All Scripture is breathed out by God

All Scripture is breathed out by God

2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and training in righteousness”.

When Paul says “All Scripture” he is most likely referring to both the Old Testament, as well as the New Testament that was emerging at the time.  When writing 2 Timothy, Paul had access to at least the gospel of Luke.  We know this because Paul in 1 Timothy 5:18 referred to Luke 10:7 as Scripture – “For the Scripture says…the labourer deserves his wages”.  Likewise, the apostle Peter in 2 Peter 3:15-16 referred to Paul’s letters and “the other Scriptures”.  Paul and Peter evidently knew that these new books carried the same divine origin and authority as the Old Testament and that they too had been breathed out by God.

What does it mean that all Scripture is breathed out by God?  The main Bible translations are:

  • “breathed out by God” (ESV)
  • “God-breathed” (LSB)
  • “inspired by God” (NIV, NASB)
  • “given by inspiration of God” (KJV)

The Greek word (theopneustos) makes it clear that the Scriptures are a divine product of the creative breath of God.

There has been great misunderstanding and distortion of the term “inspired” – suggesting that the human authors were inspired by God.  But 2 Timothy 3:16 doesn’t say that.  It says that the Scriptures were inspired by God, or breathed out by God, or God-breathed.  There’s no mention of the men being inspired by God.

Sadly, the distortion of 2 Timothy 3:16 has been greatly used by the devil to attack the authority and infallibility of Scripture.  Many people today who call themselves Christians, and many who don’t, will tell you that the Bible was authored by humans with ‘some inspiration’ from God.  And therefore, they say that the Bible isn’t really God’s word – at least not all of it – it’s man’s word and is therefore fallible and unreliable and cannot be trusted.

But the truth is simple and clear – all Scripture was breathed out by God Himself.  The “breath of God” in the Bible is a symbol of His almighty creative power.  Psalm 33:6 says:

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host”.

The very same breath that created the heavens and all their host also created the Scriptures.

Because the Scriptures are breathed out by God, they are inerrant and infallible and can be trusted.  Because the Scriptures are breathed out by God, they have boundless spiritual power and can generate spiritual profit.  This idea would have filled Timothy with great encouragement, and it should do the same for us.  We often feel lacking in power, particularly spiritual power.  But God has equipped us with His holy Word which contains unfathomable spiritual power.

2 Timothy 3:16 also says that all Scripture is profitable….  So how can we use the Scriptures to generate a spiritual profit?  By applying them to ourselves and to others, for teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness.  This is more than just learning what they say, and more than just teaching others what they say.  To generate the maximum profit, we need to unleash the power of the Scriptures on our own hearts, and the hearts of others.  This means humble self-reflection and repentance.  And meeting one-on-one with people to help them compare their lives to the commands and principles in the Word, in reproof, correction and training.  We need to speak to Bob privately and say, “Bob – what you’re doing runs contrary to the Word of God. See this passage and this passage.  Now what are you going to do about it?”.  We need to train Sally over time, to really see the holiness of God, the depth of her sin, and to trust whole-heartedly in her perfect Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and worship Him in the way He deserves.  That’s the profit – people conforming to the image of Christ and displaying His glory in their lives.

The Scripture has the power to make the man of God complete and equipped for every good work.  Whether you are a man, woman or child, if you want to be effective and profitable for the Lord, read the Scriptures, submit to them and let them work on you.  And then apply the Scriptures to the people in your life as you have the opportunity.

Jesus knew there was no more powerful tool than the Scriptures.  He quoted more than 40 separate Old Testament passages and was forever starting a sentence with

It is written…”.

  • He used Scripture to teach, correct, reprove and train people
  • He used Scripture to reveal himself as the Messiah
  • He used Scripture in His moments of greatest struggle, when resisting the devil and on the cross

How about you?  Do you believe 2 Timothy 3:16, that all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for many uses?  You have the most valuable asset in the world.  How are you putting it to profitable use?


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