Verse 16. All Scripture. This properly refers to the Old Testament, and should not be applied to any part of the New Testament, unless it can be shown that that part was then written, and was included under the general name of the Scriptures. Comp. 2 Pe 3:15,16. But it includes the whole of the Old Testament, and is the solemn testimony of Paul that it was all inspired. If now it can be proved that Paul himself was an inspired man, this settles the question as to the inspiration of the Old Testament.

Is given by inspiration of God. All this is expressed in the original by one word yeopneustov theopneustos. This word occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It properly means, God-inspired—from yeov, God, and pnew, to breathe, to breathe out. The idea of breathing upon, or breathing into the soul, is that which the word naturally conveys. Thus God breathed into the nostrils of Adam the breath of life, Ge 2:7; and thus the Saviour breathed on his disciples, and said, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost," Joh 20:22. The idea seems to have been, that the life was in the breath, and that an intelligent spirit was communicated with the breath. The expression was used among the Greeks, and a similar one was employed by the Romans. Plutarch ed. B. ix, p. 683, 9. touv oneirouv touv yeopneustouv; Phocylid. 121. thv de yeopneustou sofihv logov estin aristov. Perhaps, however, this is not an expression of Phocylides, but of the pseudo Phocylides. So it is understood by Bloomfield. Cicero, pro Arch., 8. poetam—quasi divino quodam spiritu infiari. The word does not occur in the Septuagint, but is found in Josephus, C. Ap. i. 7. "The Scriptures of the prophets who were taught according to the inspiration of God, kata t hn epipnoian thn apo tou yeou" In regard to the manner of inspiration, and to the various questions which have been started as to its nature, nothing can he learned from the use of this word. It asserts a fact—that the Old Testament was composed under a Divine influence, which might be represented by breathing on one, and so imparting life. But the language must be figurative, for God does not breathe; though the fair inference is that those Scriptures are as much the production of God, or as much to be traced to him as life is. Comp. Mt 22:43; 2 Pe 1:21. The question as to the degree of inspiration, and whether it extends to the words of Scripture, and how far the sacred writers were left to the exercise of their own faculties, is foreign to the design of these Notes. All that is necessary to be held is, that the sacred writers were kept from error on those subjects which were matters of their own observation, or which pertained to memory; and that there were truths imparted to them directly by the Spirit of God, which they never could have arrived at by the unaided exercise of their own minds. Comp. Intro. to Isaiah and Job.

And is profitable. It is useful, it is adapted to give instruction, to administer reproof, etc. If "all" Scripture is thus valuable, then we are to esteem no part of the Old Testament as worthless. There is no portion of it, even now, which may not be fitted, in certain circumstances, to furnish us valuable lessons, and, consequently, no part of it which could be spared from the sacred canon. There is no part of the human body which is not useful in its place, and no part of it which can be spared without sensible loss.

For doctrine. For teaching or communicating instruction. Comp. See Barnes "1 Ti 4:16".


For reproof. On the meaning of the word here rendered reproof elegcovSee Barnes "Heb 11:1".

It here means, probably, for convincing; that is, convincing a man of his sins, of the truth and claims of religion, etc., See Barnes "Joh 16:8".


For correction. The word here used—epanorywsiv—occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means properly, a setting to rights, reparation, restoration, (from epanoryow, to right up again, to restore;) and here means, the leading to a correction or amendment of life—a reformation. The meaning is, that the Scriptures are a powerful means of reformation, or of putting men into the proper condition in regard to morals. After all the means which have been employed to reform mankind; all the appeals which are made to them on the score of health, happiness, respectability, property, and long life, the word of God is still the most powerful and the most effectual means of recovering those who have fallen into vice. No reformation can be permanent which is not based on the principles of the word of God.

For instruction in righteousness. Instruction in regard to the principles of justice, or what is right. Man needs not only to be made acquainted with truth, to be convinced of his error, and to be reformed; but he needs to be taught what is right, or what is required of him, in order that he may lead a holy life. Every reformed and regenerated man needs instruction, and should not be left merely with the evidence that he is reformed, or converted, he should be followed with the principles of the word of God, to show him how he may lead an upright life. The Scriptures furnish the rules of holy living in abundance, and thus they are adapted to the whole work of recovering man, and of guiding him to heaven.

{a} "All scripture" 2 Pe 1:21 {b} "is profitable" Ro 15:4

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