My April 2012 Lines of Purpose Newsletter concluded with this thought at the bottom of page 7: “When Paul described the Scripture as being useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (II Timothy 3:16), he was speaking of the Old Testament.”
Since then, I’ve been thinking about how it is that we Christians are able to say that ALL the Bible is God-breathed and inspired. And, interestingly enough, I realized that every verse that came to mind seemed to be talking about the Old Testament and not the New Testament. So, as you’ve probably already guessed, the Berean in me kicked into high gear and I got out the shovel to start digging into this question….
The word “Scripture” is found 51 times in the New Testament, it is the Greek word, graphē. All 51 times it is in reference to the Old Testament and, therefore, we can assume it has a very special meaning to the writers of the New Testament. For instance, they never referred to a secular source as being Scriptural; the term was only applied to those documents seen as inspired, God-breathed writings.
In I Timothy 5:18, Paul writes: “For the Scripture says, 'You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing' and 'The laborer is worthy of his wages.'” The first quote given here by Paul comes from the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 25:4 and the second quote is from the New Testament teaching of Jesus as found in Luke 10:7. It would seem that Paul feels both statements are Scripture.
In II Peter 3:16, we find that Peter knows about Paul’s writings and says that some of the things Paul teaches are difficult to understand, “which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of Scriptures, to their own destruction.” For Peter to make this statement, we must assume that Peter sees Paul’s letters as also being part of Scripture.
If we take these two passages together, I think the argument can be safely made that the Apostles felt their writings were, in fact, adding to the volume of existing Scripture. In such a case, Paul’s statement in II Timothy 3:16 would then include both the Old and the New Testaments when he states they are all God-breathed and profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. So, I stand corrected…