First, the four words in Greek and their primary Strong' definition:
- didaskalia <1319>: "teaching, instruction"
- elegchos <1650>: "a proof, that by which a thing is proved or tested"
- epanorthosis <1882>: "restoration to an upright or right state"
- paideia <3809>: "the whole training and education of children (which relates
to the cultivation of mind and morals, and employs for this
purpose now commands and admonitions, now reproof and
punishment) It also includes the training and care of the body"
So I think on a definitional level, Guthrie's division seems sound. The first two are about what we know and the second two are about how people come to know or behave rightly.
The NET Bible includes this note (which seems to be from Strongs, but I can't immediately place it (also, I think I need to install some Greek font to get the Greek letters for the words marked as
code instead of Latin)):
epitimaw means simply to rebuke, in any sense. It may be
justly or unjustly, and, if justly, the rebuke may be heeded or it may
elegcw, on the other hand, means to rebuke with sufficient cause,
and also effectually, so as to bring the one rebuked to a confession
or at least a conviction of sin. In other words, it means to
A similar distinction exists between the nouns
aitia is an accusation, whether false or true.
elegcov is a charge which is shown to be true, and often is so
confessed by the accused. It has both a judicial and a moral meaning.
This muddies the waters a bit since ἐλεγμόν implies that a statement be convincingly true. Even so, the emphasis seems to be on the knowledge and not what we do with it.
Now Thomas Aquinas writes in the beginning of Summa Theologica:
It is written (2 Tim. 3:16): "All Scripture, inspired of God is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice." Now Scripture, inspired of God, is no part of philosophical science, which has been built up by human reason. Therefore it is useful that besides philosophical science, there should be other knowledge, i.e. inspired of God.
Aquinas uses the passage to begin to show that there is human reason and divine revelation, which come from separate sources. Remember that the verse begins with an image of God breathing out Scripture so if you go back to the definitions of the Greek you can see a sort of process of revelation. Scriptures:
- teach us
- convince us
- restore us
- train us
that the man of God [or messenger of God] may be competent, equipped for every good work.—2nd Timothy 3:17 (ESV)
Paul set up the process in verses 14 and 15 by reminding Timothy of his childhood:
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
So rather than a bright line separating knowledge and practice, Paul seems to show a continuum from being a learning child to becoming an effective man of God.
Dividing between doctrine and practice seems like a valid interpretation of the text, but a better interpretation would be a process that starts with knowledge and ends in good practice with no clear divisions.
A Personal, Off-Topic Aside
Thinking about this passage, I'm struck by how, as a parent, I need to think about both my son's intellectual growth and his wisdom. He knows lying is wrong and we've told him that we value the truth, but it wasn't until we started punishing him (we have a "Lying is Costly" jar that he must put a quarter into every time he lies) that he really internalized it. The rebuke or reproof is an important part of the process, not just for raising godly children, but for becoming godly ourselves.