The emphasis in the second clause of 2 Tim 3:17 is to clarify for what and to what the extent the man of God has become “complete.” Specifically, Scripture has “equipped” him for good works, the extent of which is “every good work.” If a man of God ever wonders what it is that he should do, he need only to look in Scripture and find instruction as to “every good work.”
Here we find something of the sufficiency of Scripture. Wayne Grudem defines this phrase in this way: “The sufficiency of Scripture means that Scripture contained all the words of God he intended his people to have at each stage of redemptive history, and that it now contains everything we need God to tell us for salvation, for trusting him perfectly, and for obeying him perfectly”1.
As to Scripture giving us everything we need for salvation, 2 Tim 3:15 states that “the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” Likewise, James reminded his readers that God “brought us forth by the word of truth” (James 1:18). Peter, too, says to his readers that they had “been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Pet 1:23).
From 2 Tim 3:17, every good work is possible when Scripture profits us through its teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. Though this text was from Paul to Timothy, a man of God, it was to be read before all with Timothy in Ephesus (“you” is plural in 2 Tim 4:22). And, insomuch as Timothy or any Christian leader is to be an example for all Christians (cf. 1 Pet 5:3), so also must all Christians strive to imitate this faith (cf. Heb 13:7). What equips men of God for every good work equips every Christian just the same. As David said to God’s people long ago, those “who walk in the law of the Lord” are “blameless” (Ps 119:1). Scripture is sufficient to guide us in obeying God perfectly.
Certainly, our obedience is not apart from the power of the Spirit of God. Peter implies the Spirit’s role when speaking of God’s “divine power” as that which “has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” but only does so “through the knowledge of Him who called us,” which for us, comes from God’s Word (2 Pet 1:3). As in 2 Tim 3:17, all-inclusive language is used (“all things”) to describe what is possible through God’s Word (“the knowledge of Him”).
- Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), p. 127 [↩]