When I think of Paul, who he was and his influence on the world, two of the first things I think of are courage and wisdom. Courage for the leader he was among the first generations of Christians, and still is through his writings today. Wisdom for the way he knew God, and the way he conveys that knowledge is his writing.
In my opinion, one of the most influential and major things Paul ever wrote is 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”
Immediately this verse always catches my attention by saying “all Scripture,” because that means that whatever is to follow applies to the entire bible. Regardless of how that sentence ends, it’s referring to every word of every verse of every chapter of every book in the bible, and that’s no small thing.
So the first thing Paul says about all Scripture is that it “is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and...” Meaning, that though there are several authors in the bible, every single line in Scripture was divinely inspired and influenced by God.
But Paul doesn’t stop there, he goes on to say that all Scripture, “is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” and this is really where I want to land with this post. I love the second half of this verse, because it’s easy to get caught up in the mindset of reading Scripture because we feel like we have to in order to “be good Christians.” But according to 2 Timothy 3:16, if all Scripture is God-breathed, including this verse itself, then this is God’s way of telling us exactly why reading Scripture is good for us and how we can use it, as opposed to just checking another thing of the list everyday.
I want to break this part of the verse down even further. The first way that Paul says all Scripture is useful is for teaching. As someone who loves to learn, particularly about God, I really love thinking of Scripture in this way. Scripture teaches us who God is, how to live our lives, how to love others well, and so many other things. Without Scripture to go off of, we’d have a really hard time learning about God and life in general.
“Now this is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in Him.” (1 John 1:5)
“The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is compassionate.” (Psalm 116:5)
Both of these verses alone teach us more about God and who He is. He is light, He is gracious, He is righteous, and He is compassionate. All characteristics of Him that are repeated throughout Scripture, and that we learn from said Scripture.
Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
This verse teaches us how we should live, from a place of humility instead of rivalry. It also teaches us how we should love others, considering them more important than ourselves.
Scripture, and let’s not forget this is all Scripture we’re talking about here, can be useful for teaching. Without it, it would be hard to know God’s character and how to live lives that honor Him. So, it’s important to read the word so as to learn more about Him and ourselves.
The second Paul says Scripture is useful for is rebuking. When I first read this verse and started looking into the word rebuking, it had a pretty scary connotation of scolding, but looking further I found it to mean conviction of our sins. I think conviction is actually a really beautiful and kind way for God to protect us from doing harmful things, by reminding us what is right and wrong.
The third way Paul says Scripture is useful is correction, and I think this is the second part of rebuking. Rebuking and correcting isn’t an either/or, it’s a both/and. According to Paul, God uses all Scripture to convict us, but also correct us so that we can better ourselves and our lives.
Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.”
These verses are an example of how God uses Scripture to rebuke and correct us. The first sentence, verse 31, is an example of God’s conviction, reminding us that bitterness, anger, wrath, etc… are all wrong. He reminds us of these things, so that we won’t end up with hard and angry hearts.
But God doesn’t stop at the convicting. In verse 32, Paul goes on to say we should be kind, compassionate, and forgiving. This verse is God’s way of correcting. First He rebukes by telling us what is wrong, but then He corrects by telling us what is right instead, and all of it is a beautiful demonstration of His love for us.
The final thing Paul lists as how all Scripture is useful is for training in righteousness. In the amplified version this part of 2 Timothy 3:16 reads, “for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage].” To sum that up, Scripture is useful because ultimately it shows us and teaches us how to live lives that bring honor and glory to God, and shouldn’t that be what we live for anyway?
God could have given us anything. He could have given us a book with knowledge to heal all diseases. He could have given us a book about how to earn lots of money. He could’ve given us anything. He gave us the bible, breathed from His own lips, to teaches how to live in accordance to Him and the plans He has for our lives. And He doesn’t stop there, in 2 Timothy 3:16 He also tells us how to use said bible. How kind and loving is our God to give us such a gift?
My prayer for us is that we would grow to appreciate Scripture, every single word of it, for the gift that it is. That we wouldn’t just read it to mark something off our checklists, but that we would read it to learn, grow, and see the errors in our ways. That we would read it to draw nearer to Him and learn more about His character and the way He loves. Would God instill in us a hunger to dive deeper in His word and learn all that He has for us there.
He has so much more waiting for you there, more than you can ever dream of, and He wants you to go after it.
Author | Stephanie Stewart