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The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Research Paper Example

Pages: 10

Words: 2801

Research Paper

Introduction

The purpose of this analysis is to provide a deeper understanding of 2 Timothy 3:10-17, which intends to demonstrate that it is important for individuals to effectively spread the word of God, they must be aptly trained in the Scripture. Interpreting this passage using an understanding of the context of these words, in addition to the historical events that were occurring at this time, it is possible to draw a deeper meaning from the information presented. In this passage, Paul provides some of his last words of wisdom to Timothy, which is words that Christians are expected to continue to live by today[1]. Since the bible is the word of God, it is essential for it to be taught correctly to future generations in order to ensure that they can achieve salvation. Even though Paul is providing wisdom to Timothy, this message is meant for practicing Christians, whether they be laypeople or clergy members; the lesson presented here is meant for us all to honor. The word of God contained in this passage and in Scripture in general, have been placed in order to provide Christians with a means by which to live their lives. This passage reminds the reader of the importance of their duty to uphold these sacred words in their daily lives.

History

To understand the meaning of the passage, it is essential to consider the role of the individuals involved in the conversation that this verse reflect. Since Saint Paul is providing discourse to Timothy, it is important to provide a history of these two individuals in order to deliver an appropriate context for the content of this passage. Saint Paul was an individual who devoutly studied Judaism and compared himself to be one of the leaders of knowledge of this religion[2]. As a consequence, his actions have contributed to his ability to serve as an elite member of society, and his intelligence drew him to the teachings of Christ. He was converted while travelling on the road to Damascus and afterwards, became a major proponent of the Christian faith. In this passage, he is seen acting out this role by teaching his son the importance of upholding the Scripture. Saint Paul was considered to be a perfectionist by many, although he was also eager to learn. Towards the end of his life, he was especially concerned with showing others how to learn and how to become involved in maintaining practice and knowledge of the word of God.

Timothy is first described in the bible when Paul visits Lystra during a missionary experience. It is believed that Timothy was a resident of this location, and it is implied that he was converted in this town during Paul’s first mission visit to the area. During this time, Timothy took a significant interest in Paul’s work, and accompanied him as a ministry companion. It is also known that Timothy’s father was Greek and he thus served as a previously practicing Jew. Paul and Timothy had since shared many significant interactions, such as when Timothy accompanied Paul during his second and third apostolic missions. Furthermore, Timothy was present when he was first taken into custody in Rome.

After Paul had been released from his imprisonment, he continued his missionary travels while putting Timothy in an important position, by allowing him to become a member of the leadership of the Ephesus church and to continue engaging in missionary practices in this community. There is evidence that Paul and Timothy remained in contact during this time. In 64 AD, records show that Paul was arrested once more and he intended to serve as a martyr for God. During this period of time, a majority of Paul’s friends and colleagues had abandoned them for fear that this would mean that they would feel the wrath of the government for openly siding with him. Paul viewed this as his role in God’s story and he considered himself to be the prisoner of God alone. Paul wrote to Timothy during his incarceration in order to deliver his last words to one of the individuals that he still trusted to be pure of heart in the world. Thus, the letter reflected in this passage is highly important because they are either the last words, or last known words of Saint Paul. As such, it is expected that they should be held in the highest regards of the recipient of these words, due to the implication that they provide. Since Saint Paul’s last words are to upload the Scripture, the importance of this letter and the urgency to deliver it to Timothy is greatly emphasized. This motion also indicates the great trust that Saint Paul had in Timothy, to honor him with such a significant message.

Literature

The literature reveals an interesting controversy with regards to verse 16. Some individuals who have reviewed 2 Timothy 3:10-17 believe that verse 16 should be removed, while others believe that it should be maintained. Verse 16 states that, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). Critics of this line wish for it to be removed because they believe that it appears to make the bible profitable in some manner[3]. Since this contradicts many of the other concepts that the bible presents, it has been cut from several editions of the bible. This is an unfortunate problem, because individuals who wish for this section to be removed do not recognize that this portion was not written in English as an original language, thereby allowing a language to remove the meaning of the passage and to obstruct the ability for people to access these words in some instances.

Many scholars argue the alternative, that this portion of the bible should be kept intact. It is important to emphasize that even though the use of words in the English language may not reflect the initial understanding of the intention of the passage, the meaning can be identified through studying the words. While the bible could certainly be considered useful, its “use” isn’t defined by its profitability. The intention of Paul is to show that the Scriptures allow for valuable teachings to be passed to future generations. Thus, many would argue that it is detrimental to remove these words from the bible because by doing so, Saint Paul’s last words become compromised. A majority of Christians agree that the teachings of the Scripture are profitable, although none would describe this profit in terms of a monetary goal. It is important to emphasize that simply spreading the word of God is a profitable action and will contribute to favorable results as a consequence[4].

Reviews of the original passage compared to the modern version in English and other languages demonstrates that some meaning is lost[5]. For example, Saint Paul uses the terms “Scripture” and “sacred writings” alternatively to describe the word of God. By understanding the words literally used in the writing of this passage, the reader could generate a more comprehensive understanding of Saint Paul’s intent. Some would argue that it is important for modern Christians to generate an understanding of this passage as written, because understanding its intent will allow for better understanding of what is being said, rather than requiring the reader to focus on the English language that is being used to describe events.

Finally, it is important to consider the role of the literature with regards to the purpose of this passage. Most apparently, many scholars show that Saint Paul uses his last words in order to convey to Timothy an importance of the Scripture, so that he may go forth and teach it to others, and continue to spread the word of God[6]. Saint Paul provides this task to Timothy because he knows that he is the only one that could be trusted with such an important mission. Thus, this passage and those to follow task Timothy with the need to spread the word of the Scripture in order to bring benefit to others in society.

Theology

The first several verses of this passage are meant to provide Timothy with an understanding of the importance of providing a truthful understanding of teachings and what could happen when a false teacher is followed (2 Timothy 3:10-12). In the verses before this passage, Saint Paul reminds Timothy more comprehensively about the poor deeds carried out by men. Paul affirms that Timothy understands the problems of such evil in verse 14, “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them” (2 Timothy 3:14). Thus, it is apparent that Saint Paul uses this reminder to introduce the true intent of his letter[7]. While he wants to provide Timothy wish an understanding of the importance of teaching Scripture, he first wants to remind Timothy why doing so is important; providing him with a reminder of the evil in the world and then presenting Scripture as a means by which this can be put to an end helps Timothy understand the implications of what is being asked of him. It appears that since Timothy observed firsthand the atrocities that were committed against Saint Paul, he would be in a unique place to understand these sufferings and to be motivated to take action against them.

Another important statement that arises in this passage is in verse 12, which states, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). This is written to show that if we are not suffering for the sake of Christ, it is important for us to think about what we are doing incorrectly. It is impossible to live in God’s good graces without suffering, even if this suffering is simply going against human nature by intentionally preventing negative actions from occurring[8]. This could be done by succumbing too completely to human nature by thinking that natural wants and tendencies are always positive. Ultimately, these beliefs result in false teachings, which can occur when people do not adequately uphold the Scripture. Thus, the importance of teaching Scripture to the future generations is manifold. Doing so will allow some of the evil that is present in the world to be alleviated, which draws significant parallels to the evils that Saint Paul was forced to endure during his imprisonment. In verse 13, Paul emphasizes the problems that are encountered in the world by showing that, “But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:12). Therefore, it is likely that human nature will get ahold of men and cause them to be crueler as time progresses. By engaging in this behavior, however, they are enacting a form of self-deceit. They are doing so because they do not have a true understanding of righteousness. Thus, Saint Paul proposes a problem in this verse that needs to be resolved, demonstrating why he has called upon Timothy so urgently. Verse 15 states, “and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). This verse explains Saint Paul’s reason for trusting Timothy so much. Because Timothy was raised reading and trusting in the Holy Scriptures, he is “wise enough for salvation” and can also use this ability to bring salvation to others. Paul is asking Timothy here to look towards him as a role model and to act in the same manner that he has been prior to his imprisonment[9]. As such, Paul offers himself as an example of a true teacher, an opposite of those that carry falseness. Timothy is asked to imitate Christ and to take on the responsibility of spreading the word of God, even though this path will be challenging.

Verse 16 states, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). This is said to remind Timothy that the Scriptures are the word of God, handed directly from God. Thus, they should be obeyed as law and it is now becoming Timothy’s responsibility to ensure that this law will be upheld. Verse 17 states, “ that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17). Saint Paul believes Timothy to be well-equipped for this work. While the request provided requires a lot of devotion and scholarship, Saint Paul knows that Timothy will be well-suited for this position, and there entrusts him to this important task.

Overall, it is important to consider the importance of the situation that Saint Paul is posing for Timothy in verses 16 and 17 (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Paul is acting as a messenger for Christ, who first emphasized the importance of the Scripture in the bible. Spreading the faith and word of God through emphasizing the importance of the Scripture then become the duty of Paul, who is now passing this responsibility to Timothy. We see this responsibility pass to a different individual many times in the bible, which is an important indicator of the longevity of the word of God. There will always be someone who is tasked with upholding this responsibility. In the modern setting, this is a responsibility that all Christians hold to be important. Thus, the Scripture is taught to use as children, and it becomes our responsibility to pass knowledge of the Scripture to future generations, just as Paul passed this responsibility to Timothy. The importance of this tradition is evident in this passage, and in the previous and following verses, Paul continues to appeal the importance of this mission to Timothy.

Conclusion

In conclusion, this passage upholds the importance of the tradition of the Scripture. Saint Paul warns us that there is much even in this world that must be quelled. Therefore, there is a need to continue to uphold the word of God so that people have the means by which they can achieve salvation. Because of the goodness that Saint Paul has experienced of Timothy, he entrusts Timothy to this important mission. This request is Saint Paul’s last known request, indicating the importance of this passage. The responsibility of upholding the word of God new rests on Timothy’s shoulders. He is being asked to use his knowledge of the Scripture and his faith in order to take on an important challenge. Today’s Christians are expected to take heed of this passage as well, as it shows that it is necessary to educate our future generations about the Scriptures. Thus, even though this message was sent directly to Timothy, it is a message that should be upheld by Christian clergy and laymen around the world.

Bibliography

Barbieri, Louis A., The Bible knowledge Commentary, Ed. Walvoord, John F., and Zuck, Roy B. (Colorado: Cook communications Ministries, 2000), 33.

Gaebelen, Frank E., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Regency Reference Library,1984), 624.

Goodrick, G.E., Lets Put 2 Timothy 3:16 Back in the Bible (JETS, 1982), 429.

Hendrickson, William New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1973), 19.

Keener, Craig, Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove: Inter Varsity Press), 102.

Kohenberger, John R., Goodrick, Edward W., and. Swanson, James A., The Greek- English Concordance to the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997), 1062-1095.

Kostenberger, Andreas J., and Patterson, Richard D., Invitation to Biblical Interpretation: Exploring the Hermeneutical Triad of History, Literature, and Theology. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2011.

Stott, John R. W, The Message of 2 Timothy, (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1973), 92.

Unger, Merrill F. and White, William  An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1960), 171.

[1] Barbieri, Louis A., The Bible knowledge Commentary, Ed. Walvoord, John F., and Zuck, Roy B. (Colorado: Cook communications Ministries, 2000), 33.

[2] Gaebelen, Frank E., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Regency Reference Library,1984), 624.

[3] Goodrick, G.E., Lets Put 2 Timothy 3:16 Back in the Bible (JETS, 1982), 429.

[4] Keener, Craig, Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove: Inter Varsity Press), 102.

[5] Hendrickson, William New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1973), 3.

[6] Kohenberger, John R., Goodrick, Edward W., and. Swanson, James A., The Greek- English Concordance to the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997), 1062-1095.

[7] Kostenberger, Andreas J., and Patterson, Richard D., Invitation to Biblical Interpretation: Exploring the Hermeneutical Triad of History, Literature, and Theology. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2011.

[8] Unger, Merrill F. and White, William  An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1960), 171.

[9] Stott, John R. W, The Message of 2 Timothy, (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1973), 92.

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