2Timothy 2 - Outline of 2Timothy (Book Notes menu page)
1. Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses,
the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
Thou, therefore, my son, be strong...-
But where would Timothy get this strength? The English "be strong" sounds like a command, as if Paul was telling Timothy to pull himself together and be a man. But Timothy would not find this strength in himself. (Neither will you and I.) "Be strong," in the original language, is one word {GK=endunamoo, be endued with strength, be endued with power}. This strength is not inherent in a man, but rather comes from the Holy Spirit (see Luk 24:49).
...be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. -
The strength and power of God's servant, flows from "the grace that is in Christ Jesus."
     What is "grace"? We usually think of 'grace,' as God's 'unmerited favor' toward us. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. We who were God's enemies were brought into a favorable relationship with Him, through the death of His Son in our behalf. It is a wonderful truth, that we are saved by grace (Eph 2:8,9). But that is only the beginning. God continually pours out His favor upon His children. For us, His 'grace' is His continual supply of that which we lack, and which only He can supply. 1Cor 1:3-9
...my son...-
Timothy was Paul's son in the faith. Paul had faithfully presented the Gospel. Through the hearing of the Word, Timothy had believed. When Timothy believed God's Word, he was 'born again' of God's Spirit (Joh 1:12,13; 1Pet 1:23). The Grace of God flowed to Timothy because he was a son of God, through faith in Christ.
...the things which thou hast heard of me... the same commit to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
As a spiritual father, Paul had passed the life which is in Christ, on to the next generation of believers (including Timothy, and others who had received God's Word from Paul). The Gospel message, which had been entrusted to Paul, was now entrusted to Timothy (1Tim 1:11; 2Tim 1:11-14), who was to entrust it to the generation of believers who would follow him. Timothy also was to become a spiritual father, leading others to new birth through faith, and discipling them in God's Word, so that they, in turn, would be 'able' {ie., fit, prepared} to teach others.
     Human reproduction does not depend upon decrees from government or religious authorities. Rather, life is passed from father to son. Likewise, God has chosen to communicate the Gospel of salvation as one believer shares the Word of Life with the next. Only the heavenly Father can convey spiritual life. Yet, like His unique Son, all of His sons ought to 'be about the Father's business' (Luk 2:49).
     This is the work which our Lord committed to all believers (Mat 28:19,20). We should not think that only 'able' men can fulfill it, for none of us is 'able.' This word for 'able' is rendered as 'sufficient,' in 2Cor 3:5. The Lord alone is able, and He is with those who serve Him faithfully (Mat 28:18-20).
3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of [this] life;
that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
Thou, therefore, endure {lit., be enduring} hardness...-
'Therefore' reflects on the preceding verses... You will need to endure hardness because difficulties will arise against you, if you are determined to be a faithful servant of the Lord (v.2, 2Tim 3:12). Furthermore, you cannot endure hardness apart from the grace of Christ... you will need to be endued with power from Him (v.1).
     The phrase "endure hardness" is one word in the GK {kakopatheos}. It is a compound of GK=kakos, 'evil'; and GK=patheos, 'emotions, passions.' This compound word occurs four times in the NT: v.3; v.9 (where Paul's own experiences illustrate what it means to 'suffer trouble'); 4:5 ('endure afflictions'); James 5:13 ('is...afflicted').
...as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
A good soldier {GK=stratiotes, a member of an army, a champion of the cause} of Christ, is fully dedicated to His service.
No man that warreth {GK=strateumai, engaged in a military expedition} entangleth himself...
A soldier on active duty must not allow himself to be distracted by personal affairs {GK=pragmateia, business, occupation}. The soldier's sole purpose is to serve the purposes of 'Him who has put him in his army' {the closing phrase of v.4 is translated from one word: GK=stratologeo, the commander, the one who calls and directs the army}.
     The King demands His soldiers' absolute love, loyalty and obedience (1Joh 2:15-17). He requires them to abandon their own reasonings and resources, and to apply His strategy, methods and equipment (Isa 55:8,9; 2Cor 10:3-5; Eph 6:10-18).
5 And if a man also 'strive for masteries' {GK=athleo, engage in athletic contest},
[yet] is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully
{ie., according to the rules}.
Like a soldier, an athlete also endures hardness.
Following months of disciplined preparation, he pushes himself to his limits as he stretches toward the goal.
     Yet, he will not obtain the victor's wreath, unless he follows the rules of the game. He may cross the finish line before others, but he will be disqualified, if he took shortcuts, or used performance enhancing drugs. The reward belongs to the athlete who has suffered the afflictions of the whole course, and who has denied himself for the sake of winning the race. 1Cor 9:24-27; Php 3:14
     God's Word is the rule book for a faithful servant of the Lord. 1Tim 6:11,12; 2Tim 4:7,8
6 The husbandman {ie., farmer} that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.
7 Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.
Like a soldier and an athlete, a farmer also must endure hardness.
The KJV translation (above) seems to imply that the farmer should be the first to enjoy the fruits of his labor. However, v.6 may be better rendered according to the reading in the margin: A farmer "must labor, before partaking of the fruits" [ScofRB]. Long before the harvest, a farmer spends many long days working under the hot sun, plowing, sowing, watering, weeding...
     Timothy, if you hope to have something to show for your labor in God's harvest field, you dare not be lazy. You must give yourself to the work. The word for 'labor' {GK=kopiao} means to labor unto weariness and exhaustion. This kind of labor will take its toll in toil and grief. But you will not reap the harvest if you do not apply yourself to the work (Gal 6:9). The Owner of the field expects His workman to labor diligently (v.15; cf. Prov 24:30-34).
...may the Lord give thee understanding in all things... (or, 'may the Lord cause all of these things to run together in your mind').
Considering the things written in vs.1-7: A faithful servant... must endure hardness, by the Grace of Christ... must remain focused on His purposes (setting aside your own interests)... must keep his eyes on the goal (avoiding the temptation to take shortcuts)... must diligently labor, patiently expecting the Lord to give the increase (undiscouraged, when the ground seems hard and unresponsive). 1Cor 3:6,7
8. Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead
according to my gospel:
9 Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, [even] unto bonds;
but the word of God is not bound.
10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes,
that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead...
A faithful servant who calls to mind the Savior's sufferings and resurrection, will be encouraged that God's purposes will be fulfilled, in spite of your weaknesses and difficulties.
     You can't make the seed to grow. You yourself may be consumed, swallowed up by the earth as you seek to till the soil and sow the Seed, in the Lord's field. Our Lord Jesus, Himself fell, as a grain of wheat, into the ground and died. But God raised Him up... and has already given Him much fruit (Joh 12:23-26).
     Consider this, Timothy: You and I (Paul) are among the first fruits... who can tell the greatness of the harvest? No matter how severe your toil, He will bring forth fruit to His glory. I myself willingly "suffer trouble" (same word as "endure hardness", in v.3) being regarded by the world as an evil-doer {GK=kakourgos, evil-doer, criminal, malefactor, (cp. GK=kakos, evil)}. The ungodly world may 'shut up' God's servant in prison, but His Word is not bound, and remains free to accomplish His purpose. Isa 55:11; 1Cor 15:58; eg., Php 1:12-14
Therefore, I endure all things for the elect's sakes...
Moved by the love of Christ, Paul willingly toiled and suffered so that others could hear the Gospel and come to faith in Christ. 2Cor 5:14,15
11 [It is] a faithful saying:
For if we be dead with [him], we shall also live with [him]:
{Rom 6:1-10; Gal 2:20}
12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with [him]:
{Mat 19:28,29; 1Pet 4:12-16}
In the context, 'death' and 'suffering' are consequences of persecution, which the believer is called to endure faithfully, with the assurance that the Lord will faithfully keep His promises to those who trust Him (eg., v.8-10; 2Tim 1:12; 1The 5:24; 2The 3:3).
      However, the Lord will also faithfully fulfill His promises of judgment, to unbelievers (including those whose profession of faith is false).
if we deny [him], he also will deny us: {Luk 12:8,9; Mark 8:38}
To 'deny him' refers to a conscious repudiation of faith in Christ (eg., Joh 6:66-69; 15:6; 2Pet 2:20-22).
     In contrast, Peter's denial of Jesus was a temporary lapse of faith, for which he repented, and from which the Lord restored him to serve faithfully, even to the point of martyrdom (Mat 26:69-75; Joh 21:15-19).
13 If we believe not, [yet] he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.
     {Num 23:19; Mat 24:35; Rom 3:3; Heb 10:28,29}
It is a faithful saying...
Verses 11-13, are written in metrical form. This hymn, of praise for the Lord's faithfulness, contains both encouragement and warning. The Lord faithfully rewards His servants according to their faithfulness to Him, and according to His faithful Word. (See the cross references above.) He holds each person accountable for their response to His Word. 1The 2:13; 2The 1:4-10
14. Of these things put [them] in remembrance,
charging [them] before the Lord
that they strive not about words to no profit,
[but] to the subverting of the hearers.
15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God,
a workman that needeth not to be ashamed,
rightly dividing the word of truth.
16 But shun profane [and] vain babblings:
for they will increase unto more ungodliness.
17 And their word will eat as doth a canker:
of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus;
18 Who concerning the truth have erred,
saying that the resurrection is past already;
and overthrow the faith of some.
19. Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure,
having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.
And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
...put them in remembrance... charging them... that they strive not about words to no profit...
'Them' refers back to the 'faithful men' to whom Timothy was to entrust God's Word (v.2). Since, the Lord will hold each of His servants accountable, each one must be careful to handle God's Word properly. Contentious arguments over minor points of doctrine will subvert {GK=katastrepho, overthrow} the faith of new believers, rather than edifying them. (v.16, 23; Heb 13:9)
Study {ie., be diligent, endeavor} to shew thyself approved unto God... rightly dividing {lit., cutting straight} the word of truth.
As a faithful servant of the Lord endeavors to properly understand God's Word, he must learn to discern...
  • between fundamental truths and peripheral issues (v.14).
  • to whom a passage is addressed.
    Scripture differentiates between three categories of men (1Cor 10:32), and speaks to each group distinctly. For example, God's promises to Israel are not the same as His promises to the Church of Christ.
  • the time period to which a passage applies.
    In every age, salvation has always been by Grace through faith. However, as time progressed, God revealed more and more of His plan of salvation. Therefore, God dealt somewhat differently with successive generations.
       For example: Adam knew that a Savior would come through the Seed of the woman. Abraham understood that He would come through Isaac's line. To Moses, God revealed both the Law as a standard of righteousness, and the sacrificial system in demonstration that remission of sin requires the shedding of blood (Heb 9:22). Moses understood that a Prophet would arise after him. But he did not know that He would be the Lamb of God and also the King, on David's throne. To Paul, God revealed His previously hidden plan for the church, consisting of both believing Jews and Gentiles.
       When God spoke to Adam or to Abraham, He spoke to them in terms which they understood. So, when we read those passages, we need to understand them in the light of the context in which God was speaking at the time. Likewise, God's administration of Israel under the economy of the Mosaic Law, differs from His administration of the Church under the economy of Grace (Joh 1:17). Confusion and doctrinal distortion arises when we fail to distinguish between the various dispensations of God's dealing with mankind.
For more on this important subject, please see the separate studies on Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
...a workman that needeth not to be ashamed... (v.15)
The Lord's faithful servant must be diligent to rightly understand God's Word, and to teach and live accordingly. This may result in the disapproval of men, even of churchmen. But a servant seeks the approval of His Master alone.
...shun {ie., avoid, turn away from} profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.
False teachings (being contrary to God's Word) are 'garbage talk' and 'empty noise,' which promote 'impiety' (that which is contrary to God's ways).
...their word will eat as doth a canker {GK=gaggraina, gangrene, spreading infection, cancer} -
False teachings spread harmful and deadly error to individual believers and within the body of Christ.
...of whom are Hymaneous {'belonging to marriage'} and Philetus {'amiable, loving'}...
The attractive names, of these false teachers, gave a seductively pleasant ring to their 'profane and vain babblings.' 1Tim 4:1
     Philetus is not mentioned elsewhere in scripture. Paul warned Timothy concerning Hymaneous, in 1Tim 1:20. Here, he identifies an aspect of their error:
...concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already;
and overthrow the faith of some.
Today, some would consider this error to be a minor matter, to be relegated to the category of controversial 'future things,' about which (they say) no one can be certain. However, the failure of these teachers, to rightly divide the scriptures concerning 'the end times,' undermined the foundation of the believers' 'blessed hope' (1The 1:6-10; Titus 2:11-14), and overthrew {GK=anatrepo, over turned} the faith of their hearers.
     Paul identified their error as 'blasphemy' (1Tim 1:20), and addressed a similar error in 2The 2:1-3.)
...nevertheless, the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His...
No matter how much error invades the church, God's Word is unshakeable truth (1Cor 3:11). Those who believe His Word are sealed by His Spirit, as belonging to Him. Every one who belongs to Him will depart from 'iniquity' {GK=adikos, lit., 'unrightness'}, and cling to the truth. Eph 4:30; Joh 17:14-17
20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver,
but also of wood and of earth;
and some to honour, and some to dishonour.
21 If a man therefore purge himself from these,
he shall be a vessel unto honour,
sanctified, and meet for the master's use,
[and] prepared unto every good work.
22. Flee also youthful lusts:
but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace,
with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
...if a man... purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel... meet for the master's use...
The Lord's servant is like a vessel {GK=skeuos, implement, tool, container}, in which the Master has placed something of great value, and from which He desires to pour out to others (2Cor 4:6,7).
     'Earthen vessels' are not of great value in themselves. Filled with waste, they will pour out corruption (a dishonorable use). But filled with the water of the Word, they become reservoirs from which the Lord can refresh the souls of those who drink (Joh 2:7-10).
     To be sanctified {ie., set apart, holy} and meet {ie., fit} for the Master's use, the vessels must be purged {GK=ekkathair, thoroughly cleansed} of error (the profane and vain babblings of v.16), and also from the sinful lusts of the flesh, of v.22. (See 1Cor 5:7; 6:18; 2Cor 7:1; 1Pet 2:11)
...but follow {ie., pursue} righteousness, faith, charity {ie., love}, peace,
with them that call on the Lord out of a pure {ie., purged, cleansed} heart.
To remain usable, a clean vessel will separate himself from dishonorable vessels, and associate with others who seek to know and do the Lord's will.
23 But foolish and unlearned questions avoid,
knowing that they do gender strifes.
24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive;
but be gentle unto all [men], apt to teach, patient,
25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves;
if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
26 And [that] they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil,
who are taken captive by him at his will.
A faithful servant will humbly present his Master's Word...
  • avoiding unnecessarily contentious issues (v.23).
    The sincere questions of a seeker are to be welcomed. But some questions are raised as a matter of controversy, by people who are foolish {GK=moros, dull, slow to perceive the truth} and unlearned {GK=apaideutos, ie., like children who refuse to be instructed}. This word for 'questions' {GK=zetesis, questionings, debate} is often associated with confusion concerning the foundation of truth (eg., 1Tim 1:4; 6:3,4; Titus 3:9). The vain theories and traditions of men cannot be mixed with God's Word.
  • avoiding a contentious attitude (v.24,25a).
    In a time of apostasy, believers must 'earnestly contend for the faith' (Jude 1:3). As soldiers engaged in the battle for truth, we will endure difficulty and fierce opposition (v.2-4; 2Tim 3:1-7). Yet, we must remember that the men, who oppose the truth, have been deceived and taken captive by Satan.
       Though the enemies of truth behave contentiously (eg., 2Cor 11:13,20), the Lord's servant is to be patient {GK=anexikakos, patiently forbearing wrongs, Col 3:13} and gentle {ie., compassionately nurturing unruly children, 1The 2:7} as he teaches God's uncompromised truth.
in meekness instructing... if God... will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth...
The Lord's servant is meek {ie., humbly submitted to God and His Word, and fully confident that He will accomplish His purposes}. He does not need to win an argument, for he knows that God's Word will prevail (Mat 11:29; Gal 6:1). He desires only the best for his enemies, that they also may be released from bondage, through receiving God's powerful Word (Jer 23:29; Col 1:12-14).
...that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil...
A man will not escape Satan's deceptions, unless he 'awakes' {GK=ananepho, recover from delirium, return to soberness} to God's truth and repents {GK=metanoia, changes his mind} (1Cor 15:34; Eph 5:14). It is the truth that sets men free (Joh 8:32).
     Therefore, a faithful servant will humbly teach God's Word, with the expectation that God will deal with the hearts of the hearers.

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