2 Timothy 3:16-17
2 Timothy 3:16
2 Timothy 3:17
Main Point Summary
The Word is breathed by God and is profitable in order that the Christian might be made complete.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
πᾶσα γραφὴ θεόπνευστος
The entirety of Scripture is breathed out by God
and is profitable
[that is it is profitable] for teaching
πρὸς παιδείαν τὴν ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ,
and for training in righteousness,
ἵνα ἄρτιος ᾖ ὁ τοῦ θεοῦ ἄνθρωπος,
for the purpose that the man of God might be complete,
πρὸς πᾶν ἔργον ἀγαθὸν ἐξηρτισμένος.
having been fully equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16, is easily the clearest statement regarding the inspiration of the Word of God in all of the Scriptures, and as such it, is an oft used memory verse and a favorite of bibliology sections of systematic theology texts. While such discussion of the nature of Christian Scripture is good and necessary, we can tend to leave out v17 which, as a subordinate clause, expresses the purpose for which God inspired and made profitable the Scriptures: namely that the servant of God may be complete by having been fully equipped for every good work. In context, we can see from 2 Timothy 3:14-15 that Paul's desire is to spur Timothy on to endurance in God's redemptive plan of salvation which he learned from the Scriptures. In short, Paul wants Timothy to cling to gospel hope. In vv16-17, then, Paul expounds on why exactly Timothy can be confident in the Holy Scriptures and remain steadfast in gospel hope: because the Scriptures are God-breathed and beneficial for teaching, rebuke, correction, and training in righteousness, all in order that God's servants may be complete, having been equipped for every good work. As I study the Word of God in an academic setting, I need to cling to v17 and realize the goal of intensive study is never only the acquisition of knowledge; rather, the end goal is my equipping for good works unto completion. Put differently, we might say that the goal is my holiness, and as I grow in Christlikeness, I will be equipped for all that God has for me. During seminary, I think I can be especially prone to neglect the teaching, reproof, correction, and discipline of the Scriptures I purport to hold in such high esteem. If my head swells but my heart shrivels, then what good is my study? What does it profit a man to acquire all sorts of knowledge, even important exegetical tools like diagramming, arcing, and phrasing, while ignoring, perhaps even losing, his own holiness? Consider 1 Thessalonians 4:3 which adds insight here by corroborating that the will of God is indeed our holiness (cf. Rom 6:19; Heb 12:14). As I strive to "rightly handl[e] the word of truth" (2 Tim 2:15) I cannot forget that God's good design is that as his inspired Word teaches, reproofs, corrects, and disciplines me, I should be more and more conformed to the image of his Son (Rom 8:29) which can then — and only then — overflow in good works like preaching, reproving, rebuking, exhorting, teaching, evangelism, and so on (2 Tim 4:1-5 cf. Eph 2:10) In John 17:17 Jesus implores the Father to "Sanctify them in the truth" while asserting that God's "word is truth." So if the Word is Truth, and we are to be made holy by Truth, then as we study the Scriptures for any number of purposes, the foundational goal of our study should be holiness; holiness for both ourselves and holiness for those who are to benefit from our study,. As a steward of the Word in your God-given sphere of influence, beseech the Father to keep you heart alive to the glories of the Word! Pray that God would help you desire his Word more than gold, and ask that the unsearchable riches of his Truth might be sweeter to you than honey! (Ps 19:10) We must never settle for propositions that clutter the head without moving into the heart. B.B. Warfield warns: The words which tell you of God's terrible majesty or of his glorious goodness may come to be mere words to you— Hebrew and Greek words, with etymologies, and inflections, and connections in sentences. The reasonings which establish to you the mysteries of his saving activities may come to be to you mere logical paradigms, with premises and conclusions, fitly framed, no doubt, and triumphantly cogent, but with no further significance to you than their formal logical conclusiveness.  May this never be true of those of us who have tasted and seen the goodness of the Lord. As we study, may God keep our hearts tenderly warm to his sanctifying Word which is able to make us complete by equipping us for every good work.  Benjamin B. Warfield, "The Religious Life of Theological Students" TMSJ 6/2 (1995): 181-95.