Author: Ron Graham
Faithful and Strong 2
A verse by verse study outline in Paul’s second letter to Timothy. In this lesson we examine chapter 2, verses 14-26, looking at the strength of faith and truth in Timothy, Paul, and their fellow gospel workers.
3 The Workman’s Strength
¶“14Remind [those who preach] of these things. Charge them before the Lord not to quarrel about words. There is no profit in that, rather it ruins those who hear it. 15Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16But shun worldly and empty babblings, for they will lead on to more ungodliness. 17And their message will, like gangrene, find pasture to grow.” (2Timothy 2:14-17a).
¶“Hymenaeus and Philetus are of that ilk. 18They have strayed regarding the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past, and overthrowing the faith of some. 19Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: 'The Lord knows those who are His,' and, 'Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity '.” (2Timothy 2:17b-19).
¶“20Now in a great house there are not only golden vessels and silver, but also wooden and earthen. Indeed, some vessels are for honor, but some for dishonor. 22So if anyone cleanses himself from dishonourable things, he will be a vessel for honor, dedicated and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.” (2Timothy 2:20-21).
¶“22Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who, out of a pure heart, call on the Lord. 23But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. 24And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25humbly correcting those who are in opposition. God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may come to know the truth, 26come to their senses, and escape the snare of the devil who took them captive to do his will.” (2Timothy 2:22-26).
Paul now includes other preachers. They are not all approved by Christ and strong like Paul and Timothy and the "faithful men" mentioned in verse 1. Some preachers went astray. They babbled false doctrines and opposed the true preachers such as Paul and Timothy and those who embraced Paul’s teaching.
(Verses 14-17a) —Worldly babble versus the rightly divided word.
- Profitable discussion. Intelligent debate is a good thing when the Bible is its reference for proof. Such debate gets at the truth. On the other hand, "quarrels about words" do great harm.
- Praiseworthy diligence. If Timothy, and all other workers for the Lord, give diligence in applying themselves to the Lord’s work, they will gain his approval. He will say, "Well done good and faithful servant..." (Matthew 25:21). They will say, "We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty" (Luke 17:10).
- Proper interpretation. Being diligent includes taking paints to interpret the scripture carefully. We must make sure that there are no twists in the way we handle the scriptures. In particular, we nust not turn aside to worldly speculations but keep a straight course in the scriptures. As we study the scriptures, they will interpret themselves consistently. That's the interpretation we should seek.
(Verses 17b-19) —Those who have strayed versus those the Lord knows.
- Naming the babblers. We don't know how Hymenaeus and Philetus felt about being named, but Paul thought it was necessary considering they had already ruined the faith of some Christians.
- Blaming their doctrine. These two men said that the resurrection, to which Paul looked forward, had aleady happened. In saying this they were wrecking the faith of some Christians. False doctrine does great harm and therefore must be opposed.
- Claiming the solid foundation. Paul assures us that his gospel is a sure foundation that stands unshaken whatever false teachings go against it. The foundation has a seal, in the form of an inscription, with two statements about God and his workers. (1) God knows the true workers who belong to him. He recognises the true and rejects the false. (2) If we lay claim to the name "Christian", we had better make sure we depart from iniquity and its falsehood, and do not depart from the gospel.
(Verses 20-21) —Vessels of dishonour versus vessels of honour.
- A Parable. Paul describes the vessels used in the houses of the rich. Silver and gold vessels are in a place of honour such as drinking vessels on the rich man’s table. Wood and earthen vessels have less honourable uses and may be kept out of sight —under the bed for example.
- It's Meaning. The vessels in the parable are God’s workers. Now God has not appointed any worker to dishonour. All his workers can aspire to being honourable vessels for the word, golden vessels for the gospel. God’s workers are dishonourable only if they are false teachers. Every Christian should be "a vessel for honor, dedicated and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work".
- Note:— Earthen vessels. In another place, Paul says, "We have this treasure in earthen vessels" (2 Corinthians 4:5-7). There he speaks of our physical bodies as jars of clay which carry the glorious gospel. By this metaphor he is not referring to dishonour but to humility.
(Verses 22-26) —Captives of the devil versus servants of the Lord.
- The devil's enticement. Timothy is counselled to flee youthful lusts. Where do they come from? They are the bait in "the snare of the devil".
- The servant’s pursuit. God’s worker doesn't just flee the devil by running to anywhere. He runs in pursuit of righteousness, faith, love, and peace. He is running on one path which takes him away from the devil and his world, and toward heavenly things.
- The devil's joke. The devil stirs up strife among brethren by making them think their foolishness and ignorance is wisdom. He sits back and laughs while they quarrel.
- The servant’s strengths. God’s worker uses the attributes of gentleness, skilled teaching, patience, and humble correction of errors. These make for solid and effective teaching.
- The devil’s opposition. Those attributes are essential to maintain because there will always be opposers endangering the gospel work. The devil will see to that.
- The servant’s victory. Those same attributes will also turn some opposers back to the truth and to their right mind, escaping the devil’s snare.