Second Timothy 3:16. -- By: Israel E. Dwinell

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 047:186 (Apr 1890)
Article: Second Timothy 3:16.
Author: Israel E. Dwinell


Second Timothy 3:16.

Professor Israel E. Dwinell

This is a crucial passage. It is a Gibraltar commanding the entrance to the doctrine of inspiration of Scripture. He who holds that the Bible contains a revelation—things inspired, by God—seeks to make this passage favor his idea. He who believes that the Bible as a whole is the word of God resorts to this for proof. So the battle rages about this passage.

The Received Version reads: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable;” the Revision: “All Scripture given by inspiration of God is also profitable.” The commentators are divided in opinion. Ellicott, De Wette, Van Oosterzee, Bengel, and many others, including those with higher views of inspiration generally, make θεόπνευστος a predicate, interpreting “all Scripture is inspired.” Grotius, Rosen müller, Heinrichs, Hofmann, Alford, and most persons with weak views of inspiration, make it attributive of γραφή. Of the ancient versions, the Peshito and the Vulgate omit the καί, and of course consider θεόπνευστος as attributive. Murdock’s translation of the Peshito is: “All Scripture that is inspired by the Spirit, is also profitable.”

In interpreting this passage, the first thing to be considered is the meaning of γραφή. According to the custom of that time, this word when applied to religious subjects among the Jews always referred to the writings of the Old Testament, though there is evidence that the term was beginning to be extended among the Christians to such of the New Testament writings as had then been produced and recognized as authoritative; for example, the apostle Paul, in 1 Tim. 5:18, says: “The Scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn,” quoting from Deuteronomy, and then adds, quoting Christ’s words recorded in Luke 10:7, “The laborer is worthy of his hire.” Some of Christ’s words, then, had already become Scripture. And in 2 Peter 3:16,

the writer, speaking of the Epistles of the apostle Paul, says, that there are some things in them which “they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures.”

Though there are indications of a gradual enlargement of the scope of the word “Scripture” so as to include sacred writings of the New Testament, it almost always refers to the Old Testame...

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