06/10/2022–What Are the Scriptures “Good For?”

06/10/2022–What Are the Scriptures “Good For?”

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV–Bible Gateway)

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, [so] that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

First of all, we need to break this down into individual pieces, to see where Paul was ultimately going.

(1) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable … in/into righteousness.

(2) Filling in the … part, “…is profitable, for…”: doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction (four separate things, that all work together) … in/into righteousness–understood as the “righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.”

SO…let’s take all four of those words and see what they would have likely meant to Timothy, when Paul sent him this letter.

for…DOCTRINE (INSTRUCTION) (from Bible Hub)

didaskalia: instruction (the function or the information)
Original Word: διδασκαλία, ας, ἡ
Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine
Transliteration: didaskalia
Phonetic Spelling: (did-as-kal-ee’-ah)
Definition: instruction (the function or the information)
Usage: instruction, teaching.

1   a particular principle, position, or policy taught or advocated, as of a religion or government: Catholic doctrines; the Monroe Doctrine.

2   something that is taught; teachings collectively: religious doctrine.

3   a body or system of teachings relating to a particular subject: the doctrine of the Catholic Church.


Both the dictionary and the thesauras take the English word doctrine further than Paul would have meant for it to be taken in the original Greek. Bible Hub’s definition says it well: didaskalia (doctrine) simply means either the function of instruction, or the information that comes from instruction.

c. 1400, instruccioun, “action or process of teaching,” from Old French instruccion (14c., Modern French instruction), from Latin instructionem (nominative instructio) “an array, arrangement,” in Late Latin “teaching,” from past participle stem of instruere “arrange, prepare, set in order; inform, teach,” from in- “on” (from PIE root *en “in”) + struere “to pile, build” (from PIE *streu-, extended form of root *stere- “to spread”).

Teaching is the general word for the imparting of knowledge …. Instruction has the imparting of knowledge for its object, but emphasizes, more than teaching, the employment of orderly arrangement in the things taught. [Century Dictionary]

Meaning “an authoritative direction telling someone what to do; a document giving such directions,” is early 15c. Related: Instructions.

SO…the word “doctrine” (or “instruction”), as Paul would have used it, basically meant that the scriptures are all good for TEACHING…the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.

for…REPROOF (from Bible Hub)

elegchos: a proof, test
Original Word: ἔλεγχος, ου, ὁ
Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine
Transliteration: elegchos
Phonetic Spelling: (el’-eng-khos)
Definition: a proof, test
Usage: a proof, possibly: a persuasion; reproof.

1   the act of reproving, censuring, or rebuking.

2   an expression of censure or rebuke.


As you can see, neither the dictionary nor the thesaurus definitions for the word “reproof” mean the same thing that Paul meant, when he wrote to Timothy about scriptures. In actuality, the words “reprove” and “reproof,” when you take them apart correctly don’t mean what is found in the dictionary. NOTE: if you go further and check out the meanings of “censure” and “rebuke,” you’ll see what they are saying the word “reprove” means, more fully, which is even MORE of what Paul did NOT mean.

There are two parts to the word “reprove” or “reproof.” Here are those two parts the way they should be understood, which matches with the original Greek, as shown above:

re- = word-forming element meaning “back, back from, back to the original place;” also “again, anew, once more,” also conveying the notion of “undoing” or “backward,” etc. (see sense evolution below), c. 1200, from Old French re- and directly from Latin re- an inseparable prefix meaning “again; back; anew, against.”

prove = c. 1200, prēven, pruven, proven “to try by experience or by a test or standard; evaluate; demonstrate in practice,” from Old French prover, pruver “show; convince; put to the test” (11c., Modern French prouver), from Latin probare “to make good; esteem, represent as good; make credible, show, demonstrate; test, inspect; judge by trial” (source also of Spanish probar, Italian probare, and English probe), from probus “worthy, good, upright, virtuous.”

SO…the word “reproof,” as Paul meant it, was that the scriptures are able to prove, over and over again, the things God wants His people to understand about…the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.

for…CORRECTION (from Bible Hub)

epanorthósis: correction
Original Word: ἐπανόρθωσις, εως, ἡ
Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine
Transliteration: epanorthósis
Phonetic Spelling: (ep-an-or’-tho-sis)
Definition: correction
Usage: correction, reformation, setting straight (right) again.

1   something that is substituted or proposed for what is wrong or inaccurate; emendation.

2   the act of correcting.

3   punishment intended to reform, improve, or rehabilitate; chastisement; reproof.

4   Usually corrections. the various methods, as incarceration, parole, and probation, by which society deals with convicted offenders.

5   a quantity applied or other adjustment made in order to increase accuracy, as in the use of an instrument or the solution of a problem: A five degree correction will put the ship on course.

6   a reversal of the trend of stock prices, especially temporarily, as after a sharp advance or decline in the previous trading sessions.


In this case, the dictionary again takes things further than necessary, leaning toward the negative. The synonyms in the thesaurus are better, over all, as they don’t lean one way or the other. For instance, an “alteration” could be either negative or positive, as could any of the other synonyms listed. On the other hand, the Greek word “epanorthósis” actually doesn’t mean any of those things, per se. Notice that “reformation” isn’t listed as a synonym for the English word “correction.” It is, however, listed in the Greek USAGE, and then further defined as, “setting straight/right…AGAIN.”

mid-14c., correccioun, “authority to correct;” late 14c., “action of correcting or chastising, rectification of faults (in character, conduct, etc.) by restraints or punishments,” also “a bringing into conformity to a standard, model, or original,” from Old French correccion (13c.) “correction, amendment; punishment, rebuke,” from Latin correctionem (nominative correctio) “an amendment, improvement,” noun of action from past-participle stem of corrigere “to put straight; to reform” (see correct (v.)).

NOTE: Given what we’ve already discovered about the actual Greek word, it would be the “bringing into conformity to a standard, model, or original,” meaning we see above, that Paul would have been bringing to light.

SO…the word “correction,” as used by Paul in this letter to Timothy, would have (more than likely) actually meant that the scriptures are helpful in steering one toward the standard, model, or original instructions from Holy Spirit, regarding…the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.

for…INSTRUCTION (TRAINING) (from Bible Hub)

paideia: the rearing of a child, training, discipline
Original Word: παιδεία, ας, ἡ
Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine
Transliteration: paideia
Phonetic Spelling: (pahee-di’-ah)
Definition: the rearing of a child, training, discipline
Usage: discipline; training and education of children, hence: instruction; chastisement, correction.

1   the education, instruction, or discipline of a person or thing that is being trained: He’s in training for the Olympics.

2   the status or condition of a person who has been trained: athletes in top training.


Since this type of “instruction,” or “training,” in the Greek, focuses on the rearing (raising) of a child, and on discipline (which is another venture into origins, in itself), both the dictionary and the thesaurus are basically and quite directly correct. Whereas the word “doctrine” would be more about simply instructing someone, this word for “instruction” should have been entered into the New King James Version of the Bible as “training,” which is an ADDITION to “instructing.”

Anyone who has trained children, students, employees, troops, etc., can tell you the difference. It’s one thing to instruct someone ABOUT how to do something. It’s another thing altogether, to actually get them to FOLLOW those instructions. Training must be “hands-on,” in order to allow instruction to do its part.

For instance, I could give you the instructions for knitting the “ribbing” (nubby, stretchy border) on the sleeve of a sweater, by telling you to, “Cast on 20 stitches, then work alternating rows of K1, P1 (knit 1 stitch, purl 1 stitch), until you have completed 35 rows. I could then also instruct you how to make a knit stitch and how to make a purl stitch. However, if I do not DEMONSTRATE those two stitches to you (as well as how to “cast on” said stitches), you will never learn how to make the ribbing, and certainly not the entire sweater. Training must be “hands-on.” At the very least, it needs to involve explicit graphic illustration, if a “personal trainer/instructor” isn’t handy.

mid-15c., “protraction, delay,” verbal noun from train (v.). From 1540s as “discipline and instruction to develop powers or skills;” 1786 as “exercise to improve bodily vigor.” Training wheels as an attachment to a bicycle is from 1953.

Training is the development of the mind or character or both, or some faculty, at some length, by exercise, as a soldier is trained or drilled. Discipline is essentially the same as training, but more severe. [Century Dictionary]

SO…the word “instruction” (or “training”), as used by Paul here, would have referred to “the training up of” those who previously did not have the understanding of, or who had become lax in the understanding of the knowledge of…the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.


Though many have believed and/or taught that Paul was trying to tell Timothy that he should be using the scriptures as a way of both convicting people of their sin and possibly judging them because of (perhaps) witnessed sin, that’s not quite what Paul was doing.

What he was actually doing, was reminding Timothy to proclaim “the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven,” and that the scriptures would reinforce what he was teaching. I don’t know about the timing, but I would think that for Timothy, Paul wasn’t speaking of what we now call New Testament or New Covenant scriptures (at least not fully, as not all of those scriptures had been collected as yet), but about what we now call the Old Testament or Old Covenant, with the knowledge that Jesus had already fulfilled “the Law and the Commandments” of the Old Covenant. Teaching those things in that light, would bring FURTHER knowledge and understanding to the Jews, and NEW understanding to the Gentiles.

In other words, it’s not the proclaiming of sin and rebuking people for it, it’s the telling of the wonderful thing Jesus did for us all, in that He paid the price to get us OUT of that sin, that brings people to their knees and brings healing to all parts of their lives.

2 Timothy 3:17 tells us exactly WHY this is was so important for Timothy to remember, and for us to remember, as well: “…[so] that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Note that the completeness should come before the good work–not the other way around.

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Scriptures marked (NKJV) are taken from the New King James Version

Copyright: 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission.
All rights reserved.
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