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2 Timothy 3:16

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

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.
  • 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.

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    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 TheopneustosThis 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 theopneustousPhocylid. 121. τῆς δὲ θεοπνεύστου σοφίης λόγος ἐστὶν ἄριστος tēs de theopnoustou sophiēs logos estin aristoshowever, 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 TheouIn 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 epanorthoōto 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.

    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
    The Great Controversy, 5-7

    Before the entrance of sin, Adam enjoyed open communion with his Maker; but since man separated himself from God by transgression, the human race has been cut off from this high privilege. By the plan of redemption, however, a way has been opened whereby the inhabitants of the earth may still have connection with heaven. God has communicated with men by His Spirit, and divine light has been imparted to the world by revelations to His chosen servants. “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 2 Peter 1:21. GC v.1

    During the first twenty-five hundred years of human history, there was no written revelation. Those who had been taught of God, communicated their knowledge to others, and it was handed down from father to son, through successive generations. The preparation of the written word began in the time of Moses. Inspired revelations were then embodied in an inspired book. This work continued during the long period of sixteen hundred years—from Moses, the historian of creation and the law, to John, the recorder of the most sublime truths of the gospel. GC v.2

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    Ellen G. White
    Selected Messages Book 1, 15-23

    This is a time when the question with all propriety may be asked, “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). 1SM 15.1

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    Ellen G. White
    SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5 (EGW), 1147

    (1 Thessalonians 4:3; 2 Timothy 3:16.) The Textbook of Sanctification—The Bible is the standard by which to test the claims of all who profess sanctification. Jesus prayed that His disciples might be sanctified through the truth, and He says, “Thy word is truth;” while the psalmist declares, “Thy law is the truth.” All whom God is leading will manifest a high regard for the Scriptures in which His voice is heard. The Bible will be to them “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” We need no other evidence in order to judge of men's sanctification; if they are fearful lest they shall not obey the whole will of God, if they are listening diligently to His voice, trusting in His wisdom, and making His Word the man of their counsel, then, while they make no boasts of superior goodness, we may be sure that they are seeking to attain to perfection of Christian character. But if the claimants of holiness even intimate that they are no longer required to search the Scriptures, we need not hesitate to pronounce their sanctification spurious. They are leaning to their own understanding, instead of conforming to the will of God (The Review and Herald, October 5, 1886). 5BC 1147.1

    Obey God's Requirements—The truth as it is in Jesus is obedience to every precept of Jehovah. It is heart work. Bible sanctification is not the spurious sanctification of today, which will not search the Scriptures, but trusts to good feelings and impulses rather than to the seeking for truth as for hidden treasure. Bible sanctification is to know the requirements of God and to obey them. There is a pure and holy heaven in store for those who keep God's commandments. It is worth lifelong, persevering, untiring effort. Satan is on your right hand and on your left; he is before and behind; he has a dish of fables cooked up for every soul who is not cherishing the truth as it is in Jesus. The destroyer is upon you to palsy your every effort. But there is a crown of life to be won, a life that measures with the life of God (Manuscript 58, 1897). 5BC 1147.2

    The truth if received is capable of constant expansion and new developments. It will increase in brightness as we behold it, and grow in height and depth as we aspire to grasp it. Thus it will elevate us to the standard of perfection, and give us faith and trust in God as our strength for the work before us (Manuscript 153, 1898). 5BC 1147.3

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    Ellen G. White
    SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7 (EGW), 944-6

    6. Temperance Precedes Patience—“And to temperance patience.” An intemperate man never can be a patient man. Temperance comes first, and then patience (Manuscript 49, 1894). 7BC 944.1

    10 (John 1:12; 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20; 1 Peter 1:2, 18-20; see EGW on Romans 11:4-6; Ephesians 1:4, 5, 11; Hebrews 7:25). Election Price Paid for All—There could be no such thing as one not prepared for heaven entering heaven. There is no such thing as a human being sanctified and fitted for the heavenly kingdom not having an election to that kingdom. God elects those who have been working on the plan of addition. The explanation is given in the first chapter of Second Peter. For every human being, Christ has paid the election price. No one need be lost. All have been redeemed. To those who receive Christ as a personal Saviour will be given power to become the sons and daughters of God. An eternal life insurance policy has been provided for all. 7BC 944.2

    Whom God elects, Christ redeems. The Saviour has paid the redemption price for every soul. We are not our own; for we are bought with a price. From the Redeemer, who from the foundation of the world has chosen us, we receive the insurance policy that entitles us to eternal life (Letter 53, 1904). 7BC 944.3

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