“All Scripture is…profitable for” four functions stated in 2 Tim 3:16, “for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” The first two functions have to do with the positive and negative of belief. Scripture is “profitable for teaching,” that is, instructing what is right and true. It is also “profitable…for correction,” that is, exposing and denying what false.
The second two functions have to do with the negative and positive of conduct. Scripture is “profitable…for correction,” which has the idea of correcting aberrant behavior. It is also “profitable…for training in righteousness,” which is to instruct one in right behavior.
To clarify, all of these functions go together. 1 Timothy 1:8–10 catalogues a list of sins and then also condemns “whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine” (1 Tim 1:10). Sound doctrine leads to sound behavior. Instruction in doctrine always has implications for the Christian life. This is why Paul tells Timothy to “reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with all patience and instruction” (2 Tim 4:2).
Looking more closely at 2 Tim 4:2, Paul seems to match the four functions of Scripture in 2 Tim 3:16 with four imperatives given to Timothy.1 He is told to “preach the word…reprove, rebuke, and exhort.” Notice the chart:
|2 Timothy 3:16||2 Timothy 4:2|
|Teaching (didaskalian)||Preach (kēruzon)|
|Reproof (elegmon)||Reprove (elegzon)|
|Correction (epanorthōsin)||Rebuke (epitimēson)|
|Training in Righteousness (paideian tēn en dikaiosunē)||Exhort (parakaleson)|
To “preach” is to herald and publicly declare the truth. To “reprove, rebuke, and exhort” all assume doing so from the basis of God’s Word and dealing with sin, and thus Timothy was to carry out each action “with patience and instruction” (2 Tim 4:2).
Given this profitability of Scripture, we should be sure to saturate our lives with it in every venue. We should certainly assemble with the church for worship where the Word is regularly preached. As we are able, we should study, memorize, learn, and meditate upon Scripture as well. Such habits can only allow us to profit from God’s Word.
- Cf. George W. Knight, The Pastoral Epistles: A Commentary on the Greek Text (NIGTC: Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1992), p. 449. [↩]