Let’s Put 2 Timothy 3:16 Back In The Bible -- By: Edward W. Goodrick

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 25:4 (Dec 1982)
Article: Let’s Put 2 Timothy 3:16 Back In The Bible
Author: Edward W. Goodrick

Let’s Put 2 Timothy 3:16 Back In The Bible

Edward W. Goodrick*

My neighbor to the south borrowed my electric drill. He tried to make it do something it was not designed for. When he returned it I had to repair it before I could use it again.

My neighbor to the north is a theologian. He borrowed a verse of mine and tried to make it perform a task it was not designed to do. He returned it to me all battered up. Would you like to look over my shoulder as I try to pound it back into shape?

The verse is found in a setting that shouts its importance because it is the remark of a dying man, at the close of a life that consistently brought suffering on itself by its persistent pursuit of a single goal, written to a person the author was grooming to succeed him in this same grueling task. He was anticipating that this person would have to traverse an eschatological cauldron that would even exceed his own trials. And this passage was written to identify the overriding force at Timothy’s disposal that would keep him and his charges on course.

I. The Context

The paragraph that I would call “Timothy’s Involvement” (3:10–17) is embedded in an eschatological section that runs from 3:1 through 4:8. Paul perceives Timothy as a participant in these “last days” who must function well without his mentor in times of rejection and persecution. So Timothy must be self-controlled, suffer hardship, preach the gospel and complete his task (4:5).

The paragraph (3:10–17) is composed of four sentences conveniently marked off by vv 12, 14 and 16. The four split into two pairs.

1. Timothy and persecution (3:10–13)

a Timothy has emulated Paul in many ways, including suffering (3:10–11)

b Suffering is the common lot of devoted Christians (3:12–13)

2. Timothy and the Bible (3:14–17)

a Timothy, stay with your Bible knowledge and your commitment (3:14–15)

b The Bible is profitable (3:16–17)

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