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Bible Commentaries
2 Timothy 2

Contending for the FaithContending for the Faith

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Verse 1

Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

therefore: Paul begins by drawing a conclusion from the discussion of chapter one. Similar uses of the word may be found throughout Paul’s writings (1 Timothy 2:8; 1 Timothy 4:10).

be strong: Paul offers the admonition to "be strong" (literally to "be strengthened") in view of the teaching of the previous chapter that mentions the defection of "all they which are in Asia" (verse 15) and the perseverance of Paul and Onesiphorus.

Being strong is the requirement if faithfulness is to be maintained and apostasy averted. Grace is the medium through which strength comes.

in Christ Jesus: A person can be strengthened only when he enters into the sphere where grace is operative. That sphere is Christ Jesus. There man is able to maintain a vital relationship to Christ. As Lipscomb says, God’s "grace ... is only in Christ, and ... he imparts (it) to all who are in living union with him, as the vine imparts the life and fruit-bearing power to the branches abiding in it" (Lipscomb 208) (see John 15:4-5).

Although strength comes by means of grace (unmerited favor), it should not be assumed that the recipient is passive in its reception. According to the Expositor’s Greek New Testament, "The act of reception involves man’s cooperation with God" (160). God will never strengthen an unwilling or uncooperative weakling. In his commentary on 2 Timothy, Hendriksen proposes that Timothy would be strengthened as he cultivated the gift that grace had bestowed upon him and taught others the truth that he himself had received (Hendriksen 245-246). This position suggests that we, too, will gain strength as we faithfully use our talents and perform our duties.

Verses 1-26


Barclay, William. The Letters To Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. Rev. Ed. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The Westminster Press, 1975.

Coffman, Burton. Commentary on 1 & 2 Thessalonians , 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus & Philemon. Austin, Texas: Firm Foundation Publishing House, 1978.

Expositor’s Greek New Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm B. Eerdmans, n.d.

Hendriksen, William. New Testament Commentary, 2 Timothy. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1986.

Interpreter’s Bible. Vol. XI. New York: Abingdon Press, 1955.

Lipscomb, David. New Testament Commentaries, 2 Timothy. Nashville, Tennessee: Gospel Advocate Co., 1942.

Vincent, Marvin R. Word Studies in the New Testament. Vol. IV. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1957.

Vine, W.E. An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. Westwood, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1956.

Wuest, Kenneth S. The Pastoral Epistles in the Greek New Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1954.

Verse 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.

At the time of this writing, there was already a body of truth by which the orthodoxy of the first century saints could be ascertained. Although not yet committed to writing, the truth already existed as a "treasure in earthen vessels" (2 Corinthians 4:7), the apostles and other inspired teachers.

Certainty as to the truth was confirmed by "many witnesses." Timothy was to receive that truth and convey it unchanged to a new generation of teachers. The truth was to be "committed" as a sacred trust. It was to be committed "to faithful (trustworthy, loyal, reliable) men."

Long before Paul wrote, Aristotle noted that success as a public speaker depends upon more than a ready vocabulary, pleasing diction, and coordinated gestures. The single most important attribute of the effective speaker/teacher is character. Until a teacher is respected as a person of character, his ideas will gain little acceptance among his auditors. This measure of credibility was what the classical writers referred to as "ethical proof."

Teachers of truth--whether they teach publicly or privately--must, therefore, be trustworthy individuals who practice what they preach. As Barclay says, "The teacher’s heart must be so stayed on Christ that no threat of danger will lure him from the path of loyalty and no seduction of false teaching cause him to stray from the straight path of the truth" (158).

They must "be able," possessing the requisite skills, "to teach," communicating ideas so as to inform, persuade, motivate, and actuate.

Verses 3-4

Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 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.

This metaphor is the first of three that are thought by some to have special reference to the work of preachers. It is better, however, to understand them to have a general application to all Christians. "In all three metaphors Paul is calling for complete consecration to the Christian cause, for readiness to face hardships, and for self-denial" (Interpreter’s Bible 481).

Some find Paul’s use of a military metaphor to be inconsistent with the spirit of the Prince of Peace. One group deleted such songs as "Onward Christian Soldiers" from a new hymn book. Would that group also have deleted this passage from the Bible? There is no support or encouragement here for carnal warfare. Paul is merely noting the similarity between a faithful Christian and a dedicated soldier.

Both must "suffer hardship" (Vincent 296). Both must be totally committed. Neither can be entangled "with the affairs of this life." As Barclay says, "A soldier is a soldier and nothing else; the Christian must concentrate on his Christianity" (Barclay 159). The supreme responsibility of each is to "please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier."

Some who think these verses apply only to preachers find a prohibition of marriage and secular employment, believing they warrant a celibate clergy and preachers whose sole support comes from the churches they serve. Such ideas are refuted by the fact that Paul earned a livelihood from making tents (Acts 18:2) and affirmed his right to "lead about a sister, a wife" (1 Corinthians 9:5). And, as Coffman says, "The injunction here is not to preachers only, but to all followers of the Lord" (261). The above interpretations would mean that no Christian could either marry or work. Zerr says, "Any kind of occupation whether right or wrong in itself that prevents a disciple from doing his duty would constitute the entangling affairs mentioned in this verse" (190).

Verse 5

And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.

A song popularized by Frank Sinatra declares, "I did it my way." Such conduct is totally foreign to the Christian who is expected always to live by the rules. An athlete must subject himself to the rigors of training prior to the contest and to the circumscription of rules while the contest is in progress. Without rules, neither the Christian life nor a game would be possible. Only those who contend lawfully, living by the rules laid down in scripture, can expect to receive the victor’s crown.

This passage, like the previous one, may also emphasize the need for total commitment. Barclay believes this metaphor refers to a professional rather than to an amateur athlete. "His struggle was not just a spare-time thing, as it might be for an amateur; it was a whole-time dedication of his life to excellence in the contest which he had chosen.... The spare-time Christian is a contradiction of terms; a man’s whole life should be an endeavor to live out his Christianity" (Barclay 161).

Verse 6

The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.

In this, the last of the three metaphors descriptive of some aspect of the Christian life, there is a reminder that blessings always come to those who seek to be a blessing to others. "Laboureth" implies "hard, wearisome toil" (Vincent 297). Arduous toil is rewarded with a share of the harvest. One wonders how many Christians ever reach that level of activity that may be properly called labor and toil.

Verse 7

Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.

Hearing the word expounded is never enough. The hearer always needs to reflect on what has been heard, and then to act. Thoughtful consideration of a message will often suggest ways in which a personal and practical application can be made. James exhorts men to be "doers of the word and not hearers only" (James 1:22). As Coffman says, "There is nothing more needed upon the part of rushing, harried, heedless multitudes than that of reflection upon life and death, their meaning and purpose, and the need of facing both in a frame of reference that takes the will of God into account" (263).

The motivation to apply these truths to our lives derives from the assurance that the soldier will have his superior’s approval; the athlete, a crown of victory; the farmer, a share in the best of the harvest.

Verses 8-9

Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound.

To his exhortation that Timothy carefully consider the truth, Paul adds: remember Jesus and His resurrection from the dead. Such a remembrance will buoy the spirits of those who must undergo persecution because, while Jesus tasted death, "he could not be holden of it" (Acts 2:24). His resurrection from the dead guarantees ours. It is the remembrance of that event, with its living, continuing results, that adds hope to any earthly experience.

Paul adds that Christ was raised according to "my gospel." That expression could be a reference to the gospel of Luke, thought by some to have been written by Paul or at least dictated by him. It is more likely that Paul used the expression to describe that which he had received directly from the Lord without human intervention (Galatians 1:11-12) and of which he had been "appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher" (2 Timothy 1:11). We may also legitimately call that same body of truth "our gospel" as we allow its content to mold our character and conduct. The gospel is never "ours" until we appropriate it and translate it into our own experience.

the word of God is not bound: This clause expresses the optimism Paul shared with the prophet: "So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it" (Isaiah 55:11). You may imprison the messenger, but you cannot impede the message. You may restrain the preacher, but you cannot restrict the preaching. Cell doors, padlocks, and shackles may confine the body, but walls and chains cannot contain the gospel.

Verse 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.

Paul had earlier exhorted Timothy to "take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee" (1 Timothy 4:16). Here he shows his own concern for the salvation of others. So great is that concern that he is willing to endure all things.

Such suffering will benefit "the elect," but they are not elect in spite of themselves. God has not arbitrarily selected them as such. As the context shows, their election stems both from their response to the gospel and their continued fidelity to God. Salvation is never arbitrarily bestowed upon unwilling subjects. It must be "obtained" by those who will to do His will. Lipscomb correctly observes, "One who does not show his election by obeying God may be sure that he will never be elected to anything beyond obedience" (213).

"To endure means more than not to complain. It means more than acquiescence. It means going right ahead (believing, testifying, exhorting), though the load under which one is traveling on life’s pathway has become very heavy" (Hendriksen 252-253).

Verses 11-13

It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

The words "it is a faithful saying" appear to be a literary device used by Paul to underscore the importance of what he says in the immediate context. This passage suggests that the words of scripture are equally true but not necessarily equally important. "Demas hath forsaken me" (2 Timothy 4:10) is true, but not nearly so important as an earlier statement prefaced by the words "this is a faithful saying" in which Paul said, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief" (1 Timothy 1:15).

In this verse, Paul’s faithful (trustworthy, reliable) saying is presented in four units of thought, each of which begins with "if" and each of which describes a condition followed by a consequence. The first two describe the behavior of the faithful; the last two, the unfaithful. The faithful are pictured as dying with Christ and suffering; the unfaithful, as denying and becoming faithless.

The first problem is to determine the meaning of "die." Does it refer to physical or spiritual death? If the former, the meaning would be that martyrdom guarantees eternal life, a doctrine not found elsewhere in scripture. The receipt of eternal life is conditioned on such things as belief (John 3:16), having Christ (1 John 5:12), and doing the will of God (1 John 2:17). There is no promise, however, that physical death can, of itself, procure eternal life.

This conclusion makes it almost certain that "die" refers to the death to sin that occurs at conversion. "How shall we, that are dead to sin," says Paul to the Romans, "live any longer therein? Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?" Dying to the practice of sin in repentance and being united with Christ in his death through baptism permits us to be raised up to "walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:2-4).

Certainly not everyone who dies physically will gain eternal life, but everyone who "dies with Christ" will. He will enter into that new quality of life called by our blessed Lord "abundant" (John 10:10), a glorious foretaste of the never-ending life promised to the people of God (1 John 2:25).

Dying to sin and remaining "steadfast"--that is the true meaning of "suffering"--bring assurance of life and victory. And Paul assures us "we shall also reign with him."

Conversely, however, "if we deny him"--decisively and finally repudiate Him in word and deed--and "believe not," demonstrating that we are faithless rather than faithful, "he cannot deny himself." He will prove as reliable in punishing the faithless as He will be in rewarding the faithful. To overlook the insubordination of the faithless and to reward them in spite of numerous threats to punish them would be a denial of His own character represented in the assertion, "I am the truth" (John 14:6). The Interpreter’s Bible adds that "this is the note of judgment, which is inseparable from the gospel" (486).

Verse 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.

Since forgetfulness is one of the frailties of the flesh, there is a perpetual need to "stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance" (2 Peter 3:1). "Of these things put them in remembrance," Paul says, so that by threat and promise all may be encouraged to persevere.

charging them before the Lord: The teacher must ever be aware that his message is being heard by divine, as well human, listeners. Reverence for that holy Auditor must set the tone in each teaching situation.

that they strive not about words to no profit: It is evident that it is necessary to know the meaning of the words of scripture. However, hair-splitting debates are to be avoided for two reasons: one, they do not profit (are useless), and, two, they do positive harm, as Paul says, "to the subverting of the hearers."

One way to evaluate the teaching done in a congregation is to note the effect it has on the people. Good teaching tends to edify, to "build up" (1 Corinthians 14:26). Bad teaching does the opposite; it "subverts," a Greek word that is transliterated into our English word catastrophe. Such debating about words, indeed, is nothing short of catastrophic!

There is a reminder here, too, that Christianity is not just a lot of talk. It is an adventure of faith expressed in deeds. Garments made of words provide no warmth; mere promises never fill empty stomachs (James 2:15-16). Words can never be an adequate substitute for action.

Verse 15

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Our familiarity with this verse may have kept us from fully understanding its implications. The usual interpretation is that it contains a command, "study," with a view to mastering the contents of the Bible, that the Bible must be rightly divided into Old and New Testaments and the teaching of each appropriately applied to those for whom it was intended, and that until this is done, the Christian has no assurance of God’s approval. But is there not more to it than that?

Study: This word, literally meaning "give diligence" (Vine 311), is concerned with attitude rather than activity. The command to give diligence is not limited to a study of the Bible, although that would be included; but it is a broad admonition to seek God’s approval in all aspects of life and service. "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might" says the Preacher (Ecclesiastes 9:10); and Paul adds, "Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord" (Romans 12:11). Such diligence aptly distinguishes the Christian character.

to shew: This phrase suggests presenting something as one might present a sacrificial offering to God. (Compare Luke 2:22; Ephesians 5:27.) Every aspect of the disciple’s service must be a worthy offering to God, and he must diligently strive to make it so.

approved unto God: The measure of all acceptable service is whether it is "approved unto God." What the devotee thinks about his own devotions, or what the practitioner thinks of his own praise is immaterial. The question is, and must ever be, "What does God think of it? Does He approve?"

rightly dividing: This expression perhaps could best be translated "handling aright the word of God."

Barclay explains:

The Greeks themselves used the word in three different connections. They used it for driving a straight road across country, for ploughing a straight furrow across a field, and for the work of a mason in cutting and squaring a stone so it fitted into its correct place in the structure of the building. 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 out of balance (173).

Hendriksen says:

The man who handles the word of the truth properly does not change, pervert, mutilate, or distort it, neither does he use it with a wrong purpose in mind. On the contrary, he prayerfully interprets Scripture in the light of Scripture. He courageously, yet lovingly, applies its glorious meaning to concrete conditions and circumstances, doing this for the glory of God, the conversion of sinners, and the edification of believers (263).

Hendriksen then adds: "The proper handling of the word of the truth implies the rejection of whatever is in conflict with its contents and meaning" (263).

One who handles the word of God with care, Paul says, "needeth not to be ashamed." His work will pass the most careful inspection. It will never disgrace him.

Verse 16

But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.

Here Paul offers two admonitions: "Do this!" and "Don’t do that!" Such is ever the pattern of scripture. Some things are promoted, others prohibited. On the positive side, the man of God is to seek to please God; but on the negative, he is to shun all that would diminish God’s pleasure in him.

shun: This term means to give ungodly talk a wide berth. Go out of the way to avoid it.

profane and vain babbling: Paul’s admonition for Timothy to avoid strife "about words to no profit" (verse 14) is reiterated in this verse. The danger inherent in such words is that they make one progressively more ungodly. And this may well be the acid test of all teaching--does it draw the students nearer to God, or does it lead or drive them further away?

Words will always play an important role in Christianity. It is the "foolishness of preaching," designed to save souls, that pleases God (1 Corinthians 1:21). It is by "hearing the word of God" that man has faith (Romans 10:17). And it is by the prophesying of scripture that we derive "edification, and exhortation, and comfort" (1 Corinthians 14:3). Despite the necessity of words, however, true Christians will put those words into practice, becoming workmen and not mere windbags!

Verses 17-18

And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.

Few diseases of the body inspire greater dread than does cancer. Unfortunately, cancer’s counterpart in the realm of the spirit (here rendered "canker" and probably referring to the vain babbling of the previous verse) is dismissed by some as of little consequence.

The progressive nature of incipient error is seen in that it is useless and destructive (verse 14), eats as a cancer at the vitality of faith, and finally overthrows the faith (verse 18) without which it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Thus, error is never harmless; and even when it affects only "some" (as in this case) and when it appears in its most innocuous form, it must be opposed vigorously.

The errorists at Ephesus were tearing the heart out of the gospel, affirming that the resurrection was past already. Such false teaching, Paul affirms, must be exposed and opposed. It must not be tolerated in the name of open-mindedness. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is an incontrovertible fact, and the validity of the Christian message rests upon the assurance that we, too, shall rise from the dead (1 Corinthians 15; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). To diminish any of this teaching with reference to the resurrection is to destroy all confidence in scripture, thus overthrowing--to turn over, upset--the faith of some (Vine 153).

Verse 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.

Nevertheless: This term is a transition linking the things about to be said with what has gone before. Talk about defections and apostasies such as those just mentioned would have a demoralizing effect. It might cause some to ask, "Will the church be able to stand?" Paul’s response to that question is affirmative: "The foundation of God standeth sure." He uses the word "foundation" in the sense not of a base on which a building’s superstructure is raised but of a divine institution, the church. Individuals may fall away, but the church stands!

There is a seal upon the church with a two-fold inscription, one affirming that the church is really composed of the faithful people of God--"the Lord knoweth them that are his"--and the other affirming its purity--"Let everyone...depart from iniquity." Purity is paramount.

them that are his: This phrase has a similar meaning to "the elect" in verse 10. But this verse also shows that election is not unconditional. As Vincent says, "Whatever may be implied in God’s election, it does not relieve Christians of the duty of strict attention to their moral character and conduct" (305).

everyone that nameth the name of Christ: Paul has reference to everyone who habitually lives in harmony with the character of Christ. It is to acknowledge, appropriate, and demonstrate in daily life the Lord Jesus Christ who was confessed with the lips and to whom allegiance was pledged at conversion.

Verse 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.

A new metaphor is introduced in this verse. The church is now viewed as a dwelling filled with various household utensils of varied quality and usage. The church receives its greatest censure from those who observe the wicked, hypocritical people who are sometimes associated with it. They have no genuine organic union with it because, as noted in the previous verse, the real Christians have departed from iniquity.

Jesus dealt with this same issue in the parables of Matthew 13, affirming that in the kingdom of heaven both wheat and tares grow. He compares the kingdom of heaven to a "net that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind."

So, here, there are vessels (men, as the next verse shows), some of whom have such sterling qualities that they are likened to silver and gold. Other inferior vessels are likened to wood and pottery. Eventually, the tares are gathered and burned, the angels are sent to "sever the wicked from among the just," and the vessels are honored or dishonored (see 1 Corinthians 3:10-15).

Verse 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.

Figures of speech never have an exact correspondence to that to which they are likened. Vessels cannot change into something else. Only in fairy tales are vessels of wood ever transformed into vessels of gold. It is, however, possible for humans to change, and it is imperative that they do so. No one is compelled to remain as he is. It is always possible for one to "purge himself of these." To "purge" means to "cleanse thoroughly" (Vine 232). From what must a man purge himself? No doubt Paul is urging that Christians purge themselves both from the errors and evils mentioned in this chapter and from the vessels of dishonor. Only then will disciples be "prepared unto every good work," sanctified and suited for any use to which the Master desires to put them.

Verse 22

Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Single word imperatives abound in this segment of scripture--study, shun, purge, flee, follow. What God expects of His people is not difficult to ascertain. The difficulty comes in translating knowledge into action.

Flight is often associated with cowardice, but Paul had no hesitation in recommending it as the proper course of action for one confronting lusts. He calls them youthful lusts, not because they differ in kind from those of older people but because they differ in intensity, those of youth being stronger.

Instead of succumbing to such lusts, the saint must be faithful to God in every aspect of his life:

... aim at righteousness, which means giving both to men and to God their due; at faith, which means loyalty and reliability which both come from trust in God; at love, which is the utter determination never to seek anything but the highest good of our fellow-men, no matter what they do to us, and which has for ever put away all bitterness and all desire for vengeance; at peace, which is the right relationship of loving fellowship with God and with men (Barclay 180).

Such qualities should always be exhibited in those who "call on the Lord" in daily, habitual, continual service to him.

Verse 23

But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.

There are times when we must be "set for the defense of the gospel" (Philippians 1:17). At other times, we should walk away from the fray. Some questions are to be answered (1 Peter 3:15), and others are to be avoided. Avoidance is proper when the question stems from stupidity (foolish) and ignorance (unlearned) and results in fighting (strifes).

Verse 24

And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,

The servant of the Lord must not strive: "Must" speaks of something obligatory. An example is Jesus’ command to Nicodemus: "Ye must be born again" (John 3:7). "Must not," on the other hand, speaks of total prohibition. The Lord’s servant is absolutely forbidden to be a fighter, especially in regards to engaging in word fights as noted in the previous verse. Instead, he is to be gentle "as characterizing a nurse with trying children or a teacher with refractory scholars" (Vine 145). One cannot imagine a teacher who walks the aisles striking slow learners on the head with the text book. It is no more imaginable for a servant of the Lord to abuse anyone, verbally or otherwise. His gentleness will extend to all.

It is important to note that gentleness in conveying truth does not suggest weakness. Lipscomb says that "gentleness, with an appetite for teaching, and patience toward those in error, and who oppose the truth, is compatible with firmness and fidelity in maintaining the truth" (224). Paul himself exemplifies a perfect balance between gentleness and steadfastness.

Paul adds other qualifications for the "servant of the Lord." He must be "apt to teach," meaning "skilled in teaching" (Vine 112). This definition may suggest willingness and readiness, as well as ability, to give instruction. And he must be patient (forbearing). Improvement in his auditors may be imperceptibly slow. Interest among his listeners may be at low ebb. His best teaching efforts may be met with indifference on the one hand or with stupidity and ignorance on the other. But he will "plant" and "water" and nurture each tender plant knowing that as He is pleased to do so, God will give the increase (1 Corinthians 3:7). The servant is responsible for serving. The results are in God’s hand.

Verses 25-26

In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

Lipscomb comments on these verses as follows: "The Lord demands courteous consideration in our treatment of others.... Especially we should treat every man’s religious feelings and practices with the respect and courtesy we would like to have shown us. This treatment does not involve any compromise of truth or righteousness or any winking at errors" (Lipscomb 224).

Present-Day Application

Paul asserts that instruction--imparting of knowledge with discipline--will have little effect without meekness. The teacher must not be self-assertive or self-interested but must approach his task knowing that he has the infinite resources of God at his command and, therefore, cannot fail.

Paul sees many students of the gospel as their own worst enemies. They "oppose themselves" like a petulant child who bangs his head against the floor because he does not get his way. He is really hurting only himself, just as those who reject the truth. It is important for teachers to handle such individuals by manifesting meekness and a gentle, soothing disposition.

Now and again, that kind of teaching will get results. Men will repent and their lives will never be the same again. Truth will invade the dark recesses of their minds with all the brightness of the noonday sun, and it will be recognized as truth. They will recover themselves, meaning they "return to soberness, as from a state of delirium or drunkenness" (Vine 262).

Hendriksen explains the dramatic changes people often go through in "recovering" themselves. "The word used in the original to indicate this basic change," he says, "means more than repentance. It is conversion (2 Corinthians 7:8-10), a term which looks forward as well as backward, whereas repentance mainly looks backward.... True conversion, then, is a radical change (1) from ignorance to acknowledgment of the truth (verses 23, 25); (2) from intoxication and stupor to soberness (verse 26a); and (3) from slavery to freedom (verse 26b)" (Hendriksen 276-277). Liberated from entrapment in the devil’s snare, they will be free to do God’s will. It is "the purpose of Christian freedom," says the Interpreter’s Bible, "to do his will" (497). John records in the gospel, "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (John 8:36). Let us ring freedom all over this land!

Bibliographical Information
Editor Charles Baily, "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2". "Contending for the Faith". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ctf/2-timothy-2.html. 1993-2022.
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