The foundation of the Christian faith rests upon the Bible, which is the written and recorded Word of God. Christianity does not rely on the traditions of men, but on the power and life and the promises of God. As a Christian, the Word of God becomes the standard and guide of our lives. It is the test by which we decide what is good and what is evil. It teaches us how to live as light in a dark world.
We know that the Word of God is eternal and carries the Life and the Power of God. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” (John 1:1–2, NIV84) We also know that what has been recorded for us was inspired by God for our benefit. “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20–21, NIV84) The Holy Spirit, God Himself, speaks through His Word. Thus, we know that Scripture is to be embraced as the power and life of God to accomplish in us all that God wants. The Word of God guides us, as we obey, into the purpose of God for us.
Here we see the purpose of the Word of God for us. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16–17, NIV84) I want to examine the meaning of the words in the Greek.
The first part of this verse, . “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” seems to define the identity, power and source of the Word of God.
“ALL” seems to mean all. The dictionary defines all as the whole, every, each. In the Greek it speaks to all, every and each. There is not one that is excluded when all is used. Jesus himself affirmed that ALL was indeed ALL. “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:18–19, NIV84)
“SCRIPTURE” speaks to the Holy Writings. It is the Word of God. It is this Scripture that Jesus desire to open our understanding to. “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:45, NIV84)
“GOD-BREATHED” speaks to being inspired by God. It is God’s communication to us. It is the Words of God given to us. God chose and decided what Words to give to us.
“USEFUL” is translated as ‘profitable’ in the King James. The Greek word speaks of advantage, benefit and beneficial. It literally means profitable. If we look at the rest of the verse, we clearly see that the Scripture is designed not to be profitable to God, but God intends that His Words become profitable to us.
“TEACHING” is translated as ‘doctrine’ in the King James. The Greek word here signifies the activity of teaching. It is the action of providing instruction both formally and informally. It is also used here as the action of learning. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Romans 15:4, KJV 1900) Teaching and learning seem to go hand in hand.
“REBUKING” is the declaration of wrongdoing. It is “to state that someone has done wrong, with the implication that there is adequate proof of such wrongdoing—’to rebuke, to reproach, rebuke, reproach”. Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Vol. 1: Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition.) (435). New York: United Bible Societies. It speaks to investigating, convincing and calling to account. The only other place the Greek Word is used is in Hebrews. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1, KJV 1900) So it seems that the Word is profitable for providing proof for our lives that God is real and as we see the character of God through His Word, that Word provides the proof that we have missed the mark. This concept of the Word investigating us is seen here. “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:12–13, NIV84)
“CORRECTING” is to “cause something to be or to become correct, with the implication of a previous condition of faults or failures.” Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Vol. 1: Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition.) (673). New York: United Bible Societies. It is only used in this verse. It speaks of transforming us into what we are to be which God reveals in His Word. “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NIV84) “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2, NIV84)
“TRAINING” is translated as ‘instruction’ in the King James. It is “to provide instruction, with the intent of forming proper habits of behavior.” Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Vol. 1: Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition.) (413). New York: United Bible Societies. It speaks to the training of a child and the “upbringing and handling of the child which is growing up to maturity and which thus needs direction, teaching, instruction and a certain measure of compulsion in the form of discipline.” . Vol. 5: Theological dictionary of the New Testament. 1964- (G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley & G. Friedrich, Ed.) (electronic ed.) (596). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. The Greek word is also used in this verse. “And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?” (Hebrews 12:5–7, NIV84)
“RIGHTEOUSNESS” speaks of “the act of doing what God requires—righteousness, doing what God requires, doing what is right.” Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Vol. 1: Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition.) (743). New York: United Bible Societies.
The second part of the verse, “so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” seems to focus on the purpose of the Word of God.
“SO THAT” translates as that. In the Greek it is a “markers of purpose for events and states (sometimes occurring in highly elliptical contexts)—’in order to, for the purpose of, so that.’ Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Vol. 1: Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition.) (784). New York: United Bible Societies.
“MAN OF GOD” is inclusive of all mankind. The Greek translates man as human being. The man of God is the one who follows God. It is ME. If I choose to follow God, then the Word of God has purpose for ME.
“MAY BE THOUROUGHLY EQUIPPED” is translated in the King James as “may be perfect, throughly furnished”. The word perfect speaks of ‘pertaining to being qualified to perform some function—’qualified, proficient.’Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Vol. 1: Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition.) (678). New York: United Bible Societies. It is the ability to meet demands. The word “thoroughly furnished” is to cause to become “fully qualified” and to be “completely adequate”. It speaks of lacking nothing. The Word has the power to equip us to do the works of God. “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8, NIV84)
“GOOD” means good. It is used to speak of the fruit of our lives. “Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.” (Matthew 7:17, NIV84) “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.” (Matthew 12:35, NIV84)
“WORK” is that which we do. It is the tasks God has given us. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10, NIV84) Our good works glorify God. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16, KJV 1900) Jesus intends that as we follow Him, our works become even greater. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” (John 14:12, KJV 1900) Our works will be tested. “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” (1 Corinthians 3:10–15, NIV84)
If we put the first part of the verse together then… “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness..” we can see what the Word is. ALL of the Word, every part of the Word is God’s communication to us. ALL of the Words are profitable to us. ALL of the Words are to be taught and to be learned. ALL of the Words investigate our lives and reveal to us the nature of God and how we miss that mark.. ALL of the Word has the power to cause to become correct in the eyes of God. The Word embraced and obeyed transforms us into the likeness of God. We become corrected and walk in the will of God through the power of the Word of God. ALL of the Word is to train us into proper habits. ALL of the Word is to control our behavior. ALL of the Word is to establish us as those who walk as “sons/daughters” of God. ALL of the Word empowers us to move into the actions of doing what God requires of us and doing what is right.
If we put the second part of the verse together then…., “so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” The purpose of ALL the Word of God is for ME to follow so that I will become fully and completely equipped, qualified and proficient to do the work of God for my life.
If we take a quick peek at the mandate that Jesus left the church with we see the in general what the work of God is. “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”” (Matthew 28:18–20, NIV84) It seems that the WORK of God is to make disciples that follow Jesus and obey EVERYTHING that Jesus commanded the first disciples.
The Gospels speak of the many teachings of Jesus with regards to character, morals and values to follow as we follow Jesus. That is only part of what Jesus commanded the disciples.
Jesus commanded the disciples to follow Him. “”Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”” (Matthew 4:19, NIV84) His desire was for them to learn to love God. That speaks of intimacy. “Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”” (Matthew 22:37–40, NIV84) Jesus desired that the disciples would “be with him” (Mark 3:14) and that speaks of relationship.
Relationship with Jesus changes us to embrace the heart and the mission of Jesus. “Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”” (Matthew 9:37–38, NIV84) We are commanded to walk in the mission of Jesus with the power and authority of Jesus. “He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. […] Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:1–8, NIV84)
Jesus commands his disciples to be people of faith. “Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”” (Matthew 21:21–22, NIV84)
It seems that if I discount any part of the Word of God, I cannot be equipped to accomplish the purpose of God for my life. The only way that I will ever fully do all that God has set before me is by embracing fully the authority and power of ALL the Word of God. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV84)