Summary: What does it mean to "rebuke and correct" someone with Scriptures?
We continue our Message Series on the Word of God. Our key passage for this Message Series is 2 Timothy 3:16-17……………
Let us always keep this in mind, The Word of God is good for making people do good! And so, whether we are just reading it, when we study and teach it, rebuke and correct someone, and when we do spiritual training, the Word of God is for making us good according to God!
Next week, we will talk about training in righteousness.
Today we will talk about rebuking and correcting; what does it mean and how should we do it?
Let us first of all define the words:
I preach from the New International Version (NIV). Some of you have Bibles, instead of the word “rebuking”, the words “for reproof” or “for conviction” are used. The original Greek word for “rebuking” (used in the NIV) is elegchos, actually meaning reproof or persuasion.
And so, how did we get the phrases “rebuking” and “convicting”? It is interesting that we only find the original Greek word “elegchos” just here in 2 Timothy 3:16; but there is a similar Greek word “elegcho” which means reprove, rebuke, discipline, expose, show to be guilty, and convict. We can find the word rebuke in many verses in Scriptures but they are not the same Greek word elegchos or elegcho.
I suggest we stay with the word used specifically for 2 Timothy 3:16, elegchos, meaning reproof or persuasion; why do this? Because today if we look up the word rebuke in the Meriam-Webster Dictionary, it means to criticize sharply; and this is how most people today would interpret “rebuke” in 2 Timothy 3:16.
To criticize sharply is not the intent of 2 Timothy 3:16.
And let us expound on this Greek word elegchos; what does reproof and persuasion mean? Reproof means to bring it back to truth; and similarly, if we use persuasion, it is about persuading someone back to the truth. We’ll put it all together later.
But, how about the word correcting? This one is easier because all English translations uses the same word; the original Greek is epanorthósis, meaning correction, reformation, setting straight (right) again.
God uses 2 words “rebuking” and “correcting”; God is not redundant to use 2 words next to each other and have the same meaning! So, I think simply we can see the difference between “rebuking” and “correcting” in the Word of God by stating that Scriptures are useful for persuading someone back to the truth (biblical rebuke) and setting them straight (right) again (correcting).
The Contemporary English Version of the Bible (CEV) is the closest Translation I believe to what this verse means; 2 Timothy 3:16 (CEV) - Everything in the Scriptures is God's Word. All of it is useful for teaching and helping people and for correcting them and showing them how to live.
And so, let us look at the full passage again and put it all in context before talking about applications. The CEV is actually a good, but very simple, thought-per-thought English Translation of the Bible and our passage reads in the CEV: Everything in the Scriptures is God's Word. All of it is useful for teaching and helping people and for correcting them and showing them how to live. The Scriptures train God's servants to do all kinds of good deeds.
Before talking about rebuking and correcting, let us note the importance of the beginning and the end of our passage. We are talking about the Bible which is God’s Words! And the goal of God giving people His words is to make people good and do good like Him!
And so, we can sum up the message today with this: Christians are to persuade people back to the truth and set them right again with God’s Word for the purpose of good!
How do we then apply this truth?
1. Be careful of “rebuking and correcting” the wrong way. We are not to criticize anyone sharply! God tells us many times in Scriptures to be careful of judging others! It is a sin to “rebuke and correct” someone just to get our way!
2. We are to persuade others back to the truth and set them right again with the following:
a. The Word of God is the sole basis! - Not man’s philosophies! The Bible must always be our foundation!
b. The focus must always be for God’s goodness! It is a sin to use God’s Word for personal rewards!
Take a moment to quietly ponder about these things and ask the Lord Jesus for wisdom….
There is likely someone in your life who says they believe in God and may even claim to be a Christian but you know they are not living according to God’s Word… pray about the situation, how will you approach them? How will you persuade them? What are the right things for correction?