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“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.” 2 Timothy 3:16

I have preached on this text and referred to it many times in sermons. I do believe the words written here by the apostle Paul to Timothy that all Scripture is God-breathed. However, I believe we must be careful to keep this within the context it was written to preserve Biblical integrity.

What did Paul mean when he said “all Scripture is God-breathed”? Here’s some context to this passage:

  1. When Paul wrote this letter to Timothy the only Scripture was the Torah. The Torah is the Pentateuch - the book of Moses given to him by God on Mt. Sinai. The Torah is made up of what we know today as the first five books of the Bible. The principal message of the Torah is the absolute unity and Sovereignty of God.

  2. Later came the writings of the Prophets known as (Nevi’im) and the Writings known as (Ketuvim). It should be noted that among the Jewish people the Torah is more sacred than the Prophets and the Writings. The Jewish people regarded the Torah as God-breathed, or given to them by God, and the rest of the Old Testament (Nevi’im and Ketuvim) as chronicling their history as God’s people.

3. The Jewish people viewed holy writings as God-breathed (Torah), and God’s story

Writings weren’t influenced by God. It means, the Torah they believed was written

Writings weren’t influenced by God. It means, the Torah they believed was written

by God, while the other holy writings were written by men/women inspired by


I believe when Paul wrote to Timothy “all Scripture is God-breathed” he was only referring to the Torah. Timothy had a Jewish mother (who became a Christian) and a Greek father. He was raised in Asia Minor in a Roman - Greek world. Timothy became a Christian himself, but grew up with little or no Jewish traditions. This would mean that Timothy probably knew very little, if anything about the Torah and the Old Testament writings. Shortly following the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ many false teachers arose. Paul makes this statement to encourage Timothy to assure him that the Torah can be trusted, and to warn him about these false teachers.

It would be nearly three centuries after this letter was written that the Bible would be canonized and bounded together as 66 different writings we know today as the Bible.

Does this mean the other writings outside the Torah are less important? I don’t believe they are less important, but I do believe we need to keep things in perspective. Historical tradition says the Torah was written by God and given to Moses. The rest of holy writings, including the New Testament are letters written by men/women who were inspired by God.

I do make a distinction between God-breathed and inspired. Inspired means God inspires men/women to write through their human personality. It is God speaking to a person and the person writing down that experience through their language, customs, and biases. That does not mean I believe the other writings are unreliable? On the contrary. I believe they are holy written through obedient men and women God used to preserve His-story, history. However, I recognize there may be some tension at times between God’s inspiration and human personality; and this is were context and historical background serves us well. As we read the Bible 2000 years after it was written, we are reading something written in a different culture, different language, and different set of biases. If we don’t understand these differences we can misrepresent God’s intentions. Therefore, when I read the inspired writings of the Bible I keep an open mind that there may be context outside of what I’m reading important to understanding God’s intent. I will share some of these examples in post to come.

Here is the bigger question — are there writings outside the canonized scriptures that should be regarded as inspired? And, does God still inspire men/women to write today?

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