“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”Timothy 3:16-17
Paul was imprisoned in Rome as the result of persecution under Nero when he wrote this letter, and he knew that his death was near (2 Timothy 1:8, 16; 4:6-8). Alone and cold in his dungeon (2 Timothy 4:10-12), the veteran missionary wrote to his young son in the faith this intensely personal letter. Soon afterward, according to tradition, he was beheaded on the Ostian Way, west of Rome.
Paul wanted to reemphasize to Timothy the crucial role of God’s Scripture in his present ministry. Thus Paul reminded Timothy that all Scripture is God-breathed (theopneustos, “inspired”), that is, God’s words were given through men superintended by the Holy Spirit so that their writings are without error. It is the Scripture that is inspired, not the man. The Bible does not claim to be written by inspired men. Then Paul asserted the “usefulness” of the Word. For each aspect of Timothy’s ministry, whatever it might be—teaching (instructing believers in God’s truths), rebuking those in sin, correcting those in error, and training in righteousness—for all of these and more, the written Word of God is profitable.
To drive home his point still more emphatically Paul added: “equipped for every good work” in 2 Timothy 3:17. Scripture alone, the very Word of God itself, can make a person complete and equip him for every good work.
God has given me a hunger and desire to know and understand His Word. Sometimes I feel as if I am barely scratching the surface of understanding all that God has to tell us. But this drive, this desire, is not so I can feel puffed up or proud, or so that I can answer questions, or make people think more highly of me, but because God has blessed me with people to teach. Yes, it’s a blessing. Just as Paul said, God had given him the stewardship of His grace to the Gentiles (Ephesians 3:2); God has given me people with whom to share His grace. My assignment is not as large as Paul’s or Timothy’s, but the people in the class are equally as important. They equally need His Word.
I know His Word is “God-breathed and profitable for teaching,” but every time I step up to the lectern to teach, I realize the responsibility, the privilege, the grace God has bestowed upon me. Additionally, I know that because of His grace, I will be sufficient. He has gifted me for what He has called me to do. Therefore, I know His grace will abound (2 Corinthians 9:8).
One of my most frequent thoughts about teaching God’s Word is, “what if I say something that’s not true by mistake or misinterpret a Scripture.” But then I remember, I can trust God. He is with me as I study and prepare. He is guiding me as I read all the different commentaries, study Bibles, and other resources. The same Holy Spirit that superintended the written Word is watching over and guiding me as I study.
I can trust that God’s Spirit is present with me when I study, when I am in the classroom, enabling me to accomplish things I could not do on my own. I can also trust that God’s Spirit is guiding the participants in what they hear and where and how they are called to respond.
A wise teacher once told a group of people who were learning how to teach that “God goes before you into every classroom you enter. God is present in that room before, during, and after you teach. I don’t have to do it all.” God is already present and working in the lives of the people I lead. God will continue to work within them long after I am no longer around. Thanks be to God!