As part of my ever expanding journey, I challenge myself to really read the Bible. Not just plod through so I can say it’s done, I read it all and I try to understand why God placed what He did on the pages.
However, the Bible isn’t just smooth sailing. The journey is ever changing. Bible reading can get dull and boring – especially when reading through Numbers or Leviticus. It can get very confusing in books like Revelation. The Prophets can be scary and intimidating. Hope and comfort are found when reading through the Gospels and you have to be on your toes to gather every bit of teaching that Paul writes about.
The 66 books that are found in the Bible can take a person on many ups and downs but it’s all important.
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
Most people are accustomed to the teaching (didaskalia : διδασκαλία) part of Scripture. Every sermon and Sunday School lesson puts this teaching into practice. Doctrine is taught and instructions are given. We open our Bibles, read a passage or two, talk about it, and go home. There may be a challenge offered but usually there is little to no follow-up.
But what of the other things like reproof, correction, and training in righteousness? In my own attempt to share my learning with anyone who cares to read, here’s what I’ve learned…
To answer that question, we first need to examine what exactly is meant by each of those words and to do that, we need to go back to the original language in which 2 Timothy was written, Greek. For the translations and meanings I use Strong’s Concordance.
Reproof — elegchos (ἔλεγχος): a proof, possibly: a persuasion; reproof. For convicting one of his sinfulness.
When used correctly, Scripture should convict us of our sin. The words given by God are not just stories to teach us but they are accounts to demonstrate the might, power, and holiness of God. Go back and read Leviticus but don’t look at all the rules as just rules. Embrace how those rules kept the Israelites safe because God knew of germs before science had caught up. This is proof that God is limitless and beyond science.
In a feel good world, Scripture is used to make people feel better but, while that is part of it, there is call that the words should also convince of us of our sinfulness, fallen-ness, and need for a loving, jealous, and patient God.
As Christians, it is not in our job description to beat people over the head until they ‘convert.’ In fact, the moment we attempt to convince someone using our own tactics is the moment we declare that God’s Word doesn’t really have the power He says it has. We must simply present the Gospel and let the Holy Spirit and words of God do the rest.
Correction — epanorthósis (ἐπανόρθωσις): correction, reformation, setting straight (right) again. Restoration to an upright or a right state; correction, improvement.
Once a person accepts the sacrifice and deity of Jesus, they begin a long and arduous journey. Habits of this world should begin to fall away but there will mistakes and stumbles. As humans, we will sin again. This does not lose us our salvation but it proof that we are still in need of a Savior.
Correction is for the believer. It is what we are to use to keep us on the right track. When we stumble, it is supposed to be used to correct us so we can improve as Christians. When done in a loving and Biblical manner, it is what we are to use to correct a brother or sister that has wandered off.
Scripture should always be the foundation for all correction. The ‘correct’ behavior of society and culture change but Truth never changes because its Author never changes.
Training — paideia (παιδεία): discipline; training and education of children, hence: instruction; chastisement, correction. Instruction which aims at the increase of virtue.
But Training in what? Righteousness!!
Righteousness — dikaiosuné (δικαιοσύνη): justice, justness, righteousness, righteousness of which God is the source or author, but practically: a divine righteousness.
Just like a child needs to practice making the bed in order to gain proficiency, so too must Christians be educated. Unfortunately, discipling an adult can be difficult and trying. There is little to no training given in most churches for the mentor. However, this is the example Jesus gave with his disciples. There are other example too. Elijah trained Elisha. Moses educated Joshua. Paul mentored Timothy.
Thankfully, God wanted none to fall away for lack of a mentor so He gave us Scripture which is useful for ‘training in righteousness.’ The Bible can show us what is just, righteous, and what God desires of us. We can learn to be holy as He is holy when we use Scripture to train. Scripture is the ultimate trainer but having a partner or teacher to help keep us accountable, challenge us, or give us deeper, richer instruction can be helpful. However, no mentor is a replacement for the Bible and he or she is certainly no excuse not to be reading Scripture on our own.
The Bible, all of it, is beneficial for one of these four reasons. It’s all ‘breathed out by God’ and necessary for Christians.
I encourage you, next time you’re bored or confused, like I sometimes get, evaluate what you’re reading.
How does this passage teach, bring conviction, offer correction, or train me in righteousness?