“Preach the God-Breathed Scripture”
2 Timothy 3:16-4:5
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of 2 Timothy 3.1-4.5 Part 3
Turn in your Bibles to 2 Timothy 3. The last couple of weeks we have been detailing this chapter along with verses 1-5 of chapter 4. We were doing so in order to establish for Northlight Baptist Church a philosophy of ministry. So our study of this passage together is one of the several passages we will investigate together in order to develop a mission statement, philosophy of ministry, as well as practical ways in which we can practice the Scripture.
If you recall, we have three major commands in this passage. Verses 1-5 encompass this first major command, which is actually made up of 2 commands. One is found in verse one and the other in verse five: both of these are related. Timothy is to first realize, verse one, that certain types of men exist and are actually the cause of the difficult times and then, v. 5, Timothy is to avoid these men… that is, he should stay clear of their spiritual influence. These 2 commands make up the first great command of the passage.
Paul describes these men, these false teachers and their adherents, in verses 1-5.
Second Timothy 3:6-13 continues Paul’s description of these false teachers and those who listen to them. Beginning in verse 14, we have Paul’s second major command. This is the passage that we detailed together last time. Paul exhorts Timothy, in contrast to the evil men of his day, to “continue.” The evil men get worse and worse, but he shouldn’t react in any way to the false teaching, but he should continue. And it’s what Timothy should continue in that is of primary interest to us today.
Paul exhorts Timothy “to continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of.” And after reading that, of course, you don’t know quite what that is, so Paul elaborates further in verse 15 that these things that he has learned and become convinced of are the “sacred writings.”
And last time we learned a motivation for Timothy to continue in the sacred writings, the Scripture. The motivation for his continuing in the Scripture was his being acutely aware of who it was who actually taught the Scripture to him as it states in verse 14, “continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of…” Now as a motivation, Paul says to Timothy, as a motivation to continue in the things you have learned, to continue in the Scripture, you should know something…. You should know who it was who taught you, “knowing from whom you have learned the Scripture.” And naturally, last time, we emphasized our role as members of a family. Children who are regenerated by the Holy Spirit will be motivated by the Holy Spirit to continue in what their parents teach them from the Scripture because of the very fact that it was the parents who taught the children. So we emphasized last time the need for parents to teach their children the Bible and for children to learn from their parents the Scripture and be motivated to continue in what they have learned from the Scripture.
And the passage before us gives us two doctrines found in the Scripture in which Timothy is to continue. Verse 15, Paul elaborates on one of the doctrines that Timothy is to continue in as a relates to the Scripture. Timothy is to continue in the doctrine of salvation. At the end of verse 15 Paul says, “which, referring to the Old Testament, are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
And we saw last time a specific prophecy at the end of Daniel 9 and how that gives wisdom concerning who the Messiah is that it is indeed, end verse 15, Christ Jesus. It is indeed Jesus who is the Christ, that is, the Messiah.
And that’s where he left off last time. Paul continues in this passage to give Timothy the second doctrine that he is to continue in as it relates to the Scripture. What is Timothy to continue in? Timothy is to continue in the doctrine of salvation as it’s found in Scripture. And not only that, Timothy is to continue in the Scripture’s teaching of sanctification, the Scriptures teaching concerning our progression in godliness. We find this in verses 16-17.
And because of these two doctrines, salvation and sanctification, Timothy is to chapter 4:2, preach the word. That is, he is to preach salvation and he is to preach sanctification.
So today, we will investigate this second doctrine that Timothy is to continue in, sanctification. And too, we will also discover Paul’s final command in the passage, “preach the word.” Much of the message this morning will be “preach the God breathed Scriptures.” But first, we will talk about this second doctrine that Timothy is to continue in, found in verses 16-17.
So, here in v. 16, Paul comments on the nature of Scripture. Notice what he says, beginning of verse 16, that all Scripture is inspired by God. And then, he goes on to help us understand that, because it is inspired by God it is therefore profitable for four things: It is profitable, v. 16, for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. And the profit we receive from these four things have a particular purpose in mind, as it’s found in verse 17. The purpose for the scriptural profit from four things is so that v. 17…that the man of God, that is, the pastor of an assembly and through him, the assembly itself, may be adequate, that is, equipped for every good work. The idea there is that, verse 16 internally, his character and spirit, are taught, reproved, corrected, and trained in righteousness for the purpose that, verse 17, he be complete and adequate for the external works, all the good works that should come about after having been internally and spiritually instructed.
TRANS: So what is it going to take for someone to have the right internal disposition before God, one that is teachable, one that receives reproof, receives correction and receives training in righteousness? What does it take for someone to be adequate in the sight of God…for someone to be equipped for every good work in the sight of God?
What is it going to take to live the kind of life that is pleasing to God and that properly responds to what God demands?
Each Book of the Bible is God-breathed
It is going to take something from God. God has to do something in order for us, who are such fallen and wretchedly sinful creatures, so that we can be adequate.
And so God did something. He sent the Scripture to us. Just as he says here, 3:16, “all Scripture is inspired by God.” Let’s talk a little bit about what that means.
The grammatically precise way of translating this in verse 16 is, “every Scripture is God breathed.” Now, that has a slightly different meaning than the way it is translated in the majority of translations. The way it’s translated in most of our versions gives you the indication that it is the entirety of the Bible under discussion, “All Scripture” that is, the “entire Bible” is inspired. And of course that is a true statement. However, “every” gives a slightly different understanding. Translating this with “every Scripture” instead of “all Scripture” is in keeping with Paul’s description of the Scripture in verse 15; it’s in keeping with the context. Look at 3:15. There, Paul calls the Scripture, “the sacred writings” plural, “writings.” So in other words, there is something about the Bible that is in a plurality. And it’s whatever all those things are that make up the Scripture as a whole that is really what is under discussion here.
So the question would be this then, “What is plural about the entirety of the Bible? What is it that makes up the whole Scripture?”
Well, the Bible is clearly made up of individual what? The Bible is made up of individual … What we would call… books. Paul and Timothy would have had what? They’re Bible wasn’t put together a nice neat little package like we have today. They were written in individual scrolls. They had 39 scrolls that made up the Old Testament. They would roll up each one of those scrolls and they would perhaps have all 39 of those scrolls in one place. So, it would be very easy to think about the entire Scripture as being made up of series of 39 scrolls.
So, clearly then, what Paul is focusing on then is every scroll of the Bible…every scroll that makes up the entire Scripture is what? Inspired.
So Paul wants us to understand that the book of Genesis is breathed out by God, Exodus? Breathed out by God. Leviticus? Breathed out by God. And on and on…
APP: Now, how should we apply this to a church philosophy of ministry? Every book of the Bible is singled out as having been breathed out by God, what ought a church to be doing then? We ought to be giving attention, then, to every book of the Bible. And we should be giving attention to every book of the Bible because that’s how God gave them. So in other words, it would be very appropriate for a ministry to preach whole books of the Bible in a single message. Or a church would do well to study how each book of the Bible contributes to those four things in verse 16. For example, how does the book of the Psalms reprove us? Or, how does the book of Proverbs instruct us? Or how does even the book of Leviticus train us in righteousness?
This is why, I have tossed around the idea of going through the entirety of the New Testament in five years and then complementing that teaching with 1 to 5 messages on each book of the Old Testament.
Now, you realize that under discussion here is the Old Testament. At this point when Paul wrote to Timothy, the New Testament had not yet been completed. However, clearly the New Testament is also inspired by God. But how do we know that? This passage in 2 Timothy is limited to the inspiration of the Old Testament. How we know that the New Testament is also inspired by God?
We know this in three very clear ways. First, turn over with me to 2 Peter 3:14-16 (NASB)
What we will discover here is that Peter testifies that what Paul wrote was Scripture. Peter will testify that Paul’s writings are Scripture. 2 Peter 3:14-16.
14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things [destruction of the old universe and the bringing in of the new heaven and the new earth…since you look for these things…], be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.
Notice what is under discussion at the end of verse 15. It’s what Paul has written. In verse 16, and all of his letters. Continuing there, Peter admits that some of the things Paul wrote were, look at verse 16 again, hard to understand. There are those that read what Paul writes and because they are, as Peter says here, untaught and unstable, they twist, that is, they distort what Paul wrote. And here’s the key in this passage, they distort Paul’s writings just like they do the “rest of the Scriptures.” So Peter is here equating Paul’s writings with the rest of the Scriptures, the remaining scrolls that we have as Scripture. In other words, both are Scripture. But Paul wrote God-breathed Scripture and the Old Testament is Scripture as well. The untaught twist the OT just like they do Paul’s writings; so, Peter is saying that both are Scripture.
Not only does Peter testify of Paul’s writings, that they were indeed given from God, but Paul himself claims that what he was receiving was indeed from the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 4:15 (NASB) For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.). Paul said he was speaking by the word of the Lord. “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord…”
Now, probably the most weighty argument in favor of the inspiration of the New Testament is found in John 14 and 16. Let’s turn over to John 14:26.
This passage is commonly referred to as the upper room discourse. It is Jesus speaking to his disciples the night in which he was betrayed. If you look at John chapter 14:26, Jesus explains how it will come about that the disciples, the apostles, are able to record the New Testament. How is it that the apostles were able to record the NT?
John 14:26 (NASB) “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” Ah, I see then…the Holy Spirit brings Christ’s words to their remembrance. That sounds like the gospels are inspired then…
Turnover two more chapters to 16:13-14. Again, the same upper room discourse, Jesus says additionally John 16:13-14 (NASB) 13 “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.
Thus, Jesus is promising that the apostles would be, v.13, guided into all truth by the Holy Spirit, not just what Jesus said to them; not just the gospels, but the entire NT. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would bring it to their remembrance everything that Jesus said to them in ch. 14 and here the Holy Spirit will guide into all truth as well as reveal future things to the apostles.
So, we have here then some of the Scripture’s teaching concerning itself. We call the Scripture’s teaching concerning itself bibliology. The Bible is teaching here that the entirety of the old and new Testaments are inspired because the Holy Spirit guided the apostles into all truth. Therefore, there is no more Scripture breathed out by God after the apostle’s death. Jesus promised that he would guide the apostles in all the truth. Therefore, because this promise is made specifically to the apostles, the production of inspired writings ceased after the last living apostle’s death, which was the apostle John.
So after the apostle John died, no more God-breathed Scripture was produced. Therefore, the Quran, the book of Mormon and any religious documents that any other quasi-religiously Christian religion may say is from God, is not from God. The promises of John 14:26 and John 16:13-14 are clearly given specifically to the apostles and to no one else.
Now, what does it actually mean then that each book of the Bible is inspired? What is inspiration? Typically, when we think of something being “inspired” we think of somebody having a bright idea. Somebody might say something like, “I can’t write my poetry or draw or paint something without some inspiration.”
Now, that’s not what we’re talking about here. Paul is not saying in 2 Timothy 3 that the writers of the New Testament had a bunch of bright ideas strung together. That’s not it at all.
The word here translated inspired, as I have already alluded to, can literally be translated “God-breathed.” That’s literally the word. It has 2 words formed into 1 word. It has the word for God in it and it has the word for “breathed” in it. Thus, God-breathed.
Now, various false teachers have tried to twist these words here to make it say something that it does not. We’re not going to go over all of those false teachings, but we do have to further clarify that what this passages teaches refers to a result of what happened. In other words, inspiration is the state of Scripture. Inspiration is the effect of the cause. The effect is that the Scripture is God-breathed. That’s what we have, is God-breathed books of the Bible. What we have is in fact produced by God’s activity. Because of what God has done with certain men in the past, we now have the Scripture. The Scripture, because of God’s activity, can be considered to be God breathed. God is the author of every book of the Bible.
But how did that happen? If we have the effect, inspiration, if we have the effect in our possession today, what was the cause of that effect? How did God breath out the Scripture? To answer that question we need to turn back a couple chapters to 2 Peter 1:20-21. 2 Peter chapter 1.
So the question is how did God breath out the Scripture? The answer to that question is that God supernaturally superintended over the writers of Scripture.
Let’s read it 2 Peter 1:20-21 (NASB) 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation [in other words, prophecy did not come from men who were just trying to figure things out on their own… It didn’t happen that way …v. 21…because], 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will [see, it wasn’t just somebody thinking something up… Well, how did it happen then, how did prophecy come about….by…keep going], …men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
So, you see then that men were “moved” by the Holy Spirit. And then they spoke from God.
Now, this word for “moved” is very interesting word. This word was used in ancient Greek literature to refer to the action of wind in the sail of the boat. When that wind blows, it moves along the boat. It works the same way with the Holy Spirit and the men who wrote the Bible. The Holy Spirit supernaturally “moved” them, he carried them along to write exactly what they ought to write.
So it’s because of this then that we believe in the total accuracy and inerrancy of every word that those original authors wrote and that therefore we believe that the whole Bible, then, is inspired by God and totally inerrant in everything it teaches, whether it’s historical, scientific, cultural, or spiritual in nature.
And also because every book of the Bible is God-breathed it is, as Paul says to Timothy in chapter 3:15, if you would turn back there now, 2 Timothy 3…because every the book of the Bible is God breathed it is also “profitable.”
Every book of the Bible is profitable, it is beneficial or advantageous, first of all, for … what does it say there…the Bible is profitable for …. teaching. Each book can give you the right information concerning who God is and what he requires of you. Every book of the Bible is also beneficial to you… to convict you of your sin, that is, reproof. Every book of the Bible can be used by God to convict you that you are a sinner and that you that such and such is indeed a sin.
The Bible doesn’t leave it there. It will also inform you how to correct that wrong behavior to make it good, as it says there… correction. It’ll tell you what was wrong and it will tell you how to make it right.
But that’s not all. You will also get information concerning how to keep it right. You will get training in righteousness. So the Bible is profitable to instruct you concerning doctrine, by telling you where you’re wrong, telling you how to make it right, and also telling you how to keep it right, which is training in righteousness.
This word for training at the end of verse 16 was used in the ancient world to refer to what parents do for their children as they grow up. We give them child training. We use various means and methods in order to guide them down the path of righteousness. We use discipline, we use constant verbal instruction, we use praise, we use motivation in order to give our children rigorous discipline and training in the path of righteousness.
And this is very fitting terminology to use for Timothy, considering that Paul has just alluded to Timothy’s childhood in vv. 14-15. This is again a further remembrance for Timothy to recall his childhood training as he sat at the feet of his grandmother and his mother to learn the Old Testament.
Now the Holy Spirit’s purpose for the Scripture doesn’t stop there. Isn’t that great! Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, it doesn’t stop with just receiving the profit of the Bible’s instruction, internally, sensing reproof or correction. It doesn’t stop with being trained in righteousness….no no, it doesn’t stop there…
The Scripture is also equipped by the power of the Holy Spirit with the whole point of these 4 things. These things are means to an end. It has a purpose for the man of God,… The Scriptures purpose for the man of God is that he may be adequate. Adequacy is then further defined in the verse to refer to being “equipped for every good work.”
If the main preacher and teacher of an assembly subjects himself to the Scripture and gives the Scripture the opportunity to inform him of every one of those four things in verse 16, then he will be, verse 17 adequate, that is, equipped for every good work. He will then be able to work out what he has learned from the Scripture. So the clear goal of the Scripture is for each person in any assembly to be equipped for doing good works.
That is why I have emphasized so much Ephesians 4. That the pastor teacher of an assembly is given for the equipping of the saints that they might do the work of the ministry. I, by God’s design, am here to lay before you the teaching of the Bible. And in so doing, you will receive what we have in verse 16. As the Holy Spirit begins to use these times that we have together in His Word, you will begin to be more and more equipped to work out righteous works. And that’s the purpose of the Scripture that you would be equipped for every good work.
But it only comes from the teaching of the Scripture! You must have the Scripture and you must have the teaching of the Bible in order to be sufficiently equipped in order to do good works.
Now this is the teaching of this passage concerning the Bible. So in this last section, v. 14, just to recap…Paul exhorts Timothy to continue in the Scripture. He must continue in the doctrine of salvation is found in the Scripture v. 15….and he is to continue in the doctrine of sanctification as it’s found in the Scripture, in vv.16-17.
If the man of God understands that this is the nature of Scripture, what ought his response be in a religiously apostate culture such as we have today and such as Timothy had his day, as described in 3:1-5?
If we live in a religiously apostate culture, and we do, then our response ought not to be to develop more programs to get more people in the door. We shouldn’t be focused on all these different causes that society may deem honorable. We must stick to what the Scriptures teach about what we’re supposed to be doing.
The Scriptures teach us in this passage that we ought to be doing is preaching the word.
And this is no light commandment. Notice how Paul puts it chapter 4:1. He’s going to give the man of God a solemn charge. Paul’s wanting to give the utmost weight to the command as it’s found in verse two, preach the word. Notice how he adds on to the weightiness and the seriousness of this charge. He does so in two different ways.
First, he solemnly charges, that is he gives a weighty command and he does so by invoking the presence of God and of Christ Jesus. “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus.”
He exhort us as if is in the very presence of God. That’s a sobering reality. Paul’s drawing our attention to the very fact that we live in God’s presence and that he is exhorting us as if God was listening in, in a very special way. Paul also exhorts Timothy to preach the word as if in the presence of Christ. And notice what it says here about Christ… how sobering is this for a preacher or teacher? Paul exhorts Timothy in the presence of Christ…and Christ is the one Timothy, now don’t you forget about this Timothy, Christ is the one who will judge the living and the dead. He judges the dead, Timothy.
Paul’s 3rd command in the passage is a solemn charge by, not only invoking the presence of God and of Christ who is to judge the living and the dead, but Paul also solemnly charges the man of God to preach the word because of the second coming of Christ.
Notice the end of verse one of chapter 4. Paul says I solemnly charge you…end of the verse… by his appearing and his kingdom. The fact that Christ is coming again and could appear on the scene of human history at any point and because of the fact that his kingdom will then be set up on this Earth for 1000 years… Because of these things Timothy you preach the word!!!!!! I mean, I couldn’t get any more serious than that!!!!
Timothy is, verse two, to be ready in season and out of season; that is, he is to be ready to preach the word whether it’s convenient or not.
And Timothy is to do in his preaching what the Scriptures themselves are designed to do. Notice what he says the rest of verse two: to reprove. Remember, chapter 3:16, that’s one of the ways in which the Scripture is profitable. Same thing with rebuke in 4:2. Timothy is to exhort. But he’s not to do so in a way that’s harsh or unloving or unkind to his people. He should understand that the nature of man needs, as verse two says, great patience. Timothy should have great patience and his time of preaching should be instructional; with instruction Paul says there.
So, the man of God here as he stands behind this pulpit and he preaches to you … he should be reproving you and rebuking you and exhorting you and he should be patient when he does it and he should also give you the Scriptures doctrine; that’s instruction.
But why should the preacher do this? Why should the preacher preach in this way?
The reason for that is found in verse three. Why should the preacher preach and have as his content what is found in verse two because, verse three, professing believers will have a tendency not to endure that kind of preaching.
In other words, the preacher should preach that way because there will come a time when people will not be able to endure healthy teaching, or sound doctrine.
So it would work this way then. If a preacher fails to preach doctrinally and reprovingly with exhortation and with great patience, then an assembly will start to see a lack of endurance of sound doctrine when that kind of teaching is presented. If a preacher starts going down the path of telling really clever stories and starts to fill the content of his preaching up with more and more pithy comments and entertaining jokes, he will find his congregation being more and more opposed to healthy teaching. So, if a man of God has a change of heart and he begins to preach doctrinally and reprovingly, the congregation may very well fire that man, and as it says in verse three, they will want to have their ears tickled so that you may get somebody else in there who will teach them that their own desires are ok. When that happens, verse four, they will turn their ears away from the truth and will turn aside to myths.
You remember what those desires are that they have. They get teachers according to their own desires, it says there. What desires? They are the same desires as what we have at the beginning of chapter 3. And the three primary desires in that passage are that they love themselves, they love their money, and that they love the pleasure that money purchases. And so teachers will begin to infiltrate into congregations that help people do and practice these sorts of things.
So in effect what Paul is saying Timothy is this, “Preach, Timothy preach! You better preach because poor preaching promotes “people” passions.” Poor preaching promotes the people’s passions. I got 5 P’s in a row there didn’t I? Poor preaching promotes the passions of people. In other words, poor preaching is non-doctrinal preaching, preaching that does not promote, verse three, “sound doctrine.” Poor preaching, non-doctrinal preaching, will by default promote the very sinful passions of people. The preacher may not even be aware of what he’s doing. He is just telling some good stories and trying to help people enjoy coming to church. But what he’s doing in effect is helping people love their sin, though he may not be actively teaching people to do that! As Pastor Jim would say, I didn’t put that in your Bible last night!
So this is why, here at Northlight Baptist Church, we are committed to what is called expositional preaching. That is, we are taking every verse, and every passage of Scripture, every book, and detailing every single important word and important phrase and trying to draw out of it the Scriptures teaching concerning reproof. We want to know in what way it can correct us…or how can we be exhorted by this phrase of Scripture? We’re going to give great attention to the Bible because if a ministry fails to teach and preach sound doctrine, it will lead to a religious apostate culture! And may God forbid that that ever happen to Northlight Baptist Church.
So, whoever teaches or preaches from this pulpit will be a man and he will be a man of God who is committed drawing out exactly what the Scriptures teach. Only men of God who are committed to the expositional method will be standing at this pulpit.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of 2 Timothy 3.1-4.5 Part 3
Otherwise, you will get a slow downward progression…a progression toward non-doctrinal preaching. This will result in the promotion of people’s sinful passions and when people begin to see that their sinful passions can remain within the congregation of God’s people and that they are not rebuked in any way, they will then want to accumulate teachers who will actively help them promote their sinful passions. It all starts when the preacher fails to preach without doctrine. So, God the Holy Spirit through Paul is telling our congregation, “you preach the word!” Preach the God breathed Scripture!