Perilous Times Demand Powerful Revelation
After examining the Setting of 2 Timothy 3:14-17, we approach this pericope of Scripture as follows: (1) The Surety of powerful Revelation (2 Timothy 3:14), (2) The Scope of powerful Revelation (2 Timothy 3:15), (3) The Source of powerful revelation (2 Timothy 3:16a), (4) The Supply of powerful revelation (2 Timothy 3:16b), and (5) The Sufficiency of powerful revelation (2 Timothy 3:17). [These five points of alliteration were suggested by Charles C. Pugh III].
After we have concluded our study and you have read and meditated upon this essay, it is our prayer that we appreciate the relevance of the message of 2 Timothy 3:14-17 to our pluralist and permissive society.
The Setting of 2 Timothy 3:14-17
Timothy found himself confronted with heretical teachers who are an ominous threat to the church at Ephesus. Perilous times are anticipated as the teachers and their adherents are pictured in darker tones (cf. 1 Timothy 1:3-4; 4:1-5; 6:3-5; 2 Timothy 3:1-7; 4:1-4).
Paul’s personal appeal to Timothy is to remain strong and stay the course amid persecution, apostasy, and false doctrine. The letter contrasts the good with the bad—those who follow the gospel and those who advocate false teaching. In this plea, Paul exhorts Timothy to guard proper teaching and his behavior (conduct). The message contains a sense of urgency since Paul is awaiting his final trial, if he had not already experienced it, and death (2 Timothy 4:6-9).
The immediate context is set amid a series of contrasts between those who are false teachers and those faithful teachers. The contrasts involve three sections, each highlighted with the words” “but you” (2 Timothy 3:10, 14; 4:5); however, we limit our study to the second contrast.
The contrast in 2 Timothy 3:14-17 is between the difference of the false teacher and his teaching and what Timothy knows, from whom he has learned his faith, and Paul’s encouragement for Timothy to continue in these things.
To state this contrast another way, Paul appeals to Timothy’s spiritual legacy:
- His unfeigned faith taught by his mother Eunice (1:5) and his grandmother Lois (1:5). Paul also taught Timothy as is implied from “Timothy, my dearly-beloved son” (1:2; cf.1:13; 2:2; 2 Timothy 1:13).
- His “gift of God” or the miraculous gift given through the laying of Paul’s hands (1:6).
- His freedom from fear given by God (1:7).
- His salvation and holy calling according to God’s “purpose and grace” given in Christ Jesus (1:9).
In view of these rich resources, Timothy is exhorted to “hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me” (2 Timothy 1:13). Having received the truth, Timothy must now teach it (2 Timothy 2:1-2). Timothy’s “unfeigned faith” (2 Timothy 1:5), securely anchored in the very body of writings and teachings, would serve Timothy as an apology (defense) in the conflicts he would be facing or was facing. Timothy “not only had good instructors but also always an ‘open Bible’ . . . in his hand” (Schrenk 1:765).
The Surety of Powerful Revelation
“But you continue in the things which you have learned
and been assured of, knowing from whom
you have learned them” (2 Timothy 3:14).
In Paul’s contrast between Timothy and the false teachers and their advocates (3:14), the verse begins with the words, “But you.” The word you is from su and is in the emphatic position in the Greek text. With Timothy’s biblical knowledge he must “continue in the things . . . learned.” Continue carries the force of “a constant and continual habit of life” (Rogers and Rogers 505). Timothy’s continuing faithful to the teaching of the Scripture serves as a “sovereign remedy against being taken in by the false teachers” (Kelly 200). John R. W. Stott makes a valid and important assessment of the necessity, for Timothy and every faithful Christian, to continue faithful to God’s Word.
This kind of summons is not infrequently heard in the pages of the New Testament. It is specially relevant whenever innovators arise in the church, “radicals” who claim to be progressive and who repudiate everything which savours of the traditional. It has perhaps never been more needed than today when men boast of inventing a “new Christianity” with a “new theology” and a “new morality”, all of which betoken a “new reformation”. To be sure, the church of every generation must seek to translate the faith into contemporary idiom, to relate the unchanging word to the changing world. But a translation is a rendering of the same message into another language; it is not a fresh composition. Yet this is what some modern radicals are doing, setting forth concepts of God and of Christ which Jesus and his apostles would not have recognized as their own. . . . Now he must continue in these things with steadfastness and not allow anyone to shift him from his ground. (97-98)
Timothy had been taught the Old Testament by his godly mother and grandmother. It is also implied that Timothy was taught the New Testament by Paul. Paul wrote that Timothy was to “follow the pattern of sounds words which you have heard from me” (1:13, emp. added) and to entrust to others “what you have heard from me” (2:2, emp. added). It seems likely that the phrase “knowing from whom you learned it” in 2 Timothy 3:14 refers also to what Paul had taught Timothy. Timothy’s faith, to this point in time, gave him surety or “assurance” of the powerful revelation.
The things refers to Christianity as proclaimed in the Gospel or new covenant. We can now state that it is now applicable to the entire New Testament. Assurance is from epistothes meaning “to make firm or trustworthy” (Lenski 835); i.e. the things he was taught gave him reliability and conviction resulting in surety or assurance.
These teachings were reliable and true when contrasted with the false teachers. Timothy could abide in these teachings with firm assurance or surety. Timothy’s knowledge was trustworthy and authoritative. Hendriksen states that Timothy’s “[l]earning had increased throughout the years, and conviction had been deepened” (295).
One might question or wonder why Paul appealed to Timothy to recall both his teachers and teaching. Consider:
The character of the teachers clearly reflect the character of what is taught; and since Timothy knew well the integrity not only of the apostle Paul, but also of his own mother and grandmother and others who had helped him arrive at an understanding of Christian truth, he may rest assured that he has not been deceived. (Guthrie 162)
The Scope of Powerful Revelation
“And that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures
which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith
which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15).
Timothy’s childhood was not much different from one’s childhood today except the emphasis that the family placed upon teaching him Scripture. The word childhood is from brephos which is used to describe both an unborn child (Luke 1:41, 44) and a young new born (Luke 2:12, 16; Acts 7:19). Timothy was taught the Old Testament from, the time he was a babe or young child which resulted in his faith resting on the solid foundation of Scripture. The Jews took seriously the instruction of their children in God’s Word. The text is clear that Timothy had been taught and had “known the Holy Scriptures” from his earliest childhood. Timothy, who was taught by his godly mother and grandmother, as well as the apostle Paul, had a devout belief in the importance of the powerful revelation of the Old Testament.
Knight writes that the Mishnah in the Tracate Pirke Aboth (5:21), dating from the close of the first century AD, “gives five years of age as the time that a Jewish child is fit for scripture” (413). Calvin writes that Timothy’s education in the Scriptures was “from his infancy in such a manner that he might have sucked godliness along with his milk” (187). Barclay gives this interesting comment on the Jews training of their children.
It was the glory of the Jews that their children from the earliest days were taught and trained in the law. The Jews claimed that their children learned the law even from swaddling clothes, and that they drank it in with their mother’s milk. They claimed that the law was so imprinted on the heart and mind of a Jewish child that he would sooner forget his own name than he would forget the law. So from his earliest childhood Timothy had known the word of God. (Letters 228-29).
Remember the dedicated Jewess taught her child because God commanded her to do so (Exodus 20:2; 12:26-27; 13:14-16; Deuteronomy 4:9-10; 6:7, 9; 11:19; 32:46; Isaiah 38:19; et al.). Modern day parents need to imitate the Jewish parents and spend time with their precious children reading, studying, and teaching them the Bible. The eternal destiny of the souls of both are at stake. Children need to know the Scripture. As God commanded Jewish parents to teach Scripture to their children, He commands the Christian parents to do the same (Ephesians 6:1-4; Col. 3:20-21). Parents only have one opportunity to teach their children God’s Word.
Timothy not only knew his childhood teachers, but he also knew the source of his teaching—“the Holy Scriptures”—an obvious reference to the Old Testament. The Greek text for Holy Scripturesis hiera grammata. “Sacred writings” is an acceptable and preferable translation. It is so translated in the English Standard, Revised Standard, New Revised Standard, and other versions. The term grammata, while translated “Scriptures” generally means “a document, piece of writing” (Danker 205), “anything committed to writing” (Parkhurst 111), “writings, a book, the scriptures” (Robinson 163), or “that which has been written, any writing, a document” (Thayer 120).
The term hiera translated “holy” also means “sacred” (Parkhurst 275; Robinson 384; Thayer 299). This is the only place in the New Testament where the phrase hiera grammata occurs. It is our opinion that inspiration makes an important distinction between the normal writings of men and the inspired sacred writings of God. Hiera makes the writing of God unique; i.e. inerrant, authoritative, trustworthy, and eternal. The writings of men lack these divine traits.
The phrase which are able refers to the Scriptures’ ability on the heart of man. The word able is from dunamena stating the sacred writings have the ability “to impart wisdom, to make wise” (Rogers and Rogers 505). It is from Timothy’s teaching of the Sacred Writings that he learned of Jesus, man’s Savior (Matthew 1:21; John 4:43; Titus 1:20. Because Timothy constantly added to his knowledge of the Sacred Writings, he was able to understand Jesus as the promised and prophesied Messiah.
The Bible is God’s revelation to man and is necessary for man. Man, as a finite being and without divine revelation, is incapable of answering the basic questions of life—“Where did I come from,” “Why am I here,” and “Where am I going?” In addition to these questions are question like, “Does God exist?” If so, “How do I please Him?” These are universal and always timely questions that demand and necessitate a powerful revelation for proper answers.
The Scope of the Sacred Writings becomes evident by enabling Timothy to be “wise for salvation.” This is an affirmation of the ability of the powerful revelation—God’s Word. God’s Word makes man wise by leading him to the place of salvation, Jesus (2 Timothy 2:10). “The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7; cf. Psalm 119:78).
The word salvation is from soteria meaning “deliverance, preservation, salvation” (Danker 985-86). The word soteria was used in daily life for “bodily health, well-being, safety” (Moulton and Milligan 622). When used in Scripture, normally, it refers to spiritual salvation. Jesus was announced that He would “give knowledge of salvation (soteria) to His people by the remission of sins” (Luke 1:77).
Salvation is “‘the aim of God’ and ‘the purpose of Jesus’” (Barclay, Wordbook 116). Salvation is the prerogative of God that is found in the doxologies—“Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and the Lamb” (Revelation 7:10). “The loud voice of heaven cried, “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor to the Lord our God” (Revelation 19:1). God wants none to perish (2 Peter 3:16), desiring man to be saved rather than suffer His wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9). It is God who sent Jesus into the world to redeem man (John 3:16-17; Romans 5:8-9; 1 Timothy 1:15).
Jesus’ purpose in salvation is central. There is salvation in no one else nor is there any other name in heaven and on earth whereby man can be saved (Acts 4:12). He is “the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9; 2:10). There is no salvation apart from Jesus and His work. Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10; Matthew 18:11) because man cannot liberate himself from sin. Indeed, we have a powerful revelation.
Timothy’s salvation resulted from the message of the Scripture. The Old Testament spoke of the Messiah in promise (Genesis 3:15) and prophesied of the Messiah (Genesis 12:1-3; Isaiah 9:16, et al.). When Christ came, died, resurrected, ascended, and Christianity began on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2), He fulfilled the promises and prophecies of the Old Testament. The Christian message (Gospel) is called “the word of salvation” (Acts 13:26; Eph. 1:13), “the way of salvation” (Acts 16:17), and “the power of salvation” (Romans 1:16-17). The aim of the Christian message (Gospel) is to redeem man (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-37; John 20:21-23). You cannot have a more powerful revelation than the Christian message!
Timothy being “made wise for salvation” suggests that in his free will he chose to obey those teachings of his mother, grandmother, the synagogue, Paul, and perhaps others. Therefore, salvation can be refused as Felix who after hearing Paul said, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you” (Acts 24:25). Salvation can also be neglected (Hebrews 2:3); therefore, we are exhorted to “work out your [our] own salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who works in you both to will and to do His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:11-12). The Scripture makes clear that the free will of man either obeys or disobeys God! The Bible is a handbook of salvation, which is known because only God can reveal it. Salvation would not be known apart from God revealing His will to man. Logically then, since the Bible is a book of salvation, and since salvation is through Christ (2 Timothy 1;10), the focus of the Bible is Jesus Christ and Him crucified (2 Corinthians 2:1-2). The Bible is a “comprehensive portraiture of Jesus Christ [and] is intended to elicit our ‘faith’ in him, in order that by faith we may be saved” (Stott 103).
The Scope of Timothy’s salvation was spiritual health. When man’s sins are not forgiven they result in death (Genesis 2:15-17); thus sin is lethal, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Because of sin man is lost without Jesus (Matthew 18:11; Luke 19:10). This state of being lost is described as sin. Once the gospel is obeyed (faith, repentance, confession, and baptism) man enjoys the life brought by Jesus John 10:10; 14:6) and has “the hope of eternal life” (Titus 1:2). What a wonderful and powerful revelation!
The Scope of salvation comes “through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” Jesus is the object of Timothy’s faith, as well as our faith. How can we define faith such as Timothy possessed? Faith is the “conviction, full of joyful trust, that Jesus is the Messiah—the divinely appointed author of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God, conjoined with obedience to Christ” (Thayer 511, emp. added). Faith is the conviction and trust in Jesus with obedience. Timothy, convicted that Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament promises and prophecies of the Messiah, was obedient to the Gospel message. He trusted in the Christian message (Gospel) and obeyed. The powerful revelation is God’s way of living in Christ. No wonder Barclay in his study of faith in the Christian graces of 2 Peter 1:5-7 defines faith as “The Virtue of Reliability” (Flesh 107).
The Source of the Powerful Revelation
“All Scripture is given by the inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16a).
The Source of all Scripture is God! God has given us His written Word, which inspiration calls by various terms.
- The Scripture (Acts 8:32, 35; Galatians 3:8, 22; 2 Timothy 3:16a).
- The Holy Scriptures (Romans 1:2; 2 Timothy 3:15).
- The Oracles of God (Romans 3:2; 1 Peter 4:11).
- The Word of God (Mark 7:13; Hebrews 4:12; Romans 10:17).
- The Word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).
- The Word (Matthew 4:4).
- The Truth (John 17:17; 8:32).
- The Law (John 10:34; 12:34; 15:25; 1 Corinthians 14:21).
- The Book (Hebrews 10:7).
- The Commandments of the Lord (1 Corinthians 14:37; 1 John 5:3).
The world in which we live is filled skepticism. Men have lost their concept of why they live, from where they have come, and their accountability to God. In the process, truth is no longer absolute to man. As a result, many have come to believe and to endorse the view that the Bible is nothing more than a human document. This makes their concept of the inspiration of the Bible to be no more “inspired” than our daily newspaper or our national poet. Either the Bible is the divine standard of authority for man or man has no such divine standard of authority. In 2 Timothy 3:14-17, Paul argues that what he is writing and communicating to Timothy, and to others, what God has revealed to him in “words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:13). Paul, and others, when speaking and writing the divine Word of God did not lose their individuality. As Stott writes: “It [Scriptures] originated in God’s mind and was communicated from God’s mouth by God’s breath or Spirit. It is therefore rightly termed ‘The Word of God’, for God spoke it. Indeed, as the prophets used to say, ‘the mouth of the Lord has spoken it’” (102). This is Paul’s very claim for both plenary (all) and verbal (word) inspiration of the 66 books composing the divine library.
The Bible is the Word of God, i.e. inspired, inerrant, authoritative, trustworthy, et al. The late Thomas B. Warren, after years of studying and teaching the inspiration and authority of the Bible, set forth the basic argument which would prove the affirmation that the Bible is God’s Word. In his research, he found no one had set forth the logical argument to affirm why men are compelled to believe the Bible is God’s Word. Over the years Warren set forth this argument in various publications; e.g. The Spiritual Sword of January 1970, the Harding Graduate School Lectures of 1971, the Gospel Advocate of July 27, 1972. The following is Warren’s argument set out in a formal, logical way with the premises that are true and an argument that is valid.
Major Premise: If it is the case that the Bible possesses property A, property B, property C . . . property Z (where the total situation involved in having such properties makes it clear that the Bible is beyond mere human production), then the Bible is the word of God.
Minor Premise: It is the case that the Bible possesses property A, property B, property C . . . property Z.
Conclusion: Therefore, the Bible is the word of God.
The phrase all Scripture is used to
. . . indicate a message that God actually communicated to someone. . . . In the New Testament time God spoke first of all directly through Christ his Son (Hebrews 1:2). But God also communicates his saving truth through the apostles. These communications are also called the “word” of God (Acts 4:31; Col. 1:25; 1 Thess. 2:13). . . . It . . . also refers to the entire revelation of God: the Bible, the total Scriptures. (Kooten 17)
Inspiration is the method of making the message (Scripture) known. The object of inspiration is transmitting the message accurately to man. The object of inspiration is not the writers. Inspiration is from the compound word theopneustos; i.e. theos (God) andpneustos (breathed). Some scholars such as, Alert claims the word inspiration cannot be defined (154). Goodrick, we believe, gives the wrong definition for the word inspiration when he defines inspiration as “God . . . breathed into it when he created it” (486).
What do we mean by inspiration of the Bible? Inspiration means “breathed or inspired by God, divinely inspired, given by inspiration” (Parkhurst 262), “given from God” (Robinson 370), “the idea of the creative breath of God” (Warfied, Inspiration 475); i.e. breathed out from God. Inspiration results in the Bible as being “entire and without restriction. . . . [which] of necessity extends to the words. . . . [which] are inseparable from the message” (Pache 72-73); i.e. the Scriptures are plenary (all) and verbal (every word) inspired. Some English scholars call inspiration “spiration” as conveying the Greek adjective more accurately.
Inspiration makes the Scripture the Powerful revelation from God to man thereby imbuing the words with ultimate authority, trustworthiness, inerrancy, and eternality.
[W]hat Paul writes to Timothy here embodies a conviction found throughout the NT and held by Jesus, his apostles, and other NT writers. Its particular significance lies in its absoluteness, first that relating to the extent of scripture (pas graphe) and second that relating to the character of scripture (theopneustos). (Knight 447)
. . . [T]he best explanation is that the Scriptures are here declared to be breathed by God. This means not so much that the authors received special treatment, although this is true, but rather that the Scriptures are the very breath of God, something that God has produced through human instruments. It is because of this that Scriptures are authoritative and the only infallible rule for faith and life. Inspiration extends to every word and every phrase, and the divine authorship assures the factual accuracy of what is said. . . . All who are willing to accept the Bible as the Word of God recognize that inspiration is a work of the Holy Spirit and that the Scriptures would have been impossible apart from this supernatural ministry of the holy Spirit. . . . Historically and logically, belief in the Bible has been inseparable from faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ, and unbelief in relation to the inspired Word of God has always inevitably also questioned the validity of Christ, the incarnate Word of God. The proofs for the one are proofs for the other. (Walroovd 15-17)
In 2 Timothy 3:15, Scripture is translated from grammata meaning writings. But the word translated Scripture in 2 Timothy 3:16a is from graphe of which Danker defines as “sacred scripture, in the NT exclusively so, scripture in its entirety” (206). There are fifty occurrences of graphe in the New Testament and always with the idea of “Scripture” as a proper name. . . . It never has the meaning of mere “writings.” “Writings here would involve Paul in an absurdity, since he would not affirm that all writings (even secular) are inspired or useful. It means divinely given and inspired writings, accepted as the Word and thus distinguishes from all other writings (Roberts 91).
Paul tells Timothy all Scripture is inspired implying that if the writing is Scripture it is inspired (breathed out) from God and if the writing is not Scripture it is not inspired (not breathed out) from God. Inspired Scripture gives man the divine book that is authoritative, trustworthy, inerrant, eternal, canonical, and superior to all other writings! What a powerful revelation!
The term all is from the word pas and has been translated either all or every. This has created a controversy among scholars. Guthrie favors “‘every’ as the best grammatical and contextual” (163) rending; however, A. T. Robertson, we believe, correctly states that so “far as the grammatical usage goes, one can render here either ‘all scriptures’ or ‘every scripture’” (627). Bennetch’s comments are good:
. . . [O]ne can render here either “all Scripture” or “every Scripture.” Furthermore the singular number may have a collective force here so as to denote canon. Then the rendering of “all” would surely be demanded. . . . Plummer has uttered the whole truth when he said: “It matters little whether we say ‘the whole of Scripture’ or ‘every passage of Scripture’ (191).
The phrase sacred writings in 2 Timothy 3:15 primarily refers to the Old Testament and all Scripture in 2 Timothy 3:16a refers to the totality of the Bible; i.e. the Old and New Testaments. The Gospel was promised and prophesied in the Old Testament. The Gospel is realized and proclaimed as fulfilled in the New Testament. It requires both Testaments to understand the Gospel. Inspiration is the determining factor of the canonicity of the Bible. As soon as the Bible in its parts and in its entirely was written, it was God’s Word—inspired, authoritative, trustworthy, eternal, and canonical; i.e. the standard, measuring-rod, the limit, guide, and authority by which men obey God in conversion, behaves in his Christian life, and worships God as he prepares for the heavenly state. The reason we have only 66 books in the biblical canon is that God inspired only that many. Let us ever be thankful we have a God who has given us such a powerful revelation.
The Supply of the Powerful Revelation
“[A]nd is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction,
for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16b).
“All Scripture is profitable.” The word profitable is from ophelimos meaning “an advantage derived from something” (Danker 743) and “profit, utility, benefit, useful, serviceable” (Bagster 296). The word profitable makes the Scripture “very practical, yes an indispensable, instrument or tool” (Hendriksen 303).
Paul lists areas in the life of sinners and children of God in which the Scriptures give advantage. This is seen when their profitability is contrasted with the teachings and commandments of men which Paul elsewhere warns against as “the commandments of men . . . [cause them] to turn from the truth” (Titus 1:14). Notice that Paul does not use the preposition for once, but “repeats the preposition four times. . . . Paul is telling Timothy to look at each one separately to see each use to which he is to put the graphe [Scripture]” (Goodrick 485).
The Old Testament is stated to have made Timothy “wise for salvation” (2 Timothy 3:15). The Old Testament was given little consideration by the Greek philosophers and often by others, but for Timothy it supplied him with sufficient evidence to have faith in Jesus, the Messiah, of whom it promised and prophesied. The relationship between the biblical doctrine of inspiration and the profitable use (advantage) of the Scriptures is not an accident. It is divinely intended. The Old Testament supplied Timothy with information leading to his salvation in Jesus. Jesus said, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37).
Scripture is “profitable for doctrine (teaching).” This was a primary responsibility of Timothy (1 Timothy 4:6, 13, 16; 6:3). Jesus said, “No man can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up in the last day. For it is written in the prophets, and they will all be taught by God. Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me” (John 6:44-45). The Christian faith is a taught faith. The Scriptures supply the necessary doctrine or teaching for man to live and obey as God desires (Matthew 7:24-27). It is impossible for the Christian to be faithful without the doctrine (teaching) of God.
The Scriptures supply the Christian with foundational doctrine (teaching) that gives stability. Jesus said, “If you continue in My word, then you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). “Your word is truth” (John 17:17). God supplies “the Holy Scriptures [which] is the only infallible source . . . the basis and test of true Christian belief” (Reese 874). Doctrine is basic to everything else and the Scriptures supply adequate doctrine to save and to make us pleasing to God. “The product attests its source; the effect proves its cause” (Lenski 846). The Scriptures are the powerful revelation from God to man.
“All Scripture is profitable . . . for reproof.” Reproof is from elegchon meaning “the act of charging a person with wrongdoing, accusation, expression of strong disapproval, reproof, censure, correction” (Danker 315). The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Man cannot, alien sinner or Christian, be saved when his life is dominated by sin. “For if you believe not that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24). Sin creates guilt and God wants man to be on a “guilt trip” because of his sins. They are offensive to God. The Scriptures supply all that is necessary to create a guilty conscience. This is what God wants when man sins and “it will profit us to use them as our Lord used them against the Tempter” (Stock 160). The Scriptures supply us with authoritative truth, whether a man lives dominated by sin or when the Christian sins, to accuse him of wrong doing. Reese makes a valid point in reasoning, “‘For reproof’ suggests that not only does the Scripture point out error, but it is also the agent to be used in refuting that error” (5143). The powerful revelation supplies reproof.
“All Scripture is profitable . . . for correction.” The word correction is from epanorthosin meaning “correcting, restoration, useful for improvement” (Danker 359). The Scriptures supply man with the ability to correct his problem of sin. God does not leave man on a “guilt trip” from his sins. If a man is an alien sinner, then God’s plan of redemption (faith, repentance, confession of Jesus, and baptism) forgives his past sins. The blood of Christ flows backwards as a propitiation for man’s sins (Romans 3:25; 5:8-9; 1 John 2:2; 4:9; Acts 2:38). If a man is a Christian, then the blood of Christ flows forward to remove our sins when we obey God’s Word (1 John 1:7). “The Word . . . is restorative in character (John 21:15-17)” (Hendriksen 303).
“All Scripture is profitable . . . for instruction in righteousness.” The word instruction is from paideian meaning “the act of providing guidance for responsible living . . . training in righteousness” (Danker 748).
The word righteousness is from dikaiosune meaning being right with God or living as God want us to live. The root word of is connected to a child and “includes training and chastisement” (Stock 120). In 2 Timothy 3:15, Timothy was instructed or trained to be wise in salvation through faith in Christ Jesus; i.e. he was taught and walked (instructed) how to live that resulted in his salvation. “The Scriptures are God’s textbook for instruction in all personal relations” (Reese 574). Righteousness (dikaiosune) or uprightness is used here in the sense of “right conduct” (Schrenk 2:210) Also compare: Romans 6:13; 9:20; 14:17; Ephesians 5:9; 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22.
The Scriptures supply the individual with sufficient knowledge to know how to live faithful and to live in harmony with what God expects of His children. This is because “it is not within man that walks to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). God has a highway in which man is expected to walk (Isa. 35:8; Matthew 7:13-14). Paul writes that the child of God is to “present your bodies [body] a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2; cf. Colossians 3:12-17). “Only the Scripture that is inspired of God is able to train and to educate so as to secure the favorable verdict of God” (Lenski 847). Titus 2:11-12 teaches that Christianity as revealed in God’s grace teaching “us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present age.” God supplies us with all that we need through a powerful revelation.
The Sufficiency of the Powerful Revelation
“[T]hat the man of God may be complete,
thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17).
The Scripture is sufficient, yea all-sufficient, informationally; i.e. the Scripture informs and furnishes man with all the necessary information to become a Christian, to live a Christian life in preparation for heaven, to worship God, and to skirt the fires of hell. The emphasis is on supplying informationally all that is needed. This makes indeed for a powerful revelation.
In ferreting the meaning of various words and phrases in this text, consider the phrase the man of God. To whom does this refer? Some argue that it is a reference to the minister, preacher, or evangelist; however, this does serious damage to the immediate context. While it is applicable to Timothy, an evangelist and all other evangelists, it is applicable to all Christians as all Christians are to produce good works. “The phrase every good work is the same as that used in 2:11 in reference to the vessel of honor, who is here called the man of God. It is also used concerning women (see . . . 1 Timothy 5:20; 5:10)” (Spain 149). The Scripture is the chief means which God employs to bring “the man of God” (Christian man and woman) to maturity.
The word complete is from artios meaning “pertaining to being well fitted for some function, complete, capable, proficient=able to meet all demands” (Danker 136). The word equipped is from ezertismenos meaning “to completely outfit, fully furnish, fully equip or supply . . . capable of performing the service expected of it” (Rogers and Rogers 506). The Scripture when used for the purpose that God designed it will train, guide, and instruct the child of God how to live the Christian life.
Christianity was designed and is supplied in the Powerful revelation of God’s Word so that the child of God may be “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). The Christian is “the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13) and “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14-16). The result—God is glorified and the Christian, at the judgment, will hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant . . . enter into the joy of your Master” (Matthew 25:21, 23); i.e. Heaven. Indeed the Scriptures are the powerful revelation of our Almighty God!
As Jesus, the Living Word, is God’s final, ultimatum to man (Hebrews 1:1-2a); the Bible, the written Word, is God’s final, ultimatum to man (2 Timothy 3:14-17). The powerful revelation shows the sharp distinction between the Scriptures, the Word of God, and the writings of men. The powerful revelation is “the word of the Lord [which] endures forever” (1 Peter 1:25; cf. Isaiah 40:6-8); whereas, the writings of men have no eternal, enduring quality.
God’s powerful revelation (2 Timothy 3:14-17) gives Surety to the believer, furnishes the Scope of salvation to all who will obey, posses the divine Source of being from God, Supplies man all that is needed informationally, and is Sufficient to lead man to the eternal state of heaven. We do live in “Perilous Times” and these times are very distressing. At the times we wonder about the world, which in rejecting the Bible as God’s absolute standard, seems to have gone mad and so lax in their standards. The Christian way is as Paul instructs Timothy, “But you continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of” (2 Timothy 3:14) i.e. stand fast! Stand firm! Don’t waver! In the midst of “perilous times” in which evil men and imposters exist, the Scriptures makes you complete and equips you for every good work. Let the Word of God make you “the man of God.”
One of the great expositors of the Scriptures, Christopher Wordsworth (1774-1846), brother to William Wordsworth (1770-1850) the great poet, wrote the following at the conclusion of his comments on 2 Timothy 3:14-17.
[T]his text will ever remain as a testimony of the Holy Ghost speaking by the divine Apostle, now about to shed his blood for Christ, and asserting the Inspiration of all Books of the New Testament, as well as of the old, and will serve as a holy safeguard against all the assaults made upon them by those who deny their divine origin or impugn their unerring veracity. (477)
The powerful revelation of God’s Scriptures, and especially the section found in 2 Timothy 3:14-17, have been and will continue to be assaulted by its enemies, but it has stood and will stand the test of time. For this the Christian can find strength, hope, comfort, and guidance in God’s Holy Word (2 Timothy 3:14-17; Romans 15:4).
The enduring value as God’s revelation is evident in the following poem:
John Clifford (1836-1923)
Last eve I passed beside a blacksmith’s door
And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;
When looking in, I saw upon the floor,
Old hammers worn with beating years of time.
“How many anvils have you had,” said I,
“To wear and batter all these hammers so.”
“Just one,” said he; then said with twinkling eye,
“The anvil wears the hammers out, you know.”
And so, I thought, the anvil of God’s word
For ages skeptics’ blows have beat up[on;
Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard,
The anvil is unharmed—the hammers gone!
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