The Significance of the God-Breathed Word

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

When we read this text, the first question which might come to mind is this: what is Scripture? Paul used the Greek word grafh which Thayer defines as “a writing, thing written.” Jamieson-Fausset-Brown states, “The Greek is never used of writings in general, but only of the sacred Scriptures.” In context, Paul identified the Old Testament as Scripture (2 Timothy 3:15), but there is no reason to limit the scope of his statement to the Old Testament. Peter refers identifies the writings of Paul as Scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16).

All Scripture is “inspired of God”. This is a compound word meaning “God-breathed.” The Bible is God-spoken; Scripture came from God, not man (2 Peter 1:20-21). The Bible is not just a good book with good words in it; it is God’s book; it is God’s word. Many times we find the words “God said,” or “the Lord said,” or “the word of the Lord came to…” Time and again, the Bible claims to be from God.

Since the Bible is a message from God, Paul identifies it as profitable or beneficial. It was given to supply us with direction for life and service before the Lord. Thus, Paul says it is “…profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…” Consider…

Profitable For Doctrine

Doctrine is another word for teaching. God’s word is filled with teaching on many, many topics. It teaches us about God, about our purpose in life, about loving and obeying God, and about doing good for others. The Scriptures instruct us on how to receive God’s mercy, how to worship the Lord, and how to abstain from sin. The Bible is very much the user manual for life. We would do well to read and follow it.

Profitable for Reproof.

The Greek word used here is elsewhere rendered “conviction” or “evidence.” This is about confronting error; about pointing out where we’ve missed the mark. Paul said, “…I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet.’” (Romans 7:7). Galatians 2 speaks of an occasion when Paul reproved Peter, who acted contrary to God’s will and led others astray in his hypocrisy. God’s word is given to reveal when we get off course in our walk before God.

Profitable for Correction.

It is not enough for sin to be exposed. It must be corrected. Not only does God’s word reveal when we’ve strayed, but it is given to straighten us out as well. The key is, we need to be willing to hear and obey. Paul spoke about the need to put off the old man and put on the new; to put off uncleanness, covetousness, anger, blasphemy, lying, etc., and to put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, forgiveness, love, etc. (Colossians 3:5-13; Ephesians 4:22-32). We need to leave the crooked ways behind and walk the straight way of God’s will.

Profitable for Instruction in righteousness.

This relates to all three aforementioned items. The instruction comes from the doctrine of God; it is needed because of the reproof of sin; and is the means whereby we are corrected. As such, this goes beyond mere knowledge. We need to learn to put God’s word into practice (Romans 2:13; James 1:22). As we are instructed by God’s word, we will become what God calls us to be.

2 Timothy 3:17 tells us what the end result will be if we learn the doctrine, receive the reproof, seek the correction, and follow the instruction. We will be complete. The Greek word carries the idea of “fitted, complete, perfect” (Thayer). Albert Barnes notes, “…the Scriptures have laid down the way which leads to perfection, and that if any one were perfect, he would find in the Scriptures all the instruction which he needed…”  We cannot be complete or fitted for God’s service apart from adherence to the Scriptures. But, if we will be students and followers of the divine text, Paul assures us we will be “…thoroughly equipped for every good work.” What a great statement! God’s word doesn’t just equip us; it thoroughly equips us. God’s word doesn’t just prepare us for some good works; it prepares us for every good work.

Friend, the Bible is the most important book in the world. Used rightly, it will lead us away from wickedness and sin and bring us to righteousness. Followed as it should be, it will prepare us for service before God in this life and unto eternal life.

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