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Admonition to Faithfulness in the Ministry.
v. 1. Thou, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
v. 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.
v. 3. Thou, therefore, endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
v. 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.
v. 5. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned except he strive awfully.
v. 6. The husbandman that laboreth must be first partaker of the fruits.
v. 7. Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.
The discussion is still dominated by the thought of chap. 1:8, that Timothy should not be ashamed of the Gospel, of the testimony of the Lord. For that reason the apostle summarizes all his wishes and hopes for his favorite pupil in the urgent appeal: Thou, then, my son, be strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus. The fatherly feeling and attitude of Paul, as brought out in his kind address, is intended to remind Timothy of the obligations which his spiritual sonship places upon him. He was to become and be, he was to show himself strong, Ephesians 6:10. This strength, however, for patient endurance, for victorious warfare, he could find and receive only in the grace which is in Christ Jesus. The unmerited grace and mercy of God, which was revealed to us and is given to us in Christ Jesus, is a source, not only of comfort in richest measure, but also of the true strength which enables us to overcome all spiritual enemies and obtain the victory. The grace of God in Christ was to be the sphere, the element in which Timothy was to have his spiritual being; through it he was to keep the apostolic doctrine pure and unadulterated in the Church.
This St. Paul expressly demands: And the things which thou hast heard from me through many witnesses, these transmit to faithful men, such as will be able to teach others also. This gives us an idea of the manner in which the apostle taught the candidates for admission into the Christian Church. He expounded the doctrine to them by word of mouth, and accompanied this teaching with a continual reference to the Old Testament, the many proof-passages being his infallible witnesses. Thus Timothy had a certain foundation under his feet concerning the doctrine which he had heard from Paul. He could assent to this doctrine cheerfully and confidently, knowing that God Himself had substantiated its truths. But for this reason he could also pass on the doctrine which he had received without the slightest hesitation: he could, in turn, instruct faithful, trustworthy men, preparing them for the work of the ministry. Such men as have a most thorough understanding, a perfect knowledge of the doctrines as taught by Paul, and are, moreover, faithful and trustworthy, may be chosen as ministers of the Church. Incidentally, the words of the apostle imply a certain amount of natural or acquired aptitude to teach. The possession of a certain amount of knowledge alone is not sufficient in a teacher, but it is absolutely necessary for him to be able to impart the Christian doctrine to others in the form of proper teaching. To this end the Holy Spirit Himself must be the instructor of all the teachers in the Church; for their sufficiency in office is of God, 2 Corinthians 2:16-Esther :; 2 Corinthians 3:4-Joshua :.
It was to be expected, of course, that Timothy, in the fulfillment of this work, would not always find smooth sailing. Anticipating this, the apostle writes: Join me in bearing suffering, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. It is the lot of the messengers of Christ to endure various sufferings for the sake of the Gospel. As the work of a soldier in this world is connected with many difficulties and hardships, even so it holds true also, in a far greater measure, that a soldier of Jesus is beset with many difficulties and hardships, since the enemies with whom he is obliged to battle are skillful, powerful, and dangerous in a much greater degree than any earthly foes, Ephesians 6:12. In addition to that, immeasurably more important matters, the soul's salvation and eternal life, are here concerned. It is only by patient suffering, by cheerful endurance, that a servant of Christ will perform his work properly. There is at least a measure of comfort, at the same time, in the fact that other soldiers of the Master are subject to the same hardships.
The apostle now illustrates his admonition by referring to three examples, by every one of which he wishes to emphasize some specific phase in the work of a minister. The first picture develops the comparison with the life of a soldier: No member of the army becomes entangled in the business pursuits of life, in order that he may please him that hired him. The apostle speaks of a person belonging to an army, not of a soldier on duty. As soon as a man joins the army, and even before he has seen active service, he leaves all matters of business behind him, he is no longer concerned about his food and clothing, that being supplied by the quartermaster's department. The recruit is supposed to strain his every effort in the direction of serving in the army to the best of his ability, to give the best account of himself. Thus the service of a Christian minister demands full concentration of all bodily, mental, and spiritual powers; his one aim is to please the great Master in whose service he is laboring. There is included here an indirect admonition to the congregations to take such care of their pastors as to prevent their being forced to worry about the necessaries of life for themselves and their family. If this is done in the proper manner, the cares and worries of daily life will be taken from the shoulders of the pastor, and he mill thus have all the more leisure and energy to devote to the proper execution of the work of his office.
The second picture which the apostle uses is taken from the athletic games of the Greeks: But even if a man competes in the games, he is not crowned unless he complies with the rules. In the national athletic games of the Greeks the prize had little material value, consisting merely of a wreath: but the honor connected with the gaining of the prize was such as to cause the victor to become the subject of countless hymns throughout the Greek world. But the much-coveted prize was given only on one condition, namely, that the competitor in the games had complied with all the rules, both as to training and as to behavior during the games. In the same way every servant of the Word is bound by the rules which the Lord has laid down in His Word. All other considerations, from the standpoint of man, no matter with what intention they are brought forward, must be set aside. The pastor is to devote himself to his work with a cheerful intensity that seeks the welfare of the souls entrusted to him.
The third picture of the apostle is taken from the work of a field-laborer or a farmer: The farmer that has labored hard should be the first partaker of the fruits. Everyone that earns his living from the soil, that labors in the field in the sweat of his face, should at the same time have the comforting assurance that he may be the first to enjoy the results of his toil. This idea is applied to the work of the Christian pastor. The men engaged in this work are not only obliged to toil unceasingly, but they also must receive the fruits of their labors as they present themselves. Whether their preaching be a savor of life unto life or a savor of death unto death, they must be faithful. Whether their fruit consists more of joy or more of suffering and misery makes no difference. The final blessed change to glory everlasting will not take place until the last day.
The apostle realizes that the application of the three parables is not easy, and therefore adds: Mark what I say; for the Lord will give you understanding in all things. Timothy was to apply the lessons of the pictures following the admonition to his own case. He was to solve his specific problems in accordance with these reminders of the apostle. Since this understanding, however, is not a matter of mere mental ability, but of the Lord's enlightenment, therefore the apostle says that this will come to him by the gift of the Lord. If there is any Christian that should feel the necessity of praying for strength and light, for understanding and knowledge from above, it is a servant of the Word. And in the measure in which he asks the blessing of God success will attend his work.
An Admonition to faithfulness in Faith and Christian Conduct.
v. 8. Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my Gospel;
v. 9. wherein I suffer trouble as an evil-doer, even unto bonds; but the Word of God is not bound.
v. 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.
v. 11. It is a faithful saying: for if we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him;
v. 12. if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him; if we deny Him, he also will deny us;
v. 13. if we believe not, yet he abideth faithful; He cannot deny Himself.
Faithfulness in the ministerial office, indeed, in any office in the Church, depends on the certainty of the Christian faith. For this reason the apostle reminds Timothy: Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, of the seed of David, according to the Gospel as preached by me. The content and summary of the glorious message of the Gospel, as preached by Paul, was Jesus Christ, true man indeed, a descendant of David according to the flesh. See Romans 1:3. This man Jesus Christ completed His work of redemption of the world by His resurrection from the dead. By this miracle, which reason cannot suffer and no man, of his own strength, can believe, as Luther writes, the work of redemption found divine acknowledgment and acceptance. These facts Timothy must keep in remembrance at all times, they were to encourage him to bear with cheerful courage all the trials which his work might bring upon him.
That there is a wonderful strength enclosed in this message of salvation St. Paul has experienced in his own case: in which I suffer evil, even to bonds, like a criminal; but the Word of God is not bound. In the sphere of the Gospel, for the sake of the Gospel, in the service of the Gospel, Paul had freely sacrificed himself. He did not grow weary in enduring evil, hatred, enmity, persecution, if he could but continue to serve the Gospel. Though he was imprisoned like a common criminal, he had the satisfaction of knowing that he had done no wrong, and that he was but following in the footsteps of his Master. At the same time it was a source of great satisfaction to him to know that the course of the Gospel was not bound, and that its course did not depend upon his person. Though his enemies had succeeded in casting the great preacher of righteousness into prison, yet they could not stop the preaching of righteousness through the blood of Christ. Even in the apostle's case written communication with the other parts of the Christian world had not been cut off. Should the climax be reached and his person be removed, the Lord was able to continue His work through the agency of other men.
His personal attitude the apostle explains still more fully: For that reason I endure all things for the sake of the elect, in order that they also might share in the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. Because Paul knew that the Word of God was not bound, because he was ever mindful of the risen Christ and His glorious victory over all enemies, and because he had entered the ranks of the disciples of the Lord, therefore he willingly endured all these evils, not passively, as one that could not help himself, but actively and even aggressively, as one who intended his attitude to serve a definite purpose. The apostle has in mind chiefly the elect, the believers, Php_1:14 ; 2 Corinthians 1:6; Colossians 1:24. The fact that the apostle endured all sufferings so steadfastly should serve for the encouragement of the Christians for all times; it should cause them to become so sure of their salvation in Christ Jesus that even the greatest afflictions and persecutions would not cause them to doubt the fact of their being the children of the heavenly Father through Christ. For their salvation is in Christ Jesus; it is earned by Him, it rests in Him, it is grounded in Him. There can be no doubt, therefore, that the believers will obtain that eternal glory which is connected with this salvation. This glory enters into the hearts of the believers even here in time, and in eternity they will be blessed with the fullness of the heavenly glory such as they can but feebly conceive of in this vale of tears and sorrows.
So great is the comfort and consolation which the apostle has on the basis of this thought that he breaks into a song of Christian hope: Trustworthy is the word: If we have died with Him, we shall also live with Him; if we endure, we shall also reign with Him; if we deny, He also will deny us; if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for deny Himself He cannot. The apostle calls attention to the wonderful truths which he here lays before the Christians to encourage them at all times: Truly a trustworthy, a sure word! If we are faithful to the Lord, even unto death, and if we daily cause our old Adam, our sinful flesh, to die with all desires and evil lusts, then we shall also become partakers of the reward of mercy which He has reserved for us in heaven. See Romans 8:18. If we show a steadfast patience in the midst of all afflictions and sufferings, then He will at the last day elevate us to the honor and dignity of coregents with Him. Even here on earth, by virtue of the fellowship of faith with Him, He has made us to be kings and priests before Him. But yonder in eternity He will vest us with the powers of eternal kings and rulers, and we shall reign with Him throughout eternity. On the other hand, St. Paul issues an emphatic warning, telling us that, if we deny Him, He will deny us. Every true follower of Christ must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Him. But he who, in word or deed, is ashamed of Christ will find that the Lord will also be ashamed of him on the great Day of Judgment. See Matthew 7:23; Matthew 10:33; Matthew 25:12. And again: If we are faithless, if we are not true to Him and to our promise given Him in Baptism, if we lose the faith of our hearts by neglecting the Word and the Sacraments, God will be faithful to His threat of punishment, for He cannot be untrue to His essence; He is the Eternal, Immutable. A faithless, unreliable servant the Lord cannot reward but with the reward of unfaithfulness. What a solemn warning to the Christians of all times not to yield to the weakness of the flesh and thus to forfeit the blessings of eternity!
The Proper Dividing of the Word of God as Contrasted with the Practice of the Errorists.
v. 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.
v. 15. Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.
v. 16. But shun profane and vain babblings, for they will increase unto more ungodliness.
v. 17. And their word will eat as doth a canker; of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus,
v. 18. who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already, and overthrow the faith of some.
The connection between these specific charges and the previous admonitions and warnings is close and intimate, for Timothy was to make use of the knowledge imparted to him in his ministry: Of these things remind them, earnestly testifying before God that they do not indulge in quarreling, to no good but to the subversion of the hearers. These charges were intended, as the connection shows, chiefly for such men as were engaged in the work of the ministry. All these men were to be familiar with the doctrine as it had been taught by Paul and briefly summarized also in this letter. Timothy was to remind them of these truths, call them back to their memory, and not merely incidentally and secondarily, but with great and solemn emphasis. Before God, who searches hearts and minds, he was to remind the ministers of their duty. They should exclude, as altogether useless and unprofitable, the custom of striving with words, of quarreling endlessly, 1 Timothy 6:4; Titus 3:9. To indulge in human subtleties instead of preaching the sound doctrine of salvation, to attempt to explain with human philosophy what God has not revealed, serves only for spiritual undoing, for the subversion of the hearers. If men that occupy the position of teachers in the Church spend the time given them for the instruction of immortal souls unto salvation in the fruitless endeavor to make their own foolish ideas plausible, if possible, in the desire to pose before their people as great critics and unusually learned men, then the hearers become suspicious, then they begin to doubt the truth of the Christian doctrine, believing it to be a mere collection of human tenets. The result is, in many cases, that they are offended and turn from the Church entirely.
In order that Timothy might never become guilty of such behavior, St. Paul writes: Exert thyself to stand approved before God, as a workman that has no cause for shame, rightly dividing the Word of Truth. Timothy should use all diligence, should toil most assiduously, to prove himself a faithful servant of the Gospel and to stand approved in this respect in the sight of God. No matter when a reckoning should then be demanded of him, he would be able to point to such works in the performance of his office as would accord with the demands of God. He should be such a workman as not to cause disgrace, either to his Lord and Master or to himself. This is a very comprehensive, but incidentally a very necessary demand, which is addressed to every servant of the Word. And a chief point for establishing a pastor's integrity in this respect is the test by which he is found a man that divides the Word of Truth properly. The expression is a term taken from the liturgical language of the Jews, and refers to the proper carving of the sacrificial animals. The allusion to the dividing properly is to the work of a steward in a household who makes the right distribution to each one under his care of such things as his office and their necessities require, as one commentator has it. It is the main problem and work of a Christian pastor to know how to divide and apply the Word of Truth, to remain always conscious of the distinction between the Law and the Gospel, and to apply these two doctrines to the conditions and needs of his hearers. It was with reference to this verse that Luther voiced his famous saying: "Therefore, whoever knows this art well, to divide the Law from the Gospel, place him at the head and designate him a doctor of Holy Writ. For without the Holy Spirit it is impossible to discern this difference. The Holy Ghost must here be Master and Teacher, otherwise no man on earth will be able to understand or teach it. " Or, as Walther says, secure, careless, wanton sinners must hear the thunder of the Law; contrite and poor sinners, however, the sweet voice of the Savior's grace.
Whatever does not agree with this chief activity of the pastor should be put aside as dangerous: But profane, empty talkings shun, for they lead people all the farther into godlessness. As in 1 Timothy 6:20, Paul is not referring merely to useless, vain talkings, that have no use and value in the world, but to such as are incidentally profane, that are far from promoting all true sanctification. Any pastor that neglects the chief doctrines of the Christian faith in the interest of various human philosophies and secondary doctrines, threatens both his office and his person with a great danger. For these profane babblings advance godlessness, irreligion. In the same measure as a person finds pleasure in the various subtleties which false teachers delight in discussing, such as the question of the occupation of God before the creation of the world, the number and order of the angels, etc. , in that same measure his interest in sound Christian doctrine will decrease.
Just how far this dangerous influence may eventually extend St. Paul shows with regard to a concrete example: And their doctrine spreads like gangrene, of whom are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have erred concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and subverting the faith of some. The catchy phrases and plausible arguments used by the false teachers in trying to interest people in their subtleties always made some impression, especially upon such people as were not sound in their faith. Just as a cancer or gangrene attacks a weak spot in the body, one which has in some manner been prepared for such an attack, so the profane vanities of the errorists, so the false doctrine is most apt to find lodging in hearts that are not firm in the doctrines of the Catechism. With terrible quickness the disease will spread if once it has gained a hold in a Christian congregation. The sound flesh of the body of Christ, of His Church, is thus attacked and ruined, unless measures to prevent such an effect are taken in time. Paul names two men whom the disease had conquered, one Hymenaeus, possibly the same man as the one mentioned 1 Timothy 1:20, and Philetus. These men had not confined themselves to philosophical subtleties, but had continued in their unwholesome quest for false enlightenment, the result being that they missed the goal entirely, that they had erred in one of the fundamental doctrines. By some manner of foolish reasoning they had come to the conclusion that the resurrection of the dead had already taken place, probably by arguing that the Lord had only conversion, the resurrection of men's souls from spiritual death, in mind when He used the term. The result might be that men might grow secure, believing that they were now safe, having once been converted, and could live as they chose. The denial of any fundamental doctrine of the Bible, such as the resurrection of the body, always results in destruction of faith.
Of Clean and Unclean Vessels.
v. 19. Nevertheless, the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are His. And, Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
v. 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 honor and some to dishonor.
v. 21. If a man, therefore, purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the Master's use, and prepared unto every good work.
There are two thoughts that stand out in the connection between this section and the preceding one. For one thing, Paul wanted to show that the Word of God stands firm against all error, and in the second place, he wanted to expose the methods of the errorists. To warn against carnal security and to encourage true sanctification, that was his purpose. It is a great comfort to the believers: Truly the solid foundation of God stands secure, having this seal: The Lord knows those that are His; and: Let every one that mentions the name of the Lord refrain from unrighteousness. God Himself has laid a foundation here on earth, and that foundation of God remains secure, it stands firm against all attacks. His holy Church is built upon Christ as the Rock of Ages, and all attempts of the enemies to overthrow this Church have failed and must fail. A person, therefore, that deliberately denies a fundamental doctrine of the Christian truth thereby places himself outside of the pale of Christianity, whether he be a hearer or a teacher. But whenever such sad cases occur, the edifice of the Church itself remains unmoved, firm, and secure, Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 2:19-Song of Solomon :; 1 Corinthians 3:1-Isaiah :; 1 Corinthians 9:1-Daniel :; 1 Corinthians 10:1-Micah :; 1 Corinthians 11:1-Nahum :; 1 Corinthians 12:1-Obadiah :. One or more individual stones or whole companies may fall away, but the City of God shall not be moved, For the seal or inscription of the foundation is: The Lord knows them that are His. This fact is our security, our guaranty for the everlasting firmness of the Church. Since it does not depend upon men's ideas and efforts, but only upon the mercy of God if a person is accepted into the Church as a living stone, therefore the structure is safe. But since these persons are known only to Him, since His merciful knowledge has brought them to the acceptance of Jesus Christ as their Savior, therefore He will use all care to keep them steadfast in is Word and faith until the end. The second inscription of the seal brings out this warning with double force. Every person that has mentioned or named the name of Christ as His Savior and Lord thereby has placed himself under the obligation to refrain from all unrighteousness. If he should again indulge in unrighteousness in any form, if he should in any way become guilty of godlessness, he would thereby deny the truth and its holy Author and lose his position in the Church. While a Christian thus, on the one hand, is fully certain of the grace of God in Christ Jesus and never for a moment has a doubt concerning his soul's salvation, he, on the other hand, is very careful not to yield to the false comfort, as though the conversion which he has once experienced were an absolute guaranty for his obtaining eternal life.
Timothy might now have the idea that it was an easy matter to decide who had the true faith in his heart, and that therefore a congregation might act very quickly. To meet this possibility, Paul adds a short explanation in the form of a parable: But in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also of wood and of clay, and some to honor, some, however, to dishonor. In order to represent the Church of Christ as it appears in this world, the apostle uses the picture of the vessels in a large household, the various dishes, articles of furniture, tools and instruments, etc. He wants to show how the various members of the so-called visible Church are to be judged, so far as gifts and moral condition are concerned. In doing this, he divides the vessels into two groups. In the first group the apostle shows the contrast between the richly and the poorly endowed Christians, between such as have a high degree of courageous faith and such as are like a broken reed or a smoking flax. This distinction is found also in other passages of Scripture, Matthew 13:23; 1 Corinthians 12:14-Daniel :. The second group named by St. Paul presents a parallel to Romans 9:22; for here we have the contrast between such as have an honorable and such as have a dishonorable purpose. Through the unmerited grace and mercy of God certain Christians attain to honor and glory, others, through their own fault, are doomed to dishonor, disgrace, and destruction. For them the Word of God is a savor of death unto death, 2 Corinthians 2:16. So far as the application of the entire verse is concerned, it presents no great difficulties. We have not only a Paul in the Church, but also an Ananias, not only a Barnabas, but also a John Mark, not only an elder with a rich fund of Christian knowledge, but also a simple mother that clings to the Catechism truths. On the other hand, it is true also that there are, by the side of the true and faithful Christians, also such as are Christians in name only, hypocrites and errorists. It behooves the leader of the congregation, therefore, the pastor, to be very careful in forming judgments, lest he do someone a bitter wrong by hasty conclusions.
The apostle himself makes the application of his precept: If one will only keep himself unspotted from the latter, he will be a vessel unto honor, consecrated, altogether meet for the Master's use, ready unto every good work. This is not written for Timothy's personal information only, but is intended to serve as a guide for all times. If the vessels unto dishonor become manifest as such, then it is the duty of every one to separate himself from such, of course, after the steps of admonition have been observed. Every person preserving his Christian integrity in this manner would be judged accordingly, as a true vessel unto honor. He will be like one of the Old Testament Temple vessels, consecrated to the Lord. His entire life and conduct will serve for the honor of the Lord, for the hallowing of His name. Such a person will in truth be a member of the holy nation of the Lord, the Lord Himself revealing His holiness in him. Such a Christian will be ready and willing for the performance of every good work, and therefore of the greatest usefulness to the Lord. This continual purging should take place in the so-called visible Church at all times, lest the dross remain mixed with the gold, even in the eyes of men. Upon the last great day the final separation of the wheat and the chaff will take place.
The Minister's Personal Conduct.
v. 22. Flee also, youthful lusts; but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
v. 23. but foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.
v. 24. And the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
v. 25. in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth,
v. 26. and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
The conduct of Timothy as preacher and pastor the apostle had discussed at length. He here takes the opportunity of showing him how he ought to conduct himself so far as his own person was concerned: But the youthful lusts flee; rather follow after righteousness, faith, love, peace with those that call upon the Lord out of a pure heart. According to the standards of that day and age, Timothy, who was then some thirty years old, was still considered a youth. Paul, therefore, knew what he was doing when he included a warning concerning the sins of uncleanness which are peculiar to youth, for this desire is in need of constant taming and suppressing. Other desires and lusts which also must be watched very carefully are false ambition, officiousness, contentiousness. All these tendencies, but especially that of unchastity, can best be combated by fleeing from them, as the example of Joseph shows. But the opposite tactics must be employed where the acquisition of Christian virtues is concerned. There it is necessary to follow after, to seek earnestly, to aim at, righteousness, the proper conduct before God and men, faith in Christ and God and the confidence of faith, love that is active in all good works, peace with all those that are united with us in the fellowship of faith. He does not advocate a false peace, which might amount to a denial of God, but he does want us to confess our mutual faith in the Redeemer openly and cheerfully. Brethren in faith should not hesitate to make public declaration of that fact.
But while Timothy was using all diligence in growing in Christian virtues, he was incidentally to guard against the ways of the errorists: But futile and ignorant questions avoid, knowing that they engender strifes. Futile questions are such as are broached by people that have too much time on their hands, in the effort to kill time. And they were ignorant, arising from a misunderstanding of the matter in dispute. It seems that the people of the early days mere just as adept in discussing fruitless subjects as many a conference and many a theological paper is in our days, splitting hairs over immaterial matters and callous and indifferent with regard to the fundamentals. But discussions of this nature are sure to breed strife, since they are invariably subjective. In most cases, moreover, the personal element is brought into the situation, excluding all chances of bringing the matter under consideration to a successful conclusion.
For that reason Paul writes: But the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be placid toward all, apt to teach, enduring injury. It is in itself an honor to be called a servant of the Lord, to be in charge of the ministry which He Himself instituted. Such a man, however, must not be quarrelsome, must not indulge in quarrels, in petty contentions upon the slightest provocation. A different matter is that of defending the truth of God against vile attacks. A minister should be characterized by equanimity, kindness, benevolence toward all, not only toward his own members, but toward all with whom he comes in contact. That he must have aptness to teach, naturally, or the ability to teach, acquired, preferably both, is one of the first requirements of a teacher. But in thus giving instruction concerning the truth, it will be necessary quite often for the minister to endure injury and insult. Since natural man considers the teaching of the Gospel foolishness, he will usually object very decidedly to the idea of making a serious study of Christianity. It is an art which may be learned only in the school of the Holy Ghost, to endure insults, on the one hand, and on the other, to confess the truth in the face of all opposition.
But just this difficult part of a minister's work the apostle describes: in gentleness instructing those that oppose themselves, if possibly God will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth and a return to their senses out of the snare of the devil, captured by him to his own will. Blustering and threatening rarely convince a person of the truth of the Gospel. If a teacher of the Word, therefore, has such people before him as err from ignorance or even from malice, attempting to establish various points against the truth, then patient gentleness in explaining the Christian doctrine and in testifying to its soundness is the proper mode of procedure. The success of the teaching indeed rests with God; for it is He that must work the change of heart in man and give him the proper understanding of the truth. Repentance and conversion is a free gift of God to men, Jeremiah 31:18; 2 Corinthians 4:6; 2 Timothy 1:9. Thereby his heart is changed so as to possess a full and perfect knowledge of the Savior. At the same time the person that is converted comes to his right senses. As long as he is held captive in the bonds of Satan, he is in a sort of stupor, which prevents his knowing Jesus Christ as his Redeemer and accepting the Word of God as the eternal truth. The moral condition of unbelievers is that of people that are captives of the devil, who has so thoroughly enslaved them as to use them for his willing tools in the execution of all his wicked schemes and works, Ephesians 2:2. Only the power of God through the Word can save people from this condition, and therefore every pastor should use all gentleness in his efforts to convince the gainsayers of the error of their ways. Evangelical kindness may give way to legal harshness only when men refuse to accept the instruction of the Word of God and blaspheme in spite of better knowledge.
The apostle admonishes Timothy to faithfulness in his ministry and to steadfastness in faith and sanctification; he urges the proper application of the Word in contrast to the confused methods of the errorists, and briefly sketches the personal behavior of the Christian pastor.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent