- Jeremiah 31:27-34
- Psalm 119:97-104
- 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5
- Luke 18:1-8
In today’s New Testament reading, Paul tells Timothy to remember from whom he learned the truths of faith, to proclaim the message, to use every gift at his command, and to teach with the necessary patience. He must keep calm, face the hardships, and work for the spread of the gospel. Perhaps in Timothy’s time there were a number of teachers who called themselves Christians but who represented their own versions of the faith. Timothy is urged to remain strong in what he has been taught and in the scriptures, which would have been the writings of the Hebrew scriptures, including the Torah.
I read the Torah as Jews have read it and loved it for centuries. For example, I can tell you what is the middle word in the Torah. I can tell you what is the middle letter in the Torah. Over the generations Jewish scholars have read the Torah not as a novel to see how it ends, but as a love letter. For instance, “Why did he use this word instead of that word?” “Why is there a space here?” “Why a comma here instead of a period?” That’s the way you read a love letter and wonder, “What did he or she mean by this word?” We Jews have seen the Torah as not just a book of stories or law codes, but as a love letter from God. Harold Kushner, Questions of Faith: Contemporary Thinkers Respond (1990: Trinity Press International).
Scripture is read at every service of worship “for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). This clear reference to the divine origin of the Scriptures grounds the Bible’s authority in God as the principal teacher of humanity’s behavioral norms. Scripture is at the heart of our congregational life and its study needs to be an integral part of meetings, educational events, and times of discernment. The Book of Common Prayer is grounded in Holy Scripture.
From an Outline of the Faith (BCP 853-4):
- What are the Holy Scriptures? The Holy Scriptures, commonly called the Bible, are the books of the Old and New Testaments; other books, called the Apocrypha, are often included in the Bible.
- What is the Old Testament? The Old Testament consists of books written by the people of the Old Covenant, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to show God at work in nature and history.
- What is the New Testament? The New Testament consists of books written by the people of the New Covenant, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to set forth the life and teachings of Jesus and to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom for all people.
- Why do we call the Holy Scriptures the Word of God? We call them the Word of God because God inspired their human authors and because God still speaks to us through the Bible.
- How do we understand the meaning of the Bible? We understand the meaning of the Bible by the help of the Holy Spirit, who guides the Church in the true interpretation of the Scriptures.
- Jesus tells us that we are “to pray alway and not to lose heart” (Luke 18:1). How has your own life been changed by prayer?
- Timothy is encouraged to “carry out your ministry fully” (2 Timothy 3:14-14:5). What tools for ministry are mentioned in the passage, and how can we use these resources in our lives today to fulfill our call to God’s service?