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February 22, 2010


I love the fact that these videos are now available through the iTunes podcast! Flash videos make my computer slow and crash my web browser. So thanks for posting them on iTunes!

One of my college professors said an equally viable translation of 1 Timothy 3:16 was, "All God-breathed writings are useful..." instead of "All writings are God-breathed and useful..." He thought his translation made more sense because "graphe" just means "writing," and not all writings were considered to be God-breathed.

Hi Sam.
Your professor's interpretation might be semantically viable, but of what use is the statement if he is right?
Did somebody think that maybe God-breathed Scriptures weren't useful? And if some writings were God breathed and some weren't what good is it to tell this to Timothy if there is no particular group of writings in sight and none described by Paul?

Daron, I don't remember why he made a point of pointing that out or what point he meant to make. It was a really long time ago.

Sam, Daron

I can't speak for Sam's prof., but it seems to me to make a difference. I think the difference is this. Suppose you say all Scripture is god-breathed, and profitable etc. You are saying that you can identify Scripture independently and then characterize it as profitable and God-breathed. In that context, Scripture would be identified beforehand by what was commonly recognized as Scripture: the OT.

On the other hand, if you say that all God-breathed Scripture is profitable etc., you're saying that the way to recognized the writings that are profitable etc. is that they are the writings that are God-breathed. That would mean that even Scripture that hadn't yet been penned, but would be God-breathed would be profitable and all the rest. This might allow I Tim. 3:16 to apply to the NT as well.

Hi WisdomLover,
True, the former syntax clams to identify "scripture", but that doesn't limit it to the OT, as Greg's video demonstrates. Paul was calling Luke's writing "scripture" and Peter was saying the same of Paul's. So the NT writers had criteria for determining what was scripture that was not limited to the OT.

In the second case you have left yourself the problem of identifying not what is scripture but what is God-breathed. This is, really, the saying the same thing.
But it adds a redundant layer, I think, in that it claims to say that God-breathed scripture is profitable, as though Timothy would have doubted that.
It makes more sense to me that Paul was qualifying scripture rather than God.

It sounds more like, to me, that Sam's prof. was casting doubt on Scripture as not being God-breathed. Maybe I've read too much into his reference, though.

I don't want to go too far out on a limb about what Sam's prof. meant. Even Sam doesn't seem to want to go too far out on a limb about that.

As for the distinction, though, I would have said that, under the alternative interpretation, the apostles recognized each others' writings and the writings they had certified (e.g. Mark, Luke, Acts) as God-Breathed and placed them on a par with OT scripture for that reason.

Check, WisdomLover,
But I see that under the first interpretation as well.

Doesn't this beg the question though? How do we know the Bible is inspired and inerrant in saying that it is inspired and inerrant?

The Bible can't prove it's own inspiration.


1 Timothy 3:16 is usually cited to underwrite the sufficiency of inspired Scripture, not to prove that Scripture is inspired. In other words, the Bible is claiming here that you don't need any authority apart from the Bible to decide on theological matters. The Bible would, of course, need to be inspired in order to have the authority to speak on these matters.

One would, presumably, need to argue that the Bible is inspired by some other means.

2 Timothy 3:16 says that all scripture is profitable. It does not say that it is sufficient. In other words, it is not claiming here that you don't need any authority apart from the Bible. The most it claims here is that scripture is profitable, or in other words, useful. Taken in context by looking at the verse directly before this, we can see that it is also only speaking of the scripture which Timothy had known from his infancy.

Scripture is profitable or useful "for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

If Scripture weren't sufficient, the man of God would not be equipped for every good work.

"If Scripture weren't sufficient, the man of God would not be equipped for every good work."

If Scripture weren't sufficient, it would still be profitable, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

If a medical student was given a complete set of surgical tools, so that he might be thoroughly equipped for every surgery, but lacked training from medical authorities on how to use these instruments properly; would you want him operating on you?

A complete set of surgical tools could be useful in making anyone fully equipped for every surgerical act, yet these tools would be insufficient in the hands of someone who was not trained in their proper use, under the proper guidance.

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