II Timothy

II Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is given.”

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” I deliberately limited the title above to “All scripture is given” for the simple reason that it is easy to gloss over this key point-all scripture is “given.” Though all scripture was obviously written through the instrumentality of humans, they wrote that which they were given. God predestined this means to accomplish His end. If God had chosen to not give us the scriptures, then we would not have them. Peter, as another human author of scripture, concurs with Paul when he says, “that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation” (II Pet. 1:20). A better word than ‘interpretation’ for the Greek word ‘epilusis’ would be ‘origin’ or explanation. In other words, the only thing which explains the phenomenon of biblical prophecy is that God has given it “by inspiration.”

How He has given the scriptures was “by inspiration,” or God-breathed. Because the scriptures are given by inspiration of God it also makes them unique, and there is no other book like the bible having sole authority over all. As a result they are infallibly true, completely trustworthy and clear, and sufficient to us for everything we need to know, not only concerning salvation and so-called “religious” matters, but they provide all the wisdom we need to govern our lives in every sphere and area of life. It is precisely because “all scripture is given by inspiration of God,” that they are “profitable.” Paul used this specific word when writing to Timothy twice, once in each letter, and once also to Titus. ‘Ophelimos’ means that something or someone is useful, helpful, serviceable, advantageous, or able to produce a profit. According to Strong’s, it is from a form of ophelos, which in turn is a form of ophello, which is the idea of benefit or accumulating as a benefit, profit, or advantage.

At I Timothy 4:8 (Cf. 6:11), Paul writes that even though bodily exercise has some profit or yields an advantage for one’s health, “godliness is profitable for all things.” To Titus Paul wrote that when believers are “careful to maintain good works, these things are good and profitable to men” (3:8). This is the fashion in which Paul views the place of the scriptures, and the very first thing which he notes that all scripture is profitable for is doctrine. Two things should be noted here, the first is the prime importance Paul placed on doctrine, and secondly that for any doctrine to be profitable it must flow from the study of all scripture (Cf. Rom. 15:4). Paul then highlights three verbal imperatives that cover a key aspect of the pastoral ministry, but which also are key to anyone reading all scripture. The scriptures, by their very nature as “given by inspiration of God,” when read or delivered to fallen human beings, will of necessity reprove, correct, and instruct.

These three words may seem like synonyms, but in fact they express a logical flow. Reprove carries the idea that something wrong has been done, including aberrant beliefs. Care-frontation, to use a word to express the care we need to take in the necessary job of confrontation, is the first thing. The second thing that is then necessary is to correct. This is the nature of repentance, turning from that which we have been reproved of, and turning in the opposite direction to walk on the correct path. Instruction is of course involved in the first two, but here, as third in our order, it carries the idea of being instructed so that reproof and correction may not required in a particular area again. If it is required again, then the same process should be applied. This process should begin first with the preacher as he studies the word. As noted above, the role of all scripture here is clearly directed to all who hear and read it.

However, in this letter to one of his pastoral protégés, Paul is saying to Timothy that only if he understands that this process begins with him as a minister of the word, will he be a man of God made complete, “thoroughly equipped for every good work.” The goal of the process listed above is “righteousness.” The Greek word ‘dikaiosune’ means more here than simply right acts, synonyms could be justification, or as regards a person’s character (which is what Paul is referring to here), ‘equity’ or ‘integrity.’ As regards the Christian, any sin is fundamentally a lack of integrity on our part. Repentance is to re-establish equity or integrity in doctrine and life. This is that role of scripture which Paul wishes to highlight here. To be “thoroughly equipped” is to be properly trained. The man of God must be thoroughly trained in the study of ALL scripture. To only study certain portions or to study without due diligence, is to fall short of being “thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

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