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2 Timothy 3:15

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

From a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures - The early religious education of Timothy has been already sufficiently noticed; see 2 Timothy 1:5, and the preface to the first epistle. St. Paul introduces this circumstance again here for the confirmation of Timothy's faith. He had learned the doctrines of Christianity from a genuine apostle; and, as Christianity is founded on the law and the prophets, Timothy was able to compare its doctrines with all that had been typified and predicted, and consequently was assured that the Christian religion was true.

Able to make thee wise unto salvation - The apostle is here evidently speaking of the Jewish Scriptures; and he tells us that they are able to make us wise unto salvation provided we have faith in Jesus Christ. This is the simple use of the Old Testament. No soul of man can be made wise unto salvation by it, but as he refers all to Christ Jesus. The Jews are unsaved though they know these Scriptures, because they believe not in Christ; for Christ is the end of the law for the justification of all that believe.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And that from a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures - That is, the Old Testament; for the New Testament was not then written; see the notes at John 5:39. The mother of Timothy was a pious Hebrewess, and regarded it as one of the duties of her religion to train her son in the careful knowledge of the word of God. This was regarded by the Hebrews as an important duty of religion, and there is reason to believe that it was commonly faithfully performed. The Jewish writings abound with lessons on this subject. Rabbi Judah says, “The boy of five years of age ought to apply to the study of the sacred Scriptures.” Rabbi Solomon, on Deuteronomy 11:19, says, “When the boy begins to talk, his father ought to converse with him in the sacred language, and to teach him the law; if he does not do that, he seems to bury him.” See numerous instances referred to in Wetstein, in loc. The expression used by Paul - “from a child” ( ἀπὸ βρέφους apo brephous) - does not make it certain at precisely what age Timothy was first instructed in the Scriptures, though it would denote an “early” age. The word used - βρέφος brephos- denotes:

(1)ababe unborn, Luke 1:41, Luke 1:44;

(2)an infant, babe, suckling.

In the New Testament, it is rendered “babe and babes,” Luke 1:41, Luke 1:44; Luke 2:12, Luke 2:16; 1 Peter 2:2; “infants,” Luke 8:15; and “young children,” Acts 7:19. It does not elsewhere occur, and its current use would make it probable that Timothy had been taught the Scriptures as soon as he was capable of learning anything. Dr. Doddridge correctly renders it here “from infancy.” It may be remarked then,

(1) that it is proper to teach the Bible to children at as early a period of life as possible.

(2) that there is reason to hope that such instruction will not be forgotten, but will have a salutary influence on their future lives. The piety of Timothy is traced by the apostle to the fact that he had been early taught to read the Scriptures, and a great proportion of those who are in the church have been early made acquainted with the Bible.

(3) it is proper to teach the “Old” Testament to children - since this was all that Timothy had, and this was made the means of his salvation.

(4) we may see the utility of Sunday schools. The great, and almost the sole object of such schools is to teach the Bible, and from the view which Paul had of the advantage to Timothy of having been early made acquainted with the Bible, there can be no doubt that if Sunday-schools had then been in existence, he would have been their hearty patron and friend.

Which are able to make thee wise unto salvation - So to instruct you in the way of salvation, that you may find the path to life. Hence, learn:

(1) that the plan of salvation may be learned from the Old Testament. It is not as clearly revealed there as it is in the New, but “it is there;” and if a man had only the Old Testament, he might find the way to be saved. The Jew, then, has no excuse if he is not saved.

(2) the Scriptures have “power.” They are “able to make one wise to salvation.” They are not a cold, tame, dead thing. There is no book that has so much “power” as the Bible; none that is so efficient in moving the hearts, and consciences, and intellects of mankind. There is no book that has moved so many minds; none that has produced so deep and permanent effects on the world.

(3) to find the way of salvation, is the best kind of wisdom; and none are wise who do not make that the great object of life.

Through faith which is in Christ Jesus; - see the Mark 16:16 note; Romans 1:17 note. Paul knew of no salvation, except through the Lord Jesus. He says, therefore, that the study of the Scriptures, valuable as they were, would not save the soul unless there was faith in the Redeemer; and it is implied, also, that the proper effect of a careful study of the “Old” Testament, would be to lead one to put his trust in the Messiah.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Those who would learn the things of God, and be assured of them, must know the Holy Scriptures, for they are the Divine revelation. The age of children is the age to learn; and those who would get true learning, must get it out of the Scriptures. They must not lie by us neglected, seldom or never looked into. The Bible is a sure guide to eternal life. The prophets and apostles did not speak from themselves, but delivered what they received of God, 2Pe 1:21. It is profitable for all purposes of the Christian life. It is of use to all, for all need to be taught, corrected, and reproved. There is something in the Scriptures suitable for every case. Oh that we may love our Bibles more, and keep closer to them! then shall we find benefit, and at last gain the happiness therein promised by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the main subject of both Testaments. We best oppose error by promoting a solid knowledge of the word of truth; and the greatest kindness we can do to children, is to make them early to know the Bible.
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, 398

From a child, Timothy knew the Scriptures, and his knowledge was a safeguard to him against the evil influences surrounding him and the temptation to choose pleasure and selfish gratification before duty. Such a safeguard all our children need, and it should be a part of the work of parents and of Christ's ambassadors to see that the children are properly instructed in the word of God. 4T 398.1

If the minister would meet the approval of his Lord, he must labor with fidelity to present every man perfect in Christ. He should not, in his manner of labor, carry the impression that it is of little consequence whether men do or do not accept the truth and practice true godliness; but the faithfulness and self-sacrifice manifested in his life should be such as to convince the sinner that eternal interests are at stake and that his soul is in peril unless he responds to the earnest labor put forth in his behalf. Those who have been brought from error and darkness to truth and light have great changes to make, and unless the necessity of thorough reform is pressed home upon the conscience, they will be like the man who looked into the mirror, the law of God, and discovered the defects in his moral character, but went away and forgot what manner of man he was. The mind must be kept awake to a sense of responsibility or it will settle back into a state of even more careless inattention than before it was aroused. 4T 398.2

The work of the ambassadors for Christ is far greater and more responsible than many dream of. They should not be at all satisfied with their success until they can, by their earnest labors and the blessing of God, present to Him serviceable Christians who have a true sense of their responsibility and will do their appointed work. The proper labor and instruction will result in bringing into working order those men and women whose characters are strong and their convictions so firm that nothing of a selfish character is permitted to hinder them in their work, to lessen their faith, or to deter them from duty. If the minister has properly instructed those under his care, when he leaves for other fields of labor the work left will not ravel out, for it will be bound off so firmly as to be secure. Unless those who receive the truth are thoroughly converted and there is a radical change in their life and character, the soul is not riveted to the eternal Rock; and after the labor of the minister ceases, and the novelty is gone, the impression soon wears away, the truth loses its power to charm, and they exert no holier influence, and are no better for their profession of the truth. 4T 398.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 389

Those who study the Bible with a sincere desire to know and do the will of God will become wise unto salvation. The Sabbath school is an important branch of the missionary work, not only because it gives to young and old a knowledge of God's word, but because it awakens in them a love for its sacred truths and a desire to study it for themselves; above all, it teaches them to regulate their lives by its holy teachings. 5T 389.1

All who take the word of God as their rule of life are brought into close relationship with one another. The Bible is their bond of union. But their companionship will not be sought or desired by those who do not bow to the Sacred Word as the one unerring guide. They will be at variance, both in faith and practice. There can be no harmony between them; they are unreconcilable. As Seventh-day Adventists we appeal from custom and tradition to the plain “Thus saith the Lord;” and for this reason we are not, and cannot be, in harmony with the multitudes who teach and follow the doctrines and commandments of men. 5T 389.2

All who are born of God will become co-workers with Christ. Such are the salt of the earth. “But if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted?” If the religion we profess fails to renew our hearts and sanctify our lives, how shall it exert a saving power upon unbelievers? “It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden underfoot of men.” That religion which will not exert a regenerating power upon the world is of no value. We cannot trust it for our own salvation. The sooner we cast it away the better, for it is powerless and spurious. 5T 389.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, 160

Teachers must understand what lessons to impart, or they cannot prepare students to be transferred to the higher grade. They must study Christ's lessons and the character of His teaching. They must see its freedom from formalism and tradition, and appreciate the originality, the authority, the spirituality, the tenderness, the benevolence, and the practicability of His teaching. Those who make the word of God their study, those who dig for the treasures of truth, will themselves become imbued with the Spirit of Christ, and by beholding they will become changed into His likeness. Those who appreciate the word will teach as disciples who have been sitting at the feet of Jesus and have accustomed themselves to learn of Him. In the place of bringing into our schools books containing the suppositions of the world's great authors, they will say: Tempt me not to disregard the greatest Author and the greatest Teacher, through whom I have everlasting life. He never mistakes. He is the great Fountain head whence all wisdom flows. Then let every teacher sow the seed of truth in the minds of students. Christ is the standard Teacher. 6T 160.1

*****

The word of the eternal God is our guide. Through this word we have been made wise unto salvation. This word is ever to be in our hearts and on our lips. “It is written” is to be our anchor. Those who make God's word their counselor realize the weakness of the human heart and the power of the grace of God to subdue every unsanctified, unholy impulse. Their hearts are ever prayerful, and they have the guardianship of holy angels. When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of God lifts up for them a standard against him. There is harmony in the heart; for the precious, powerful influences of truth bear sway. There is a revelation of the faith that works by love and purifies the soul. 6T 160.2

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Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 2, 100

Let none cherish the idea that special providences or miraculous manifestations are to be the proof of the genuineness of their work or of the ideas they advocate. If we keep these things before the people, they will produce an evil effect, an unhealthful emotion. The genuine working of the Holy Spirit on human hearts is promised, to give efficiency through the Word. Christ has declared the Word to be spirit and life. “The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14, A.R.V.). 2SM 100.1

Satan will work in a most subtle manner to introduce human inventions clothed with angel garments. But the light from the Word is shining amid the moral darkness; and the Bible will never be superseded by miraculous manifestations. The truth must be studied, it must be searched for as hidden treasure. Wonderful illuminations will not be given aside from the Word, or to take the place of it. Cling to the Word, receive the ingrafted Word, which will make men wise unto salvation. [See fuller context on pages 48, 49.] 2SM 100.2

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