Summary: Reading the Bible intelligently
ALL SCRIPTURE IS PROFITABLE
TEXT: II TIM. 3:16
Paul is writing to his “son” in the faith, Timothy, and he is encouraging him to embrace and hold dear the Word of God. He told him first, that ALL scripture, and by that he’s talking about the Old Testament, is “profitable.” He prefaces that by giving the reason that it is profitable. Writing under the direction of the Holy Spirit, and said, that all scripture is given by, “inspiration of God.” That word, “inspiration,” is from the Greek word: “Theopneustos,” which means: “God-breathed,” or “divinely-breathed.”
The Apostle Peter’s comment on this topic is helpful for understanding what Paul meant. Peter wrote: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (I Pet. 1:20, 21). So, the words in the Bible are not words that originated in the minds of men, but they originated in the mind of the One, True Living God of all the Universe. He didn’t make His writers into robots or automatons, or human tape recorders, but the Spirit worked in and through human beings and made sure that what they wrote was what He wanted written. He didn’t take over their minds, and put them in some mystical trance. He spoke, and they wrote, but He let them express their understanding of what He was telling them through the prism of their own personalities. Every word was what He wanted written, but it came out in each writer’s own way of expressing it. Only God can do that.
That’s why the Bible is so interesting to read, because we get so many different perspectives on the Truth, with all the different writers: like Ezra, a priest; prophets like Moses and Daniel, a goat-herder like Amos; Joshua, a soldier; and yes, women – such as Ruth and Esther; also a musician/songwriter, like David. And in the NT, Matthew, a tax collector, or Luke, a physician, Peter and John, fishermen, and Paul, a learned Jewish scholar, all writing under the inspiration of the One True God.
Paul told Timothy, and us, that the words God breathed out and into the minds of His writers are “profitable.” That word means: “advantageous;” “helpful,” or “beneficial.” The first benefit the Holy Spirit inspires him to write about, is that it is helpful for “…doctrine,” which simply means “for teaching.” God’s people need to be taught, not in the world’s ways, but in the ways of God, so that we can move in the Spirit and be useful to Him. And we can’t be useful to Him if we’re not instructed in His ways, so we don’t go off on our own, and mess things up.
He says Scripture is also beneficial for “reproof,” which is from the Greek: “elenchos,” which means “to convict, to convince, to tell a fault.” Scripture will show us where we are at fault – where we’re wrong. It will show us to ourselves and convict us of sin, and convince us that we need God. Paul goes on to say that all scripture is also advantageous for “correction,” which is from a compound of two Greek words, meaning: “a straightening up again, a reformation.” Friends, I need “straightened up” once in a while, don’t you? God can say to us through His holy Word: “straighten up and fly right;” “get your act together,” and scripture will do that for us.
He says that Scripture is also helpful for “instruction in righteousness.” I like the Amplified Bible, Classic Edition’s rendering of this, because it gives all the subtle shades of meaning in the Greek. It says “…for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action).” And for what purpose? The next verse tells us – so that we might be made “perfect and thoroughly furnished unto all good works;” in other words so that we might be complete and proficient, well fitted and equipped to do good works for the Lord.
Now, we’re blessed with not only the OT, but also we have the “New Testament,” which is God’s complete and full revelation of all He wants us to know. Peter understood that the words Paul was being given by God were also “Scripture” just like the Old Testament. He said in II Pet. 3:15, 16: “…and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, he writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” Peter puts Paul letters in the same category as the other Scriptures.