By Fred A. Shewmaker
If the Mosaical law did not give “instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16), how was it possible for Zacharias and Elisabeth to be “righteous” and “blameless” (Lk. 1:6)? Not long ago it was necessary for me to address this question. Another person read my answer, and urged me to put it in an article. The following is that answer:
The word “righteous” is translated from the Greek dikaios. That is the same Greek word which is the Septaugint translators used to translate the original Hebrew word in Genesis 6:9. English translations render it “just” – “Noah was a just man.” It is the same Greek word used when the Gentile, Cornelius, also is called “just” (Acts 10:22). Thus we have one dikaios before the law of Moses was given, one dikaios who never was under the law of Moses and two who were dikaios under the law of Moses. This indicates being under the law of Moses was not the determining factor regarding whether one was or was not dikaios. Regarding those under the law in Romans 2:13 Paul writes, “For not the hearers of the law are just (dikaios) before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified” (dikaioo). Verse 14 addresses those not under the law of Moses, when they “do by nature the things contained in the law, . . . are a law unto themselves.” I take it that Noah, before the law of Moses was given, did the things which the law later required of the Israelites and Cornelius, not being of Israel nor under the law, nevertheless, did the things required by the law. Whatever is meant, it is certain none of these four were without sin (cf. Rom. 3:10-23; 5:12).
From Romans 3:19,20 please observe three purposes of the law: 1. “That every mouth may be stopped.” 2. “That all the word may become guilty before God.” 3. “By the law is the knowledge of sin.” A fourth purpose of the Law is given in Galatians 3:24: “to bring us to Christ.” Another thing which needs to be considered is the plain statement in Galatians 3:21: “if there had been a law given which could give life, verily righteousness (dikaiosunee) should have been by the law.” It was not “by the law” because verse 22 states, “the scripture hath concluded all under sin.”
Now in Romans 1:16 and 17 observe where righteousness (dikaiosunee) is revealed. “For therein the righteousness (dikaiosunee) of God is revealed. . . . ” “Therein” refers back to “the gospel.” These verses also show “the righteousness (dikaiosunee) of God revealed from faith.” This brings us back to the point made in Galatians 3:24: “. . . the law was our school master to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified (dikaioo) by faith.”
From these considerations I conclude that “the holy scriptures” which Timothy had “known” “from a child” were the Scriptures of the Old Testament. They served the purpose of leading to Christ and by that means were “able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. It is not said that they afforded Timothy, or any one else, salvation. Now consider very carefully 2 Timothy 3:16 and 17. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”
There are several things which indicate the word “all” here includes the New Testament: 1. The Old Testament is not “profitable for” teaching “the principles of the doctrine of Christ” (Heb. 6: 1); “Repentance from dead works” (works of the law – cf. Heb. 9:14, 15 and 7-10); “faith toward God”; “baptism”; “laying on of hands”; “resurrection of the dead” and “eternal judgment.” This is not to say the Old Testament made reference to none of these things, but it did not make any of them clear “principles.” Therefore the Old Testament was not “profitable for” all doctrine. 2. In John 16:8, speaking of the Holy Spirit, Jesus said, “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin.” Therefore the Old Testament was not “profitable for” all “reproof.” 3. Paul used “the truth of the gospel” to correct Peter at Antioch, not the Old Testament. Thus the Old Testament was not “profitable for” all “correction.” 4. Galatians 3:21,22 shows that “righteousness” is not by the Old Testament law and Romans 1:16,17 show righteousness revealed in the gospel. 5. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, . . : That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16,17). If the Old Testament alone is under consideration, Paul here declares it sufficient to make “perfect” and “throughly” furnish “unto all good works.” If that is what he is meaning, he is contradicting 2 Corinthians 3:6. Giving “life” is a good work. It is the work of “the new testament” which the law could not do (Gal. 3:21).
There considerations lead me to the conclusion that “holy scripture” (2 Tim. 3:15) refers to the Old Testament. They also lead me to the conclusion “all scripture” (2 Tim. 3:16) refers to both the Old and New Testaments.
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 15, p. 459
August 1, 1991