The Agora
Bible Commentary
2 Timothy

1 2 3 4

2 Timothy 2

2Ti 2:1

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).

2Ti 2:2

"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.

2Ti 2:3

Vv 3,4: The believer as a soldier: 2Co 10:3-5. Our life is a warfare: 1Ti 6:12; Eph 6:14-19.

2Ti 2:4

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).

2Ti 2:5

V 5: The believer as athlete (cp 1Co 9:24-27; 2Ti 4:7,8).

COMPETES ACCORDING TO THE RULES: Or, perhaps, "TRAINS according to the prescribed rules." See Lesson, Olympics -- ancient, modern, and "Christian".

2Ti 2:6

// 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!

2Ti 2:7

See Lesson, Sayings of faith in Pastorals.

'May the Lord give you understanding as to how these analogies and lessons apply, practically, to you.'

2Ti 2:9

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).

2Ti 2:10

ETERNAL GLORY: "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all" (2Co 4:17,18).

2Ti 2:11

See Lesson, Sayings of faith in Pastorals.

IF WE DIED WITH HIM: That is, in baptism (Rom 6:4-8).

2Ti 2:12

ENDURE: The KJV translated "hupomeno" as "suffer", but it means more than that: it means to bear up under sufferings, or to "endure".

IF WE DISOWN HIM...: See Mat 25:31-46; 10:33.

2Ti 2:14

IT IS OF NO VALUE: Ct 1Co 15:58: "Your labor in the Lord is not in vain."

2Ti 2:15

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" (Richard Baxter).

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 us.

"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" (AB Simpson).

"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).

2Ti 2:17

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.

2Ti 2:18

THE RESURRECTION HAS ALREADY TAKEN PLACE: An erroneous use of Mat 27:52,53?

2Ti 2:19

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 panicky.

"But why should we? Did Paul? No! He says: 'The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal: The Lord knoweth them that are his.'

"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).

2Ti 2:20

ARTICLES: "Skeuos": "vessels", usually pottery -- made of clay, as men are! Cp 2Co 4:7: "We have this treasure in jars of clay."

"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 we!"

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!

2Ti 2:21

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).

2Ti 2:22

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 time.'

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 latter" (GVG).

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).

2Ti 2:23

"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" (GVG).

"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 strivings" (CHS).

"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).

2Ti 2:24

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 all" (GVG).

"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.

2Ti 2:25

"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).

2Ti 2:26

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"!

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