Sola Scriptura 9
In acknowledging that God gives Scripture alone as the believer’s ultimate authority, why is it necessary for the believer? The Bible states that Scripture alone “is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (NKJV).
The word “profitable”, from the Greek ὠφέλιμος / ōphelimos, means beneficial, valuable, or useful. Therefore, all God breathed Scripture is beneficial, valuable, and useful for the believer. How do the Scriptures alone benefit the disciple of Jesus Christ?
First, for doctrine! From the Greek διδασκαλία / didaskalia, doctrine means teaching and instruction. It is the content God teaches and what the disciple learns. Scripture is valuable in being the source of God’s positive instructions.
Second, for reproof! From the Greek ἔλεγχος / elenchos, reproof means to rebuke, refute, or reject. Within the context, Scripture is profitable for rebuking people of sin. Hebrews 4:12 states, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (NKJV). In Psalm 119:9 we read, “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.” “The Scripture contains both encouragement and warning, and this double aspect is always present” (Guthrie, 176).
Third, for correction! From the Greek ἐπανόρθωσις / epanorthōsis, correction means to restore to an upright or right state. It means to improve one’s life and character. Not only does Scripture provide valuable positive and negative instruction, but it also provides guidance regarding ethical behavior.
Fourth, for instruction in righteousness! From the Greek παιδεία / paideia and δικαιοσύνη / dikaiosynē, the word instruction means to train, to bring under the commands and admonitions of God’s Word. This instruction is specifically concerned with righteousness, indicating a life of integrity, virtue, purity, and rightness before God.
What is the goal of these benefits from Scripture? The purpose is, “that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (NKJV). “Sola Scriptura” benefits a particular class of people, a unique kind of people: a man of God. The phrase “man of God” may refer to human beings, whether male or female, who belong to God. These then are the redeemed.
However, within this particular context, Paul is not only referring to himself, but also to his young protégé, Timothy, as pastors who handle the Word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). The man of God finds himself well quipped by the Word of God. Within the immediate preceding context (2 Timothy 3:10-15), the apostle instructed this young pastor about the importance of being completely faithful to the Word of God.
But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (NKJV).