Friday, February 05, 2010

2 Timothy 3:14-17

V14-17 – 14But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Once again, Paul contrasts his words toward the false teachers (v13) with those toward Timothy (v10-12, 14). He is not to yield to false teaching, but he is to “continue in what [he has] learned and [has] become convinced of.” The application for us in this, says Calvin, is that “we ought to unlearn all that we have learned apart from Christ, if we wish to be his disciples.” He reminds Timothy that he has “known the holy Scriptures from infancy;” the Jewish custom was to teach the law to children beginning at five years of age. Also, Paul notes that these Scriptures “are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” Calvin says, “It is a very high commendation of the Holy Scriptures, that we must not seek anywhere else the wisdom which is sufficient for salvation; as the next verse also expresses more fully. But he states, at the same time, what we ought to seek in the Scripture (Christ Himself); for the false prophets also make use of it as a pretext; and therefore, in order that it may be useful to us for salvation, it is necessary to understand the right use of it.”

In other words, the Old Testament, properly interpreted, leads to faith in Christ (1 Peter 1:21). Timothy is living by the Book, and he needs to continue doing that. Why? Because it’s God’s word, and it’s useful! “The primary purpose of Scripture is mankind’s redemption,” one commentator says. And he goes on to say regarding v15, “The mechanism of redemption…is mankind’s faith response to God’s Messiah. This is the essence of apostolic preaching.” The Greek word for “All” in v16 is small, but it is crucial; Paul’s meaning is clear. God exhales every word of His word; and this happens not by might, not by power, but by the Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:6; 2 Peter 1:21). I pray for my children the prayer of Paul, which reminds of this topic, from Ephesians 3:16-17 – that God “may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”

Scripture has another, subsequent purpose as well, from v16-17; once having brought mankind to faith in Christ, the Scripture equips believers for godly living. It is “useful,” and meant to be used, “for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.” I couldn’t have said it better myself; but teaching is to impart knowledge; rebuking is to show error; correcting is to turn away from error to righteousness; and training in righteousness is to guide in the right direction. This purpose is in itself merely a means to an end, that “the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

The word translated “thoroughly” as an adjective, might better be rendered as the noun “adequate,” followed by a comma, though in fact both “thoroughly” and “equipped” are cognate verbs in the Greek. It’s used only here in all of Scripture, but it means “complete and proficient,” “perfect for a purpose,” or “entirely suited.” And taken together, as one commentator says, the phrase is speaking of “gifted, functioning maturity which is brought by the Spirit through the Scripture.” Apart from Scripture, in other words, we cannot do the good that “God has prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). So to summarize, Paul wants Timothy to stand on the Scriptures for several reasons. First, they bring salvation; second, they are inspired, breathed out, by God through the Holy Spirit in the words of holy (set apart) men; third, they are practical (they bring sanctification) – one commentator has said with many in agreement that there is no more practical book in the world than the Holy Bible; fourth and finally, the Bible is sufficient; nothing more is needed. So stand firm.

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