All Scripture is breathed out by God

by Mike Ratliff

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NASB)

Over the years that this blog has been online I have received numerous negative comments from people that I have never allowed to be posted. Why? It is because those who made those comments either do not bother to follow the rules clearly posted, which are assiduously enforced, or they have failed to read them. Their error is that they they attack what is posted here from Sacred Scripture as truth, in context, clearly exposited and exegeted with innuendo, human philosophy, but never, I repeat, never do they go to God’s Word and make any attempt to show me where I have erred in my exegesis of the text. In fact, I cannot remember anyone ever doing that since this blog has been online, but I have received more attempts than I can remember to protest and derail the truth from God’s Word from the humanistic platform of outrage that God is Sovereign and they are not. One hot topic has always been the fact that Sacred Scripture is the inspired Word of God and that makes it infallible and inerrant, but what makes it so abhorrent to those who insist on protesting, it also means that the truths it presents are God’s truths and that our Sovereign God is going to hold all outside of the Body of Christ accountable to His Law and are, therefore, liable to His wrath. They, therefore, hate God’s truth and resist it as such hoping, I suppose, that this will somehow remove their liability.

Perhaps, the seeker movement’s watering down of God’s truth and the removal of the offense of the Cross and the removal of any mention of the Doctrine of Original Sin is part and parcel with this very same “outrage” and, therefore, they “edit” the gospel and God’s Word to make it “more palatable” to the “man on the street.” Several years ago on Dr. James White’s The Dividing Line he was commenting on an episode of Calvary Chapel Radio show in which the topic of the Doctrine of Original Sin was being discussed. One of the commentators said something like, “If we emphasize that it will be offensive to the man on the street…” Dr. White’s reaction was the same as mine, “Who cares!” He went on to say that he was of the opinion that God was obviously judging much of what is called “the visible church” in our time who had covered over the “offense of the cross” and gone after trying to appeal to people to come to their churches through entertaining them or some other means. This judgement from God blinded people to the truth that they could not see, hear, or believe the real Gospel through their man-centered means.

The only means whereby people are truly saved is when the foolishness of preaching the offense of the Cross is done as commanded in Sacred Scripture. That means the Law and the Gospel are preached. People must know that they are hopelessly lost sinners incapable of keeping God’s Law even though that is the only standard God will accept to becoming part of His Kingdom. Then the Good News of Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is preached showing how He died on that Cross paying the price of their sin. He also had perfectly kept God’s Law. He obeyed God perfectly and went to the Cross sinless. His substitutionary death on the Cross was the acceptable sacrifice. God imputed all of the sins of the elect to His account and His death on that Cross paid the penalty for them. All those who believe the Gospel in repentance by God’s grace through faith are imputed Christ’s perfect righteousness. This is the Doctrine of Justification by Grace alone through Faith alone. All of this is clearly taught in God’s Word, which is, as Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (above) inspired by God and complete.

16 πᾶσα γραφὴ θεόπνευστος καὶ ὠφέλιμος πρὸς διδασκαλίαν, πρὸς ἐλεγμόν, πρὸς ἐπανόρθωσιν, πρὸς παιδείαν τὴν ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ, 17 ἵνα ἄρτιος ᾖ ὁ τοῦ θεοῦ ἄνθρωπος, πρὸς πᾶν ἔργον ἀγαθὸν ἐξηρτισμένος. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NA28)

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be proficient having been equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The words translated as “All Scripture” are πᾶσα γραφὴ. This literally says, “All Holy Writ.” The word γραφὴ or graphē is used in the New Testament for the Holy Scriptures in Matthew 21:42, 22:29, Mark 12:10, 15:28,  Romans 1:2, and, of course, here in 2 Timothy 3:16. In any case, we must remember context. Here is the entire passage in which Paul makes this statement.

10 Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! 12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:10-17 NASB)

From this it is clear that Paul is referring to all of what we call Sacred Scripture, the Old Testament and New Testament. Of course, when Paul wrote this the New Testament was still being written. In any case, from this context we see that Paul had a very high view of God’s Word and it was Sacred Scripture he was referring to here.

What does it mean that “All Scripture is breathed out by God”? I translated as “God-breathed” the Greek word θεόπνευστος or theopneustos, which is a compound word comprised of θεός or theos, “God,” and πνέω or pneō, “to breathe hard, or blow.” What does this tell us? The word πνέω speaks of of a conscious breathing, not something unintentional or done unconsciously, therefore, the fact that all of God’s Word, Sacred Scripture is God-Breathed means that it is inspired and the inspiration is the forceful and conscious exhaling of God into the Scripture writers. God used their minds, vocabularies, and experiences to produce His own perfect infallible, inerrant Word.

Paul tells us that since this is so, then it is, “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” It also means that when it speaks in judgment that it is also right and those who refuse to listen, heed and repent are going to be held liable and they hate that. It also talks a lot about how we are to fear God and what I see in so many “antinomians” of all sorts is that they pooh-pooh that and say there is no need to fear God. The Word of God calls those people “fools.”

Soli Deo Gloria!

6 thoughts on “All Scripture is breathed out by God

  1. Brother Mike, technically theopneustos does not mean God breathed into the Scripture writers. It is not the writers that were inspired, but the product (the Scriptures) which is (still) inspired, characterised by the breath of God. Thus, it is and remains living and life-giving, as per I Peter 1:23. When we speak of the writers as being inspired, we are not using the word the way the Scriptures use it, and theologians have (for good reason) been careful to maintain the distinction. Theopneustos is an adjective, a quality of the Scriptures themselves.

    When the Scriptures speak of the writers, they speak of them as being carried along (II Peter 1:21) by the Spirit. Thus, your statement that God used their minds, vocabularies, and experiences to produce His perfect inerrant, infallible Word is completely accurate. In fact, we know that a sovereign LORD produced and formed their minds, vocabularies, and experiences, and that it was His plan all along to use them to give us His Word. So the effect of your statement is completely accurate, but it is not correct to speak of God as breathing into or inspiring the human writers.

    I would not endorse everything Warfield said on inspiration. But in this statement he was correct: “What it says of Scripture is, not that it is “breathed into by God” or is the product of the Divine “inbreathing” into its human authors…. In a word, what is declared by this fundamental passage is simply that the Scriptures are a Divine product, without any indication of how God has operated in producing them.” (http://bbwarfield.com/works/inspiration/)

    Other than that small (but important) clarification, this was an excellent article.

    I believe it is far superior to say “God-breathed,” as you have done, than to say “breathed out” (as the ESV has done, following Warfield). I still prefer “inspired” because the breath of God is “in” the Scriptures, indeed, they are His breath, and thus I Peter 1:23 and II Timothy 3:16 provide an interesting parallel to Genesis 2:7. Both the giving of physical life and the giving of spiritual life have their origin in the breath of God.

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  2. Mike, I was just thinking along these lines this morning. A good reason that professing Christians do not fear God is because many churches today do not do church discipline. There is nothing to fear, seemingly, in these churches, even those that teach from the scriptures week after week. They are large churches, many of them, and so it is quite possible that among so many there are discipline issues that desperately need to be addressed which are not. Many sit in the pews disobedient and defiant week after week, flying under the radar. No one really knows them, they don’t answer to anybody and so they go on in their sin and rebellion even though they are in church every Sunday and looking for all the world like a sincere believer. It is very sad and alarming. At the same time, their church is likely planning or undergoing a building project, and this would be a bad time to risk losing any tithes, and so they go on, overlooking sin, turning a blind eye to it.

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