by Steven Chan
Writing to the young preacher Timothy, the apostle Paul wrote thus in 2 Tim 3:13-17: “But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 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. 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
There is a need to “continue in the things which we have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom we have learned them” – in this instance, the beloved apostle Paul could have been referring to the teachings that had been passed on to Timothy by his mother and grandmother (2 Tim 1:5) as well as the teachings passed on to him by the apostle Paul himself and by other faithful men – and Paul then referred to the fact that “from childhood Timothy had known the Holy Scriptures”. Timothy was reminded to continue in what he had learned from the Holy Scriptures that were taught to him by those
whom he knew and trusted.
The afore-stated warning was given because according to the apostle Paul, “evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived”. Deception is the main weapon of the devil. In John 8:43-45, our Lord Jesus said to the Jews: “Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”
By implication, one should be extra careful if one seeks to learn from those who are known to teach erroneously with regards to the way of God. To be indiscriminate in this effort to learn the way of God is to jeopardize one’s salvation – a similar warning was given by John in 1 John 4:1: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Our Lord Himself warned in Matt 7:15-16: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits.”
According to the apostle Paul in 2 Tim 2:2, there is a category of believers to whom sound doctrine ought to be passed on to (and by implication from whom we can reliably learn from): “commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” These are known as “faithful men”. Unfortunately, there are many today who seem to disregard the idea of there being “faithful men” as they do not think that it is possible to define a group of so-called “faithful men” and so they are of the view that the way of God can be learned from any man regardless of them being faithful or otherwise.
In this regard the apostle Paul 2 Cor 11:3-4 wrote about his fear for the brethren at Corinth: “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 4 For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted–you may well put up with it!.” Paul was concerned that the brethren at Corinth were indiscriminately allowing to be taught in their midst, teachings that had deviated from what they had been taught (another Jesus whom we have not preached; a different gospel) and “putting up” with it – and hence, they were at risk of being deceived and their minds corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. It will do us well to note that the teachings of Paul were characterised by “SIMPLICITY that is in Christ” and not complexity.
The Holy Scriptures that Timothy learned from childhood would be able to make him “wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus”. The purpose of studying the Scriptures is to facilitate one to be saved by faith in Christ Jesus. That is why the Holy Scriptures was given by inspiration of God – as it 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.” The Holy Scriptures is intended to be a “lamp to our feet and a light to our path” (Psa 119:105). It is our God-given guide through life.
We should therefore heed the exhortation to “study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15) and to follow the example of the Christians in Berea who “searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so”(Acts 17:11).
We will do well to realize that because of the critical role of the Holy Scriptures as regards our salvation that the devil would make great effort to do the following:-
- to discourage us from reading and learning the scriptures (“of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing – Heb 5:11) as well as,
- to confuse us and lead us astray from the simple and plain teachings of the Scriptures (“as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”- 2 Peter 3:15-18).
Let us study the Bible diligently because “the entrance of God’s words gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple” (Psa 119:130) so that we can be led by God through His Word (Psa 119:105).