2 Timothy 3:16-17 and its impact

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of Godmay be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (NIV, biblegateway, 2023)

I have recently listened to some podcasts suggested that it is more better to say Godbreathed as opposed inspired as this links to that life-giving breath in the Creation account. Thus also suggesting that it is more like all Scripture is life-giving. It was also suggested that in context this meant the sacred writings of the Jews at this time and was reflexively applied to the NT.

Combined with verses such as John 5:39
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,” (ESV, biblegateway, 2023)

And how there is absolutely no evidence that Jubilee was practiced.

It seems really frustrating to understand a document from such distance. We can have some ideas and research, but those concepta sich as perspicuity and one meaning of Scripture seem dead and forced.

I understand there is value in exploring the bible and mainly as a way to connect and follow God.

Whether sorting through inspired myth, linguistic/cultural differences, or Judean propaganda, or insufficiently addressing slavery, women as property, it gets tiring.

I feel more in connection with the repentant thief on the cross at times. The yoke of literalism and navigating this is rather heavy. The view of Scripture as life-giving>inerrant and pointing to Jesus and the indwelling Spirit are refreshing.


But that is where the word “inspired” came from. God breathed is what the word “inspired” means.

My usual objection is the implication that only scripture is inspired. I don’t think God is that stingy with inspiration. I think it rains down upon us in a torrent to be found in nearly everything. And thus I would say that that scripture is the word of God because it is more than just inspired. It has a stamp of authority and God has the proprietor rights as author, so nobody should be altering it to suit themselves.

But I quite agree with the connection to Genesis 2 since I think inspiration is what Genesis 2 is referring to as well. I do not believe there is anything which is added to either inanimate matter to make it alive or added to animals in order to make it a person. Things are alive and people are people because of what they are not because of some added magic. But inspiration transforms people. It does give life to the mind and spirit. So that does fit.

But the key difference in this case is the word “eternal.” Eternal life requires a relationship with God, and sin destroys our relationship with God – cutting us off from the source of life. This is what Jesus meant when He said we must be perfect. There is no room for sin in the kingdom of God. It is not because God cannot be around sinners – Jesus proved that idea to be totally wrong. No, the reason is because sin destroys life and creates hell. So Jesus forgives the sin and tells us to sin no more. God loves us despite our sins and tells us to stop the sin because He loves us, for our sin is destroying us.

Agreed. I would add the words “infallible” and “inerrant” to the list. These words don’t work in describing scripture. And when you use these words you are just people to find counter-examples which prove such claims to be wrong – from which they are likely to conclude that scripture is without value and truth.

Indeed. When Jesus answers the question in Matthew 13 about why He speaks in parables, it seems to me He is saying that people use literalism like a legalist to avoid understanding and to circumvent scripture as He saw many of Pharisees doing.

There is debate to be had about what “inspired” (or God - breathed) actually means. Some seem to take it as some kind of divine dictation from on high, something infallible completely factually accurate. I think that is wrong interpretation and we should think of it more in terms of God using and increasing our knowledge of things, raising our sights to bigger realities. We have to think about the ways we may come to natural knowledge and how that may be influenced by God and then also how people may come to new understandings about past and present events.

It means for instance we can see that the OT writers took stories and even myths from the Middle East they knew about and reshaped them to a new view of God and relationships.

1 Like

As time goes by I find myself distancing further and further from using the word inspired. While I think god did use the Holy Spirit to inspire messages it comes more from religious philosophy and not so much Book, chapter, verse.

Especially given how we know that some of the Bible originated as pagan poems and so on. God could have inspired those also, and I think did, it’s still seems better to understand it as being life creating. Battling sin. Those stories help create hope which strengths faith.

Assuming that is correctly translated! A serious argument can be made – as I noted in another thread – that it should be rendered, “All God-breathed scripture is useful for teaching”, etc. It hinges on the presence of a Greek word that doesn’t appear in a bunch of ancient manuscripts; applying the regular rules to whether that word should be included in the verse it’s my conclusion that it shouldn’t be there, that it was inserted.

Yeah, that one was silly. A rabbi I knew and learned from years ago laughed at the idea; he said everyone knew that a lot of passages not only could have different meanings but have both at the same time. On that topic, one of my grad school professors pointed out that Paul actually does this deliberately in some of his epistles, the prime example being his use of a little word that can mean “if” as well as “since” – Paul uses it in a variety of places in ways that don’t make either of those a certain choice, in statements about the status of believers, with the result that they have to ask if they are truly walking in Christ because they can’t just take the “since” and leave it at that. That rabbi actually admitted that the “virgin shall conceive” passage used to be taken as Messianic by some rabbis, right up until Christians started using it, and that’s a passage with a double meaning.

No kidding. Part of the trouble is that too many church leaders go around telling us that every Christian is able to understand the scriptures just by reading them. They quote the promise that the Spirit will lead into all truth, but fail to mention that this promise was given to the Apostles, not to all believers, which makes it a bit exclusive. The early church interpreted that as meaning that the successors to the Apostles, which they held to mean the bishops, also had that promise – it’s why early Christians considered (true) councils to be inspired and the teachings confirmed to be binding. Anyway, if you have individual Christians running around thinking they can interpret the scriptures on their own, they tend to see no need for serious study of the actual text and its historical context as literary types and with worldviews that are alien to us. I’ve written it here before, but I’ll give again my favorite example: the literary genres of the opening Creation account are such that the details may be taken literally for the purpose of expounding the account’s message, but not in themselves. The modern Western mind thinks that if the details aren’t 100% factually correct then there is no truth, but that wasn’t how the ancients thought! Much of scripture isn’t quite that alien but it serves to show that we can’t just pick up the Bible and read it.
And of course that is what we should expect if we actually pay attention to the scriptures, which tell us that we need to study, to think, to learn before we open our mouths. I’ve often heard the argument that the Apostles were uneducated men so we don’t have to be educated either, but that is a huge error: the Apostles “went to seminary” for three years, full time, with Jesus! and besides that they were steeped in the cultural background including the entire Old Testament plus Jewish mythology and views of the world, things we have to go to college to learn for the most part, and even doing that as a major still falls short of growing up with it for twenty years or more.

It would be more accurate to say that’s what it used to mean: literally it’s just "breathed in(to).

One issue beyond that is that we have pretty much nothing in the scriptures to indicate what Paul meant by the word, so we have to go with context including outside the scriptures.

On that topic, I recommend three videos:

This topic was automatically closed 6 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.