doctrine for the rest of us: the bible
3/20/2006 01:17:00 AM

First and foremost, it is not my intention in writing this to explain the doctrine of the Bible. There are many that have gone on before me that that have done an incredible job developing theology for how we got the Bible and why it's authoritative. The focus of this blog is to focus on the practical implications of theology, so that is where I will spend most of my time. I will, however, give some general terms that you may encounter when reading about the Bible.

Inspiration -- How we got the Bible. This is the process by which the authors of the Bible received from God and put on paper that which they have received. I adhere to the "verbal plenary" view of inspiration, which in a nutshell means that God guided the writers in thought without overwhelming their personalities and writing styles.

Illumination -- How we understand the Bible. The Holy Spirit helps the believer understand the truth of the Bible as he or she reads it.

Interpretation -- How we take the truth and apply it. The fancy word for this is hermeneutics. My next post will be spent on how to interpret the Bible, because it one of the most practical things we can do as Christians. Generally speaking though, I follow the "grammatical-historical method", which is basically trying to understand what a passage meant to the original readers and then learning the truths that we can apply to out lives today. I will explain this method in greater lengths in the future.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

All Scripture is God-breathed (See Inspiration above)

Here the passage is assuming that Scripture is inspired, and doesn't go into a great depth about what that means

Is useful

This is the reason I chose to use 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Scripture is useful. In the passage, Paul is giving a charge to Timothy to "stick to his guns" so to speak. He knew that Timothy would undergo intense persecution for his beliefs and would have to deal with false teachers ("impostors") who will deceive people. Paul tells Timothy that because of this, he should faithfully stick to Scripture, as opposed to knew ideas and philosophies. Paul appeals to Scripture as opposed to other sources for authority is because scripture, unlike man, is infallible because it is God's word. If a man is the source of authority, then it is easy to be lead astray, and the man's teachings, not God's, become authoritative. Paul wanted Timothy to use Scripture to silence those who attempt to lead his flock astray. This is very thing that many historical figures have done. Luther wanted proof from Scripture that he was wrong about his 95 theses and other writings. Irenaeus used scripture to correct Gnosticism in the 2nd century. Scripture has always been the test of truth, and it still is today.

Pluralism (all paths lead to God) and its cousin relativism (what is truth to you may not be true for me) seem to be the predominant mode of thinking in the world today. Christianity is opposed to this because it makes absolute claims about God. We believe that Jesus is the only way to God. We also believe all that don't believe in Jesus will be eternally punished. In a relativistic, pluralistic world, such claims get rejected. But as Christians, we have to stay true to the Bible, because it is the truth that God reveals to us. However, staying true to the Bible doesn't give anyone a ticket to bash people. The Bible also calls for Christians to love their enemies. One thing that seriously upsets me is when people use Scripture as a tool to tear down people, rather than show them the truth in love. Certainly, people have to be confronted with their sins, but I do think that this can be done in a manner that is loving towards other people.


The Greek word used here is "didaskalos." The word can also be translated "doctrine." This is pretty self-explanatory. A believer learns about God through Scripture, and can teach others about God through Scripture. This is an essential part of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) where Jesus tells his disciples to make more disciples (students) by teaching them to obey what Jesus had commanded them.


The Greek word here is "elegmos" which is a strong word used in reference to correcting error. It is more powerful than the following word, correction. I think the implication is twofold: First, Scripture has apologetic value. Apologetics are defenses of Christianity, and have been written and used sense the New Testament times. Jesus when he was being tempted used Scripture as a defense against Satan. Scripture really is an "offensive defense" for Christianity. It does defend, but it also rebukes, or offends in a way. Second, Scripture convicts people of sin. This doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out. If one opens Scripture, he or she won't have to look far to find how Scripture indeed convicts people of their sins.


The Greek word used here is "epanorthosin" which means restoration. The difference here as opposed to rebuke seems to be that Scripture can be used to correct somebody who is already a believer. Rebuke is externally focused while correction is focused internally. Christians aren't perfect people, and need to be corrected from time to time. Scripture is the tool we used to do so.

Training in Righteousness

The Greek word used here is "paideia" and is generally used in references to raising children and teaching them how to live. Paul and John often spoke of new believers or their congregations as children. Timothy would have certainly had to teach his congregation (his children) on how to live according to God's principles, and these principles are found in the Bible. Scripture is useful for training new and old believers alike in righteousness (right living).

So that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work

The conclusion on the matter is given in verse 17. It is uncertain whether this phrase is referring to all four uses of scripture or just the last, but I think it is certainly applicable to all four. The more one is taught, corrected, and trained, the better he or she is equipped for "every good work." Without Scripture, it seems that we would naturally do every bad work. Scripture helps us discern between what is good and what is bad, and be ready to do what is good.

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