“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” — 2 Timothy 3:16-17
When something is address to us or directly impacts us, we typically give it our attention. We read through mail and emails addressed to us from people we know, whereas we are likely to trash that which is mass-marketed. This past week, we’ve closely followed weather predictions in our immediate area but probably are not aware of weather conditions in other areas. There is so much information to be processed that we often have to prioritize what we focus our attention on.
2 Timothy begins with an address, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, in keeping with the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, to Timothy, my dear son” (2 Tim. 1:1-2a). At first glance, it may appear like we are not the ones being addressed and therefore we do not need to prioritize the message that follows. As Christians though, we affirm the canon of Scripture, the Old and New Testament together, as being the word of God. New Testament scholar N. T. Wright, commenting on 2 Timothy 3:16-17, describes what this meant for early Christians and still means today — “that the reason the scriptures were alive was because God had ‘breathed’ them in the first place, and the warmth and life of that creative breath was still present and powerful.”(1) In other words, the Holy Spirit, who empowered Paul to write those words to Timothy, is the SAME Holy Spirit who enlivens those words today in addressing us. Scripture is not just some ancient book; it’s God’s self-revelation addressed to us through the Holy Spirit.
Christian author and lawyer Justin Earely provides an application of what it might look like to see Scripture as God’s address to us. “Refusing to check the phone until after reading a passage of Scripture is a way of replacing the question ‘What do I need to do today?’ with a better one, ‘Who am I and who am I becoming?’ We have no stable identity outside of Jesus.”(2)
What identity do you cling to most? Do you see scripture as just an ancient guidebook or a living letter through which God still speaks to you? Has God spoken loudly to you, calling you into a relationship with Him? Did you say “yes?”
(1) N. T. Wright, Paul for Everyone: The Pastoral Letters, 119.
(2) Justin Earely, The Common Rule, 92.