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Gospel Godliness: A Heritage and a Legacy
2 Timothy 3:14-17
Why stay godly and faithful to the gospel? Because of those before you and because of the Scriptures, which can equip you for ministry.
Published March 6th, 2017
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2 Timothy 3:14-17
But as for you, z continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed,
Σὺ δὲ μένε ἐν οἷς ἔμαθες καὶ ἐπιστώθης,
knowing from whom you learned it
εἰδὼς παρὰ τίνων ἔμαθες,
and [knowing that] a from childhood you have been acquainted with b the sacred writings ,
καὶ [εἰδὼς] ὅτι ἀπὸ βρέφους [τὰ] ἱερὰ γράμματα οἶδας,
c which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
τὰ δυνάμενά σε σοφίσαι εἰς σωτηρίαν διὰ πίστεως τῆς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ.
d All Scripture is breathed out by God
πᾶσα γραφὴ θεόπνευστος
and profitable for teaching,
καὶ ὠφέλιμος πρὸς διδασκαλίαν,
for reproof,
πρὸς ἐλεγμόν,
for correction,
πρὸς ἐπανόρθωσιν,
and for training in righteousness,
πρὸς παιδείαν τὴν ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ,
[so that] e the man of God may be complete ,
ἵνα ἄρτιος ᾖ ὁ τοῦ θεοῦ ἄνθρωπος,
f equipped g for every good work .
πρὸς πᾶν ἔργον ἀγαθὸν ἐξηρτισμένος .
In 2 Timothy 3:1-9 Paul sketches an outline of false teachers and ungodly people. In contrast to those people, Paul tells Timothy to continue in what he has "learned and firmly believed ," (3:14) which in the context of 1 & 2 Timothy means to continue in sound doctrine and good works, or what I call, "gospel godliness." Paul grounds his exhortation in three things: 1) The godly character of the people Timothy learned from (3:14b) 2) Timothy's knowledge of the sacred Scriptures (3:15) 3) The sufficiency of Scripture for the man of God (3:16-17) "The ones you learned it from" (v.14b) This is another layer of the contrast to 3:1-9. It seems that Timothy mainly learned this pattern from A) Lois his grandmother, B) Eunice his mother, and C) Paul his spiritual father (2 Tim 1:5; Acts 16:1; Philippians 2:22; 1 Tim 1:2; 2 Tim 1:2). The point is that Timothy learned the gospel from sincere, faithful people, as opposed to the unstable, deceived charlatans of 3:1-9. This should motivate Timothy to keep to this pattern. "From childhood you have known the [OT Scripture], which is able to make you wise for salvation..." (v.15) In a way Paul is boosting Timothy's confidence in how he was raised and how he came to interpret the OT Scriptures. Paul's point in verse 15 is something like this: "The false teachers of 3:1-9 who are 'always learning and never reaching a knowledge of the truth' ( 3:7 ), who look at the OT as 'endless genealogies' ( 1 Tim 1:4 ) and focus on 'irreverent, silly myths' ( 1 Tim 4:7 ) shouldn't pull the wool over your eyes, Timothy! You've known the Scriptures all your life, and you've seen how they chiefly point to Christ and salvation by faith!" And then Paul turns the spotlight on the Scriptures in verses 16-17 to encourage Timothy that the Scriptures are sufficient for him as a man of God. "Man of God" (v.17) is a rare term in the NT, with the only other occurrence (also from Paul to Timothy) in 1 Tim 6:11. It seems to call back (especially in this context where the OT Scriptures are in focus) a frequent OT designation for the prophets, and especially Elijah and Elisha (1 Sam 9:6-10; 1 Kings 12:22; 13; 17:18, 24; 20:28; 2 Kings 1; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9:6; 13:19 etc). If Paul is trying to say that Timothy is fulfilling a similar role as the OT prophets in v.17, then v.16-17 is especially trying to stress the sufficiency of Scripture for Timothy and by extension, for all ministers of the gospel . Paul is saying that for a minister of the gospel, the Scriptures are the rich soil that gives growth to the roots of the gospel and the branches of godliness.
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.