In all likelihood, 2 Timothy is the last thing that the apostle Paul ever wrote. He’s writing to, as the book’s title suggests, his son in the faith, Timothy, who is a pastor. Again, as we saw last week in his first letter, he’s speaking about these last days in which he lives and in which we live. He’s talking about all the many sins that will be present in these last days and how Timothy needs to avoid them. These people, ironically enough, will oppose the truth, they will oppose church leaders, and they need something to stop them.
But what Paul says is that it is teaching and doctrine which is going to give Timothy the tools to be able to stop these people. And, he also says that these teachings and doctrines are going to come from the Bible, and the Bible has authority.
Now, that doesn’t mean that if you have the Bible, you will never be persecuted. As Paul says in verse 12, “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” There will always be evildoers and impostors who will try to trick us and be successful in that, as we’re very easily fooled. Yet, Timothy (and all Christians, by extension) need to continue in what they’ve learned to be under the authority of scripture.
Timothy’s story was that he was raised in a Christian family. From when he was a kid, he had known the authority of the Bible. Paul reminds him in verse 15 of that and tells him that it is the Bible in which he first heard the way to be saved—through trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s what the Bible’s message is, and that is why it has authority. Because within the Bible is found the most powerful thing in all the universe: the gospel.
In verse 16, the apostle Paul summarises the truth about the authority of the holy scriptures. He says, “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.”
This is what we mean when we talk about the authority of the Bible. That there is no book like this—no book that has the same right to be able to address us. Not only to show us the way to be saved, which makes it unique as a book, but also, as we see in verse 16, there is a usefulness to this book because it is breathed out by God. The book is full of the very words of God.
Therefore, we are taught by the Bible, we are rebuked by the Bible, we are corrected by the Bible, and we are trained in righteousness by the Bible. As Paul says in verse 17, “That is so that the servant of God—so everyone who serves God, every Christian—is thoroughly equipped for every good work.” No other book is able to do that. The Bible does not refer to any other book in that way. Neither is there any other book that has ever been used successfully in that way in all of history. No other book points us to the Lord Jesus Christ in the same way. Without bowing to the authority of scripture, no other book is able to make the claims that the Bible claims, which is that it is God-breathed—that every single word of the Bible, you can say about it, “Well, this is God’s word.”
If it is God’s word, that is why it is useful for teaching and rebuking and correcting and training in righteousness. That’s why it has authority.