2 Timothy 3:16

Friday, 27 April 2018

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 2 Timothy 3:16

This is certainly a “memory verse” if there ever was one. It should be committed to memory for those times when it will be needed. At the very least, the location of it is should be memorized, so that one can easily refer to it in order to obtain the exact quote.

In the previous verses, Paul noted to Timothy that the Holy Scriptures “are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” Now, speaking of that same marvelous body of writings, Paul says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” It is to be remembered that at the time of his writing this, only the Old Testament Scriptures existed. This truth carries on for New Testament writings, but it is clearly and unambiguously showing that the body of writing we call the Old Testament is God’s word.

The Greek word translated as “inspiration of God” is theopneustos, or literally “God-breathed.” It is a term which was most probably coined by Paul, and which speaks of the sacred and holy nature of Scripture which contains the power to sanctify believers. It is of divine origin, having been breathed out by God in what is known as the process of inspiration. In the Greek, Paul uses the word in the singular. This then shows that “each part of speech (every inflected word-form, ‘reflex’) used in the Bible is God-breathed, i.e. inscripturated (written) under divine inspiration” (HELPS Word Studies). That is a technical way of saying that every iota of what was received by prophet or apostle is of divine origin. Peter explains this process in his second epistle –

“knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:20, 21

As a point of doctrine, the words, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,” are more accurately translated as “Every Scripture inspired by God…” The reason for this subtle, but important, change is that it then does not exclude any writings beyond the Old Testament which were already in existence as transmitted by the apostles. It further does not exclude anything that would later come from the hand of the apostles. In this then, there would be the need to ensure that exactly what was contained in those writings be maintained exactly as they had been received. His words here are to be considered in that light, and they were to be kept as a protection against changing what had been received from the apostles’ hands. The words were God-breathed as they were received, and they remain God-breathed when being read. They are the word of God at all times.

After noting the inspiration of Scripture, Paul next says that this body of writings “is profitable for doctrine.” This means that they are to be used to teach the uninformed, correct the misguided, and renew the mind which has forgotten. These breathed-out words are to be what the believer uses to set his doctrine within the church. They are to be the final authority for church doctrine as well. The church cannot add to them, take from them, or amend them in any way. They are breathed out by God, and they belong to Him – being granted to us to use for our doctrine, but not for our manipulation. Paul then says that they are also “for reproof.”

The word used is found only here and in Hebrews 11:1. It signifies “inner conviction.” It “focuses on God confirming His inbirthing of faith” (HELPS Word Studies). If we hold to Scripture as God’s breathed-out word, God should internally persuade us through it of His intent for our life-practice and doctrine. Along with this, it is to be used “for correction.”

In this, Paul uses a word found only here in the Bible. It signifies “to make straight.” Thus, what is straightened becomes suitable once again because it has been restored to its original and correct position. In other words, there is a defect in man. The Bible is to be used to straighten that out. Further, even after coming to Christ, there are certainly defects in doctrine. The Bible is to be used to straighten them out as well. We can straighten ourselves out through the word, and we can also use the word to hopefully straighten others out. From there, Paul says that it is also to be used “for instruction in righteousness.”

The word for “instruction” speaks of the training and education of children. Therefore, the Bible is to be used as an instruction that will lead the believer to full maturity in their faith, doctrine, and practice. Just as a child needs to be disciplined and schooled in order to become a rationally thinking adult, all believers must grow in the word – applying it to themselves – until they are adults in the faith. But Paul notes that this instruction is to be “in righteousness.”

The Bible is often used by people as a means of divination as they look to determine the future. It is used as a secret code book to determine the mysteries of God. It is used by some as a place to find comfort during trials, but then put back on the shelf when the trials end. These and other uses miss the primary intent of Scripture. We are to have our noses in it, we are to open our minds to it, and we are to meditate upon it in order to understand righteousness, and then to apply that to our lives. God is the fount of all that is righteous, and we are to learn about Him in this capacity. Then we are to take this attribute of Him when it is rightly understood and emulate it.

Life application: Paul’s words of this verse are so important for us to remember, and to carry with us always. What we have in the pages of Scripture is the true and inspired word of God. Let us cherish it, care for it, exalt it, and pursue what it says all the days of our lives.

Lord God, You word is breathed out by You, and therefore it is exactly what we need for our lives. Nothing else can substitute it. Anything added to it is superfluous. Anything taken from it will leave us with a void. Help us to understand this, and to carefully hold to it as Your sacred and precious word, given to us to find righteousness and happiness as we live out our lives in Your marvelous presence. Amen.

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