II Timothy 2
1 “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”
Be strong. (ἐνδυναμοῦ - endunamou – be strong, being enabled; be you
invigorated); more exactly, become strong, or, which is the same thing, strengthen
thyself; implying, perhaps, though gently expressed, some previous weakness, as in
Hebrews 11:34, “From weakness were made strong;” where the image seems to
be that of recovery from sickness. In Ephesians 6:10, however (ἐνδυναμοῦσθε ἐν
Κυρίῳ – endunamousthe en Kurio – be strong in the Lord), there is no evidence
of preceding weakness, but only a call to use the strength they had; and it may be so
here too. The strength, Timothy is reminded, by which he was to fight the good fight,
was not his own, but that which would come to him from the grace and love of
Jesus Christ (compare I Corinthians 15:10; Philippians 4:13).
Exhortation to Timothy to be Strong (v. 1)
The apostle founds upon the foregoing examples and warnings an
admonition to Christian firmness and courage.
· THE NEED OF SPIRITUAL STRENGTH. “Thou therefore, my son,
be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”
Ø Strength was necessary to meet the difficulties and dangers of his
official life at
Ø The admonition was probably needed on account of the
discouragements which Timothy himself must have felt at the
conduct of the Asiatic deserters.
Ø Strength is the spring of happy activity in any sphere. “The joy of the
Lord shall be your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)
· THE SOURCE OF THIS SPIRITUAL STRENGTH. “The grace that
is in Christ Jesus.” It seems strange to say, “Be strong,” to a spiritually
discouraged man, as it would be strange to say the same thing to a
physically weak man. The injunction is reasonable, however, when we
consider that the source of our renewed power is at hand. The grace of
Christ is the inward power which enables us “to will and to do of His good
pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13) “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of
His might” (Ephesians 6:10). Here lies the true source of our strength.
The apostle declared he could do all things through Christ who strengthened
Him. (Philippians 4:13)
2 “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the
same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”
The things which thou hast heard, etc. Here we have distinctly enunciated the
succession of apostolical doctrine through apostolical men. We have also set before
us the partnership of the presbyterate, and, in a secondary degree, of the
whole Church, with the apostles and bishops their successors, in preserving
pure and unadulterated the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3).
There can be little doubt that Paul is here alluding to Timothy’s ordination, as in
I Timothy 4:14; 6:12; ch. 1:6-7, 13-14. Timothy had then heard from the apostle’s
lips a certain “form of sound words” — something in the nature of a creed,
some summary of gospel truth, which was the deposit placed in his charge; and in
committing it to him, he and the presbyters present had laid their hands on him,
and the whole Church had assented, and confirmed the same. “Thus through many
witnesses,” whose presence and assent, like that of witnesses to the execution of a
deed of transfer of land (Genesis 23:10, 16, 18), was necessary to make the
transaction valid and complete, had Timothy received his commission to
preach the Word of God; and what he had received he was to hand on in
like manner to faithful men, who should be able to teach the same to others
also. Commit (παράθου - parathou); identifying the doctrine committed to be
handed on with the deposit (παραθήκη - parathaekae) of I Timothy 6:20 and
ch.1:14. It is important to note here both the concurrence of the presbyters and the
assent of the Church. The Church has ever been averse to private ordinations, and
has ever associated the people as consentient parties in ordination (Thirty-first Canon;
Preface to “Form and Manner of Making of Deacons,” and rubric at close —
“in the face of the Church;” “Form and Manner of Ordering of Priests” —
“Good people,” etc.).
Admonition to Timothy Respecting the Appointment of Faithful Preachers
At such a period of unfaithfulness and timidity, it was necessary to provide
for the continuous wants of the Church.
· THE TRUST TIMOTHY IS TO DELIVER TO FAITHFUL MEN.
“The things which thou heardest from me among many witnesses.”
Ø Timothy heard these things from the apostle at his ordination, but
oftener still during his long missionary travels, when he would hear the
apostle discourse to large and varied congregations of both Jews and
Ø The substance of his preaching would be the grand outlines of Pauline
theology, as they are exhibited in the Epistles, Jesus Christ being the
Ø There is nothing here to countenance the Roman idea of tradition,
as if Timothy was to transmit a body of oral instruction to the latest
generations, through successive generations of teachers. The
instructions in question are actually contained in the Scriptures,
and are no longer committed to the doubtful custody of human memory.
· THE PERSONS TO WHOM THE TRUST WAS TO BE COMMITTED.
“The same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”
Ø Timothy was to judge of their qualifications. They were not to judge of
their own fitness; they were not to find their place as teachers by self-
Ø Their ordination in itself was to be no qualification; for they might
possibly have been wholly destitute of teaching gifts. There is nothing
in the passage to justify the idea of apostolic succession.
Ø Their qualifications were to be twofold.
o Faithfulness; for “a steward of the mysteries of God” must be
faithful (I Corinthians 4:1-2), not betraying the charge committed
to him, but:
§ declaring the whole counsel of God, and
§ keeping back nothing that is profitable.
o Teaching power. “Who shall be able to teach others also.”
The bishop must be “apt to teach,” with:
§ a true understanding of the Scriptures,
§ a gift of explication, and
§ a faculty of edifying speech.
3 “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”
(συγκακοπάθησον)- sugkakopathaeson – suffer hardship with me),
which is the reading supported by the weightiest authorities, as in ch.1:8.
The simple form κακοπάθησον – kakopathaeson – I suffer trouble;
I am suffering evil -, which
is the reading of the Textus Receptus, occurs
also in v. 9 of this chapter, in ch.4:5, and in James 5:13, and κακοπαθεία –
kakopatheia – suffering evil; suffering affliction in James 5:10. Both these
simple forms are classical. But the context favors the compound form, and is
supported by ch. 1:8,12.
Culture of Strength (v. 3)
“Endure hardness.” We are all endangered by ease and self-indulgence. The
soft south wind of worldly comfort enfeebles us. Dangerous, for to the
soldier nerveless strength is death; and the great campaign requires on our
part energy and courage ALL THROUGH!
· IT IS HARD TO SUBJUGATE THE PRESENT WORLD. In the
fourth verse Paul speaks of the “affairs of this life,” in which Timothy, like
the rest of us, was in danger of “being entangled;” and unquestionably,
apart from evil, the innocent side of the present life is most attractive to us,
in all its forms of pleasure seeking and outward prosperity and honor. (In a
sexually charged culture, the term πραγματείσις - “affairs” here, has
to do with business, occupation, etc., and has no sexual connotation. CY – 2019)
· IT IS HARD TO SUFFER REPROACH AND SHAME. How hard
only those know who have felt the constant irritant of a relentless
persecution for righteousness’ sake. “I suffer trouble,” says Paul, “as an
evil doer.” And this was the great trial of the early Christians — not merely
“bonds and imprisonments”, but the calumnies which made them the scorn
of men. The grace of God can sustain us in all our tribulations; but it
requires “hardness” to “endure as seeing him who is invisible” when the
character is subjected to human scorn and hatred. (There is much
persecution of Christians around the world which is noted on Facebook,
which The Modern Media often ignores, as they seem to be proponents
of THE LIE which II Thessalonians 2 reveals. CY – 2019)
4 “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life;
that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”
Man that warreth. (στρατευόμενος)– strateuomenos - Soldier on service;
one warring); as I Corinthians 9:7 (see, too, I Timothy 1:18). In Luke 3:14
στρατευόμενοι – strateuomenoi - is rendered simply “soldiers,” with
margin, “Greek, soldiers on service.” There is no difference in meaning
between the “man that warreth” in the Authorized Version., and the
“soldier on service” of the Revised Version. Affairs (πραγματείσις –
pragmateisis – affairs; practices; business ); only here in the New Testament,
but common in the Septuagint and in classical Greek, where it means, as here,
“business,” “affairs,” “occupation,” “trade,” and the like, with the
accessory idea of its being an “absorbing, engrossing pursuit” etc.
(στρατολογήσαντι – stratologaesanti – chosen him; enrolled him;
one enlisting him); only here in the New Testament, not found in the
Septuagint, but common in classical Greek for “to levy an army,”
“to enlist soldiers.” The great lesson here taught is that the warfare of the
Christian soldier REQUIRES THE SAME CONCENTRATION OF
PURPOSE as that of the earthly warrior, IF HE WOULD WIN
5 “And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except
he strive lawfully.” Strive for masteries. (ἀθλῇ - athlae – contend in the
games); only here in the New Testament, and not found in the Septuagint, but
common in classical Greek. It means “to contend for ἄθλον – athlon - the prize,
to be an athlete. This is also the meaning of the Authorized Version “strive for
masteries.” “To strive,” means properly to contend with an antagonist, and
“mastery” is an old English word for “superiority,” “victory,” or the like.
Dryden has “mastership” in the same sense —
“When noble youths for mastership should strive,
To quoit, to run, and steeds and chariots drive.”
(Ovid., ‘Met,’ bk. 1.)
Lawfully. (νομίμως – nomimos) as I Timothy 1:8); according to the laws and
usages of the games. So TIMOTHY MUST CONFORM TO THE LAWS
OF THE CHRISTIAN WARFARE and not shrink from afflictions, if he
would gain the great Christian prize.
6 “The husbandman that laboreth must be first partaker of the fruits.”
That laboureth. (τὸν κοπιῶντα - ton kopionta – the toiling). Let not Timothy
think to shirk labor and yet enjoy its fruits. (For κοπιάω – kopiao – the word
has two meanings:
a. growing weary
b. toiling; to bestow labor).
7 “Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all
things.” Consider what I say. The apostle’s lessons had been given in parables
or similitudes. He therefore begs Timothy to note them well, lest the
application to himself should escape him, suggesting further that he should
seek the necessary wisdom and understanding FROM GOD! So our Lord,
at the end of the parables recorded in Matthew 13, says to his disciples in
v. 51, “Have ye understood all these things?” and elsewhere, “He that
hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Understanding (σύνεσιν - sunesin); one of
the special gifts of the Spirit (Isaiah 11:2 - Septuagint; see Colossians 1:9; 2:2).
The Apostle Bespeaks from Timothy a Copartnership in Affliction,
Which Would Have Its Due Reward
· THE DUTY OF SUFFERING HARDSHIP IN THE GOSPEL. “Suffer
hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ.”
Ø The minister is a soldier of Christ, enrolled by Him, trained by Him,
armed by Him, supported by Him, as the Captain of our salvation. The
ministry is a warfare, involving, not only the “good fight of faith”
(I Timothy 6:12), but an increasing struggle against false teachers.
Ø As a good soldier, he must be prepared to suffer hardships. Like the
soldier, he must often leave home and friends, expose himself to cold
and hunger and fatigue; he must fearlessly meet the enemies of his
Lord, and die, if need be, in the arms of victory.
Ø The apostle strengthens his admonition by an appeal to his own
hardships and sufferings. Timothy took a sympathetic interest in
the career of the greatest of the apostles. The tried veteran appeals
to the young soldier.
· ENCOURAGEMENTS TO BE DRAWN FROM THE DUTIES AND
REWARDS OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. There are three pictures
presented to our view:
a. one military,
b. another agonistical, and
c. another agricultural.
Ø The supreme unembarrassed devotion of the soldier to his commander.
“No one that serveth as a soldier entangleth himself with the affairs of this
life; that he may please him who enrolled him to be a soldier.” The Roman
soldier was isolated by express law from all trades and interests and
agencies that would interfere with the discipline of his profession.
o The minister who is supremely concerned about the affairs of the next
life must stand free from the entanglements of human occupation, so
as to devote his whole energies without distraction or dispersion of
thought to the business of his Master. The apostle had himself
occasionally to resort to industry for his own support, under
circumstances of a purely exceptional nature; but he demands an
extrication of the ministry from all secular engagements in his
elaborate plea to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 9.).
o His sole motive is to please the Master who enrolled him in this service.
It is not to please himself, or to please men by:
§ seeking ease, or
§ emolument, or
§ social position,
but to please the Lord Jesus Christ, in whose book of life his name
Ø The severe training and lawful striving of the athlete in the games. “But
if any one also strive in the games, he is not crowned unless he have striven
lawfully.” (v. 5) The figure was a familiar one to the people of that age who
dwelt in cities.
o It is implied that ministers, in striving for the crown of life, must strip
off all encumbrances “laying aside every weight” that they may the
more easily press to the mark, “looking unto Jesus, the Author and
Finisher of our faith”. (Hebrews 12:1)
o It implies that they must undergo the discipline of severe training to fit
themselves for the work of ministry, and carry on their service according
high laws of the
Ø The reward of the laboring husbandman. “The laboring husbandman
must needs first partake of the fruits of his labor.”
o This does not mean that the husbandman would be the first to partake
of the fruits, but that he must first labor before he obtained the reward.
There is evidently an emphasis on the fact that a laborious husbandman
was the most fully entitled to reward.
o The minister of Christ must plough and sow before he can reap; he
must use all laborious diligence in his calling, and be not discouraged
because he does not at once see the fruits of his labor, for the seed
may not sprout up quickly, but ever looking upward for the dews of
Heaven’s grace to descend upon the wide field of his ministry.
· THE DUTY OF GIVING CONSIDERATION TO ALL THESE FACTS.
“Consider what I say, and the Lord will give thee understanding in
Ø IT IS THE LORD ONLY who can give us a true insight into both
doctrine and duty.
Ø Those who enjoy this DIVINE HELP are under the greatest obligation
to use their understandings upon the highest of all themes.
8 “Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from
the dead according to my gospel:” The point of the exhortation is to
remember that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, and by that
remembrance to be encouraged to face even death courageously. The verb
μνημονεύω - mnaeoneuo – be you remembering - in the New Testament,
usually governs the genitive case as e.g. Acts 20:35; Galatians 2:10. But in
I Thessalonians 2:9; Matthew 16:9; Revelation 18:5, it has an accusative, as here,
and commonly in classical Greek. It is more difficult to determine the exact force
and intent of the clause, “of the seed of David.” It seems, however, to point to
Christ’s human nature, so as to make the example of Christ’s resurrection apposite
as an encouragement to Timothy. And this view is much strengthened by
Romans 1:3, where the addition, “according to the flesh,” as contrasted
with “the Son of God according to the Spirit of holiness,” marks the
clause, “of the seed of David,” as specially pointing to the human nature of
Christ. The particular form which the reference takes probably arises from
the form to which the apostle refers us as “my gospel.” In that creed, which
was the epitome of the gospel as preached by Paul, there was no doubt
mention made of Christ’s Davidic descent. Others think the
clause points to the Messianic dignity of David. Others that it is inserted in
refutation of the Docetae, and to show the reality of the death and
resurrection of Christ; or that it is meant to mark especially the fulfillment
of prophecy. But the first explanation is quite satisfactory, and the general
purpose of the reference to our Lord as intended to encourage Timothy to
endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ, is fully borne out by the
“faithful saying” in vs. 11 and 12, “If we died with Him, we shall also live
with Him: if we endure, we shall also reign with Him.”
The Contemplation of Christ an Incentive to Comfort and Constancy
Timothy was to think of Christ’s victory for himself and for us as a ground of
· CHRIST THE PERPETUAL OBJECT OF CHRISTIAN
REMEMBRANCE. “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, of the
seed of David, according to my gospel.” The two great facts that were to
be ever present to Timothy’s mind were:
Ø the Incarnation and
Ø the Resurrection
These two miracles that stood, respectively, at the beginning and the
end of His earthly history.
Ø The one would speak of the hopes of the race of man springing
from the Saviour’s assumption of our nature in the royal line
Ø the other of the completeness of the redemption sealed
by the resurrection from the dead. Timothy would be
encouraged to bear his trials by the thought of CHRIST’S
VICTORY OVER DEATH!
· CHRIST THE PERPETUAL THEME OF THE GOSPEL. “According
to my gospel.”
Ø These two facts are fundamental in the gospel. Take them away
o no hope for man,
o no atonement,
o no blessed life hereafter.
Ø These two facts were needed to be taught in an age when false teachers
denied a real incarnation, saying that the Saviour had a phantom body,
and a real resurrection, because a bodily resurrection was not to be
thought of, as matter, being essentially evil, could not attach to a
Divine being. (How much more so now in this age of apostasy
and falling away from God! CY – 2019)
9 “Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the
word of God is not bound.” Wherein (ἐν ῷ - en ho – in which); i.e. in which
gospel, in the preaching of which. Suffer trouble. (κακοπαθῶ – kakopatho –
suffer hardship; I am suffering evil); as v. 3, Textus Receptus - Unto bonds
(μέχρι δεσμῶν – mechri desmon). So μέχρι θανάτου – mechri thanatou –
unto death - Philippians 2:8; μέχρις αἵματος – mechris haimatos – unto
blood - Hebrews 12:4; but most frequently of time, “until,” as Matthew 11:23; 13:30;
Acts 10:30, etc. A malefactor (κακοῦργος – kakourgos ); as Luke 23:32-33, 39;
common in classical Greek. Bonds (δεσμῶν – desmon); as Acts 26:29;
Philippians 1:7, 13, etc.; Colossians 4:18. So Paul calls himself δέσμιος – desmios
prisoner - in respect of these bonds (Ephesians 3:1; 4:1; ch.1:8; Philemon 1:9).
The Word of God is not bound. A beautiful reflection of an utterly unselfish mind!
The thought of his own bonds, likely soon to be exchanged for the bonds of a martyr’s
death, awakens the comforting thought, though they bind me with an iron chain,
they cannot bind the gospel! While I am here, shut up in prison, the Word of God,
preached by a thousand tongues, is giving life and liberty to myriads of my
brethren of the human race. The tyrant can silence my voice and confine it
within the walls of my dungeon; but all the while the sound of the gospel is
going through all the earth, its saving words to the ends of the world; and I
therein rejoice, yea, and will rejoice; and not all the legions of
take this joy from me.”
10 “Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may
also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”
Therefore (διὰ τοῦτο - dia touto – therefore; because of; for this cause.
Some refer this to what follows, viz. “that the elect may obtain the salvation,” etc.,
after the model of I Timothy 1:16 and Philemon 1:15, where διὰ τοῦτο
clearly refers to the words which follow. But the interposition of the
words, διὰ τοὺς ἐκλεκτούς – dia tous eklektous – for the elect’s sake;
because of the chosen ones - is strongly adverse to this view. It seems,
therefore, rather to refer collectively to all the considerations which he had
just been urging upon Timothy, perhaps especially the last, of the
resurrection of Christ, which he now again enforces by his own example of
willing suffering in order that the elect may obtain the eternal salvation
which is in Jesus Christ — adding, in vs. 11 and 12, the encouragement
to suffering derived from the “faithful saying.” I endure (ὑπομένω – hupomeno);
the exact force of which is seen in the substantive ὑπομονή - hupomonae –
patience – so frequently attributed to the suffering saints of God.
The Example of the Apostle’s Own Sufferings:
Their Spiritual Motive and Design
· TIMOTHY WAS TO BE ENCOURAGED BY THIS EXAMPLE.
“Wherein I suffer hardship unto bonds as a malefactor.” He was now a
resurrection, and suffered as much as if he had been a breaker of all laws,
human and DIVINE!
· THE APOSTLE’S IMPRISONMENT DID NOT IMPOSE FETTERS
UPON THE GOSPEL. “But the Word of God is not bound.” This was
said for the encouragement of Timothy, who may have feared that the
Roman imprisonment would be fatal to the progress of the gospel. The
apostle, though a prisoner, had liberty to add many pages to that Word of
God which Nero could not bind, for we have no less than three or four
prison Epistles in the canon of inspiration.
The imprisonment of
John Huss (Jan Hus) in a
fortress on the
gave him leisure to write the truth he could no longer proclaim with
fiery lips to the Bohemians.
Ø The Wartburg seclusion of a year gave Martin Luther the leisure to
translate the Scriptures for his German countrymen.
Verily the Word of God is not bound.
· THE MOTIVE OR DESIGN OF THE APOSTLE’S SUFFERINGS.
“Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sake, that they also may obtain
the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”
Ø The zealous minister of Christ thinks no sufferings too great that are
needed for the sake of God’s elect. The apostle’s life was one long
career of labor and affliction on their behalf.
Ø Ministers must labor for the salvation of the elect. Human
instrumentality is clearly recognized and honored in this great work.
Paul, Apollos, and Cephas were “ministers by whom the Corinthians
believed.” (I Corinthians 3:5)
Ø There is a salvation provided for the elect. They are “chosen in Christ”
before the foundation of the world “unto holiness” (Ephesians 1:4).
Ø The salvation is ONLY to be obtained IN and THROUGH
Ø It is a salvation that finds its true termination in “ETERNAL GLORY!”
11 “It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with Him, we shall also live
with Him:” Died; i.e. in baptism (Romans 6:8), as denoted by the aorist. But
the death with Christ in baptism is conceived of as carrying with it, as a consequence,
the daily death of which Paul speaks so often (Galatians 2:20; I Corinthians 15:31;
II Corinthians 4:10), as well as the death to sin.
12 “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him: if we deny Him, He also
will deny us:” Suffer. Endure; as v. 10. Mark the present tense as distinguished
from the aorist in ἀπεθάνομεν – apethanomen - betokening patient continuance
in suffering. (ἀρνησόμεθα – apnaesometha - if we shall deny him); compare
Matthew 10:33; Luke 12:9; Acts 3:13-14. The denial of Christ is fatal.
It is to reject THE ONLY SAVIOUR! Some deny His Messiahship; some
deny His Divinity; some deny Him by their works, being ashamed of Him and
refusing to confess Him; some deny him by open apostasy. In all these cases the
denial involves our Lord’s denial of them (Matthew 7:23; 10:33).
13 “If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself.”
If we believe not. (ἀπιστοῦμεν – apistoumen – if we are unbelieving;
are faithless); meaning the same as the Authorized Version, believe not, which
is everywhere in the New Testament the sense of ἀπιστέω – apisteo – believe
not - Mark 16:11; Luke 24:11; Romans 3:3). (For the contrast between man’s
unbelief and God’s faithfulness, see Romans 3:3.) He cannot deny Himself,
by coming short of any promise once made by Him (compare Titus 1:2;
Hebrews 6:18; 10:23). This and the two preceding couplets in vs. 11 and 12
make up “the faithful saying” spoken of in v. 11 (see I Timothy 1:15, note).
Our unbelief does not affect the essential faithfulness of Christ. “If we
believe not, yet he abideth faithful.”
Hardship in Connection with the
· PRELIMINARY EXHORTATION.
Ø As to personal strength. “Thou therefore, my child, be strengthened in
the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” As the apostle’s power of working was
already much crippled by close imprisonment, he naturally felt anxious
regarding the future of Christ’s cause. In calling Timothy his son, he does
not formally name him as his successor. At the same time, he may be
regarded as looking to him as one like-minded, who had youth on his side,
to continue the work which he felt was passing out of his hands. While
Phygelus and Hermogenes were untrue to him, and Onesiphorus was dead,
Timothy must stand forward. For this he would require a liberal supply of
strength. With paternal anxiety, then, he points him to the great Source of
strength, viz. the grace that is in Christ Jesus and obtained by Him for us, or
the lordly power to bless without respect to the merit of the recipient. In
John 1:14 He is said to be full of grace, and, in the sixteenth verse
following, it is said that it is out of His fullness that all His people receive. As
the Fountain, He supplies all that depend upon Him with all that is necessary
for the proper discharge of their duties. To whom else, then, could he point
Timothy? In spiritual work there is a giving out of strength, for which there
is needed renewal. There are also occasions for which there are needed
special supplies of strength. At all times there is a tendency to a culpable
and enfeebling moral feebleness, against which there is needed a gracious
supply. Let the Christian minister, then, find his empowering for his work in
the grace that is CENTERED IN CHRIST!
Ø As to the regular transmission of the truth. “And the things which thou
hast heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to
faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” Paul himself heard
directly from Christ, who is as full of truth as of grace. But he points to a
definite and solemn occasion, when he was the speaker and Timothy the
hearer, viz. the occasion, repeatedly referred to, of Timothy’s ordination.
What he heard then was by the mediation of many witnesses, i.e. the
presbyters who were present at his ordination, and laid their hands on him,
and who, by the part they took in it, gave their attestation to the charge.
What Timothy received then has repeatedly been called his deposit, or
talent of the universal faith. This, in turn, he was to commit to trusty men,
i.e. men who could be entrusted with the keeping of the deposit. They, in
their turn, were to teach others, so that they also could be entrusted with
the deposit. Thus there was to be a regular succession of teachers for the
handing down of the truth. There is a place assigned to tradition here; but,
as it is made to depend on the trustworthiness of each individual in the
chain of succession, we must think of a tradition that is to be tested by
Scripture. At the same time, there is a handing down of Scripture truth
with traditional associations embodying the Church’s thinking out of the
truth, and, if this is what it ought to be, then it is important that it should be
handed down by means of a regular succession of teachers. All
encouragement, then, is to be given to the proper education of young men
for the ministry; and yet a theological institution will fail of its end unless
there is the proper keeping up of the Church’s life, which is needed to
influence the right class of young men to devote themselves to the ministry.
· THE CHRISTIAN MINISTER IS TO BE PREPARED FOR
HARDSHIP. Three figures suggestive of hard service.
Ø The soldier. “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
No soldier on service entangleth himself in the affairs of this life; that he
may please him who enrolled him as a soldier.” The soldier, above others,
has to have his mind made up to experiencing hardship. He has to leave
home and friends. He may have to encounter hardships on the march. He
has especially to face the hardships and dangers of the battlefield, “seeking
the bubble reputation, even in the cannon’s mouth.” So the Christian
minister is, in a special manner, a soldier of Christ Jesus. He is one whom
Christ has in a solemn way bound to Himself, he has to fight under Christ
and for Christ in an unfriendly world; and he need not be surprised if he is
called upon to experience the hardships of a soldier. Let Timothy, then,
willingly, nobly, take his part along with Paul and other soldiers of Christ.
But the apostle draws attention to a special condition of excellence in a
soldier. He does not entangle himself in the affairs and businesses of this
life. In choosing to be enrolled under a commander, he leaves his former
employment behind. He is henceforth at the will of his commander for
whatever hard service he may need him. Especially does this condition
apply to a soldier in service. Before entering on a campaign, he would
need even to have family affairs arranged, that he may give himself up
undistractedly to the service required of him. Only thus can he expect to
approve himself to his commander. The Christian minister is in the same
way to be unentangled with businesses, which he leaves to others. Paul was
not always able to free himself from the necessity of making his own bread;
but it is advisable that a minister should be left free in this respect, and it is
wrong for him unnecessarily to divide his energies, or to mix himself up
with what can be better done by others. For it is only when his mind is
thoroughly undistracted and absorbed in service that he can approve
himself to the great Commander.
Ø The athlete. “And if also a man contend in the games, he is not crowned,
except he have contended lawfully.” The Greeks were great admirers of
physical perfection. Even their men of genius, like Plato, engaged in
athletic contests on public occasions. Great encouragement was given to
the athletic art. The successful athlete was crowned under very inspiriting
circumstances. There were many subordinate rules to be observed by the
athlete, but the great rule was to go through a course of very hard
preparation. Only thus could he expect to be crowned when the occasion
of the games came round. The minister is, in the same way, to aim at
efficiency in his art. He has many examples of this placed before him. And
there is great encouragement given by that royal Personage who is to
preside on the occasion of award. The successful minister is to be crowned.
There are many subordinate rules to be observed by him, but the great rule
is that he is to subject himself to severe discipline. Only thus can he expect
to have a fadeless crown for efficiency in the ministerial art.
Ø The husbandman. “The husbandman that laboreth must be the first to
partake of the fruits.” The husbandman has to extract bread from the
unwilling ground; and he may have to do this under unfavorable conditions
of weather. He has need, then, for hard and persistent labor, especially in
the season of spring. In the sweat of his face he has to prepare the soil and
put in the seed. It is only the husbandman that thus exerts himself that
comes to the front in the time of fruit. He is eating of the new corn, when
the husbandman who has not exerted himself is far behind. In the same way
the minister has to extract good products from unwilling hearts, and not
always under favoring conditions from without. Hard work is needed to
prepare the soil and to put in the seed. If he engages in hard work, he has
the prospect of the farmer, viz. the fruit of his own labor. He will have joy
in those for whom he has labored — partly in this world, chiefly in the
next world. It is the minister who does not grudge hard service that comes
to the front in the enjoyment of fruit, while he who gives grudging service
lags behind in the reward. Appended call to attention. “Consider what I
say; for the Lord shall give thee understanding in all things.” What Paul
said was easily understood; but it needed to be thoroughly weighed so as
to become spiritual strengthening to Timothy. It plainly meant that he was
to set himself to hard work, and that he need not expect easy outward
conditions of working; when the mind is made up to it, the hardest work is
often felt to be light. This was a lesson which he wished Timothy to learn,
with the Lord’s promised and all-sufficient assistance.
· ENCOURAGEMENTS UNDER HARDSHIP.
Ø Example of Christ.
o Victorious aspect of Christ’s resurrection. “Remember Jesus Christ,
risen from the dead.” Paul’s principal encouragement is to go back in
memory upon the historical Jesus at the victorious point of his history. He seemed to be utterly defeated in death. His body was laid in the tomb, a stone rolled against the mouth of it and sealed, and a watch set; and the
rulers thought they had conquered. Could He be released from the power of death and the grave? Let not the most distressed, the most maltreated of men, despair; for it was when Christ seemed to be utterly defeated that He victoriously got for His people victory over sin and over death and the grave.
o His resurrection culminating in His present mediatorial dignity. “Of
the seed of David, according to my gospel.” As of the seed royal, He was raised, and raised to sit upon the throne of His father David. That is the high position He has won for Himself. THE GOVERNMENT OF
THE UNIVERSE IS AT THIS MOMENT UPON HIS SHOULDERS! Under all outward defeat, then, let us enter into the spirit of the victorious termination of our Lord’s career of suffering.
Ø Example of Paul.
o Appearance of defeat. “Wherein I suffer hardship unto bonds, as a
malefactor.” He had not yet resisted unto blood. But though he had not
gone the length of the Master, he had gone the length of bonds, and, with
his Master, was numbered with the transgressors.
o Promise of victory. “But the Word of God is not bound.” Not only was
his conviction strong that the Word proceeding from God could not be
bound by any tyrant, but he had the fact to lay hold of that much freedom
was enjoyed in the preaching of the Word.
o Victorious for the sake of the elect. “Therefore I endure all things for
the elect’s sake, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” God has appointed for the elect the salvation which is in Christ Jesus. It is a salvation which is to blossom forth under a sunnier sky into glory. This glory will be ample compensation for present sufferings, not only in its quality, but in its being eternal. (“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time aree not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18 “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” II Corinthians 4:17-18) How, then, was he to help forward the destiny of the elect, and at the same time his own destiny? He could not preach in his dungeon; but he could follow up the preaching of others by a brave bearing. He could show that he could act what he had preached. And did not much depend on his going forward bravely to martyrdom?
Ø A saying of the martyr times. “Faithful is the saying.”
o How the Christians encouraged one another to constancy!
§ Past act. “For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him.” They first went back to a definite act in the past, viz. the profession of faith with which they commenced their Christian career. They thus in obligation came up to the martyr point. They said they were willing, should the Master call them to it, to share death with Him. If this was the true reading of their act, the bright side of it was that they would also be called to share life with Christ.
§ Abiding state. “If we endure, we shall also reign with Him.” They next thought of their present suffering calling for an abiding spirit of endurance, and they used to say to one another, that, if they did not flinch, their future would be brightened to them by their being called to sit with Christ on His throne.
(“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me on my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne.” Revelation 3:21)
o How the Christians discouraged one another against apostasy!
§ Future act. “If we shall deny Him, He also will deny us.” They next thought of their being put to a severe test in the future. The time might come when their choice would be between Christ and life. Far be it from them, for the sake of life, to deny Christ; for that act of denial on their part would carry with it an act of denial on His part.
§ Abiding state. “If we are faithless, He abideth faithful; for He cannot deny Himself.” They next thought of an act of denial
by no penitence, and they said to one another, that if that was their permanent
state, their future would be darkened, even by reason of the unchanging
character of their Saviour. It was impossible for Him
to contradict Himself, and, as surely as He shows His approval of faith, must He
show His disapproval of unbelief. The martyr times had already commenced. The
first persecution was under Nero in the year 64, the last under Diocletian in the year 303. The first persecution had not
yet ceased. The Christians, charged with setting
ü sewn in sacks made of the skins of wild beasts, and thrown to be torn by dogs,
ü smeared with pitch, and set on fire as torches to illuminate the imperial gardens at night.
persecution extended beyond the walls of
many years of persecution to come.
A Faithful Saying for Consolation and for Warning (vs. 11-13)
The apostle introduces the familiar formula, “This is a faithful saying,” with
its rhythmical significance and arrangement, to emphasize the importance
of what is to follow. (See I Timothy 1:15; 4:8-9; here; and ch. 3:8)
· FAMILIAR TRUTHS WITH A CONSOLATORY ASPECT. “If we
died with him, we shall also live with him; if we endure, we shall also reign
with him.” There is here an expressive climax, setting forth two different
aspects of the union between Christ and His people.
Ø Identification with Christ in His death. All believers died with Him, as
their Head and Representative, and thus died to sin, through the efficacy of
His death, so as to be planted together in the likeness of His death; and thus,
being made conformable to His death, they have fellowship with Him in His
sufferings. (Philippians 3:10)
Ø But identification with Christ in His life follows as a consequence of this
identification in death, because we rose with Him from the dead, to be
planted in the likeness of His resurrection, that we should walk in newness
of life; and thus, being made alive unto God, we live a life of holiness and
sanctification with Him (Romans 6:5-8).
Ø Identification with Christ in endurance involves identification in His
reigning glory. Believers who suffer shame and loss and outrage for
Christ’s sake shall reign with Him in glory hereafter, as they reign in the
kingdom of grace with Him now; for they are “a kingdom of priests,”
destined for everlasting glory (Revelation 1:6).
· FAMILIAR TRUTHS WITH A THREATENING ASPECT. “If we
deny Him, He also will deny us; if we believe not, yet He abideth faithful; for
HE CANNOT DENY HIMSELF!”
Ø The denial of Christ is FATAL! It is to reject THE ONLY SAVIOUR!
o Some deny His Messiahship;
o some deny His Divinity;
o some deny Him by their works, being ashamed of Him and refusing
to confess Him;
o some deny Him by OPEN APOSTASY!
In all these cases the denial involves our Lord’s denial of them
(Matthew 7:23; 10:33).
Ø Our unbelief does not affect the essential faithfulness of Christ. “If we
believe not, yet He abideth faithful.”
Ø This does not mean that He will save us whether we believe in Him or
not; for He has just said that if we deny Him He will also deny us, and faith
is always an essential condition of salvation.
Ø It means that He will abide faithful to His word of threatening, as well as
to His nature and perfections; for He cannot falsify His declarations that
“he that believeth not shall be condemned” (Mark 16:16). He will say to
apostates in the last day, “I never knew you.” (Matthew 7:23) It would be
to deny Himself to act otherwise. He cannot consistently with His character
regard faith and unbelief as the same thing. Thus the apostle stimulates
Timothy to fidelity by an exhibition at once of the bright side and the dark
side of DIVINE TRUTH!
14 “Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the
Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of
the hearers.” Put them in remembrance (ὑπομίμνησκε – hupomimnaeske –
be you reminding them) John 14:26; Titus 3:1; II Peter 1:12). Paul skillfully
strengthens his preceding exhortations to Timothy by now charging him to
impress upon others — referring, perhaps, especially to “the faithful men”
spoken of in v. 2, but generally to the whole flock committed to him —
the truths which he had just been urging upon Timothy. Charging
(διαμαρτύρομενος – diamarturomenos); as I Timothy 5:21 and ch.4:1.
Strive...about words (λογομαχεῖν – logomachein); only here in the New
Testament or elsewhere. But λογομαχία – logomachia – strifes; controversies;
occurs in I Timothy 6:4 and in late Greek. Another reading is λογομάχει –
logomachei as if addressed to Timothy himself, but λογομαχεῖν is supported
by the best authorities, and agrees best with the context. To no profit; literally,
useful for nothing; serving no good purpose. Ξρήσιμον – Chraesimon –
useful - which occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, is found repeatedly
in the Septuagitn, and is very common in classical Greek, where it is followed by
εἰς – eis – in …to; ἐπί - epi – of and πρός – pros – compare. The construction
is “not to strive about words, a thing useful for nothing, but, on the contrary, tending
to subvert those who hear such strife.” To the subverting (ἐπὶ καταστροφῇ –
epi katastrophae – on upsetting ); elsewhere only in II Peter 2:6, where it is used
of a material overthrow, as it is in the Septuagint of Genesis 19:29, to which
Peter is referring. The history of its use here of a moral overthrow, which
is not borne out by its classical use, seems to be that the apostle had in his
mind the very common metaphor of οἰκοδομή - oikodomae - edification,
as the proper result of speaking and teaching, and so uses the contrary to
“building up,” viz. an “overthrowing” or “destruction,” to describe the
effect of the teaching of those vain talkers and deceivers (compare v. 18).
An Injunction to Put Ephesian Believers in Remembrance of These Truths
This begins a new portion of the Epistle.
· CHRISTIAN PEOPLE NEED TO BE REMINDED OF THE TRUTH
IN ALL ITS ASPECTS. “Put them in remembrance of these things.”
Ø We are apt to forget the consolatory aspect of truth under the pressure
of present trial, as worldly men are apt to forget its threatening aspect
under the absorbing worldliness of their lives.
Ø The Lord has made provision, to “put us in remembrance,” through the
ministry and through the Word of God, to which we do well to take heed
as to a light shining in a dark place. (II Peter 1:19)
· CHRISTIAN PEOPLE NEED TO BE WARNED AGAINST
RUINOUS STRIFES ABOUT WORDS. “Solemnly charging them in the
sight of the Lord, not to contend about words, to no profit, to the
subverting of them that hear.”
Ø There are many religious controversies which turn rather upon words
than upon things, and thus involve a waste of intellectual energy.
These “strifes of words” were characteristic of the false teachers
(I Timothy 6:4).
Ø There is nothing in the passage to warrant a disregard for “the form of
sound words,” for the “wholesome words” (ibid. v. 3) of the Lord Jesus,
which cover things as well as thoughts.
Ø The apostle condemns a wrangling about terms which brings no
advantage to truth, but rather tends to the subversion of the hearers,
misleading their judgments and overturning their faith. Simple-minded
people might begin to doubt the truth of a gospel about which
contending controversialists were so much at variance. Unsettlement
of mind is dangerous, while it lays an arrest on all earnest work.
Continual endurance of evil, whether directed specially against himself, or
generally thwarting the cause which he has most at heart, is the ordinary lot
of the minister of Jesus Christ exercising his ministry in an evil world. And
in order to be ready to encounter this evil, actively or passively, as the case may
require, A COMPLETE CONSECRATION OF PURPOSE on the fulfillment
of his ministry is absolutely required. If the heart is divided between the ministry
of God’s Word and the enjoyment of an easy life, there will be a constant
temptation to avoid those various forms of “hardship” which properly
belong to the campaign of the soldiers of Christ. Troubles will be shirked
rather than endured; and ministerial duties will be made to stand on one
side when they interfere with the inclinations of the moment. Labor will
be evaded when the soul calls for ease. The determined struggle, and the
sturdy stand against evil, whether in his own heart or in the world around
him, will be postponed to a more convenient season, while weak
compromises and sinful compliances take their place in the immediate
present. (Could that be the explanation of why the world seems to be having
more influence on the Church than the Church having on the world? – CY –
2013). At the same time, contradiction and opposition, crooks and
crosses of various kinds, untoward events, troubles, disappointments, and
difficulties of all sorts, will be met, not in the spirit of Christian fortitude,
not in the spirit of Christian meekness and patience, but with petulant
complaints, or with roughness and ill temper, as running against the current
of the love of ease in the soul. It is, therefore, incumbent upon the servant
of God to be wholly given up to the ministry which he has received. He
must resolutely shake off the entanglements of the affairs of this life, that
he may please Him who called him to be a soldier. He must feel, “My work
in life, my mission, the dispensation committed to me, is to advance the
defense of the gospel — to preach it, to vindicate it, to uphold it against all
gainsayers, to adorn it with my own life, to use my utmost endeavor for
its maintenance, its propagation, its triumphs. I must no more shrink from
obloquy, from labor, from suffering, from troubles, or, if need be, from
bonds and death, in the fulfillment of this work and ministry, than the
soldier shrinks from fatigue and exposure, from hunger and hardship, from
wounds and from death, in bravely discharging the duties of his warfare.”
For his encouragement in carrying out this resolve, he has the example of
his LORD WHO SUFFERED UNTO DEATH AND WAS RAISED
AGAIN FROM THE DEAD. He has the example of the apostles who
endured troubles and bonds and imprisonment, and yet saw the gospel which
they preached triumphing over all opposition. He has the promises of God
assuring life, and a kingdom, to those who suffer and die with Christ.
And so, accepting endurance as the portion of Christ’s servants, he pursues
his ministry diligently, joyfully, and steadfastly, throws his whole strength into it,
and looks forward with an unwavering hope to obtain the salvation which
is in Christ Jesus with ETERNAL GLORY!
15 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth
not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Study.
Give diligence. The Authorized Version “study,” if we
give it its proper force, as in the Latin studeo, studium, studiosus,
expresses the sense of σπούδασον – spoudason - endeavor you; be you
diligent - exactly. Zeal, earnest desire, effort, and haste, are all implied in it
(compare ch. 4:9, 21; Titus 3:12; II Peter 1:10, 15; 3:14). To present thyself
(παραστῆσαι – parastaesai - to present); as in Luke 2:22; Acts 1:3; 9:41.
In I Corinthians 8:8 it has the sense of “to commend,” nearly the same as
δόκιμον παραστῆσαι – dokimon parastaesai – tested; approved; qualified
to present. The rendering, to show thyself, of the Authorized Version is a very
good one, and is preserved in the Revised Version of Acts 1:3. Approved.
(δόκιμον – dokimon) - Romans 16:10; I Corinthians 11:19); one that has been
tried and tested and found to be sterling; properly of metals. This, with the two
following qualifications, “a workman that needeth not to be ashamed,” and
“one that rightly handles the Word of truth,” is the character which
Timothy is exhorted to APPEAR IN BEFORE GOD! The dative τῷ Θεῷ –
to Theo – unto God - is governed by παραστῆσαι (present), not by
δόκιμον (approved). A workman (ἐργάτην – ergataen). How natural is
such a figure in the mouth of Paul, who wrought at
his trade with
Priscilla (Acts 18:3), and was working night and day at Thessalonica, that he
might earn his own living! That needeth not to be ashamed (ἀνεπαισχυντον –
anepaischunton - unashamed); not found anywhere else, either in the New
Testament or in the Septuagint, or in classical Greek. Bengel hits the right force
of the word when he renders it “non pudefactum,” only that by the common use
of the passive participial form (compare:
· ἀνεξιχνίαστος – anexichniastos – to trace out; track; unsearchable;
· ἀνεξερεύνητος – anexereunaetos – to search; examine; unsearchable;
· ἀναρίβμητος – anarithmaetos – innumerable ),
it means further “that cannot be put to shame.” The workman
whose work is skimped is put to shame when, upon its being tested, it is found to
be bad, dishonest work; the workman whose work, like himself, is δόκιμος,
(approved), honest, conscientious, good work, and moreover sound and skilful
work, never has been, and never can be, put to shame. Paul shows how to
secure its being good work, viz. by its being done for the eye of God.
Rightly dividing the Word of truth. (ὀρθοτομοῦντα τὸν λόγον τῆς ἀληθείας –
opthotomounta ton logon taes alaetheias - handling aright
the Word of truth). The verb ὀρθοτομεῖν – orthotomein – to cut
straight as in road making - occurs only here in the New Testament.
In the Septuagint, in Proverbs 3:6, it stands for “He shall direct [or ‘make
straight’] thy paths;” and so in Proverbs 11:5. The idea is the same as
that in Hebrews 12:13, “Make straight paths for your feet (τροχιὰς ὀρθὰς
ποιήσατε – trochias orthas poiaesate).” But this does not at all
suit the context. We must look, therefore, at the etymology of the word.
Ὀρθοτόμεω – orthotomeo must mean “to cut straight,” and, as the
apostle is speaking of a good workman, he must be thinking of some work
in which the workman’s skill consists in cutting straight: why not his own trade,
in which it was all-important to cut the pieces straight that were afterwards
to be joined to each other when making tents (see ὀρθότομος and ὀρθοτομία –
orthotomos and orthotomia - both forms of rightly divide)? Hence, by an
easy metaphor, “divide rightly,” or “handle rightly, THE WORD OF
TRUTH” preserving THE TRUE MEASURE of the different portions
of DIVINE TRUTH!
The Qualifications of the Gospel Preacher (v. 15)
“Give diligence to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that
needeth not to be ashamed.”
well as the direct admonition to “give diligence” to his ministry. The ministry
is a good work, demanding industry, study, and care, and no man is sufficient
for it without THE GRACE OF GOD! It is a comfort as well as an honor
to think that ministers are “workers with God” (I Corinthians 3:9).
must not study to please men, else they will not be the servants of Christ;
but they must approve themselves to God, showing all good fidelity, and
commend themselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
THAT WILL NOT BRING SHAME UPON THEMSELVES. The
negligent, or unskilled, or ignorant workman will produce work which may
well put him to shame. But the true workman loves to produce good and
abiding work, such as will stand the fiery test of the last day (1 Corinthians
3:13). He may often feel his insufficiency; but he will never be ashamed of
the gospel, nor of his sufferings, nor of his faithful ministrations of the Word.
“Handling aright (rightly dividing) the Word of truth.”
Ø His one book, his one weapon, his one interest, is the
DIVINE WORD! His mind, his heart, his will, must be
concentrated upon THIS DIVINE WORD! It must
form the matter of his preaching, the mold of his thoughts,
the inspiration of his imagination.
Ø He must be able to handle it aright, with due regard for the
authority of God, to its own intrinsic claims, and to the welfare
of the souls of men. He must be able to:
o “divide it aright,” distributing to babes in Christ and to full
grown men according to their capacities and their circumstances;
o he must not pervert it or wrest it from its true sense;
o he must not keep back anything that is profitable, but declare
THE WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD! (Acts 20:20,27)
o He must not wander to the right or left, but keep
A STRAIGHT COURSE FORWARD IN THE PATH
16 “But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto
more ungodliness.” Shun - (περιι'´στασο – periistaso – shun; be you
standing aloof from - as in Titus 3:9); literally, step out of the way of, or stand
away from — an unusual
use of the word, found also in Josephus, ‘
Jud.,’ 4. 6:12. Profane babblings (see I Timothy 4:7; 6:20). They will
increase. (προκόψουσιν – prokopsousin - they shall be progressing); see
note on προκοπή – prokopae – progress; profiting - in I Timothy 4:15.
Unto more ungodliness. (ἐπὶ πεῖον ἀσεβείας – epi peion asebeias –
further in ungodliness; more irreverence); surely better rendered in the
Authorized Version to more ungodliness. It may be questioned whether “they”
Refers to the babblings or to the false teachers. It makes very good sense to say,
“Avoid these profane babblings, for they won’t stop there — they will
grow into open impiety and blasphemy.” But v. 17 is in favor of the “teachers”
being the subject of “will proceed;” but it is not conclusive. If a full stop be put after
“ungodliness,” as in the Authorized Version, v. 17 comes in quite naturally with the
further statement, in the next verse, that “their word will eat as doth a gangrene.”
error of the false teachers had not yet appeared in its fully developed form,
but its true moral tendency was clearly foreseen from the first.
last logical results. They have thrown off the checks of authority and
conscience; they have been emboldened, perhaps, by a temporary success;
and so they insist on wresting the whole Scripture to their own destruction
as well as that of others. (II Peter 3:16)
17 “And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus
and Philetus;” Their word; as opposed to “the Word of truth” in v. 15.
Will eat (νομὴν ἕξει - nomaen hexei – pasture shall be having); i.e. spread,
like a gangrene, which gradually enlarges its area, corrupting the flesh that was
sound before. So these heretical opinions spread in the body of the Church
which is affected by them. Νομή - nomae - is literally “pasture” (John 10:9),
“grazing of flocks,” and hence is applied to fire (Polybius), which as it were
feeds upon all around it, and, in medical language (Hippocrates), to sores
and gangrenes, which grow larger and depasture the flesh. Of whom; of
the number of those pointed at in the phrase, “their word.” Hymenaeus;
probably the same person as is mentioned as a blasphemer in I Timothy
1:20. Philetus. Nothing is known of him.
Ø It will spread further and further.
o Through the subtlety of seducers;
o through the unwary simplicity of Christian professors; and
o as a judicial infliction upon such as, possessing no love of
the truth, receive delusion to believe a lie. (II Thessalonians
Ø It will have corrupting and destroying effects. The strong figure
of the apostle sets the matter in an impressive light.
Ø “and overthrow the faith of some.” (v. 18)
18 “Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is
past already; and overthrow the faith of some.” Have erred (ἠστόχησαν –
aestochaesan – deviate; swerve); see I Timothy 1:6 (note) and 6:21. In
Matthew 22:29 and in Mark 12:24 our Lord’s word for “erring” is πλανᾶσθε –
planasthe. It is remarkable that it was the subject of the resurrection which was
so misunderstood in both cases. The heretics to whom Paul here alludes probably
explained away the resurrection, as the Gnostics in the time of Irenaeus and
Tertullian did, by spiritualizing it in the sense of Romans 6:4; Ephesians 2:1;
Colossians 2:12; 3:1, etc. It is the usual way with heresy to corrupt
and destroy the gospel, under pretence of improving it. And there are
always some weak brethren ready to be deceived and misled.
(The Greek word for heresy is - hah’ee-res-is; - a choosing,
choice – then that which is chosen, and hence an opinion, especially
a self-willed opinion, which is substituted for submission to the power
of truth and leads to division, the formation of sects and finally,
APOSTASY FROM GOD! (Think of the origins, influences and
roles of PRO-CHOICE and the AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES
ALL BEGAN WITH A CHOICE – a la – HERESY – CY -2009)
Such a man is a living lie against the
Overthrow (ἀνατρέπουσί - anatrepousi – are subverting); elsewhere in
the New Testament only in Titus 1:11; but common in Septuagitnt and in
A Warning Against Vain Babblings, with Their Tendency to Heresy and Impiety
“But shun profane babblings.”
· THE DUTY OF THE MINISTER TOWARD SUCH BABBLINGS. He
is to shun them, because they are profitless — a mere sound of words,
without solid meaning; great swelling words of vanity, not only
unprofitable, but contrary to the doctrine that is according to godliness.
The minister must shun, discourage, and repudiate them in the interests of
truth and piety.
· THE TENDENCY OF SUCH BABBLINGS. “They will proceed
further in ungodliness.” The allusion is not to the babblings, but to the false
Ø There is a close connection between lax doctrine and a loose life. The
error of the false teachers had not yet appeared in its fully developed
form, but its true moral tendency was clearly foreseen from the first.
Ø There is a tendency in false teachers to carry their principles to their
last logical results. They have thrown off the checks of authority and
conscience; they have been emboldened, perhaps, by a temporary
success; and so they insist on wresting the whole Scripture to their
own destruction as well as that of others. (II Petere 3:16)
· THE EFFECTS OF SUCH FALSE TEACHING. “And their word
will eat as doth a gangrene.”
Gangrene is a condition that occurs when body tissue dies. It is caused by a
loss of blood supply due to an underlying illness, injury, and/or infection.
Fingers, toes, and limbs are most often affected, but gangrene can also
occur inside the body, damaging organs and muscles. There are different
types of gangrene and all require immediate medical attention.
Ø It will spread further and further.
o Through the subtlety of seducers;
o through the unwary simplicity of Christian professors;
o and as a judicial infliction upon such as, possessing no love
of the truth, receive delusion to believe a lie. (II Thessalonians
Ø It will have corrupting and destroying effects. The strong figure of the
apostle sets the matter in an impressive light.
· THE RING LEADERS OF HERESY. “Of whom is Hymenaeus and
Philetus; men who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the
resurrection is past already, and overthrow the faith of some.”
Ø The leading apostles of error.
o It is a solemn thought that the Spirit of inspiration has given an
immortality of infamy to these two names. If they were ambitious of
notoriety, they have gained it far beyond the extent of their
o Hymenaeus is evidently the person referred to already (I Timothy
1:20), whom the apostle had “delivered unto Satan;” but he seems
to have profited in no way in the interval by the severe discipline
applied to him. Of Philetus nothing is known. It is a Greek name,
but it occurs in Roman inscriptions.
Ø The nature of their error. Their principal error, which is mentioned, was
a denial of the resurrection in its true sense.
o They probably perverted the words of the apostle himself when he
spoke of a spiritual resurrection (Romans 6:4, etc.; Colossians 2:12),
of which they could say truly enough that “it was past already;” but
they denied a resurrection of the body, which was just as expressly
taught by the same apostle.
o The error had its origin in the Greek philosophy, which regarded matter
as essentially evil, and as therefore unworthy to share in the ultimate
glorification of the redeemed.
Ø The injurious effects of their error. “And overthrow the faith of some.”
o The doctrine of the resurrection is founded on the resurrection of
Christ, which is the foundation doctrine of Christianity. Those errorists
seem to have touched with unholy hands this cornerstone of Christian
o The influence of the errorists, evil as it was, was only partial. It only
affected “some;” but even this thought was a sad one to the apostle.
19 “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal,
The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that
nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” The foundation of
God standeth sure; i.e., though the faith of some is thrown down like a wall built
with untempered mortar, the foundation which God has laid fast and firm stands
unmoved and unmovable. This is equally true of individual souls and of the Church,
against which the gates of hell shall not prevail. (Matthew 16:18). Compare
our Lord’s saying, when the Pharisees were offended at Him, “Every plant which
my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up” (Matthew 15:13); and
those in John 10:28-29; and I John 2:19. Θεμέλιος – themelios – foundation - in
classical Greek is always an adjective agreeing with λίθος – lithos – stone -
expressed or understood. In the New Testament it is used only as a substantive
(Luke 6:48; I Corinthians 3:10; I Timothy 6:19, etc.). Here the word seems to be
employed, not so much to denote a foundation on which a house was to be built,
as to denote strength and solidity. The elect of God are like foundation-stones,
which may not be moved. (“Ye also as lively stones, are built up a
spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices,
acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” – I Peter 2:5). Having this seal. In
Revelation 21:14 the twelve foundation-stones of the new Jerusalem were each
inscribed with the name of an apostle. In like manner there are inscriptions, of the
nature of seals, on God’s strong foundations, SHOWING THEIR
IMMUTABLE CONDITION! One is, “THE LORD KNOWETH THEM
THAT ARE HIS,” taken verbatim from the Septuagint of Numbers 16:5: the
other is, “LET EVERY ONE THAT NAMETH THE NAME OF THE LORD
DEPART FROM UNRIGHTEOUSNESS,” This is nowhere to be found in the
The first part of the verse is indeed equivalent to Κύριε .....τὸ ὀνομά σου ὀνομάζομεν –
Kurie ....to onoma sou onomazomen – Lord, we name your name in Isaiah 26:13, but
there is nothing to answer to the second part. The passages quoted by commentators
from Numbers 16:26 and Isaiah 52:11 are far too general to indicate any particular
reference. Possibly the motto is one of those “faithful sayings” before referred to.
The two inscriptions, taken together, show the two sides of the Christian standing:
o God’s election, and
o man’s holiness (compare I John 1:6; 3:7-8).
The Comfort Amidst Abounding Apostasy (v. 19)
Though some turn away from the truth, God’s Church stands firm in its integrity.
“Howbeit the firm foundation of God standeth sure.”
Ø The Church is very properly called a foundation, because it
is placed in the world as the platform on which the whole future
household of faith is to rest (Ephesians 2:20). CHRIST IS THE
CORNERSTONE of the foundation.
Ø It stands firm from AGE TO AGE on its unshaken foundation,
notwithstanding all the efforts made to destroy it (Revelation 12:13-17).
It was to be the CONSTANT WITNESS to THE TRUTH amidst
all ERROR and APOSTASY!
“Having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his; and, Let every
one that nameth the Name of the Lord depart from unrighteousness.”
It was an ancient custom to engrave upon a building an inscription which told
of its origin and purpose. (Thus Second Baptist Church, 1910-present, has
engraved on one of it’s corners “Erected to the Glory of God” – 1973 –
CY – 2013). The names of the apostles were written in the twelve
foundations el the apocalyptic
Church has a seal with a double inscription, which displays the true
character of the edifice.
Ø One inscription is the legend of comfort and hope.
“The Lord knoweth them that are His.” What a comfort
there is in the thought of this individualizing knowledge! (God is
a “one on one God”; “If a man love me, he will keep my
words: and my Father will love him, and we will come
unto him, and make our abode with him.” – John 14:23 –
What a hope there is in the thought that the saints are God’s
“purchased possession”! (Acts 20:28; Ephesians 1:14; Titus
2:14) (I recommend Deuteronomy ch.32 – v.9 – God’s
Inheritance by Arthur Pink – this web site – CY – 2013)
Ø Another inscription is the legend of duty. “Let every one that
nameth the Name of the Lord depart from unrighteousness.”
There is no
place for unrighteousness in the
Therefore believers must separate themselves from ALL EVIL!
20 “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver,
but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor.”
Now in a great house, etc. “Now” is hardly the right conjunction. It should rather be
“howbeit.” The object of the figure of the various vessels in the “great
house” is to show that, though every one that names the Name of the Lord
OUGHT TO DEPART FROM UNRIGHTEOUSNESS, yet we must not
be surprised if it is not so, and if there are found in the Church some professing
Christians whose practice is quite inconsistent with their profession. Perhaps even the
vilest members of the visible Church perform some useful function,
howbeit they do not mean it. With this mention of the vessels, compare the
enumeration in I Corinthians 3:12. Of earth (ὀστράκινα - ostrakina - earthenware);
only here and II Corinthians 4:7, where it is also applied to σκεύη – skeuae –
vessels (earthen) as it is in the Septuagint, e.g. Leviticus 6:28; and to ἄγγος – angos –
vessel; jar; pail - (Numbers 5:17). Ὄστρακον – ostrakon - a tile. (For the same
figure, see Romans 9:22-23.)
21 “If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel
unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared
unto every good work.” Purge himself from these (ἐκκαθάρῃ - ekkatharae –
should be purging; should be cleaning out); stronger than the simple
καθάρῃ - katharae – purge – (thoroughly purge himself) as in I Corinthians
5:7 (the only other place in the New Testament where it occurs) and as in classical
Greek. It is used also by the Septuagint in Judges 7:4, as the rendering of
צָרַפ; to try metals. The idea, therefore, seems to be that of separation,
and, if so, “from these” may certainly mean from the false teachers
described under the image of the vessels unto dishonor, as usually
explained. At the same time, the image is better sustained if we understand
“from these” to mean the babblings, and ungodliness, and eating words of
the heretics denounced. It is hardly natural to imply that one vessel in the
house will become a golden vessel by purging itself from the wooden and
earthen vessels. Neither is separation from the false teachers the point
which Paul is here pressing, but avoidance of false doctrines. Meet
for…use (εὔχρηστος – euchraestos - useful); only here and ch. 4:11 and
Philemon 1:11. Also Proverbs 29:(31) 13, Septuagint. Common in classical Greek.
The master (τῷ δεσπότῃ – to despotae - owner); the master of the house, the
οἰκοδεσπότης – oikodespotaes.
The Church in Its Visible Aspect before the World
The apostle seems to be answering the question why there are such
unworthy members in the visible communion of the Church.
· THE CHURCH IS LIKE A GREAT HOUSE WITH VARIOUS
SORTS OF VESSELS. “Now in a great house there are not only vessels of
gold and silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some unto honor, and
some unto dishonor.”
Ø It is contended that the great house here is not the Church, but
Christendom, that is, all that calls itself Christian, because the Church
consists only of saints.
Ø It is the Church, however, of which the apostle is speaking in the
context, and not the world; but whereas in the last verse it was the invisible
Church, it is here the Church visible — that is, the Church in the aspect it
presents to the world. The distinction between the Church visible and the
Church invisible is clearly recognized in Scripture. The one represents the
o AS IT IS SEEN BY GOD, the other,
o as it is seen by man.
The one represents the Church:
o as to its true idea and constitution; the other,
o as it has appeared in the world as a mixed communion.
The Church visible appears like a great house with two distinct kinds of
o some very precious and durable, others
o comparatively valueless, easily and soon broken.
There are vessels for honor and vessels for dishonor. The idea is
much the same as that of the dragnet in the parable (Matthew 13:47-49).
· THE DUTY OF SEPARATION FROM THE VESSELS OF
DISHONOR. “If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall he a
vessel unto honour, sanctified, meet for the Master’s use, prepared unto
every good work.” The thought of separation from the false teachers was,
no doubt, uppermost in the apostle’s mind, but it has a wider scope.
Ø It is our duty to withdraw from error. This withdrawal may be effected
in several ways. The apostle says to Timothy, “From such withdraw
thyself” (I Timothy 6:5); he says to Titus, “A man that is a heretic
avoid” (Titus 3:10). The separation may take place by the heretic being
cast out of communion; or avoided in the intercourse of life; or, in the last
resort, the believer may withdraw himself from the society which fails to
cast him out. Or the believer may be called upon to “purge himself” —
terms which seem to imply personal defilement in a separate walk of
holiness and purity. He must purge himself from heresy and impurity.
Ø The right dedication and destination of the vessel for honor.
o He will become “sanctified,” in its double sense:
§ consecrated to God and
§ walking in the purity of a separated life.
o He will be serviceable to the Master of the house in all the various
ministries to which he may be called.
o He will be prepared unto every good work. Unlike the unwise and the
evil man, who is to all good works reprobate, he is, as created in Christ
Jesus unto good works (“...which God hath ordained that he should
walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10), enabled to run in the way of the
Fitness for Service (v. 21)
“Meet for the Master’s use.” Christ is our Lord as well as our Saviour. We
are under a Master, and must bring our thought in captivity unto Him.
(II Corinthians 10:5)
· MEETNESS. For in man there is a power that grows by culture. Not so
with the inferior animals. Take the bee: the first cell it makes is as
geometrically perfect as the last. So take the bird: the first nest it makes is
as soft and complete as the last. But man can grow in meetness. Self-discipline
meetens. Sorrow meetens. Suffering meetens.
· MINISTRATIONS. Use. This characterizes all the works of God. The
river is not only a silver thread running through the landscape; it brings
freshness and verdure, and the cattle come to the banks to drink, and there
is emerald verdure by the riverside. Ships, too, float on its waters. We are
to be of use to the Master. He deigns to use us. “Son, go work today in my
vineyard.” (Matthew 21:28) Many in this age dislike the word “Master;”
but we are always under some master, consciously or unconsciously.
We serve God or Mammon, and we cannot serve both. We are to attend to spiritual means of grace, and to seek out modes of service, so as to be of
use to the Master.
22 “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity,
peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
Youthful (νεωτερικάς - neoterikas); of or belonging to νεώτεροι – neoteroi –
young men. The word only occurs here in the New Testament, never in the
Septuagint, but is found in Josephus, who speaks of αὐθαδεία νεωτερική –
authadeia neoterikae – youthful arrogance, and is common in classical Greek.
Lusts (ἐπιθυμίαι – epithumiai) include, besides the σαρκικαὶ ἐπιθυμίαι –
sarkikon epithumiai – fleshly lusts of I Peter 2:11, all those ill-regulated
passions to which youth is peculiarly liable, such as intemperance, love of
company, arrogance, petulance, ambition, love of display,
levity, vehemence of action, wilfulness, and the like. Timothy at this time
was probably under forty (see note on I Timothy 4:12. Follow after (δίωκε) –
dioke – be you pursuing; be you chasing; as I Timothy 6:11, where, as here,
it is in contrast with φεῦγε – pheuge – flee. Eagerness in pursuit, and difficulty
in attainment, seem to be indicated by the word. With them, etc. (μετὰ τῶν
ἐπικαλουμένων κ.τ.λ – meta ton epidaloumenon k.t.l – with them that call, etc.).
“With them” may mean either pursue righteousness, etc., in partnership with all
who call upon the Lord; i.e. make the pursuit of righteousness, etc., YOUR PURSUIT
as it is that of all who call upon the Lord; or it may be construed with εἰρήνην,–
eiraenaen – peace - so as to limit the exhortation to peace to those who call
upon the Lord, eiraenaen meta ton epikaloumenon - peace with those that call –
etc., which is the construction in Hebrews 12:14 and Romans 12:18. It is, however,
remarkable that in both these passages, which are referred to for the
grammar, the inference from the doctrine goes rather the other way, as
they teach “peace with all men.” So does the balance of the sentence here.
The Importance of Purity Before the World (v. 22)
Negatively, his refers to those passions and desires which are so tempting to youth. They
“war against the soul,” and are most inimical to holiness and salvation. The indulgence
of corrupt passions also leads to serious scandals. God’s people need to be aware of
and avoid those vehement and headstrong passions which often lead young men
into foolish courses, or to the rage for novelty and the egotistic vanity which so often
lead to religious errors like those of Hymenaeus and Philetus.
Positively, we are to “Follow after righteousness, love, peace, with them
that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
manner of life. Believers are:
Ø To yield their members as instruments of righteousness
Ø To be armed with righteousness as a breastplate (Ephesians 6:14).
Ø Righteousness tends to life (Proverbs 11:19).
Ø It brings its own reward (Ibid. v.18).
Ø Its effect is quietness and assurance forever (Isaiah 32:17).
Ø It is of God (I John 4:7).
Ø It is taught by God (I Thessalonians 4:9).
Ø It is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).
Ø It ought to be an active and abiding principle (Hebrews 6:10;
I Corinthians 8:13).
Ø The greatest sacrifices are nothing without it (I Corinthians 13:3).
Ø Its nature and advantages:
o It springs from heavenly wisdom (James 3:17).
o It is necessary to the enjoyment of life (I Peter 3:10-11).
o There is a blessing for the peacemaker (Matthew 5:9).
Ø Its objects. “Them that call upon the Lord out of a pure heart.”
That is, believers. We are to endeavor to have peace with all men
(Romans 12:18). But we are to seek the peace of the Church
(Psalm 122:6-8); of those who worship Christ with all purity of
heart, as contrasted with those “whose mind and conscience are
defiled” (Titus 1:15).
23 “But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do
gender strifes.” Unlearned. (ἀπαιδεύτους – apaideutous – unlearned;
crude; ignorant); only here in the New Testament, but not uncommon in the
Septuagint, applied to persons, and in classical Greek. Unlearned is quite as
good a rendering as ignorant. It is a term applied properly to ill-educated,
ill-disciplined people, (in our culture of the 21st century, low-informed).
and thence, by an easy metonymy, to the questions such persons delight in.
Questions. (ζητήσεις – zaetaeseis - questionings); see I Timothy 1:4, note,
and Titus 3:9. Avoid. (παραίτου – paraitou - refuse; have nothing t
do with; (see I Timothy 4:7; Titus 3:10). Gender (γεννῶσι – gennosi).
This is the only place in the New Testament where γεννάω – gennao – to
beget - is used in this metaphorical sense, unless Galatians 4:24 is included.
(For the sentiment, see I Timothy 6:4, “Whereof cometh envy, strife,” etc.)
Strifes (μάχας – machas); compare μάχας νομικάς – machas nomikas –
“fightings about the Law” (Titus 3:9); and “wars and fightings” (James 4:1-2).
Compare, too, the verb λογομαχεῖν – logomachein – strive; engaging in
controversy - in v.14. Nothing can be more emphatic than Paul’s warnings
against foolish and angry controversies about words, and yet nothing has
been more neglected in the Church, in all ages.
A Warning against Contentious Questionings (v. 23)
· THE MINISTER OF CHRIST MUST AVOID INEPT DISCUSSIONS.
“But foolish and ignorant questions avoid.” The false teachers
wasted their energies upon questions of this class, because they
had no just idea of the relative importance of truth, taking small things for
great and great things for small. The matters in dispute were useless and
unedifying, being foreign to the true wisdom of the gospel. Four times in
these two Epistles does the apostle repeat this grave warning.
· THE TENDENCY OF SUCH DISCUSSIONS. “Knowing that they do
gender strifes.” They:
Ø break the peace of Churches,
Ø alienate the hearts of ministers, and
Ø impede the progress of the gospel.
24 “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all
men, apt to teach, patient,” The servant of the Lord. (δοῦλον Κυρίου –
doulon Kuriou – the Lord’s servant). So Paul repeatedly describes himself
(Romans 1:1; Galatians 1:10; Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:1), as do also the apostles
James, Peter, Jude, and John (James 1:1; II Peter 1:1; Jude 1:1; Revelation 1:1).
The term seems, therefore, especially (though not exclusively, Ephesians 6:6;
I Peter 2:16; Revelation 19:2, 5; 22:3) to describe those whose office it is to
Preach the gospel, either as apostles or as ministers (Colossians 4:12). Must
not strive (μάχεσθαι – machesthai – strive; to be fighting); a conclusive
reason against engaging in those foolish and ignorant questionings which necessarily
engender strife. Gentle. (ἤπιον – aepion); only here and in I Thessalonians 2:7,
where we see how Paul carried this precept into practice. A nurse does not meet
the child’s waywardness by blows or threats, but by gentleness and love. It is a
classical word. Apt to teach. (see I Timothy 3:2, note). Patient. (ἀνεξίκακον –
anexikakon - patient; forbearing; bearing with evil); only here in the New
Testament, not found in the Septuagint, and only in late Greek. It means literally
“bearing up against ill treatment,” patiently enduring it.
25 “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God
peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of
the truth;” Instructing. (παιδεύοντα – paideuonta – instructing;
disciplining; training; correcting), παιδεύειν – paideuein - means properly
to “educate,” “bring up,” or “train” a child. Hence sometimes the idea of teaching
predominates, sometimes that of correcting or chastising. Here the context shows
that the idea of teaching is predominant — partly because the word suggests
something contrary to the ἀπαίδευτοι ζητήσεις – apaideutoi zaetaeseis –
unlearned questions; crude questioning - of v. 23, and partly because the end
of this παιδεία (instruction) is to bring them to the knowledge of God’s truth.
The Authorized Version “instructing” is therefore the right word here. Those that
oppose themselves (τοὺς ἀντιδιατιθέμενους – tous antidiatithemenous);
only here in the New Testament or the Septuagint, or in classical Greek. Literally,
those who arrange or set themselves in opposition; or, in one word, “opponents,”
referring, no doubt, chiefly to such ἀντιλέγοντες – antilegontes - gainsayers;
ones contradicting - as are mentioned in the very similar passage, Titus 1:9
(see too Ibid. ch.2:8). If peradventure. (μήποτε – maepote – seeing whether).
"Μήποτε, in later Greek, loses its aversative meaning (‘lest at any time’), and is
almost equivalent to εἴποτε – eipote - equivalent to “in case God should,” etc.
Repentance (μετανοία – metanoia); such a change of mind as shall lead them
to embrace the truth. Knowledge (ἐπίγνωσις – epignosis); almost
invariably used of the knowledge of God or of God’s truth (ch. 3:7; Romans 1:28;
Ephesians 1:17; 4:13; Colossians 1:9, 10; 3:10; Titus 1:1; Hebrews 10:26, etc.).
The truth; that truth which before they set themselves to oppose, disputing against
it and resisting it. The servant of the Lord must never despair of any one, never
throw an additional obstacle in any one’s way by roughness or harsh speech, and
never allow unkind feelings to be roused in his own breast by the
perverseness or unreasonableness of them THAT OPPOSE THEMSELVES
The True Temper of the Minister of Christ (v. 24-25)
“The servant of the Lord must not strive.” This does not mean that he is not to
contend earnestly for the faith (Jude 1:4); but that he is not to fight about trifles,
nor to argue with acerbity of temper, nor for mere victory. The “bond of peace”
must be maintained in controversy. He is to be gentle unto all men; cultivating a
spirit of habitual conciliation, while using arguments of the greatest cogency. He is
to be apt to teach, showing capacity and disposition to instruct the ignorant and
the obstinate. He is patient; bearing with the infirmities of weak brethren, with the
irritating oppositions of adversaries, and with the reproaches of evil men
generally. He is to use meekness in instructing those that oppose themselves
to the truth as it is in Jesus, thwarting or perverting the gospel. The minister
must be ready to instruct such persons in a meek and humble spirit, because
they may be ignorant, or ill-informed, or deeply prejudiced from the
circumstances of their early training.
This method of instruction will be beneficial to those who need it!
“If God peradventure will give them repentance unto the knowledge of the
truth, and they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, having
been taken captive by the Lord’s servant unto the will of God.”
A meek and gentle address may bring such errorists to repent of their
sin and accept the true doctrine of faith. It is possible to repel them by our
harsh reproaches. We ought rather to show them the truth without passion,
and enforce it with all the kindly urgency of true affection. The necessity of
repentance in such a case MARKS THE ESSENTIALLY SINFUL
CHARACTER OF OPPOSITION TO THE TRUTH! There may
be some errorists who will awake out of their intellectual intoxication,
if they are wisely dealt with, and open their eyes to THE BLESSED
TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL. The will of God once established in such
hearts, as the guiding principle of life, COMPLETES THE RECOVERY
We are to be of use to the Master. He deigns to use us. “Son, go work today
in my vineyard” (Matthew 21:28). Many in this age dislike the word
“Master;” but we are always under some master, it may be pleasure, alcohol,
drugs, love of money, etc., consciously or unconsciously. We serve God or
Mammon, and WE CANNOT SERVE BOTH. We are to attend to
spiritual means of grace, and to seek out modes of service, so as TO
BE OF USE TO THE MASTER!
26 “And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil,
who are taken captive by him at his will.” This is undoubtedly a
difficult passage. We will first take the individual words, and then turn to
the general meaning. Recover themselves (ἀνανήψωσιν – ananaepsosin –
they shall be sobering up); only found here in the New Testament, and never
in the Septuagint. In classical Greek, where it is, however, uncommon, it means
literally “to recover from drunkenness,” hence, “to come to one’s self,”
“to come to a right mind.” Snare (παγίς – pagis – snare; trap );
as I Timothy 3:7; 6:9. Compare the use of παγιδεύω – pagideuo – ensnare;
entangle – (Matthew 22:15). Who are taken captive (ἐζωγρήμενοι –
ezograemenoi - having been taken captive; having been caught alive);
only found in the New Testament in Luke 5:10 besides this place, but common
in the Septuagint and in classical Greek, in the sense of “to take alive,” of
prisoners of war, who, if not ransomed, always became slaves of the conqueror.
Here, therefore, the meaning is “having been captured and enslaved.” By him
(margin), (ὑπ αὐτοῦ – hup autou); i.e. of course the devil, who had just been
named as having ensnared them. At his will. (ἐκείνου θέλημα – ekeinou
thelaema - unto the will of him (margin),). The difficulty of the passage lies in
the word ἐκείνου (of that one), which at first sight seems to indicate a different
antecedent from the antecedent of αὐτοῦ (him). This grammatical difficulty has
led to the strange rendering of the Revised Version, and to the wholly unjustifiable
intrusion into the text of the words, “the Lord’s servant” and of “God,”
producing altogether a sentence of unparalleled awkwardness and
grotesqueness, and utter improbability. But there is no real difficulty in
referring ἐκείνου to the same person as αὐτοῦ (meaning in both cases the
devil), as in the passage from Plato’s ‘Cratylus,’ cited by Huther, after De
Wette, the cause of the use of ἐκείνου being that Paul was at the
moment emphasizing the fact of these captives being deprived of their own
will, and made subservient to the will of another. (Dear Reader, may
you and I make sure that we never agree to be under the spell of the devil! –
CY – 2013) The passage may be paraphrased: “If peradventure God may give
them repentance unto the knowledge of the truth, so as to recover themselves
out of the snare of the devil, after they had been led captive by him, so as to
be no longer their own masters, but obliged to do his will.” Another example
of the transition from αὐτός to ἐκεῖνος is in John 1:7-8, Οῦτος η΅λθεν εἰς
μαρτυρίαν, ἵνα μαρτυρήσῃ περὶ τοῦ φωτὸς ἵνα πάντες πιστεύσωσι δι αὐτοῦ
οὐκ η΅ν ἐκεῖνος τὸ φῶς - Outos aelthen eis marturian, hina marturaesae peri
tou photos hina pantes psiteusosi di autou ouk aen ekeinos tou phos – “The
same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through
Him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of
that Light” - where there is a contrast between John as the witness and Christ
as the true Light (compare, too, John 4:25, where ἐκείνος has the force of “not you,
but He”). For the general turn of phrase, compare II Corinthians 10:5,
“Bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ,” where
αἰχμαλωτίζοντες - aichmalotizontes - bringing into captivity (see ch. 3:6)
corresponds to ἐζωγρημένοι – ezograemenoi – taken captive of this verse
and εἰς τὴν ὑπακοὴν τοῦ Ξριστοῦ – eis taen hupakoaen tou Christou –
to the obedience of Christ (II Corinthians 10:5) to εἰς τὸ ἐκείνου θέλημα –
eis to ekeinou thelaema - at his will of this verse.. It should be noted further that
the sentence is certainly rather a peculiar one, from the use of such uncommon
words as ἀνανήφω – ananaepho – become sober again; recover oneself –
and ζωγρέω – zogreo – take captive; catch; ensnare, and the mixture of metaphors.
But the sense of the Authorized Version is fully borne out. The interpretation
preferred is “they may recover themselves from the snare of the devil unto His
will (viz. God’s), having (previously) been led captive by him (viz. the devil).”
Conduct in View of Heresy Appearing in the Church
· METHOD OF THE HERETICS. “Of these things put them in
remembrance, charging them in the sight of the Lord, that they strive not
about words, to no profit, to the subverting of them that hear.” The
method of the heretics called for solemn warning from Timothy. Its
essential character was word fighting. It dealt with the form, and not with
the reality; and so it came to be controversial. The word is not
unimportant, but it has no importance apart from its being the vehicle of
the truth. The moral defect of the method was its want of regard to
edification. The disputants only used it for dialectic display. There was,
therefore, no good result to be laid to their account. The only result to be
expected was the subversion of any who, by hearing, placed themselves
within their influence.
· THE TRUE METHOD. “Give diligence to present thyself approved
unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the
Word of truth.” (v. 15) The heretics sought to be approved unto them that
heard them, for their skill in word fighting. Timothy was to follow another
course, and to display his zeal in quitting himself so as to be approved unto
God. The way in which he was to do this was by answering to the idea of a
workman. He was not to amuse himself with profitless disputation, but he
was to give profitable work. He was to work with such rigorous regard to
the Divine rule that, whether he met with approval or disapproval from
men, he did not need to be ashamed. Especially was he to show the better
way of dealing with the Word. He was to cut rightly, or cut straight, the
Word of truth. Whatever the metaphor is, there can be no doubt that the
idea is that, instead of trifling with the Word, he was to go right into and
lay open THE DIVINE TRUTH IT CONTAINED!
· WHY THE METHOD OF THE HERETICS WAS TO BE
AVOIDED. “But shun profane babblings: for they will proceed further in
ungodliness, and their word will eat as doth a gangrene.” The method of
the heretics is characterized in keeping with what has been already said. It
was using empty speech, or speech without reference to reality. That,
applied to Divine things, was necessarily profane. Its natural association
was God-dishonoring representations, operating against devout feelings
and corresponding practice. This ungodly tendency had not taken its worst
form. The heretics would yet say worse things. Their word was of the
nature of a gangrene, that eats into the life, and, always in an aggravated
form, SPREADS OVER THE ENTIRE SPIRITUAL BODY.
· TWO HERETICS NAMED. “Of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus;
men who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is
past already, and overthrow the faith of some.” The way in which these
men were heretics, or darted aside from the truth as the mark, was by
applying the method described to the doctrine of the resurrection. Under
the influence of an incipient Gnosticism, in which the body was regarded as
evil, they got rid of the reference of the resurrection to the body by
quibbling about the word. The word was simply “rising again,” and its
meaning was sufficiently met by what had already taken place in a Christian
believer, viz. the rising of the soul to newness of life. With their verbal
skill, they were succeeding in the case of some. But what was success to
these dialecticians was to those with whom they succeeded nothing less
than the subversion of their faith, so essential is THE RESURRECTION
OF THE BODY to Christianity.
· THE STABILITY OF THE CHURCH. “Howbeit the firm foundation
of God standeth.” Though the faith of some is overturned, the Church
standeth. The Church is not thought of as a completed structure, which it
will not be till ages still have passed. But it is thought of as a substructure
in a satisfactory state, as having, indeed, been laid by God. It had that
firmness which is essential for the commencement of a building. As firm, it
was standing, notwithstanding the strain to which it had been subjected. As
firm, it promised to stand a long time, and the promise has not been belied.
For upon the foundation part of the building much has been laid since, and
we have no reason to fear its overthrow, but rather increased REASON TO ANTICIPATE ITS COMPLETION! The Church is a structure in connection with which there is solemn engagement. “Having this seal.” The seal on the
substructure has two sides.
Ø The obverse, or Divine side. “The Lord knoweth them that are His.” The
language from this point to the close of the twenty-first verse seems to
have been suggested by a memorable passage in Jewish history, recorded in
Numbers 16, viz. the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.
These men charged Moses and Aaron with taking too much upon them in
acting, the one as prophet by pre-eminence and the other as priest by preeminence. The reply of Moses, as given in the Septuagint, was that God
knew them that were His, i.e. would maintain their cause against opposers,
AS HE DID SIGNALLY IN THAT CASE, in causing the earth to open and swallow up these men and their company.
Ø The reverse, or human side. “And, Let every one that nameth the Name
of the Lord depart from unnghteousness. The Jewish congregation was
composed of them that named the Name of God, i.e. that professed to
worship Him as the Most Holy One, and to obey His commands. In the case
referred to, the Divine call to the whole congregation was, “Depart from
the tents of those wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest ye be
consumed in all their sins.” (Numbers 16:26) The application is the following: Let Timothy be comforted by the thought that the Lord would judge between him and such opposers as Hyraenaeus and Philetus, who would not be able to move
the substructure that had been laid. (“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is JESUS CHRIST.” I Corinthians 3:11) On the other hand, let Christian congregations be warned. They are composed of those who:
o name the Name of the Lord,
o profess faith in Christ as their Saviour, and
o promise obedience to His laws.
In the Christian religion, even more than in the Jewish religion, unrighteousness appears as receiving terrible condemnation. Let not, then, a Christian have anything to do with departure from the truth and fellowship with ungodliness.
· MIXED SOCIETY. “Now in a great house there are not only vessels
of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some unto honor,
and some unto dishonor.” In the Jewish Church (which is called the house
of God) there were faithful and unfaithful, with degrees of faithfulness and
degrees of unfaithfulness, compared here, the one class to vessels of gold
and of silver, and the other class to vessels of wood and of earth — vessels
put to honorable uses and vessels put to dishonorable uses. In the former
class were Moses and Aaron, and in the latter class Korah, Dathan, and
Abiram, as shown in the day of trial. The Christian Church is also a great
house, presided over, as we are told, not by a servant, but a Son. “And
Moses indeed was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, for a testimony
of those things which were afterward to be spoken; but Christ as a Son,
over God’s house; whose house are we, if we hold fast our boldness and
the glorying of our hope firm unto the end.” (Hebrews 3:5-6) The Church is meant to be A PURE SOCIETY, but it is impossible under present conditions to have this realized to the fullest extent. In the apostolic circle around Christ there
were vessels of gold and. vessels of silver — of superior use and of inferior
use in the service of the Master; but there was also shown to be a vessel of
more than ordinary baseness of material put to the most dishonorable use.
In the Church as it was forming there were men and women with gold and
silver in their natures, “who having lands or houses sold them and laid the
prices down at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:34-35), but there were also Ananias
and Sapphira, whose earthliness moved them to keep back part of the price
(ibid. ch. 5). So while Paul was of gold use, we may say, at that period of the Church’s history, and Timothy comparatively of silver use, Hymenaeus and Philetus belonged to the other category, having nothing better than wood in
them, and put to no honorable use.
· PURGATION. “If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall
be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, meet for the Master’s use, prepared
unto every good work.” There was a purgation of the congregation of
Israelite was to get up from the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram;
that was the condition of his being classed among the pure — of his being,
according to the language formerly used, a vessel unto honor. We may
think of the censers used by the two hundred and fifty of Korah’s company;
their sacredness was recognized by their being taken out of the fire, and
put to another sacred use. “The censers of those sinners against their own
souls, let them make them broad plates for a covering of the altar.” (Numbers 16:38) The same thing has to take place in the Christian Church. A member of a
Christian congregation is not to have fellowship with such subverters as
Hymenaeus and Phitetus were, or with those, whether subverted or not as
to creed, who engage in ungodly practices. He is not even to throw himself
into the society of the merely indifferent. Thus only can he be a vessel unto
honor. Three things are said about him who is a vessel unto honor. They
turn upon the idea of usefulness; for that is essential to a vessel.
Ø The first has reference to an act of consecration.
Ø The second has reference to a use the Master has for the vessel.
Ø The third has reference to a course of preparation for the use.
Christians are set apart to holy uses.
Ø This is partly their own act, in the dedication of themselves to God; and
Ø partly the Divine act in the sprinkling of the blood of Christ and anointing of the Holy Ghost.
There is a use the Master has FOR EVERY CHRISTIAN. This use may be said to be (distributively) every good work. A Christian can be turned to more uses
than a particular kind of vessel. It rather needs all kinds of sacred vessels to
express his usefulness. His preparation, then, is no simple matter; it cannot
be carried through in a day or a year. In and through experience, embracing
our own exercise of soul and the Divine blessing, we acquire habitudes for
various kinds of service, which are not always in actual requisition, but
may at any time be in requisition. Let us, then, be in such a state of
preparation that the Master of the house can, as it were, take us up, and
use us for whatever work He has to be done.
· PURE FELLOWSHIP. “But flee youthful lusts, and follow after
righteousness, faith, love, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a
pure heart.” In this punctuation peace is not specially connected with what
follows. The idea is certainly, even from the context, pure fellowship.
Timothy was to act his part well in the Christian society with which he was
connected. He had yet youth on his side, and, while that had its large
possibilities of service, it had also its risks. It had fiery impulses, from
which even a youthful minister was not exempt, and by giving way to
which the Christian society would be seriously injured. Let him flee to a
distance from his peculiar temptations; on the other hand, let him be in
close pursuit of the virtues on which pure fellowship depends. There is that
Ø righteousness, which may be thought of as the observance
of the Divine rules, Then there is:
Ø faith, or reliance on promised strength.
Ø Then there is love, or proper regard for the common or individual good.
There is, lastly:
Ø peace, or the keeping up of cordial fellowship and cooperation with brethren.
The society by which he has to do his duty is regarded as composed of “them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” All the more that some called on the Lord without the pure heart must he be faithful to the terms of communion with all who, in good faith, were servants of the Lord.
· TREATMENT OF OPPOSERS.
Ø Avoidance of controversy with them. “But foolish and ignorant
questionings refuse, knowing that they gender strifes.” The apostle does
not say all questionings; for some might arise from honest difficulties, and
these deserved to be met. But he says such questionings as were foolish,
i.e. betrayed no honest struggle after the truth, and such as were ignorant,
i.e. betrayed ignorance of the position questioned. Such questionings as,
arising from egoism, did not deserve to be met, and the proper course was
to have nothing to do with them. For they could not gender conviction, but
petty strifes, in which the contest is not for the truth, but for personal or
Ø The arts of gentleness with them. “And the Lord’s servants must not
strive, but be gentle towards all, apt to teach, forbearing, in meekness
correcting them that oppose themselves.” The Lord’s servant, such as
Timothy was in a special sense, was not to strive. For how in that way
could he be the servant of Him who did not strive, nor cry, nor let His voice be heard in the streets? (Isaiah 42:2; Matthew 12:19) What became the Lord’s servant was to practice the arts of gentleness towards all. His part was, not to fight but to teach, not to be fiery under opposition, but to be patient. In accordance with his
being a teacher and not a mere disputant, he was to communicate
knowledge of the truth, by way of correcting false impressions to those
who opposed themselves; and, in doing so, he might expect provocation,
but in the character of the Lord’s servant he was to exhibit meekness.
Ø Object aimed at. “If peradventure God may give them repentance unto the knowledge of the truth, and they may recover themselves out of the
snare of the devil, having been taken captive by the Lord’s servant unto the will of God.” The interpretation which is introduced into the Revised Translation in the concluding words is not likely to find acceptance. There
is a strong characterization of the opposers. They are in the snare of the
devil, having been taken captive by him at the will of that person whose
will, it is hinted, is decided enough for evil. The grammatical objection
holds no more in Greek than in English; the thought is the badness of their
case, for whom notwithstanding he asks efforts to be made. In connection
with these efforts it was not impossible for God to grant them repentance,
that change of moral disposition which was necessary to the right
appreciation of the truth, and thus to recover them as from a state of
spiritual intoxication, and to bring them out of the devil’s snare. The
Lord’s servant is not soon to give up, but is to hope on, even with those
who seem to be the devil’s willing tools.
The Skilful Workman (vs. 15-26)
Besides the concentration of purpose, and the willingness to endure, which
are necessary to the faithful minister of Christ, two other qualifications are
no less needed.
By skill in his work we mean both the knowing what to avoid and shun, and THE
EFFECTIVE HANDLING OF THE WORD OF TRUTH. The minister of
Christ who wastes his time, and spends his strength in foolish and unlearned
questions and profane babblings; who strives about words to no profit; who
dabbles with philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, and not
after Christ; who intrudes into things which he hath not seen, bringing in strange
doctrines and carnal ordinances, and laying burdens upon the consciences
of his hearers, which God has not laid; — however earnest he may be, and
however willing he may be to endure trouble in defenSe of his teaching, is
not a workman approved unto God, or one that needeth not to be ashamed
of his work. He builds upon the foundation hay and stubble, instead of gold
and costly stones. But the skilful workman shuns this. He will not allow
himself to be enticed into unprofitable controversies, or fritter away his
zeal upon things of no moment. But he bends all the powers of his mind to
divide rightly the Word of truth. HOLY SCRIPTURE IS HIS MODEL!
What is made much of in Scripture he makes much of in his teaching. He
endeavors to preserve the relative proportion of doctrines which he finds in the
inspired pages; to treat of doctrine and of practice in the same way that they are
treated of in the Word — to speak as do the oracles of God. (For a role model
as a minister of Christ, I submit Charles Haddon Spurgeon, 1834-1892, and
his example can be found profusely on the Internet – CY – 2013). His aim is
neither to exaggerate nor to attenuate; to speak soberly, but not to speak
coldly; to say nothing that ought not to be said, and to leave unsaid nothing
that ought to be said. (He speaks “the truth in love” - Ephesians 4:15)
Thus will he be a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, “rightly
dividing the Word of truth” (v. 15). The other qualification is
scarcely less important. “The Lord’s servant must not strive” (v. 24).
He must meet contradiction, opposition, gainsaying, with gentleness, meekness,
and love. The voice of his Master was not heard in the street, lifted up
in anger, or crying out in wrangling and disputes. He neither reviled
His revilers nor threatened His persecutors (Isaiah 42:1-4; Matthew
12:17-21; II Peter 2:23). His servant must be like Him. Loving,
forbearing, patient, apt to teach, with a burning desire to save his
opponents, he must go on his work, despairing of none, wearied out by
none, praying for all, if God peradventure will give them repentance to the
acknowledging of the truth, and bring them out of the captivity of sin into
the glorious liberty of the children of God.
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