Exegesis Paper on 2 Timothy 3:10-17–The Man of God and the Word of God Part 2

2008/03/08 at 1:38 下午 發表留言

15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,

17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

            Verses 15-17 are the crux of the passage. Paul has revealed what has made him the man of God that he was—the Holy Scriptures. The aging apostle was a “living epistle” for Timothy to follow after, as described in verses 10-14 (cf 2 Cor 3:3), because he has his source on the Written Word of God. The “Holy Scriptures” refers to the Old Testament, for the New Testament was still in the process of making at that point. Paul specifically emphasizes that the Scriptures are hieros, i.e. “holy,” and thus able to sanctify its readers. The false teachers’ perverse character was due to the fact that their teaching did not originate entirely from the Scriptures. On the other hand, Timothy’s godly grandmother and mother, Lois and Eunice (2 Tim 1:5), almost certainly contributed to most of his childhood education in the Old Testament. Therefore, Timothy is now equipped with both the Old Testament revelation as well as important elements of New Testament truths from Paul’s apostolic teaching.

Verse 15 puts forth the main thesis of the Bible: God’s plan of salvation for the Adamic race on planet earth. Thus, the Scriptures can make one “wise” concerning salvation. Furthermore, since salvation is “through faith which is in Christ Jesus,” hence the Bible centers on the figure of Jesus Christ. One could find Christ or allusions to Christ directly or indirectly in every book of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. His First Advent was prophesied and foreshadowed as early as the third chapter of Genesis (Gen 3:15). John opened his Gospel with the fact that Jesus, God the Word, was involved in the creation of the world in Genesis chapter one verse one (John 1:1-3; also cf Heb 1:1-3). The way God referred to himself as “us” in the creation of mankind also reveals His Trinitarian nature (Gen 1:26; Matt 28:19; 1 John 5:7[1]).[2] The last verse of the Bible ends with, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” (Rev 22:21, emphasis mine). With the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, the risen Christ, “beginning at Moses and all the Prophets (which represents the Old Testament),[3] He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27, brackets and emphasis mine). The Living Word, Jesus, is revealed in the Written Word, the Holy Scriptures (John 1:1-14; Rev 19:13). When we read the Bible with this overarching theme in mind, we will find Christ disclosed in all the pages of Scriptures and, thus, getting to know Him more and more as we continue to allow the Spirit of Truth to enlighten the “eyes of our understanding” (John 14:17; Eph 1:18).

“By inspiration of God” in verse 16 literally means “God-breathed,” i.e. the Scripture originated from the mind of God, and it was conveyed to men by the “breath,” the Holy Spirit, of God (2 Pet 1:20-21; Acts 2:17-18; 1 Sam 10:6)[4]. It is ophelimos, or “profitable.” This Greek word has the root word ophelos, which means “to heap up, i.e. accumulate or benefit.”[5] Hence, the Scripture can build up our “inner man” (Eph 3:16) or “inward man” (2 Cor 4:16)—it imparts actual spiritual life and energy to our spirits (Eph 3:16; Heb 4:12; Ps 1:2-3). For Jesus said, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63, emphasis mine). Since God is Spirit (John 4:24), the words that He breathes out carry the substance of His own life and creative force. This was the case in the Garden of Eden where God breathed into Adam’s physical body, made from the dust of the ground, the breath of life, and the result was that Adam “became a living being” (Gen 2:7, emphasis mine). In the 40-day wilderness temptation, Jesus also likened the Word of God to spiritual food, as “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matt 4:4, Jesus quoting Deuteronomy 8:3). Contextually speaking, it also edifies and renews the mind, and is beneficial for both creed and conduct (John 17:17; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 5:26). God’s Word is useful in teaching us the truths and thus, correcting our wrong beliefs and mentality. For we can only discern counterfeit teachings when we know the genuine. This is especially relevant in a relativistic secular milieu today, in which whatever one believes is or can be the truth.[6]  The Scriptures is also beneficial for proper Christlike demeanor. In short, the Bible can transform our hearts and minds, deeds and words entirely: it is for the whole person. Furthermore, as a result of this inward metamorphosis, the individual will be able to effectively minister to the world, being “complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (v.17b).

This promise is not just specific for fulltime Christian ministers, but it is applicable to all believers. The recipient of the benefits of the Scriptures is the “man of God,” this expression simply means “the man who belongs to God,” or more semantically accurate, “the person who belongs to God.” The Greek word for “man” anthropos is a masculine generic term meaning “a human being, whether male or female,” “generically, to include all human individuals,” or “indefinitely, someone.”[7] Though Timothy was definitely being addressed here, however, Paul did not identify a particular person in the immediate context, but he used the term as a general reference to every Christian who aspires to walk closely with God. The phrase “man of God” has been used as a title of respect applied in the Old Testament to godly prophets such as Moses (Deut 33:1), Samuel (1 Sam 9:6-10), Elijah (1 Kin 17:24), Elisha (2 Kin 4:7), and David (2 Chr 8:14). In the New Testament, it is applied to Timothy in First Timothy 6:11. From these references, we can see that it is a term used to describe someone who has an intimate relationship with God. It is not exclusive to prophets, inasmuch as Timothy was not a prophet, but he was called as an apostle, evangelist, and pastor (1 Thess 1:1; 2:6; 2 Tim 4:5; 1-2 Tim). In addition, if Timothy were worthy to be called a “man of God,” doubtlessly Paul himself would qualify as one, even though it is not directly mentioned in the New Testament. Nevertheless, the Scriptures never called Paul a prophet, but an apostle, evangelist, and teacher (1 Tim 2:7; 2 Tim 1:11). His revelatory spiritual gifts operated under the apostolic office, for apostles can also function in the prophetic anointing like prophets but apart from the prophet’s office (Eph 3:5; 2:20; Gal 2:8). The reason that this designation was especially given to many prophets in the Old Testament was because prophets were the unique instruments of God in the old dispensation. While the prophetic office has continued into the Church Age (Eph 4:11; Acts 11:27; 1 Cor 12:28), New Testament prophets are different from the Old Testament prophets in their role and functions, thus, are not as prominent comparatively. This is clearly evident as not all prophets during the Old Covenant era are called man of God. Jeremiah 35:4 also indicates a man of God who may not be a prophet. In Judges 13:6, 8, the perceived “man of God” was an angel.[8]

            Although the passage does not deal directly on the following issue, the application of these far-reaching verses demands that it be touched upon briefly: the method of appropriating the life-giving power of Scriptures. Surely it is not just the mere intellectual knowledge of the Bible that incorporates the spiritual life of God’s Word into our beings, though it is important. For the Pharisees and scribes of Jesus’ time had plenty Old Testament information in their heads, albeit the wrong understanding in most parts, but neither their life character nor their ministry demonstrated bona fide faith and power of God. In the first epistle that Paul wrote to Timothy, he instructed him to “give attention, meditate,” and “take heed” to sound doctrines and the “words of faith” so that he may progress spiritually (1 Tim 4:6, 12-16). This passage shows that it is by the constant and regular meditation of the Word of God that will draw forth its inherent divine power to our spirits. If Jesus compared the Word of God to spiritual food, then meditation is the digesting of this heavenly food. Jesus also associated the Word of God with a seed (Luke 8:11). A seed in itself has tremendous growth potential, but it needs to have certain conditions for the seed to sprout and develop. Through meditation with a good heart, the Word of God can become strength to our inner beings (Ps 1:2-3). The Greek word for “meditation” in 1 Tim 4:15 is meletao. This same word is used by the Septuagint translators in verses such as Psalm 1:2, 35:28. Meletao is employed in place of the Hebrew word hagah, which means to “to moan, growl, utter, muse, mutter, meditate, devise, plot, speak;”[9] it is the main Hebrew word translated as “meditate.” Out of the 24 occurrences in the Old Testament, it is translated in the New American Standard Version as “declare,” “growls,” “make a sound,” “moan sadly,” “mutters,” “uttering” and “utters” once each, and as “moan” three times, “mutter” twice, “utter” twice. Evidently, hagah is more than just the quiet concentration of the mind on something, as the English word “meditation” denotes. Moreover, the Jewish meditation practice involves the chanting of the Hebrew Bible, thus, “meditation” in the Old Testament usage is not just the act of silently pondering on certain things.[10] Unquestionably there are benefits of a contemplative exercise on the Scriptures, but that is better described by the word logizomai, such as in Philippians 4:8. Therefore, the chief method by which one feeds upon the Word of God is by the reading out of God’s Word attentively on a regular basis. The student of the Word needs not only to believe in the heart concerning the Holy Scriptures, but also confess with the mouth (Rom 10). Meditate the Word of God through confession will cause one to be “like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper,” for “they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh” (Ps 1:2-3; Prov 4:22).

 

Conclusion

            Second Timothy 3:10-17 has clearly shown us that there can be no Man of God without the proper intake of the Word of God. It is able to produce men and women of God like Paul, Timothy, and a host of other godly characters in the Bible and throughout church history. A mature fivefold teacher who can soundly teach the “whole counsel of God” in spiritual depth is a rare gem in Christendom today (Acts 20:27; James 3:1). Jesus declared that it is teaching that will bring up a disciple (Matt 28:19-20). Someone who is full of the Word will be able to teach the Word and refute false doctrines, sanctified to a Christlike life (2 Tim 3:10-17). When the power of the Word joins hand in hand with the power of the Spirit by union with Christ, this supernatural combustion will produce the works of Jesus and greater works (John 14:10-17; 15:1-8). Furthermore, it is the personal meditation (confession) of Scriptures that will truly build up one’s faith (Rom 10:17) and causes a genuine growth of the human spirit, by which God can work through more effectively to accomplish His works (Rom 1:9; 15:18-19). The main key to a fruitful Christian life and ministry is the meditation of God’s Word. The Word of God is indispensable to the making of a Man of God. In these last days as evil grows from bad to worse (2 Tim 3:13) and truth being blurred beyond distinction, the “righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” because they have kept and proclaimed the Holy Scriptures gracefully and fearlessly. When the Written Word grows mightily and prevails, Jesus Christ the Living Word will be glorified through His people (Acts 19:9-20; John 1:1-5, 14). Second Timothy 3:10-17 is one of the most crucial final charges that Paul bequeathed Timothy and the Church. Let us take these words seriously in an attitude of complete humility in the love of Christ and His Word.


[1] Some manuscripts such as the Textus Receptus contains verse seven as, “For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one” (NKJV).

[2] The Hebrew word translated as “God,” elohiym, is plural, which literally means “gods.” However, the linking verb is singular. It would be like saying, “gods is,” in English (Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Hebrew Lexicon).

[3] Stamps, Donald C. et al. (ed.) NIV Life in the Spirit Study Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003, pp.1922-1426.

[4] The “breath” of God often refers directly to or is associated with the “Spirit” of God. The Hebrew word ruwach means “wind, breath, spirit, etc.,” and is used to also denote the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament (e.g. Gen 1:2). In the Greek, “breath” and “Spirit” (Pneuma) have the same Greek root pneo (Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Hebrew Lexicon; Thayer’s Greek lexicon and Smith’s Bible Dictionary plus others).

[5] Greek lexicon based on Thayer’s and Smith’s Bible Dictionary plus others.

[6] However, relativism in itself is a contradiction. This philosophy believes that there are no absolute truths, but this statement is, in fact, an absolute one. If whatever a person believes is or can be the truth, and one believes in relativism to be right, while another embraces the verbal plenary inspiration of the Scriptures to be accurate, obviously both views cannot be acceptable at the same time, since it utterly defies the rules of logic and good common sense.

[7] Greek lexicon based on Thayer’s and Smith’s Bible Dictionary plus others. Moreover, even the word for “brethren” or “brother” adelphos, which has a stricter definition referring to the male (although can still mean “all people” generally), is understood contextually and theologically to mean “all believers, both men and women” in the culture of the day. Much like the English word “man” also means “a person, regardless of sex or age” in its usage today (Encarta® World English Dictionary [North American Edition] © & (P)2007 Microsoft Corporation. http://encarta.msn.com/dictionary_/man.html; word retrieved March 6, 2008).

[8] The text referred to him as “the Angel of the LORD” (Judg 13:3) and “the Angel of God” (Judg 13:9). The Hebrew word mal’ak simply means a “messenger.” Many believe, such as C. H. Spurgeon and John A. MacArhur, that the “Angel of the Lord” is a special designation for the pre-incarnate Christ theophany in the Old Testament because he often speaks as if God Himself was speaking in the first person and also likened to God Himself in many instances (e.g. Judg 13:20-22). However, others believe angels can still speak in the first person as mouthpieces of God, and thus being wrongly perceived as God by humans. The angel of the Lord seems to be a special type of angel with great authority and unique function, but it is not to be confused with God Himself, as Scriptures never warrant such interpretation. Since the term “angel of the Lord” has also appeared in the New Testament twelve times (e.g. Matt 1:20, 24) and “angel of God” once (Acts 10:3), which if it was the pre-incarnate appearance of Christ in the Old Testament, it would not make sense that it appears again surround or after Christ’s incarnation. Hence, if the expression “angel of the Lord” clearly applies only to an angel and not a pre-incarnate Christ, it follows that the angel of the Lord is only a powerful direct mouthpiece of God and not the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

[9] Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Hebrew Lexicon.

[10] http://www.rebgoldie.com/Meditation.htm; website access March 7, 2008.

 

 

Bibliography / Reading Report:

 

Books and Commentaries:

Barclay, William. The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon (Chinese Edition). Kowloon, HK: Chinese Christian Literature Council, 1986, 347 pages.

Bunyan, John. Paul’s Departure and Crown. Swengel, PA: Reiner Publications, 1969, 57 pages.

Calvin, John. Commentaries on the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. Grand Rapids, MI: WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1948, 398 pages.

Guthrie, Donald. The Pastoral Epistles. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1957, 228 pages.

Lockyer, Herbert. The Swan Song of Paul (a.k.a. Fascinating Studies in Second Timothy). Philadelphia, PA: The American Bible Conference Association, 1936, 93 pages.

Moule, H. C. G. Studies in II Timothy. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1977, 180 pages.

Mounce, William D. Word Biblical Commentary 46—Pastoral Epistles. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2000, 641 pages.

Stott, John R. W. The Message of 2 Timothy. Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1973, 127 pages.

Tan, Peter. Meditation on God’s Word. Malaysia: Percetakan Sri Nakhoda Sdn. Bhd., 1989, 34 pages.

Tang, Thomas. New Bible Commentary (21st Century Edition) Volume II. Kowloon, Hong Kong: Christian Communications Limited, 1999, 27 pages on the Pastoral Epistles.

 

Annotated Bibles:

Hayford, Jack W. et al. (ed.) New Spirit-Filled Life® Bible (New King James Version). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2002.

Yu, Timothy et al. (ed.) The Chinese Study Bible (Popular Edition—Chinese Union Version). Hong Kong: The Rock House Publishers, Ltd., 1998.

Stamps, Donald C. et al. (ed.) NIV Life in the Spirit Study Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003.

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Exegesis Paper on 2 Timothy 3:10-17–The Man of God and the Word of God Part 1 Exegesis Paper on 2 Timothy 3:10-17–The Man of God and the Word of God Part 3

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