May 17, 2013

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.

This is naturally one (of many) of my favorite passages in the Bible. There are many important points wrapped up in it. In the first place, it deals with how the Bible came to be written. There’s an important difference between “inspired” and “dictated.” Inspiration originally means to take in breath, as opposed to expiration, which is breathing out. Those two words have taken on so many corollary meanings that the NIV used “God-breathed” for clarity. (The Japanese uses “God’s spiritual feeling,” which doesn’t exactly click in literal English translation!) Each of the many writers of the Bible wrote using the vocabulary at their disposal, with their writing style reflecting their personality and their culture. However, the content, the meaning, of what they wrote was from the breath, the Spirit, of God. (In Hebrew as well as in Greek, “breath” and “spirit” are the same word.) Failure to acknowledge that has caused many “theologians” and “Bible scholars” to depart from the faith completely. There were indeed editors and translators and scribes between the original writing and what we have today, but God was still in charge of the process. When we read any translation of the Bible today, we need to be seeking the Author behind all of that, to hear what He is saying to us specifically. It is because of this divine nature of the Bible that it is indeed useful for all the purposes Paul mentions here. And we must not forget the purpose of all of this: preparing God’s people to do His will. The Bible is not to be read in the abstract, in a vacuum, but in the context of our daily lives, to be applied as protection, guidance, and power for everything the Lord intends. When we understand that, no day is complete without going to the Word to see what God has to say.

I am frequently reminded of how blessed I am to have been born into the family I was, a family that so loved God and His Word. I have been said to be “addicted to the Bible,” and I rejoice to claim that. My father and both grandfathers were all Bible scholars and two of the three even produced their own translations of parts of the Bible. They understood all the difficulties of text and translation, but their commitment was to the Author rather than human scholarship. I don’t have the foundation in Hebrew and Greek that they did, but that is the environment in which I was raised. For my part, my first task is to apply Scripture consistently in my own life, and then communicate the truths of Scripture to others. I am in what is called “cross-cultural evangelism,” but actually, all evangelism is cross-cultural, because any merely human culture is often sharply different from the culture of the kingdom of God. I am to seek and apply the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit to bridge the divide and bring as many as will come into the kingdom of God.

Father, thank You for Your Word. My words fail me in expressing proper appreciation! Thank You for the incredible privilege of communicating Your Word to others. May I be increasingly effective, so that more and more people may be rescued from the lies of the enemy and brought into the light of Your truth, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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