Wednesday, July 27, 2016

2 Timothy 3:17 (ARTIOS)

"The adjective 'perfect' [in 2 Tim. 3:17] is ARTIOS (only here in NT), and 'thoroughly furnished' is the perfect passive participle of the verb EXARTIZW, based on the adjective. The verb is found here and in Acts 21:5 ('accomplished'; that is, 'finished'). The basic meaning of ARTIOS is 'fitted' or 'complete.' Trench comments . . . the man of God, St. Paul would say (2 Tim. 3:17), should be furnished and accomplished with all which is necessary for the carrying out of the work to which he is appointed" (Ralph Earle, Word Meanings in the New Testament).

Robertson's Word Pictures:
The man of God (ο του θεου ανθρωπος). See 1Ti 6:11.

May be complete (ινα η αρτιος). Final clause with ινα and present subjunctive of ειμ. Αρτιος is old word (from root αρω, to fit), specially adapted, here only in N.T.

Furnished completely (εξηρτισμενος). Perfect passive participle of εξαρτιζω, rare verb, to furnish (fit) fully (perfective use of εξ), in N.T. only here and Ac 21:5. In Josephus. For καταρτιζω, see Lu 6:40; 2Co 13:11 .

"our saving faith derives its force, not from capricious reasonings, but from what may be proved out of the Bible" (Cyril of Jerusalem).

"Vincent of Le'rins (c. 450) took it as an axiom the Scriptural canon was 'sufficient, and more than sufficient, for all purposes'" (J. N. D. Kelly 43).

"'How then,' says one, 'shall we be able to renew it [i.e., the soul], thus fallen and relaxed, to strength? what doing, what saying?' By applying ourselves to the divine words of the prophets, of the Apostles, of the Gospels, and all the others; then we shall know that it is far better to feed on these than on impure food, for so we must term our unseasonable idle talking and assemblies" (HOMILY XVIII. JOHN 1:35-37).

John Trapp's Commentary: May be perfect] αρτιος ( omnibus numeris absotutus), with a perfection of parts, able and apt to make use of the Holy Scriptures to all the former purposes, for the behoof or benefit of his hearers. The authority of the Fathers, saith a grave and learned divine, I never urge for necessity of proof (the Scripture is thereto all-sufficient and superabundant), but only either in some singular points to show consent; or, 2. In our controversies against anti-christians, anti-nomists, Neopelagians; or, 3. When some honest passage of sanctification or seasonable opposition to the corruption of the times is falsely charged with novelty, singularity, and too much preciseness. (Mr Bolton’s Four Last Things.)

For a time, oral teaching served a vital purpose in the Christian ecclesia. But in order to preserve the Gospel and facilitate its spread, the ecclesia committed its beliefs to writing (Cf. 2 Pet. 3:1, 2). Interestingly, Lucius Lactantius also contended that Holy Writ did not grow out of the Christian religion, but the Christian religion out of Holy Writ (Divine Institutes 4.4.5). Yes, Christians are supposed to be "people of the book." Jehovah God always purposed that the teachings of Christ would be committed to writing, and these writings as Vincent said, are sufficient "and more than sufficient" for all Christian purposes, even though Vincent thought tradition was vital to avoid misinterpreting Scripture. I'm not sure he would insists that tradition precedes the Bible though.


Kevin said...

You said:

"even though Vincent thought tradition was vital to avoid misinterpreting Scripture. I'm not sure he would insists that tradition precedes the Bible though."

But would Vincent and those contemporaneous with him assert or assume that tradition is in any way on par authoritatively with the Bible? It seems that if Bible teachings are in some way explicated the very act of explication and the material product thereof would either have to be: 1) Authoritative at least on par with the Bible (inerrant/infallible) or 2) Authoritative in a secondary sense and not necessarily inerrant/infallible. How can 2 hold weight over the conscience of the believer? It seems 1 would be necessary to hold the believer accountable. What do you think?

Edgar Foster said...


I'm not sure that Vincent would assert that tradition is on par with the Bible, but admittedly, church tradition does contain voices that express that view. One illustration I've even read is that the Bible is like a horse on which the Church rides.

Regarding the second part of your message, I've wrote a little here and there about the subject of infallibility. Let me just say briefly that I don't believe the very act of explicating the Bible puts the finished product on par with Scripture or necessarily means the explication is infallible. After all, we have numerous commentaries from church fathers, rabbis, and contemporary exegetes, not to even count all the individual explications by pastors/preachers/theologians. Most importantly, I have trouble seeing the scriptural basis for infallible teachers and it's difficult to reconcile the belief with history and the doctrine of original sin.

So I guess my choice would be 2), but let me say that I affirm the infallible Word of God over against infallible interpreters. The Bible also speaks about the work of God's holy spirit (John 16:12-13; 1 Corinthians 2:9-10; 1 John 2:20, 27).

One problem I've always found with papal infallibility is that history does not seem to bear out its veracity, and one has to accept that God is using the Church before he/she can affirm papal infallibility, which seems sort of circular to me.

Thanks for your questions.

Edgar Foster said...

Please see

Kevin said...


You said something that I wanted to grasp onto in this conversation to explain my current road block:

"One problem I've always found with papal infallibility is that history does not seem to bear out its veracity, and one has to accept that God is using the Church before he/she can affirm papal infallibility, which seems sort of circular to me."

The judgment that one makes regarding the historical case for apostolic and Petrine succession is vital. The Bible authors in the NT were protected by the charism of inerrancy such that their act of explicating the scriptures was protected by the holy spirit at least in the documents that have been preserved in the canon. If that charism could be passed on to successors, then we would have that sort of authoritative power active today. Hence, we could have certainty that the interpretations produced by this body of teachers would preserve us from error and divine judgment. The problem being that we are making a judgement on history produced from interpretations of history that are not protected by the holy spirit. So the Catholic attempt at securing certainty regarding their interpretive paradigm fails on that account. We cannot escape our fallible epistemological position. We can only make an educated decision as to which interpretive paradigm makes the better explication of scripture.

BUT, can we be culpable for making an error with our choice of interpretive paradigm? Some choose the JW paradigm, some the Catholic, some the Reformed, etc. Can God really hold anyone thus persuaded accountable for the error of judgment?

Edgar Foster said...


You raise a number of good questions that I've discussed with Catholics many times and for quite a few years. I don't want to be picky, but I would respexctfully submit that the Bible does not use the expression "charism of inerrancy" or "charism of infallibility." I believe the second expression is first written by Irenaeus os at least somewhere around that time period. But I would agree that the Bible (with respect to the autographs) is inerrant and infallible. However, the Bible writers penned God's thoughts; they did not always or often explicate what those thoughts meant. That work was left for later generations.

We concur regarding the issue of epistemology. I believe it's a fairly uncontroversial statement that we often make errors of judgment or we commit epistemological mistakes. We frequently hold false beliefs that we mistake for being true. The Bible even teaches that men commit errors because of ignorance:

"And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers also did. But in this way God has fulfilled the things he announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer" (Acts 3:17-18 NWT 2013).

However, compare Acts 3:19-21. God was now calling those who killed Christ to repent and make a conversion.

Witnesses believe that God has given us infallible scripture (2 Tim 3:16-17), reason, the gift of prayer whereby we might seek his counsel (Psalm 143:10), and a group of men by which the divine counsel is transmitted.

We're not perfect or infallible, but we urge all people (Catholic, Muslim, Sikh, etc) to examine our teachings in the light of God's Word. As Rene Descartes reasoned, a wholly good deity will not permit us to be fooled all of the time.

One other point: we are accountable for our actions, but Jehovah knows if a person is unwittingly ignorant or not. I would encourage you to read for more infomration.