Posts Tagged With: inspiration

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

1 Corinthians 7: Marriage Isn’t Easy

This is a hard chapter to know how best to understand and apply what Paul says.  Yet, because it is talking about marriage, it is one that a lot of Christians end up in with some frequency.  I am afraid I have neither the space nor knowledge necessary to unravel all of the knots.  My only goal today is to lay done two boundary lines that might help us know where a good interpretation should land.  Unfortunately, these also produce more questions.

1.  Paul makes no bones about it, a lot of what he has to say in this chapter is only his opinion, as wise as that may be (7:6, 12, 25, 40). Paul himself says that much here is not binding on the reader:

I’m not saying this as a command, but as a concession. (7:6)

Maybe it helps to remember that verse 1 indicates this was a response from Paul about a question they had asked.  Could it be that we have uninspired opinions like these in the Bible?  Well, that is a Pandora’s Box if we agree, isn’t it?  It gets right down to the roots of what we mean when we say the Bible is truth.  Maybe we should view it like this?  I take seriously what certain church leaders say when I am seeking advice from them.  I don’t assume it is unquestionable and inspired truth, but I also feel like I better have a good reason not to take seriously their wisdom.

2.  The teachings in this chapter appear to be based on a premise that did not turn out to be the case: this present world is coming to an end very soon.

Just at the moment we are in the middle of a very difficult time. . . . The present situation won’t last long. . . . The pattern of this world, you see, is passing away. (7:26, 29, 31)

Many scholars believe this indicates that Paul had a view that Jesus would be returning in the near future.  Hence, people should “remain before God in the state in which they were called” (7:24; c.f., 17, 26, 40) because soon our present relationships would be over.  Of course, it has been 2000 years since Paul said that.  That is not exactly “very soon.”  One can say, “But Jesus could come any minute, so we should live like Jesus’ return is right around the corner.”  Maybe that is what Paul meant.  The problem with that logic is that, then, we all should do what this chapter says: remain in the situation we are present in — married, unmarried, widowed, enslaved, etc.  Christians don’t do that.

So, what do we do with a chapter like this?  I guess I prefer to look for big concepts that I also find elsewhere in the Bible and hang on to those.  Such as:  Marriage is a blessing.  God has provided a partner for each of us so that a physical and sexual life can be lived with purity and blessing.  At the same time, family is not the most important thing in life if you are a Christian; practically, marriage and a family does pull a person away from preaching the gospel and ministering to churches, as Paul says here (7:34).

If you are interested in reading more about how to interpret the Bible, check out this series of posts on my other blog.  These posts won’t answer all of our questions but they will show that understanding and applying the Bible to our lives today is not always as easy as we have thought.

What do you think about this complicated chapter?

Categories: 1 Corinthians | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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