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Time to get Back to the Book (of Holy Scripture)


“But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them.”  (2 Timothy 3:14)

“Back to school” often means back to a more disciplined routine. “Back to school” means getting back to careful study. For many parents, it means reminding children repeatedly that homework needs to be done before opening the social or game apps on their phones. Sometimes “back to school” means that parents or grandparents need to scrub some of the rust and cobwebs out of their own brains so that they can give assistance to their children or grandchildren. These are all important parts of the process of preparing for and then living a successful life.

Paul’s point to a young pastor named Timothy was exactly that. The things Timothy had learned early in life were still true, and as important as ever for his life as an adult and as a pastor. Of course, Paul was exhorting Timothy concerning the religious instruction of Timothy’s childhood. The verses following the verse above reminded Timothy of how in his childhood he had “known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (3:15-16) We are quick to understand Paul’s point that the study of the Scriptures to attain that wisdom is of ultimate importance. However, the level of attention and encouragement given other lessons and activities can easily surpass those related to faith. Perhaps it would serve us well to look back a few verses to understand Paul’s concern for a now-grown Timothy, even a Pastor Timothy, and why it was important for Timothy (and so for us all) to get back to the Book and review the lessons learned earlier in life.

Paul warns of “perilous times” (3:1) that will come in the last days—the times in which we live. He warns that false teachers who are headstrong and haughty and lovers of pleasure will actually come into our homes. When one thinks about how much we are all influenced by TV, movies, and social media in these last days, we must realize that the Apostle’s words apply more now than ever before. Paul culminates his warnings by saying that “evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (3:13) We do need to get back to the Book, remembering our lessons that we learned when we were young, lessons that we need to teach to our young children.

Paul encouraged Timothy to continue
in the things he had learned, “knowing from whom you have learned them.” (3:14)  Timothy learned from his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois the precious truths of Holy Scripture. Timothy was to remember who taught him these things, for these were God’s agents for Timothy’s good and blessing. This encouragement would have also included the Apostle Paul, who gave Timothy his advanced training in the Scriptures. We would do well to heed these words and understand that Christian parents and grandparents serve as a special blessing with a spiritual relationship and responsibility.

However, we ought to take Paul’s lesson one step further. We, like Timothy, were brought to the knowledge of the truth by the gracious working of the Holy Spirit through the inspired Scriptures. The Spirit brought us the knowledge of forgiveness and peace and everlasting life that is ours in Christ Jesus. The Spirit has also strengthened us in the face of the trials and tribulations and persecutions of this life. With the Spirit’s blessing, we will remain assured of that salvation which is ours in Christ Jesus, our crucified and yet living Lord. It is time to get back to the Book, with the Spirit blessing our study!

Theodore Barthels is pastor of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Austin, Minnesota.