Monday, November 05, 2007

Warfield on 2 Timothy 3:16-17


"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."

I was just reading B.B. Warfield's article on "The Biblical Idea Of Inspiration," and his work on these verses, particularly the word "theópneustos" ("God Breathed"), the word translated "inspired".

"What it says of Scripture is, not that it is "breathed into by God" or is the product of the Divine "inbreathing" into its human authors, but that it is breathed out by God, "God-breathed," the product of the creative breath of God. In a word, what is declared by this fundamental passage is simply that the Scriptures are a Divine product, without any indication of how God has operated in producing them. No term could have been chosen, however, which would have more emphatically asserted the Divine production of Scripture than that which is here employed. The "breath of God" is in Scripture just the symbol of His almighty power, the bearer of His creative word. "

By the word of Jehovah," we read in the significant parallel of Psalm 33:6, "were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth." And it is particularly where the operations Of God are energetic that this term (whether ruah, or neshamah) is employed to designate them — God’s breath is the irresistible outflow of His power. When Paul declares, then, that "every scripture," or "all scripture" is the product of the Divine breath, "is God-breathed," he asserts with as much energy as he could employ that Scripture is the product of a specifically Divine operation."

Source: B.B. Warfield, The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible (p. 133)

This is helpful information when dialoging on sola scriptura, because Roman Catholics typically say 2 Tim. 3:16- 18 only applies to the Old Testament, and therefore, Scripture alone is not adequate to equip for every good work, because Paul only has the Old Testament in mind- A second source of authority is needed: an infallible church. Scripture is therefore, insufficient. For instance,

"As a final point, verse 15 suggests only the Old Testament as Scripture since the New Testament was written after Timothy's childhood. Taken in context, verses 16-17 apply only to the Old Testament. "All Scripture" simply means all of the Old Testament. If verses 16-17 were to prove that Scripture is enough for Christians, then verse 15 would prove that the Old Testament is enough!"

But Paul's point is that Scripture is God breathed- "so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." It is not the canon of Scripture which is in view, but rather the all sufficiency of God-breathed Scripture. It is the nature of Scripture which is in view. Warfield says:

"It is to be observed that the apostle does not stop here to tell us either what particular books enter into the collection which he calls Sacred Scriptures, or by what precise operations God has produced them. Neither of these subjects entered into the matter he had at the moment in hand. It was the value of the Scriptures, and the source of that value in their Divine origin, which he required at the moment to assert; and these things he asserts, leaving to other occasions any further facts concerning them which it might be well to emphasize. It is also to be observed that the apostle does not tell us here everything for which the Scriptures are made valuable by their Divine origination. He speaks simply to the point immediately in hand, and reminds Timothy of the value which these Scriptures, by virtue of their Divine origin, have for the "man of God." Their spiritual power, as God-breathed, is all that he had occasion here to advert to. Whatever other qualities may accrue to them from their Divine origin, he leaves to other occasions to speak of."

Source: B.B. Warfield, The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible (p. 134-135)

It would be helpful for Roman Catholics to present a verse that says, "The Church is also God breathed, so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work, in order to get past the weight of Paul's proclamation of the sufficiency of Scripture.

6 comments:

anon said...

Question 1: In what verses do we find Jesus instituting or instructing anyone to institute the New Testamnet?

Question 2: In what verses do we find Jesus instituting or instructing anyone to institute the Church?

Question 3: If we take as a "given" that Jesus intended the New Testament to be the very rule of faith, why didn't he mention it?

Hint: Qestions 1 and 2 are simply rhetorical. Question 3 is not, and it deserves an answer.

anon said...

"Question 3: If we take as a "given" that Jesus intended the New Testament to be the very rule of faith, why didn't he mention it?"

This is a toughie. Perhaps it ought to be a multiple choice question.


A) He didn't know about it.

B) He was such a jokester!

C) He wanted us to figure it out as a test of who is and who is not a true believer.

D) He spent so much time talking about the Church that he forgot.

E) He was having so much fun playing "ring toss" with Peter that he never got around to it.

orthodox said...

The point is not that 2 Tim only applies to the old testament. The point is that Paul's conception of what ἄρτιος ἄνθρωπος means has to be taken in the context of a church with no New Testament. In other words, the New Testament is not finished being written yet, perhaps not even the gospels are written yet, the OT only contains a small part of the Christian teaching. What the phrase means to Paul can't mean what it means to protestants. It can't mean that all Christian knowledge is found in scripture, because that wasn't the case when Paul wrote.

prank said...

Paul wrote 2 Timothy most likely around AD 66-67. At that time the majority of the New Testament had been written. Peter had claimed a year or two earlier in 2 Peter 3:16 that Paul's writings were scripture. Peter knew Paul was alive and still writing when he called his writings scripture. Paul in 1 Timothy refers to a teaching of Jesus as Scripture. This shows clearly that the church understood that scripture was in process of being written.

So when Paul says every scripture is inspired by God, most likely he and Timothy would understand that to mean the Old Testament and the writings of the Apostles about Jesus. By saying every, he did not necessarily mean that every past scripture was inspirited excluding future ones. Paul and Timothy most likely like Peter were aware that scripture was in the process of being produced. They might have even read 2 Peter.

With the understanding of the broader context, clearly Paul is teaching that Scripture (not just past scripture) is authoritative and is able to mature us to accomplish every good work God has for us.

prank said...

I take the Question 3 above to be a joke because it is so ridiculous. Jesus mentioned Scripture on numerous occasions and rebukes people for not holding to scripture. He used scripture to confront Satan, the scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees. Jesus said that every jot and tittle of scripture would be fulfilled. That it would be better to drown yourself than to lead someone away from the teaching of scripture.

Jesus clearly treated the scripture as the rule of faith and everyone in the New Testament seemed to understood that to be true.

Irritatio Perpetuum said...

Prank, if by "the majority of the NT" you mean number of books, you would be correct. But to exclude Luke/Acts, the Johannine corpus, etc. is almost half of the NT in terms of length. Throw in obvious uncertainties such as Hebrews, Matthew, and possibly Mark, and well over half of the content of the NT was unwritten, or at least not in the form we have it today.