1 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier on service gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to satisfy the one who enlisted him. 5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. 7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will grant you understanding in everything.

8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David, as preached in my gospel, 9 the gospel for which I am suffering and wearing fetters like a criminal. But the word of God is not fettered. 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain salvation in Christ Jesus with its eternal glory.

11 The saying is sure: If we have died with him, we shall also live with him; 12 if we endure, we shall also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful -- for he cannot deny himself.

14 Remind them of this, and charge them before the Lord to avoid disputing about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 16 Avoid such godless chatter, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will eat its way like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth by holding that the resurrection is past already. They are upsetting the faith of some.

19 But God's firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: "The Lord knows those who are his," and, "Let every one who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity." 20 In a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and earthenware, and some for noble use, some for ignoble. 21 If any one purifies himself from what is ignoble, then he will be a vessel for noble use, consecrated and useful to the master of the house, ready for any good work.

22 So shun youthful passions and aim at righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call upon the Lord from a pure heart. 23 Have nothing to do with stupid, senseless controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to every one, an apt teacher, forbearing, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth, 26 and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.  Version: New Revised Standard Version

COMMENTS

General:

  • Now we come to one of my favorite chapters in all of scripture, 2 Timothy 2 -- replete with lessons for Christians of all ages, and for all who desire to make an impact on the world.
  • First Paul urges Timothy, his spiritual son, to be "strong in the grace" (v.1). But there is a context: Paul's situation as described in chapter 1. Leadership is lonely; there will always be opposition; and the man of God may be tempted to keep silent, either through shame or cowardice. We need God. Paul knows it, and he reminds Timothy to rely on God's grace, too. This will take perseverance (vv.3-7).
  • Not only can Timothy not succeed without the Lord; neither can he succeed without others. Verse 2 refers to those to whom the message must be entrusted if it is to continue to spread. This implies biblical training and commissioning to communicate the message to the churched and unchurched alike. Even those who know the gospel need to be reminded of its deep truths, and strengthened in them (vv.8-13).
  • As Timothy trains others to take their stand on the truth, several principles come to the fore:
    • Quarrelling, whether semantic or otherwise, is fruitless (v.14).
    • The key requirement is that the man of God be a man of the Word (v.15).
    • Useless discussion, even if it is not argumentative, has a corrosive effect (vv.16-17).
    • Righteous living is essential if God is going to use us for noble purposes (vv.19ff).
      • Repentance is a foundational teaching (v.19). Those who have not repented do not belong to the Lord.
      • God will use anybody, even a pagan or non-believer, but to be used for noble purposes we must be clean (vv.20-21). That is why sin, even "in small quantities," is serious.
      • With this in view, Timothy himself must flee unrighteousness and strive for righteousness (v.23). Being a Christian isn't just what we don't do, negatively defined. It is positively defined: what we do do.
    • Any teacher of the faith will be opposed (vv.24-26). See also 3:12.
      • Some controversies must be avoided entirely (v.23).
      • A teacher must be kind to others (v.24) -- just as Christ taught others with gentleness. See Matthew 11:29; Ephesians 4:2.
      • He must leave outcomes to God (v.25); he cannot control others.
      • Through the process, the teacher, though tactful, is no mere diplomat; he knows the stakes are eternal and that certain truths, including eternal judgment, are black and white (v.26).

Advanced:

  • For an excellent book on grace, see Tom Jones, Strong in the Grace.
  • Athletes typically prepared for the games with ten months of preparation.
  • Verse 7 is not saying that the Spirit will mystically teach us divine truths, only that the truth of Paul's teaching will become evident to Timothy as he processes it mentally and applies it in his ministry.
  • Verses 11-13 include a clear implicit rejection of "once saved, always saved."
    • Scholars who accept that free will can lead to losing one's salvation include Robert Shank and I. Howard Marshall.
    • Lock paraphrases vv.11-13: Who shares Christ's death His life shall share: / They reign with Him their cross who bear: / Who Him deny He will deny: / Though our faith fall, He cannot lie.
  • Not all errant doctrines and erring teachers require equally strong treatment.
    • An example of the sort of teaching to be silenced: the notion that the resurrection has already taken place (v.18). The effect of such a doctrine is to discourage people from living a righteous life.
    • An example of the sort of person to be silenced: Hymenaeus (v.17; 1:20), a high-level leader in the Christian community,
  • "The Lord knows those who are his" is a direct quote from Numbers 16:5 LXX, the passage on Korah's rebellion -- thus a reference to the false teachers troubling the Ephesian community.
    • Just as Korah challenges the authority of Moses, so the false teachers will challenge Timothy. They resent the call to holiness, preferring to water down the righteous standards of the Lord.
    • The Lord fiercely protects and honors his chosen leaders.
  • For a full study of the three pastoral epistles, click here.

Thought questions:

  • In what ways could my Christian walk be compared to the life of a soldier? an athlete? a farmer?
  • When I get involved in a religious discussion, does the interaction tend to degenerate to quarrelling? If so, is there a principle in 2 Timothy 2 that I need to apply?
  • In my knowledge of the word, would I be accurately described as "one approved, a workman who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth"?
  • As a vessel for the Master's service, do I keep myself purified?