In II Timothy 3:16 we read these famous words, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God [literally: God-breathed].” God-breathed Scripture includes the Old Testament, which Timothy was taught from his childhood (15). And if the Old Testament Scripture is God-breathed, surely the New Testament Scripture is God-breathed as well.
Note that our text does not say, “All Scripture breathes God,” that is, all Scripture breathes out God and thus inspires or moves us. True, the Bible does excite us. But the text speaks not of the effect that Scripture has on us, but of the formation and nature of Scripture itself, namely, that it is God-breathed. Thus it is not that the penmen (Habakkuk, Jude etc.) were God-breathed – this would not even make sense. Nor is it the thoughts of the writers which are said to be God-breathed. Instead it is the Scriptures themselves – the writings of the Old and New Testaments – that are God-breathed.
It is not the case that the prophets and apostles wrote the words of the Bible and God breathed into the words. Rather, holy men of God (eternally ordained and providentially prepared for the task) borne by the Holy Ghost (II Peter 1:21) wrote the words of Scripture and the words they wrote were the words which God breathed out. Thus the Scriptures are the product of God’s breath.
This pithy adjective, “God-breathed,” occurring only here in all the Bible, merely condenses the teaching of the rest of the Word of God on its own nature. The whole Bible proclaims loudly and often that it comes from God – thus it is God-breathed. But the Bible also proclaims loudly and often that it was produced by the Holy Spirit (e.g., II Samuel 23:2; Acts 28:25; Heb. 3:7). Since God produced the Scriptures by the Holy Spirit; and since the Holy Spirit is, literally, the Holy Breath; Scripture is God-breathed.
It is not that some or most or the best parts of Scripture are God-breathed and that the rest are something less than God-breathed. “All Scripture is God-breathed.” Every one of the 66 Biblical books (Esther as well as Romans); and every part of every book; and every chapter and every verse; and every word, syllable and letter is God-breathed. Even the most difficult parts (e.g., the genealogies of I Chron. 1-9) and the seemingly irrelevant parts (e.g., Paul’s leaving his cloak at Troas in II Tim. 4:13) are all God-breathed.
If all Scripture is God-breathed, let us not mock or trifle with even its least comely parts, as they might seem to us. Instead, let us esteem all of it as a precious treasure from heaven, the product of the very Breath of God.
- Volume: 8
- Issue: 15
Rev. Angust Stewart (Wife: Mary)
Ordained - 2001
Pastorates: Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Ballymena, Northern Ireland - 2001Website: www.cprf.co.uk/
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