Overview of 2 Timothy (02) - The Word
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:14–17 NIV
In our three-part overview of the Second Epistle to Timothy, we have noted that it contains the last words of Scripture from the Apostle Paul. The purpose of the book is to charge Timothy to carry on a faithful ministry of the Word after Paul’s death (1:13-14, 2:2, 2:14, 2:24, 3:14, 4:2, 4:5). The mission was to pass the baton by making disciples who would also make disciples (2:2) through the message of the Word of God. Paul emphasizes the Word of God in every chapter: 1:13, 2:9, 2:15, 3:14–17, 4:2.
The Workman of the Word: A Short Biography of Timothy - Timothy had known the Word from infancy (brephos), since he was taught by his Jewish grandmother (mamme) and mother (mater) (1:5). However, Timothy’s father was Greek and so Timothy had not been inducted into the Jewish faith through circumcision. As Paul is delivering the decrees of the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) to the churches, he finds Timothy in Derbe/Lystra. Timothy may have been converted at this time; or simply discipled by Paul, but Paul considered him his true child (Phil. 2:22). Paul circumcised Timothy so that he could minister effectively among the Jews. From that point, Timothy had substantially co-labored with Paul, even writing (2 Cor. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:1; 1-2 Th. 1:1). He also sent several of Paul’s letters and was his chief spokesman in Thessalonica (1Th. 3:2, 6) and Corinth (1Cor. 4:17, 16:10), and Ephesus (current location). Now Timothy must carry on the mission through the faithful message and be a workman in the Word of God (2:15).
The Work of the Word: The Anatomy of Scripture - Our passage provides one of the most important definitions of the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16f). In 2 Tim. 3:16, the first distinctive of Scripture (graphe “writings”) is inspiration. The term “sacred writings” (v14) was used by Josephus to refer to the Old Testament, thus “all Scripture” is a better translation than “every Scripture.” The best and most literal translation of this is the NIV: “All Scripture is God-breathed (theopneustos).” The inspiration extends to the text/writing. As Peter says, no prophecy of Scripture “was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2Pet. 1:21). What Scripture says, God says (Gen. 2:24/Matt. 19:4; Ps. 2:1/Acts 4:25; Ps. 95:7/Heb. 3:7) and vice-versa (Gen. 12:3/Gal. 3:8). Since God cannot err and Scripture is God’s Word: ergo, Scripture cannot err. Jesus said, “the Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). Given the divine nature of Scripture, Paul delineates several purposes of Scripture:
The usefulness of the Word is to lead one to salvation through faith in Christ (v 15). Knowing the Word (especially the OT) leads to salvation through faith in Christ if it is understood aright (Lk. 24).
The Word is “beneficial” for “teaching” (didaskalia). By handling accurately the Word, Timothy’s teaching would be “healthy” (“sound”) and thus develop good doctrine in the Church.
The Word is “beneficial” for reproof (elegmos). To “rebuke” is to point out an error. It would have immediate application in exposing false teaching. So the Word teaches truth and it denounces error.
The Word is “beneficial” for correction (epanorthosis). Correcting is the positive activity of restoring someone an “ortho-doxy/praxi.” It heals from bad thought and bad living. It mends brokenness.
The Word is “beneficial” for “training in righteousness” (paedeian ten en dikaiosune). It brings disciplines in righteousness. The phrase might better be understood as bringing a “culture of justness.” Like Eph. 6:4, the Word brings us up in the “culture and counsel” of Christ.
The result of this work of the Word is that the “man of God” (spiritual leader) will be “fully qualified” and competent/proficient for every good work (Eph. 2:10), or “fit for the fight.”
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more