2 Timothy 3:16-17 (Good News Translation)
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the truth, rebuking error, correcting faults, and giving instruction for right living, 17 so that the person who serves God may be fully qualified and equipped to do every kind of good deed.
This is Paul speaking, in a letter to Timothy.
This was written before the New Testament was ever compiled. "All Scripture" therefore refers to what Christians refer to as the Old Testament, although I know Jewish folk don't like this term. This was the only scripture available at this time. When this was written, the Christian tradition was entirely oral, and had not been codified into any document or documents. But everyone was familiar with the Hebrew Bible. Indeed, it was widely used and considered to be true - as we can see as this scripture says the Old Testament is "useful for teaching truth".
I think "right living" refers to being a man (or woman) of God. Therefore, this scripture says that the Old Testament is required reading to become a man (or woman) of God. It says that helping others become men (or women) of God requires teaching what is true (the teaching of the Hebrew Bible), ironing out misunderstandings ("rebuking error"), sorting out sin ("correcting faults") and providing a model of good living: Basically, he is saying that by studying scripture people can improve their character and become closer to God.
They did of course consider scripture to be "inspired by God" - and he wouldn't have inspired it had he not wanted us to follow and obey it. Therefore, they believed it was given to us for a reason, and that God wants us to follow it. Or else he wouldn't have provided it.
According to this, a person who has received instruction in the Old Testament is "fully qualified and equipped to do every kind of good deed". This may have been the case when this epistle was written. But now we have the New Testament - without the New Testament no believer can be anywhere near even slightly equipped for being a person of God. Or for battling Satan. What goes for the Old Testament (what is said in this epistle) also goes for the New Testament - perhaps more so?
The New Testament is new equipment, provided by God. Its purpose? To help mould people into a new type of person: to turn ordinary people into Christians!
To be a Christian is to be a person of God to the fullest extent.
Paraphrasing is a useful exercise to aid understanding
Scripture comes from God. It teaches us what is true, can show us how we are mistaken, helps us resolve our sinful nature, and help us live righteously. It is all that is needed to help you become a good person.
What Does This Mean For Christians?
Well, what this scripture says about the Old Testament also goes for the New Testament. So:
- Scripture comes from God, to equip us
- Scripture shows us what is true
- Scripture corrects our mistakes
- Scripture helps us overcome sin
- Scripture helps us become men and women of God
- Scripture helps us live righteously
Basically: Scripture helps us become Christinas, and guides us as we try and walk the Christian path.