When Scripture is referenced as being God-breathed, one is forced to discern what it means to be God-breathed? What would the recipient of this letter, immersed within a world of self-identification that was shaped by the Scriptural narrative to which the author refers, have understood when he read about the Creator God-breathed nature of the divinely shaped writings that were set apart to be used by that God for His purposes (holy)? Answering this question drives necessitates a return to the beginning of the story, to Genesis, and to the creation of the divine image-bearer.
In the second chapter of Genesis it is written that “The Lord God formed the man from the soil of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (2:7). Here, the Creator God breathed. In the first chapter, one finds that “God created humankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them, male and female He created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply! Fill the earth and subdue it” (1:27-28a). Yes, the second chapter confirms that the Creator God breathed life into the being that He created as and to bear His image into the world---into the being that He intended to tend to His good creation, spreading the knowledge and glory of Himself as His representatives. Has this mission gone unchanged? Is this not a great work for which the Creator God continues to train those that are called by His name, doing so through that which is primarily designed to communicate knowledge of Him, that being the Scriptures (and the church)?
Though this would be a more than sufficient basis upon which to build a doctrinal foundation that should animate all believers in their representation of and service for the kingdom of the God of Israel, this is not an isolated occurrence. Though this study is certainly not designed to be an exhaustive presentation of the Creator God’s acts of breathing, there are other important instances of such things in Scripture, to which the author of the second letter to Timothy makes reference and most likely expects to be called to mind by this simple reference.
In the book that bears the name, Job makes reference to the general understanding of the creation narrative and of man’s place in it when he speaks and says “for while my spirit is still in me, and the breath from God is in my nostrils” (27:3). Later on, Elihu will speak to Job and say “But it is a spirit in people, the breath of the Almighty, that makes them understand” (32:8). He will continue on to say “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (33:8).
In Ecclesiastes, the “preacher” insists that “the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the life’s breath returns to God who gave it” (12:7). In Isaiah, as reference is made to the covenant God’s creation and His creative power, the prophet writes “This is what the true God, the Lord, says---the one who created the sky and stretched it out, the one who fashioned the earth and everything that lives on it, the one who gives breath to the people on it, and life to those who live on it” (42:5). Jeremiah and others make the point that “There is no breath in any of those idols” (51:17b). Idols, which are designed to represent a god, have no breath, whereas a human, a divine image-bearer, is animated by the Creator God’s very breath. A stark contrast indeed.