Bibliology Theology

Bibliology: The Illumination of the Holy Spirit

Early in 2017 I was preparing to request a ministry license through the Evangelical Free Church of America (also known as E.V.Free or EFCA). Part of the process is writing a twenty page paper that needed to be read by a group of pastors. The paper had a question guide that told me what topics to write about. One of those questions said, “Describe what the Illumination of the Holy Spirit is and why it’s important.” Well, after a Bachelor’s degree from a Bible college and a Master’s degree from Dallas Theological Seminary, I was not sure what the “illumination of the Holy Spirit” was. Thus, my studies began!

The doctrine of “illumination” can be applied and focused to different areas of theology. A quick look at the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology says there are four definitions of illumination: “(1) A general enlightening that Christ brings to all men especially through the gospel (John 1:9; 2 Tim 1:10); (2) the enlightening experience of salvation (Heb 6:4; 10:32); (3) the understanding of Christian truth (Eph 1:18); and (4) the searching character of future judgment (1 Cor 4:5)” (Ryrie, “Illuminiation” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 590-591). This blog post will focus on the third definition: the understanding of Christian truth.

If you are reading this post and you are a Christian, you have already participated in and benefited from the illumination of the Holy Spirit. But, in this post I hope to show you what it is and why it is important.

Bibiology: The Illumination of the Holy Spirit

Photo Credit: Ritesh Man Tamraker

Bibliology: The Illumination of the Holy Spirit


Before looking at how the Holy Spirit illuminates believers, it is first important to see the state of people before they become Christians.

A. Satan Has Blinded Unbelievers

Bibliology Theology

Bibliology: The Canon of Scripture

I remember sitting down with the man discipling me near the window at Starbucks. Every month I would bring him questions and we would talk through them together. This month I was curious about the Bible. The question I asked him was, “How did the Bible come to be put together?” I think I jokingly said, “Was there an explosion in a paper factory, and the Bible got put together in that explosion? How did it happen?” I did not realize it, but I was asking about what I now know is the Canon. 

With that story, let’s take a look at the methodical and God-directed way that the Bible was compiled. The process I am broadly describing is called “canonization” or “the canon of Scripture.” What does the word “canon” mean? The word has Hebrew and Greek backgrounds. In Hebrew the word is קָנֶה (canew) which literally means “rod” for measuring (that “rod” used for measuring came from a reed-type plant). The rod was used as a rule or standard against which things were measured. Two examples of this use are in Ezekiel:

As he brought me nearer, I saw a man whose face shone like bronze standing beside a gateway entrance. He was holding in his hand a linen measuring cord and a measuring rod.” (Ezekiel 40:3, NLT, emphasis added)

He measured the east side with his measuring rod, and it was 875 feet long. Then he measured the north side, and it was also 875 feet. The south side was also 875 feet, and the west side was also 875 feet.” (Ezekiel 42:16–19, NLT, emphasis added)

In the New Testament the word is κανων (canon). Two examples of this use are in Paul’s letters to the Galatians and Philippians:

And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.” (Galatians 6:16, ESV, emphasis added)

however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.” (Philippians 3:16, NASB95, emphasis added)

First, I want to show you when the New and Old Testaments were completed. Then, we will look at when those Testaments were recognized as Scripture. Next, I want you to know the exact criteria that were used when recognizing what made New Testament Scripture. Lastly, we will take a brief look at the books that made it into the Bible.

Bibliology - The Canon of Scripture

The Canon of Scripture


A. Old Testament (435 B.C.)

The last books of the Old Testament to be written were likely Nehemiah and Malachi. Most scholars say Malachi was written somewhere between 433-420 B.C. near the reign of the Persian King Artaxerxes II (Smith, Interpreting the Prophetic Books94; Bullock, An Introduction to the Old Testament: Prophetic Books407-408).


Vital Distinctions to Make When Reading the Bible and Hearing God

Even though I have been critical of Jack Deere’s assertions based on one verse that we have modern day prophets in today’s world, he does raise an important point about Scripture in his book, Surprised by the Voice of God.

Vital Distinctions to Make When Reading the Bible and Hearing God

Photo Credit: Brett Jordan

Let’s take a look at what I believe is a correct view of scripture that Jack Deere shares in his book.