Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 21, 1949
NUMBER 11, PAGE 1,4b

Who Is The "Man Of God?"

R. L. Whiteside, Denton, Texas

A prepositional phrase attached to a noun greatly limits the application of the nouns; and sometimes such an expression, by usage, is restricted to a more limited meaning than the phrase itself would seem to indicate. Such is true of the phrase, "man of God".

We are likely to assume that any man who served God would have been called "man of God," but not so. This term appears twice in the New Testament, both times in Paul's letters to Timothy—I Tim. 6:11; II Tim. 3:17. The term occurs not less than seventy-five times in the Old Testament, and always refers to a prophet or a public teacher of God's law. It was never applied to a man just because he was a servant of God.

This fact gives us additional light on what is said in II Tim. 3:16,17, "Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness: that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work".

The Primitive Baptists, thinking that the term "man of God" meant any regenerated, or saved, man used to make an argument on these verses. If you quoted the passage to one, he would reply, "Of course the scriptures thoroughly furnish the man of God unto every good work, but do not furnish the unregenerated man anything — he is not a man of God, and cannot even understand the scriptures". If you still think the term "man of God" refers to any Christian, how would you answer him? But they were mistaken in their use of the term. A man of God was a prophet, a teacher of God's word—a man to direct people aright.


Is a preacher thoroughly equipped for the work he should do? What is his work? If he is really engaged in the work of the Lord, he seeks to convert sinners and to edify saints. For that work the scriptures furnish him with everything he needs. To become Christians, people must be taught. The scriptures are profitable for teaching—in teaching sinners, the preacher needs nothing else. In teaching sinners the preacher should have a definite purpose, and should therefore teach the sinner the things he needs to know. He needs to be made to realize that he is a sinner and needs salvation. It is the business of the man of God to do that essential thing. But what shall he use to accomplish that work? The scriptures are profitable for teaching.


The scriptures are profitable for reproof. The Greeks had two words for reproof, but there was a difference between them. One simply meant to reprove, or rebuke, with no implications as to results. The other meant to so reprove a person as to make him realize his guilt —that is the word here. Hence, the scriptures are profitable for conviction. They so teach a sinner as to bring him to a knowledge of his sinfulness.

Jesus said of the Holy Spirit, "And he, when he is come, will convict the world in respect of sin... " (John 16:8-11) In this scripture we have in the Greek the verb form of the word which in II Tim. 3:16 is translated "reproof". Hence, the Holy Spirit and the scriptures (the word of the Holy Spirit) convict sinners. That does not mean there are two methods of conviction. There is one method; the scriptures are the words of the Holy Spirit — these words convict sinners.


But to convict a man be is a lost sinner, and offer him no way of escape, only adds to his misery. The scriptures, the written words of the Holy Spirit, do not therefore stop with conviction. They are profitable for correction.

The word "correction" in contrast to the word "conversion" is specific; conversion means simply a change from one thing to another, whether for the better or for the worse. But to "correct" a person is to get him out of the wrong way into the right way. A person may be converted from one wrong doctrine, or way, to another wrong doctrine, or way; but that is not correction. To correct him is to set him right—to put him in the right way. David expresses the same idea in other words, "The law of Jehovah is perfect, restoring the soul". (Psalms 19:7)

Instruction In Righteousness

To restore anything is to get it back to where it belongs—back to its proper place. But to correct a man, or, what is the same, to restore him to his right place, and then leave him without any further guidance, is of benefit. For it is not in man that walketh to direct his own steps.

The person therefore who has been corrected and restored to the right way needs to know how to live right. The scriptures fill that need—they are profitable for instruction in righteousness. "Thy word is a lamp unto to my feet, and a light unto my path." (Psa. 119:105)

So the scriptures thoroughly furnish the preacher teacher with everything he needs in teaching people, convicting them of sin, correcting them, and instructing the in the right way. Thus equipped, he is complete, furnished completely unto every good work. If a preacher seeks to inject some of his own wisdom and inventions into his work, he is lacking in faith. The Bible is complete; any addition to that which is complete makes it incomplete, no longer exactly fitted to do the thing it was designed to do.

Man may know many things, but he will never know as much as God knows. He should not seek to deify him self by following his own ways.