New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary


3:1 But know this, that in the last days grievous times shall come- As noted on 1 Tim. 4:1, Timothy was called to stem what seemed an inevitable tide. Men were going to fall away from the faith, but his ministry was to stop this happening. And according to the Lord's view of the Ephesian church in Rev. 2, he succeeded against all odds, despite his own weaknesses. The Holy Spirit had said that grievous wolves would destroy the flock at Ephesus (Acts 20:30)- but just as God's word had stated that within 40 days, Nineveh would be destroyed. In the gap between God's statement and its fulfilment, there can be repentance and the human effort to change. And as Jeremiah makes clear, in this case, the predicted judgments will not happen.

3:2 For men shall be lovers of self- These "men" were within the church, for :5 speaks of them having the form of Godliness. The list of sins here recalls that in Rom. 1:29, which appears to be about the spirit of the unbelieving world. The point being that the spirit of the age shall affect the church. We note that these bad characteristics all arose from the false teachings which Timothy had been called upon to stamp out in Ephesus (1 Tim. 1:3,4). False teaching without doubt brings forth bad fruit, and thus a teacher or teaching is to be known by its fruit. Perhaps Paul is telling Timothy that such things will be found within the church because Timothy was somehow shocked and disappointed that they were present. We note that he was not called to isolate the guilty individuals and cast them out by some formal process of disfellowship; but rather to always seek to turn things around.

We note the words connected with "love"; lovers of money, lovers of themselves, lovers of pleasure, not lovers of the good, not lovers of God. Clearly the idea is that humans are wired to "love" either self, or God. And conversion is all about the fundamental psychological restructuring of the mind, putting our "love" into God rather than ourselves.

Lovers of money, boastful, proud, argumentative, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy- “Argumentative” is really “blasphemers”. Paul himself had been one of them (see on 1 Tim. 1:13) but had turned around; likewise the predictions here are not to be read as an inevitable tide. Timothy was called to fight against them; just as Nineveh was to be destroyed after 40 days, and yet that prophetic word was annulled by their repentance. The wonder of it all is that someone as weak as timid Timothy actually did turn it all around, at least doctrinally.

It's possible to understand 3:1-3 as specifically talking about our last days: “In the last days, fierce (Gk.) times shall come. For men (in an ecclesial context) shall be lovers of their own selves... proud... without natural affection... despisers of those that are good, traitors (cp. Mt. 24:10)... highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God (implying they do love God); having a form of Godliness, but denying the power thereof". The spirit of fierce aggressiveness which is increasingly seen in the world will enter the ecclesias; brethren will become proud, argumentative, materialistic, despising the truly righteous, disregarding the needs of the household. And there are other NT passages which suggest that this was indeed the ecclesial situation in the prelude to AD70. The increasing bitterness and subdivision amongst us indicates this will all be seen in the latter day body. Ultimately, human relationships within the ecclesia will go crazy; brethren will hate and betray each other. There will be little real spiritual mindedness; the power of Godliness, the spirit / mind of Christ, will be denied, and only the outward form of Godliness remain (cp. Eph. 3:20; 6:10; Col. 1:11). The abounding wickedness of the world will so permeate the ecclesia that true agape-love will grow cold amongst us (Mt. 24:12). The antidote to this is offered in 2 Tim. 3:14 - 4:3: Love the word, hold on to the doctrine you were taught by faithful brethren, study the word, make it your life, challenge the apostate majority of the ecclesia with no fear of the result, preach to the world, look to the blessed day of Christ's coming.

The Old Testament as well as New is written in such a way as to encourage memorization, although this is often masked by the translation. There are several devices commonly used to assist in this. Not least is alliteration, i.e. similarly sounding syllables. In 2 Tim. 3:2,3 nearly all words end in (-oi), the masculine plural case termination- when it would surely have been possible to construct the sentence in another way.

3:3 Without natural affection, implacable, slanderers - There were such within the church at Ephesus (1 Tim. 3:11 s.w.)

Without self-control, fierce, not lovers of good- AV "despisers of those that are good". Timothy had been despised by some within the church (1 Tim. 4:12); these people were within the church (see on :2).

3:4 Traitors, headstrong- Both words used about Judas, a member of the ecclesia (Lk. 6:16; Acts 1:18 "falling headlong"), who typified these Christians in the church at Ephesus.

Puffed up- The word is only elsewhere used in 1 Tim. 3:6; 6:4 about the proud within the church at Ephesus.

Lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God- "Rather than" is better "more than" (AV). These people had a love of God, but their love of pleasure was greater. They were within the ecclesia, having the form of Godliness (:5).

3:5 Holding a form of reverence towards God, but having denied the power of it- Paul notes that the opposition to Timothy within the church had a "form of Godliness [possibly referring to their upholding some kind of statement of faith] but [were] denying the power [dunamis]" of that form of Godliness, i.e. the doctrines of the Gospel (2 Tim. 3:5). Paul has spoken of the "form of sound words" as referring to some kind of corpus of Gospel teaching in 2 Tim. 1:13. This has unpleasant similarities with those of our day who loudly profess their Biblicism, their holding of some "form of Godliness" in the Gospel; but who deny the operation of the power / dunamis which is associated with it, in that those who accept the Gospel shall be given the Spirit. They were likely associated with Jewish thinking or mentality- "having the form [s.w.] of knowledge and of the truth in the law" (Rom. 2:20). "Form" in Greek refers to the formation of an image; Paul writes of Christ being formed within the Galatians. But the association is also with the carving and forming of idols. Biblicism without the Spirit, the "power thereof", is of itself mere idolatry. The outward form of religion becomes an idol, to be worshipped for its own sake. But it is without spirit. And this element within the church of today deny this, insisting that the Spirit is not given in response to belief of the Gospel, and that the days of Spirit operation ceased in the first century. It is this dunamis, this power from the Lord, which provides us with all things required for spiritual life and Godliness, and keeps us unto salvation (1 Pet. 1:5; 2 Pet. 1:3). See on 1 Tim. 1:14 And the grace... Paul has spoken much to Timothy about the "power" / dunamis which can strengthen him as it did Paul. He wishes Timothy to make use of the same strengthening: "Be strong in the grace [Gk. 'the gift'] that is in [that comes from being in] Christ" (2 Tim. 2:1). And at the end of his days, Paul could reflect that the Lord Jesus stood with him at his final trial and strengthened him (2 Tim. 4:17). The same word is used of how weak believers like us were strengthened out of their weakness to be strong in faith- again a reference to psychological strengthening (Heb. 11:34), just as Abraham's weak faith was strengthened (Rom. 4:20 s.w.). The same power strengthens believers [s.w.]  unto internal characteristics such as endurance, patience and joy (Col. 1:11), the "power" in view being the spirit of Christ. This same power / dunamis is referred to in Rom. 15:13 as the source of these same internal, mental attributes: God fills us with "all joy and peace... that you may abound in hope, through the power / dunamis of the Holy Spirit". To deny the operation of power is not simply a matter of missing out on so much; it is a denial of the essence of the transforming Gospel. A related word is found in Eph. 3:16- we are "strengthened with might [dunamis] by His spirit in the inner man". This is where the gift of the Spirit operates; the reference is to "the inner man" and not the public display of the Spirit in special miracles etc. Paul's whole ministry, like ours, is a result of "the operation of His power / dunamis" (Eph. 1:19,21; 3:7). On this basis, Paul urges timid Timothy to allow the spirit / dunamis of love and a sound mind to work in him [again, internal attributes, not referring to any ability to perform miracles]; and this would drive out his "spirit of fear" (2 Tim. 1:7). It was this dunamis which would enable Timothy to endure "the afflictions of the Gospel" which were clearly making Timothy balk (2 Tim. 1:8).

It may be that those who have "a [the] form of Godliness" but deny its power are those who merely accept the propositions as outlined, e.g., in a statement of faith, but deny their living power in practice. And let us note that Paul lists this as an especial temptation of the last days. 2 Tim. 3:5-8 has some telling parallels:

Having a form of Godliness

denying [Gk. ‘contradicting’, ‘going against’, the power thereof

Ever learning [Gk. Studying]

but never acknowledging the truth [the ‘form of Godliness’]

Resisting the truth


All this implies that there is a power in the “form of Godliness”, perhaps the basic “form” of doctrinal teaching delivered to baptism candidates. This power can be resisted in that lives remain unchanged; yet acknowledging the true implications of the Gospel will radically transform life. One can ‘hold the truth’ and study it academically, yet not acknowledge its power. Thus one can hold to a statement of faith and regularly study Scripture, and yet live the life outlined in 2 Tim. 3:1-3, of lying, deceit, boasting, dividing etc.- all because we do not acknowledge the power of the demands of the doctrines which we study. Hence, there is an urgent need to discern and accept the practical, lifestyle demands of each of the doctrines which are fundamental to the Gospel. If we do not see the connection between doctrine and practice, if we don't perceive how doctrine and practice are linked, then the life of thought without action reduces our faith to mere intellectualism and endless theological debate, with all the resultant division this creates.

In 1 Tim. 4:1, Paul warns of a coming apostasy in the last days. 2 Tim. 3 repeats this theme by saying that in the last days, men will be “lovers of their own selves, covetous" etc.; these men / brethren will be "holding a form of godliness but denying the power thereof" (3:5 RV). Their keeping the faith was meaningless. This "form" of teaching which they held is that of Rom. 6:17- the form of doctrine which they accepted at baptism. They will 'hold the truth' but deny its real power. "From such turn away" (3:5) is the equivalent of the command in 2:21 to separate from those vessels unto dishonour which exist in the house of God, the ecclesia. So the problem of 'holding the faith' but denying its practical meaning is going to be the major apostasy of the last days, Paul reasons. Continuing in and keeping the Faith is parallel with running the gruelling marathon of struggle against ourselves, wrestling not with flesh and blood in the fight for real spirituality (2 Tim. 4:7). There have been theologians at times who have argued that 'God did not command certain things because they are right, but certain things are right because God commanded them'. I sense this attitude at times amongst us too. But the Father doesn't seek obedience just for the sake of it. There is reason and purpose to His commands- hence David so praises them for this in Ps. 119. And so it is with all 'doctrine'.

The parallel in Tit. 1:16 uses the same Greek word for "deny": "They profess [Gk. to publically praise] that they know God, but in works they deny Him". The denial of the power of 'knowing God' was therefore shown in their works. Works, life lived, is to be lived "in the power thereof". Otherwise, our Godliness is mere religion, a form of Godliness which we craft into a mere idol. So much in the Christian experience must be analyzed as to whether it is religion, the outward form- or works done and lived in the power / dunamis of the Gospel. Attending meetings, going home feeling "It was good for us to have been here", performing rituals, mixing with the same group in church life... this is all the stuff of mere religion, and so easily it can give a false impression of spirituality. It may 'feel right', but life in the dunamis of knowing God is unmistakeable and is no mere religious feeling

From such people- turn away- Timothy as the bishop of the church could not just personally ignore some church members. His commission at Ephesus had been to stamp out false teaching and inculcate a culture of good works (1 Tim. 1:3,4). So I would read this as meaning that he was to turn away such people- from the platform. The next verse goes on to speak about the same group of [largely female] false teachers in the church who were the burden of 1 Timothy.

3:6 For of these are they that creep into houses and take captive weak minded women laden with sins- This entering the house churches which comprised the larger Ephesian church and creating havoc is exactly the scene we found in 1 Tim. 5:13. There, according to the reconstruction offered in our notes there, we encountered a group of young widows, the same group of gaudily dressed prostitutes within the church who were slammed in 1 Tim. 2, "going about from house to house". These women were getting more adherents in the house groups which comprised the church at Ephesus. Note how Tit. 1:13 speaks of a similar scenario, whereby the church at Crete suffered whole 'houses' being subverted; i.e. house groups were taken over by the false teachers. The G.N.B. does well in translating "weak women who are burdened by the guilt of their sins". Most of the Gentile converts had come from the Diana cult, and perhaps these women had been part of the thousands of Ephesian women involved in the cult prostitution of the Diana cult. The false teaching women kidded these other women that actually they need not feel bad about it, and could join them in essentially the same behaviour under a Christian guise. The 'creeping in' to the house churches is very much the language of Jewish false teachers in Gal. 2:4; Jude 4 and 2 Pet. 2:1. Yet in our reconstruction, these female false teachers were Gentiles who had once been involved in the Diana cult. But we have noted repeatedly that there was a heady mix of Jewish myth and Gentile paganism at Ephesus. The constant fear that 'Satan', the adversary, would use the situation refers to the organized Jewish campaign to undermine Christianity. And they would be eager to use the women who were involved in this false teaching.

Led away by various lusts- This along with the "sins" earlier in the verse are fairly obviously sexual in character. The false teaching sisters of 1 Tim. 5, who feature here too, were therefore offering some kind of justification for sexual misbehaviour. We note that by the time the Lord wrote His letter to Ephesus in Rev. 2, the problem had been resolved. But it was not resolved immediately, for between the first and second letters to Timothy, the problem was still present. Timothy himself needed warning to 'flee sexual lusts' and commandment to deal with the younger women in the church "with all purity". He seems, at first blush, exactly the wrong person to have to deal with these kinds of women within the church. But he was willing to be used, and he was used. He succeeded, in the way the unqualified succeed at doing a job requiring high qualification- by the power of the Spirit. And we too can achieve, in God's strength, that which is far beyond our natural personality.

3:7 Ever learning- I have shown in commentary so far in this chapter that the persons referred to were within the church. They continued learning, attending teaching sessions; but could never acknowledge "the truth". The reference is not to people who hear the Gospel but fail to come to "the truth" by some intellectual refusal to accept it. Rather the "learning" must refer to Timothy's teaching of the church, and the fact that some 'learned' but never came to the repentance which is signified by "the knowledge of the truth". This would have been comfort to Timothy lest he get discouraged by the apparent failure of his teaching ministry with these individuals. Here we clearly see the difference between 'learning' and 'knowing truth'. They are not the same. The Hebraic idea of knowing in the sense of relationship is clearly in view. This is a point that we "come" to. Perhaps this is in fact part of every man's path- to come from learning to knowing. But those in Ephesus appeared not to have got there.

And never able to come to the knowledge of the truth- Jer. 5:1 says that “if ye can find a man… that seeketh the truth… I will pardon it”. To seek truth is therefore to repent. Those moments of realization of our sinfulness, of accurately perceiving the gap between the personas we act out and the real, Christ-self within us- in those moments, we have come to truth. And this is the repentance that leads to true, authentic pardon. There is a moral link between any falsehood and an unspiritual life. And so repentance is an acknowledgment of the truth (2 Tim. 2:25). A person can learn the theory of God’s truth but never come to acknowledge it- i.e. to repent and life the life of the truth (2 Tim. 3:7), never being transparent before God and brutally honest with oneself. However, as noted on 1 Tim. 2:4, "the knowledge of the truth" is a phrase also used there, but referring to final salvation. God wills "all men" to come to this "knowledge of the truth". Their inability to "learn" is therefore a wilful rejection of God's attempts to bring them to His great salvation. Their inability to convert 'learning' to "the knowledge of the truth" is therefore due to their own moral failure, and not simply some intellectual barrier, an honest failure to connect ideas together as they should be.

The parallel is with those having the form of Godliness [cp. "ever learning"] but denying the power thereof [cp. "never able to came to the knowledge of the truth"] (3:5). I explained that "the power thereof" referred to internal strengthening by the Holy Spirit. It could be argued that the 'true knowledge' here also refers to the knowing of God, in terms of relationship, which is made possible by correct response to the gift of the Spirit in human hearts. For this is how "knowledge" is used in Eph. 1:17; 4:13; Phil. 1:9; Col. 1:9,10; 2:2; 3:10).

3:8 Just as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses- Some Jewish fables claimed that these two magicians of Pharaoh were converted to support Moses. But Paul makes it clear that they "withstood Moses". Jewish fables were a major problem at Ephesus, according to several passages in 1 Timothy. Paul is often weaving into his argument inspired corrections of the Jewish myths.

So do these also withstand the truth- The same word is used in 4:15 about the false teacher who "withstood our words". Resisting Moses, "the truth" and "our words" are thus all paralleled. It was an incredible calling for weak minded, self doubting, half Jewish Timothy to realize that he was being put on the level of the revered Moses. But speaking forth God's word does that.

Men corrupted in mind- Used in 1 Tim. 6:5 about believers in the Ephesus church.

Reprobate concerning the faith- GNB "failures in the faith". The idea is that these are not random people from the world but those who had been "in the faith".

3:9- see on Rev. 16:15.

But they shall proceed no further- Does Paul refer to his certainty that the Lord's coming will be experienced by that generation, and declare their folly at the day of judgment? Or is he certain in faith that the Lord through Timothy is going to turn around the Ephesian church and expose these people? Or is he hopeful that they will in fact repent, realizing their folly and confessing it to others? He may have in view the idea that the false teaching is not going to proceed- Timothy is going to put it down, which according to Rev. 2 he succeeded in doing. Paul notes that evil men in the world will proceed in their evil- for :13 uses the same word: "[they] shall grow worse and worse [s.w. "proceed"]".

For their folly shall be made evident to all men, as theirs also came to be- Not least, their folly will be made evident to themselves at the very end. Parables like that of the rich fool, the foolish virgins... they will all be crystal clear to them. Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be likened to wise and foolish virgins (Mt. 25:1), after the judgment experience. The materialist "at his end [rejection at the judgment] shall be a fool" (Jer. 17:11). The utter folly of the rejected is a major theme (Prov. 14:8,18; Ps. 5:5; 49:13; Mt. 7:26; 25:8). Rejected Israel were made to drink the wine of astonishment (Ps. 60:3), and the rejected in like manner will gape: "When saw we thee...?". They will be turned back from the Kingdom "in dismay... clothed with shame and confusion" (Ps. 35:5,26). Confusion will then give way to panic and then to a level of agitated dementia well beyond the paradigms of present psychiatry.
Often the Spirit points out that the sinner is only harming himself by his actions- and yet he earnestly pursues his course, in the name of self-interest and self-benefit (Num. 16:38; Prov. 19:8; 20:2; Hab. 2:20; Lk. 7:30). Sin is therefore associated by God with utter and derisible foolishness (e.g. Num. 12:11; 2 Tim. 3:9); but this isn't how man in his unwisdom perceives it at all. Indeed, to him self-denial is inexplicable folly and blindness to the essentials of human existence. "This their way is their folly: yet their posterity approve their sayings. Selah (pause to meditate)" (Ps. 49:13). The folly of sin is only fully evident to God.

3:10 But you, follow my teaching- Paul could only write such things without pride because of his deep sense of what he wrote at the beginning of 1 Timothy; because of his serious sins and the depth of grace shown to him, he had been set up as a parade example to other Christians. The idea could equally be [as in AV] that Timothy had "fully known" Paul's teaching etc.- by reason of having travelled so much with him.

Conduct, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, patience- Paul could say that Timothy had fully known his “purpose” (2 Tim. 3:10). The Greek prothesis is the same used in the New Testament about the shewbread- the bread openly on display before God. Paul is saying that his essential and real self was transparent, openly shown to both God and man. To say ‘You’ve fully known how open and transparent I am’ is really quite something. Who Paul showed himself to be was who he really was.

As he prepared to die for his Lord, Paul's openness increased yet more.  He tried to motivate Timothy to resist apostasy in the ecclesia by reminding Timothy of how well he knew Paul's example: "But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, long-suffering, patience" (2 Tim. 3:10). The sense of purpose and determination in Paul comes over so often (e.g. Acts 19:21). The constant energy of his mind comes over in the record (e.g. Acts 28:23), and also in his letters (note the urgency of " today" in Heb. 3:7,13,15; 4:7; 2 Cor. 6:2). It makes a good exercise to read through the record of Paul in Acts and highlight words like "reasoned", "persuaded", “convinced", "purposed", "disputing" (e.g. 18:4,5,11,19; 19:8,9,21). And he really is our example, not just a historical figure to be admired.  

3:11 Persecutions, sufferings- I suggest the "sufferings" refer to the mental and spiritual temptations which arise from the literal, physical persecutions. The same word is translated "sinful passions" (Rom. 7:5; Gal. 5:24). The rest of the verse goes on to talk about the Lord's spiritual deliverance of Paul from these spiritual temptations (see commentary).

Think of what things befell me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra- Timothy had been with Paul and was being asked to model himself on Paul. Timothy was from Lystra (Acts 16:1,2) and would have well known Paul's sufferings in the area.

What persecutions I endured- Paul uses the same word for "endured" in explaining that we can only bear or endure our trials because a way of escape is made for us out of them (1 Cor. 10:13). And so the Lord's deliverance of Paul was through making ways of escape every time. The comment that the Lord had 'delivered' Paul from those persecutions therefore refers to not suffering him to spiritually collapse as a result of them. Paul seems to constantly feel that Timothy is on the verge of spiritual collapse; the fact he fulfilled his ministry at Ephesus, according to the Lord's judgment of the church in Rev. 2, shows that despite so much teetering on the edge, the Spirit finally made Timothy strong out of weakness. Timothy was being encouraged that despite all the trauma that Paul had endured, the Lord had delivered him from spiritually stumbling as a result of them; and Paul is consciously setting himself as Timothy's example.

And out of them all, the Lord delivered me- I noted above that this deliverance was more in spiritual terms than deliverance from literal hardship. The bad experiences were not allowed to make Paul stumble. We find the same word in the Lord's prayer, regarding deliverance from temptation (Mt. 6:13); and of our deliverance from spiritual temptation (2 Pet. 2:9). Paul's confidence that he would always be "delivered" (4:18) surely refers to his confidence that he would be delivered from spiritually falling; for in the same breath he recognizes that the time of his death is near, and he did not expect any last minute reprieve from it. This is huge encouragement for us all; we shall be delivered from spiritual temptation if this is our true desire. Truly "The sceptre of wickedness won’t remain over the allotment of the righteous; so that the righteous won’t put forth their hands to do evil" (Ps. 125:3).

3:12 Yes, and all who would live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution- Paul sees himself as being set up as a model for all believers, not just for Timothy (1 Tim. 1:13). And we will likewise be delivered from the spiritual temptations which go along with those persecutions- if that is our dominant desire.

3:13 But evil men and impostors shall grow worse and worse- As noted on 1 Tim. 4:1, Timothy was called to fight what seemed an inevitable tide of declension from the faith. As were the elders of Ephesus in Acts 20. And just as Moses succeeded in changing Israel's destiny, it seems they succeeded. For the Lord's letter to Ephesus commends the church for keeping out false teaching and excelling in good works. The problem was that they lacked agape love.

Deceiving and being deceived- This is surely a pointer to Jacob. Allusions to Jacob in later Scripture often comment on his negative side.

3:14 But you, grow in the things which you have learned- The downward spiral of :13 is matched by this upward spiral language. We can never stand still in spiritual life; there are forces propelling us either downwards or upwards. The command is not simply to retain what we learned before baptism; but to grow in those things, ever seeing new and wondrous implications in those basic truths.

Knowing from whom you have learned them- The integrity and manner of life of those who converted us is what inspires us to carry on. Thus Paul urges Timothy to “continue” because he knew “of what persons” he had been taught them (2 Tim. 3:14 RVmg.). The reference would be not only to Paul, but to his mother and grandmother who first taught him the Gospel. Paul is writing from the psychological viewpoint of Timothy; the integrity of the teacher was and is associated with the truth of the message taught. This is basic human psychology. And it explains why there is so much emphasis in Timothy's ministry upon not allowing immoral people to teach. Because especially with illiterate audiences, the power of the message will be compromised by the integrity of the messenger. It is too easy to take the high ground that people should believe the message despite the messenger, because it is ultimately from God. That may be true on a theoretical level, but reality is that people do associate the message with the messenger. Hence Paul's request that Timothy reflect on the integrity of those who brought him the message, so that he might continue believing the message.

3:15 And that from a child- This continues the argument of the preceding phrase in :14; because Timothy had been taught the scriptures from childhood by his mother and grandmother who were of integrity (2 Tim. 1:5)- therefore he should continue to reverence the scriptures. See on :14 Knowing from whom.

You have known the sacred writings- Literally, 'the holy letters' (s.w. 2 Cor. 3:7; Gal. 6:11), as if referring to how his mother and grandmother taught him to read letter by letter from the Scriptures. Considering the low literacy rate in the Roman empire of the first century, we can assume that Timothy's background was of reasonable wealth. This would explain much of his weakness of character and personality which we have noted elsewhere; the weaknesses are typical of a 'rich kid'.

Which are able to make you wise to salvation through the faith which is in Christ Jesus- Paul is not saying that Bible reading will save us. It is faith in Christ which saves us, and we are made wise to that fact by the content of the entire Scriptures. The Old Testament scriptures were opened up by faith in Christ; that is what provided the key to interpretation which made them useful.

3:16- see on 2 Tim. 4:2,3.

Every scripture is inspired of God, and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness- The Hebrew Bible was split up into small sections, such as "The Bush", referring to Moses and the burning bush. Each section was Divinely inspired, and this is probably the reference of "Every scripture".

A comparison of 2 Tim. 3:16 with 4:2,3 makes it clear that because the inspired word is profitable:
for doctrine therefore
preach the word; be instant in season, out of season (i.e. whether
you naturally feel in the preaching mood or not)
for reproof therefore
for correction therefore
for instruction in righteousness therefore
exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.

3:17 So that the man of God may be complete- Note how Peter says that the prophet was a ‘man of God’ who was moved by God’s Spirit to write Scripture; whereas Paul says that the Spirit-inspired Scriptures are what makes a ‘man of God’- us- who he is (2 Tim. 3:17 cp. 2 Pet. 1:21). There is a mutuality here, in which even we in this age can have a part.

Completely empowered to every good work- Yet we so often blame our lack of good works on a lack of resources or abilities. But the Scriptures speak to us, if we let them and read them in faith, and thus inspire us to good works. The Lord later commended the Ephesus ecclesia on their "good works", so it would seem that Timothy really obeyed the spirit of all this. He pursued the teaching ministry he had been given, even if it was initially against the grain of his character. And it did indeed empower others to good works. Sadly, this was all done without agape, and this was the Lord's serious criticism of the later Ephesian church.