Eric at “A Pilgrim’s Progress” brings up an interesting question in his post “A Man of God.” Well, actually, Eric doesn’t specifically bring up the question, but his post brought the question to my mind. Eric didn’t like that the phrase “man of God” applied to him because he is an elder/pastor. Instead, he suggests that it is proper to apply the phrase “man of God” to any Christian.
This is where the phrase appears in the New Testament:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)
(You can see the same phrase in 1 Timothy 6:11.) Now, the Greek term translated “man” in this passage (ἄνθρωπος) is not that word that is specifically male (ἀνήρ). Instead, it could mean “person.” So, here’s my question:
Who is the “man of God” in this passage? Elders/pastors/other leaders only? Men (males) only? Any Christian (male or female)? Or, is there another option?
And I answer:
I think the "man of God" in the passage is the constituency under Timothy's care. There is a specific group of false teachers who are probably, as in first John, denying some aspect of the apostolic teaching. They facilitate this by wrangling over words, telling foolish myths instead of focusing on the gospel of Jesus Christ, they live for money, and they take advantage of weak willed women who seem to be recent converts from the fertility religions in Ephesus.
In contradistinction to them, Timothy is supposed to teach the Scriptures, and elsewhere (1 Timothy 4) rightly divide the word of truth (the kerygma/gospel). He is to do this because the Scripture is designed by God to teach people to live righteous and godly lives. Righteousness and godliness in the pastoral letters essentially means: the character appropriate to the mission of God to redeem humanity in Jesus Christ.
So, the man of God, is the person believing the gospel of Jesus Christ, the mystery of godliness, 1 Timothy 3:16.