3:14-17 Those who would learn the things of God, and be assured of them, must know the Holy Scriptures, for they are the Divine revelation. The age of children is the age to learn; and those who would get true learning, must get it out of the Scriptures. They must not lie by us neglected, seldom or never looked into. The Bible is a sure guide to eternal life. The prophets and apostles did not speak from themselves, but delivered what they received of God, 2Pe 1:21. It is profitable for all purposes of the Christian life. It is of use to all, for all need to be taught, corrected, and reproved. There is something in the Scriptures suitable for every case. Oh that we may love our Bibles more, and keep closer to them! then shall we find benefit, and at last gain the happiness therein promised by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the main subject of both Testaments. We best oppose error by promoting a solid knowledge of the word of truth; and the greatest kindness we can do to children, is to make them early to know the Bible.
16. All scripture—Greek, "Every Scripture," that is, Scripture in its every part. However, English Version is sustained, though the Greek article be wanting, by the technical use of the term "Scripture" being so well known as not to need the article (compare Greek, Eph 3:15; 2:21). The Greek is never used of writings in general, but only of the sacred Scriptures. The position of the two Greek adjectives closely united by "and," forbids our taking the one as an epithet, the other as predicated and translated as Alford and Ellicott. "Every Scripture given by inspiration of God is also profitable." Vulgate and the best manuscripts, favor English Version. Clearly the adjectives are so closely connected that as surely as one is a predicate, the other must be so too. Alford admits his translation to be harsh, though legitimate. It is better with English Version to take it in a construction legitimate, and at the same time not harsh. The Greek, "God-inspired," is found nowhere else. Most of the New Testament books were written when Paul wrote this his latest Epistle: so he includes in the clause "All Scripture is God-inspired," not only the Old Testament, in which alone Timothy was taught when a child (2Ti 3:15), but the New Testament books according as they were recognized in the churches which had men gifted with "discerning of spirits," and so able to distinguish really inspired utterances, persons, and so their writings from spurious. Paul means, "All Scripture is God-inspired and therefore useful"; because we see no utility in any words or portion of it, it does not follow it is not God-inspired. It is useful, because God-inspired; not God-inspired, because useful. One reason for the article not being before the Greek, "Scripture," may be that, if it had, it might be supposed that it limited the sense to the hiera grammata, "Holy Scriptures" (2Ti 3:15) of the Old Testament, whereas here the assertion is more general: "all Scripture" (compare Greek, 2Pe 1:20). The translation, "all Scripture that is God-inspired is also useful," would imply that there is some Scripture which is not God-inspired. But this would exclude the appropriated sense of the word "Scripture"; and who would need to be told that "all divine Scripture is useful ('profitable')?" Heb 4:13 would, in Alford's view, have to be rendered, "All naked things are also open to the eyes of Him," &c.: so also 1Ti 4:4, which would be absurd [Tregelles, Remarks on the Prophetic Visions of the Book of Daniel]. Knapp well defines inspiration, "An extraordinary divine agency upon teachers while giving instruction, whether oral or written, by which they were taught how and what they should speak or write" (compare 2Sa 23:1; Ac 4:25; 2Pe 1:21). The inspiration gives the divine sanction to all the words of Scripture, though those words be the utterances of the individual writer, and only in special cases revealed directly by God (1Co 2:13). Inspiration is here predicated of the writings, "all Scripture," not of the persons. The question is not how God has done it; it is as to the word, not the men who wrote it. What we must believe is that He has done it, and that all the sacred writings are every where inspired, though not all alike matter of special revelation: and that even the very words are stamped with divine sanction, as Jesus used them (for example in the temptation and Joh 10:34, 35), for deciding all questions of doctrine and practice. There are degrees of revelation in Scripture, but not of inspiration. The sacred writers did not even always know the full significancy of their own God-inspired words (1Pe 1:10, 11, 12). Verbal inspiration does not mean mechanical dictation, but all "Scripture is (so) inspired by God," that everything in it, its narratives, prophecies, citations, the whole—ideas, phrases, and words—are such as He saw fit to be there. The present condition of the text is no ground for concluding against the original text being inspired, but is a reason why we should use all critical diligence to restore the original inspired text. Again, inspiration may be accompanied by revelation or not, but it is as much needed for writing known doctrines or facts authoritatively, as for communicating new truths [Tregelles]. The omission here of the substantive verb is,' I think, designed to mark that, not only the Scripture then existing, but what was still to be written till the canon should be completed, is included as God-inspired. The Old Testament law was the schoolmaster to bring us to Christ; so it is appropriately said to be "able to make wise unto salvation through faith in Jesus Christ": the term wisdom being appropriated to a knowledge of the relations between the Old and New Testaments, and opposed to the pretended wisdom of the false teachers (1Ti 1:7, 8).
doctrine—Greek, "teaching," that is, teaching the ignorant dogmatic truths which they cannot otherwise know. He so uses the Old Testament, Ro 1:17.
reproof—"refutation," convicting the erring of their error. Including polemical divinity. As an example of this use of the Old Testament, compare Ga 3:6, 13, 16. "Doctrine and reproof" comprehend the speculative parts of divinity. Next follow the practical: Scripture is profitable for: (1) correction (Greek, "setting one right"; compare an example, 1Co 10:1-10) and instruction (Greek, "disciplining," as a father does his child, see on 2Ti 2:25; Eph 6:4; Heb 12:5, 11, or "training" by instruction, warning, example, kindnesses, promises, and chastisements; compare an example, 1Co 5:13). Thus the whole science of theology is complete in Scripture. Since Paul is speaking of Scripture in general and in the notion of it, the only general reason why, in order to perfecting the godly (2Ti 3:17), it should extend to every department of revealed truth, must be that it was intended to be the complete and sufficient rule in all things touching perfection. See Article VI, Common Prayer Book.
in—Greek, "instruction which is in righteousness," as contrasted with the "instruction" in worldly rudiments (Col 2:20, 22).