Page 5 - July 2018 - Truth & Tidings
P. 5

With one hand, he takes the holy writings,   up Scripture (“every Scripture”)? Given
        the revered Jewish Scriptures, God’s Word   that his purpose here is to emphasize the
        to his ancient people; with the other he   inspiration and usefulness of both Old and
        takes the apostolic teachings that Timothy   New Testament Scripture, it seems likely
        had received. Then he brings them together   that “all Scripture” is the best rendering.
        under a single – and singular heading –   A further point of disagreement in the
        graphe, “Scripture.” This word was often   passage is the way in which the adjec-
        used in the NT to describe the OT Scrip-  tive “God breathed” connects to the “all
        tures in part or in whole. Peter used it to   Scripture.” Is it attributive (“all inspired
        describe the epistles of Paul (2Peter 3:16),   Scripture is also profitable …”) or predicate
        and in 1 Timothy 5:18 Paul applied it to a   (“all Scripture is inspired and profitable”)?
        quotation from Luke’s gospel. Here, Paul   The grammatical arguments involved are
        is using it in a sense that subsumes these   not for the faint of heart, but the evidence
        usages – as a term to describe the whole   overwhelmingly supports the latter read-
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        Bible – Old Testament and New. The truth   ing.  This conclusion is supported by the
        of God communicated by the apostles is   wider argument of the passage. Paul is not
        placed on an equal footing with OT revela-  saying that the bits of Scripture that are
        tion (just as it is in 2Peter 3:2). The crucial   inspired are profitable. That would give no
        point is clear: whether Old or New, all   certainty to Timothy, no confidence to the
        Scripture is given by inspiration of God   man of God. Rather, he is saying that all of
        (literally “God-breathed,” an expression   Scripture, Old and New, is God-breathed
        we will think about in a following article,   and, by virtue of its Divine origin, is prof-
        Lord willing). And precisely because all   itable for every need of the man of God.
        Scripture is God-breathed, it is profitable   This verse, then, is clearly teaching the
        for the man of God.                  plenary and verbal inspiration of the Word
          This is a crucial statement for our under-  of God. Or, to say the same thing without
        standing of this passage, of the pastoral   the theological terminology, it tells us that
        epistles, and for how we read our Bibles.   the Bible is the Word of God in the words
        Because of its importance, it is worth taking   of God. So, although we never joined the
        a while to look at this verse in a little detail.   large crowds or the small groups who
                                             listened to the Lord Jesus as He spoke,
          It is important to notice the force of the   and although the apostles’ voices have
        “all.” There has been considerable debate   long since fallen silent, we need not feel
        among translators and commentators as   as though we have missed out. The Bible
        to whether this “all” should be best un-  that we hold in our hands is warm with
        derstood as meaning “all” or “every.” The   the breath of God. Its words are His words,
        differences between the two renderings are   and its truth, His truth.
        not major, but the choice does nuance our   That this passage has enormous implica-
        understanding of the passage. Whether   tions for our understanding of Scripture is
        Paul is saying that every Scripture is in-  patent. But it has implications also for our
        spired or that all Scripture is inspired does   understanding of the pastoral epistles. As
        not alter the fact that this is a clear state-
                                               See, for an exhaustive account of the
        ment of the inspiration of Scripture. But   1 grammatical argument, Daniel B. Wallace, “The
        is he speaking about Scripture as a whole   Relation of θεόπνευστος to γραφή in 2 Timothy
        (“all Scripture”) or the texts which make   3:16” available at Bible.org.
                                                                   Continued on p. 223
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