All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Our family loves baseball. There’s just something about sitting in the stadium with your family, the sun beating down on your head, a hot dog in your hand, watching your team play the game you love. If they win, that’s great but it’s not required. We love it that much.
When one of our players hits the ball out of the park, it’s always fun to hear him talk about it afterward. A reporter might say, “So, tell us about that home run.” The player might say something like this, “Well, today is my son’s birthday, but I couldn’t be at his birthday party. He and his friends were watching the game at home. I guess you could say his birthday inspired me to hit that home run.”
His son will likely never forget his dad’s birthday present. The young boy may even seek to inspire his father somehow before every game. It worked once, after all.
Our heavenly Father gave us an unforgettable gift of inestimable worth, and He inspired that gift Himself.
If you’ve been around church for a while, you may be familiar with 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Maybe you even have it memorized, but the wording in the NIV might be a little different from the version you know.
Usually, we hear, “All Scripture is inspired by God.” That is certainly true, but literally, the original language of the verse means breathed out—breathed out by God. I think it’s more powerful this way because in our culture, we use the word inspired in many different ways—from baseball to creative pursuits to decluttering our garages.
But the word for how we got the Bible is stronger. It wasn’t just holy writers doing a human task with some kind of supernatural boost from God. He didn’t put them into a trance and then dictate it to them. He literally breathed out the words to the writers—who all brought their unique personalities and different experiences to Him—and they wrote down His words.
When we speak, our breath—the air from our lungs—makes our vocal cords vibrate. The shape of our tongue, teeth, and lips form different sounds that make up words. And out it comes.
My little granddaughter, who is 1½, is learning to speak. Her tongue, teeth, and lips form interesting sounds that create her own words for things. We love to hear what comes out of her mouth: “bahboon” for “balloon” and “bayball” for “baseball.” (Yes, she loves baseball, too.) Someday soon, she will be saying those words perfectly, but in the meantime, we love to hear what comes out of her mouth.
Thinking of how lovingly and intentionally God gave us His Word makes us want to hear what He has to say.
After we learn in verse 16 how God gave us His Word, we see that Scripture is profitable, meaning it is a reward. It has a payoff or a return on investment. And there are four benefits of it: teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. All of these benefits are meant to form and shape those who engage with the Bible into the likeness of Jesus, God’s Son.
When I was a young pastor at a small church in Illinois, I had a list of messages that I considered my all-time greatest hits. Every speaker has such a list—tools in your toolbox when you’re invited to speak elsewhere. I was still new to preaching, so I didn’t have a long list, but I had a killer message on the “Four Purposes of the Word of God.” I preached it with passion, and the audience always responded.
But the first time I heard Bruce Wilkinson, the founder of Walk Thru the Bible, he also spoke on this passage. He said, “A lot of people think those four things—teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness—are the purposes of God’s Word, but they aren’t.”
I thought, Oh no! I’ve shared that several times before!
He went on to say that you don’t even get to the purposes until verse 17.
And here I thought that was kind of a P.S.!
But it makes sense: those four things are not the goal; they are a means to an end. The goal is that we may be complete. The focus is on our character—that the Word would make us more and more like Jesus Christ. Not just that we would be changed on the inside but that we would be equipped for every good work that God has for us. Complete.
When God gave us His Word, the first people who were changed and equipped were the writers of Scripture. That was centuries ago, yet His Word still changes and equips us today. It’s really not surprising when you think about it. After all, it’s the breath of God—as fresh and life-giving now as ever.
by Phil Tuttle
Phil is the president and CEO of Walk Thru the Bible.