An Alphabetical Analysis
Volume 10 - Practical Truth - Page 35 of 277
and then proceeds to take Timothy back in mind beyond Antioch and its
sufferings and deliverances, beyond Timothy's birth and childhood, back to
the origin of all gospel grace, to that 'purpose and grace which was given us
in Christ Jesus before the world began' (2 Tim. 1:9).  We have no access to
the Book of Life, neither can we have to do with a purpose that antedates
creation; that would be to meddle with the secret things of the Most High.
We have a responsibility, however, in this life, and we are encouraged by
Paul's words in our labours among children and young people.
'From a child'.  Paul had the choice of seven Greek words: teknon (Col.
3:20); huios (Heb. 12:5); pais (Luke 9:42); paidion (1 Cor. 14:20); paidarion
(Matt. 11:16 in the Received Text); nepios (Gal. 4:3); brephos (1 Pet. 2:2).
The word he chose to use in 2 Timothy 3:15 is brephos.  'From pherbos (by
transposition), from pherbo to feed, nourish (which is from pherein bion,
bringing or affording sustenance)' (Parkhurst).  Brephos is used of the
unborn babe, John the Baptist (Luke 1:41,44); of the Infant Saviour (Luke
2:12,16); of the Hebrew children at the time of Moses (Acts 7:19); of the
infants which were brought to the Saviour (Luke 18:15) and which drew from
Him the lovely words 'Suffer little children to come unto Me, and forbid them
not: for of such is the kingdom of God' (Luke 18:16).  It is therefore
evident that when Paul adopted the word brephos he did so with intention,
emphasizing by the choice of word the lesson we must never forget, that it is
never too early to start Christian instruction.
With this, we find Paul's fellow apostle Peter would agree, for he too
used the word brephos when he wrote: 'As newborn babes, desire the sincere
milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby' (1 Pet. 2:2).  What Paul calls
'the holy Scriptures' Peter calls 'the sincere milk of the Word'.  Let us see
how far these two expressions agree.  'The holy Scriptures'.  Paul had
occasion to speak of the Scriptures again in the succeeding verse, when he
said 'All Scripture is given by inspiration of God'.  This however we shall
see is strong meat for 'the man of God' and fits him for service; we shall
not be surprised therefore, to learn that two different terms are employed.
In 2 Timothy 3:16, the word graphe is used for the Scripture, whereas in 2
Timothy 3:15 the word gramma is used.
The child must first of all be taught the spiritual alphabet gramma,
his 'letters', before he can appreciate the Scriptures.  Gramma is used of
'the letters' of Greek, Hebrew and Latin that were used in the superscription
placed upon the cross (Luke 23:38) and had reference to schooling as we may
see in John 7:15, 'How knoweth this man letters having never learned?'  When
Festus cried out to Paul as he stood before Agrippa 'Much learning doth make
thee mad' (Acts 26:24), he used the word gramma for 'learning'.  Of such
elementary 'letters' were the commandments engraven in stone at Sinai (2 Cor.
3:7), where the word 'written' is a free rendering of en grammasin.  The
apostle makes a distinction between that teaching which can be likened to
'milk' and that which can be likened to 'meat', saying,
'I have fed you with milk, and not with meat' (1 Cor. 3:2).
'For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one
teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God;
and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.  For
every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness:
for he is a babe.  But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full
age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to
discern both good and evil' (Heb. 5:12 -14).