2 Timothy 3:17

Saturday, 28 April 2018

…that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:17

Paul’s words here continue the thought of verse 16 concerning Scripture. It is given by inspiration of God, and it is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. And the end goal of that is “that the man of God may be complete.” The intent of the term “man of God” is debated. Is it speaking of ministers of the gospel, or is it speaking of all believers in Christ. The answer is “both.”

First and foremost, the term is taken from Old Testament symbolism (which is reaffirmed in 1 Timothy 6:11), and it is speaking of the man chosen by God to receive and pass along God’s word, meaning the prophet in Old Testament times. That transfers to the minister of the New Testament who has received, and then evaluates and instructs in that word. In the instruction of that word, those who hear it then also become “complete.”

The word Paul uses is unique in Scripture. It gives the sense of “ready because prepared.” If we think of a pump which is ordered to replace another pump, it may come needing to be wholly or partly assembled, or it may come prepared to function. It simply needs to be installed and it will work properly. This is the idea of the word. In having Scripture as given by God, and by knowing it, rightly dividing it, and rightly applying it, the man of God is ready to function. He is in a state of “right now” readiness, and thus he is “thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

The Greek word here is well translated. It gives the sense of all parts working together, correctly and harmoniously. In this verse, it is in the passive voice. This then stresses the end-impact of Scripture on the believer who is receptive to what is furnished. As HELPS Word Studies says, “Indeed the Bible thoroughly fits (‘furnishes’) each believer to live in full communion with God.”

In this, Paul is obviously applying the term “man of God” to Timothy, and to those who will follow him in the ministry. But he is also in anticipation that their state of being “fully equipped” will then be passed on to those they tend to. That is an obvious part of “every good work.”

It is Scripture which makes this possible. As it is obvious that up until just a few hundred years ago very few people had their own copy of the Bible, it is referring to those who have charge of Scripture, and then pass that knowledge on to others. Even today, where everyone can easily obtain the Bible, their lives will not always allow them time to become fully equipped apart from special teaching by those who are in full-time ministry. And more, there are always those who are ill-equipped to be in the ministry because of a lack of training or incorrect doctrine, and yet who go forth teaching that which is false.

Life application: Each of us is ultimately responsible for the doctrine we hold to. However, we need to learn it from somewhere. It is the rare soul who will pick up the Bible and become complete and thoroughly equipped in doctrine. There is a need, then, to listen to teachers, carefully evaluating them to see if what they teach is in accord with the word. Let us attentively listen, and then carefully evaluate what we hear. Let us reject that which is wrong, and hold fast to what is sound.

Glorious and awesome God of all power and wisdom! You have given us the greatest treasure in the pages of Scripture, and yet we are often not attentive to either studying it or applying it to our lives. What a great mistake this is! When things go wrong, we quickly blame You for the trouble, but the truth is that if we had applied Your word to our lives, things would go well. May we as individuals, and as collective groups, learn to put You and Your word first in our lives. Help us in this, O God. Amen.

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