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Mistranslation of 2 Tim. 3:16 Causes Misunderstanding in NT

Paul refers in 2 Tim. 3:15 to the Holy "grammata," translated as "Writings," but Paul obviously intended by calling them "Holy" to refer to the Law and Prophets.

Then in the very next verse, Paul speaks more broadly about the "graphe" which was translated into English as "Scripture." 

In the King James this reads -- and please note the italics:

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (See 2 Tim 3:16 KJV).

However, the first word "is" has been put in italics (KJV), and was not necessary to smooth out the meaning. The second is was necessary, but the first is substantially changed the meaning of the sentence.

The 1611 introduction to the King James Bible explained that italicized words were added to smooth out the translation, and explained such words were not present in the original source Greek text. This translation practice began in 1580 with the Geneva Bible upon which the KJV was based. The Geneva translators offered the same explanation  of what it meant to italicize a word. See link.

However, here, adding the first is fundamentally changes the meaning. In an article The Italicized Words in the King James Bible, it explains the general justification of adding words - in italics:

The italicized words in the King James Bible are words that were added by the translators to help the reader. This is usually necessary when translating from one language to another because word meanings and idioms change. So, to produce a more readable translation, the King James translators (1604- 1611) added certain words to the Bible text. However, to make sure that everyone understood that these words were not in the available manuscripts they set them in italics.

The reputable scholar Scrivener in his 1884 reprint of the King James spent dozens of pages explaining how the italics were deliberately used by the King James translators to signify the original text did not have the word present. See The Authorized Edition of the English Bible (1611) (Ed. F.H.A. Scrivener, 1884) at page 61 et seq.

Hence, the word is in 2 Timoth 3:16 is not found in the original Greek text. This is unquestionable.

The first is was added to our Bible text by the translators, believing it was necessary at that juncture to make the meaning clear. However, that was only true of the second is added in the sentence... "is profitable...." etc. 

In recognition of this, the American Standard Version of 1901 removed the improper addition to Paul's words, and drops the "is" at that first point. This thereby dramatically gives us a new perspective. Now we see the "is" only appears before the word profitable, but not also before "God-breathed." The corrected translation, and the literally accurate one, is:

Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness. (ASV, 1901, 2 Tim. 3:16.)

The scholar George Ricker Berry, in his Interlinear KJV New Testament (1993) likewise renders it literally as saying "Every Scripture God inspired is profitable."  Today, it is a recognized alternative rendering. 

Hence, as expressed, Paul implies not every Scripture / writing is inspiredOnly those scripture or writings that are inspired are useful for correction, etc.

By now correctly deleting the "is" where it was not originally present in 2 Tim. 3:16, we see in Paul's language an understanding that not every "graphe" (writing) / scripture is inspired of God, but instead that every "writing / scripture inspired by God is profitable," etc. In other words, Paul is only saying "every God-breathed writing / scripture is profitable." This implies that if it is not God-breathed writing / scripture, then such "writing" or "scripture" is not necessarily profitable.



Does Paul Mean By 'Scripture' Always An Inspired Writing?

Paul in his epistles, as explained in Scott Schifferd's FORMATION OF THE NEW TESTAMENT SCRIPTURES blog, supposedly proves "Scripture" necessarily means an inspired writing rather than the context dictating the meaning. It says "Paul quoted Luke 10:7 as 'Scripture' in 1 Timothy 5:18." He adds: "Look again to 1 Timothy 5:18 to see that the 'Scripture' of 1 Timothy 5:18 referred to both Deuteronomy 25:4 and Luke 10:7." (July 29, 2015)

Based upon this, Scott concludes the term "scripture" necessarily refers to Holy Scripture, and thus is a shorthand term. However, the word translated as "scripture" merely means "writings," and whether it means more -- like an inspired writing -- requires examination of context.

For example, the word "writings" (translated as 'Scripture' with a capital S) does in the context of 1 Timothy 5:18 refer to inspired writings. But this is only deducible from the context of a quotation of a known inspired writing. Otherwise, graphe - scripture -- is highly ambiguous, and can refer to non-inspired materials and 'writings' just as easily.

Let's first look at 1 Timothy 5:18.  Here's the NIV:

For Scripture says, "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain," and "The worker deserves his wages." (1 Tim. 5:18, NIV.) 

The first quote is clearly from Deuteronomy 25:4 -- "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain."

The second does appear to be from Luke 10:7 which reads: "Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house." In Greek the words "for the worker deserves his wages" is ho ergates tou misthou. These are almost the identical words in 1 Timothy 5:18.

Jesus is paraphrasing the law, and this is how we know "graphe" means an inspired writing. The word "graphe" by itself merely means writing, and does not necessarily mean an inspired writing. Here are the passages that Jesus or Paul is paraphrasing:

Leviticus 19:13

"'Do not defraud or rob your neighbor. "'Do not hold back the wages of a hired worker overnight.

Deuteronomy 24:14

Do not take advantage of a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether that worker is a fellow Israelite or a foreigner residing in one of your towns.

Deuteronomy 24:15

Pay them their wages each day before sunset, because they are poor and are counting on it. Otherwise they may cry to the LORD against you, and you will be guilty of sin.  [From Cross-references to 1 Tim. 5:18.]