All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
You know that, right? It is the starting place for all good doctrine, all orthodoxy, for Christianity itself (Romans 10:17). But have you ever given any thought to how it works to make you "equipped for every good work"?
The text is interesting, and our modern ears might miss the completeness it offers. In fact, the constant debate over whether or not God can breathe errancy can make us fail to see this point. There are four "profits" listed: teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. I believe the sequence is important.
"Teaching" refers to the instruction--doctrine. It's the idea of formal instruction. "Here is what's right." So, the text tells us that the Word gives us a clear presentation of doctrine.
"Reproof" refers to being tested, especially tested and found to be wrong. It is a conviction, not in our misguided modern sense. "I felt so convicted that I should do this." No, in the legal sense. "I have been judged and declared guilty." It is an admonition to change course. "You're in the wrong; move!"
The Greek used for "correction" is most literally translated "the straightening up again". Very picturesque. You're crooked; this is how you get straight.
It's interesting that the fourth term, "training in righteousness", appears to be the same as the first, "teaching". Aren't "training" and "teaching" the same? Nearly. Not quite. This "training" is from the concept of a tutor. In the language, it is rooted in the concept of training up a child, a tutor for your kid. A tutor teaches, obviously, but does so by constant contact. A teacher you can hear once, but tutoring is an ongoing process. It includes instruction and nurture ... and chastisement.
Do you see how it works, then? First, "Here is the way; walk in it." Teaching. We, of course, don't always succeed at that. So, next, it's "You've deviated from the path. Here's where you've gone wrong." Reproof. The natural next question is "Now what? How do I get back on the path?" And that's correction. Having returned to the right path, it is wise and necessary to walk alongside in a continuous way to teach and demonstrate the right path to take.
The text is a complete story. "Here's the right path," and when you've departed from it, it will point it out and give you the direction to return to the right path. Always it will walk alongside to hold you to the right way. That produces a thoroughly equipped man.
I would urge caution, then, about attempting to proceed in the Christian life without this ultimately profitable, God-breathed Word that equips you by all necessary means for every good work. A Christian without his Sword (Ephesians 6:17) is a pitiful thing at best, and at worst a dangerous thing. A Christian making a daily walk with God and His Word is a well-equipped person.
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