This Week's Focus Passage

This Week’s Focus Passage: 2 Timothy 3:16-17 ‘That the man of God may be complete, furnished complet

This Week’s Focus Passage: 2 Timothy 3:16-17

‘That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely.’


    It would seem that one great end for which God gave His people the Holy Scriptures is that they would not want, or lack, any good thing. Paul informs Timothy and ourselves of this blessed reality when he relates not only that the Scriptures are the very Word of the living God, but that the design of their being conveyed to the Church is that the people of God may be complete, furnished completely, for everything that is good for His Son’s bride, as well as for His own glory; ‘every good work.’ David expresses the fact that God has provided all things necessary for His people when he has said, ‘Jehovah is my Shepherd, I shall not want,’ which, at the very least means, does it not, that if we follow the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, we shall have precisely every particular that is necessary for our walking with Him? We shall want nothing needful for that end. And if the Shepherd and the Word are one and the Same—and they are—then just what is lacking? The Word has been given to be a Lamp unto our feet and a Light unto our path. Yet so frequently the children of the Lord stumble and fall again and again. What, we must ask, is the reason for this falling and stumbling along our way? Surely, if all Scripture is God-breathed, and we seek direction sincerely and prayerfully, we will know the way that we ought to go; won’t we? Elijah was perplexed because he was looking fearfully at the threats of Jezebel, and looking to himself for deliverance. We are reminded of the apostle, Peter, who began to sink when he took his eyes off from the Savior to look fearfully at the winds and the waves. It was then that he began to sink. In the same fashion, Elijah was ready ‘to throw in the towel,’ as it were, expecting that Jezebel would surely sink him. He despaired to the point that he asked God to just take his life; he complained that he was completely alone; there were none left but himself to serve God. He subsequently learned to listen to the Word of God, even the ‘still, small voice,’ and to not give heed to his own alarms and misgivings. By God’s grace, he heard the voice of the Lord.

    But there are often numerous causes for our failure to understand and, in many cases, to lose our way. However, the Lord has not left us to ourselves, as Elijah supposed, but He has set up way-marks, signposts to lead us in the right way; ‘this is the way, walk ye in it.’ His Word exhorts us again and again. Yet, even as we will find ourselves lost in an unfamiliar city if we pay no heed to the roadmaps that we brought along; if we leave those directions in the glove-box, as it were, we will almost surely find ourselves ignorant of the way the Lord would have us to go. How ridiculously we behave, often going around in circles, completely ignorant of the direction we should take and, all the while having the directions in our pockets, or in our glove-box, as it were. We have God’s Word with us. This was precisely what happened to Christian and Hopeful when locked in the dungeon of Doubting Castle, despairing that they were not likely to ever be rescued, when suddenly, almost our of nowhere, Hopeful realized that he had the key to the dungeon door in his pocket. In Bunyan’s allegory, of course, that key was faith, but nonetheless, we know that faith lays hold upon the Word of God, so that key was also the Word of God.

    Paul has stated, here in our focus passage, that this Word is sufficient for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction which is in righteousness. Just what is meant when the Holy Spirit has declared that all Scripture is not only God-breathed but profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and instruction? Are we warranted in saying that it is sufficient because it is profitable? Perhaps we are not. As the very last word in Strong’s exhaustive concordance of the Bible, the word here rendered profitable is found to be ophelimos, ‘helpful or serviceable, i.e. advantageous.’ This is not to say, explicitly, that the word is sufficient, but that it is profitable, or helpful, or serviceable; these things are not the same. Must we then concede that the Word of God is not sufficient for all things, ‘that the man of God may be complete; unto good works? While the Scriptures may give to us sound principles as to why we should, perhaps, construct a fence around our property, it does not, necessarily, give us instructions as to how to build a fence. Paul is not teaching us that we can turn to the Bible when we have an electrical or a plumbing problem. He emphatically asserts that the Bible is given to the man of God. And further, that it is profitable for all teaching, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. It is not a home-improvement manual, it is a manual for walking, and keeping on walking, with God; it teaches, it reproves, it corrects, it instructs.

    Is it necessary to try to interpret ophlimos to mean sufficient in order to see that he apostle is here teaching the sufficiency of the Scriptures? Is it not enough to say with him that ‘All Scripture is God-breathed’ in order that the man of God will be equipped for every good work? Paul has dealt with this issue elsewhere in his epistles, and the import is the same; the Scriptures are sufficient for that for which they have been given. They have been given that we may walk with God. The Word asserts its own sufficiency. In Matthew 4:4, Christ Himself cites Deuteronomy 8:3 in repelling the challenge of Satan; ‘Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God,’ i.e. is God-breathed. Scripture has not left itself with simply one or two witnesses to its sufficiency in matters pertaining to godliness, including teaching, reproof, correction, and instruction. The Word of God is sufficient for walking with God and living before Him. It is a Lamp unto our feet and a Light unto our path; it is sharper than any two-edged sword. And has it not often been proved to be like a hammer to knock its proof into our brains and like a fire to enflame our hearts to obedience? The apostle to the Gentiles speaks of sufficiency when he says, in Romans 15:4, ‘For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that through patience, and through comfort of the Scriptures we might have hope.’ It is freely conceded that Paul was speaking primarily of the Old Testament, for that was scriptures he could have spoken of at that time. However, the statement is true for us in 2021 as well, ‘whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning.’ Whatsoever means every, or all, things written; is not this tantamount to an assertion that the scriptures are sufficient for all things? Is it not reasonable to maintain that Paul was saying the same thing to his young colleague, Timothy? All Scripture is God-breathed, and is sufficient for the child of God in all things? And he can go further and say that the result is that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely, the word complete possible used twice for emphasis.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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