2 Timothy 3: Inspired for Godly Living

But you, on the other hand, must stand firm in the things you learned and believed.  You know who it was you received them from, and how from childhood you have known the holy writings which have the power to make you wise for salvation through faith in King Jesus. All scripture is breathed by God, and it is useful for teaching, for rebuke, for improvement, for training in righteousness, so that people who belong to God may be complete, fitted out and ready for every good work. (3:14-17)

As a teacher of the Bible, I love this passage.  This is exactly what I want my students to want for their own life.

It was actually a student who helped me see this passage in a new way.  Growing up this was the proof text one can run to “prove” that the Bible was inspired by God.  But this student saw these same words in a whole new light.  She was getting ready to graduate high school and her desire for herself was that she would remember and hang on to the lessons she had learned about God ever since kindergarten at our school so as to stay strong spiritually and live a life that glorifies God.  When I read her thoughts, I immediately realized she understood this passage so much better than I did.

Can a person extrapolate from this passage that the Bible was inspired by God?  Absolutely, though I will say that this passage is not nearly as clear as some think on how God inspired the Bible, how much is inspired, or whether God’s inspiration of the Bible also means it is truthful and literally factual about all it discusses.

But to make this passage all about inspiration misses the point.  Paul has a much bigger point, and one more immediately practical than an intellectual idea about truthfulness.  Timothy needs to hang on to the Scriptures because they are a significant way God equips us for godly living.  There is a life we need to live and the Scriptures lead us to that life.  The Scriptures are the vehicle not the point in this passage.  Sadly, it would be entirely possible to adopt a belief about inspiration from this passage and miss that God is actually looking for something else.

What do you think?

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Categories: 2 Timothy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “2 Timothy 3: Inspired for Godly Living

  1. Melanie

    The Message renders v. 17 this way:
    “Through the Word, we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.”

    I like the idea that scriptures are more than instructions; they shape us and fit us for Kingdom work!

  2. “Anyone who wants to live all out for Christ is in a lot of trouble; there’s no getting around it.”

    At least Paul is saying it plain. The way of Christ is not the primrose garden path. It is too easy to think that when hard times come that I must be doing something wrong. Some times that may be true. But at other times it might mean that I am doing something right.

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