In 2 Timothy 3:16, what is the meaning of the phrase “for correction”?
Second Timothy 3:16-17 is a beautiful piece of Scripture that tells us all of the benefits not just of Paul’s writings, but of all of the Scriptures, Old and New Testaments. We could talk about the connectedness of the Scriptures, how the new explains the old and the like.
Paul here explains that Scripture is “God-breathed.” From this, the doctrine of inspiration of Scripture flows. The idea is that God spoke all of the Scriptures to the people who wrote them down. This means that the Bible is the Word of God, not just words spoken by humans about God.
There are several approaches to understanding the ways God inspired the text of Scripture. But we will continue on to define the ways in which Scripture benefits all who read it. Paul tells us that Scripture is profitable to its readers in four ways.
The first is teaching. Teaching is the part of the learning process in which Scripture is our guide. Through reading Scripture, we learn what God expects of us, how God interacts with us throughout human history, and what his plans are for each of us. We learn how to be more like him.
And as a bonus, the Holy Spirit speaks through Scripture to us in our current situations. So not only did God speak the Scriptures into being through human hands and experiences, but the Holy Spirit speaks through Scripture to us today.
Next Paul says that Scripture is profitable for reproof. Reproof here conveys the idea of discipline or refuting. After Scripture teaches us what God expects of us, it then gives us the discipline to carry out his wishes. It brings to light the things that need changed in us. The Word of God exposes our faults and convicts us of sin.
Third, Scripture profits its readers for correction. After the Word of God teaches us what God desires, convicts and reproves us of the wrong we’ve been doing, it corrects us. To correct here means to put us on righteous paths. It corrects the faults in us and improves us according to the holy ways God expects of us. This is where God changes us. We are now doing what he wants.
Finally, Scripture trains us in righteousness. Training here refers to the upbringing in righteousness, the continual instruction that keeps us righteous before God. This is our education and what God expects of us. Righteousness is the holy character in us in action.
When we act righteously, we do it from our holy character inside. So the Bible continues to train and instruct us in the righteousness God expects. Then we act on the holy character he is transforming us to have. The actions we do are righteous acts. God changes us from the inside out.
When you look at these four words that Paul uses to describe God’s transformative work in us, notice that they are a chain reaction. Each word takes us further in the process of making us holy and righteous before God. We move from teaching to the challenging and convicting word, then correction for righteousness, and finally a continual training in righteousness.
These are the ways in which Scripture profits everyone who reads it. God has inspired the text of Scripture, used humans in the writing process, so that we might benefit from all that it says. It is God’s words spoken to us through the history, culture, and experiences of those who wrote it for us to read.