Part 3A shows that the Old Testament teaches that God commands a Christian to study the Bible. Part 3B shows the same is true for the New Testament.
In Knowing Scripture, at pages 22-26, R. C. Sproul points to two passages that demand we study the Bible. One of these passages is 2 Timothy 3:14-17 (ESV), and it reads:
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
These verses follow Paul’s warning that difficult days are ahead (see 2 Timothy 3:1) and things will get worse (see 2 Timothy 3:13). As a countermeasure to future tough times, Paul instructs Timothy to “continue in what you learned.” Here, the ESV translates the Greek verb menō as “continue.” It has the meaning to exist or continue or persist in a specific state, condition or activity. Here, menō is in the present tense and imperative mood which indicates a command that is an action in process or in a state of being with no assessment of the action’s completion. See Heiser, M. S., & Setterholm, V. M. (2013; 2013). Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database Terminology. Lexham Press.
Heiser, M. S., & Setterholm, V. M. (2013; 2013). Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database Terminology. Lexham Press.
Paul impresses upon Timothy not to cease with the condition of “what you have learned … knowing from whom you learned it”. This condition has two parts. First, the “what” comprises the Old Testament Scriptures. The “you learned” is the English translation of the Greek verb manthanō which means to learn by study or practice or experience. See Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 326). New York: United Bible Societies; Liddell, H. G., Scott, R., Jones, H. S., & McKenzie, R. (1996). A Greek-English Lexicon (p. 1079). Oxford: Clarendon Press. The ESV translates the second usage of manthanō as “you learned,” and it has the same meaning. Each usage of manthanō is in the aorist verb tense and indicative mood. The verb’s action is a snapshot event that took place in the past. See Heiser, M. S., & Setterholm, V. M. (2013; 2013). Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database Terminology. Lexham Press.
The “what” in verse 14 refers to the “sacred writings” (see verse 15) and the Scripture (see verse 16) which are the Old Testament Scriptures. See Lea, T. D., & Griffin, H. P. (1992). 1, 2 Timothy, Titus (Vol. 34, pp. 233–234). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers; Knight, G. W. (1992). The Pastoral Epistles: a commentary on the Greek text (pp. 442–444). Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press. In the context of the 21st-Century, what Paul instructed Timothy to do was to remain in Bible study. This makes sense when one considers that the way to continue to Scripture knowledge is through Bible study.
Paul urges Timothy that Bible study is vital to many aspects of the Christian life (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17). It is not an overstatement to say this passage cries out with clarity that ingesting God’s Word through Bible study, which results in application, is to be a primary focus of the life of a Christ-follower. Bible study should be normative practice for the believer.
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