2 Timothy Chapter 2, part 2

May 14, 2010

As Paul contemplated his likely martyrdom, his concerns turned toward the future of the churches he had started. There were already signs that the message was drifting off course in some places. Constant vigilance was needed to keep non-Christian philosophies from polluting the message.

2Ti 2:14 Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.
2Ti 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
2Ti 2:16 Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.
2Ti 2:17 Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus,
2Ti 2:18 who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.

Paul drew a contrast between quarreling and godless chatter on one hand, and correctly handling the scriptures on the other. Men like Hymenaeus and Philetus were arguing against fundamental principles of the Christian faith, and were having a growing, harmful effect on the church. Paul called this “godless chatter.” Quarreling about words may have the appearance of taking the Word of God seriously, but Paul said it was of no value, and harmful to those who hear it. He challenged Timothy to learn to handle the scriptures correctly.

Hymenaeus and Philetus were saying that the resurrection has already taken place–that is, that there would be no future bodily resurrection. That would have been acceptable to Jewish Sadducees, and to some Gnostics. But it was false teaching and was destroying the faith of some. As Paul said elsewhere, if it is for this life only that we have hope in Jesus, we are of all men most to be pitied!

2000 years later, we still have a lot of quarreling and godless chatter. People like to fantasise about the visions in Daniel and Revelation. They quarrel about complex topics like predestination and free will. For many, Christianity has become a competition of intellects, a never-ending debate. And so they miss the whole point.

2Ti 2:19 Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”

Paul urged Timothy to focus his preaching on turning people from wickedness. Repentance and lordship are the solid foundation for Christian life. That’s not the most popular part of the message. But he charged Timothy with preaching it regardless of the personal risk in those dangerous times.

2Ti 2:20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble.
2Ti 2:21 If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes [even martyrdom?] made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.
2Ti 2:22 Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

God’s purposes are noble. He has noble plans for us. Certainly the job of preaching the Word is the most noble of callings. But to fulfill that calling, Christians must “flee the evil desires of youth” (you know what they are…) and pursue a different kind of life — one characterised by righteousness, faith, love, and peace. That was not just the standard for the minister, but for all those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

So how was Timothy supposed to address the quarreling and godless chatter while at the same time pursuing love and peace?

2Ti 2:23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.
2Ti 2:24 And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.
2Ti 2:25 Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth,
2Ti 2:26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

Paul taught Timothy that he was not to get involved in the quarrelling. Instead Timothy was commanded to teach with kindness, without resentment, with gentleness. Someone might ask, “How will kind and gentle teaching bring someone to repentance?” Paul provided the answer. It is not the minister, but God, who puts repentance in their hearts. Have faith that God will do his part!

After Paul departed from this life, false teachers arose and tried to lead the believers away. In addition to the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers came several varieties of Gnosticism. Paul wanted to be sure that after he was gone the leaders of the church would know how to oppose these heresies.

Today we still have to be prepared to oppose heresies such as these. Like Timothy, we must avoid quarrels and teach kindly and gently. It is God’s Word, and not our clever ideas, that will bring people to repentance. We need to preach the scriptures accurately, and to have faith that God will bring people to repentance.

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