Interpreting the letters and the book of Revelation presents unique challenges. It can be tempting to think interpretation is for professionals, but we needn’t feel that way. We don’t have to be New Testament scholars to learn how to interpret these books well.
What Do You Observe?
For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
what does it mean? 2 timothy 3:16–17
Read 2 Timothy 1–2. In chapter 1, we learn that this letter was written by the apostle Paul to his young protégé, Timothy (1:1–2). Paul, who has not seen Timothy for some time, writes to encourage him to stay strong in the faith, remember what he has been taught, and continue serving God’s people in Ephesus well (2 Timothy 2).
In chapter 3, Paul warned Timothy of the difficulties that lay ahead for him. Difficult times were coming, when people would love themselves more than others and live in ways that would not honor God (v. 1–4). “Avoid such people,” Paul warned (v. 5). “. . . Continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed,” he wrote (v. 14). It is in this context of warning and encouragement that we find verses 16–17. To help us get started with our observations of our two focus verses, let’s begin with verse 15.
In verse 15, Paul tells Timothy that “the sacred writings,” that is, Scripture, “is able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” They reveal to us the way of salvation. In verse 16, Paul tells us more about the Scriptures and their nature. Who does verse 16 say is the source of all Scripture? What is the imagery Paul uses to describe how Scripture came to be?
The imagery of being “breathed out by God” is significant because not only does it point to God as the source of Scripture, but it also serves as an allusion to God’s creative and animative power. Just as God breathed life into Adam in Genesis 2:7, animating him to life, as God breathes Scripture into being, it comes alive in our lives by God’s power.
According to verse 16, in what ways is Scripture profitable?
Verse 17 gives us the purpose of Scripture. What is that purpose?
If we’re going to understand the significance of Revelation 21:3–4, we have to start with Revelation 1–20. Following a brief introduction (Revelation 1), the first 18 chapters of the book of Revelation are characterized primarily by struggle and judgment. But beginning with chapter 19, we see an important shift. Babylon— symbolizing the enemy of God—is defeated and God calls his people from every corner of the earth to celebrate at the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19). By the end of chapter 20, death is defeated once and for all, and when chapter 21 opens, it does so with the most glorious part of John’s vision.
What does John see in Revelation 21:1?
What does he see in verse 2?
Verse 3 helps us interpret the significance of John’s vision in verses 1 and 2—what it means that the holy city is coming down out of heaven. In light of all of that context, what do you observe about verses 3 and 4?
Watch Week Six
New Testament: The Letters & Revelation
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