Throughout history, culture has played an important part in the thinking and behavioural patterns throughout the world. Some cultures have not been helpful for the people in them to accept new ideas or to grow to maturity. For many their cultural background prevents them from seeing reality as it really is. So many people in our world have never heard of Jesus Christ or if they have, it has been in foul language uttered by some angry person. Others since childhood have been brought up with a negative attitude towards religion and the name of Jesus Christ has been barely mentioned in their family backgrounds.
As Paul wrote to Timothy he is cognisant of the fact that Timothy has had a healthy background to life and he urges Timothy to reflect on this fact, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.“ 3:14-15.
What had been Timothy’s background? From childhood he had been familiar with the sacred writings, the Jewish scriptures. Not only that but his family background had also helped him. As Paul had written earlier in this letter to Timothy, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” These women would have helped Timothy to respect the scriptures and to gain knowledge of them through their encouragement and teaching. Later Paul himself had taught Timothy about the faith. Timothy had been well instructed!
What Value Does Paul Place On The Scriptures?
In verse 15 he stated that the scriptures were “able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.“ The scriptures point us to Jesus in whom salvation is to be found by exercising faith in Him. Wisdom depended on God revealing His truth to an unbelieving world and the fact that Timothy had been saved showed that he had been made wise for salvation through the scriptures.
Then in verse 16 Paul affirms the inspiration of the scriptures, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” The words “breathed out” come from one Greek word, [theopneustos; θεόπνευστος] from [theos] for God and [pneō; πνέω] to breathe. In other words, God ‘breathed out’ the scripture truths and human writers were ‘inspired’ to record them. It shows the divine origin of the sacred scriptures.
Paul also describes the characteristics of the scriptures. They are “profitable” for teaching. “Profitable” is from [ōphelimos; ὠφέλιμος] meaning helpful, or advantageous. The scriptures form the basis for Christian teaching and exposure to those truths is profitable in the lives of those who read or hear them.
They are also profitable for “reproof ” [elegchos; ἔλεγχος] meaning proof or
conviction. They help to correct wrong thinking or behaviour.
“Correction” is [epanorthōsis; ἐπανόρθωσις ] from [epi ] upon and [anorthoō; ἀνορθόω] to straighten up, meaning rectifying or making right.
“For training in righteousness” is another characteristic of the scriptures. The scriptures contain much teaching on what constitutes a righteous life, a life pleasing to God. As people seek to live by the scriptures they are being trained by them in how to live righteously.
What then is the purpose or result of the impact of the scriptures on a person? Paul tells us, “that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” Living by the scriptures qualifies the man of God to be complete and equipped for any good work God has prepared for him to do.
Paul’s Charge To Preach The Word. 4:1-5
4:1 “I 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: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.“ Preaching the word is preaching the truth of the scriptures, especially the truth about Jesus. This has to be done at all times yet with “complete patience and teaching.” Some of that ministry of the word will be in reproving and rebuking wrong belief and behaviour but it also involves positive encouragement.
Paul then predicted a time in the future when people would not be willing to heed sound teaching, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” Verses 3, 4. The reason they will do so is that they want to listen to those whose messages don’t confront or challenge them. That will cause them to “wander off” [apostrephō; ἀποστρέφω meaning to turn away] into false teaching.
This warning is relevant for all peoples throughout history. It is always uncomfortable to recognise that you have been wrong in your thinking or behaviour and it takes courage to admit it and determination to submit to the truths of sound teaching.
Four Things Timothy Needs To Be and To Do. Verse 5.
i]. Timothy needed to be “sober-minded.” [nēphō; νήφω] meaning to be watchful, well balanced and discreet. He needed to be in control of his mind at all times.
ii]. He needed to be willing to “endure suffering.” Persecution was sure to come and Timothy needed to be ready to face and endure it. “As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry.” 5.
iii]. He needed to “do the work of an evangelist.” The gospel had to be preached to all the world so Timothy was to play his part in sharing it with those who perhaps had never heard it. The evangelist preaches the evangel, the gospel, the good news about Jesus Christ. That was to be Timothy’s ongoing work.
iv]. He needed to fulfil his ministry. “Fulfil” is from [plērophoreō; πληροφορέω] meaning to carry out fully. Timothy was to bring to completion the ministry to which God had called him. That meant a total commitment to the task. It is interesting that the same word is used later in the chapter to describe Paul’s own ministry where he writes, “But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it.” 4:17. The message was fully proclaimed by Paul as the Lord strengthened him. Preachers fulfil their God-given ministry as the gospel is fully proclaimed through their ministries.
This passage has meant a great deal to me over the 64 years I have been a believer. I had read as a brand new believer that the scriptures were divinely inspired but then I saw evidence of it very early in my Christian experience. I saw a workmate who was a hardened atheist with no time for Christian things changed in a matter of minutes as he was reading the New Testament. The picture is still firmly in my mind of the day he staggered out of the room where he had been reading the Bible, shaking like a leaf, ashen-faced and crying out to me, “It’s all true, isn’t it! What have I got to do?” God had convicted him of his unbelief, and he was converted to Christ on the spot. If God could do it in his life through His word, then He could do it in anyone’s life if they were exposed to the inspired word of God.
During a ministry that began in 1968 I have seen dozens of men, women and children come under the conviction of the Holy Spirit as they read or heard the Bible being preached and give their lives to Christ. I have also seen so many of them grow to Christian maturity as they focussed on the scriptures leading them to a closer walk with God and a desire to see Jesus Christ exalted in and through their lives.
Praise God for the power of His inspired word of God as it is applied to hungry hearts by the convicting and converting Holy Spirit of God.
Posted on Friday 26 August 2022