“All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Before reading any further, pause for a moment, and ask yourself if you agree with the statement made in these verses. What does it mean to you?
Reading the Bible requires a desire to understand it, beyond that which will be taught by most everyday preachers. Often, we have to read the same verse over and over again before we are able to grasp what it is saying. And even then, this really only happens when we break it down, word by word, looking at everything, based on the context in which it was written. Understanding history and culture is important as well. And then, of course, is the timeline. When was it written?
Saul (Paul) is writing here about scripture, telling us that it is not only good to learn, good to live by and good to use as a way to correct unbecoming behavior, but that it is necessary to be a complete man of God. Without it, we are not properly equipped. So, what scripture is he talking about? The New Testament wasn’t written yet.
What we’re reading in today’s verses is just a portion of a letter that Paul wrote to Timothy. Although it ultimately made it into the Bible, it wasn’t scripture at the time he was writing it. The scripture Paul is talking about is what too many people like to refer to as the “Old Testament,” as if something else came along later to replace it. The reality is that is was completed with the books of Matthew through Revelation, in order to reveal everything that was previously concealed.
Anyone who knows me already knows my position on the importance of scripture. My Bible starts with Genesis and ends with Revelation. To me, it is all meaningful and true. I read it as a single entity, breathed out by God, for the same reasons that Paul so eloquently explains.
And because I accept everything in it, I also must accept something else that Paul says in this very same letter. “Avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead into more and more ungodliness” (2 Timothy 2:16). He also writes that we should “not quarrel about words” (2 Timothy 2:14). And he finally sums it up in another letter, this time written to Titus. He says, “But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned” (Titus 3:9-11).
Paul’s God-inspired words are truth. There is no point to quarreling about scripture. It is a complete waste of time. First, it is very difficult to convince someone that they might be misunderstanding something that they’ve believed their whole lives, because that is what they were taught. And second, our ability to know the truth is only as powerful as our desire to know it. Only when we truly want the true meaning of God’s word to enter our heart will it actually happen. Until then, we will believe what we choose to believe. This is why we must constantly pray for understanding.
I have spent a lot of time reading and praying over verses such as today’s verses from Paul’s letter to Timothy. I believe that the meaning has entered my heart, because that is were I want it. So I’ll ask you to once again read these verses, and to decide if you agree with the statement he is making. It doesn’t matter what it means to me. The question is, what does it mean to you?
Have a great day everyone!