Paul had reason to entrust Timothy with the church's doctrine: He had been trained in the scriptures, in a Christian way of life, by his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. He was a third-generation Christian, and he had the training that gave him the background to be an evangelist within God's Work. How extensive and personal his training was is open to question. At least he had a form of the right kind of training.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Guard the Truth!
At the time Paul wrote this, "all scripture is inspired of God, and is profitable" referred to the Old Testament. Paul probably did not know that what he was writing would become Scripture.
At its worst, saying that the law—or any portion of the Bible—is "done away" could be spiritually suicidal. At the very least, it will hinder growth because a person will not be thoroughly furnished to all good works. It is similar in principle to a student attending school who ignores certain selected sections of the textbook on the basis of his own perception of what he needs.
I recall from my own school days expressing the opinion that I could not see why we had to study ancient Greek, Egyptian, or Roman history. I could not see what good I would ever get out of such courses, but others, much older and wiser, insisted that the history we were taught included teaching in these areas. My narrow point of view was that of an immature kid who did not understand what is required to produce a well-rounded citizen of the United States of America.
In a similar manner, but with far greater accuracy and consequences, there is nothing extraneous in God's Word. We are to live by every Word of God (Matthew 4:4). If God is all-wise and all-powerful, if everything that He does is in love, and if He is working out a purpose that is in our best interest (that we might live forever with Him), why would God even give a body of laws—which Jesus said would never pass away until all is fulfilled (Matthew 5:18), and which Paul wrote is spiritual, holy, just, and good (Romans 7:12)—if God did not intend that its letter and/or spirit should be used for all time? God does nothing without meaning, so the law is included in Scripture for the sake of Christians.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part Fifteen)
Paul has just given Timothy a heads up on how he would be able to face the things that would come upon him. Basically, he says, "Ground yourself in the Bible, for out of it will come the strength to do these things." We should not limit it strictly to the words of the Bible, per se, but also to the spirit and inspiration behind them. Obviously, God would be with him if he would do these things, but the constant inspiration and help that he would need would come out of Scripture. By these things he would be able to remind himself of the truth and grow in it. He would be corrected by it, instructed by it, reproved by it. All of these things are necessary to mold the faithful minister. The Bible is where his nose needs to be at all times, so that he has the proper foundation, motivation, inspiration, and resource for everything he does.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
It is essential that we look at the Old Testament as a Christian book that was purposely written with the Christian in mind.
It is easy for us to think of the Old Testament as the book of Judaism, and that Christianity's roots are in Judaism. In fact, this idea is readily accepted in the "Christian world," but it is not true—not true in the least, except that there are some shared beliefs. If it were true, its modern corollary would be that Christianity's roots are also in paganism, because some of the concepts that pagans have are also shared with Christianity. That, incidentally, is what one large church has claimed in its writings about the holy days—that they actually derive from paganism.
The truth is that Judaism is a corruption of the religion God gave to Moses. It, too, was syncretic: part pagan, part truth, bound together by their own reasoning. In many places, Jesus corrected and railed against the Sadducees, the scribes, and the Pharisees. He said directly that they had rejected God's commandments in order to keep their own traditions. God's commandments are in the Old Testament; the Jews' traditions are not, and they are what the Jews lived by. Therefore, how can we say that Judaism came out of the Old Testament? God called the people out of Judaism to bring them into Christianity, just as today God is calling people out of a syncretic Christianity in order to bring them into true, biblical Christianity.
If Judaism really were God's religion, why did He not fix it from within? The period between the Testaments—between Malachi and Matthew—covered roughly 400 years in which a great deal took place. The record of Judaism during that time, particularly the history of the high priests, is much like that of the Papacy during the Middle Ages.
True Christianity's roots are in the truth of God—not only in the Old Testament, but also in the New. Judaism, though, rejects the New Testament, claiming the Old Testament as their book exclusively, and that perception is very strong to all. This world's Christianity claims the New Testament as its exclusive domain and virtually—and practically—ignores the Old Testament.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part Sixteen)
A local radio preacher says that the book of Proverbs is in "the Jewish Testament." What is that? There is no such thing! We could call the Old Testament "the Hebrew Testament" with some legitimacy because it was written in Hebrew, but what would make it Jewish? Was he trying to say that, if we read only the Old Testament, we would become followers of Judaism? Or, that the Jews somehow own the Old Testament? Or, that because the Old Testament is revered by Jews as their holy book, it is somehow inferior to "the Christian Testament?"
Certainly, the Bible never calls the Old Testament "the Jewish Testament." Paul calls it "the Holy Scriptures" in II Timothy 3:15. Jesus calls it "the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms" in Luke 24:44. In many places, the writers simply refer to it as "the word [of God or of the Lord]" or "the Scripture(s)." The only hint that the Old Testament "belongs" to the Jews is a misinterpretation of Romans 3:2, "to them were committed the oracles of God." This means only that the Jews are responsible for their accurate transmission throughout history, not that they apply only to Jews or that Jews possess them in some way.
No, this all stems from the mistaken idea that the Old Testament is the Old Covenant, "becoming obsolete and growing old . . . ready to vanish away" (Hebrews 8:13), while the New Testament is the New Covenant. Thus, to a "Christian" under the New Covenant, anything that appears in the Old Testament is of lesser value than what appears in the New Testament. This error has led to countless misunderstandings and misinterpretations of the message Jesus brought to mankind.
In fact, the New Testament cannot be understood without the foundation of the Old Testament—and not just in historical terms. Paul is not overstating things when he says the church is "built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone" (Ephesians 2:20). After His resurrection, Jesus "beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, . . . expounded to [the disciples] in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself" (Luke 24:27). Later, "He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures" (verse 45). Which Scriptures? The Old Testament, of course!
Just these few verses say that we New Covenant Christians cannot understand Jesus Christ, His doctrine, His church, and God's plan without the Old Testament. We can see this by how frequently the apostles quote from the writings of Moses, David, and the prophets to support and fill out their doctrinal teachings. There is hardly a page in the New Testament that does not have a quotation or allusion to the Old Testament on it. It is a vital part of New Covenant—New Testament—Christianity!
Lack of space does not permit an explanation of the differences between the Old Covenant and the New. However, let it suffice to say that the major problem in the Old Covenant was the people with whom God made it (see Hebrews 8:7-12; Romans 8:3). The New Covenant is modeled after the Old with its basic law, the Ten Commandments, retained in all its force and wisdom. In fact, Jesus makes it plain that He added intent to the law's scope so that it is now stricter under the New Covenant (Matthew 5:17-48)!
In the end, we must conclude that the Bible is a whole with two parts, which came as a result of the ministry of Jesus Christ and the languages in which the two parts were penned. The theology and the goal of the instruction in the two are the same. The same God who never changes rules, acts, and speaks in both. Those who believed and lived by faith in both eras will receive the same gift of eternal life (I Thessalonians 4:14-17; Hebrews 11:40).
Please be aware of this false notion of the Old Testament's inferiority to the New, as it colors a great deal of "Christian" biblical commentary. The Word of God is God's Word, whether spoken in 1400 BC or AD 60. Above all, remember our Savior's instruction, quoting from Deuteronomy 8:3, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4).
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Jewish Testament?
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing 2 Timothy 3:15:
1 Corinthians 1:26-29
2 Timothy 3:15