“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” (2 Tim. 3:16)
Paul makes a bold statement to his young squire Timothy here when he says that “all Scripture is breathed out by God”. In this context, he was referring to the Old Testament.
Did this mean that Timothy had to continue to follow the “laws about bodily discharges” from Leviticus 15 in the context of the church in the Roman world? Did it mean that people would still be put to death for sexual immorality, as Leviticus 20:10-21 speaks about?
This is where it’s important to understand that there were cultural laws within the Old Testament that applied to Israel at that time, and then there was the “heart of the law” that applied to God’s people for all time. The heart of the law would include things like the ten commandments and verses like Leviticus 20:26 that say, “You shall be holy to me, for I the LORD am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.” As well as Leviticus 19:18, which states, “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”
We need to understand the meaning and context behind all of the scripture to understand what it truly means. And we shouldn’t distort it to fit our own preferred cultural framework, but need to see it as it is.
Yet even the words of Paul, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, James and Jude (the brothers of Jesus), Peter and the unknown author of Hebrews are accepted as scripture today. F.F. Bruce makes a helpful comment about why these writings are accepted as “breathed out from God”, when there were many extra-biblical writings that were rejected as being consistent with the life and teachings of Christ and His people/the church (such as many Gnostic gospels). Bruce says;
The Canon of Scripture, then, is the list of writings delivered to us as the divinely inspired record of God’s self-revelation to men―that self-revelation of which Jesus Christ our Lord is the centre. The writings are not authoritative because they are included in the list; they are in the list because their authority has been recognized. For example, the oracles of the prophet Amos were stamped with divine authority as he uttered them in the name of Israel’s God. They were written down some time after they were spoken, and it was some time after that that they were included in the canon or list of prophetic writings. Divine authority comes first: canonicity follows authority and is dependent upon it. Similarly, the individual Epistles of Paul bore the stamp of divine authority because he wrote them as the apostle or plenipotentiary of the risen Christ: ‘the things which I write unto you’, he said, ‘are the commandments of the Lord’ (1 Cor. xiv. 37). But it was at a later time, and because of the authority which they already possessed, that these individual Epistles were included in the list of sacred writings.
One may ask why we should trust that these writings were really legitimate. After all, weren’t these corrupt religious men who were trying to further their institution and wanted to oppress and force their patriarchal megalomania upon the modern world they found themselves in? One of the main proponents of the New Testament canon as we know it today was Irenaeus, who was a hearer of Polycarp, who in turn was a disciple of John the Evangelist.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irenaeus) According to this, the leader that helped bring about the first canonization of New Testament Scripture, was a third generation follower of Jesus- directly from the apostle John, who walked and talked with Jesus. And Irenaeus was not some corrupt papal authority sitting on a throne having people groups wiped out and lining his golden toilet with rubies. Irenaeus was a leader in the church during a time of great persecution, when followers of Christ were being put to death for their faith. He succeeded Pothinus, who was martyred for his faith. By defending the truth of who Jesus really is Irenaeus was putting his life on the line as well.
So ultimately, the authority of scripture is trustworthy, and was breathed into the minds and pens of imperfect men by a perfect God. It’s supernatural and amazing, but it’s true. Are you willing to delve into it and allow these words of God to shape and transform your life?