MARKING YOUR BIBLE
2 TIMOTHY 3:16-17
This scripture is arguably the most important passage in the Bible for
realizing the authority of the Bible in determining doctrine and equipping
Christians for salvation. Understanding what this passage teaches, and
the way in which some alternative religions attempt to reinterpret the
passage, is vital to all evangelical encounters with members of new religions.
1) To say Scripture is "divinely inspired"
means that, because Scripture is "breathed out" or originates from God,
all Scripture is true and inerrant. The biblical writers thus composed
and recorded God's revelation without error.
Divine inspiration does not mean that God simply used the writers like
a tape recorder to take dictation. Instead, as 2 Peter 1:21 explains, "For
the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God
spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." The phrase "as they were moved"
in Greek is phero, meaning "carried" or "borne." This means, to
use an example provided by Ron Rhodes, that as a sailboat is moved by the
wind but still requires the active involvement of the sailors, so the Holy
Spirit "moved" the biblical writers (ensuring the purity of the message)
without taking away their involvement in the writing process.
This verse effectively counters groups who claim that the Bible is simply
the culturally-biased invention of humans. Instead, God assures readers
that He is responsible for the truth of Scripture.
2) The words "perfect" and "throughly furnished"
tell readers that the Bible contains the necessary information for learning
about God and His will; all that a believer needs to know in order to receive
salvation is contained within the pages of the Bible.
Despite this clear statement, Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons both
claim that the revelation contained in the Bible is insufficient. The Watchtower
Society claims that unless a person is a dedicated Jehovah's Witness, that
person "will not progress along the road to life, no matter how much Bible
reading [they] do." The Watchtower teaches this in order to increase the
Witnesses' reliance upon the "new light" (i.e., revelation) published by
the Society. Similarly, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
teaches that the Bible is valid as God's word only "as far as it is translated
correctly," i.e., only when read interpreted according to the developing
teachings of the LDS Church.
3) The passage concludes, "That the man
of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." The Bible
is thus sufficient for instructing Christians in how to live righteously
and act according to the will of God. The word "all" in Greek is pas,
meaning "all, every, any, the whole." This clearly states that central
aspects of the Christian life can be found in Scripture, as well as how
God uses people to accomplish these actions.
The LDS Church largely avoids discussing this verse. In his Doctrinal
New Testament Commentary, Bruce R. McConkie ends his discussion of
2 Timothy 3 with verse 16; he completely neglects to discuss verse 17.
By ignoring the ramifications of this verse, Mormons can believe that the
temple rituals, unrevealed in Scripture (including the Standard Works),
are necessary for achieving perfection.
KEY TO USING THIS PAGE
The biblical passage is highlighted in pink to indicate
that this is a passage to which alternative religions add or subtract meanings.
The notes to the left of the passage can be written in the margins of a
Bible to help explain the passage (however, do not write the numbers).
The numbers correspond with the detailed explanations at the bottom of
the page. These explanations help readers to fully understand the meaning
of each marginal note.