“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 – NASV)
We continue our series on Sola Scriptura (“Bible Alone”) where we are dealing with certain attacks on the Protestant understanding of the above verses.
Today’s specific argument is:
ARGUMENT #3 – THE PASSAGE ABOVE ONLY SAYS THAT SCRIPTURE IS *PROFITABLE* (OR USEFUL), NOT THAT IT IS *SUFFICIENT*, AS A RULE OF FAITH.
This is one of the most commonly used arguments against Sola Scriptura, but once again, while the word “sufficient” is not specifically mentioned, the context strongly suggests that, as an infallible Rule of Faith, Scripture is more than sufficient. See Part 1 of this series:
Sometimes Catholics act as though the term “profitable” is the only description that the Bible ever has of itself. In fact, many Catholics describe Scripture as “merely profitable.” But the term "profitable" does not negate, or rule out, the possibility of sufficiency. Never does the context here, or anywhere else in the Bible, LIMIT Scripture to the status of “merely profitable.” It is always described in much grander terms.
And why is it that Catholics always focus on the word “profitable” in verse 16, but never seem to emphasize the word “inspired” (which means “God-breathed”) in the same verse? When they read that Jesus breathed on the apostles in John 20:22, they make a really big deal over it. Yet, why are His God-breathed Sacred Writings reduced to “merely profitable”? According to those Catholics, the term “God-breathed” seems to be almost irrelevant here in 2 Timothy. But it is the same Savior who "breathed" on both.
What’s the point of Paul’s emphasizing the Sacred Writings in 2 Timothy? Is it because he feels that Scripture is “only profitable”? Never mind the fact that the Bible is God-breathed / inspired (3:16). Never mind that it is able to make one wise for salvation (3:15). Or that it fully equips one for doctrine… reproof… correction… and training in righteousness (3:16). Or that, as a Rule of Faith, it is the complete “toolbox” for the believer (3:17). In 2 Timothy 3 Paul is telling us of the nature and purpose of God’s written Word, and it is presented in this context as the antidote to deception and false teaching (3:13). Just “profitable”? Merely “useful”? Does anyone really think that this is what Paul is trying to tell us here? No, Paul does not have such a low view of Scripture.
Calling Scripture “merely profitable” in 2 Timothy 3:16 would be like calling Jesus “merely good,” just because He is called the “Good” Shepherd in John 10:11. Or, it would be like saying the Holy Spirit is “merely” a Helper in John 14:16. Not only would these terms be insulting to God, but we might consider this near blasphemy.
Many Catholics (and others) claim to have the "utmost respect" for Scripture. But it’s sure hard to believe this when they use these kinds of arguments.