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Hebrew Scroll

There are those within various Christian denominations and Church movements these days who question the validity of Scripture, especially the Old Testament. There are those who say the Old Testament has been fulfilled, that God does not do things that way any more. Since an author knows best about his own manuscript, let’s ask the author about this matter: God. Many passages could be turned to, but one is most often used. So, let’s inspect it.

Second Timothy 3:16-17 reads, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

All Scripture is theopneustos, “God-breathed”. What is being referring to when he says “all Scripture” is breathed out by God? The answer to this is found in the preceding verses. Paul had been telling Timothy to “continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 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” (vss.14-15). The Greek terms used for “sacred writings” are ta hiera grammata, whereas, the term for “all Scripture” is pasa graphe. Though the Greek words gramma (writings) and graphe (Scripture) come from the same root, grapho meaning “to carve or engrave”, they are still very distinct. However, though distinct, they promote a powerful meaning.

In verse 16, ALL is the Greek word pasa meaning “every part of it together, and every part of the whole respectively and includes the idea of oneness, a totality of the whole”. Graphe is the Greek word most often used for Scriptures in the Bible. Thus, it could read, “every part of the Scriptures together.”

However, in verse 15 the word for Scripture is different. To begin with, the adjective used to define writings/Scripture is the term SACRED, which is hieros in the Greek meaning, “sacred and that which may not be violated” and refers to one’s position not one’s character. It is a thing or person that is consecrated to God, such as items at the Temple or the priests themselves. Gramma, the word translated as “Scriptures” in some Bibles and as “writings” in the ESV, actually carries the meaning of “letters of the alphabet or any style of writing such as a book or letter.” The letters of the alphabet mentioned here would be the letters of the Hebrew language, which Timothy had been trained up in since a child (though possibly the Septuagint was used). And these sacred letters of the Hebrew alphabet make up the words of the books of the Old Testament (Hebrew Scriptures).

yod

What is the importance of every letter in Scripture? Jesus in Matthew 5:18 states, that “until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” A iota (or jot in the KJV) is the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and a dot (or tittle in the KJV) is the Greek word keraia which refers to the small stroke of the pen that helped to distinguish the difference between the letters. Both the iota and keraia are extremely small, yet extremely important! After all, Jesus said that they are. The smallest marks of the pen in the Scriptures is extraordinarily significant. Indeed, every letter makes up a specific word, and every mark makes the message clearer. Indeed, every letter and mark is sacred, for all will be brought to pass.

Thus, when Paul writes that “all Scripture is breathed out by God,” he means quite clearly that every smallest letter and every tiniest mark is God-spoken. Not even the smallest part can be avoided, for every part of it together is God-breathed and will be fulfilled. For indeed, God honors His word above His name (Psalm 138:2). Thus, He will bring every part of it to pass. Not only this, but this means that the Old Testament is just as important as the New. After all, it is what Timothy was raised up to know. Yes, the New Testament was added later and is verified to be inspired as well, but that does not nullify the Hebrew Scriptures. They still have iotas and keraias to be fulfilled.

hebrew passage

With this in mind, let us be ever mindful of the fact that the Word of God is infallible (without mistakes and always effective) and inerrant (without error) in every word and part, for God is truth (John 14:6) and cannot lie (Titus 1:2). And thus, His Word is truth (John 17:17, Psalm 119:160). It comes directly from His mouth (Matthew 4:4), is the sword of the spirit (Ephesians 6:17), and it cannot be broken (John 10:35). It is living and active, judging one’s very thoughts and intentions (Hebrews 4:12), and is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

So then, with Biblical inerrancy and infallibility established, let us proceed into the territory of what God says about prophets, and how to distinguish the true from the false. Let us train our “powers of discernment” by honing our skill in the meat of God’s Word (2 Corinthians 5:13-14), in order that we not be deceived.

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