2 Timothy
The man of God. 3:10-17

Paul's second letter to Timothy concludes with further exhortations related to Christian ministry. In 3:10-13 Paul affirms that Timothy, unlike the false teachers, has followed his example, both in teaching and his conduct. Then, in 3:14-17, he affirms that Timothy has been true to the gospel and so he goes on to encourage him to remain firm in sound doctrine.

The passage

v10. Unlike the false teachers, Timothy has followed Paul's ministry example, and by implication, Paul encourages Timothy to continue along this path. Paul firms up Timothy with examples of ministry qualities evident in his own apostolic ministry: i] Teaching that is apostolic, true to the gospel; ii] Conduct that reflects the gospel; iii] A single-minded concern for gospel principles; iv] A firm reliance on Christ; v] Patience in the face of human frailty; vi] Compassion; vii] Perseverance.

v11. Paul expands on his call for perseverance - "endurance" during troubled times. He reminds Timothy of the troubles he faced in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, Act.13:45, 50, 14:1-5, 19. Timothy was not present on these occasions, but the events would be well known to him. Paul came through these times of trial, and this because the powers of darkness could not frustrate God's will exercised through Paul's ministry.

v12. Paul wants Timothy to identify with these troubles, and this he does by presenting a general principle. Believers who behave in a godly way will inevitably create trouble for themselves. Evil, by its very nature, rises up against the good, particularly if the good has some association with Christ.

v13. The false teachers and their disciples will not face this type of negative reaction, for their lives easily fit with the world around them. Being themselves deceived, they deceive those who follow them, so the lives of both teacher and disciple continue to degenerate.

v14. Paul has warned Timothy of false teachers and so he now encourages him to hold firmly to the truth taught him by believers of good character - don't get caught up in the new ideas of the "impostors".

v15. The scriptures support these truths. The word "holy" is not used elsewhere in the New Testament, but it does appear in the Old Testament as a honoring title. So, the phrase means "sacred writings." As to what sacred writings are being referred to, the phrase is used primarily of the Old Testament, but it is more than likely that Paul also includes the gospel. Paul defines the purpose of these scriptures as making us "wise for salvation", they point us toward Jesus through whose faithful obedience we are saved.

v16. Paul now gives us a creedal statement about the scriptures. He states that "all" the separate parts of the scriptures (the Law, Prophets and Writings) are inspired and thus, are useful. He points to four uses: a negative and positive teaching use and a negative and positive life-style use. The Old Testament scriptures are useful to teach sound doctrine and to expose untruth. They are also useful for ethics, correcting evil behavior and training in right behavior.

v17. Biblical truth serves to equip Christian ministers. The term "man / servant of God" may apply to all believers, but is most likely referring only to the prophet, pastor/teacher. The "good work" is the work of proclamation - the ministry of the Word.

The Word of God

This passage has much to say about the Word of God, the Bible.

1. The Bible communicates the way of salvation

The prime purpose of scripture is to reveal the way of salvation. cf. John 20:30-31. The gospel introduces us to Jesus, the only way to God.

2. The Bible, as a whole, is inspired

The Bible, as a whole, is inspired. The scriptures are God-breathed. Some suggest that the Bible contains God's truth, but it is better to say that the whole of it is God's truth. The truth the writer intends to tell us, a truth couched with words that often reflect the human frailty of the writer, is the truth God wants us to know. God inspires the writer's words such that the revealed truth is His truth. Our task is to rightly interpret those words.

3. The Bible is the source of right thinking and right doing

God designed our minds to function intelligently and so we can trust much of the wisdom of our age. Yet, the full substance of truth, of how we should understand our world and how we should act within it, comes from scripture, not human reasoning. We need to be very careful when our reasoning doesn't fit with scripture.

4. Biblical truth is to be proclaimed

What we like to hear is teaching which affirms our feelings, tickles our ears. Yet, it is best if we let God set the agenda. We must support the "good work" of Biblical exposition, carefully prepared Biblical teaching, teaching which corrects, rebukes and encourages.


1. In what sense is scripture inspired?

2. In what ways do you think the authority of the Word of God is undermined today?