Daily Archives: August 1, 2019

August 1 Prevailing Peace

Scripture Reading: Psalm 34:1–8

Key Verse: Psalm 34:8

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;

Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

Even before he was king of Israel, David understood feeling overwhelmed with life. While he was being hunted by Saul, David fled to Gath, where he found out his reputation as a warrior preceded him. He pretended to be insane so that King Achish of Gath would not have him killed.

No one should doubt that David experienced stress during this episode. Yet during that time, he wrote about God’s goodness in Psalm 34. David found true sanctuary in the Lord.

Today, as in David’s time, peace is still a difficult thing to come by. The day is often filled with conflicts and stressful interruptions. Sometimes it can seem impossible to escape the tumult and achieve serenity. Yet Jesus offers you the same tranquility that David found: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

The only way to have peace is to trust God wholeheartedly, as David did. Allow His peace to permeate your life, and you will be able to say as Charles Wesley did, “I rest beneath the Almighty’s shade, my griefs expire, my troubles cease; Thou, Lord, on whom my soul is stayed, wilt keep me still in perfect peace.”

Father, thank You for the peace that passes human understanding. Thank You for keeping me in perfect peace.[1]

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 224). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

August 1 Butterfly Living

Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:17–21

Key Verse: 2 Corinthians 5:17

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

To get a grasp of this verse, imagine the old you as a caterpillar and the new you in Christ as a matured butterfly. What you may find in your life experience, however, is that even though you are a butterfly, you are still drawn to the caterpillar way of life. How can you end this tension?

In his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote to exhort them to consistent “butterfly living.” The temptations in their society to relapse into “caterpillar living” were strong, much as they are today. He wrote, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2 nasb).

This principle is so dynamic, you cannot afford to miss it. “Transformed” is a translation of the Greek metamorphosis, the process by which a caterpillar becomes a butterfly.

Renewing your mind is in essence taking on the mind of Christ; it means changing your thinking in accordance with the truth of God’s Word. What you believe about God defines the quality of that relationship. Remember, you are not a caterpillar with wings glued on—you are truly a butterfly.

Dear Lord, thank You for changing my “caterpillar” mentality, so I can experience butterfly living. This month, as I reflect on the wonders of spiritual change, continue Your divine miracle of transformation.[1]

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 224). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

August 1 Back on Course

Scripture reading: 1 Kings 19:9–15

Key verse: 1 Kings 19:13

So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Elijah had just come away from a tremendous spiritual victory. In fact, the victory won on Mount Carmel was the highlight of his career as a prophet of God. However, immediately following the victory came a time of serious testing.

Elijah had stood firm in his faith, and God had destroyed all of the prophets of Baal, reaffirming the fact that He was Jehovah God. In a horrific fit of anger, Queen Jezebel sent a message to Elijah stating, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them [a prophet of Baal]” (1 Kings 19:2). In other words, Jezebel planned to kill Elijah. Filled with fear, Elijah fled.

Finally, at Mount Horeb he collapsed. That was where God spoke to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” It was a reasonable question to ask. Elijah was accustomed to living in the shadow of God’s greatness and power. Why was he hiding out like a common criminal?

Maybe God is asking you the same question: “What are you doing here? Why are you running? Why are you fearful?” God did not let go of His prophet. Instead, He instructed Elijah to get back into the thick of things. And this is His word to you. If you have gotten off course, don’t give up. Tell the Lord what you are struggling with, and He will send His encouragement and hope to you.

Lord, I am struggling, running, and fearful. Help me get back on course with You. Strengthen me with Your Word.[1]

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 224). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Surprise, surprise? Americans think of media as even more destructive than banks & corporations — RT USA News

A recent survey has revealed that most Americans believe that the news media, more than any other institution, have a negative impact on their country – findings that are hardly surprising, according to media analyst Lionel. 

Conducted by the Pew Research Center, the poll found that 64 percent of Americans believe that the media has a damaging effect on the United States – making them more loathed than other often-demonized institutions such as banks (39 percent) and large corporations (53 percent).

“This doesn’t surprise anybody,” media analyst Lionel told RT.

The media are not here to provide information …so that you can make intelligence decisions. No, that’s not what the media are. The media are corporate tools.

But numbers don’t lie and the news media shouldn’t feel singled out. With growing distrust in corporations – especially tech companies – America’s establishment institutions can take solace in the fact that none of them enjoy majority support.

August 1, 2019 Afternoon Verse Of The Day


Guidelines for Single Christians

But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn. (7:8–9)

These verses answer the question, “Should those who were married and divorced before becoming Christians remarry?” No doubt that was a key question in the Corinthian church. Formerly married people came to salvation in Christ and asked if they now had the right to marry someone else. Paul’s response here is uniquely fitted to those who want to know their options.

The unmarried and widows are the two categories of single people mentioned here, but there is a third category of single people (“virgins”) indicated in verse 25. Understanding the distinctions in regard to these three groups is essential. “Virgins” (parthenoi) clearly refers to single people who have never been married. Widows (chērais) are single people who formerly were married but were severed from that relationship by the death of the spouse. That leaves the matter of the unmarried. Who are they?

The term unmarried (agamos, from “wedding, or marriage,” with the negative prefix a) is used only four times in the New Testament, and all four are in this chapter. We need go nowhere else for understanding of this key term. Verse 32 uses it in a way that gives little hint as to its specific meaning; it simply refers to a person who is not married. Verse 34 uses it more definitively: “the woman who is unmarried, and the virgin.” We assume Paul has two distinct groups in mind: whoever the unmarried are, they are not virgins. Verse 8 speaks to “the unmarried and to widows,” so we can conclude that the unmarried are not widows. The clearest insight comes in the use of the term in verses 10 and 11: “the wife should not leave [divorce] her husband (but if she does leave, let her remain unmarried.…).” The term unmarried indicates those who were previously married, but are not widows; people who are now single, but are not virgins. The unmarried woman, therefore, is a divorced woman.

Paul is speaking to people who were divorced before coming to Christ. They wanted to know if they had the right to marry. His word to them is that it is good for them who are now free of marriage to remain even as I. By that statement Paul affirms that he was formerly married. Because marriage seems to have been required for membership in the Sanhedrin, to which Paul may once have belonged, because he had been so devoutly committed to Pharisaic tradition (Gal. 1:14), and because he refers to one who could have been his wife’s mother (Rom. 16:13), we may assume that he was once married. His statement here to the previously married confirms that—even as I. Likely he was a widower. He does not identify with the virgins but with the unmarried and widows, that is, with the formerly married.

The point is that those who are single when converted to Christ should know that it is good for them to stay that way. There is no need to rush into marriage. Many well-meaning Christians are not content to let people remain single. The urge to play cupid and matchmaker can be strong, but mature believers must resist it. Marriage is not necessary or superior to singleness, and it limits some potential for service to Christ (vv. 32–34).

One of the most beautiful stories associated with Jesus’ birth and infancy is that of Anna. When Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to the Temple to present Him to the Lord and to offer a sacrifice, the prophetess Anna recognized Jesus as the Messiah. Much as Simeon had done a short while before, “she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.” Her husband had lived only seven years after their marriage, and she had since remained a widow At the age of 84 she was still faithfully serving the Lord in His Temple, “serving night and day with fastings and prayers” (Luke 2:21–38). She did not look on her lot as inferior and certainly not as meaningless. She had the gift of singleness and used it joyfully in the Lord’s work.

Later in the chapter Paul advised believers to remain as they were. Staying single was not wrong, and becoming married or staying married were not wrong. But “in view of the present distress” the Corinthian believers were experiencing, it seemed much better to stay as they were (7:25–28).

If, however, a single believer did not have self-control, that person should seek to marry. If a Christian is single but does not have the gift of singleness and is being strongly tempted sexually, he or she should pursue marriage. Let them marry in the Greek is in the aorist imperative, indicating a strong command. “Get married,” Paul says, for it is better to marry than to burn. The term means “to be inflamed,” and is best understood as referring to strong passion (cf. Rom. 1:27). A person cannot live a happy life, much less serve the Lord, if he is continually burning with sexual desire—even if the desire never results in actual immorality. And in a society such as Corinth’s, or ours, in which immorality is so prevalent and accepted, it is especially difficult not to succumb to temptation.

I believe that once a Christian couple decides to get married they should do it fairly soon. In a day of lowered standards, free expression, and constant suggestiveness, it is extremely difficult to stay sexually pure. The practical problems of an early marriage are not nearly as serious as the danger of immorality.

Deciding about marriage obviously is more difficult for the person who has strong sexual desires but who has no immediate prospect for a husband or wife. It is never God’s will for Christians to marry unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14), but neither is it right just to marry the first believer who will say yes. Though we may want very much to be married, we should be careful. Strong feelings of any sort tend to dull judgment and make one vulnerable and careless.

There are several things that Christians in this dilemma ought to do. First, they should not simply seek to be married, but should seek a person they can love, trust, and respect, letting marriage come as a response to that commitment of love. People who simply want to get married for the sake of getting married run a great risk of marrying the wrong person. Second, it is fine to be on the lookout for the “right person,” but the best way to find the right person is to be the right person. If believers are right with God and it is His will for them to be married, He will send the right person—and never too late.

Third, until the right person is found, our energy should be redirected in ways that will be the most helpful in keeping our minds off the temptation. Two of the best ways are spiritual service and physical activity. We should avoid listening to, looking at, or being around anything that strengthens the temptation. We should program our minds to focus only on that which is good and helpful. We should take special care to follow Paul’s instruction in Philippians: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things” (4:8).

Fourth, we should realize that, until God gives us the right person, He will provide strength to resist temptation. “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13).

Finally, we should give thanks to the Lord for our situation and be content in it. Salvation brings the dawning of a new day, in which marriage “in the Lord” (v. 39) is an option.[1]

9. But if they cannot contain. While he advises to abstain from marriage, he always speaks conditionally—if it can be done, if there is ability; but where the infirmity of the flesh does not allow of that liberty, he expressly enjoins marriage as a thing that is not in the least doubtful. For this is said by way of commandment, that no one may look upon it as mere advice. Nor is it merely fornicators that he restrains, but those also who are defiled in the sight of God by inward lust; and assuredly he that cannot contain tempts God, if he neglects the remedy of marriage. This matter requires—not advice, but strict prohibition.

For it is better. There is not strictly a comparison here, inasmuch as lawful marriage is honourable in all things, (Heb. 13:4,) but, on the other hand, to burn is a thing that is exceedingly wrong. The Apostle, however, has made use of a customary form of expression, though not strictly accurate, as we commonly say: “It is better to renounce this world, that we may, along with Christ, enjoy the inheritance of the heavenly kingdom, than to perish miserably in carnal delights.” I mention this, because Jerome constructs upon this passage a childish sophism—that marriage is good, inasmuch as it is not so great an evil as to burn. I would say, if it were a matter of sport, that he foolishly amuses himself, but in a matter so weighty and serious, it is an impious scoff, unworthy of a man of judgment. Let it then be understood, that marriage is a good and salutary remedy, because to burn is a most base abomination in the sight of God. We must, however, define what is meant by burning; for many are stung with fleshly desires, who, nevertheless, do not require forthwith to have recourse to marriage. And to retain Paul’s metaphor, it is one thing to burn and another to feel heat. Hence what Paul here calls burning, is not a mere slight feeling, but a boiling with lust, so that you cannot resist. As, however, some flatter themselves in vain, by imagining that they are entirely free from blame, if they do not yield assent to impure desire, observe that there are three successive steps of temptation. For in some cases the assaults of impure desire have so much power that the will is overcome: that is the worst kind of burning, when the heart is inflamed with lust. In some instances, while we are stung with the darts of the flesh, it is in such a manner that we make a stout resistance, and do not allow ourselves to be divested of the true love of chastity, but on the contrary, abhor all base and filthy affections.

Hence all must be admonished, but especially the young, that whenever they are assailed by their fleshly inclinations, they should place the fear of God in opposition to a temptation of this sort, cut off all inlets to unchaste thoughts, entreat the Lord to give them strength to resist, and set themselves with all their might to extinguish the flames of lust. If they succeed in this struggle, let them render thanks unto the Lord, for where shall we find the man who does not experience some molestation from his flesh? but if we bridle its violence, before it has acquired the mastery, it is well. For we do not burn, though we should feel a disagreeable heat—not that there is nothing wrong in that feeling of heat, but acknowledging before the Lord, with humility and sighing, our weakness, we are meanwhile, nevertheless, of good courage. To sum up all, so long as we come off victorious in the conflict, through the Lord’s grace, and Satan’s darts do not make their way within, but are valiantly repelled by us, let us not become weary of the conflict.

There is an intermediate kind of temptation—when a man does not indeed admit impure desire with the full assent of his mind, but at the same time is inflamed with a blind impetuosity, and is harassed in such a manner that he cannot with peace of conscience call upon God. A temptation, then, of such a kind as hinders one from calling upon God in purity, and disturbs peace of conscience, is burning, such as cannot be extinguished except by marriage. We now see, that in deliberating as to this, one must not merely consider whether he can preserve his body free from pollution: the mind also must be looked to, as we shall see in a little.[2]

9 Here again Paul implies that one of the main purposes of marriage is so that one can find sexual fulfillment in a God-glorifying context. We should take careful note of the condition used here. Paul uses ei plus the indicative, which suggests that he is expressing a reality that is taking place (i.e., “if, as indeed some are doing, they are not exercising control …”). In other words, Paul knows there are those who are not married but are still having sexual relations, probably with prostitutes (see comments at 6:12–20). Rather than live this lifestyle of porneia, Paul says, marriage is preferable by far.

What does Paul mean here by pyroō (GK 4792, “burn with passion”; lit., “burn”)? The verb itself can denote various types of burning: the “flaming” darts of Satan (Eph 6:16), the destruction of the heavens “by fire” (2 Pe 3:12), the “glowing” feet of Jesus in John’s vision (Rev 1:15), or the inner burning passion of Paul (2 Co 11:29). Of these options the best choice seems to be the last one, i.e., a reference to one’s inner emotions and passions (so NIV). Marriage offers an appropriate outlet for passionate sexual urges.[3]

9 For many later Christians what Paul says next has been the troubling sentence. The apostle is seen to be arguing in the preceding sentence for all singles to stay that way, then as making allowance for marriage for those who cannot remain continent, for it is better to be married than to be consumed with sexual passion. But it is doubtful whether Paul’s point is quite so stark. In the first place, Paul does not say (as the NIV and others have it), “if they cannot control themselves,” as if it were simply a matter of self-control. Rather, he says, “if they do not practice, or are not practicing, continence (or exercising self-control).” That is, the issue for Paul is not the sexual drive as such, but the sinful practice of some of the brothers for whom marriage, rather than sin, is to be the proper order of things. The implication is that some of these people are doing the same as some of the married in the opening paragraph: practicing “sexual immorality,” that is, probably also going to the prostitutes. The antidote for such sin is to get married96 instead.

With an explanatory “for” Paul appends a reason: “It is better to marry (or to be married) than to burn.” This final word is the difficult one. The usage is clearly metaphorical, but it could refer either to burning with desire or burning in judgment (cf. 3:15). Since both of these can be supported from Jewish sources, that evidence is not decisive.100 The question must finally be decided contextually—and by Paul’s usage in the next letter (2 Cor. 11:29), which is almost certainly a metaphor for inner passion, which accounts for this addition in the NIV. Even though the larger context, including his earlier warning (6:9–10), could be argued to support the judgment metaphor, such an idea is missing altogether from the immediate context. It seems more likely, therefore, that Paul intended that those who are committing sexual sins should rather marry than be consumed by the passions of their sins—although it is also possible that Paul was himself intentionally ambiguous, so that the clipped nature of the clause was intended to catch his initial readers a bit off guard in the same way it has his later ones(!).

In this case, what needs final emphasis is that Paul is not so much offering marriage as the remedy for sexual desire for “enflamed youth,” which has been the most common way of viewing the text; rather, marriage is to be understood as the proper alternative for those who are already consumed by that desire and are sinning.

A text like this one is difficult for moderns. But if our interpretation is correct, then its advice is twofold. On the one hand, consistent with the general view in Jewish and Christian antiquity, Paul urges the formerly married to remain in their present single state. He will encourage that again later (vv. 39–40). But he also clearly recognizes that that represents what he thinks is “good”; it may not be elevated to the position of a commandment (i.e., being “right” or “wrong”). On the other hand, it is a strong word against the formerly married who are not living in continence, that in fact it is sin. For them, marriage is the proper alternative to their being consumed by such sin.[4]

7:9 / Nevertheless, Paul continues and tells this particular group that they should marry in certain circumstances. Paul reasons from the charismatically formed assumption that the capacity to remain unmarried is a spiritual gift. The translation of this line in the niv and other similar translations, But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, is easily misunderstood. Paul is not saying, “If you are not practicing self-control, get married.” In Paul’s well-known list of the fruit of the Spirit at Galatians 5:23 one finds the noun “self-control,” so although Paul uses the verbal form of “self-control” (translated as “control themselves,” meaning “to practice self-control”), he is referring to a Spirit-empowered directing of one’s self. If an unmarried person in Corinth does not have the Spirit-given ability to be chaste, then Paul says that person should marry. Paul is not so much saying “Fight the urge” as he is advising “Recognize the gift or its absence.” Such honesty according to Paul is better than trying to accomplish something (refraining from marriage and sexual relations in that context) that God has not given one the gift to do.[5]

Ver. 9.—If they cannot contain; rather, if they have not continency. Let them marry. In 1 Tim. 5:14 he lays down and justifies the same rule with reference to young widows. It is better to marry than to burn. The original tenses give greater force and beauty to this obvious rule of Christian common sense and morality. The “marry” is in the aorist—“to marry once for all,” and live in holy married union; the “burn” is in the present—“to be on fire with concupiscence.” Marriage once for all is better than continuous lust; the former is permitted, the latter sinful.[6]

9. But if they do not exercise self-control, let them marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with sexual desire.

  • Passion. “If they do not exercise self-control, let them marry.” Paul fully understands human nature and gives sensible advice. Already he has spoken of incontinence (v. 5); now once more he states that some people do not exercise restraint, presumably because of their lack of self-control. To them, Paul offers the solution which God has instituted for this situation: “Let them marry!” There is no reproach, no word of disapproval for incontinence, no mention of sin. To preclude the possibility that they might fall into sin because they lack continence, Paul advises wedlock for the unmarried. Let them enter the state of matrimony and thus lead honorable and pure lives.

“For it is better to marry than to burn with sexual desire.” The Greek has only the verb pyrousthai (to burn), but the context demands the addition of the words with sexual desire. Translators know that the verb by itself is incomplete and calls for an explanation. Talmudic rabbis together with scholars from the third century to the present have interpreted this verb to refer to burning in hell. They perceive it as God’s righteous judgment on the sinner who continues to violate sexual mores. But Paul alludes to burning with sexual desire. The common understanding of the verb to burn in this context is related to incontinence.

In his discussion of this sensitive subject, Paul is frank but at the same time discreet. His expressions are often incomplete so that the reader has to fill in the obvious meaning. For example, he instructed husbands and wives not to deprive each other (v. 5), but left the completion of the sentence for the reader. By saying that it is better to marry than to burn, he again invites the reader to complete the sentence. In the present verse, he teaches that incontinence has its solution within the bounds of marriage and urges the unmarried who lack self-control to seek marriage partners (v. 9). For him, marriage is the context in which husbands and wives find satisfaction for their sexual desires.

With the comparative word better Paul is placing marriage over against burning. Paul writes that one should enter marriage as a one-time act to avoid a state of continual desire. But his advice fails to cover every situation. G. G. Findlay astutely observes, “Better to marry than to burn; but if marriage is impossible, better infinitely to burn than to sin.”[7]

7:9. Nevertheless, Paul also recognized that reality is usually not ideal. So, he conceded a hierarchy of preferences, with celibacy being the most desirable for the unmarried Corinthians. But “the unmarried and the widows” (7:8) were to marry if they could not control themselves sexually. Marriage was not as advantageous as celibacy, but it was better than burning with passion. Literally, Paul did not say, “If they are not able to control themselves,” but “If they do not control themselves,” that is, “If they lose control and fall into sexual immorality.” Paul did not suggest that marriage would eliminate lustful thoughts, but that it could help believers abstain from sexual immorality.[8]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1984). 1 Corinthians (pp. 162–164). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Calvin, J., & Pringle, J. (2010). Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians (Vol. 1, pp. 235–237). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[3] Verbrugge, V. D. (2008). 1 Corinthians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, p. 317). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] Fee, G. D. (2014). The First Epistle to the Corinthians. (N. B. Stonehouse, F. F. Bruce, G. D. Fee, & J. B. Green, Eds.) (Revised Edition, pp. 320–322). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[5] Soards, M. L. (2011). 1 Corinthians (p. 144). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[6] Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). 1 Corinthians (p. 225). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

[7] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the First Epistle to the Corinthians (Vol. 18, p. 218). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[8] Pratt, R. L., Jr. (2000). I & II Corinthians (Vol. 7, p. 115). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

DOJ declines to prosecute James Comey on inspector general referral for leaking classified info | Washington Examiner

The Justice Department declined to prosecute former FBI Director James Comey following a criminal referral from the agency’s independent watchdog, which concluded that Comey had leaked classified information and showed a lack of candor with investigators.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz reached out to prosecutors about one of the memos Comey leaked to a friend, which detailed a conversation he had with President Trump, after he was fired by President Trump in May 2017.

Although prosecutors found the watchdog’s findings compelling, they decided against prosecution under classified information protection laws because of there being too much uncertainty surrounding Comey’s intent, according to the Hill. A month after he was fired, Comey testified to Congress he had leaked his notes to a friend to give to the media, hoping that it would spark a special counsel investigation. 

Commentary Editor Tim Carney on the expanded Washington Examiner magazine

Then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel the day after the New York Times first reported on details from one of Comey’s leaked memos, which claimed Trump pressed his FBI director to drop an investigation into his national security adviser Michael Flynn. That memo was classified as “confidential” — the lowest classification level — after Comey sent the information.

With other investigations focused on the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation underway, one source said the DOJ did not want to “make its first case against the Russia investigators with such thin margins and look petty and vindictive.”

Comey’s lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Spokespeople for the DOJ and its inspector general also did not immediately respond to the Washington Examiner’s request for comment.

The news comes hours after conservative watchdog group Judicial Watchannounced it had obtained an FBI log about special agents arriving at Comey’s home in June 2017 to retrieve his memos. The notes show Comey handed over four of them to the FBI agents, and he said to the best of his recollection two might be missing.

Although the DOJ declined to prosecute in this case, Comey, who has become a vocal critic of the president since his ouster, is not yet in the clear.

Comey is also a possible target of Horowitz’s separate investigation into alleged Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act abuse. He signed three of the four FISA applications targeting former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page before being fired by Trump. Horowitz’s report is expected to be released after Labor Day. 

It is also likely that Comey’s actions as FBI director will be scrutinized during the “investigation of the investigators,” a review of the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation, being led by Attorney General William Barr and the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, John Durham.
— Read on www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/doj-declines-to-prosecute-james-comey-on-inspector-general-referral-for-leaking-classified-info

August 1 The Holy Spirit

scripture reading: John 16:7–15
key verse: John 15:26

When the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.

Although the Holy Spirit is defined to a degree by His various roles—teacher, guide, and helper—His identity rests on three truths:

First, the Holy Spirit is God. In several instances, the Holy Spirit is referred to as “the Spirit of God.”

Second, He is one with God, the third person of the Trinity. As such, He possesses the inherent nature and character of God. The Greek word for “another” in John 14:16–17 is literally translated “another of the same kind.” Thus, the Holy Spirit is God Himself, omnipotent (Job 33:4), omnipresent (Ps. 139:7–10), and omniscient (1 Cor. 2:10–12).

Third, since the Holy Spirit is a person, He is God. The Holy Spirit likewise is marked by a distinct personality. He is not an “it.” He has a will (1 Cor. 12:11), emotions (Eph. 4:30), and intellect (Rom. 8:27).

As a person, the Holy Spirit can be resisted, lied to, and grieved. The Holy Spirit is life. The Holy Spirit helped birth the universe (Gen. 1:2). Christ was conceived by an act of the Holy Spirit. The believer is given God’s life through His indwelling, and the abundant life is possible only through His activity.

Heavenly Father, during the coming days, reveal Your Holy Spirit to me in a new way. I want to live the Spirit–filled life.[1]

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1998). Enter His gates: a daily devotional. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

How to Take Unruly and Stubborn Thoughts Captive | True Woman Blog – Revive Our Hearts

You know those moments when you’re sitting back in the peace and quiet of your home (possibly a rare or common thing in your home) and one of those thoughts pops into your head. A fear, a what if, a lie, a sin from the past, an unkind thought of another, a false assumption, or some other kind of unruly thought. As much as you don’t want to think on it, it’s there and flourishing. These thoughts are stubborn and sticky. Like a fly you keep chasing away, they return, just as determined as before to sink deep into your mind. It seems that no matter what you do, these thoughts continue to return whenever you have a quiet moment to yourself.

As those who have been redeemed by Christ, we should have heavenly thoughts. As Paul says to the Colossians, 

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory (Col. 3:2–4). 

But how do we do this? How do we take those thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ? By installing Philippians 4:8 as a guard over our minds.

What Is an Unbiblical Thought?

Before we form a plan for conquering our unruly and stubborn thoughts, we need to be able to recognize them. These thoughts are tricky—they know how to twist God’s Word and make what is dark appear as light (2 Cor. 11:14). This is how Satan gets us; in Eden, Satan led Eve to doubt God’s command and then twisted it (Gen. 3). We need a discerning filter to run our thoughts through to see if they line up with the truth. Philippians 4:8 is this filter.

Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things (CSB).

This is our command from God: dwell on these things. If a biblical thought is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy, then an unbiblical thought is the opposite. It’s false, shameful, unfair, impure, detestable, appalling, inferior, and blameworthy. An unbiblical thought seeks to tempt, corrupt, and ruin. It distorts the truth. It blasphemes God. It calls into question that which God has promised and proclaimed. It would hurt others if they heard it. These are the kinds of thoughts we want to capture and destroy.

What Is a Godly Thought?

As we capture each of our thoughts to examine and test with God’s Word, we can use Philippians 4:8 as our “thought filter” or “glasses” through which to consider each thought. If a thought can’t pass through, it isn’t to be dwelled on. And what does Philippians 4:8 call us to dwell on? That which is . . .

  • True: honest, real, correct, and truthful, the opposite of myths and lies. Though the world says truth is something you can determine, we know that God alone is the source of all truth.
  • Honorable: respected, dignified, moral. “Paul is saying, Get your mind off of low and base things. Get your mind out of the gutter. Get your attention off frivolous things. Focus on the honorable.1
  • Right: just, righteous, upright, and faultless. That which is obedient to God’s law or approved by Him. 
  • Pure: sacred, chaste, innocent, clean, and untainted by sin. Separate from evil and sin.
  • Lovely: acceptable, pleasing, or amiable.
  • Commendable: well-spoken of. “That which is highly regarded or thought well of. It refers to what is generally considered reputable in the world, such as kindness, courtesy, and respect for others.”2
  • Excellent: morally excellent or virtuous, or pure.
  • Worthy of praise: to be admired, approved, or praised.

If you are thinking on that which is true, honorable, right, and pure, there’s no room for the unruly and stubborn thoughts to get a foothold. We can’t simply banish the unruly thoughts—we need to replace them with something better.

Practical Steps for Taking Our Thoughts Captive

How do we apply this practice of filtering our thoughts through Philippians 4:8? How do we dwell on those heavenly things? 

Keep a thought journal. 

In either a physical journal or a note on your computer or phone, keep a log of those unruly thoughts when they pop up. Take note of the following:

  • What was the thought?
  • What provoked the thought? This may help you determine what triggers these unruly thoughts so you can catch them earlier.
  • Why was it unhelpful or sinful? (Use Scripture to back it up.)
  • What is a right and godly thought to replace it with? (Use Scripture to back it up.)

Eventually you will get into the habit of doing this without using a journal.

Philippians 4:8 thought list. 

Make a list of things you can think on based on Philippians 4:8. Whenever one of those unruly thoughts pops up, refer to your list.

Listen to content throughout the day that fits Philippians 4:8.

If you’re struggling with unruly thoughts, try listening to Scripture, audiobooks on Christian living, or worship music and hymns.

Memorize Scripture. 

What better thing to fill your mind with than Scripture itself? Like the psalmist, let’s store up God’s Word in our hearts so that we might not sin against Him (Ps. 119:11).

Strength in the Holy Spirit.

The practical means nothing if we aren’t filled with the Holy Spirit. When we are saved, the Holy Spirit comes to reside inside us and change our hearts and minds to love God. The nonbeliever might be able to implement some of these practical tips and change their thought life, but what good is that without salvation from sin and death? Where is their hope? They are hopelessly going forward in their own strength. But we have the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead empowering us to obey and love God (Rom. 8:11). If we want to take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ, we need to be changed by Christ first. We need to be people who have trusted by faith in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for the forgiveness of their sins. 

Those unruly thoughts that seem to rule our minds? They can be taken captive. In the power of the Spirit, we can recognize them, take them captive, and fill our minds with that which is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy. Unruly thoughts don’t need to rule us anymore.

1 Steven J. Lawson, Philippians for You, God’s Word for You (Good Book Company, 2017), Kindle, 200.

2 John MacArthur, Dr., The MacArthur Bible Commentary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2005), 1725.
— Read on www.reviveourhearts.com/true-woman/blog/how-take-unruly-and-stubborn-thoughts-captive/

1 august (1858) 365 Days with Spurgeon

Sovereign grace and man’s responsibility

“But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.” Romans 10:20, 21

suggested further reading: Matthew 26:20–25

I see in one place, God presiding over all in providence; and yet I see, and I cannot help seeing, that man acts as he pleases, and that God has left his actions to his own will, in a great measure. Now, if I were to declare that man was so free to act, that there was no control of God over his actions, I should be driven very near to atheism; and if, on the other hand, I declare that God so overrules all things, as that man is not free enough to be responsible, I am driven at once into Antinomianism or fatalism. That God predestines, and that man is responsible, are two things that few can see. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory; but they are not. It is just the fault of our weak judgment. Two truths cannot be contradictory to each other. If, then, I find taught in one place that everything is fore-ordained, that is true; and if I find in another place that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is my folly that leads me to imagine that two truths can ever contradict each other. These two truths, I do not believe, can ever be welded into one upon any human anvil, but one they shall be in eternity: they are two lines that are so nearly parallel, that the mind that shall pursue them farthest, will never discover that they converge; but they do converge, and they will meet somewhere in eternity, close to the throne of God, whence all truth springs.

for meditation: The Bible does not tell us everything; nor does it give a full explanation of what it does tell us. But it tells us more than enough to give us a sound foundation for our faith and obedience (Deuteronomy 29:29; John 20:30, 31).

sermon no. 207[1]

[1] Spurgeon, C. H., & Crosby, T. P. (1998). 365 Days with Spurgeon (Volume 1) (p. 220). Leominster, UK: Day One Publications.

Thursday Briefing, August 1, 2019 – AlbertMohler.com


 The Tragedy of Joshua Harris: Sobering Thoughts for Evangelicals


 Dr. Wen is Shown the Door: Planned Parenthood Shows the World its Obsession with Abortion


 Whitewashing the Tour de France






President of Planned Parenthood Is Ousted, by Michelle Hackman


 Why Leana Wen Quickly Lost Support at Planned Parenthood, by Sarah Kliff and Shane Goldmacher


 A Coup at Planned Parenthood, by Editorial Board


1 AUGUST 365 Days with Calvin

Employed in his Service

Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. Romans 6:13

suggested further reading: 1 Corinthians 6:9–20

Once sin has obtained dominion in our soul, all our faculties are continually applied to its service. Paul describes the reign of sin by what follows it so that he might more clearly show what we must do to shake off its yoke.

Borrowing an image from the military, he calls our members weapons or arms, saying, in effect, “The soldier always has his arms ready so he may use them whenever ordered to do so by his general, but he never uses them except at his command. So Christians ought to regard all their faculties as weapons of spiritual warfare. If they use any of their members in the indulgence of depravity, they are in the service of sin. But they have made the oath of soldiers to God and to Christ, and by this are held bound, they must be far removed from any dealings with the camps of sin.”

People ought to ask themselves by what right they proudly lay claim to the Christian name if they have prepared all their members to commit every kind of abomination, as though they were the prostitutes of Satan.

Paul bids us to wholly present ourselves to God so that we restrain our minds and hearts from all wanderings into which the lusts of the flesh may draw us. We may then only regard the will of God which readies us to receive his commands and prepare to execute his orders, so that our members may be devoted and consecrated to his will, and so that all the faculties of our souls and our bodies may aspire after nothing but his glory. The reason for this is that the Lord, having destroyed our former life, has not in vain created us for another, which ought to be accompanied with suitable actions.

for meditation: What could be more blessed than to be totally employed, with all our members, in the service of God, our Creator and Redeemer? If we have been brought forth from the dead, do we not owe him everything? He who raised us can also give us the strength we need to employ our members in his service. What habits in your life should change in order to do so?[1]

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 232). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

Chinese military video bears similarities to Tiananmen Square protests – Business Insider


  • China’s military arm in Hong Kong on Wednesday released a three-minute video on its official Weibo social media account, showing its soldiers engaged in various military activities.
  • The video includes personnel practicing riot drills with a group of mock protesters and firing rockets and guns at targets. 
  • One particular scene showed army personnel perched atop tanks in the same arena used for riot drill practice. 
  • It bears striking resemblance to China’s response to protests held in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989, which killed and injured hundreds of people.
  • China in recent weeks has hinted that its military presence in Hong Kong could be activated to mediate protests which have sent the territory into political chaos for nearly two months. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

China’s military arm in Hong Kong on Wednesday released a video showing its soldiers dressed in riot gear and riding in tanks in scenes that bore striking similarities to the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. 

The three-minute video, published on the official Weibo social media account for the China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA)’s Hong Kong Garrison, showed its soldiers engaged in various military activities, including practicing riot drills with a group of mock protesters and firing rockets and guns at targets. 

Screenshot/South China Morning Post

According to Reuters, the video was posted under the title “anti-riot drill footage.” 

Dozens of soldiers dressed in riot gear can be seen chanting in unison and charging at a group of mock protesters who wore masks and carried batons and other makeshift weapons, similar to some protesters in current demonstrations

Screenshot/South China Morning Post

Most strikingly, the video, posted by South China Morning Post, features army personnel perched atop tanks in the same arena used for riot drill practice. There are no protesters in the frame as tanks roll through the muddy scene. 

Screenshot/South China Morning Post

The scene bears striking resemblance to famous images from China’s response to protests held in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. Pro-democracy protests, led by students, were marred by Chinese tanks and armed troops, who were instructed to “use any means” to clear out protesters who had been occupying the area for weeks.

The infamous event turned bloody as thousands of soldiers fired into the crowd, killing and injuring hundreds of people. The exact toll remains unclear to this day.

An image of a man challenging a line of Chinese tanks has become a symbol of resistance against Chinese force used in the brutal crackdown. 

China has fought to censor discussion of the massacre within its borders, and it remains a sensitive part of China’s history. 

Read more: 30 photos from the Tiananmen Square protests that China has tried to erase from history

Chen Daoxiang, the commander of the PLA’s Hong Kong garrison, said in a speech celebrating the 92nd anniversary of the Chinese military on Wednesday that the military unit would uphold the rule of law in Hong Kong. 

“Recently, there have been a series of extremely violent incidents happening in Hong Kong,” he said during the reception which accompanied the riot drill’s video, according to SCMP

“This should not be tolerated and we express our strong condemnation.”

Screenshot/South China Morning Post

44 people, including a 16-year-old girl, have been charged with rioting during ongoing protests, and face up to 10 years in prison. 

Hundreds of thousands of people have gathered in the streets of Hong Kong for nearly two months of protests, some of which have turned violent. 

What initially started as a protest of a proposed bill that would allow for the extradition of Hong Kong residents to mainland China for trial has ballooned into a fight to uphold democracy in the semiautonomous region. 

On Monday, the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office under the State Council, the Chinese government agency responsible for coordination between the mainland and the two territories, held the first press conference in its 22-year history, saying Hong Kong’s society would “suffer” if the protests continue.

“Hong Kong cannot afford to have instability,” a statement made by the office said. “Should the chaos continue, it is the entire Hong Kong that will suffer.”

Earlier this month, China’s military arm in Hong Kong carried out “emergency response exercises” — a display observers perceived as a reminder of China’s ability to step in and use force in Hong Kong if it deems it necessary as stipulated by the city’s Basic Law. 

Adam Ni, a researcher on Chinese foreign and security policy at the Australian National University, told the South China Morning Post that the goal of the drills was to send a “blatant message” about its capacity to mediate tensions on the ground.

— Read on www.businessinsider.com/chinese-military-video-bears-similarities-to-tiananmen-square-protests-2019-8

August 1 – Introduction — Reformed Perspective

For many churchgoers today, the Old Testament Book of Joshua is only about ancient battles and bloodshed. Sure the walls of Jericho fell down flat, but what does that have to do with me? Liberal church leaders will even condemn the book because it seemingly encourages “ethnic cleansing.”

As Reformed Christians, we see a far bigger truth being played out in the pages of this book. These chapters demonstrate well the intense and intimate nature of the process that God used in order to bring about His promised Messiah: how God worked in man and through man in order to save man!

We also see in Joshua how our Sovereign God is not only in control of the outcome of individual battles, but how He also determines and guides the rise and fall of every nation on earth. All nations, all kings, right down to every individual, play a role in our Lord’s eternally devised plan to bring about and secure the salvation of His elect people.

That is the greater “Story” going on in this book: the sovereign work and almighty action of our God in redeeming His people. From our studies this month, may we learn of how our Redeeming God continues to work out His great plan of salvation in the hearts and lives of His people still today.

All came to pass

“Not a word failed or any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.” – Joshua 21:45

Scripture reading: Joshua 21:43-45

We begin our study of Joshua with verses that explain why this historical record was written: as a testimony to God’s covenant faithfulness! God is sovereign and “all comes to pass” of everything He ordains, therefore He can be entrusted with our life. We can follow Him in all confidence.

Liberal scholars take exception to this. They contend that this book should not be read by us. “Joshua is too gory,” they proclaim. “Here is an Old Testament God of vengeance Who commands the Jews to steal the land that belongs to others and to commit genocide in the process! We demand a ‘kinder and gentler’ God than Who we see here.” We respond by admitting that there is bloodshed in this book, but we read Joshua in the light of the first five books of the Bible. There God reveals Himself as being absolutely holy and morally pure. He created us perfect and He warned us that He hates sin, promising death for anyone who did sin.

Thus, the elimination of the pagan tribes of Canaan must be seen by us as God sees it: the holy, moral, and natural outcome of human sin. God’s righteous judgment must be against man’s sinful rebellion. Divine justice. “All came to pass” just as God promised. God will judge our sin as well. Do not ignore this truth! Apart from Jesus Christ, we too are “sinners in the hands of an angry God.” Trust in Jesus, for only in Him is there salvation for our soul.

Suggestions for prayer

Confess God’s holiness and your sinfulness. Thank Him for this time of grace and for the sending of His Son. Ask Him to give you spiritual eyes to see the great truths found in the Book of Joshua.

This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ed Marcusse is the pastor of the Oak Glen United Reformed Church of Lansing, Illinois.

via August 1 – Introduction — Reformed Perspective

Chinese Commander Says Army Ready to Ensure Stability in Hong Kong Amid Protests – Sputnik International

BEIJING (Sputnik) – Chen Daoxiang, the commander of China’s People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA’s) Hong Kong garrison, said on Thursday the PLA was prepared to ensure stability and security in Hong Kong after weeks of protests. 

“We resolutely support the action to maintain Hong Kong’s rule of law by the people who love the nation and the city, and we are determined to protect national sovereignty, security, stability and the prosperity of Hong Kong”, the commander said as quoted by the South China Morning Post newspaper.

Protests on Saturday and Sunday witnessed violent clashes between the Hong Kong police and thousands of protesters.

The military commander warned that clashes would not be tolerated as they threatened the safety of Hong Kong citizens and went against the very essence of the “one country, two systems” model.

This is the first time when the Chinese military garrison chief has spoken on the civil unrest that erupted in Hong Kong in early June. Tens of thousands took part in the latest of a series of marches against a controversial bill that would allow extraditions to mainland China, despite Hong Kong leader Carry Lam saying the bill was dead.

In its turn, Beijing warned “external forces” of meddling in Hong Kong’s affairs after the United Kingdom and the United States expressed concern over violence during protests.

— Read on sputniknews.com/asia/201908011076426884-chinese-commander-says-army-ready-to-ensure-stability-in-hong-kong-amid-protests/

Chinese army releases promo video for Hong Kong troops – Washington Times

HONG KONG (AP) – The Chinese army has released a promotional video for its Hong Kong-based troops at a time of uncertainty over whether the military will intervene in the city’s summer of protest.

The Hong Kong Garrison of China’s People’s Liberation Army posted the video Wednesday evening on its official social media account ahead of the Thursday anniversary of the army’s founding.

— Read on m.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/aug/1/chinese-army-releases-promo-video-for-hong-kong-tr/

August 1, 2019 Morning Verse Of The Day

3:16, 17 — All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

God gave us Scriptures for a particular reason: our growth in grace. It teaches us the truth about God, corrects us when we’re wrong, and explains how to grow so that we can become effective ambassadors for Jesus.[1]

Scripture Provides Instruction for Sanctification

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (3:16–17)

Before we examine the sanctifying power of Scripture, this crucial statement by Paul must be considered. Some scholars suggest that All Scripture is inspired should be translated, “All Scripture inspired by God is …,” which would leave open the possibility that some Scripture is not inspired by Him. But that rendering would make the Bible worthless as a reliable guide to divine truth, because we would then have no way to determine which part of it is inspired by God and which is not. Men would be left to their own finite and sinful devices and understanding to discover what part of the Bible may be true and which may not, what part is God’s Word and what part is human conjecture. Paul’s thought is that the Scripture that gives salvation must therefore be inspired by God. The words of men could never transform the inner person (Ps. 19:7).

In addition to the many other specific biblical references to the inspiration and authority of Scripture—some of which are mentioned below—it is important to note that similar Greek constructions in other parts of the New Testament (see, e.g., Rom. 7:12; 2 Cor. 10:10; 1 Tim. 1:15; 2:3; 4:4; Heb. 4:16) argue strongly from a grammatical perspective that all Scripture is inspired is the proper translation. Scripture is the revelation conveyed, inspiration is the means of that conveyance. In the words originally revealed and recorded, all Scripture is God’s inerrant Word.

The first predicate adjective that describes Scripture, namely, its being inspired by God, focuses on the authority of His written Word. Theopneustos (inspired by God) literally means, “breathed out by God,” or simply, “God-breathed.” God sometimes breathed His words into the human writers to be recorded much as dictation. He said to Jeremiah: “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth” (Jer. 1:9). But, as clearly seen in Scripture itself, God’s divine truth more often flowed through the minds, souls, hearts, and emotions of His chosen human instruments. Yet, by whatever means, God divinely superintended the accurate recording of His divinely breathed truth by His divinely chosen men. In a supernatural way, He has provided His divine Word in human words that any person, even a child, can be led by His Holy Spirit to understand sufficiently to be saved.

It is of utmost importance to understand that it is Scripture that is inspired by God, not the men divinely chosen to record it. When speaking or writing apart from God’s revelation, their thoughts, wisdom, and understanding were human and fallible. They were not inspired in the sense that we commonly use that term of people with extraordinary artistic, literary, or musical genius. Nor were they inspired in the sense of being personal repositories of divine truth which they could dispense at will. Many human authors of Scripture penned other documents, but none of those writings exist today, and, even if discovered, they would not carry the weight of Scripture. We know, for instance, that Paul wrote at least two other letters to the church at Corinth (1 Cor. 5:9; 2 Cor. 2:4), but no copies of those letters have ever been found. The letters doubtless were godly, spiritually insightful, and blessed of the Lord, but they were not Scripture.

Many men who wrote Scripture, such as Moses and Paul, were highly trained in human knowledge and wisdom, but that learning was not the source of the divine truth they recorded. David was a highly gifted poet, and that gift doubtless is reflected in the beauty of his psalms, but it was not the source of the divine truths revealed in those psalms.

Scripture first of all and above all is from God and about God, His self-revelation to fallen mankind. From Genesis through Revelation, God reveals His truth, His character, His attributes, and His divine plan for the redemption of man, whom He made in His own image. He even foretells the eventual redemption of the rest of His creation, which “also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God” and which “groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now” (Rom. 8:21–22).

The Bible is not a collection of the wisdom and insights of men, even of godly men. It is God’s truth, His own Word in His own words. The psalmist declared, “Forever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven” (Ps. 119:89). God’s Word is divinely revealed to men on earth and divinely authenticated in heaven. Peter declares unequivocally, “Know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:20–21). Those God-given, humanly recorded words became God’s written Word, inerrant and authoritative as originally given. Prophēteia (“prophecy”) is not used here in the sense of prediction but in its basic and broader meaning of speaking forth, of proclaiming a message. It carries the same inclusive idea as “the oracles of God,” with which ancient Israel had the marvelous privilege of being entrusted (Rom. 3:2). “Interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20b) translates epilusis, which refers to something that is released, sent out, or sent forth. In this verse the Greek noun is a genitive of source, indicating origin. In other words, no message of Scripture was originated and sent forth by men’s own wisdom and will. Rather, the godly men through whom Scripture was revealed and recorded were divinely instructed and carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Within the Bible itself, “God” and “Scripture” are sometimes used almost interchangeably. Referring to words spoken directly by God to Abraham (Gen. 12:3), Paul wrote that “the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘All the nations shall be blessed in you’ ” (Gal. 3:8). Later in that same chapter the apostle again personifies Scripture as God, declaring that “Scripture has shut up all men under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe” (v. 22). In his letter to the church at Rome, Paul wrote, “For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, ‘For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth’ ” (Rom. 9:17).

When he first preached in Galatia, many years before he wrote his epistle to the churches there, the apostle had declared,

And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers, that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, “Thou art My Son; today I have begotten Thee.” And as for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no more to return to decay, He has spoken in this way: “I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.” Therefore He also says in another Psalm, “Thou wilt not allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay.” (Acts 13:32–35)

the inspired and inerrant scripture

Scripture is inspired and inerrant in both testaments. All Scripture refers to the New as well as to the Old Testament. As noted above, the hieros grammata (“sacred writings”) were the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament), which Timothy had been taught from childhood (v. 15). Graphē (Scripture), on the other hand, was commonly used in the early church not only of the Old Testament but also of God’s newly revealed Word, in what came to be called the New Testament.

During His earthly ministry, Jesus gave powerful and unambiguous testimony to the divine authority of both testaments. The four gospels contain the first divine revelation after that of the Old Testament prophets, which had ceased some four hundred years earlier. Jesus’ declaration that “Scripture [graphē] cannot be broken” (John 10:35) applied specifically to the Hebrew Scriptures but also, as will be seen, to the totality of Scripture, that is, to both testaments, which together compose God’s written Word.

Early in His ministry, Jesus said of the Old Testament, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished” (Matt. 5:17–18). Later He said, “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail” (Luke 16:17).

Jesus repeatedly used divinely revealed truths from the Old Testament to affirm His messiahship. He declared, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water’ ” (John 7:38), and, “Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” (John 7:42). As Jesus walked with the two disciples on the Emmaus road after His resurrection, “beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (Luke 24:27).

In addition to His teaching that “Scripture [graphē] cannot be broken” (John 10:35), Jesus said that “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My sayings has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me commandment, what to say, and what to speak. And I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me” (John 12:48–50). The words of the incarnate Christ are the words of God the Father; therefore, to reject Jesus’ words is to reject God’s Word.

The men whom God assigned to write the gospels would not have been able in their mere humanness to remember accurately everything Jesus said or did. For that reason Jesus promised that “the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:26; cf. 15:26–27).

The Lord would reveal additional truth after He returned to heaven. “I have many more things to say to you,” He said, “but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you” (John 16:12–14).

In 1 Timothy, Paul wrote, “The Scripture [graphē] says, ‘You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,’ and ‘The laborer is worthy of his wages’ ” (1 Tim. 5:18). It is important to note that the first quotation is from the Old Testament (Deut. 25:4) and that the second is from Jesus’ own lips (Luke 10:7), that is, from the New Testament.

The Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament) contains at least 680 claims to divine inspiration. Such claims are found 418 times in the historical books, 195 times in the poetic books, and 1,307 times in the prophetic books. The New Testament contains more than 300 direct quotations and at least 1,000 indirect references from the Old Testament, almost all of them declaring or implying that they were God’s own Word. The book of Hebrews opens with the declaration “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son” (Heb. 1:1–2). The writer was speaking of both testaments, God’s speaking through “the prophets” representing the Old and His speaking through “His Son” representing the New.

Many New Testament writers directly testified that they knew they were writing God’s Word. Paul reminded believers in Corinth of a truth he doubtless had taught them many times in person when he ministered there: “[These] things we also speak,” he said, “not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words” (1 Cor. 2:13; cf. 16). In his next letter to them he defended his earnestness as well as his authority, saying, “We are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God” (2 Cor. 2:17).

Paul assured the churches in Galatia: “I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.… He who had set me apart, even from my mother’s womb, … called me through His grace, [and] was pleased to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles” (Gal. 1:11–12, 15–16). He told the church in Colossae, “Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations; but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:25–27). And to the church at Thessalonica he wrote, “For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received from us the word of God’s message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe” (1 Thess. 2:13).

Peter recognized that Paul, a fellow apostle, had been used by the Lord to write His Word. Referring to Paul’s letters, Peter wrote of “some things [in them that were] hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16, emphasis added). Jude attests that “the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ” carried the weight of Scripture, divinely warning that “in the last time there shall be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts” (Jude 17–18).

No New Testament writer had a greater awareness that he was recording God’s own Word than did the apostle John. That awareness is affirmed with particular certainty in the book of Revelation, which begins, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must shortly take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw” (Rev. 1:1–2). A few verses later the apostle says, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet, saying, ‘Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches’ ” (vv. 10–11). At or near the end of each message to those churches is the admonition “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). The apostle also makes clear in many other parts of that book that he is writing God’s explicitly revealed truth (see, e.g., 19:9; 21:5; 22:6).

It is both remarkable and significant that, although most, if not all, of the human writers were aware they were recording Scripture and sometimes were overwhelmed by the truths God revealed to them, they exhibit a total lack of self-consciousness or apology, in the common sense of that word. Together, the biblical writers make some 4,000 claims to be writing God’s Word, yet they offer no defense for being employed by God in such an elevated function. Despite their realization of their own sinfulness and fallibility, they wrote with the utter confidence that they spoke infallibly for God and that His revelation itself is its own best and irrefutable defense. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,” Isaiah proclaimed for God, “and do not return there without watering the earth, and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it” (Isa. 55:10–11).

Scripture is inspired and inerrant in its words. To deny that all of the Bible is inspired obviously is to deny that all of the words of Scripture are inspired. Just as obviously, such denial places man as judge over God’s Word, acknowledging as authentic and binding only those portions which correspond to one’s personal predispositions. Whether the human judgment about inspiration is made by a church council, church tradition, or individual preference, it is based on subjective, sin-tainted, and imperfect knowledge and understanding. When men decide for themselves what to recognize as true and worthwhile, as meaningful and relevant, they vitiate all authority of Scripture. Even when they concur with Scripture, the agreement is based on their own human wisdom.

Unless the very words of Scripture are inspired and authoritative, man is left to his own resources to ferret out what seem to be underlying divine concepts and principles. But instead of discovering what has been called “the Word behind the words”—that is, the divine truth behind the human words—that approach leads to the very opposite. It presumptuously and self-deceptively “discovers” man’s word, as it were, behind God’s words, judging God’s divine truth by the standards of man’s sinful inclinations and distorted perceptions. As Paul said to Titus, the commandments of men turn people away from God’s truth (Titus 1:14).

Even from a purely logical perspective, to discount the words of Scripture is to discount all meaning of Scripture. Not only is it impossible to write without using words but also is impossible, except in the most nebulous way, even to think without words. It is as meaningless to speak of thoughts and ideas without words as to speak of music without notes or mathematics without numbers. To repudiate the words of Scripture is to repudiate the truths of Scripture.

It is true, of course, that both testaments contain revelations whose bare words God intentionally made cryptic. In some cases, as with Jesus’ parables, the purpose was to hide the meaning from willful unbelievers. When the disciples asked Jesus why He spoke to the multitudes in parables, “He answered and said to them, ‘To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted’ ” (Matt. 13:10–11). In other cases, as with predictive prophecies, even the most godly believers, including the men to whom God revealed the prophecies, could not discern the full meaning. Peter explains, for example, that, “as to this salvation [through Jesus Christ], the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look” (1 Peter 1:10–12).

In other words, although Scripture never reveals truths apart from words, in some places it reveals words apart from their full truth. The point is this: The words of Scripture are always inerrant, whether or not they convey their full meaning to those who read them or can be fully understood by our limited comprehension.

When Moses protested to God that he was not qualified to lead Israel because he had “never been eloquent” and was “slow of speech and slow of tongue, … the Lord said to him, ‘Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him dumb or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say’ ” (Ex. 4:10–12). When Moses continued to object, “the anger of the Lord burned against Moses, and He said, ‘Is there not your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that he speaks fluently.… And you are to speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I, even I, will be with your mouth and his mouth, and I will teach you what you are to do. Moreover, he shall speak for you to the people; and it shall come about that he shall be as a mouth for you, and you shall be as God to him’ ” (Ex. 4:14–16, emphasis added).

In Psalm 147, the inseparable relationship between God’s Word and His words is clear. The Lord “sends forth His command to the earth; His word runs very swiftly. He gives snow like wool; He scatters the frost like ashes. He casts forth His ice as fragments; who can stand before His cold? He sends forth His word and melts them; He causes His wind to blow and the waters to flow. He declares His words to Jacob, His statutes and His ordinances to Israel” (Ps. 147:15–19, emphasis added). It is only through words that God has revealed His Word.

Jeremiah testified: “The Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me, ‘Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.’ … Therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of hosts, ‘Because you have spoken this word, behold, I am making My words in your mouth fire and this people wood, and it will consume them.’ … Thy words were found and I ate them,” the prophet responded, “and Thy words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I have been called by Thy name, O Lord God of hosts” (Jer. 1:9; 5:14; 15:16, emphasis added). Ezekiel made a similar affirmation, saying, “Then [the Lord] said to me, ‘Son of man, I am sending you to the sons of Israel, to a rebellious people who have rebelled against Me.… But you shall speak My words to them whether they listen or not, for they are rebellious.’ … Moreover, He said to me, ‘Son of man, take into your heart all My words which I shall speak to you, and listen closely’ ” (Ezek. 2:3, 7; 3:10, emphasis added).

In reply to Satan’s temptation to make bread from stones in order to satisfy His physical hunger, Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 8:3, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God’ ” (Matt. 4:4, emphasis added). Man is fed spiritually by God’s “every word,” and every revealed word of God is found in His written Word, the Bible. In His last major public discourse, Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away” (Matt. 24:35, emphasis added).

Earlier in His ministry, Jesus proclaimed the essence of the gospel: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (John 5:24, emphasis added). “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing,” He said on another occasion. “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” (John 6:63, emphasis added). “For I did not speak on My own initiative,” our Lord again makes clear, “but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me commandment, what to say, and what to speak. And I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me” (12:49–50; cf. 14:24). Believing in the Father is believing in the Son, and the Son’s words are the Father’s words.

Scripture is inspired and inerrant in everything it teaches and reports. Some scholars maintain that, because the Bible is not a textbook on such subjects as history, geography, and science, it is inerrant only when it speaks on spiritual and moral matters. But like those who claim to accept the underlying divine concepts and principles of Scripture but not its words, these interpreters also determine by their own resources what is divine and infallible and what is human and fallible. Again, man becomes the judge of Scripture.

Through the centuries, some scholars have pointed to “mistakes” in the Bible, statements about people, places, and things that did not jibe with the accepted “facts” of history, archaeology, or modern science.

Until Copernicus’s discovery in the sixteenth century, men assumed that the sun rotated around the earth, because that is how it appears from our earthly perspective. Because we now know that the earth rotates around the sun, many scholars charge the Bible with factual error in reporting that Joshua successfully commanded the sun to stand still and the moon to be stopped (Josh. 10:12–13), whereas it must have been the earth that stood still. But highly trained meteorologists still speak of sunrise and sunset, especially when communicating with the general public. Those phrases are firmly established figures of speech throughout the world, and no sensible person accuses someone of being inaccurate or unscientific for using them. Not only that, but if God created the universe, stopping the rotation of the earth, the sun, or the moon—or of all three—would have been equally simple. It is significant that most people who question the reality of such miraculous events also question many of the clear theological and moral teachings of Scripture as well.

For many years some scholars charged the book of 2 Kings with error for reporting that “the king of Assyria required of Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold” (2 Kings 18:14). They based that judgment on an ancient Assyrian record of the transaction that gives the amount of silver as being 800 talents. But later archaeological findings have revealed that, although the Assyrian standard for a talent of gold was the same as that used by Judah and Syria, the standard for silver was considerably different. When adjusted for that difference, the biblical figure was found to be accurate.

Not only is the Bible’s reporting of history unerring but so is its prediction of history. Ezekiel foretold in amazing detail the destruction of Tyre, first by Nebuchadnezzar, later by Alexander the Great (Ezek. 26:1–21; 29:18), and then by Egypt (30:10–26). In similar detail, Nahum predicted the devastation of Nineveh (Nahum 1:15–3:19; cf. Zeph. 2:13, 15), which was conquered and destroyed in 612 b.c. by the Medes and Chaldeans. Both Isaiah (Isa. 13–14; 21:1–10) and Jeremiah (Jer. 50–51) accurately predicted the ultimate destruction of Babylon, which would “never be inhabited or lived in from generation to generation” (Isa. 13:20). That great city was conquered first by Cyrus, founder of the Persian empire and the man whom God prophesied would free His people Israel from Babylonian captivity (Isa. 44:28; 45:1–14). That noble king not only allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem, but, with an amazing awareness of his divine mission under the true God, charged them to rebuild the temple there and returned to them all the sacred and valuable temple objects pilfered by Nebuchadnezzar (Ezra 1). Other Assyrian and Persian kings successively conquered and plundered Babylon. Its final conquest was by Alexander the Great, who intended to rebuild the city but was prevented by his untimely death at the age of thirty-two. When the capital of the Syrian empire was moved from Babylon to Seleucia by Seleucus Nicator in 312 b.c., Babylon gradually died. By the time of Christ, the city was inhabited primarily by a small group of scholars, and bricks from its rubble were carried away to build houses and walls in surrounding towns. Today the almost barren site of ancient Babylon, located in the southern part of modern Iraq, is valued only for its archaeological significance.

As noted in the first point, God’s divine Word, revealed through His divine words, is not itself the means or the power of salvation, but is the agency of it. Near the end of his gospel account, John explained that “these [things] have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).

As Peter declared to the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem soon after Pentecost, “Let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, … He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the very corner stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:10–12).

In his letter to the church at Rome, Paul echoes the words of Jesus: “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.… So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:9–10, 17, emphasis added; cf. James 1:18).

Christ also uses His Word to sanctify and cleanse His church from sin. In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul said: “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word” (Eph. 5:25–26, emphasis added). In his first letter to believers at Thessalonica he said, “And for this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received from us the word of God’s message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe” (1 Thess. 2:13, emphasis added; cf. Phil. 2:16).

The second predicate adjective Paul uses to describe Scripture is profitable, which focuses on the sufficiency of God’s written Word. Profitable translates ōphelimos, which includes the ideas of beneficial, productive, and sufficient.

Scripture is sufficient in being comprehensive. Paralleled in the Old Testament only by Psalm 119 and confirmed by Joshua 1:8, these verses supremely affirm the absolute sufficiency of Scripture to meet all the spiritual needs of God’s people.

David understood the sufficiency of God’s Word, and in one of his most uplifting psalms he exulted:

The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether. They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them Thy servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults. Also keep back Thy servant from presumptuous sins; let them not rule over me; then I shall be blameless, and I shall be acquitted of great transgression. (Ps. 19:7–13)

In verses 7–9 David refers to God’s Word by six different titles: God’s law, testimony, precepts, commandment, fear (referring to worship), and judgments. In those same verses, he mentions six characteristics of that divine Word: It is perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, and true. Also included are six blessings that the Word brings in the believer’s life: It restores the soul, makes wise the simple, rejoices the heart, enlightens the eyes, endures forever, and produces complete righteousness. The remaining verses (10–13) extol the benefits of the work of the Word: It makes rich, delights, rewards, convicts, and protects. It is a marvelous mark of God’s loving grace that He has given us every truth, every principle, every standard, and every warning that we will ever need for living out our salvation according to His will.

Scripture also is complete. Jude admonished his readers to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). John closes the book of Revelation, as well as the entire Old and New Testaments, with this sobering warning from the Lord: “I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book” (Rev. 22:18–19).

False religious systems that claim to be Christian invariably expose their falsehood by their view of Scripture. Mormonism considers The Book of Mormon to be as divinely inspired and authoritative as the Bible, in fact more so, because they view that book as being a latter-day, updated revelation from God. Christian Science views Science and Health, With a Key to the Scriptures in the same way. Some charismatics claim to have received special revelations from God, which, if genuine, would carry the same divine authority as the Bible. For most of the twentieth century, a large percentage of members and a higher percentage of clergymen in most major Protestant denominations have not recognized the Bible as being wholly revealed by God and inerrant. Those views and many others like them share the common heresy of considering Scripture to be incomplete or inadequate.

It is because of such distorted and destructive views of Scripture within professing Christendom that biblical believers must, more than ever before, “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). As in the early church, the greatest danger to the church has always been from within. Paul warned the godly, mature church at Ephesus, pastored first by the apostle and then by Timothy, and led by godly elders, “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:29–30, emphasis added).

In the remainder of verse 16, Paul declares that Scripture is profitable for believers in four important ways: for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.

the teaching scripture

for teaching, (3:16b)

As mentioned in chapter 8 of this commentary in regard to verse 10, didaskalia does not refer to the process or method of teaching but to its content. In this context, as in most others in the New Testament, didaskalia refers specifically and exclusively to divine instruction, or doctrine, given to believers through God’s Word, which included not only the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) and the teaching of Jesus during His incarnation but also the inspired teaching of the apostles and New Testament authors.

“A natural man,” Paul explains, “does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them.” It is not that the unsaved person is intellectually inferior, but that such truths “are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no man. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:14–16).

While warning believers about the dangerous teachings and work of antichrists, John assures his readers: “You have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know.… As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.… And as for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him” (1 John 2:20, 24, 27).

When it comes to godly living and godly service, to growing in “the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4), God-breathed Scripture provides for us the comprehensive and complete body of divine truth necessary to live as our heavenly Father desires for us to live. The wisdom and guidance for fulfilling everything He commands us to believe, think, say, and do is found in His inerrant, authoritative, comprehensive, and completed Word.

Even after conversion, trust in one’s own wisdom is a severe hindrance to correct understanding of Scripture and to full usefulness in the Lord’s service. The counsel to “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” (Prov. 3:5) is every bit as valid for Christians as it was for Old Testament saints.

Throughout church history, the Lord has uniquely and wonderfully sustained and blessed the spiritual lives and influence of believers who, because of imprisonment, illiteracy, isolation, or other restrictions beyond their control, could not study His Word. But the teaching of Scripture is the divine body of truth without which no believer who has access to it can live, minister, or witness effectively. Tragically, some of the most biblically illiterate believers in our day live in lands where God’s Word is readily available and where scriptural preaching, teaching, and literature are abundant.

It goes without saying that it is impossible to believe, understand, and follow what you do not even know. It is completely futile, as well as foolish, to expect to live a spiritual life without knowing spiritual truth. Biblically untaught believers, especially those in biblically untaught churches, are easy prey for false teachers. They are spiritual “children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” (Eph. 4:14). Throughout most of redemptive history, God could have said what He said in Hosea’s day: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hos. 4:6). It is for that reason, as well as for the even greater reason of honoring the Lord, that regular, systematic, and thorough study of the doctrine in God’s Word is imperative for God’s people.

We not only are to guard what we know but sincerely seek to learn more of God’s inexhaustible truth. We should pray with Job, “Teach Thou me what I do not see” (Job 34:32). That dauntless man of God had lost his children, his servants, his flocks, his health, and even his reputation. He was wholly unable to see why God permitted those calamities to come upon him, and he therefore wanted the Lord to teach him whatever he needed to learn in order to endure his painful existence and to profit from it spiritually.

Just before Jehovah’s covenant with Israel was ratified near Sinai, Moses “took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, ‘All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!’ ” (Ex. 24:7). Unfortunately, the people of Israel seldom again demonstrated such reverence for God’s Word. Shortly before they were to enter and take possession of the Promised Land, Moses reminded them again: “See, I have taught you statutes and judgments just as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do thus in the land where you are entering to possess it.… And the Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that you might perform them in the land where you are going over to possess it” (Deut. 4:5, 14). God’s command to Joshua, Moses’ successor, applies to every believer: “Be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success” (Josh. 1:7–8).

When the young but godly King Josiah heard read to him “the words of the book of the law,” which had been discovered as the temple was being repaired, “he tore his clothes. Then the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam the son of Shaphan, Achbor the son of Micaiah, Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah the king’s servant saying, ‘Go, inquire of the Lord for me and the people and all Judah concerning the words of this book that has been found, for great is the wrath of the Lord that burns against us, because our fathers have not listened to the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us’ ” (2 Kings 22:11–13).

Although they did not believe their own words, the unbelieving and hypocritical Pharisees were completely correct when they said of Jesus, “You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any” (Matt. 22:16). It was because of His utter truthfulness and righteousness and His refusal to defer to anyone that those men, and others like them, put Jesus to death. Contrary to their godly forefather Josiah, they would not accept the teaching of God.

On a trip from Greece back to Jerusalem, Paul reminded the Ephesian elders, many of whom had ministered both with him and with Timothy, “You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, … how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.… For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God” (Acts 20:18, 20–21, 27).

Both the first and last pieces of spiritual armor that Paul mentions in his letter to believers at Ephesus pertain to Scripture. “Stand firm therefore,” he says, “having girded your loins with truth.” Then, after putting on the “breastplate of righteousness,” shodding our feet with “the gospel of peace, “taking up the shield of faith,” and donning “the helmet of salvation,” we are to equip ourselves with the only offensive implement mentioned here—“the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:14–17). Machaira (“sword”) refers to a short sword, or dagger, a weapon used in close combat that required skillful use in order to be effective. “Word” translates rhēma, which refers to a specific statement or wording, not to general truth, as does the more commonly used logos.

Our “wielding” of Scripture, as it were, should be as precise, accurate, and appropriate as possible. No matter how good our intentions might be, to interpret or apply a passage thoughtlessly or to quote it out of context creates confusion and uncertainty. It does disservice to the Lord and to those we are attempting to instruct. In order to present ourselves “approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed,” we must handle “accurately the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). Careless use of Scripture, even by the Lord’s own people, can do great damage to the cause of Christ, as it often has done throughout church history.

During His wilderness ordeal, Jesus responded to each of Satan’s temptations with an accurate and carefully chosen quotation from Scripture (see Matt. 4:3–10). Because He was the incarnate Son of God, anything He might have said would have carried the same divine weight as Scripture. But as an example for His followers, He chose to quote divine truth that already was recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures. Following the pattern of our gracious Lord, our weapon against the temptations and deceptions of the devil should always be a careful and precise use of God’s revealed Word. It then goes without saying that, in order to use Scripture in that effective way, we must thoroughly know it and understand it. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we must “let the word of Christ richly dwell within [us], with all wisdom” (Col. 3:16).

The truths of God’s Word are spiritual wealth that we should continually be depositing into our minds and hearts. Like deposits of money in our bank account, those deposits of divine truth become spiritual assets that we can draw on readily when confronting temptation, when making moral choices and when seeking God’s specific will and guidance for our lives.

the reproving scripture

for reproof, (3:16c)

A second work of the Word in the life of believers is that of reproof. Elegmos (reproof) carries the idea of rebuking in order to convict of misbehavior or false doctrine. As with teaching, Scripture’s work of reproof has to do with content, with equipping believers with accurate knowledge and understanding of divine truth, in this context divine truth that exposes falsehood and sin, erroneous belief, and ungodly conduct.

Richard Trench, a noted nineteenth-century British theologian, comments that elegmos refers to rebuking “another with such effectual wielding of the victorious arm of the truth, as to bring him not always to a confession, yet at least to a conviction of his sin.”

Regular and careful study of Scripture builds a foundation of truth that, among other things, exposes sin in a believer’s life with the purpose of bringing correction, confession, renunciation, and obedience.

Using the same Greek word as Paul does in Ephesians 6:17, the writer of Hebrews speaks of the Bible as a divine sword that exposes sin in a believer’s life. “The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword [machaira], and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:12–13). Scripture precisely and thoroughly penetrates the believer’s mind, soul, and heart.

Every Christian who has been saved for any length of time has experienced times of being sharply and deeply convicted by reading a particular Bible passage or hearing it preached or taught. Every experienced Christian also knows that during times of disobedience he is strongly tempted to forsake Bible study and worship and finds that fellowship with faithful believers becomes less attractive and comfortable. Looked at from the opposite side, decreased desire to study God’s Word, to worship Him, and to be with His people is reliable evidence of unconfessed and unforsaken sin. It is for that reason that a Bible-teaching, Bible-believing, and Bible-obeying church is never a haven for persistent sinners. As Jesus explained the principle to Nicodemus, “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (John 3:20).

Scripture has the negative ministry of tearing down and destroying that which is sinful and false as well as of building up and improving that which is righteous and true. Just as in medicine, infection and contamination must be excised before healing can begin. Paul told the Ephesian elders, “I testify to you this day, that I am innocent of the blood of all men.… Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears” (Acts 20:26, 31).

Reproving the wrongdoing of his people is as much a pastor’s responsibility as helping build them up in righteousness. At the beginning of the next chapter of this letter, Paul wrote, “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Tim. 4:1–2). The first two of those three admonitions are negative, the first one being the verb form of elegmos (reproof). God’s minister, like God’s Word, must reprove sin and falsehood.

Scripture is the divine plumb line by which every thought, principle, act, and belief is to be measured. Paul reminded the Corinthian church what he doubtless had taught them many times. “We are not like many,” he said, “peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.… We have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Cor. 2:17; 4:2). Luke commended God-fearing Jews in Berea because they “were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). As every preacher and teacher should be, Paul and Silas were not offended but were greatly pleased that everything they said was measured against God’s Word.

“I have more insight than all my teachers,” the psalmist testified before the Lord, “for Thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, because I have observed Thy precepts” (Ps. 119:99–100). “From Thy precepts I get understanding,” he continues a few verses later; “therefore I hate every false way. Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path” (vv. 104–105). God’s Word steers us away from sin and toward righteousness.

Isaiah warned the people of Israel to “hate every false way.” “And when they say to you, ‘Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter,’ should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn [light]” (Isa. 8:19–20).

When we are constrained by God’s Word to reprove a sinning brother or sister, we should do so in humility and love. That always was Paul’s practice. “I do not write these things to shame you,” he told immature and disobedient believers in Corinth, “but to admonish you as my beloved children” (1 Cor. 4:14). If the holy Lord obligates Himself to reprove and discipline His disobedient children in love (Heb. 12:5–11), how much more are His children obligated to reprove each other in love.

It is just as important, although more difficult, to be gracious when we receive reproof, whether directly by God’s Word or from other believers who call us to biblical account. “For the commandment is a lamp, and the teaching is light,” an Old Testament saint professed, “and reproofs for discipline are the way of life” (Prov. 6:23). Like him, every believer should be as grateful for the reproving work of the Word as for its encouragement. It is impossible to genuinely seek righteousness and truth if we do not hate and renounce sin and falsehood.

the correcting scripture

for correction, (3:16d)

Epanorthōsis (correction) is used only here in the New Testament and refers to the restoration of something to its original and proper condition. In secular Greek literature it was used of setting upright an object that had fallen down and of helping a person back on his feet after stumbling. After exposing and condemning false belief and sinful conduct in believers, Scripture then builds them up through its divine correction.

Correction is Scripture’s positive provision for those who accept its negative reproof. “Therefore, putting aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and all slander,” Peter admonishes, “like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:1–2).

Perhaps the most extensive praise of God’s Word in all of Scripture is found in Psalm 119. Among the many well-known verses in that beautiful tribute to God and His Word, the unknown psalmist wrote, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Thy word. With all my heart I have sought Thee; do not let me wander from Thy commandments. Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee” (Ps. 119:9–11).

“If we confess our sins,” the Lord assures us through John, “He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). “And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace,” Paul told the Ephesian elders, “which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32). When submitted to the Lord’s marvelous grace, our areas of greatest weakness can, through correction, become areas of greatest strength.

Shortly before His arrest and crucifixion, Jesus told the disciples, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:1–2). In order to make His people obedient, useful, and effective in His service, the Lord has to trim away not only things that are sinful but also things that are useless. He may take away things that are perfectly good in themselves, even things that seem necessary, but which He knows are a hindrance to our spiritual growth and service. They can sap time, attention, and effort from the work He has for us to do. Like His discipline, this process sometimes “for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful,” but also like discipline, “to those who have been trained by it” the Lord’s wise and gracious cropping of superfluous branches “afterwards … yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Heb. 12:11).

As with reproof, godly believers, especially pastors and teachers, are often the channel through which the Word brings correction. Earlier in this letter, Paul reminded Timothy that “the Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 2:25, emphasis added). In his letter to believers at Galatia, the apostle gives similar counsel: “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted” (Gal. 6:1). Despite the dreadful calamities with which God allowed him to be afflicted, Job affirmed to his friend Eliphaz that “he who has clean hands shall grow stronger and stronger” (Job 17:9).

the scripture that trains for righteousness

for training in righteousness; (3:16e)

Training translates paideia, which had the original meaning of bringing up and training a child (paidion), but it came to be used of any sort of training. It also is rendered “correcting” (2 Tim. 2:25) and “discipline” (Eph. 6:4; Heb. 12:5, 7, 11). In the context of verses 16–17, it clearly refers to training in the broader and probably more positive sense, since the negatives are covered by reproof. It is directed at the ideas of instruction and building up. Until the Lord takes us to be with Himself, His Word is to continue training us in righteousness.

As with teaching, reproof, and correction, godly believers—especially leaders in the church—are instruments through which Scripture provides training for God’s people. After reminding Timothy that “everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer” (1 Tim. 4:4–5), Paul assured him that “in pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following” (v. 6, emphasis added).

Peter gives similar counsel to believers: “You have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God. For, ‘All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, but the word of the Lord abides forever.’ And this is the word which was preached to you” (1 Peter 1:23–25).

And just as milk nourishes a baby in ways it does not understand, so God’s Word nourishes us in ways we often do not understand. No matter how deep our understanding of Scripture may be, we still should be able to affirm with the psalmist, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for Thee, O God” (Ps. 42:1). We should rejoice with Paul that “we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).

the enabling scripture

that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (3:17)

The Bible can be of great value to an unbeliever. Most important, as discussed in the previous chapter, it will lead to salvation those who come to trust in the Savior and Lord it proclaims. But Paul is speaking here of Scripture’s special value for preachers, who are able, with the Spirit’s guidance, to understand and to proclaim the truths of God’s Word.

The apostle is addressing the man of God, a technical phrase used only of Timothy in the New Testament. In the Old Testament it is frequently used as a title for one who proclaimed the Word of God. In this context, man of God refers most directly to Timothy and, by extension, to all preachers.

Artios (adequate) refers to persons who are complete, capable, and proficient in everything they are called to be or do. In Christ “you have been made complete,” Paul tells Colossian believers (Col. 2:10). The preacher who carefully studies and sincerely believes and obeys the truths of Scripture will stand strong in living and defending the faith.

Equipped for every good work could be paraphrased, “enabled to meet all demands of righteousness.” By his life he will affirm the power of the Word to lead men to salvation and to equip them for righteous living and for faithful service to the Lord. When the man of God is himself equipped by the Word, he can then equip the believers under his care. Just as “we are [the Lord’s] workmanship,” Paul explains, we also should be doing His work. We are “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Christ says to all those who belong to Him what He said to the Twelve: “We must work the works of Him who sent Me, as long as it is day; night is coming, when no man can work” (John 9:4).

Whether our purpose is to lead men and women to saving faith in Jesus Christ, to teach God’s truth to believers, to refute error in the church, to correct and rebuild erring believers, or to train believers to live righteously, our supreme and sufficient resource is God’s Word. It not only gives us the information to teach but also shapes us into living examples of that truth.

One cannot help wondering why so many evangelical pastors of our day, like many Christians throughout history, have lost sight of that foundational truth. Every church, everywhere and in every time, should be totally committed to preaching, teaching, and implementing the Word, thereby pleasing and exalting the gracious and sovereign God who has revealed it.

Through the convincing and convicting power of the Holy Spirit, Scripture is God’s own provision for every spiritual truth and moral principle that men need to be saved, to be equipped to live righteously in this present life and to hear one day in the life to come, “Well done, good and faithful servant, … enter into the joy of your Master” (Matt. 25:21).[2]

16. All Scripture; or, the whole of Scripture; though it makes little difference as to the meaning. He follows out that commendation which he had glanced at briefly. First, he commends the Scripture on account of its authority; and secondly, on account of the utility which springs from it. In order to uphold the authority of the Scripture, he declares that it is divinely inspired; for, if it be so, it is beyond all controversy that men ought to receive it with reverence. This is a principle which distinguishes our religion from all others, that we know that God hath spoken to us, and are fully convinced that the prophets did not speak at their own suggestion, but that, being organs of the Holy Spirit, they only uttered what they had been commissioned from heaven to declare. Whoever then wishes to profit in the Scriptures, let him, first of all, lay down this as a settled point, that the Law and the Prophets are not a doctrine delivered according to the will and pleasure of men, but dictated by the Holy Spirit.

If it be objected, “How can this be known?” I answer, both to disciples and to teachers, God is made known to be the author of it by the revelation of the same Spirit. Moses and the prophets did not utter at random what we have received from their hand, but, speaking at the suggestion of God, they boldly and fearlessly testified, what was actually true, that it was the mouth of the Lord that spake. The same Spirit, therefore, who made Moses and the prophets certain of their calling, now also testifies to our hearts, that he has employed them as his servants to instruct us. Accordingly, we need not wonder if there are many who doubt as to the Author of the Scripture; for, although the majesty of God is displayed in it, yet none but those who have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit have eyes to perceive what ought, indeed, to have been visible to all, and yet is visible to the elect alone. This is the first clause, that we owe to the Scripture the same reverence which we owe to God; because it has proceeded from him alone, and has nothing belonging to man mixed with it.

And is profitable. Now follows the second part of the commendation, that the Scripture contains a perfect rule of a good and happy life. When he says this, he means that it is corrupted by sinful abuse, when this usefulness is not sought. And thus he indirectly censures those unprincipled men who fed the people with vain speculations, as with wind. For this reason we may, in the present day, condemn all who, disregarding edification, agitate questions which, though they are ingenious, are also useless. Whenever ingenious trifles of that kind are brought forward, they must be warded off by this shield, that “Scripture is profitable.” Hence it follows, that it is unlawful to treat it in an unprofitable manner; for the Lord, when he gave us the Scriptures, did not intend either to gratify our curiosity, or to encourage ostentation, or to give occasion for chatting and talking, but to do us good; and, therefore, the right use of Scripture must always tend to what is profitable.

For instruction. Here he enters into a detailed statement of the various and manifold advantages derived from the Scriptures. And, first of all, he mentions instruction, which ranks above all the rest; for it will be to no purpose that you exhort or reprove, if you have not previously instructed. But because “instruction,” taken by itself, is often of little avail, he adds reproof and correction.

It would be too long to explain what we are to learn from the Scriptures; and, in the preceding verse, he has given a brief summary of them under the word faith. The most valuable knowledge, therefore, is “faith in Christ.” Next follows instruction for regulating the life, to which are added the excitements of exhortations and reproofs. Thus he who knows how to use the Scriptures properly, is in want of nothing for salvation, or for a holy life. Reproof and correction differ little from each other, except that the latter proceeds from the former; for the beginning of repentance is the knowledge of our sinfulness, and a conviction of the judgment of God. Instruction in righteousness means the rule of a good and holy life.

17. That the man of God may be perfect. Perfect means here a blameless person, one in whom there is nothing defective; for he asserts absolutely, that the Scripture is sufficient for perfection. Accordingly, he who is not satisfied with Scripture desires to be wiser than is either proper or desirable.

But here an objection arises. Seeing that Paul speaks of the Scriptures, which is the name given to the Old Testament, how does he say that it makes a man thoroughly perfect? for, if it be so, what was afterwards added by the apostles may be thought superfluous. I reply, so far as relates to the substance, nothing has been added; for the writings of the apostles contain nothing else than a simple and natural explanation of the Law and the Prophets, together with a manifestation of the things expressed in them. This eulogium, therefore, is not inappropriately bestowed on the Scriptures by Paul; and, seeing that its instruction is now rendered more full and clear by the addition of the Gospel, what can be said but that we ought assuredly to hope that the usefulness, of which Paul speaks, will be much more displayed, if we are willing to make trial and receive it?[3]

16 Without any conjunction (such as “for”), Paul elaborates the supreme value of Scripture. He focuses primarily on two aspects (with emphasis on the second element): first, “all Scripture” (more likely than “every Scripture”; see Notes)—in the original context, the OT (but see 1 Ti 5:18; 2 Pe 3:16)—is “God-breathed” (theopneustos, GK 2535; NASB, “inspired by God”). The term, an apparent Pauline coinage, is found in subsequent Greek literature (Pseudo-Phocylides 129; Sib. Or. 5:308; 5:407 [ca. AD 90–130]; cf. Homer, Iliad, 20.110), but the concept of the creative, life-giving breath of God and the image of the word of God as “breathed” by God have deep OT roots (Ge 1–2; Ps 33:6; Isa 42:5; cf. M. R. Austin, “How Biblical Is ‘The Inspiration of Scripture?’ ” ExpTim 93 [1981]: 77–79). The notion of inspiration is not foreign to the OT (Nu 24:2; Hos 9:7). The present passage is one of the major texts on the divine inspiration of Scripture (see B. B. Warfield’s classic study, “God-Inspired Scripture,” Presbyterian & Reformed Review 11 [1927]: 89–130).

Second, because it has God as its source (cf. Warfield, “God-Inspired Scripture,” 293–94), Scripture is “useful” (ōphelimos, GK 6068; cf. 1 Ti 4:8; Tit 3:8) in a variety of ways (cf. Ro 15:4; 1 Co 10:11). Employing a symmetrical literary device called “chiasm,” with the two positive features enveloping the two negative ones, Paul notes that Scripture is “useful” for (a) “teaching” (didaskalia, GK 1436, a general term; see comments at v. 10 and at 4:3); (b) “rebuking” (elegmon, GK 1791; cf. Sir 21:6; 32:17; 48:7); (b’) “correcting” (epanorthōsin, GK 2061; cf. 1 Esd 8:52; 1 Macc 14:34; Josephus, Ant. 11.157; 16.263; Epictetus, Disc. 3.21.15); and (a’) “training [paideia, GK 4082; cf. Eph 6:4; Heb 12:5–11] in righteousness.” As in child rearing, Christian growth entails both nurture and correction (cf. Eph 6:4).

17 The end result of such thorough biblical training will be that the “man of God”—Christians in general and specifically church leaders—will be “adequate” (artios, GK 787; cf. Philo, Plant. 125), “complete [exērtismenos, GK 1992; cf. Ac 21:5; the NIV conflates the two terms to “thoroughly equipped”] for every good work” (see esp. 2:21; Tit 3:1).While salvation comes through faith in Christ (2 Ti 3:15; cf. 1:9; Tit 3:5), the purpose of a person’s calling is good works, a major theme in the PE (1 Ti 2:10; 3:1; 5:10, 25; 6:18; 2 Ti 2:21; Tit 1:16; 2:7, 14; 3:1, 8, 14).

Once again the message is consistent with Paul’s teaching elsewhere (Eph 2:8–10). (1) Proper Christian training must first be grounded in Scripture (not merely the passing on of humanistic principles or values); (2) it must be thorough—there are no shortcuts to true spiritual growth—including both instruction and correction (rather than focusing unilaterally on encouragement); and (3) it is not merely for a person’s own edification or intellectual stimulation but for equipment for ministry to others.[4]

3:16–17 / The reminder of Timothy’s long knowledge of the Holy Scriptures causes Paul to conclude this appeal by reflecting on the divine origins of Scripture, hence their total usefulness for Timothy’s ministry.

First, he affirms Scripture’s divine origins: All (or “Every”) Scripture is God-breathed. Some wish to translate this “Every scripture inspired by God is also profitable” (asv; cf. gnb margin). If so, then it would probably be a further explanation of verse 15, meaning something like: “Scripture makes one wise unto salvation; indeed every God-inspired Scripture is also useful for instruction …” However, on the basis of a similar construction in 1 Timothy 4:4, and in light of the context, Paul probably intended to emphasize that the Scripture that is “able to make you wise for salvation” is in its totality God-breathed (reflecting the creative activity of God; cf. rsv, gnb, “inspired by God”), that is, of divine origin. (Cf. the “commandments of men” in Titus 1:14.) In so doing he is not offering a theory of inspiration; he is, rather, reflecting the common tradition of Judaism (cf. 2 Pet. 1:21).

Second, he affirms that all Scripture is useful for all the tasks of his ministry—and this is why the emphasis on its divine origins. The tasks outlined are a clear reflection of the historical setting of the letter.

For teaching: This is Timothy’s primary responsibility—to use the Scriptures to give sound instruction in the gospel to God’s people (cf. 1 Tim. 4:6, 13, 16; 6:3).

For rebuking: This is the other side of the task; he must use Scripture to expose the errors of the false teachers and their teachings.

For correcting: This word occurs only here in the nt. It is a companion of rebuking, but emphasizes the behavioral, ethical side of things.

And training in righteousness (paideia; cf. 2:25; Titus 2:12): This corresponds to correcting, as its positive side.

Thus all Scripture, God-breathed as it is, is useful for Timothy’s twofold task of teaching the truth of the gospel with its right behavior and of resisting the errors and immoral behavior of the false teaching.

But Paul is not quite finished. He adds a purpose, or perhaps here a result, clause to verse 16, whose intent is not altogether clear: so that the man of God (cf. 1 Tim. 6:11) may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (cf. 2:21; Titus 1:16; 3:1). Such a clause should point to those receiving the instruction. However, the context, plus the use of the title man of God in the singular, almost demand that Paul is, rather, concerned with Timothy, as the one responsible for giving the instruction. The clause in a certain sense doesn’t follow; yet Paul’s concern is clear enough. By continually nurturing his own life in the Scriptures that he is to use in his ministry, Timothy will be thoroughly equipped (“able to meet all demands,” BAGD) for every good work, which here means not only Christian behavior but the ministry of the gospel as well, and especially points forward to 4:1–5.

With these words the appeal that began in 1:6 is brought to a conclusion. Paul urges loyalty—to his (Timothy’s) own calling, to himself (Paul), to Christ and his gospel, and to his ministry, including the teaching of Scripture—and to continue in loyalty despite suffering and in the face of opposition. But these words also prepare the way for what follows—a final charge that brings all these things together before he reveals to him the real reason for the letter (4:6–16).[5]

16. All scriptureGreek, “Every Scripture,” that is, Scripture in its every part. However, English Version is sustained, though the Greek article be wanting, by the technical use of the term “Scripture” being so well known as not to need the article (compare Greek, Eph 3:15; 2:21). The Greek is never used of writings in general, but only of the sacred Scriptures. The position of the two Greek adjectives closely united by “and,” forbids our taking the one as an epithet, the other as predicated and translated as Alford and Ellicott. “Every Scripture given by inspiration of God is also profitable.” Vulgate and the best manuscripts, favor English Version. Clearly the adjectives are so closely connected that as surely as one is a predicate, the other must be so too. Alford admits his translation to be harsh, though legitimate. It is better with English Version to take it in a construction legitimate, and at the same time not harsh. The Greek, “God-inspired,” is found nowhere else. Most of the New Testament books were written when Paul wrote this his latest Epistle: so he includes in the clause “All Scripture is God-inspired,” not only the Old Testament, in which alone Timothy was taught when a child (2 Ti 3:15), but the New Testament books according as they were recognized in the churches which had men gifted with “discerning of spirits,” and so able to distinguish really inspired utterances, persons, and so their writings from spurious. Paul means, “All Scripture is God-inspired and therefore useful”; because we see no utility in any words or portion of it, it does not follow it is not God-inspired. It is useful, because God-inspired; not God-inspired, because useful. One reason for the article not being before the Greek, “Scripture,” may be that, if it had, it might be supposed that it limited the sense to the hiera grammata, “Holy Scriptures” (2 Ti 3:15) of the Old Testament, whereas here the assertion is more general: “all Scripture” (compare Greek, 2 Pe 1:20). The translation, “all Scripture that is God-inspired is also useful,” would imply that there is some Scripture which is not God-inspired. But this would exclude the appropriated sense of the word “Scripture”; and who would need to be told that “all divine Scripture is useful (‘profitable’)?” Heb 4:13 would, in Alford’s view, have to be rendered, “All naked things are also open to the eyes of Him,” &c.: so also 1 Ti 4:4, which would be absurd [Tregelles, Remarks on the Prophetic Visions of the Book of Daniel]. Knapp well defines inspiration, “An extraordinary divine agency upon teachers while giving instruction, whether oral or written, by which they were taught how and what they should speak or write” (compare 2 Sa 23:1; Ac 4:25; 2 Pe 1:21). The inspiration gives the divine sanction to all the words of Scripture, though those words be the utterances of the individual writer, and only in special cases revealed directly by God (1 Co 2:13). Inspiration is here predicated of the writings, “all Scripture,” not of the persons. The question is not how God has done it; it is as to the word, not the men who wrote it. What we must believe is that He has done it, and that all the sacred writings are every where inspired, though not all alike matter of special revelation: and that even the very words are stamped with divine sanction, as Jesus used them (for example in the temptation and Jn 10:34, 35), for deciding all questions of doctrine and practice. There are degrees of revelation in Scripture, but not of inspiration. The sacred writers did not even always know the full significancy of their own God-inspired words (1 Pe 1:10, 11, 12). Verbal inspiration does not mean mechanical dictation, but all “Scripture is (so) inspired by God,” that everything in it, its narratives, prophecies, citations, the whole—ideas, phrases, and words—are such as He saw fit to be there. The present condition of the text is no ground for concluding against the original text being inspired, but is a reason why we should use all critical diligence to restore the original inspired text. Again, inspiration may be accompanied by revelation or not, but it is as much needed for writing known doctrines or facts authoritatively, as for communicating new truths [Tregelles]. The omission here of the substantive verb is,’ I think, designed to mark that, not only the Scripture then existing, but what was still to be written till the canon should be completed, is included as God-inspired. The Old Testament law was the schoolmaster to bring us to Christ; so it is appropriately said to be “able to make wise unto salvation through faith in Jesus Christ”: the term wisdom being appropriated to a knowledge of the relations between the Old and New Testaments, and opposed to the pretended wisdom of the false teachers (1 Ti 1:7, 8).

doctrineGreek, “teaching,” that is, teaching the ignorant dogmatic truths which they cannot otherwise know. He so uses the Old Testament, Ro 1:17.

reproof—“refutation,” convicting the erring of their error. Including polemical divinity. As an example of this use of the Old Testament, compare Ga 3:6, 13, 16. “Doctrine and reproof” comprehend the speculative parts of divinity. Next follow the practical: Scripture is profitable for: (1) correction (Greek, “setting one right”; compare an example, 1 Co 10:1–10) and instruction (Greek, “disciplining,” as a father does his child, see on 2 Ti 2:25; Eph 6:4; Heb 12:5, 11, or “training” by instruction, warning, example, kindnesses, promises, and chastisements; compare an example, 1 Co 5:13). Thus the whole science of theology is complete in Scripture. Since Paul is speaking of Scripture in general and in the notion of it, the only general reason why, in order to perfecting the godly (2 Ti 3:17), it should extend to every department of revealed truth, must be that it was intended to be the complete and sufficient rule in all things touching perfection. See Article VI, Common Prayer Book.

inGreek, “instruction which is in righteousness,” as contrasted with the “instruction” in worldly rudiments (Col 2:20, 22).

17. man of God—(See on 1 Ti 6:11).

perfect, throughly furnishedGreek, “thoroughly perfected,” and so “perfect.” The man of God is perfectly accoutred out of Scripture for his work, whether he be a minister (compare 2 Ti 4:2 with 2 Ti 3:16) or a spiritual layman. No oral tradition is needed to be added.[6]

Ver. 16.—Every Scripture inspired of God is also profitable for all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable, A.V.; teaching for doctrine A.V.; which is in for in, A.V. Every Scripture, etc. There are two ways of construing this important passage: (A) As in the A.V., in which θεόπνευστος is part of the predicate coupled by καὶ with the following ὠφέλιμος; (B) as in the R.V., where θεόπ́ευστος is part of the subject (as πᾶν ἒρλον ἒπλον ἀγαθόν “every good work,” 2 Cor. 9:8, and elsewhere); and the following καὶ is ascensive, and to be rendered “is also.” Commentators are pretty equally divided, though the older ones (as Origen, Jerome (Vulgate), the versions) mostly adopt (B). In favour of (A), however, it may be said (1) that such a sentence as that which arises from (B) necessarily implies that there are some γραφαὶ which are not θεόπνευστοι, just as Πᾶν ἒργον ἀγαθόν implies that there are some works which are not good; ρᾶσα εὐλογία πνευματική (Eph. 1:3), that there are some blessings which are not spiritual; πᾶν έρλογία πνευματική (2 Tim. 4:18), that there are some works which are not evil; and so on. But as γραφή is invariably used in the New Testament for “Scripture,” and not for any profane writing; it is not in accordance with biblical language to say, “every inspired Scripture,” because every Scripture is inspired. (2) The sentence, taken according to (B), is an extremely awkward, and, as Alford admits, harsh construction, not supported in its entirety by one single parallel usage in the whole New Testament. (3) The sentence, taken according to (A), is a perfectly simple one, and is exactly parallel with 1 Tim. 4:4, Πᾶν Θεοῦ καλόν καὶ οὐδέν ἀπόβλητον, “Every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused.” (4) It is in perfect harmony with the context. Having in the preceding verse stated the excellence of the sacred writings, he accounts for that excellence by referring to their origin and source. They are inspired of God, and hence their wide use and great power (5) This interpretation is supported by high authority: Chrysostom, Gregory of Nyssa, etc., among the ancients (Alford); and Bengel, Wiesinger, De Wette, etc., among modern. The advocates of (B), as Bishop Ellicott, Dean Alford, etc., speak very doubtfully. With regard to the rendering of πᾶσα γραφην no doubt, strict grammar, in the absence of the article, favours the rendering in the R.V., “every Scripture,” rather than that of the A.V., “all Scripture.” But Alford’s remark on Matt. 1:20 applies with full force here: “When a word or an expression came to bear a technical conventional meaning, it was also common to use it without the article, as if it were a proper name, e.g. Θεός, νόμος, υἰὸς Θεοῦ,” etc. Therefore, just as πᾶσα Ἱεροσόλυμα (Matt. 2:3) means “all Jerusalem,” not “every Jerusalem,” so here πᾶσα λραφή means “all Scripture.” What follows of the various uses of Holy Scripture is not true of “every Scripture.” One Scripture is profitable for doctrine, another for reproof, and so on. Examples of γραφή without the article are 2 Pet. 1:20 and Rom. 1:2; and of πᾶς not followed by the article, and yet meaning “all,” are in Eph. 2:21 and 3:15. Inspired of God, etc. (θεόπνευστος); here only in the New Testament or LXX, but occasionally in classical Greek, as Plutarch. For teaching, etc. The particular uses for which Scripture is said to be profitable present no difficulty. Teaching, of which Holy Scripture is the only infallible source. Reproof (ἒλεγχον or ἐλεγμόν); only here and Heb. 11:1; but in classical Greek it means “a proof,” specially for the purpose of “refutation” of a false statement or argument. Here in the same sense for the “conviction” or “refutation” of false teachers (comp. Titus 1:9, 13), but probably including errors in living (compare in the ‘Ordering of Priests,’ “That there be no place left among you, either for error in religion or for viciousness in life”). Correction (ἐπανόρθωσιν); only here in the New Testament, but occasionally in the LXX, and frequently in classical Greek, as Aristotle, Plato, etc., in the sense of “correction,” i.e. setting a person or thing straight, “revisal,” “improvement,” “amendment,” or the like. It may be applied equally to opinions and to morals, or way of life. Instruction which is in righteousness. There is no advantage in this awkward phraseology. “Instruction in righteousness” exactly expresses the meaning. The Greek, τὴν ἐν δικαιοσύνη merely limits the παιδεία to the sphere of righteousness or Christian virtue. By the use of Holy Scripture the Christian is being continually more perfectly instructed in holy living.

Ver. 17.—Complete for perfect, A. V.; furnished completely for throughly furnished, A. V.; every good work for all good works, A.V. Complete (ἄρτιος); only here in the New Testament, but common in classical Greek. “Complete, perfect of its kind” (Liddell and Scott). Furnished completely (ἐξηρτισμένος, containing the same root as ἄρτιος); elsewhere in the New Testament only in Acts 21:5 in the sense of “completing” a term of days. It is nearly synonymous with καταρτίζω (Matt. 21:16; Luke 6:40; 2 Cor. 13:11: Heb. 13:21; 1 Pet. 5:10). In late classical Greek ἐξαρτίζω means, as here, “to equip fully.” As regards the question whether the man of God is restricted in its meaning to the minister of Christ, or comprehends all Christians, two things seem to decide in favour of the former: the one that “the man of God” is in the Old Testament invariably applied to prophets in the immediate service of God (see 1 Tim. 6:11, note); the other that in 1 Tim. 6:11 it undoubtedly refers to Timothy in his character of chief pastor of the Church, and that here too the whole force of the description of the uses and excellence of Holy Scripture is brought to bear upon the exhortations in ver. 14, “Continue thou in the things which thou hast heard,” addressed to Timothy as the Bishop of the Ephesian Church (see, too, ch. 4:1–5, where it is abundantly clear that all that precedes was intended to bear directly upon Timothy’s faithful and vigorous discharge of his office as an evangelist).[7]

The Origin and Purpose of Scripture (verses 15b–17)

Two fundamental truths about Scripture are asserted here. The first concerns its origin (where it comes from) and the second its purpose (what it is intended for).

First, ‘All scripture is inspired by God’; it is God-breathed. Some scholars, as in neb, have translated the opening words of verse 16: ‘every inspired Scripture has its use’. Such a rendering would place a double limitation on Scripture. It would suggest that not all Scripture is inspired, and that therefore not all Scripture is profitable, but only those parts which are inspired. Since the Greek sentence has no main verb, it is certainly legitimate, grammatically speaking, to supply the verb ‘is’ after, rather than before, the adjective ‘God-inspired’ and so translate ‘every God-inspired Scripture is profitable’. The argument against this construction, however, is that it does not do justice to the little word ‘and’ (kai) which comes between the two adjectives ‘God-inspired’ and ‘profitable’. This ‘and’ suggests that Paul is asserting two truths about Scripture, namely that it is both inspired and profitable, not merely one. For this reason we should render the sentence: ‘all Scripture is God-inspired and profitable’.

What does he mean by ‘all Scripture’? It seems to me not at all impossible that by this comprehensive expression he is including the two sources of Timothy’s knowledge just mentioned, namely ‘what you have learned’ (sc. from me) and ‘the sacred writings’. It is true that nowhere does the apostle explicitly call his Epistles ‘Scripture’. Nevertheless, on a number of occasions he gets very near it, and he certainly directs that his letters be read publicly in the Christian assemblies, no doubt alongside Old Testament readings (e.g. Col. 4:16; 1 Thes. 5:27). Several times he claims to be speaking in the name and with the authority of Christ (e.g. 2 Cor. 2:17; 13:3; Gal. 4:14), and calls his message ‘the word of God’ (e.g. 1 Thes. 2:13). Once he says that, in communicating to others what God has revealed to him, he uses ‘words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit’ (1 Cor. 2:13). This is a claim to inspiration, indeed to verbal inspiration, which is the distinctive characteristic of ‘Scripture’. Peter clearly regarded Paul’s letters as Scripture, for in referring to them he calls the Old Testament ‘the other scriptures’ (2 Pet. 3:16). In addition, it seems evident that Paul envisaged the possibility of a Christian supplement to the Old Testament because he could combine a quotation from Deuteronomy (25:4) with a saying of Jesus recorded by Luke (10:7) and call both alike ‘Scripture’ (1 Tim. 5:18).

His definition of Scripture, of ‘all scripture’, is that it is ‘inspired by God’. The single Greek word theopneustos would be literally translated ‘God-breathed’ and indicates not that Scripture itself or its human authors were breathed into by God, but that Scripture was breathed or breathed out by God. ‘Inspiration’ is doubtless a convenient term to use, but ‘spiration’ or even ‘expiration’ would convey the meaning of the Greek adjective more accurately. Scripture is not to be thought of as already in existence when (subsequently) God breathed into it, but as itself brought into existence by the breath or Spirit of God. There is no ‘theory’ or explanation of inspiration here, for no reference is made to the human authors, who (Peter says) ‘moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God’ (2 Pet. 1:21). Nevertheless, it is clear from many passages that inspiration, however the process operated, did not destroy the individuality or the active cooperation of the human writers. All that is stated here is the fact of inspiration, that all Scripture is God-breathed. It originated in God’s mind and was communicated from God’s mouth by God’s breath or Spirit. It is therefore rightly termed ‘the Word of God’, for God spoke it. Indeed, as the prophets used to say, ‘the mouth of the Lord has spoken it’.

Secondly, Paul explains the purpose of Scripture: it is ‘profitable’. And this is precisely because it is inspired by God. Only its divine origin secures and explains its human profit. In order to show what this is, Paul uses two expressions. The first is in verse 15: ‘The sacred writings’, he says, ‘are able to instruct you for salvation.’ The Bible is essentially a handbook of salvation. Its over-arching purpose is to teach not facts of science (e.g. the nature of moon rock) which men can discover by their own empirical investigation, but facts of salvation, which no space exploration can discover but only God can reveal. The whole Bible unfolds the divine scheme of salvation—man’s creation in God’s image, his fall through disobedience into sin and under judgment, God’s continuing love for him in spite of his rebellion, God’s eternal plan to save him through his covenant of grace with a chosen people, culminating in Christ; the coming of Christ as the Saviour, who died to bear man’s sin, was raised from death, was exalted to heaven and sent the Holy Spirit; and man’s rescue first from guilt and alienation, then from bondage, and finally from mortality in his progressive experience of the liberty of God’s children. None of this would be known apart from the biblical revelation. ‘Scripture contains the perfect rule of a good and happy life.’

More particularly, the Bible instructs for salvation ‘through faith in Christ Jesus’. So, since the Bible is a book of salvation, and since salvation is through Christ, the Bible focuses its attention upon Christ. The Old Testament foretells and foreshadows him in many and various ways; the Gospels tell the story of his birth and life, his words and works, his death and resurrection; the Acts describe what he continued to do and teach through his chosen apostles, especially in spreading the gospel and establishing the church from Jerusalem to Rome; the Epistles display the full glory of his person and work, and apply it to the life of the Christian and the church; while the Revelation depicts Christ sharing the throne of God now and coming soon to consummate his salvation and judgment. This comprehensive portraiture of Jesus Christ is intended to elicit our ‘faith’ in him, in order that by faith we may be saved.

Paul now goes on to show that the profit of Scripture relates to both creed and conduct (16b, 17). The false teachers divorced them; we must marry them. The neb expresses the matter clearly. As for our creed, Scripture is profitable ‘for teaching the truth and refuting error’. As for our conduct, it is profitable ‘for reformation of manners and discipline in right living’. In each pair the negative and positive counterparts are combined. Do we hope, either in our own lives or in our teaching ministry, to overcome error and grow in truth, to overcome evil and grow in holiness? Then it is to Scripture that we must primarily turn, for Scripture is ‘profitable’ for these things.

Indeed, Scripture is the chief means which God employs to bring ‘the man of God’ to maturity. Who is intended by this expression is not explained. It may be a general term for every Christian, since the words themselves mean no more than ‘the man who belongs to God’ (neb). On the other hand, it was an Old Testament title of respect applied to some of God’s spokesmen like Moses (Dt. 33:1), David (2 Ch. 8:14) and Elijah (1 Ki. 17:18), and Paul specifically addressed Timothy by this phrase in his first letter (6:11). It may therefore refer here to men called to positions of responsibility in the church, and especially to ministers whose task it is, under the authority of Scripture, to teach and refute, to reform and discipline. At all events, it is only by a diligent study of Scripture that the man of God may become ‘complete, equipped for every good work’.

Looking back over this chapter as a whole, we can appreciate the relevance of its message to our pluralist and permissive society. The ‘times of stress’ in which we seem to be living are very distressing. Sometimes one wonders if the world and the church have gone mad, so strange are their views, and so lax their standards. Some Christians are swept from their moorings by the floodtide of sin and error. Others go into hiding, as offering the best hope of survival, the only alternative to surrender. But neither of these is the Christian way. ‘But as for you,’ Paul says to us as he did to Timothy, ‘stand firm. Never mind if the pressure to conform is very strong. Never mind if you are young, inexperienced, timid and weak. Never mind if you find yourself alone in your witness. You have followed my teaching so far. Now continue in what you have come to believe. You know the biblical credentials of your faith. Scripture is God-breathed and profitable. Even in the midst of these grievous times in which evil men and impostors go on from bad to worse, it can make you complete and it can equip you for your work. Let the word of God make you a man of God! Remain loyal to it and it will lead you on into Christian maturity.’[8]

16, 17. Paul now expands the idea which he has just expressed. He does this in three ways:

  1. Not only are “the sacred writings” (verse 15) of inestimable value; so is also “all scripture.”
  2. Not only does this sacred literature “make wise for salvation” (verse 15) but it is definitely God-breathed and as such capable of thoroughly qualifying a person “for every good work.”
  3. Not only will it benefit Timothy (verse 15), but it will do the same for every “man of God.”

Accordingly, Paul writes, All scripture (is)162 God-breathed and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.

All scripture, in distinction from “(the) sacred writings” (for which see on verse 15) means everything which, through the testimony of the Holy Spirit in the church, is recognized by the church as canonical, that is, authoritative. When Paul wrote these words, the direct reference was to a body of sacred literature which even then comprised more than the Old Testament (see on 1 Tim. 5:18; also footnote ). Later, at the close of the first century a.d., “all scripture” had been completed. Though the history of the recognition, review, and ratification of the canon was somewhat complicated, and virtually universal acceptance of all the sixty-six books did not occur immediately in every region where the church was represented—one of the reasons being that for a long time certain of the smaller books had not even reached every corner of the church—, it remains true, nevertheless, that those genuine believers who were the original recipients of the various God-breathed books regarded them at once as being invested with divine authority and majesty. What should be emphasized, however, is that not because the church, upon a certain date, long ago, made an official decision (the decision of the Council of Hippo, 393 a.d.; of Carthage, 397 a.d.), do these books constitute the inspired Bible; on the contrary, the sixty-six books, by their very contents, immediately attest themselves to the hearts of all Spirit-indwelt men as being the living oracles of God. Hence, believers are filled with deep reverence whenever they hear the voice of God addressing them from Holy Writ (see 2 Kings 22 and 23). All scripture is canonical because God made it so!

The word God-breathed, occurring only here indicates that “all scripture” owes its origin and contents to the divine breath, the Spirit of God. The human authors were powerfully guided and directed by the Holy Spirit. As a result, what they wrote is not only without error but of supreme value for man. It is all that God wanted it to be. It constitutes the infallible rule of faith and practice for mankind.

The Spirit, however, did not suppress the personality of the human writer, but raised it to a higher level of activity (John 14:26). And because the individuality of the human author was not destroyed, we find in the Bible a wide variety of style and language. Inspiration, in other words, is organic, not mechanical. This also implies that it should never be considered apart from those many activities which served to bring the human author upon the scene of history. By causing him to be born at a certain time and place, bestowing upon him specific endowments, equipping him with a definite kind of education, causing him to undergo predetermined experiences, and bringing back to his mind certain facts and their implications, the Spirit prepared his human consciousness. Next, that same Spirit moved him to write. Finally, during the process of writing, that same Primary Author, in a thoroughly organic connection with all the preceding activity, suggested to the mind of the human author that language (the very words!) and that style, which would be the most appropriate vehicle for the interpretation of the divine ideas for people of every rank and position, age and race. Hence, though every word is truly the word of the human author, it is even more truly the Word of God.

Though the word God-breathed—that is, inspired by God—occurs only here, the idea is found in many other passages (Ex. 20:1; 2 Sam. 23:2; Is. 8:20; Mal. 4:4; Matt. 1:22; Luke 24:44; John 1:23; 5:39; 10:34, 35; 14:26; 16:13; 19:36, 37; 20:9; Acts 1:16; 7:38; 13:34; Rom. 1:2; 3:2; 4:23; 9:17; 15:4; 1 Cor. 2:4–10; 6:16; 9:10; 14:37; Gal. 1:11, 12; 3:8, 16, 22; 4:30; 1 Thess. 1:5; 2:13; Heb. 1:1, 2; 3:7; 9:8; 10:15; 2 Peter 1:21; 3:16; 1 John 4:6; and Rev. 22:19).

Now by virtue of the fact that “all scripture” is God-breathed, it is useful or beneficial or profitable. It is a very practical, yes an indispensable, instrument or tool for the teacher (implied here). Timothy should make good use of it:

  • for teaching. What is meant is the activity of imparting knowledge concerning God’s revelation in Christ. See on 1 Tim. 5:17. This is ever basic to everything else.
  • for reproof (cf. Ps. 38:14; 39:11). Warnings, based on the Word, must be issued. Errors in doctrine and in conduct must be refuted in the spirit of love. Dangers must be pointed out. False teachers must be exposed (cf. 1 Tim. 5:20; Titus 1:9, 13; 2:15; then Eph. 5:18; and see N.T.C. on John 16:8–11).
  • for correction (see M.M., p. 229). If reproof stresses the negative aspect of pastoral work, correction emphasizes the positive side. Not only must the sinner be warned to leave the wrong path, but he must also be directed to the right or straight path (Dan. 12:3). This, too, “all scripture” is able to do. The Word, especially when it is used by a consecrated servant of God who is diligent in the performance of his pastoral duties, is restorative in character (cf. John 21:15–17).
  • for training in righteousness (cf. 2 Tim. 2:22). The teacher must train his people. Every Christian needs to be disciplined, so that he may prosper in the sphere where God’s holy will is considered normative. Such is the character of training in righteousness (cf. Titus 2:11–14).

The teacher (in this case Timothy, but the word applies to everyone to whom the souls of men are entrusted) needs “all scripture” in order to enable him to perform his fourfold task (teaching, administering reproof, correction, training in righteousness), with a glorious purpose in mind, a purpose which in his own way and at his own time God will cause to be realized in the hearts of all his people: that the man of God may be equipped, for every good work thoroughly equipped.

The man of God (see on 1 Tim. 6:11) is the believer. Every believer, viewed as belonging to God, and as invested with the threefold office of prophet, priest, and king, is here given this title. To function properly in this threefold office the believer must become equipped (note the emphasis of the original; literally, “… that equipped may be the man of God”); yes, once for all thoroughly equipped (cf. Luke 6:40) “for every good work” (1 Tim. 5:10; 2 Tim. 2:21; Titus 3:1). Paul (and the Holy Spirit speaking through him) is not satisfied until the Word of God has fully accomplished its mission, and the believer has reached “the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph. 4:12, 13).

The ideal to be realized is glorious, indeed! The power to reach it is from God. Hence, let Timothy remain steadfast. Let him abide in the true doctrine, applying it whenever opportunity presents itself.[9]

3:16. The power of the Bible to affect change and demand obedience resides in the fact that all Scripture is God-breathed. The Bible originates with God. Claims of origins carry great significance because authority lives in the Creator. This is why people invest such Herculean efforts in trying to disprove God as the earth’s Creator and in questioning the authenticity of the Bible. Admitting to God’s authorship is an acceptance of his authority over every aspect of life. By stating that Scriptures are God breathed, Paul established the Bible’s claim as God’s authoritative Word over all people.

The Scriptures were written by men “as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21). The picture is that of a sailboat being moved along by the wind. Indeed, men wrote the Bible, but the words and substance of what they wrote came from God. This makes the Bible useful. Paul listed four main uses of Scripture, all of which intertwine with one another.

Teaching involves instruction. Since Timothy was feeling the attacks of false teachers, Paul encouraged the young pastor to continue in teaching correct doctrine and correct living. The Scriptures must be known so people will grasp their need of salvation and so the confessing community will adhere to its instructions on proper Christian conduct.

Rebuking and correcting are the disciplinary authority of Scripture. Because the Bible is God’s Word and because it reveals truth, it exercises authority over those who deviate from its standard. “Rebuking” points out sin and confronts disobedience. “Correcting” recognizes that a person has strayed from the truth. Graciously, lovingly, yet firmly, we should try to guide the errant individual back into obedience.

Many times the Old Testament relates Israel’s disobedience to God, how the people suffered God’s chastisement for their rebellion, and how God corrected their sinful habits. The New Testament continues with stories and instructions, warnings regarding disobedience, disciplinary actions for those who fail to heed God’s revelation, and teachings on proper conduct.

Training in righteousness is the counterpoint to correction. The Scriptures give us positive guidance for maturing in faith and acceptable conduct.

3:17. The goal of all this instruction, discipline, and training is not to keep us busy. God intends that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. We study the Bible, we rely upon God’s Spirit, his revelation, and the community of the faithful to keep us on track—obedient and maturing in faith. Continuing in this commitment will enable us to do whatever God calls us to do. Timothy could withstand the attacks of false teachers, the abandonment of professing believers, and the persecution that surrounded him because God had equipped him for the task. God never calls us to do something without first enabling us through his Spirit and the power of his truth to accomplish the task.

We neglect the Scriptures at our own peril. Through them we gain the ability to serve God and others. The Scriptures not only point the way; through the mysterious union of God’s Word and faith, they give us the ability to serve.[10]

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (2 Ti 3:16–17). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). 2 Timothy (pp. 142–163). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentaries on the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon (pp. 248–251). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[4] Köstenberger, A. (2006). 2 Timothy. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 591). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[5] Fee, G. D. (2011). 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (pp. 279–280). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[6] Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, pp. 427–428). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[7] Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). 2 Timothy (pp. 43–44). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

[8] Stott, J. R. W. (1973). Guard the Gospel the message of 2 Timothy (pp. 100–104). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[9] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Pastoral Epistles (Vol. 4, pp. 301–304). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[10] Larson, K. (2000). I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon (Vol. 9, pp. 306–307). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Middle Eastern Terrorism Coming to the US through Its Mexican Border | Gatestone Institute

by Raymond Ibrahim

  • In May, Abu Henricki, a Canadian citizen of Trinidadian origin, told researchers with the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism that ISIS sought to recruit him and others to penetrate the US-Mexican border through routes originating in various Central American locations…. Other Trinidadians, he said, were also being approached to “do the same thing.”

  • The idea that Islamic terror groups are operating in Mexico and eyeing—and exploiting—the porous US-Mexico border is not a hypothetical; unfortunately, it appears to be a fact. At least 15—though likely many more—suspected terrorists have already been apprehended crossing the border since 2001. One suspected terrorist who crossed the border, an ISIS supporter, already launched a terrorist attack in Canada that nearly killed five people.

  • The only question left is how much more evidence, and how many more attacks—and with what greater severity—are needed before this problem is addressed?

The idea that Islamic terror groups are operating in Mexico and eyeing—and exploiting—the porous US-Mexico border is not a hypothetical; unfortunately, it appears to be a fact. Pictured: The fence along the US-Mexico border, seen from Sunland Park, New Mexico. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

— Read on www.gatestoneinstitute.org/14632/terrorism-mexico-border

Hong Kong: Chinese forces gather at border, White House monitoring | News.com.au

The White House is monitoring the sudden “congregation” of Chinese forces at the border with Hong Kong, according to reports, following another night of unrest and clashes between protesters and police.

A senior US official who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity said a number of units had gathered, but it’s unclear if they are security police or part of China’s military, Bloomberg reports.

It comes as Beijing accused the United States of inciting the increasingly unruly protests in Hong Kong, which began two months ago over a proposed extradition bill that could see citizens sent to the mainland.

Since then, demonstrations have evolved into a statement against Beijing’s influence in the operation of the relatively autonomous region.

Bloomberg cites the White House official as saying the US is watching China’s mainland border manoeuvres. Reports of the gathering of forces has sparked panic among Hong Kong locals on social media.

Protesters stand off with the police in Hong Kong, continuing weekly rallies on the streets against a controversial extradition bill. Picture: Getty Images

Protesters stand off with the police in Hong Kong, continuing weekly rallies on the streets against a controversial extradition bill. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

A riot police officer armed with a shotgun during protests in Hong Kong overnight. Picture: Getty Images

A riot police officer armed with a shotgun during protests in Hong Kong overnight. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Overnight, protesters in Hong Kong clashed with police once more, with several hundred people taking to the streets.

The latest unrest was sparked by media reports that 44 people who had been arrested on Sunday would face a range of serious charges.

— Read on www.news.com.au/world/asia/chinese-forces-gathering-at-hong-kong-border-white-house-officials-monitoring-escalation/news-story/82621253f4c093c69834e041713ab34d

On Apologetics Systems — CultureWatch

There are various systems or methods in Christian apologetics. Here are some of the main ones.

I realise that I may be writing for a rather limited audience here, but some folks might find this article helpful. It has to do with some of the major types of apologetics systems used by believers as they defend their faith. At the risk of oversimplifying things, three main sorts of apologetics systems have been employed by Christians over the centuries.

Yes there are other systems, and there are variations of systems, but I am going for a simple overview here. Indeed, this of necessity is a rather bare bones outline – an introduction. Entire libraries are filled with books on these matters, so here I am just trying to offer a very brief and sketchy look at some key systems of apologetics.

Apologetics of course is about defending the faith, clearing up misunderstandings about Christianity, dealing with objections, and demonstrating the reasonableness of biblical truth claims. My hundreds of articles on this topic can be found here: billmuehlenberg.com/category/apologetics/

And one bibliography I have put together on this featuring over 90 titles is found here: billmuehlenberg.com/2018/06/18/an-apologetics-reader/

The three main systems of apologetics are these: the classical, the evidentialist, and the presuppositionalist. Most Christians over the centuries have run with the first two systems, while fewer (and mostly those within the Reformed camp) have run with the third.

Many Christians are happy to utilise all the approaches – or parts thereof – and say that we should not be forced to choose just one or the other That is basically my view. However, some folks in the third camp can be a bit more rigid about this and argue that their system alone is the correct approach, and that the other methodologies are counter-productive or even harmful. But let me look at each in turn.

Classical apologetics. This approach to apologetics brings together natural theology, rational arguments for God’s existence (including the various theistic proofs), and various types of evidence as well. It accepts that non-Christians can be reasoned with regarding the truth-claims of Christianity (this in distinction to what the presuppositionalists believe – but more on that in a moment).

Earlier figures utilising this approach would include such theological heavyweights as Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas. Some of the more recent classical apologists would include Norman Geisler, R. C. Sproul. William Lane Craig, Richard Swinburne, and J. P. Moreland.

The rational arguments for the existence of God include the cosmological (the argument from creation or causation), the teleological (the argument from design or purpose), the ontological (the argument from being), and various moral arguments (arguments from morality, as in the work of C. S. Lewis). The Five Ways of Aquinas and William Paley’s famous watchmaker argument would also be included here.

Evidentialism. This system looks at various evidences for the rationality and reliability of the Christian faith. These evidences include things like historical and archaeological confirmations, the reliability and trustworthiness of Scripture, fulfilled prophecy, and the reality of the miraculous, especially the resurrection of Christ.

It may be best known because of people like Josh McDowell. His popular Evidence That Demands a Verdictwas first released by Campus Crusade for Christ in 1972, and has gone through many versions and editions. Gary Habermas, John Warwick Montgomery, Clark Pinnock and others have been proponents of this system.

This approach says that we have all sorts of evidence for the existence of God and the rationality of the Christian faith. The very created order that we see everywhere is one such evidence, as Paul speaks about Romans 1. And we find Jesus and the disciples often making use of evidences. One key example of this is found in Matthew 11:1-6 (see also Luke 7:18-23):

After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee. When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

The book of Acts records many instances where the early disciples used evidences, especially highlighting the fulfilled prophecies of Old Testament messianic predictions and the like. And Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 offers the resurrection in particular as a clear evidence of the truth claims of Christianity. He notes that numerous people actually saw the post-resurrection Jesus with their own eyes.

Some limitations to this system include:
1. None of us can know all facts. There can always be more new evidence that will turn up that possibly refutes our claims. For example, maybe the bones of Jesus will one day be discovered!
2. Many facts are open to different interpretations. Thus non-Christians may interpret the evidence in a different light than Christians do.

Presuppositionalism. This is a system especially associated with the name of Cornelius Van Til (1895-1987), the professor of apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary. But many others can be mentioned, from somewhat older proponents such as Herman Dooyeweerd and Abraham Kupyer to newer advocates such as Greg Bahnsen, Francis Schaeffer, Gordon Clark and John Frame. It involves a comparison of various worldviews, and asks which presuppositions are the most consistent, coherent, and cohesive.

However, presuppositionalists argue that there is no or little common ground with non-believers, and one must first basically accept the Christian presupposition as the only rational and coherent one. All other worldviews and presuppositions are necessarily false, and the non-believer must first embrace the Christian worldview to come to genuine, true knowledge.

As mentioned, it is mainly in the Reformed camp that presuppositionalists are found. However, many who are Reformed differ amongst themselves on this, and/or even reject this particular apologetic method. Schaeffer for example often strongly differed with his former professor, Van Til.

Let me offer just three further examples of this. In 1971 a collection of essays edited by E. R. Geehan and dedicated to Van Til were assembled in the book, Jerusalem and Athens(Presbyterian & Reformed). In it various writers offered both praise and criticism of Van Til and presuppositionalism.

Also, three theologians strongly in the Reformed fold (R. C. Sproul, John Gerstner and Arthur Lindsley) penned an entire volume which heavily critiqued the method: Classical Apologetics: A Rational Defense of the Christian Faith and a Critique of Presuppositional Apologetics(Zondervan, 1984).

And much more recently, a brand-new volume has appeared by another strongly Reformed writer, J. V. Fesko. Entitled Reforming Apologetics (Baker, 2019), it argues that we should go back to the early Reformers. He carefully questions the views of people like Dooyeweerd and Van Til.

Let me spend a bit more time on this method, and some criticisms of it. The issue of epistemology (how we know) is a big part of all this. Just how fallen is the mind? How much does sin impair human reason? Theologians speak about the noetic effects of sin. Some, like Pelagius had said there really is no depravity in man.

The Catholic church tended to say that we are somewhat fallen. And Thomas Aquinas seemed to think that human reason was not greatly affected by the fall at all. But the Reformers, following Augustine, especially promoted the concepts of original sin and total depravity. They taught that all of us – our minds included – are fallen, and by ourselves alone will not find God.

Some, like Van Til, think the fallen human mind can receive no truth at all unless God first renews it. The natural (fallen) man is totally cut off from God and does not seek God, and his thoughts about God are wrong. Biblical revelation must first be accepted as a starting point before any progress can be made in knowing God and getting right with God.

Paul had said that God’s existence and attributes can be “clearly seen” (see Romans 1:18-20), so there is enough information out there to condemn man, but not enough to save a man. Theologians refer to this as natural theology and/or general revelation.

So special revelation (Jesus and Scripture) is needed to reach fallen man. But critics say all this amounts to fideism. This says that faith must first be present in order to believe: “commit yourself first then you will see that what I say is true.”

It is a sort of blind leap. Because there is no common ground with non-believers, all they can do is embrace Christian presuppositions and renounce their own. Another Reformed heavyweight, Karl Barth took this quite far indeed. He argued that God is “wholly other” and cannot be known from our side; only by revelation which comes from God’s side can we be enlightened.

Because of these beliefs, some of the more determined presuppositionalists will reject the validity of the other approaches. Just as many holding strongly to Reformed theology will baulk at the idea that one might be a ‘Calminian’ (taking truths from both Calvinism and Arminianism), so too some Reformed apologists will insist that we cannot take bits of each system: presuppositonalism of necessity means the other approaches are not valid and are futile.

Finally, there appear to be some limitations to this approach:
1. We simply can’t know all the presuppositional systems that are out there in order to judge between them.
2. And even if we could show that all the other systems and worldviews were logically incoherent (e.g. violated the law of non-contradiction, etc), it wouldn’t sufficiently establish the truth of our own system.


There are more types of apologetics systems than the three I featured here. This was just a very brief overview of some of the main apologetics methods. And there are variations within each camp of course. The point was simply to introduce the reader to some of the intellectual terrain.

My bibliography on apologetics linked to above will of course offer much more on all this. In addition to the various volumes I mention in this article, let me highlight just two books from my bibliography that you may also want to run with here:

Cowan, Steven, ed. Five Views On Apologetics. Zondervan, 2000.
Mayers, Ronald, Balanced Apologetics: Using Evidences ad Presuppositions in Defense of the Faith. Kregel, 1984.

In sum, I, like many other Christians, believe that the various apologetics approaches can be used at various times and places, either standing alone, or in combination with the others. There is no one “right” method that all Christians must always use, to the exclusion of all others.

Sure, some hard-core presuppositionalists will disagree strongly with that view. But I have offered enough well-known Reformed thinkers who also differ on this approach that it can be said that there is indeed some room to move here, and we need not declare war on Christians who adhere to different approaches.

via On Apologetics Systems — CultureWatch

08/01/19 A Covenant with Our Eyes — ChuckLawless.com

READING: Job 30-31, Acts 24:10-27

I cannot speak enough about the agonies I’ve seen because of lust (and pornography), including among church leaders. The enemy delights in taking the godly desires that God places in us and turning them into something less than honoring to Him. None of us is immune to this struggle, and only intentional steps to fight against it can make a difference.

In the context of his defense of his own life, Job recognized this need and committed to keep his way pure: “I have made a covenant with my eyes. How then could I look at a young woman?” (Job 31:1). He had no interest in crossing lines that God had established, and he made a personal agreement that he would not allow his eyes to move in the wrong direction. Job knew that God sees all of his steps—and, thus, Job’s covenant with his own eyes mattered—and he understood the reality of judgment on those who live in disobedience to God. Any step in that direction, in fact, would be troublesome.

All of us would be wise to establish such a covenant with our eyes—especially in a world where the lures of pornography almost inadvertently land in our email in-boxes. To assume that we can handle these temptations without intentionality, commitment, and prayer is foolish indeed.

PRAYER: “Father, I, too, make this covenant with my eyes, and more importantly, with You.”

TOMORROW’S READING:  Job 32-34, Acts 25

via 08/01/19 A Covenant with Our Eyes — ChuckLawless.com