The Inspiration of Scripture – Part 3


How should we treat the scriptures, 2 Tim. 3. 14?

The answer is, simply, we should ‘abide’ in them, JND.1 That is, we must live in the atmosphere of God’s word, and let that atmosphere fill our hearts and lives. We should notice how Timothy was taught, and by whom Timothy was taught.

How was Timothy taught?

He was taught with assurance, ‘But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of‘. The Thessalonians were taught in the same way, 1 Thess. 1. 5. They received it in the same way, ‘For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe’, 1 Thess. 2. 13.

By whom was Timothy taught?

‘Knowing of whom thou hast learned them’. The omission of names here emphasizes that it is not the identity of the people concerned but their character that is important. It has been suggested that since Paul refers to Timothy’s childhood in verse 15, he is probably referring to himself here.2 Paul establishes his spiritual qualifications in 2 Timothy chapter 3 verse 10. On the other hand, it has also been suggested that Paul was referring to Timothy’s mother and grandmother. They were certainly people of proven character. It could, of course, refer to Lois, Eunice and Paul! All of which proves that this isn’t the point at all. He was taught by people of reputable character. Not by ‘juggling impostors’, 2 Tim. 3. 13 JND. The character of the teacher, and the character of the teaching, must be mutually complementary.

When should we get to know the scriptures, v. 15?

We should get to know them as early as possible, 2 Tim. 1. 5. The ‘holy scriptures’ are, literally, ‘the sacred writings’, and refer here to the Old Testament. The term emphasizes the sacred character of God’s word. This should preserve us from ever tampering with them, altering them, disobeying them, or denying them.

The ‘holy scriptures’ are not just a technical handbook. They are able to make men and women ‘wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus’. Compare verse 17, where the same scriptures enable the man of God to be ‘perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works’. The scriptures are powerful! They ‘are able’. The word ‘able’ expresses ‘the abiding power and sufficiency of Scripture’.3 The words ‘wise unto salvation’ stand in direct contrast to the learning described in verse 7, and the false teaching in verse 13. The ‘holy scriptures’ impart the way of salvation - ‘faith which is in Christ Jesus’. They point us to Christ, as the Ethiopian eunuch discovered in Acts chapter 8.

Where should we apply the scriptures, v. 16?

‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness’; compare 1 Timothy chapter 4 verse 8, where ‘godliness is profitable [useful] unto all things’. The four ways in which the word of God is to be applied may be set out as follows:

  • It teaches us what is right. It is ‘profitable for doctrine’. The word means ‘teaching’ or ‘instruction’ and is translated ‘learning’ in Romans chapter 15 verse 4. Please do remember that Christian conduct is based on Bible doctrine, and therefore we must pay careful attention to the foundations of the faith.
  • It tells us when we are not right. It is ‘profitable … for reproof’. We have a good illustration of this in Titus chapter 1 verses 9 to 13, where the same word, elencho, is translated ‘convince’, v. 9, and ‘rebuke’, v. 13. ‘Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers … Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith’.
  • It puts us right. It is ‘profitable … for correction’. Vine defines the word as ‘a restoration to an upright or right state’.4
  • It keeps us right. It is ‘profitable … for instruction in righteousness’. The word ‘instruction’, paideia, denotes the training of a child, including instruction; hence, discipline, correction, chastening. It is rendered ‘chastening’ in Hebrews chapter 12 verses 5, 7, and 8 JND.

What does this involve as far as we are concerned? This gives us the opportunity to say that Bible study is basically careful reading. We must therefore read the scriptures:

  • Prayerfully, see Ps. 119. 18. Notice, also, what Ezra did when he opened ‘the book’, Neh. 8. 5, 6.
  • Purposefully, that is planned reading. Remember that for planned reading you need planned time. Read at length but read in detail. Take time to think, Josh. 1. 8.
  • Positively, remembering that the scriptures should be allowed to inform our minds, warm our hearts, and direct our lives.
  • Primarily, not letting the commentaries take over! Make your own effort to understand the Bible.

What will be accomplished by the scriptures, v. 17?

‘That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works’. In the New Testament, the expression ‘man of God’ only occurs in Paul’s letters to Timothy. He is called a ‘man of God’ in 1 Timothy chapter 6 verse 11, but here the expression is used as a general term for every true follower of Christ.5 The scriptures will accomplish three things in the lives of men and women of God.

  • It will make them ‘perfect’ Not sinless perfection. Not until we get to heaven. The word artios means ‘complete’ RV, with the idea of spiritual maturity. In view of the fact that artios comes from arios, meaning ‘a limb’, it has often been rendered ‘all limbs present’. A mature Christian is someone in whose life and character everything is in place. Hebrews chapter 6 verse 1 is very positive about this, ‘let us go on unto perfection’. While a different word is used here, teleiotes, as opposed to artios, it has the same idea of maturity and completeness. This can only be achieved as we ‘continue’ or ‘abide’ in the things which we have learned and been assured of, v. 14.
  • It will make us ‘throughly furnished’. This can be rendered ‘fitted out’, meaning ‘ready to serve’. As J. R. Baker observes, ‘Nothing else is needed if the man of God has been fully equipped in this way; He will be competent to meet all exigencies’.6 The scriptures prepare us for the very best purpose in life, as the balance of the verse makes clear.
  • It will make us ‘throughly furnished unto all good works’. This brings it within the range of us all. Paul does not say, thoroughly furnished unto all good preaching. That would exclude a lot of Christians. The word ‘good’, agathos, means ‘beneficial in effect’. We have an excellent illustration in Dorcas. She was ‘full of good works and almsdeeds which she did’, Acts 9. 36. It would be a strange Christian who had no desire to have a ‘good effect’ for God. This can only be accomplished as we read and apply the word of God to our lives.



The KJV has ‘continue … in … them’.


See 2 Tim. 2. 2.


J. R. Baker, 2 Timothy, in K. Stapley and T. Wilson (eds.), What the Bible Teaches, Volume 3, John Ritchie, 2007.


W. E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Oliphants.


For its use in the Old Testament, see, for example, 1 Kings chapter 17 verse 24, of Elijah, and 2 Kings chapter 4 verse 9 of Elisha.


J. R. Baker, op. cit.


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