible and wants it to shape his daily life.

Tim points out that to be a follower of Jesus, you must be familiar with his life and teachings. Consequently, you must be familiar with the whole story of Scripture or Jesus won’t make sense. But that doesn’t mean every Christian has to be a Bible nerd who knows Greek and Hebrew or spends all their free time researching ancient cultures.

What’s the Difference Between Inspired and Inerrant?

Emily from Kansas City (9:57)

Two questions: How would you describe the difference between the Scriptures being inspired versus inerrant to someone who comes from a tradition that emphasizes inerrancy? Also, how do inspired Scriptures differ from other writings where people are reflecting on God and life? For example, how do poets today who are contemplating God as they write differ from the biblical authors’ inspiration? And what role does this play when considering which writings to view as most important for gaining insight into God’s intentions?

“Inspired” is an English translation of the Greek word theopneustos, “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16-17), referring to the understanding that the Scriptures are the result of a divine-human partnership. “Inerrancy” is a Latin word that means “without error,” and it addresses whether or not the biblical text contains errors.

The Bible refers to itself as truthful and trustworthy (e.g., Psalm 119:160). But in the last century, critics have accused the Bible of being historically or scientifically inaccurate and, therefore, lacking the authority of the God who is truth. A group of scholars responded to this issue in 1978 in The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (see Referenced Resources), arguing that while the historical accounts in the Bible are told in a different way from modern historiography, this does not make them untrue. Biblical authors, for instance, sometimes use symbolic numbers or summarize details in an artistic way, but literary creativity in a narrative doesn’t make it historically inaccurate.

What Bible Did Jesus Use?

Trey from Indiana (31:09)

You mentioned that we know Jesus used the same canon we do because he refers to the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms in Luke 24. Could you explain how we know that the Psalms refer to the entire third section of the Hebrew Scriptures? I would have expected him to say something like “The Law, the Prophets, and maybe the Writings or the Letters,” if that is what he was referring to.

Our understanding of which Scriptures Jesus read comes from multiple places. Jesus referred to the Hebrew Scriptures in two different ways: “the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 5:17) and “the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms” (Luke 24:44). Clearly, Jesus was familiar with the entirety of the TaNaK, so his use of the word psalms in Luke 24 is probably a synecdoche––using a part of something to refer to the whole, like when we use the expression, “I got new wheels!” to refer to the purchase of a new vehicle. As the first and largest book of the Writings, Psalms then becomes a shorthand way of referring to the whole collection.

Should We Call the Bible the Word of God?

Cody from California (37:14)

Should we call the Bible the word of God? Yes, there are hundreds of moments within the Bible where it says the word of the Lord came to so-and-so or “Thus says the Lord” and so forth. But the Bible never calls itself the word of God. It even refers to Jesus as the Word in the Gospel of John. And with so much human influence upon the writing and composition and arrangement of the literature that comprises our modern Bible, I am curious about calling the whole thing, from cover to cover, the word of God. Is that right?

Throughout the Old and New Testaments, the phrase “word of God” primarily refers to a narrative, like when the word of God comes to a prophet, for instance, or when the apostles tell the Gospel story of Jesus (e.g., Acts 4:31). In this way, the word of God is a shorthand phrase for the story of Jesus, which includes the entirety of Scripture leading up to his life, death, and resurrection, and it is an appropriate name for the Bible.

Should the Apocryphal Books Be in the Protestant Bible?

Heather from Maryland (45:40)

My question has to do with the Second Temple literature that influenced Jesus and his early followers. Were Protestants mistaken to remove these books from the Scriptures? Do you think our relationship with God or our biblical understanding is diminished by not having them in our Bibles?

While it’s true that Jewish literature written after the completion of the TaNaK is not included in Protestant Bibles, this was not ultimately a Protestant “decision.” While many Jews held these writings in high regard, they also didn’t include them in the Hebrew Bible.

The TaNaK has an intentional structure––a five-part order to the Writings that reflects the five-part Torah, with Chronicles retelling the story from Adam to the exile and serving as a conclusion. The TaNaK was always seen by Jewish communities as having a unique divine-human voice and a unique authority. When compiling the various scrolls of the Hebrew Bible into one volume with the New Testament writings, early Protestants chose to accept the Old Testament canon recognized long before them by the majority Jewish community.

The canon is literature that guides God’s people to measure what reflects and accomplishes the purposes of God. That makes someone like C.S. Lewis a contemporary example of how we ought to relate to the apocryphal books. Lewis is widely respected among Christian communities, and his writings are beneficial for understanding God’s purposes. However, we don’t consider his words as carrying divine authority. And if he wrote something that didn’t line up with the canon of Scripture, we would know to reject that portion of his work.

What About the JEDP Theory?

Willy from Florida (55:52)

As you are talking about the formation of the Old Testament, I wanted to get your thoughts on the JEDP critical theory of Torah composition. To me, the arbitrary picking of the names of God to ascertain the origins of a document is too far-fetched, but do you think there is any validity to that theory, given that we understand the Bible was made from many sources? If so, how do we uphold the inspiration of the Bible and Moses’ role in the composition of the Torah as this theory has been used by many to diminish the divine authority of the Bible?

To say that many sources contributed to authoring the Hebrew Bible is consistent with how scrolls were produced in the ancient world and does not diminish the inspiration of the Bible. Instead, it means God’s Spirit inspired the many authors that shaped God’s word over time.

While the conversation of biblical authorship is an ancient one, the JEDP theory specifically originated in the 1800s in Germany. While claiming to be only a theory of biblical authorship, the JEDP theory was part of an effort to portray Israelite history as governed by a legalistic religion. The scholars who originated JEDP were anti-Semites who criticized the Hebrew Bible to ultimately criticize the Jewish people themselves. (See the article by Alan Levenson in “Referenced Resources” for more on this topic.)

While JEDP still has an academic hold in some American universities, most European scholarship has moved on to other models of Torah composition.

How Should We Apply Scripture to Our Lives?

Finlay from England (1:03:30)

The churches I have been part of use the Bible to give life lessons. So the story of David is used to tell us how we can rely on God to overcome our challenges, whilst Moses is taken as a lesson in using the gifts God has given you, despite your limitations, to make a difference in your world. This approach seems to be the norm in church preaching, but it’s not about the Messiah. Is this the wrong way to go about reading and applying Scripture, or is there legitimate space for it?

This question addresses two important pillars of the biblical paradigm: the Bible is messianic literature and the Bible is wisdom literature. If we take seriously what Jesus and the apostles say––that the Hebrew Scriptures are designed to reveal Jesus the Messiah to humanity––then the practical application of any Bible passage is how that particular portion of Scripture fits into the overall story of the Bible. Once we know how a passage of Scripture is about the Messiah, then we can determine how it’s about us as well.

For example, when we read the story of David and Goliath through a messianic lens, we will see Goliath as a representation of the serpent and all the forces of spiritual darkness that have been wreaking havoc on God’s creation since the deception in Genesis 3. If we do not read this story with a messianic lens, we may come to the conclusion that we can overcome any “giant,” including other humans, which is directly in conflict with Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 6:12.

In short, because the Bible is wisdom literature, it should (and will) provide us with practical life lessons. But if we don’t also read the Bible as messianic literature, we may end up with the wrong life lessons.

What Do You Do if the Bible Was Used Against You?

Carrie from Arizona (1:09:20)

How would you help somebody who has no interest in reading the Bible after being in a church or a tradition where the Bible was weaponized against them and used to harm them? How would you invite them to see the Bible as a source of good and flourishing?

The Bible is a challenging text, and it can be made infinitely more challenging by trauma of any kind. Although there is no one-size-fits-all model for healing, when there is specific spiritual abuse perpetrated by or within a spiritual community, a spiritual community should likely be involved in a person’s healing journey as well.

For those who want to continue following Jesus but struggle with reading the Bible due to trauma, it is important to remember that God doesn’t condemn us for feeling triggered. We can experience God in other ways besides reading the Bible (e.g., prayer, community, other spiritual disciplines), and we can come back to the biblical text when it is healthy for us to do so.

Referenced Resources

Show Music

  • “Defender (Instrumental)” by TENTS

Show produced by Cooper Peltz. Edited by Dan Gummel and Zach McKinley. Show notes by Lindsey Ponder. Audience questions collected by Christopher Maier.

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Scripture References
Genesis 22:14
Luke 24:44
2 Timothy 3:16-17
Luke 11:51
Hebrews 4:12
Matthew 5:17
Ephesians 6:12
1 Thessalonians 2:13
2 Chronicles 24:20-21
John 5:46
John 10:34
Acts 13:46
Proverbs 25:1
Psalms 119:160
1 Corinthians 15:14

14 Episodes

Episode 1
How Do You Read the Bible?
Have you ever read the Bible and felt like you're not "getting it"? In this episode, Tim and Jon take a look at the (often unhelpful) paradigms through which we interact with Scripture. They explore how seeing the Bible as a unified story that leads to Jesus not only gives the Bible space to do what it was created to do, but frees us to be transformed by the story it’s telling.
1hr 5m • September 13, 2021
Episode 2
Who Wrote the Bible?
How does God work in the world and communicate with humanity? In this episode, Tim and Jon explore God’s relationship with his creation and the relationship between the Bible’s divine and human origins. They also discuss how God uses human words to communicate his divine word.
53m • September 20, 2021
Episode 3
The Bible Had Editors?
How can a collection of ancient manuscripts written by numerous people over thousands of years tell one unified story? In this episode, Tim, Jon, and Carissa dive into how the Bible was written and how such a diverse collection of authors, literary styles, and themes can form one divinely inspired, unified story.
59m • September 27, 2021
Episode 4
How the New Testament Came To Be
At first glance, the New Testament can seem wildly different from the Old Testament—but is it? Jesus saw himself as the fulfillment of the Hebrew Scriptures and the climax of the story that began thousands of years before his birth. In this episode, join Tim, Jon, and Carissa as they explore the unity of the New Testament and the intricate yet consistent storyline of the Bible.
53m • October 4, 2021
Episode 5
Who Is the Bible About?
Is the story of the Bible about humans or God? Because the Bible is about the Messiah—the God who became human—it’s about both God and humans. In this episode, Tim, Jon, and Carissa discuss how the story of the Bible and all of its main themes come to their fulfiillment in Jesus, making it a redemption story for all of us.
56m • October 11, 2021
Episode 6
Literature for a Lifetime
What’s the ideal way to [study the Bible](https://bibleproject.com/)? Is it 20 minutes of reading every morning or larger blocks of time throughout the week? In this episode, join Tim, Jon, and Carissa as they discuss what it means for the Bible to be ancient Jewish meditation literature. The biblical authors intended for it to be understood over the course of a lifetime of rereading, not in one sitting.
56m • October 18, 2021
Episode 7
Inspiration, Quiet Time, and Slaying Your Giants
How were the books of the Bible selected? What should we do if we have a hard time reading the Bible? How does the Bible apply to daily life? In this episode, Tim, Jon, and Carissa respond to your questions from the Paradigm series so far. Thanks to our audience for all your incredible questions!
1hr 19m • November 1, 2021
Episode 8
Wisdom for Life’s Complexity
How can we know we are making the “right” choice in situations the Bible doesn’t address? In this episode, Tim, Jon, and Carissa talk about the Bible as wisdom literature designed to reveal God’s wisdom to humanity—even for complex circumstances it doesn’t explicitly address.
1hr 2m • November 8, 2021
Episode 9
The Bible Wasn’t Written in English
What makes the biblical languages so important? Because the Bible was written in another time and culture, we need to honor its ancient historical context and original languages as we read and study it. In this week’s podcast episode, Tim, Jon, and Carissa explore why an awareness of the Bible’s culture—and our own—can help us be better interpreters of the Bible.
59m • November 15, 2021
Episode 10
What the Bible’s Authors Took for Granted
Have you ever figured out halfway through a conversation that you and another person were on totally different pages? Reading the Bible can feel like this at times. We’re all products of our cultures, families, and environments, and it affects how we understand others. In this episode, Tim, Jon, and Carissa prepare us for a cross-cultural conversation with the Bible by discussing the cultural values of the biblical authors.
1hr 11m • November 22, 2021
Episode 11
The Last Pillar: Communal Literature
Are there ways to read the Bible other than a private quiet time? For most of Church history, followers of Jesus read the Bible out loud in groups and passed along its message verbally. In this episode, Tim, Jon, and Carissa talk about what it means for the Bible to be communal literature and how knowing that might just change the way we experience it today.
1hr 3m • November 29, 2021
Episode 12
How (Not) To Read the Bible
What do we do with the passages in the Bible that are really difficult? Violence, slavery, the treatment of women—what the Bible has to say about these topics has, at times, been misinterpreted and misused. Join Tim, Jon, Carissa, and special guest Dan Kimball as they discuss his book, *How (Not) to Read the Bible*, and explore how any topic in the Bible looks different when we see it as part of a unified story.
57m • December 6, 2021
Episode 13
Is the Bible Trustworthy?
How do we teach the Bible to our children? How can a book written by humans be divinely authoritative? Is the Bible historically accurate? In this episode, Tim, Jon, and Carissa wrap up the Paradigm series by responding to your questions!
1hr 9m • December 13, 2021
Episode 14
Applying the Paradigm
How do we apply the biblical paradigm to our own Bible reading? It starts with reading the Bible in movements—the thematic patterns in which the biblical authors organized their ideas long before chapters and verse numbers were printed. In this episode, Tim, Jon, and Carissa introduce us to biblical movements and walk through how to identify and trace biblical themes on our own.
58m • December 20, 2021
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