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2 Timothy 3:16–17 – Part 3 of 4: The Purpose of Scripture

Click to read part 1 and part 2 of this series.

All Scripture is inspired by God and therefore profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16). In 2 Tim 3:16–17, the purpose for these functions of Scripture is “so that” (Greek, hina) or simply “that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:17). In other words, when “the man of God” has rightly applied himself to allowing the Scripture to teach, reprove, correct, and train him in his belief and behavior, he “may be complete,” which is to say that he will be “equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16).

That “complete” is further described as “equipped for every good work” can be seen in that both “complete” (artios) and “equipped” (exērtismenos, from exartizō) share the same Greek root (art-), tying the two clauses of 2 Tim 3:17 together.

The emphasis in the first clause is the person. Scripture is profitable in its various functions, literally translated, “so that complete may be the of-God man.” In 1 Timothy 6:11, Timothy is emphatically called out―“O man of God” (ō anthrōpe theou)―to flee what is sinful and pursue what is fitting for his call as a “man of God.” Here in 2 Tim 3:17, the order of words is varied so as to emphasize identity of who Timothy was as a man. He was “the of-God man” (ho tou theou anthrōpos). And if his identity was so tightly bound to God as to be identified as “the of-God man,” then it was only fitting that the of-God Scripture should be that which shapes him for his role. When God has called a man to His service, it is to be one whose life conforms to what God has said.

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Overlooking Differences in Hope for Unity in Evangelism

A second note on “the of-God man”―again, while the wording is varied, it recalls Paul’s earlier address to Timothy as “O man of God” in 1 Tim 6:11. These uses in turn recall a regularly used title in the OT―“the man of God,” used almost 70 times. It is used most often for men like Moses, Elijah, Elisha, Samuel, David, and prophets in general (Deut 33:1; 1 Kgs 17:8, 24; 2 Kgs 4:7; 1 Sam 9:7; 2 Chron 8:14; et al). As a preacher of God’s Word, Timothy’s role as a man of God was to echo the lives of these prophets of old and declare only what God had said. Their lives were tightly bound to God and His purposes that, were there to be one descriptor of who they were as men, it would be that they were “of God.” While men of God today do not receive direct revelation today as did these prophets of old, our function is still the same―to say what God has said and no more and let our lives reflect who He is. Let us get ourselves out of the way for God’s people so that when they hear us preach, they actually hear Him and walk away changed by the Spirit and Word.

David Huffstutler

About David Huffstutler

David pastors First Baptist Church in Rockford, IL. David holds a Ph. D. in Applied Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. His concentration in Christian Leadership focuses his contributions to pastoral and practical theology.

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