Scripture And Inspiration 2 Timothy 3:14–17 -- By: Donald E. Cook

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 01:2 (Spring 1984)
Article: Scripture And Inspiration 2 Timothy 3:14–17
Author: Donald E. Cook

Scripture And Inspiration
2 Timothy 3:14–17

Donald E. Cook

Professor of New Testament,
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

2 Timothy 3:14–17 has been much discussed and occasionally abused in the debate on biblical inspiration which has taken place in recent Southern Baptist life. It has been quoted in support of almost every position that has been developed. Our purpose in this brief study is to examine and interpret the passage within the environment of the Pastorals in general and of 2 Timothy in particular.

First, we shall look at the circumstances of the Pastorals, then note the structure and development of 2 Timothy and, finally, examine 3:14–17 as a part of 2 Timothy and as a separate entity. We shall pay special attention to the movement of the author’s thought within our passage.

The Pastoral Epistles—1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus—seem to address a generation of Christians somewhat removed in time from the gospel’s first hearing and pressed by concerns of sound doctrine and right polity. These conditions suggest a fellowship(s) on the way to becoming an institution in a world that might be around for a while. A date within the last two decades of the first century is quite probable.

The questions related to Pauline authorship are serious and persistent. A theory which views Paul as standing behind material later formulated by a disciple writing in his name seems best to account for the letters as we have them.

The teaching on the inspiration of scripture in our passage is a part of the larger Pastoral concern for orthodoxy noted above. This concern is manifested in Paul’s repeated urging of Timothy to guard the tradition entrusted to him and to teach it to those in his charge (1 Tim. 4:6; 6:20; 2 Tim. 1:14; 2:2). Within this context, the thought of 2 Timothy is developed about a series of exhortations to Timothy, several of which contain an address utilizing the singular second personal pronoun, you (2:1; 3:10, 14; 4:5). The passage under consideration here has this characteristic and is part of the final charge of the letter which begins at 3:10 and continues through 4:8.

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