2 Timothy 3:16-17

HOW TO STUDY THE BIBLE - Context and Logic
2 Timothy 3:16-17

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV) All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

If you have spent any time around church then you have heard this passage. It's a statement that tells us the importance of Scripture for our lives and so that our lives can be conformed to God's will for them. The statement highlights the importance of these writings for correction and guidance so that our lives will be lived righteously before men which gives God the glory.

When used in church, this statement is directed into a twenty-first context and is associated with the Bible. But, here's the context and the logic behind this statement.

It's believed this second letter to Timothy was written by Paul during his first or second imprisonment in Rome. This places the writing of this statement at about one hundred years before these letters were ever viewed as inspired by God and before any thought of canonizing them. In other words, when Paul was instructing Timothy of the importance of Scripture for our lives, Paul was not referring to the Bible nor the New Testament as we know it. He was referring to Old Testament Scripture.

It was in the mid-second-century that a man by the name of Marcion of Sinope, a bishop of Asia Minor, proposed a definitive, exclusive, unique list of Christian scriptures. In his book Origin of the New Testament, Adolf von Harnack argued that Marcion viewed the church at this time as largely an Old Testament church, following a "Creator-God".

Marcion viewed the God of the Old Testament as an inferior being, thus he rejected the theology of the Old Testament entirely. Marcion believed that Jesus had come to liberate mankind from the authority of the God of the Old Testament, and to reveal the superior God of goodness and mercy. Paul and Luke were the only Christian authors to find favor with Marcion.

Marcion created a definite group of books which he regarded as fully authoritative, displacing all others. These comprised of ten of the Pauline epistles and Luke's Gospel. There is a question of whether he edited these books, removing statements that did not support his views, or that his versions represented a separate textual tradition.

It was over time that the church slowly started to adopt Marcion's views and made a God who does not change into a God who does.