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2 Timothy 3:16

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.
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.

    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
    Fundamentals of Christian Education, 100

    In these days of peril and corruption, the young are exposed to many trials and temptations. Many are sailing in a dangerous harbor. They need a pilot; but they scorn to accept the much needed help, feeling that they are competent to guide their own bark, and not realizing that it is about to strike a hidden rock that may cause them to make shipwreck of faith and happiness. They are infatuated with the subject of courtship and marriage, and their principal burden is to have their own way. In this, the most important period of their lives, they need an unerring counselor, and infallible guide. This they will find in the word of God. Unless they are diligent students of that word, they will make grave mistakes, which will mar their happiness and that of others, both for the present and the future life. FE 100.1

    There is a disposition with many to be impetuous and headstrong. They have not heeded the wise counsel of the word of God; they have not battled with self, and obtained precious victories; and their proud, unbending will has driven them from the path of duty and obedience. Look back over your past life, young friends, and faithfully consider your course in the light of God's word. Have you cherished that conscientious regard for your obligations to your parents that the Bible enjoins? Have you treated with kindness and love the mother who has cared for you from infancy? Have you regarded her wishes, or have you brought pain and sadness to her heart by carrying out your own desires and plans? Has the truth you profess sanctified your heart, and softened and subdued your will? If not, you have close work to do to make past wrongs right. FE 100.2

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    Ellen G. White
    The Great Controversy, 324

    When, therefore, he found, in his study of the Bible, various chronological periods that, according to his understanding of them, extended to the second coming of Christ, he could not but regard them as the “times before appointed,” which God had revealed unto His servants. “The secret things,” says Moses, “belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever;” and the Lord declares by the prophet Amos, that He “will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets.” Deuteronomy 29:29; Amos 3:7. The students of God's word may, then, confidently expect to find the most stupendous event to take place in human history clearly pointed out in the Scriptures of truth. GC 324.1

    “As I was fully convinced,” says Miller, “that all Scripture given by inspiration of God is profitable (2 Timothy 3:16); that it came not at any time by the will of man, but was written as holy men were moved by the Holy Ghost (2 Peter 1:21), and was written ‘for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope’ (Romans 15:4), I could but regard the chronological portions of the Bible as being as much a portion of the word of God, and as much entitled to our serious consideration, as any other portion of the Scriptures. I therefore felt that in endeavoring to comprehend what God had in His mercy seen fit to reveal to us, I had no right to pass over the prophetic periods.”—Bliss, page 75. GC 324.2

    The prophecy which seemed most clearly to reveal the time of the second advent was that of Daniel 8:14: “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” Following his rule of making Scripture its own interpreter, Miller learned that a day in symbolic prophecy represents a year (Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6); he saw that the period of 2300 prophetic days, or literal years, would extend far beyond the close of the Jewish dispensation, hence it could not refer to the sanctuary of that dispensation. Miller accepted the generally received view that in the Christian age the earth is the sanctuary, and he therefore understood that the cleansing of the sanctuary foretold in Daniel 8:14 represented the purification of the earth by fire at the second coming of Christ. If, then, the correct starting point could be found for the 2300 days, he concluded that the time of the second advent could be readily ascertained. Thus would be revealed the time of that great consummation, the time when the present state, with “all its pride and power, pomp and vanity, wickedness and oppression, would come to an end;” when the curse would be “removed from off the earth, death be destroyed, reward be given to the servants of God, the prophets and saints, and them who fear His name, and those be destroyed that destroy the earth.”—Bliss, page 76. GC 324.3

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    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 434

    God has given us specific directions so that no one need err. “Man shall not live by bread alone,” He says, “but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” The truth given by inspiration “is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Not by one word, not by many words, but by every word that God has spoken, shall man live. You cannot disregard one word, a single injunction that He has given, however trifling it may seem to you, and be safe. “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Whosoever will willfully break one command cannot in spirit and in truth keep any of them. He may claim that, with the exception of what he may regard as slight deviations, he keeps them all; yet if he willingly offends in one point he is guilty of all. 5T 434.1

    Brother and Sister P, while you have been making a profession of Christianity you have been keeping back part of the price. You have robbed God of thought and devotion; you have robbed Him of your talents and influence. Your inclinations have been a snare to you. You have not followed the light that God has graciously given you in testimonies; and you have done things that without repentance and reformation on your part will exclude you from heaven. Had you heeded the reproofs sent to you by the Holy Spirit you would now be strong in God and far advanced in Christian experience, and you would have had an entirely different record in the books of heaven. 5T 434.2

    “He that rejecteth Me,” says Christ, “and receiveth not My words, hath One that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” In that day what shame and confusion of face will cover those who have had such light and privileges, who have had salvation brought within their reach by the infinite sacrifice of the Son of God, and yet have not availed themselves of these precious gifts. Through His word God is constantly pointing out to us the right path, even the high and glorious path of the just. The travelers in this path do not walk in darkness, for it is illuminated by the Sun of Righteousness; but you have rejected it because it was too far separated from the world. Self-love and selfish ambition cannot pass the strait gate and walk the narrow, upward way. 5T 434.3

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    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 747

    The union of the divine and the human, manifest in Christ, exists also in the Bible. The truths revealed are all “given by inspiration of God;” yet they are expressed in the words of men and are adapted to human needs. Thus it may be said of the Book of God, as it was of Christ, that “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” And this fact, so far from being an argument against the Bible, should strengthen faith in it as the word of God. Those who pronounce upon the inspiration of the Scriptures, accepting some portions as divine while they reject other parts as human, overlook the fact that Christ, the divine, partook of our human nature, that He might reach humanity. In the work of God for man's redemption, divinity and humanity are combined. 5T 747.1

    There are many passages of Scripture which skeptical critics have declared to be uninspired, but which, in their tender adaptation to the needs of men, are God's own messages of comfort to His trusting children. A beautiful illustration of this occurs in the history of the apostle Peter. Peter was in prison, expecting to be brought forth next day to death; he was sleeping at night “between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.” Peter, suddenly awaking, was amazed at the brightness that flooded his dungeon, and the celestial beauty of the heavenly messenger. He understood not the scene, but he knew that he was free, and in his bewilderment and joy he would have gone forth from the prison unprotected from the cold night air. The angel of God, noting all the circumstances, said, with tender care for the apostle's need: “Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals.” Peter mechanically obeyed; but so entranced was he with the revelation of the glory of heaven that he did not think to take his cloak. Then the angel bade him: “Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.” The apostle found himself in the streets of Jerusalem alone. “And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety,”—it was not a dream or a vision, but an actual occurrence,—“that the Lord hath sent His angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.” 5T 748.1

    Skeptics may sneer at the thought that a glorious angel from heaven should give attention to a matter so commonplace as caring for these simple human needs, and may question the inspiration of the narrative. But in the wisdom of God these things are recorded in sacred history for the benefit, not of angels, but of men, that as they should be brought into trying positions they might find comfort in the thought that heaven knows it all. Jesus declared to His disciples that not a sparrow falls to the ground without the notice of the heavenly Father, and that if God can keep in mind the wants of all the little birds of the air, He will much more care for those who may become the subjects of His kingdom and through faith in Him may be the heirs of immortality. Oh, if the human mind were only to comprehend—in such measure as the plan of redemption can be comprehended by finite minds—the work of Jesus in taking upon Himself human nature, and what is to be accomplished for us by this marvelous condescension, the hearts of men would be melted with gratitude for God's great love, and in humility they would adore the divine wisdom that devised the mystery of grace! 5T 749.1

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