Stroll through Scripture for Sunday May 26, 2024

Based on 2 Timothy 3:10—17

With Pentecost occurring, we reached the end of the year for the Narrative Lectionary.  Throughout the summer, the lectionary offers suggestions on what scripture and themes to focus on.  I chose to set aside the suggestion for four weeks and explore topics of interest.  This coming Sunday, we’ll be focusing on how to read the Bible.  This topic alone could be its own four-week series, but I think focusing on it for one week is a good start.  

I chose 2 Timothy 3:10-17 because it talks directly about what scripture is “useful” for.  There are a wide variety of ways to read scripture.  And there’s a difference between ways to read scripture and the lens through which we read scripture.  We need to deal with our own biases, assumptions, beliefs, and more.  

 The conversation starts with a debate about where Paul wrote the letter.  There are scholars who say that Paul didn’t write the letter since it doesn’t address Paul’s common themes – dating it to the end of the first century.  Those that argue that the letter was written by Paul, point to it being one of his last letters written, around 67 AD.  

Regardless of authorship, the letter carries and anti-Gnostic message – the Gnostics believed in personal spiritual secret knowledge.  Paul argues for courageous persistence in faith in Jesus, knowing that there are consequences for that persistence.  As the Lutheran Study Bible states, “Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor, called faith that avoids practical consequences ‘cheap grace.’” (pg. 1960).  

In our selected passage, the writer is beginning their conclusion to the letter with words of encouragement to follow in the author’s footsteps and stay true to the faith that they were taught.  

The reference to “all scripture is inspired by God” is referring to what we would call the Old Testament since that was the only official canon at the time of the writing of the letter.  The focus is on God breathing life into the words and thus also into the lives of those who hear or read the words, transforming them to follow godly lives.  

Questions for reflection:

  • What lens do you read scripture through?  
  • Does it matter who authored 2 Timothy?  Does it change the message?
  • What does it mean that all scripture is useful?  

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