Verses for July
This month we are memorizing 2 Timothy 3:16-17, which is part of
“Paul’s” advice to Timothy about how to handle malicious people (2 Tim
3:16 All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for
teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in
righteousness, 3:13 so that everyone who belongs to God
may be proficient, equipped for every good work.
The phrase, “so that” (hina),
points to the aim of scripture: To train everyone who belongs to God for
good works (3:17). In context, “Paul” is expressing confidence that
Timothy can cope with malicious people (3:1-5), live the divine life
(3:12), and reap salvation (3:15). Why? Because Timothy has been
trained by the scripture (3:15). There are three elements to clarify:
scripture” (pasa graphē.)
refers to the Hebrew Bible (the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament),
which was written prior to the time of Jesus, Paul, and Timothy. Only
later did the twenty-seven books of the New Testament, including 2
Timothy itself, come to be recognized as scripture.
Second, the phrase
“inspired by God” (theopneustos)
is formed by the words theos (God) and pneō
(to breathe). Scripture is inspired or “God-breathed.” It’s metaphor!
Since God doesn’t have lungs, we are asked to imagine the impossible,
God exhaling or breathing out scripture. However much we want it,
metaphor rules out a precise “theory of inspiration.” Rather, the writer
wants us to mull over the impossible image until we grasp its
significance for our lives.
I think of it this way: The Bible
contains the words of men (literally), which expresses the Word of God
(metaphorically). As with all human words, the Bible is culturally
conditioned. So, to be faithful to God, we must exercise critical reason
in interpreting, evaluating, and applying the human words to our
circumstances. But, as the Word of God, we have confidence by faith that
the Bible is sufficient to bring us to salvation, to make us wise
regarding peace, justice, and righteousness.
Third, Paul identifies how scripture
is useful or profitable: (a) For “teaching”
(didaskalia) or guiding us in the truth; (b) For
“reproof” (elegmos) or
helping us see what we need to change; (c) For “correction”
which refers to restoring or repairing us to what we were intended to
be, and (d) For “training” (paidia),
which refers to coaching us in disciplined ways so that we may become
mature in Christ.
May the word
of Christ dwell in you (Col