What Does the Bible Mean When It Says, “All Scripture?”

What Does the Bible Mean When It Says, “All Scripture?”

All scripture can teach us about God and instruct us in his ways

One verse I heard often at a particular church I attended was 2 Timothy 3:16. It says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” (KJV). This verse was cited to remind us of the holiness and practical applicability of the Bible to inform our daily lives. According to this preacher, “all scripture” referred to the KJV, the only version he accepted.

However, let’s consider the phrase all scripture. When Paul wrote these words to Timothy, the New Testament didn’t exist. So Paul couldn’t have been referring to that text. Yes, there were various portions of what later became the New Testament being circulated among the followers of Jesus, but they also shared other texts that didn’t make it into today’s Bible. Therefore, Paul couldn’t have meant for all scripture to encompass the New Testament.

From his perspective, when he said, “all scripture,” he envisioned the texts that were available to the Jewish people. That would certainly include the Old Testament) and may have included other supporting religious documents).

The version of the Bible in use in Paul’s time was the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament. The Septuagint included the thirty-nine books we have in our Old Testament, but it also included more.

The Septuagint used during the lifetime of Jesus and Paul, also included the books we now call the Apocrypha. So these books of the Apocrypha would fall under Paul’s umbrella term of all scripture. (And for my preacher friend who insisted on reading the Bible in the KJV, I must point out that the original version of the KJV included the Apocrypha.)

That’s something to think about.

If the Apocrypha is part of what Paul meant when he said, “all scripture,” then the Apocrypha is also “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” When Paul writes that all scripture is profitable, I take him seriously. Click To Tweet

The books of the Apocrypha included in the Septuagint are:

See why Christians Should Consider the Entire Bible.

When Paul writes that all scripture is profitable, I take him seriously. And I encourage you to as well.

Join me on the journey!

How big is your tent   convertkit

Sign up for my weekly newsletter about biblical spirituality, and I'll send you a free e-book, How Big Is Your Tent?

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

2 Comments

  • oakcoveresort Posted January 7, 2018 7:55 am

    A great eye opener I hadn’t thought about in decades What about the book of Thomas? Or is that erroneous.

    • Peter DeHaan Posted January 7, 2018 8:40 am

      I’m really curious about the book of Thomas, but I have resisted reading it. No Christian group (that I’m aware of) includes the book of Thomas in their scripture, so I will skip it–and forever wonder about it!

Add Comment

What do you think? Please leave a comment!

%d bloggers like this: