As we consider the advice Paul gives to Timothy in 1 Tim.4:12-16, today our focus is on verse 13: Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.
The translators of the New American Standard Version along with the NIV have inserted the words public and of Scripture in the text, which is rendered by the KJV as Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Obviously, translators of the former felt that the additional words completed the meaning of the passage. Either rendering would be profitable to us; in fact, I would think we should utilize both. What could be better for us than personal reading and study as well as the public reading of Scripture in worship services?
The word scripture in various forms occurs more than 50 times in the New Testament. We find it most often in the words of Jesus, recorded in the gospel accounts, though Paul used it at least 17 times in the epistles he wrote. In every occurrence, the term is use to indicate the Word of God. Notice these facts about Scripture from the Biblical text itself:
- SOURCE. Peter attributes the source of Scripture to the Holy Spirit, Acts 1:16, and Paul states that all of it is inspired of God, 2 Tim.3:16.
- ALWAYS TRUE. In John 10, we read of a dramatic episode between Jesus and the Jews, as they accused the Lord of blasphemy because He claimed to be the Son of God. Though they were about to try to stone Him, Jesus appeals to their knowledge of scripture, which He says, cannot be broken, verse 35.
- ADEQUATE. In 2 Tim.3:16, Paul gives a list of those things for which Scripture profits us, including teaching... reproof... correction... training in righteousness. Incidentally, the term adequate in verse 17 is a little more inclusive than in our current usage, meaning having everything that is needed, completely equipped.
- FORETELLS. With some exceptions, we typically assign this function to the Old Testament Scriptures. NT writers linked many events from Jesus' earthly ministry to the OT Scriptures that foretold them, such as the Lord's teaching (Lk.4:21), the treachery of Judas (Acts 1:16) and even the actions of the soldiers on Golgotha (Jn.19:24). However, 2 Thes.2:3-12, 1 Tim.4:1-3, and much of the book of Revelation is New Testament "foretelling".
- DELIVERED BY HUMAN MESSENGERS. Old and New Testament Scriptures alike are attributed to fleshly couriers. Peter says, Scripture...came by the mouth of David...(Acts 1:16), and then later lumps Paul's letters in with ...the rest of the Scriptures in 2 Pet.3:15-16.
For both personal study and public reading in worship, Scripture is absolutely irreplaceable. Let's always give it due attention!
(continued next week)