2 Timothy 2
2Ti 2: Note the eight "occupations" of the believer: (1) son
(vv 1,2); (2) soldier (vv 3,4); (3) athlete (v 5); (4) farmer (vv 6-8); (5)
criminal (vv 9-13); (6) workman (v 15); (7) "vessel", "instrument", or "student"
(vv 19-21); and (8) servant (vv 24-26).
SON: The firstborn son, beginning of his father's
strength (Gen 49:3). Timothy was Paul's "son" (1Ti 1:2).
"The nearest thing to apostolic succession to be found in the
Bible" -- and it has all to do with knowledge, not power and authority and
office! It is knowledge, the saving knowledge of the gospel, that is to be
passed along from one generation to another.
Vv 3,4: The believer as a soldier: 2Co 10:3-5. Our life is a
warfare: 1Ti 6:12; Eph 6:14-19.
Vv 4-6: The soldier, athlete, and farmer: (1) Each pursuit is
undertaken by free choice; (2) Each requires discipline of self; (3) Each has
long-term aims which influence present actions; (4) Thus, each requires patience
and endurance (BS 12:25).
V 5: The believer as athlete (cp 1Co 9:24-27; 2Ti
COMPETES ACCORDING TO THE RULES: Or, perhaps, "TRAINS
according to the prescribed rules." See Lesson, Olympics -- ancient, modern, and "Christian".
// Jam 5:7,8; cp 1Co 9:7. Those who have been the "seed" (Mat
13) become, in turn, farmers... sowing the seed for others!
See Lesson, Sayings of faith in Pastorals.
'May the Lord give you understanding as to how these analogies
and lessons apply, practically, to you.'
CRIMINAL: Or "malefactor" (Luk 23:32).
CHAINED LIKE A CRIMINAL: Prob Paul was bodily chained
to a Roman soldier (Xd 121:174). Cp Phi 1:7-17; Phm 1:9-13.
How can a believer be like a criminal? Because his Lord
("Remember Jesus Christ": v 8) was treated as a criminal... suffering unjustly
(v 12) -- giving us an example to follow (1Pe 2:22-25).
ETERNAL GLORY: "For our light and momentary troubles
are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all" (2Co
See Lesson, Sayings of faith in Pastorals.
IF WE DIED WITH HIM: That is, in baptism (Rom
ENDURE: The KJV translated "hupomeno" as "suffer", but
it means more than that: it means to bear up under sufferings, or to
IF WE DISOWN HIM...: See Mat 25:31-46; 10:33.
IT IS OF NO VALUE: Ct 1Co 15:58: "Your labor in the
Lord is not in vain."
DO YOUR BEST: Gr "spoudazo": "give diligence" (RSV). Sw
2Ti 4:9; 4:21; Tit 3:12; Heb 4:11. The word does not mean "study" (as in KJV) or
"book-learning" as such... although that may well be included. Rather, it means
to "do your best", to "make every effort", to train and learn, diligently, in
whatever way presents itself. In modern terms, we would probably do well to
think -- not just of school or university -- but of apprenticeship programs
thereafter, and of practical job training and experience.
DO YOUR BEST TO PRESENT YOURSELF TO GOD AS ONE
APPROVED: "Were you but as willing to get the knowledge of God and heavenly
things as you are to know how to work in your trade, you would have set yourself
to it before this day, and you would have spared no cost or pains till you had
got it. But you account seven years little enough to learn your trade and will
not bestow one day in seven in diligent learning the matters of your salvation"
A WORKMAN WHO DOES NOT NEED TO BE ASHAMED: "There is no
retirement age in the Truth. This is a fatal folly. 'Retirement' is such an
obsession in this indulgent and decadent age that it can infect our thinking in
the Truth. We do not mention names very often, but we feel we must here. I know
a brother who has never retired, though he is now ninety years old. He still
carries on his ecclesial duties each week, and his considerable correspondence,
and all his work to the best of his ability. He finds he can do frustratingly
less now than in former years, and the effort is harder, and the joy of vigorous
activity has gone, but other and deeper joys take its place. 'Occupy
(pragmateuomai: work, keep busy -- from pragma, work) until I come'... 'He that
endureth to the end shall be saved.' Don't be trapped and deceived into the
lazy, selfish, worldly 'retirement' complex. The Truth needs faithful workers
unto the end. Let us be among them" (GVG).
CORRECTLY HANDLES THE WORD OF TRUTH: The diligent
workman will "correctly handle" (or "rightly divide": KJV) the word of truth!
This is a figure of a workman who is careful and accurate in his work. The Gr
"orthotomounta" elsewhere describes a tentmaker who makes straight rather than
wavy cuts in his material. It pictures a builder who lays bricks in straight
rows and a farmer who plows a straight furrow (RWP).
Probably a reference to the writing of Hebrew way of writing
-- with no spaces between words and no vowels; in such a situation, "dividing
the words" incorrectly would change the meaning.
The Greek means "making straight, or clean, cuts" -- and
suggests a priest dividing up the sacrifices for the altar. A priest's job is to
examine thoroughly the potential sacrifice -- to ascertain that it is free of
disease and defect -- in accordance with Divine instructions. Similarly, we as
believers are to examine -- thoroughly -- ourselves, alongside and in light of
the Word of God, to determine that our inner selves (our hearts and minds and
spirits) correspond to and reflect what God is revealing in His message to
"God has hidden every precious thing in such a way that it is
a reward to the diligent, a prize to the earnest, but a disappointment to the
slothful soul. All nature is arrayed against the lounger and the idler. The nut
is hidden in its thorny case; the pearl is buried beneath the ocean waves; the
gold is imprisoned in the rocky bosom of the mountains; the gem is found only
after you crush the rock which encloses it; the very soil gives its harvest as a
reward only to the laboring farmer. So truth and God must be earnestly sought"
"Study of the Word is essential to spiritual transformation,
which in turn is essential to salvation. Most people are too lazy to study.
They'd rather drift, or be entertained. That's why Disneyland, and the infantile
rubbish on TV, is so popular. A large number of people read, because they enjoy
it. And it may even be good reading, reading on the Truth -- but few people
study. Study is effort and digging and concentration, and a methodical going
over and over to get things clear, and fixed in the mind. Reading can be a mere
passing pleasure, a lazy relaxation, giving the satisfying and salving illusion
of real interest in Divine things, but it is not necessarily study. Study is
disciplining the mind to consistent, purposeful labor and accomplishment. The
motive must be love. If we do not love God enough to want to study and learn all
we can about His Word and work, then we are of no use to Him. Be sure your
reading is purposeful, beneficial study" (GVG).
HYMENAEUS: Mentioned in 1Ti 1:20 and 2Ti 2:17,
condemned by Paul for false teaching. He appears to have rejected the apostolic
teaching and the dictates of conscience. For this Paul delivered him over to
"Satan" (cf 1Co 5:5) to teach him the error of blaspheming.
THE RESURRECTION HAS ALREADY TAKEN PLACE: An erroneous
use of Mat 27:52,53?
THE LORD KNOWS THOSE WHO ARE HIS: Citing Moses' words
in Num 16:5, re the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.
EVERYONE WHO CONFESSES THE NAME OF THE LORD MUST TURN AWAY
FROM WICKEDNESS: Cp Num 16:26 LXX: "Depart, I pray you, from the tents of
these wicked men." But the destruction of them, when it came, came by the hand
of God Himself -- not by Moses' hand.
The imprisoned Paul is concerned for Timothy his beloved son
in the faith. How should he discharge his responsible duties in the household?
Already men like Hymeneus and Philetus were undermining the doctrine of the
resurrection and destroying the faith of some (2Ti 2:17,18). It seemed as though
the foundations of the truth were crumbling all around. Was it time to give up
hope, to flee like a hireling from the wolves of rebellion and pride and error?
No, the answer of the old apostle was clear: "Nevertheless [ie, despite all the
difficulties and problems you see on every side]... nevertheless the foundation
of God stands sure" (v 19).
How do we know this, Paul? 'You have this seal -- this
guarantee: Men may attempt to subvert, to destroy, and to corrupt God's Truth,
but they cannot succeed. The Lord knoweth them that are His! In the proper time
the others will be dispensed with.'
Paul's words echo those of Moses at the time of the rebellion
of Korah and his allies -- "In the morning the Lord will show who are his, and
who is holy" (Num 16:3).
"If we can bring ourselves to realize that all is at all times
in the unerring and almighty hand of God, and that we are but a small cog in a
vast machine, we shall not be trapped into that self-important anxiety that
leads to hastiness and harshness.
"When we see worldliness gaining ground in an ecclesia; when
we see modern customs making a mockery of Scriptural ordinances... when we see
attendance gradually diminishing and worldly things interfering even on Sunday
morning; when we see... that shallow and self-important little minds introduce
new crotchets and speculations -- we are apt to become despondent and
"But why should we? Did Paul? No! He says: 'The foundation of
God standeth sure, having this seal: The Lord knoweth them that are
"And the apostle, far from despondency, sounded out from his
prison-cell inspiring words of courage, and patience, and glorious hope. Without
bitterness, but with terrible significance, he points out (2Ti 2:20) that in a
great house there are not only vessels of honor, but also vessels of dishonor.
If a man will purify himself, he shall be among the vessels of honor.
"This may seem a strange way to give encouragement, but it
would help Timothy to realize that ecclesial disappointments and difficulties do
not necessarily mean an abandonment by God, but are rather a part of the divine
wisdom of trial and probation" (GVG, Ber 57:114).
ARTICLES: "Skeuos": "vessels", usually pottery -- made
of clay, as men are! Cp 2Co 4:7: "We have this treasure in jars of
"Suppose you went to a friend's house one day and wanted a
glass of water. You go into the kitchen and see all across the counter numerous
glasses. As you look closer, you see that every one is dirty -- lipstick, old
cocoa, mold, food, etc. But behind the sink you notice a peanut butter jar that
is sparkling clean. What would you use to drink out of? God is no dumber than
In other words, the most common "vessels" can be clean, and
attractive and useful to God, while the most precious and expensive can be
filthy, and thus worthless!
IF A MAN CLEANSES HIMSELF FROM THE LATTER: That is, the
"ignoble uses" of v 20.
USEFUL TO THE MASTER: "Man in the first estate is 'a
little lower than the angels;' but, in the second, or higher estate, he is to be
'crowned with glory and honor,' and to take his stand in the universe upon an
equality with them in nature and renown. Man's first estate is the natural and
animal; his second, the spiritual, or incorruptible. To be exalted from the
present to the future state and inheritance, he must be subjected to trial. From
the examples recorded in the scriptures, it is evident, that God has established
it as a rule. of his grace; that is, the principle upon which he bestows his
honors and rewards -- to prove men before he exalts them. Probation, then, is
the indispensable ordeal, to which every man is subjected in the providence of
God, before he is accepted as 'fit for the Master's use' " (Elp 66).
FLEE THE EVIL DESIRES OF YOUTH: "Flee also youthful
lusts" (cp 1Ti 4:12) -- but do not flee the ecclesia! "Avoid foolish and
unlearned questions" (v 23) -- but do not avoid the foolish and unlearned
brethren who need your counsel now more than ever. Be patient and meek; do not
despair. It may be that by your longsuffering instruction some will be brought
to repentance who would otherwise have perished in a general apostasy.
In Christadelphian circles, there will probably always be some
who agitate for division and subdivision by an appeal for precise
interpretations upon "words" and "phrases" that are far beyond the grasp of the
average brother or sister. In their hands the gospel is in danger of becoming
the province of "experts", while the ordinary believer must in his confusion
choose which of the "expert" disputants to follow. (In that case, however, how
can such disputes -- even if it be presumed one side is right and the other
wrong -- be matters of foundation truth, relevant to fellowship, when the
ordinary majority can hardly make heads or tails of the arguments?) Such men as
these will accuse others of slackness and toleration when they decline to go to
the same lengths in denouncing and excommunicating "error". Paul says, in
effect: 'Never mind such criticism. God knows the feelings that motivate your
actions. God knows who are truly His, and He will reveal them in due
PURSUE RIGHTEOUSNESS: "Righteousness is an inseparable,
balanced combination of Truth and Love. If either ingredient is lacking, or
flawed, or weak, it is not true scriptural righteousness. Let us labor
diligently to strengthen and perfect both within us, but let us be especially
observant of that side of Righteousness in which we tend naturally to be most
weak. By nature, some of us are weakest on one side, and some on the other. One
great danger is that, between two individuals that are weak in opposite
directions, there is almost inevitable friction and controversy. There are two
opposite and unbalanced emphases, when there should be one common central
balanced emphasis on both. A balanced person, strong in both aspects of
Righteousness, can help reconcile such conflicts. Let us strive mightily to the
A PURE HEART: "God, Who calls us to become His sons and
daughters, is the perfection of purity and holiness. This thought has great
power: we should meditate on it constantly. It is wholesome, and purging, and
purifying to the mind. Naturally, we are unclean: physically, morally, mentally.
Natural man tends inevitably to filth, like a child to mud and dirt. Read Rom 1;
look about you: it is ordinary, animal man in all his beloved, infantile dirt.
But love of God can open the mind to the joy of cleanness and the beauty of
holiness. Keep the mind fixed on the glorious purity of God" (GVG).
"There are many unanswered questions in the Bible, and they
are often bandied profitlessly back and forth, while the practical meat of
divine instruction is overlooked. The real teaching of Christ bears down hard on
the flesh, so naturally the flesh prefers to turn its attention to side issues
which do not relate to the way of life.
But when we read the Scriptures, let us try to keep our
attention on the heart of the flesh-mortifying teaching, and not allow it to
deceitfully expend itself on the incidental scenery, for the heart of man is
'deceitful above all things.' Let us concentrate on the practical aspects -- the
holiness, the service to God and others, the self-denial, the kindness and
meekness, the purification, the eschewing of earthly treasures and pleasures,
the faith and fearless allegiance to Jesus, the humble, lowly way of life"
"Our days are few, and are far better spent in doing good,
than in disputing over matters which are, at best, of minor importance. The old
schoolmen did a world of mischief by their incessant discussion of subjects of
no practical importance; and our churches suffer much from petty wars over
abstruse points and unimportant questions. After everything has been said that
can be said, neither party is any the wiser, and therefore the discussion no
more promotes knowledge than love, and it is foolish to sow in so barren a
field. Questions upon points wherein Scripture is silent; upon mysteries which
belong to God alone; upon prophecies of doubtful interpretation; and upon mere
modes of observing human ceremonials, are all foolish, and wise men avoid them.
Our business is neither to ask nor answer foolish questions, but to avoid them
altogether; and if we observe the apostle's precept (Tit 3:8) to be careful to
maintain good works, we shall find ourselves far too much occupied with
profitable business to take much interest in unworthy, contentious, and needless
"If anyone should raise the question how we can avoid strife
in view of the wrong attitude taken by others, we surely have the answer in this
positive instruction. If we are convinced that those who oppose us are doing
wrong and that in faithfulness to the Truth we must contend with them, we have
ready to hand a splendid test of our discipleship. We have an opportunity to be
gentle, patient and meek in instructing those who oppose themselves. If these
qualities could be cultivated all round it might soon be found that there was no
need for any further argument. Wrongdoing would accept the necessary reproof and
wrong thinking would be corrected. The apostolic method would remove all the
fuel that feeds the destructive fire. The railing, striving and impatient
disputing, the personal hits and retorts of the carnal mind, continuously add
fuel to the fires of wrath until even some who try to obey the teaching of the
Word may perish in the flames" (PrPr).
See Lesson, Military and police.
V 24: "The word used here means 'fight' or 'quarrel'
and is never scripturally used in a good sense. (Five other words are also
translated 'strive'). If we can accomplish this basic attitude, then we have the
groundwork for the gradual bringing unto perfection of the fruit of the Spirit.
But it must go deep. The natural, evil, irritable human tendency to quarrel must
be completely dissolved away by the mind of the Spirit, not just side-tracked
into other channels by being given a spiritual veneer. The servant of the Lord
must not strive, fight, or quarrel, but must be calm, patient, and gentle toward
"We do not need the apostle's words to convince us that such
strife is an evil in human life. Not only does it prevent constructive work by
its greedy absorption of human energy, but it has a definite and obvious
influence for ill on the minds of those who engage in it. Men who aim to be fit
for the Kingdom of God only need to have a little experience of such strife and
sometimes they become hardly fit to live even in the kingdoms of men" (PrPr).
See Lesson, Prov and strife.
"If we can bring ourselves to realize that all things are at
all times in the unerring and almighty hand of God, and that we are each but a
small cog in a vast machine, we shall not be trapped into that self-important
anxiety that leads to hastiness and harshness. When we see worldliness, and
unclean, debasing habits gaining ground in an ecclesia; when we see modern
customs and fashions making a mockery of scriptural ordinances: when we see some
we have loved and labored with drifting away; when we see attendances gradually
diminishing and worldly things interfering even on Sunday mornings, we are apt
to become despondent and panicky. But why should we? Did Paul? NO! 'The
foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal: THE LORD KNOWETH THEM THAT
ARE HIS' (2Ti 2:19). And the apostle, far from despondency, sounded out from his
prison-cell inspiring words of courage, and patience, and glorious hope. Without
bitterness, but with terrible significance, he points out to Timothy (2Ti 2:20),
that in a great house there are not only vessels of honor, but also vessels of
dishonor. If a man will purify himself, he shall be among the vessels of honor,
he says. This may seem a strange way to give encouragement, but it would help
Timothy to realize that ecclesial disappointments and difficulties do not
necessarily mean an abandonment by God, but are rather a part of the divine
wisdom of probation.
"If things were so in Paul's day, what are we to expect at the
time of the end -- the 'perilous times' of the 'last days' of which he speaks in
the beginning of 2Ti 3?" (GVG).
GENTLY: See Lesson, Gentleness.
"There is a story about a man standing by his stalled
automobile hoping someone will stop and give him a push. Finally a lady pulls up
along side of him and asks if she can help. The gentleman explains that he needs
a push but adds that his car has an automatic transmission and that she will
need to get up to 35 mph before his engine will start. She agrees to give him a
push and backs up to get behind him. He jumps into his car and waits and waits
and waits, finally he looks behind him to see where she has gone just in time to
see her coming at him 35 mph. Of course there is a big crash and now instead of
one car needing a push we have two cars needing a tow truck.
"There is no doubt the lady meant well and truly wanted to
help. The problem is she went about it the wrong way. She did not know that to
push another car one must get up against the bumper very gently and begin very
slowly and then gradually pick up speed.
"How often have we had a desire to help others who are
spiritually low and because we can see they need a push we come at them at 35
mph? In spite of our best intentions we end up with a collision instead of a
push. Paul gives us good advice when he says, 'The servant of the Lord must not
strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness
instructing those that oppose themselves' " (MM).
COME TO THEIR SENSES: Lit, "sober up"!
THE DEVIL: Defined by context: "slanderous" in 2Ti 3:3
is "diaboloi"! Men (and women) can be "devils"!