Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A Reflection on Biblical Interpretation

by Hiram R. Diaz III
In 2nd Timothy 3:16-17, Paul reveals that
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.

Here Paul uses several keywords to underscore that “the Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience.”[1] Firstly, the word all (πᾶς, pas) identifies which Scriptures (γραφή, graphē) are God-breathed and profitable for doctrine. As Gordon H. Clark notes, the text reveals “that every scripture, distributively every verse, has been breathed out by God.”[2] 
Secondly, the word complete/perfect (ἄρτιος, artios) reveals the intended purpose for which God has breathed out his Word, the completion and furnishment of the man of God for every good work. Commenting on the relationship of “complete” to “equipped” (resp., artios to exeertismenos), E.W. Bullinger writes —
The words “perfect” [ESV, complete] and “throughly furnished” [ESV, equipped] are cognate in the Greek, and should be similarly rendered. […] If the former άρτιος (artios) is rendered “perfect,” the latter ξηρτισμένος (exeertismenos) should be “perfected” (as in the margin). If the former is translated fitted, the latter should be fitted out-and-out. If the latter is rendered “furnished completely,” then the former should be furnished. Perhaps the best rendering would be “fitted, fitted out,” ie., “that the man of God may be fitted, fitted out unto all good works.”[3]
Thus, thirdly, Paul uses the word every (πᾶς, pas) to express the range of good works expounded upon by the entirety of the Scriptures. There is no good work that is not addressed by the Word of God. In a word, Paul is teaching us that there is no Scriptural content that does not teach us doctrine, and there is no good work that is excluded from the doctrines contained in Scripture. To assert that the Scriptures must be supplemented by any other a-theopneustos (i.e. non-Godbreathed) source of doctrine is to contradict what is plainly taught by Paul. All of Scripture teaches doctrine. All doctrine addresses the entire range of activities of a man’s life comprising what can be called “good works,” and aims at making him perfect in whatever situation he faces. Clark’s commentary is to the point —
Because God breathed out the words through Paul’s mind onto the manuscript, Timothy knows what he is obliged to teach, refute, correct, and instruct. Otherwise, neither Timothy nor any other minister down to the present day could provide his parishioners with anything better than his own personal prejudices.[4]
Phillip H. Towner, likewise, notes that the phrase “every good work” is “a general characterization that can be concretized with any number of activities.”[5] Thus, it can be said “that he who studies God's word, will be a ‘man of God,’ fitted out and provided for all the circumstances and emergencies of life.”[6]
Two Ways in Which Sola Scriptura is Rejected by Heretics