By Rony Kozman, Ph. D.
Assistant professor of Biblical Studies, Samford University
Why We Need God’s Word
2 Timothy 3:1–5, 13–17
Sin abounds in our culture. (1–5)
In 2 Timothy, Paul is instructing and exhorting Timothy concerning his ministry of the gospel. Paul warns Timothy about what is happening in “the last days” and how Timothy should prepare and respond.
These last days are not days that are coming in the future for Timothy (or for us). The death and resurrection of Christ has inaugurated the last days. With Timothy, we live in the last days.
Paul points out an important feature of the last days, so we can be well prepared to live appropriately. He points out the abundance of sin. Especially noteworthy are the things that people in the last days love and hate.
They love themselves, money and pleasure.
They do not love God, and they hate that which is good.
Paul warns Timothy to avoid such people, for they pose a threat and danger if they enter the church. Such people will lead those in the church astray by appealing to passions and desires, and they will draw those who are vulnerable into the vices that Paul warns against.
Avoiding sin requires the wisdom of God’s word. (13–15)
In contrast to the unholy ones who Timothy is to avoid, Paul enjoins Timothy to persevere in Paul’s teaching, love and faith. Paul himself suffered and endured, and he reminds Timothy suffering comes part and parcel with living a “godly life in Christ.”
Timothy is to persist in the gospel and the godliness that the gospel requires.
This contrasts the godless who are characterized by vices and who deny the truth of the gospel.
Paul instructs Timothy that the way he can endure in truth and piety is by enduring in Scripture. For Paul, the gospel of Jesus Christ and Israel’s sacred writings go hand-in-hand.
Whereas the godless will receive God’s judgment, those who persist in the teaching of Scripture, those who trust in Christ, will ultimately be rescued, even if they are currently persecuted.
God’s word comes straight from God to mature and equip us. (16–17)
Paul presses Timothy to hold fast to Scripture, because of where it is from and what it does. All of Israel’s Scripture is from God, or “God-breathed.” What is the significance of this term?
Whenever we speak, we inevitably breathe. Every word we utter is accompanied by the air that comes from our mouths.
Each word we say is animated and propelled by the air from our chest and lips.
So our own words can be said to be breathed out from us. With this image in mind, we can understand Scripture is God’s speech.
It is how He communicates to us. It is His personal address to us. We not only see where Scripture is from, but we also see what it does. God’s scriptural words teach us, correct us and train us to be righteous and godly.
This person who is trained in righteousness stands in sharp contrast to the ungodly who love their passions and desires.
In contrast to those who hate the good, Scripture trains and equips the person of God to do every good work.
Since Scripture is God’s means of training us to do the good that God requires of us, Paul charges Timothy to proclaim the gospel and what Scripture teaches to those in his charge.