The Believer & The Scriptures

2 Timothy 3:15 (NKJV)

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.


Here, we see the Apostle Paul write to his son in the faith, Timothy. Timothy was the pastor of the Churches at Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3). He was like a bishop — a pastor of pastors. Most Bible scholars agree that he was a teenager. Paul actually wrote three pastoral letters; 1 & 2 Timothy, then Titus. They are called “pastoral” because they were written to men who exercised spiritual oversight over others. These letters were meant to admonish men in ministry. So we see Paul say something very salient here:


“and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures,


The word “childhood” was translated from the Greek word “brephos” (βρέφος). It means “infancy.” It was a Jewish tradition for parents to teach their children the Torah (Genesis to Malachi) at a very young age.


Deuteronomy 6:6-9 (NKJV)

6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.


Parents are instructed to teach their children. The Book of Proverbs echoes this as well.


Proverbs 3:1-3 (NKJV)

3 My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands; 2 For length of days and long life and peace they will add to you. 3 Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart


Here, we see Solomon, King of Israel after his father David, instruct his son to not forget. “Law” and “commands” here would refer to teaching from the Torah. So, this was common practice amongst the Hebrews. In fact, some scholars would say that the Hebrew children were taught the Tanakh as soon as they could speak!


Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV)

6 Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.


There is an admonition to train a child.


Psalm 78:1-8 (NKJV)

1 Give ear, O my people, to my law;

Incline your ears to the words of my mouth. 2 I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, 3 Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. 4 We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done. 5 For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children; 6 That the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children, 7 That they may set their hope in God,

And not forget the works of God,

But keep His commandments; 8 And may not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation,

A generation that did not set its heart aright, and whose spirit was not faithful to God.


The Laws (Books of Moses) were to be made known to their children.


So, it is of this infancy that Paul speaks in 2 Timothy 3:15. Being a Jew by birth, Timothy knew that upbringing in the Scriptures. Timothy was raised well.


2 Timothy 1:3-7 (NKJV)

3 I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, 4 greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, 5 when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also. 6 Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.


His grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice had such a good influence on him, so much so that Paul met Timothy already saved and even well spoken of by fellow believers.


Acts 16:1-2 (NKJV)

1 Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a CERTAIN DISCIPLE was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek. 2 He was WELL SPOKEN OF by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium.


Then Paul goes on to say:

..”you have known the Holy Scriptures,” (2 Timothy 3:15)


The word “known” as used here was translated from the Greek word “eido” (οἶδα). It refers to “a mental comprehension, to understand.” So, from a young age, Timothy had began to understand/comprehend the Holy Scriptures, “which” Paul says, “are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”


Now the word “wise” is from the Greek word “sophizó” (σοφίζω). It means “skillful, crafty.” The same word was used in 2 Peter 1:16, albeit in a negative manner.


2 Peter 1:16 (NKJV)

16 For we did not follow CUNNINGLY DEVISED FABLES when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.


Hence, “sophizó” (σοφίζω) speaks of “cunning, smart, clever, intelligence.” So, knowing the Holy Scriptures does this to a man; he becomes spiritually intelligent (so to speak) about SALVATION, not Law, medicine, commerce but SALVATION!


Let’s examine that phrase “holy Scriptures”


The word “holy” in the New Testament Greek Scriptures is often translated from the Greek word “hagios” (ἅγιος) which means “separate” or “different.” But interestingly, the Apostle does not use “hagios” (ἅγιος) here (2 Timothy 3:15). Rather, he uses another Greek word “hieros” (ἱερός). “Hieros” (ἱερός) means “inviolably sacred, set apart; that which has been consecrated or reserved for one purpose alone, therefore it must be reverenced (treated specially).” The same word “hieros” (ἱερός) was used in Colossians 4:13


Colossians 4:13 (NKJV)

13 For I bear him witness that he has a great zeal for you, and those who are in Laodicea, and those in HIERAPOLIS.


“Hierapolis” is a compound word made up of “hieros” (ἱερός) (which means “sacred, holy”) and “polis” (πόλις) (which means “city”), properly “holy city.” This city probably bore this nomenclature due to the fact that a sacred Temple had been erected in it.


So, Paul draws from this to say “holy Scriptures.” The word “Scriptures” was translated from the Greek word “gramma” (γράμμα) which refers to “that which is written; literally letters.” By saying “sacred writings,” the Apostle Paul lets us know that these books are for one purpose ONLY — salvation. Any other use would be a misuse. They are not not science, political or commercial books. They are “salvation books.” Worthy of note is the fact that when Paul wrote this, there was no Matthew to Revelation, just Genesis to Malachi. Paul actually referred to the Old Testament books as books for salvation, that is, salvation is the VERY FABRIC of the Scriptures. We are NEVER to lose sight of this fact; we are not to go to the Old Testament to find something else — salvation is the message of those books. This would mean that for EVERY subject we may later teach from the Scriptures, salvation through faith in Christ must be the foundation. If we are to teach faith, prayer, the leading of the Spirit, good Christian living etc, we must do so from the perspective of salvation. The Scriptures teach salvation found in Christ!


The Apostle then goes on to say in vs. 16


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


He uses a different Greek word here for “Scripture.” It is the word “graphé” (γραφή) which means “the documentation of writings.” It is a more general terminology than “Scriptures” (“gramma:γράμμα”) in vs. 15. The Apostle appears to be referring more to the documentation than to what is actually contained therein (to expound on this would be beyond the scope of this article).


That phrase “given by inspiration of God” is just one word in the Greek. It is the word “theopneustos” (θεόπνευστος). A compound term from “Theos” (θεός) (meaning “God”) and “pnéō” (πνέω) (meaning “breathe out”). Paul actually coined the terminology in the New Testament to mean “God-breathed.” That is, God inspired the documentation of the Scriptures. This is Paul putting God’s seal of approval on the Scriptures; expressing their sacred nature and divine origin. Peter did the same (see 1 Peter 1:10-12 & 2 Peter 1:16-21). Those who documented the Scriptures were moved or inspired by the Spirit of God to do so.


Then Paul continues


“..and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,”


The word “profitable” is the word “ophelimos” (ὠφέλιμος) in the Greek lexicon. It means “beneficial, useful, serviceable, advantageous for.” That is, not only are the documented Scriptures divinely inspired, they also render the readers a benefit. Paul tells us “for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (N.B “For” is “pros” (πρὸς) in the Greek which means “advantageous for”). Apparently, Granville Sharp’s The-Substanstive-Substanstive (TSS) rule would come to play here; Paul does not mention 4 different things, just one.


16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine.


That is the benefit of all Scripture — doctrine. In doctrine is the reproof, correction and the instruction found! The last three substantives are to further explain the previously stated (doctrine) i.e to explain what doctrine does. “Doctrine” is from the old Greek word “didaskalia” (διδασκαλίαν) which means “teaching; to provide information or learning.” So, all Scripture is for teaching. In this teaching, we will have reproof. Now, the word “reproof” is from the Greek word “elegchos” (ἔλεγχος) which refers to “persuasion, inner conviction, evidence, proof.” So, it is via teaching that our convictions are formed. Enough evidence and proof is presented to the mind to birth convictions in the heart. This would involve repetitive teaching; over and over again till you are convinced. It is evident that firm convictions on God’s Word are birthed over time, there is no rush whatsoever. Paul tells us the benefits of same in Ephesians 4:14


Ephesians 4:14 (NKJV)

14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,


Then the author goes on to say “for correction” (2 Timothy 3:16)


The word “correction” was translated from the Greek word “epanorthósis” (ἐπανόρθωσις) which means “to set straight again; restore to its original (proper) condition, to bring to an upright state, improvement.” This actually speaks of character — to straighten out. So the Word, when taught, will correct our lifestyle. This means you might not always like what it is saying, that’s how correction works — it will sometimes make you sad, angry, challenge your beliefs, so you can be better.


Hebrews 12:11 (NKJV)

11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.


In teaching, there is a correction or rectification (to the proper way of doing things).


Then Paul says “for instruction in righteousness.” The word “instruction” here is “paideia” (παιδεία) in the Greek. It literally means “child-training, to rear a child.” That is, tutorage, education or training, discipline. It refers to instruction that trains someone to reach full development (maturity) or which cultivates the mind. So again, we see that the word taught has an end-goal — to train the listener. It is not enough to be merely excited at the Word, its aim is your spiritual growth and development. Some gladly receive the doctrine and reproof the Word brings but hate the “correction and instruction part.” That is unhealthy. We are to embrace the full function of the Word till it affects even our character, not cherry-pick which parts we like and do not like. Only then can verse 17 be possible


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


I trust this meets you well. Let me know. Share with a friend too.


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2019.


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