What does it mean in Timothy 2:16 when it says that Scripture is given by inspiration of God?


In Timothy 2:16 (KJV), it says “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”. What I would like to know is the exact meaning of the phrase “is given by inspiration of God”.

According to Strong’s Concordance Dictionary, the definition of the aforementioned phrase (g2315) is ‘divinely breathed in’.

I’m having trouble understanding the definition. Can you help?

Many Thanks



Hi Lawrence,

Greetings and thanks for your question.

The KJV has given a helpful and correct interpretation of the original Greek by allowing us to consider the word’s implications. It is building from the literal interpretation of the Greek word theopneustos (i.e. theos ‘God’ + pneo ‘to blow, breathe on’): God-breathed or breathed on by God. This is technically more literal than the rendering “given by inspiration from God,” though the Greek does carry that meaning.

The word theopneustos is a hapax legomenon, meaning that it only occurs once in the entirety of the NT. Whenever we encounter a word like this we should take care and take note. We need to proceed carefully because we do not have a reference in the NT canon against which to compare and make sense of it. However, we should also take note because the author has decided to choose this word for a very specific reason to communicate something of the utmost importance (if this were not the case, he could have used another more generic word).

Philip Towner, in his commentary The Letters to Timothy and Titus (NICNT Series) notes regarding this God-breathed word: “The process envisaged, which gives to the texts of Scripture this character, is almost certainly not to be understood in the strict sense as divine dictation… Rather, more on the order of Philo’s conception of the process of Scripture’s inspiration, God’s activity of ‘breathing’ and the human activity of writing are in some sense complementary (cf. 2 Pet 1:21). Thus, Paul’s insertion (coining?) of the adjective at this point is intended to underline the authority of the OT, text by text, on the basis of its derivation from God” (p. 589).

I hope this helps, please do let me know if you need or would like further clarification.

Warm regards,
Mike D.

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