The two terms are similar. God used both in the recording of His will in Scripture. But they are not synonymous, and the inability to distinguish between inspiration and revelation has led some to confess they cannot accept the Bible as being wholly inspired.
An individual may receive revelation from God without being inspired, such as Cornelius in Acts 10.1-8. An individual may be inspired by God to write something he did not receive by revelation.
Many inspired men wrote under inspiration things they knew without revelation: Setting sail therefore from Troas, we made a straight course to Samothrace, and the day following to Neapolis, and from thence to Philippi, which is a city of Macedonia, the first of the district, a Roman colony (Acts 16.11-12).
Now, is that passage inspired? Certainly. Was the account of the voyage from Troas to Philippi made known to Luke by revelation? Certainly not. He was there; he was on the boat with Paul, Silas, and Timothy. Just because it was not revealed to him does not render the account uninspired.
In Romans 9.2-3, Paul was heartbroken for his Jewish brethren: I have great sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were anathema from Christ for my brethren’s sake, my kinsmen according to the flesh. Did he have to receive a revelation from God in order to have such feelings for his countrymen? Of course not, but he was inspired by God to write it down.
Here’s another of Paul’s statements that some find problematic: 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 (1 Corinthians 7.25).
Is there a denial of inspiration in that statement? No. The passage refers to revelation. Concerning that about which he is to speak, Paul admits he had not received “commandment [or revelation] from the Lord.” Therefore, he will not bind or command them to comply with his opinion but requests they consider his judgment in the matter in light of the fact that he is an inspired apostle of Jesus Christ.
Learn this distinction:
1. Revelation is the process by which God reveals truth to men;
2. Inspiration is the process by which God guides men in recording truth.
It is our conviction that, in their original autographs, every book of the Bible, every chapter of every book, every paragraph of every chapter, every sentence of every paragraph, every word in every sentence is the verbal, plenary, inerrant, infallible, Divinely inspired Word of God.