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Some passages in the Bible don't seem related to teaching about God. Are verses like this verse in the Bible of exegetical and hermeneutic significance? Specifically, are phrases like this part of revelation? How do they fit into methods for studying Bible?

I'll address this specific passage, but I hope for an answer that includes study standards that could be applied elsewhere.

2 Timothy 4:13, (DRB):

13The cloak that I left at Troas, with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee: and the books, especially the parchments.

In this passage, what idea of exegetical significance, if any, is Paul seeking to convey?

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    If it is in the Bible then Christians believe it is inspired and worthy of study.
    – Dottard
    Jun 19, 2020 at 3:06
  • Why do you think they wouldn't be?
    – curiousdannii
    Jun 19, 2020 at 4:48
  • 1
    Yes. I agree with you that this verse is part of the canon of scripture and has real import regarding the ministry of Paul the apostle. But a yes/no answer is not in keeping with the site and your question risks being voted for closure. You could edit it and it might well be worth so doing. (+1 to cancel the unnecessary down-vote - you don't deserve it.)
    – Nigel J
    Jun 19, 2020 at 9:57
  • I modified the question slightly in an effort to give it a chance to stay open. Happy to roll the changes back if you don't like them. Mar 5, 2022 at 21:53
  • exegesis simply means explanation, hermeneutics means interpretation. Any text of any kind falls into it. You are also assuming the false criteria of dictation theory of revelation where some words are divinely robotically inspired and some not. This is not how it works. Man has no authority to pick and choose which book or passage is inspired. All the books are historical personal and public letters written by men.
    – Michael16
    Mar 6, 2022 at 17:19

3 Answers 3

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What--of exegetical significance--is the author seeking to convey?” - Let’s look closer and consider what is being said …

According to the account of Paul’s travels given in the book of Acts, the last time Paul was in Troas was toward the end of his third missionary journey (Acts 18:23) on his way back to Jerusalem. If that is the instance he was referring to, Paul had been without that coat for at least four or five years (2 Timothy 4:10).

We don’t know if this was the only coat Paul had, but if so, that could be one of the reasons Paul told Timothy to try to come before winter (2 Timothy 4:21).

This is the only mention of Carpus in Scripture. It can be supposed that Carpus was a Christian in Troas with whom Paul left his coat. The name Carpus means “fruit” (New Unger’s Bible Dictionary).

There is no way of knowing what books Paul was speaking about. The parchments he mentioned are the Scriptures. It would be interesting to know what other books he read.

What Paul wanted Timothy to bring the most were his parchments. These referred to his copies of the Scriptures. This shows Paul’s great love for the Word of God. This was toward the end of Paul’s life. He knew these scriptures frontward and backward, yet he wanted to study them again. Paul was a lover of God’s Word until the very end of his life.

Certainly, Paul’s knowledge of the Word was one of the reasons for his great success. He spoke to Timothy about the importance of giving himself to the reading of God’s Word (1 Timothy 4:13 and 15), and Paul told Timothy in this letter that the Scriptures would make him perfect, thoroughly prepared unto every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Paul emphasized the importance of God’s Word to Timothy because that was what had worked for him. We would do well to follow the same example.

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This verse may be of substantial historical significance. If an understanding of the relevant history aids our hermeneutical/exegetical approach to the text, then I suggest the answer to the original question is yes.

What might the author intend to convey? The author's intent is probably no more than to ensure that items of value are brought to him. But in expressing this request, he tells us some things valuable to our reconstruction of Pauline chronology & Pauline literature:

  • He wasn't arrested in winter (he'd left the cloak with Carpus until he needed it again)
  • Winter is coming and he expects to still be in prison at that time; he was in prison for some period of time before his execution
  • The "books" & "parchments" reference may be our most direct NT source to explain why Paul's letters bear the names they do, why 13 specific letters were compiled as a set, and why we can trust that the early church correctly ascribed 13 of the 27 NT books to Paul (this won't help us too much with Hebrews though). I use this verse to make that case in this post.
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William Tyndale (1494–1536) is famous for translating the Bible into English, providing a base for the venerable King James Version.

There's an interesting similarity between Tyndale's and Paul's letters from prison.

The letter, translated from Tyndale’s Latin by J. F. Mozley, reads as follows:

I beg your lordship, and that of the Lord Jesus, that if I am to remain here through the winter, you will request the commissary to have the kindness to send me, from the goods of mine which he has, a warmer cap; for I suffer greatly from cold in the head, and am afflicted by a perpetual catarrh [nasal inflamation], which is much increased in this cell; a warmer coat also, for this which I have is very thin; a piece of cloth too to patch my leggings.

My overcoat is worn out; my shirts are also worn out. He has a woolen shirt, if he will be good enough to send it. I have also with him leggings of thicker cloth to put on above; he has also warmer night-caps. And I ask to be allowed to have a lamp in the evening; it is indeed wearisome sitting alone in the dark.

But most of all I beg and beseech your clemency to be urgent with the commissary, that he will kindly permit me to have the Hebrew Bible, Hebrew grammar, and Hebrew dictionary, that I may pass the time in that study. In return may you obtain what you most desire, so only that it be for the salvation of your soul. But if any other decision has been taken concerning me, to be carried out before winter, I will be patient, abiding the will of God, to the glory of the grace of my Lord Jesus Christ: whose spirit (I pray) may ever direct your heart. Amen

— W. Tindalus

The Last Days of William Tyndale

But perhaps the parallels go further than simply wanting clothing and books.

The New Testament's 27 books were declared canonical at the Councils of Carthage, 397 by the Greek speaking Orthodox Church (long before the Roman Church split away).

The commonly accepted theory is that these books, and many others, were collected and studied for three centuries before the eventual 27 books were accepted. This means that what we know as the Bible is dependent upon the judgement of many people over a long period of time.

Matthew 24:35 records that Jesus stated “… My words will by no means pass away”. Would Jesus really have relied upon the judgement of men to decide what his words would be? Would he really have let the process take three hundred years?

An alternative theory is that the Christian books were collected and edited by the apostles, in particular Paul, Peter, and John. In his old age, John prepared the final collection and distributed it throughout the Church.

The Bible as we know it is actually the result of the work of a very few men, all of whom lived during Jesus's time on Earth, and all of whom knew him well.

We see from Colossians 4:16 that Paul intended his epistles to be shared among all groups, not only those to whom they were addressed:

Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.

In 2 Peter 1:12,15, Peter refers to providing something that would serve as a reminder of God's truth:

… I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. … Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease.

Later, in verse 3:16, he spoke of Paul's epistles:

… which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.

Notice the direct implication here, that Paul's epistles were already considered to be scripture.

Then consider the last chapter of the Bible:

For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
— Revelation 22:18–19

John appears to be referring directly to the Book of Revelation, but is it not possible that this warning, located at the end of the final book of the Bible, was intended to apply to the entire collection; that John had already collected and edited the 27 books of scripture and had just completed them?

Now, in this light, consider Paul's request in 2 Timothy 4:13:

Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come — and the books, especially the parchments.

Even more telling, consider the Syriac Peshitta translation of this verse, in particular how the word φαιλόνης (“cloak”) is translated not as a piece of apparel to be worn, but as a container (similar to how we refer to a “book jacket”):

When you come, bring the bookcase and the books that I left in Troas with Qarpus, especially the parchment scrolls.

Is there any reason not to consider this as a request for his copy of the scriptures that the apostles had written and collected so far? This verse serves as confirmation that we have the complete Greek scriptures, as determined by the Apostles.

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