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2 Timothy 2:1-26

Author: Dr. George M. Flattery

2 Timothy 2:1-26

NAS 2 Timothy 2:1 You, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. 3 Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. 5 And also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. 6 The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops.

Thoughts about 2 Timothy: 2:1-7. Paul is concerned about the spiritual health of the church both current and future. Paul calls on Timothy to be a faithful proclaimer of the gospel. First, Paul exhorts Timothy to be strong in the grace that is in Jesus Christ. Grace is God’s unmerited favor. It was by means of grace and in the sphere of grace that Timothy could be a faithful and effective servant.

Second, Paul writes a verse that is central to the message of this letter. He states 2 “And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (verse 2).

Timothy should entrust Paul’s message to faithful men who will be able to teach others. In other words, even though Timothy is much younger than Paul, Paul wants Timothy to entrust the message to those who can teach others. We have a responsibility for the continuity of the gospel message.

Third, Paul follows this key verse with three analogies. He asks Timothy (1) to suffer hardship as a good soldier of Christ Jesus, (2) to compete as an athlete according to the rules, and (3) to receive as a farmer his share of the crops.

These analogies present both a challenge and a future spiritual prize to all who would be proclaimers of the gospel. When God calls us into service, He does not promise an easy road. Inevitably, we will be faced with challenges and hardships. However, God will reward us for our service.

More Thoughts about 2 Timothy 2:7-13

Paul has just given Timothy three analogies to illustrate how he ought to live and lead. He should be like a good soldier, an athlete, and a farmer. In verse 8, Paul encourages Timothy to consider what he has said.
When he does, God will give understanding.

Next, Paul tells Timothy to remember Jesus Christ, a descendant of David who is risen from the dead. It is for Jesus Christ that Paul suffers hardship. That hardship includes being imprisoned as a criminal. However, Paul gives the great truth that the Word of God is not imprisoned. The suffering that Paul endures is for the sake of the chosen, that they may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus.

Paul then says: “11 It is a trustworthy statement: For if we 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” (verses 11-13).

Regarding the gospel, there are two paths that people can follow. One path, unfortunately, is the way of denial and rejection of the gospel. When people deny the Lord, He will deny them. The other path is identifying with Jesus Christ. This includes dying with Christ and living with Him. Even when men are faithless, God remains faithful to His promises. Let us be thankful today that we serve God who is faithful.

More Thoughts about 2 Timothy 2:14-19

There was a group of false teachers at Ephesus. This caused quite a bit of contentious discussion in the church. Paul was quite concerned about this. Paul asked Timothy to remind his audience that they should endure hardship, remain faithful to the message that he preached, and proclaim that message to others. This charge, Paul says, was to be made in the presence of God.

As he preached the truth, Timothy should not “wrangle about words.” Worldly and empty chatter easily spreads. Instead, Timothy should present himself as a workman that handles rightly the word of truth. There are doctrinal issues that faithful teachers discuss, sometimes agree on, but at other times respectfully disagree. However, our doctrinal discussions should not descend to a level of wrangling about words.

Paul writes about one issue that illustrates what he says to Timothy. He says: “17 Among them [the false teachers] are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and thus they upset the faith of some” 19 (verses 17-19).

Despite false teaching, the “firm foundation of God” stands. The foundation includes the apostles, the church, the Word of God, and ultimately Christ Himself. There is no need to limit the meaning. The Lord knows those who are faithful to Him. His knowledge of them marks them as His own.

We are God’s sons. We should be concerned that the truth will stand and be preached. We ought to do all we can to accurately preach the message. We can thank the Lord for all of those who labor in Bible schools as well as in churches to rightly preach and teach the Word.

20 Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and earthenware, some to honor and some to dishonor. 21 Therefore, if a man cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, and prepared for every good work.

More Thoughts from 2 Timothy 2:20-21. Vessels of Honor. Paul tells us that a vessel of honor is useful to the Master and suffers hardship as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. In addition, he or she avoids error and teaches the truth.  Paul says that a “large house,” the church, has vessels of honor and dishonor in it (verses 20-21).

Vessels of honor must not only avoid false teaching but also teach the truth. Paul says to Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (verse 15). The Greek word here translated as “accurately handling” means to “cut rightly.” This verb is a metaphor for how we should approach our teaching.

Concerning this metaphor, Barclay makes these applications: “So the man who rightly divides the word of truth, drives a straight road through the truth and refuses to be lured down pleasant but irrelevant bypaths; he ploughs a straight furrow across the field of truth; he takes each section of the truth, and fits it into its correct position, as a mason does a stone, allowing no part to usurp an undue place and so knock the whole structure of out of balance.”

As faithful believers in Christ, as vessels of honor, we need to faithfully study the Bible and accurately teach its precepts. It is the Bible, inspired by the Holy Spirit, that guides us correctly through life.

More Thoughts about 2 Timothy 2:2-26

When Paul wrote this letter, he was in prison, facing a criminal’s death. He is concerned about the future of the gospel message. So, he pours out his heart to his main leaders and colleagues. He advises them from the depths of his heart. He spells out for Timothy the path that he should follow. He states:

“22 Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s bondservant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.”

There is considerable discussion among scholars as to the meaning of youthful lust. George W. Knight says: The alternatives have included that this is a reiterated warning against the error of the false teachers, that Paul is speaking of the sensual sins of youth, and that he has in mind youthful sins of judgment and temperament. Some would find the answer in the contrast with the positive list that follows so that the ‘desires’ would be the opposites of the virtues commended.”

In the positive list that follows, Paul names four characteristics of a good leader. These characteristics will help Timothy avoid irrelevant quarrels. The qualities are: (1) being kind to everyone, (2) being able to teach, (3) avoiding resentfulness, and (4) correcting with gentleness those who teach erroneous doctrine. Teachers should be tolerant if orthodoxy is maintained.

The goal regarding teachers of error is to help them change so that God will grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth. Paul wishes to lead them to avoid the snares of the devil who holds the false teachers captive to do his will. In other words, Paul wishes that these teachers will turn fully to God.

George M. Flattery, Ph.D., is the founder of Global University and Network211.

Excerpts transferred from a series originally posted on Dr. George's Facebook.

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