Sola - A 5-Day Devotional through Five Solas of the Reformation

Day 1 of 5 • This day’s reading


Scripture Alone

Within the Bible, the doctrine of sola Scriptura is most clearly seen in 2 Timothy 3:15–17. Paul, in his final letter to his son in ministry, Timothy, charges him to stand strong in the gospel and to be faithful in his ministry. Paul exhorts him to stand firm and to preach the Word.

Timothy, we know, is vacillating. He is discouraged. He is weakened. Many have abandoned him in the faith. So Paul, beginning in chapter three, documents the effects of sin and all that is going wrong in the church. He then charges Timothy to remain strong. Paul reminds Timothy in verse 12 that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”. In verses 14–15, he continues, “You, however,” as opposed to those who have forsaken the faith, “continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have learned the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus”.

Paul is reminding Timothy that he was taught the truth of the Scriptures from his mother and his grandmother at an early age. He is reminding Timothy that as he was taught the Old Testament, a new way of life came to him through the Scriptures. Here, Paul is saying the Old Testament makes the gospel clear. It makes faith in the coming Messiah clear.

Then, in verses 16–17, Paul writes this great passage that so much of the doctrine of Scripture is built upon. This verse should be interpreted with an anticipatory sense, meaning Paul is also foreshadowing the rest of coming revelation and the closure of the cannon. He says this: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work”.

The first part of verse 16, “all Scripture is inspired” is significant. This word “inspired,” which in Greek is theopneustos, means “having been breathed out from God’s innermost being.” Also, notice that Paul says, “all Scripture.” It is not up to us, or to the critic, to pick and choose what portion of Scripture we deem to be from God and thus true. Moreover, it is not left to us to pick and choose which portions of Scripture we think are most applicable or most urgently needing to be obeyed.

What Paul states here in seed form is the verbal, plenary inspiration of Scripture. All of Scripture, not some of it, is inspired. The words themselves are inspired, not just the thoughts of the authors or the intent of the authors, but every last word. All Scripture is inspired by God.

Often, I will hear this verse read, and it will be insinuated that there is a period placed after the word “God”: “All Scripture is inspired by God.” But notice Paul takes it further than that: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching and for reproof ” (emphasis added). The Scriptures teach us many things, but specifically what to believe. They convict and reprove us by correcting our errant beliefs. This correction then trains us in righteousness. In other words, Scripture has a direct effect on how we live.

Verse 17 continues, “so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” Paul is basically saying, “Timothy, as you minister, as you preach, as you live, know this: Your weapon in the kingdom is the Word of God. Your tool is the Word of God. And as you wield it faithfully, you will be equipped for every good work.” So, we don’t have to search to and fro, looking for a mystical experience, some kind of charismatic reception of gifts, or something to make us complete and worthy to minister. Verse 17 teaches that by the Spirit of God, and with the Word of God, we have been made ready to minister.

The logic here is clear, is it not? If this Word is of God, then it must of necessity be true. And if it is of God and true, it must be authoritative. Thus, we are called to submit our lives to it.

Thus, sola Scriptura, biblically speaking, is the acknowledgement that Scripture enjoys a singular status as God’s Word. Therefore, it is the believer’s final, ultimate authority.