WHAT IS A “WHOLE BIBLE PERSPECTIVE”? For us in this ministry, it means two things:
- We believe that the whole Bible is for all believers throughout time; and
- We believe that in order to study any subject or topic or idea in Scripture, we have to look at what the whole Bible has to say about it from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21.
There are many ministers who consult only the New Testament, for the most part, in regard to doctrine. As a result, their doctrines are based on only 27 of the 66 books of the Bible (less than 1/2!) How accurate can one be when one is looking at less than 1/2 of the material involved?
And I’ve even heard a couple of well-known ministers say on television that only what is from the book of Acts to the book of Revelation is for believers today, and that it is wrong for any believer to go back to the Old Testament for their moral compass, or even to look to the the teachings of Jesus Himself, since they claim that Jesus was still teaching “under the law.” I was in complete shock! I couldn’t believe that any minister would have the audacity to say what I had just heard.
As Christians, we need to hold on to “a whole Bible perspective” if we want to understand all that God has to say about something, and not just “partial knowledge and understanding.” Since “partial knowledge” oftentimes results in misinterpretation, misunderstanding, and error.
MY SCRIPTURAL FOUNDATION
My foundational Scripture for this approach is 2 Timothy 3:16-17. This epistle is extremely important because it was the last one that Paul ever wrote before his execution in Rome. It was, therefore, written after Galatians, Romans, and all his other epistles (or letters). This passage reads as follows:
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
The above passage is from the King James Version, but I like the way the Interlinear Greek-English New Testament translates the same passage:
Every Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for conviction, for correction, for discipline which is in righteousness; that the man of God may be complete, to every good work fully fitted.
THREE IMPORTANT ELEMENTS
There are three important elements to this passage:
- “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God…” To begin with, the word “All” (KJV) can mean “all, each, or every.”
It does not simply mean “all” in a general sense, but “each” and “every” Scripture that we have in the Bible has been “given” to us “by inspiration of God.” (so both the King James and the Interlinear Greek-English New Testament are correct in their translations).
The phrase “inspiration of God” (KJV) is the English translation of the Greek compound word, theopneustos, which means “God-breathed” or “God-en-spirited.” Unlike songs, poems, novels, or any other form of art, which are “inspired” from things people see or experience, every verse of the Bible is “breathed out” and “en-spirited” by God Himself, so as the writer of Hebrews says,
For living [is] the word of God and efficient, and sharper than every two-edged sword, even penetrating to [the] division both of soul and spirit. of both joints and marrows, and [is] a discerner of [the] thoughts and intents of [the] heart. (Hebrews 4:12, Interlinear Greek-English New Testament)
The Word of God is alive. Why? Because God and His word are one. If we reject His Word, the Bible, then we reject God. And as a Christian, whatever portion of the Bible that you reject as “not for today” is a part of God that you reject and are not allowing into your life. I believe we want as much of God as we can get into our lives, so I accept all of Scripture to be for me and for all believers.
- [All Scripture] “is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:…” Although the phrase “All Scripture” is not physically right before this portion of the verse, it is clear that grammatically speaking it was meant to be applied to this part.
Did you notice that Paul didn’t say, “All Scripture used to be profitable, but now that Jesus died and resurrected, only certain parts are.” No, he didn’t. Because that was not what Paul believed or practiced. Unfortunately though, due to many Christians taking Paul out of his historical, cultural and even religious context, this is the idea that many Christians now believe and teach. But as we can see, such a position opposes this portion of 2 Timothy 3:16.
So not only is “All Scripture God-breathed,” but “All Scripture is also profitable” for the following four things. [The following definitions all come from the “Lexical Aids to the New Testament” found in the back of The Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible]:
a. “FOR DOCTRINE” (Gk. Didaskalia, Strong’s #1319). This word means “that which is taught, teaching, instruction, doctrine. It refers not only to that which is taught, but also to the teacher’s authority behind the teaching” (1705). The teacher, of course, in this case is God Himself, and He stands as the authority behind His teachings, doctrines, in His Word, the Bible.
b. “FOR REPROOF” (Gk. Elegchos, Strong’s #1650). This word literally means in English to “to prove again.” In the Greek culture of the 1st century, C.E., it was used as a legal term, and it is only used in 2 Timothy 3:16 and Hebrews 11:1.
It means “conviction,” but “it implies not merely the charge on the basis of which one is convicted, but also the manifestation of the truth of that charge.” Of course, in a court case, on what basis do we “convict” and “manifest the truth”? Evidence. Consequently, the logical inference here is that Scripture functions as “evidence” to convince us of the truth, as well as the “evidence” needed to “convict” us if we are not living in accordance to its teachings. This is brought out in the rest of the definition.
“The results to be reaped from that charge and the acknowledgement, (if not outwardly, yet inwardly) of its truth on the part of the accused are referred to as well. (1712)
c. “FOR CORRECTION” (Gk. Epanorthosis, Strong’s #1882). Do you notice the base “orthosis,” meaning “to correct” or “straighten,” from which we get the word “orthopedic”? This word means “to set right again, correct. The correction or amendment of what is wrong in a man’s [or woman’s] life. (1715)
Obviously, those who say that ALL parts of the Bible cannot be used for correction or for our moral compass are in direct contradiction to this part of 2 Timothy 3:16.
d. “FOR INSTRUCTION IN RIGHTEOUSNESS.” There are two terms in this phrase that we need to look at: “instruction” and “righteousness.”
1). INSTRUCTION. (Gk. Paideia, Strong’s #3809). Originally, this was a term used in regard to the “instruction of children. It evolved to mean chastening [disciplining] because all effectual instruction for the sinful children of men includes and implies chastening [disciplining] and correction.” (1744)
2). RIGHTEOUSNESS. (Gk. Dikaiosune, Strong’s #1343). The word “righteousness” in the New Testament is used in two different ways: it refers to “positional righteousness,” what God declares us to be as a result of what Christ [Messiah] did for us by dying on the cross in our stead and through His resurrection, but on another level, this word “righteousness” refers to our “experiential righteousness” which describes our faithful obedience to God and to His Word, including His commandments.
We know this because the opposite of dikaiosune is anomia, “lawlessness,” or what I John 3:4 translates as “the transgression of the law.” So if dikaiosune is the opposite of “transgressing the law,” then it should be understood to mean “living in obedience to the law.”
Let me explain the differences between these two uses this way. While the Israelites [Jews] were still slaves in Egypt, God declared that the Promised Land [what is now called Israel] was theirs [they had positional occupation of the land], but they were still slaves in Egypt.
Theystill had to get Pharaoh to let them go, to leave Egypt, make it across the desert and the Red Sea, receive God’s commandments, learn to do battle and to follow God’s instructions, cross the Jordan River, and still invade the land, and take occupation of it. Did God tell them in Egypt about all that they would have to go through to get to occupy the land? No, but if they had never left Egypt and did all these things, they would not have gained the land, even though God had declared it to be theirs. Even though God declared it to be theirs, they still had to walk out and get what God had declared was theirs.
In like manner, because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, by shedding His blood and dying in our place, and by rising again on the 3rd day as He promised, we have been made “positionally righteous” with God. And now that God has declared us “to be righteous” in Christ, we still need to walk that out in our day-to-day lives by submitting to the Lordship of Christ [Messiah] and by walking in obedience to God’s Word, including His commandments, and by daily following the leading of the Holy Spirit. God has “positionally” declared us to be “righteous,” but we still have to walk it out and “be righteous” in our day-to-day lives.
Let me give you an example of each from the book of Romans, For example, in Romans 5:19, Paul writes,
For as by one man’s disobedience, many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
In this verse, Paul is describing our “positional righteousness” that we gain through Christ. But now contrast this with Romans 6:13,
Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
In this verse, Paul is discussing our “experiential righteousness,” how we are to live out day-by-day what God has declared us to be. Let’s look at another example of “experiential righteousness” in I John 2:29,
If you know that He [Christ/Messiah] is righteous, you know that everyone that [continues to] do righteousness is born of Him.
John here is looking at our “experiential righteousness,” on how we live each and every day. He is saying that since we know that Jesus “is righteous,” then we should follow His example and live like He did. Because if we are truly “born of Him” then we will live righteous [or obedient] lives to God and to His Word.
So in looking at 2 Timothy 3:16, is the passage speaking about our “positional righteousness” or our “experiential righteousness”?
Since the word “righteousness” is being paired with “instruction,” meaning “instruction, discipline, and correction,” then it seems rather obvious then that Paul is talking about “All Scripture” being used in regard to our “experiential righteousness,” rather than, in this case, the “righteousness” we have in Christ positionally.
- Finally, the last element of this passage is “that the man of God may be perfect [or complete], thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
Let’s think about this. If we are not being taught all of Scripture, then there are parts of the Word, which God intended for us to know and experience, that we are not receiving, and therefore, we are not being adequately prepared, trained, or made complete or “fully fitted” for all that God desires for us to know and to do, i.e. every “good work.”
So we have a choice. We can continue with this “tradition” – that the Old Testament, or even God’s commandments, are not for believers today – which contradicts Paul’s statement here, or we can decide to adopt a “Whole Bible Perspective,” which embraces all that God teaches.
Which one will you choose to do? In my own experience, I have found a deeper, richer experience with God and His Word when I adopted a “Whole Bible Perspective,” rather than a “Partial Bible Perspective.” I pray that you will follow my example and do likewise.
I liked this post. It is a shame how many professed believers today have been diverted away from what has been labeled “Old Testament”. I always like to point out to people when looking at 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “Did Paul have the New Testament when he wrote that?” That usually creates a pause, because they have to realize, if he is just then writing what would be the N.T. then obviously not. Well then, what “all scripture” would he have been referring too? There is no arguing the fact it had to be the only scripture that existed. So maybe that is where we are going to find what Paul is teaching, “instruction in righteousness”, “perfection for the man of God”, “the furnishings for all good works”. In fact it was Paul that said,
“Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.(Acts 26:22-23)” Wow! Paul got all that from the Old Testament. I always want to encourage believers to study the Old because it completely explains the New.