on 2-timothy 3 :16
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God - This sentence is not well translated; the original πασα γραφη θεοκνευστος ωφιλιμος προς διδασκαλιαν, κ. τ. λ. should be rendered: Every writing Divinely inspired is profitable for doctrine, etc. The particle και, and, is omitted by almost all the versions and many of the fathers, and certainly does not agree well with the text. The apostle is here, beyond all controversy, speaking of the writings of the Old Testament, which, because they came by Divine inspiration, he terms the Holy Scriptures, 2 Timothy 3:15; and it is of them alone that this passage is to be understood; and although all the New Testament came by as direct an inspiration as the Old, yet, as it was not collected at that time, not indeed complete, the apostle could have no reference to it.
The doctrine of the inspiration of the sacred writings has been a subject of much discussion, and even controversy, among Christians. There are two principal opinions on the subject:
1. That every thought and word were inspired by God, and that the writer did nothing but merely write as the Spirit dictated.
2. That God gave the whole matter, leaving the inspired writers to their own language; and hence the great variety of style and different modes of expression.
But as I have treated this subject at large in my Introduction to the Four Gospels and Acts of the Apostles, I must refer the reader to that work.
Is profitable for doctrine - To teach the will of God, and to point out Jesus Christ till he should come.
For reproof - To convince men of the truth; and to confound those who should deny it, particularly the Jews.
For correction - Προς επανορθωσιν· For restoring things to their proper uses and places, correcting false notions and mistaken views.
Instruction in righteousness - Προς παιδειαν την εν δικαιοσυνῃ. For communicating all initiatory religious knowledge; for schooling mankind. All this is perfectly true of the Jewish Scriptures; and let faith in Christ Jesus be added, see 2 Timothy 3:15, and then all that is spoken in the following verse will be literally accomplished.
on 2-timothy 3 :16
All Scripture - This properly refers to the Old Testament, and should not be applied to any part of the New Testament, unless it can be shown that that part was then written, and was included under the general name of "the Scriptures;" compare 2 Peter 3:15-16. But it includes the whole of the Old Testament, and is the solemn testimony of Paul that it was all inspired. If now it can be proved that Paul himself was an inspired man, this settles the question as to the inspiration of the Old Testament.
Is given by inspiration of God - All this is expressed in the original by one word - Θεόπνευστος Theopneustos. This word occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It properly means, God-inspired - from Θεός Theos, "God," and πνέω pneō, "to breathe, to breathe out." The idea of "breathing upon, or breathing into the soul," is that which the word naturally conveys. Thus, God breathed into the nostrils of Adam the breath of life Genesis 2:7, and thus the Saviour breathed on his disciples, and said, "receive ye the Holy Ghost;" John 20:22. The idea seems to have been, that the life was in the breath, and that an intelligent spirit was communicated with the breath. The expression was used among the Greeks, and a similar one was employed by the Romans. Plutarch ed. R. 9:p. 583. 9. τοὺς ὀνείρους τοὺς θεοπνεύστους tous oneirous tous theopneustous. Phocylid. 121. τῆς δὲ θεοπνεύστου σοφίης λόγος ἐστὶν ἄριστος tēs de theopnoustou sophiēs logos estin aristos.
Perhaps, however, this is not an expression of Phocylides, but of the pseudo Phocylides. So it is understood by Bloomfield. Cicero, pro Arch. 8. "poetam - quasi divino quodam spiritu inflari." The word does not occur in the Septuagint, but is found in Josephus, Contra Apion, i. 7. "The Scripture of the prophets who were taught according to the inspiration of God - κατὰ τὴν ἐπίπνοιαν τὴν ἀπὸ τοῦ Θεοῦ kata tēn epipnoian tēn apo tou Theou. In regard to the manner of inspiration, and to the various questions which have been started as to its nature, nothing can be learned from the use of this word. It asserts a fact - that the Old Testament was composed under a divine influence, which might be represented by "breathing on one," and so imparting life. But the language must be figurative; for God does not breathe, though the fair inference is, that those Scriptures are as much the production of God, or are as much to be traced to him, as life is; compare Matthew 22:43; 2 Peter 1:21. The question as to the degree of inspiration, and whether it extends to the words of Scripture, and how far the sacred writers were left to the exercise of their own faculties, is foreign to the design of these notes. All that is necessary to be held is, that the sacred writers were kept from error on those subjects which were matters of their own observation, or which pertained to memory; and that there were truths imparted to them directly by the Spirit of God, which they could never have arrived at by the unaided exercise of their own minds. Compare the introduction to Isaiah and Job.
And is profitable. - It is useful; it is adapted to give instruction, to administer reproof, etc. If "all" Scripture is thus valuable, then we are to esteem no part of the Old Testament as worthless. There is no portion of it, even now, which may not be fitted, in certain circumstances, to furnish us valuable lessons, and, consequently, no part of it which could be spared from the sacred canon. There is no part of the human body which is not useful in its place, and no part of it which can be spared without sensible loss.
For doctrine - For teaching or communicating instruction; compare the notes on 1 Timothy 4:16.
For reproof - On the meaning of the word here rendered "reproof" - ἐλέγγμος elengmos - see the notes on Hebrews 11:1. It here means, probably, for "convincing;" that is, convincing a man of his sins, of the truth and claims of religion, etc.; see the notes on John 16:8.
For correction - The word here used - ἐπανόρθωσις epanorthōsis - occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means, properly, "a setting to rights, reparation, restoration," (from ἐπανορθόω epanorthoō, to right up again, to restore); and here means, the leading to a correction or amendment of life - "a reformation." The meaning is, that the Scriptures are a powerful means of reformation, or of putting men into the proper condition in regard to morals. After all the means which have been employed to reform mankind; all the appeals which are made to them on the score of health, happiness, respectability, property, and long life, the word of God is still the most powerful and the most effectual means of recovering those who have fallen into vice. No reformation can be permanent which is not based on the principles of the word of God.
For instruction in righteousness - Instruction in regard to the principles of justice, or what is right. Man needs not only to be made acquainted with truth, to be convinced of his error, and to be reformed; but he needs to be taught what is right, or what is required of him, in order that he may lead a holy life. Every reformed and regenerated man needs instruction, and should not be left merely with the evidence that he is "reformed, or converted." He should be followed with the principles of the word of God, to show him how he may lead an upright life. The Scriptures furnish the rules of holy living in abundance, and thus they are adapted to the whole work of recovering man, and of guiding him to heaven.
on 2-timothy 3 :16
3:16 All scripture is inspired of God - The Spirit of God not only once inspired those who wrote it, but continually inspires, supernaturally assists, those that read it with earnest prayer. Hence it is so profitable for doctrine, for instruction of the ignorant, for the reproof or conviction of them that are in error or sin, for the correction or amendment of whatever is amiss, and for instructing or training up the children of God in all righteousness.