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Thursday, July 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
2 Timothy 2

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

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Verses 1-13

Instruction how and why Timothy should suffer for the cause of the Lord

2 Timothy 2:1-13

1Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses1 [in the presence of many witnesses], the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able [also] to teach others also. 3Thou therefore endure hardness2 [suffer thou affliction with me], as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.3 4No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier4 [may please the commander]. 5And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully. 6The husbandman that laboreth must be first5 partaker of the fruits. 7Consider what I say;6 and the Lord give7 thee understanding in all things 8[for the Lord will give thee, &c]. Remember that Christ Jesus, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel: 9Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil-doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. 10Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sake [on account of the elect], that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11It is a faithful saying [Faithful is the saying]: for if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: 12If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny8 him, he also will deny us: 13If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: [for]9 he cannot deny himself.


2 Timothy 2:1. Thou therefore, &c. After the statement (2 Timothy 1:15-18) of the unfaithulness of many, and the fidelity of one, he addresses himself to Timothy with new exhortations. If he have excited him (2 Timothy 1:6-18) to stir up the gift within him as much as possible, without allowing himself to be held back through false shame, he now gives him express direction how and why he should suffer for the Lord’s cause. “The glorious paragraph (2 Timothy 2:1-13) contains, in compressed brevity, all that could animate and encourage not only the beloved pupil of the Apostle to fidelity in Christianity, but what also can strengthen the teachers and Christians of all ages to the firmest and most heroic resolution in faith and conflict;” Heydenreich.—It will appear, from the comment itself, how beautifully everything is connected together. The exhortation (2 Timothy 2:1-2) can be regarded as a kind of introduction to that which follows immediately; while the Apostle explains farther (2 Timothy 2:3-7) how and (2 Timothy 2:8-13) why he should suffer for the name of Christ.—Thou therefore, my son. The contrast to the foregoing is not to be overlooked here. Be the conduct of others as it may, do not allow thyself to be turned from the way thou art upon, but be strong according to the inward man.—Be strong in the grace; about equivalent to, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might (Ephesians 6:10). ̓Ενδυναμοῦσθαι, to encourage one’s self, to strengthen one’s self inwardly.—In the grace, not only through the grace; so that ἐν must be explained as διά; besides, also, that the grace of Christ makes up, as it were, the element of life in which Timothy moves, and from which his strength is born.—In Christ Jesus; the grace which dwells in complete fulness in Christ, and in His fellowship becomes the personal possession of believers in Him. If this power first were received and preserved, Timothy would be in a condition to fulfil the demand now following. The more deeply Paul feels that the moment is drawing near when he shall quit the scene of his activity, so much the more, naturally, must it be in his mind to leave behind, in his friend and pupil, a courageous and bold witness of Jesus Christ. To this end he gives him now, before all things, a command (2 Timothy 2:2) how he must act with the treasure of doctrine which he has received from the Apostle.

2 Timothy 2:2. And the things that thou hast heard of me, &c. We find no sufficient grounds to think here (Huther, De Wette, and others) of a definite transaction—of which mention is made also in 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6—viz., the ordination of Timothy. We believe much rather (Matthies) that the Apostle is thinking here of his public statements of doctrine, of his own preaching of evangelical doctrine and history, which Timothy must have heard, naturally, often, and which had been made before many witnesses. The correctness of this view appears clear from the fact that Timothy must commit what he has heard to such men as, in their turn, might be in condition to teach others also; from which conclusion of the verse we may well infer that the Apostle, in its beginning also, has referred to his doctrine, and not to special official prescripts, which could find application only in the case of individuals. If a connection be sought between this exhortation and the context, whether preceding or following, then it may be said that Timothy must not only himself fight (2 Timothy 2:3), but must also gird others, and in this way, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ care for his covenant-comrades (Huther). Perhaps it is still yet simpler, if we consider this exhortation, standing entirely alone, as coming from the Apostle’s pen rather without design, and then say: the Apostle does not bind himself to express through the context what is exercising his mind. In 2 Timothy 2:3 he continues the series of reflections already begun, uninterruptedly. “But thus writes no forger—so after a plan, yet so spontaneously,” (Wiesinger). Obviously, after what has here been said, the design of the Apostle is now clear. It is not enough for him that Timothy himself preach the truth purely and plainly; he must also have a care that it be transmitted and preserved in its purity and plainness. To this end, all the admonitions occurring here, serve. Timothy has heard the Apostle’s word among many witnesses, διὰ πολλῶν μαρτύρων properly, intervenientibus multis testibus—under the interposition; i.e., here, in presence of many witnesses (Winer, Gramm., p. 338). That which he also must transmit is, in a certain respect, no longer a private possession, but has become already common property. This shall he entrust to faithful men; and now so much the more, since it is his intention (2 Timothy 4:19) to quit Ephesus, and to go to Paul. “Antequam isthinc ad me proficiscare;” Bengel. By πιστοῖς�, we do not understand faithful in general (although it is self-evident that this is presupposed), but true, reliable men, who can guard well, and wisely administer the committed trust (comp. 1 Corinthians 4:2; 1 Corinthians 4:7; 1 Corinthians 4:21).—Who shall be able. Not a new quality added to the foregoing, but, as often, οἵτινες in the sense of quippe qui apti eruntto teach others also; in other words, to set forth again to others, for their instruction and edification, the gospel which they themselves have first heard. We cannot possibly see here anything else, than that by ἑτέρους we must think of the members of the congregation, and not of teachers. The idea that Timothy—as Paul had done—should gather pupils around him, and that these again should train pupils, so that in the community an order (stamm) of apostolic men might continue which could devote itself to the unimpaired transmission of apostolical doctrine (Huther), appears to us to be thrust into the text, and, when clearly and consistently developed, to lead either to the notion of a sort of esoteric doctrine, or to point to the Roman Catholic theory of tradition.—[“The things agreed on, and consented to by all the other Apostles, do thou commit to able men, and appoint them as bishops to the several churches under thee;” so Dr. Hammond. “I think there is no foundation for all this in the text;” Whitby, in loco.—E. H.]—We avoid this difficulty when we simply so interpret the exhortation, that Timothy should care for the transmission and confirmation of the gospel in the congregation, through other qualified teachers (Lehrorgane).

2 Timothy 2:3. Thou therefore endure … of Jesus Christ. After what has just been said, the Apostle proceeds farther to the express exhortation to suffer for the cause of the Lord. Συγκακοπάθησυν, suffer with; the true reading, instead of the Recepta, σὺ οὖν κακοπάθησον which, through the superfluous repetition of the σὺ οὐν (2 Timothy 2:1), gives a flat, cumbrous sense. The word κακοπαθεῖν (comp. 2 Timothy 2:9, and 2 Timothy 4:5) is also often used, by the classical writers, of the fatigues, burdens, and deprivations which are connected with military service. Under three distinct figures the Apostle now places before Timothy his Christian calling. The first is that of a soldier. Serving, as such, under the banner of Jesus, he must feel bound partly to endurance and partly to abstinence. Tertull., Ad Martyres, cap 3, p. 138, Edit. Rigalt: “Nemo miles ad bellum cum deliciis venit, sed de papilionibus expeditis et substrictis, ubi omnis duritia, imbonitas et insuavitas consistit.” Also elsewhere, 1 Timothy 1:18; 1Ti 6:12; 1 Corinthians 9:1; 2 Corinthians 10:4-5; and especially in Ephesians 6:12-18, is the same figure employed by the Apostle.

2 Timothy 2:4. No man … that he may please him that, &c. As the soldier, especially when in active service—ὁ στρατευόμενος—must bear more than others, so, still farther, has he less freedom than others to do everything he may wish. Ἐμπλέκεται signifies, especially, entanglement in something hindering and obstructing (comp. 2 Peter 2:20). By πραγματεῖαι (comp. Luke 19:13), we must not think exclusively of lawsuits, but especially of business affairs, and generally of all those occupations which the support of daily life renders necessary, but which also are wholly irreconcilable with a faithful fulfilment of the duties of a soldier. Amongst the ancients, the unnatural combination of one line of activity with another was forbidden by positive laws. Ambros.De Offic., libr. 1, says: “Qui imperatori militat, a susceptionibus litium, actu negotiorum forensicum, venditione mercium prohibetur humanis legibus.”—“He who fights for the Imperator, is prohibited by human laws from litigation, the pursuit of forensic affairs, the sale of merchandise.” [Militares viros civiles curas arripere prohibemus. Quoted by Whitby.—E. H.]—The sole calling of the στρατιώτης is that, through the faithful performance of his duties, he please the commander, τῳ στρατολογήσαντιi.e., the commander-in-chief. The Catholic Church (Roman) has interpreted this prescript literally, in that it has forbidden the clergy, peremptorily, a certain number of unclerical occupations (see Walter’sKirchenrecht, 5th ed., Bonn, 1831, p. 398). On the other hand, upon the Protestant side, the following application was characteristically given to this passage by Melanchthon: “Ita vult ministrum Evangelii totum servire propriæ vocationi et non ingerere se in alienos, in gubernationem politicam. Non habeat minister Evangelii alterum pedem in templo, alterum in curia.” (“So he wishes the minister of the gospel to serve in his own vocation unreservedly, and not to engage in outside affairs, in political management. Let not the minister of the gospel have one foot in the temple and the other in the curia.”) If we ask in what way the Apostle himself has, in his own example, explained this his prescript, then it becomes plain that it must be understood not absolute, but cum grano salis. Paul also, while working with his hands, has eaten his own bread (Acts 20:34; 1 Corinthians 4:12; lb., 1 Corinthians 9:6); and certainly he will not have given this counsel to Timothy unconditionally. But, assuredly, special tact and wisdom are necessary so to manage the inevitable cares and occupations which daily life brings with it, that the cause of the kingdom of God shall be thereby in no wise injured, but rather can gain advantage from their results; as was the case actually with Paul himself, who found occasion, in his own activity, to set forth his example to the community for imitation (see 2 Thessalonians 3:6-9).

2 Timothy 2:5. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned except he strive lawfully. The Apostle develops now, yet farther, the same thought in the form of a second figure. To strive, is not synonymous here with στρατεύεσθαι, but is an expression borrowed from the Greeks (ἀθλεῖν), to which he alludes also in 1 Corinthians 9:24 and 2 Timothy 4:7-8 (comp. Hebrews 12:1). It is not enough, he wishes to say, that a man shall himself only take part in the contest, indifferent how, in other respects, he carries himself; but, chiefly and before all that he conduct himself according to the laws of battle, since without this he can lay no claim to the honor of being crowned. He who fights against the laws of the contest, forfeits his crown; νομίμως� = conformably to the laws. The specific, not tropical sense, is as follows: The minister of the gospel dare not arbitrarily exempt himself from this or that portion of his task, or even direct his activity according to his own discretion; not the bias of his own heart, but the will of the Lord alone must be his standard; so that, without this, it is impossible for him to hope for His approval and recognition.

2 Timothy 2:6. The husbandman that laboreth must be first partaker of the fruits. The third figure, borrowed from the husbandman, develops once more the same idea, though in a measure, indeed, upon another side. Here, too, there is no promise (De Wette), but an exhortation, grounded upon a comparison with the γεωργός. Κοπιῶντα is put forward with emphasis, for a proof that the Apostle is speaking of a privilege which is accorded exclusively to the laboring, but in no wise to the not-laboring husbandman. There must be work especially with persistent exertion, if one will—what every husbandman naturally wishes—actually gather the fruits of his field. The question only is, in what sense πρῶτον is to be taken, and with what this adverb is to be combined. Not in the sense of ita demum (Heinrichs; also the Dutch translation); as little as an hyperbaton = τὸν γεωργόν κοπιῶντα πρῶτον, κ.τ.λ.; but that also it be connected with μεταλαμβάνειν, and considered equivalent to first, before all others. The Apostle will say, finally, not every husbandman, but he only who labors with assiduity, must first, before all others, enjoy the fruits of his labor. If, consequently, Timothy will claim this privilege for himself, there must be unremitting toil upon his part; just as above, in 2 Timothy 2:5, his coronation was made dependent upon lawfully-conducted contests. That, for the teacher, the right of a suitable support upon the part of the community exists, is without doubt a Pauline thought (see 1 Corinthians 9:7, et seq.); this, nevertheless, is not taught here.

2 Timothy 2:7. Consider what I say, &c. According to De Wette, this exhortation is apparently superfluous, since the foregoing comparisons were easy for Timothy to understand. “But the sense of the verse is not meant to enlighten the understanding of Timotheus as to the meaning of the metaphors, but as to the personal application of them;” Conybeare and Howson. Hence, also, it is not necessary to adopt the notion (Mosheim, Michaelis), that some secret sense lies hidden under the foregoing comparisons.—And the Lord give thee understanding in all things. This reminder is here all the more appropriate, since an unspiritual understanding of the prescripts of the Apostle, κατὰ οητόν, not κατὰ διάνοιαν, was certainly possible, but not desirable for the community. For the rest, these words, although they refer exclusively to the foregoing, make nevertheless an appropriate transition to what follows (2 Timothy 2:8-13); in which verses the Apostle names various motives which should determine Timothy to the true fulfilment of the duty which hitherto had been pressed upon his heart.

2 Timothy 2:8. Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, raised from the dead, &c. First motive: remembrance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul directs the view of his friend and pupil back to that great event which is the foundation of all faith and of all hope of Christians (comp. 1 Corinthians 15:12-20). He should hold Jesus Christ in remembrance (here, where there is occasion to speak of the Lord as an historical person, not the name of office—Christ—but the individual name—Jesus—stands first), not in general, but here especially the risen from the dead (ἐγεγερμένον, not ἐγερθέντα). Through the addition, of the seed of David (comp. Romans 1:3), not the lowliness of the person of the Lord, also not His Messianic dignity (Huther), but simply His human descent, His origin is denoted, and truly, indeed, with indirect “polemic” against the docetic error of false teachers; and upon this circumstance special stress is laid, because Timothy could perceive from it that Jesus Christ, although man of flesh and blood as he himself, nevertheless was raised from the dead; and this could contribute, amid the feeling of his own weakness, to his consolation and encouragement. “Hanc unam genealogiam a Timotheo vult attendi, quæ argumento est Jesum esse Christum;” Bengel.—According to my gospel (comp. Romans 2:16; Romans 16:25; 1 Timothy 1:11). That Paul is thinking here of the gospel of Luke (Jerome, Baur), is wholly unproven. Not without indirect polemic against the preaching of those who do not place the resurrection of the Lord in the forefront, or who reject it decidedly, Paul speaks here so expressly of it, since his train of thought occasions him now, in what follows immediately, to speak of his own person.

2 Timothy 2:9. Wherein I suffer trouble … unto bonds. A second motive for Timothy. He should direct his look not only backwards, but also around him, to the example of his own teacher and fellow-soldier.—Wherein; for the sake of which—the gospel—ἐν ᾧ, “cujus annuntiandi munere defungens;” Beza.—I suffer, κακοπαθῶ (comp. 2 Timothy 2:8).—Even unto bonds, μέχρι δεσμῶν. His present bonds are the ultimus terminus ad quem, whither his suffering has gone on until now (comp. Philippians 2:8), μέχρι θανατοῦ.—As an evil-doer. “Malum passionis, ac si præcessisset malum actionis;” Bengel. The word κακοῦργος, which occurs besides only in the gospel of Luke (Luke 23:39), sounds very well in the mouth of the Apostle, who had so fine a feeling for honor and shame, just to express the nature of his own position; and this so much the more, since, at the latest, his case had taken an unfavorable turn (comp. 2 Timothy 4:16-17).—But the word of God is not bound. Parenthesis, in which the Apostle gives account of what serves especially for his encouragement amid his heavy sorrows.—The word of God; designation of the gospel, specially upon the side of its Divine origin (comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:13); not of the Holy Scriptures in general, nor of the Divine promises in particular.—Is not bound, οὐ δέδεται. Antithesis to his own imprisoned estate, τρεχέι (2 Thessalonians 3:1). The gospel is preached in spite of the imprisonment of Paul, not through himself (as De Wette explains, while he appeals for his interpretation to Acts 28:31, for we have to do here with the second imprisonment), but through others.

2 Timothy 2:10. Therefore … glory.Διὰ τοῦτο; therefore, because the word of God is not bound. The unimpeded course of the gospel is to the Apostle a new proof of its all-embracing power; and the thought inspires him to suffer willingly for a cause which otherwise might seem lost. The additional clause, for the elect’s sake, must thence be understood not as a new ground, but as a more definite statement. By the ἐκλεκτοί, we must think here exclusively just as little of those to whom the gospel is not yet preached, as of those who have already received it (comp. Titus 1:1). The conception is rather to be taken generally. For their sakes he endures all. ’Yπομένω denotes not only passive endurance, but steadfastness, as of a soldier on the attack of the enemy (Wiesinger). It is not so evident what the Apostle means thereby, when he adds yet, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.They also, καὶ αὐτοί; as now already the Apostle himself, upon his part, was conscious of the σωτηρία in Christ. It is nevertheless a question, in what way the sorrow of the Apostle could serve to the furtherance of the same end with the ἐκλεκτοί. That he regarded his own suffering as in no way sin-extinguishing, requires indeed no special mention. The view, further also, that he wishes only to express the salutary influence which the consideration of his ὑπομονή would exert upon the ἐκλεκτοί (De Wette, Huther), will not fairly satisfy us. Certainly it is better, if we paraphrase his thoughts thus: that he, amid all the burdens of his calling, endured, without yielding up the high task of his life, that thereby the elect of God might be partakers of the σωτηρία in Christ, through his persevering, continued preaching (comp. Acts 13:48). This σωτηρία is here united with its highest reach—μετὰ δόξης αἰωνίου. “Cum gloriâ æternâ. Hoc finis est salutis, quam in Christo consequimur, salus enim nostra est, Deo vivere, quæ incipit a regeneratione nostra, absolvitur autem plena nostra liberatione, quum nos Deus ex mortalis vitæ ærumnis eductos in regnum suum colligit. Ad hanc salutem accedit participatio cælestis adeoque divinæ gloriæ. Ergo ut Christi gratiam amplificaret, nomen æternæ gloriæ saluti apposuit;” Calvin.—[“With eternal glory. This is the reach of the salvation which we obtain in Christ. For our salvation is to live to God, which begins from our regeneration, but is completed in our full deliverance when God gathers us from the calamities of our mortal life into His kingdom. Participation of heavenly and so of divine glory happens to this salvation. Therefore, that he may magnify the grace of Christ, he adds the name of eternal glory to salvation.”]

2 Timothy 2:11. It is a faithful saying, &c. Finally, the Apostle adduces a third motive. He directs the look of Timothy forward to the results which are connected in the future as well with the faithfulness as with the unfaithfulness of the servant of Christ. Faithful is the word, must not, as 1 Timothy 4:9, be referred to the preceding, but, as 1 Timothy 1:15, to the immediately following. The Apostle strengthens a general thought, and γάρ is equivalent to indeed. “The recent interpreter consider the following sentences, corresponding to each other, as strophes from a church hymn, respecting which, again as before, nothing more can be said than that the passage answers thoroughly well for a hymn, but it cannot be proved to have been taken from one;” (Matthies). But if, now, the words do not constitute a portion of an old Christian church song, surely they deserve to be employed as the text of a Christian hymn.—For if we be dead with (him), we shall also live with (him). A genuine Pauline thought. It is known how (amongst other places, Romans 6:0.) the whole Christian life is comprehended under the category of a dying and rising again with Christ. Not only the outward resemblance, but also the personal fellowship of the Christian with the Lord, is here meant; and, indeed, he speaks of a death and life in a spiritual sense, not in a pure natural sense. Yet the spiritual dying must certainly attain to such height, that we must be prepared, if necessary, to renounce our natural life for the sake of the Redeemer; while, on the other hand, the true spiritual life which is enjoyed here in consequence of that spiritual dying with Him (mitsterbens) issues in a personal participation of the blessed life in eternity.

2 Timothy 2:12. If we suffer, we shall also reign with (him). (Comp. Romans 8:17; Ephesians 2:6.) Not suffering wholly in general, but with Him, σὺν αὐτῷ, is here meant. Reigning with Him is somewhat the same with the phrase, “to reign in life” (Romans 5:17), when, indeed, the Messiah’s kingdom shall be revealed in its full glory.—On the other hand, if we deny (him), he also will deny us. Perhaps an allusion to the Lord’s own words, Matthew 10:33; Mark 8:38; to which also 2 Peter 2:1; Judges 4:0, seem to hint. To deny Christ, is, in general, to be ashamed of Him by word or deed. Here, with special reference to the work of the minister of the gospel, to be ashamed, through fear of men, to confess Him freely. He who is guilty of this, finds his sentence already recorded (Matthew 7:23).

2 Timothy 2:13. If we believe not, &c.; not in general, but are unfaithful to our holy calling, and to the vows made before the Lord. That condition is meant, indeed, which constitutes the ground of the denial of the Lord just referred to. “Si abnegamus; ore, si non credimus: corde;” Bengel.—Yet he abideth faithful (comp. Romans 3:3-4). He will not, as we in like case, become untrue to Himself. For he cannot deny himself (see Critical remarks). It is a gross misunderstanding to interpret this last reminder as a word of consolation in any such sense as this:—if we, from weakness, are unfaithful, we may calm ourselves with the thought that He will not break His word; and that, notwithstanding it, His faithfulness to us will be forever confirmed. In a certain sound sense this thought is certainly true; but the connection of the discourse here plainly shows that the Apostle will warn with emphasis, and, in other words, will say: Fancy not, if thou art unfaithful, that the Lord’s punishment will fail. He is just as faithful in His threatenings as in His promises. He remains ever like Himself, and can also just as little endure the unfaithful, as He can allow the faithful to go unrewarded (comp. Hebrews 2:3; John 3:20).


1. The prescript of the Apostle in 2 Timothy 2:2 is specially weighty on this account, because a very significant hint is given for the true relation between Scripture and tradition. Certainly it is true that an apostolic tradition existed before and also apart from the New Testament; so that, in a certain respect, it can be said that the Church has not to thank Scripture for its origin, but was established independently of it. It was this truth which orthodox Protestant theologians have only too often forgotten, but which has been handled, amongst others, by Lessing, with power and good success. On the other side, it is also equally certain that we would not know and authenticate purely the apostolic tradition, if, early, a Scripture had not been at hand, in which it was deposited, and unless this Scripture were the necessary corrective, by which all that presents itself to us as tradition must be proved, and also according to which it must become ever modified.10 In the gospel of John (John 21:23), we have the earliest proof in point—how impure tradition already in the earliest age would become, were it not fastened in Scripture, and even explained thereby. The publicity which the Apostle here palpably claims for the pure transmission of his original doctrine, stands, moreover, in noticeable contrast over against the veil of the mysterious, in which false teachers frequently envelop their doctrines.

2. As the threefold figure of the soldier, the athlete, and the husbandman, presents to view the calling and the burdens in the life of the minister of the gospel, so also the calling of each individual Christian, at all times and in all places, admits easily its reapplication.
3. The high value which the Apostle attributes to the bodily resurrection of the Lord, here and in other passages, is, in a remarkable way, in contrast with the spiritualistic and indifferentistic evaporization of this chief article of the gospel, on the side of the modern speculative rationalism of our days.
4. “The word of God is not bound.” Through this thought, which is applicable in the widest sense, the peculiarity of the gospel in opposition to every human institution, even to the law of Moses, is devoted, as well also as its rapid and unhindered spread is explained; while its future conquest over every, even the greatest obstacle, is guaranteed.

5. The suffering of the witnesses for Christ was, and is at all times, one of the most powerful agencies for the furtherance of the gospel (comp. Philippians 1:12-14; Colossians 1:24; 2 Corinthians 1:5-7). “The sorrow as well as the consolation of a minister of the gospel, as of a leader in Christ’s contest, extends to other Christians for consolation and welfare. His sorrow, in this, that each suffering for Christ, in and with Christ, is a victory; while persistent strength of faith in fierce battle overcomes sin and the world in them, the spectacle is the consolation of all who behold their conflict, and who fight after them. And while the witnesses for Christ again are consoled, now also, according to the deeper experience of life, a rich source of comfort and power streams forth from them into the hearts of others;” Gerlach.—Compare Vinet’s beautiful essay upon Colossians 1:24 : “Le fidèle achevant les souffrances de Jésus Christ,” in his Études Évangéliques, pp. 112–146.


What and how the Christian shall suffer for Christ.—The holy calling of the minister of the Lord: (1) The extent of this calling (2 Timothy 2:1-7). Presented under figures (a) of the soldier, (b) the athlete, (c) the husbandman; (2) motives for the exercise of this calling (2 Timothy 2:8-13): (a) a look backwards (2 Timothy 2:8), (b) a look around about one (2 Timothy 2:9-10), (c) a look forwards (2 Timothy 2:11-13).—The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ the true strength of His own.—Even the best Christian needs, like Timothy, constant strengthening.—Scripture and tradition.—The worth and the want of worth of tradition.—The Christian teacher a soldier of Christ: (a) The enemy against whom, (b) the Leader under whom, (c) the weapons with which, (d) the crown for which he strives.—The inevitable, necessary self-denial which is bound up with the service of the Lord.—What the Christian teacher can learn from the husbandman: (1) No fruit without labor; (2) no labor without reward.—Hold in remembrance, that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead: (1) Why shall this be thought of? This recollection gives power to work, to endurance, to conflict, to dying; (2) how shall this be thought of? Continually, faithfully (in a believing spirit), in joyful hope.—The word of God is not bound, (1) to any person who preaches it, (2) to any form in which it is preached, (3) to any time, place, or other circumstance.—The suffering of the ministers, the gain of the congregations.—Through dying to life, through enduring to reigning, through denial to being denied.—The thought of the faithfulness of the Lord an inestimable consolation for His own, but likewise a most earnest warning.—The great antithesis and the inner connection between the this-side and the beyond-side in Christian life.—The higher the calling, so much the heavier the responsibility.—He who will win the highest, must also venture the highest.—The faithfulness of the Lord not bound to our unfaithfulness.

Starke: Bibl. Würt.: Christians must not only stand by Divine truth, but they must do their utmost that it be transmitted to posterity, upon which account they should support churches and schools, and should help care for their preservation (2 Thessalonians 3:1).—Cramer: Beautiful evidence of three main articles of the Christian faith: that Christ is true man, born of the seed of David, was really dead, and is really risen from the dead (Luke 24:6-7).—Hedinger: The suffering and glory of Christ in common with His members.—It belongs to the mystery of the cross of Christ, that, the more purely any one preaches it, the more persecution, or at least evil report of the doctrine, he experiences on account of it.—Quesnel: Happy, and eternally glorious, are different.—That God gives eternal life to them who, for the sake of Christ, die the martyr’s death, no one doubts; but that every Christian is under obligation to die with Christ through the mortifying of his own pleasures and desires, and to put to death his former sins through the martyrdom of penitence, is not believed, and yet it must be believed just as much as the other.

Heubner: God has formed for Himself, out of weak and despised ones, the strongest instruments.—No human power can suppress the word of God, or hinder its course.—No rejected person will be able to complain to the Lord, and say He has not kept His word.

Lisco: What adorns the minister of Christ?—Be faithful even unto death.—The picture of a good soldier of Christ: (1) His quality (2 Timothy 2:1-7); (2) his encouragements and strenthenings (2 Timothy 2:8-13).—Wholly to Christ do we belong in life, suffering, and dying.—Of the conflict and of the crown of the Christian.—Palmer: The entire pericope, as an admonition to Christians, confirmed.—Schröder: The confirmation solemnity a farewell solemnity: (1) What is the home we thereby leave? (2) what is the strange land into which we are introduced? (3) what staff is thereby given into our hands?

2 Timothy 2:8, appropriate especially to the Festival of Easter, or the Sunday following.


2 Timothy 2:2; 2 Timothy 2:2.—[διὰ πολλῶν μαρτύρων = amid, i.e., in the presence of, yet not = ἐνώπιον; so Huther. These witnesses assisted by their presence.—E. H.]

2 Timothy 2:3; 2 Timothy 2:3.—[συγκακοπάθησον. The ordinary text, Leide dich. The reading συγκακοπάθησον must, on the authority of A. C.1 D.1 E.1 F. G., Sin., and others, be preferred to the usual σὺ οὐν κακοπάθέσον. [Lachmann also reads συγκακοπάθησον.—E. H.]

2 Timothy 2:3; 2 Timothy 2:3.—[Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ is preferable to ̓Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ; is supported by the weightiest authorities.—E. H.]

2 Timothy 2:4; 2 Timothy 2:4.—[τῷ στρατολογήσαντι; badly translated in the English Version; though it would seem to have some support in the Vulgate—cui se probavit.—E. H.]

2 Timothy 2:6; 2 Timothy 2:6.—[πρῶτον; so all the authorities and modern critical editions; but the Sin. reads πρότερον.—E. H.]

2 Timothy 2:7; 2 Timothy 2:7.—[ἄ λέγω; Lachmann and Tischendorf, on the authority of the evidence, read ὁ. The Sin. also has ὁ.—E. H.]

2 Timothy 2:7; 2 Timothy 2:7.—δώσει, not δῷη; see Tischendorf. [The English Version misses the sense, and leaves out the illative particle here, which has some emphasis.—E. H.]

2 Timothy 2:13; 2 Timothy 2:13.—[The Recepta has ἀρνούμεθα. Lachmann, and, after him, Tischendorf, reads ἀρνησόμεθα. The authorities are in its favor.—E. H.]

2 Timothy 2:13; 2 Timothy 2:13.—[The particle γὰρ was not in the text our translators used.—E. H.]

[10][An important principle, well stated.—E. H.]

Verses 14-26

Directions to Timothy how he may become further efficient in the preservation of the truth, and in his conflict with error

2 Timothy 2:14-26

14Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord11 that they strive not about words12 to no13 profit, but to the subverting of the 15hearers. Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth 16not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun [the] profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness [for they will fall into a greater measure of ungodliness]. 17And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymeneus and Philetus; 18Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of 18some. Nevertheless, the foundation of God14 standeth sure [the firm foundation of God standeth], having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ [the Lord]15 depart from iniquity. 20But 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. 21If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified,16 and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. 22Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with [all?]17 them 23that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But [the] foolish and unlearned questions 24avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the [a] servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient [of evil], 25In meekness18 instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging [in reference to the knowledge] 26of the truth; And that they may recover themselves [awake to soberness] out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.


2 Timothy 2:14. Of these things put them in remembrance, ταῦτα ὑπομίμνησκε. With these words a new part of the Epistle begins, which runs through to the end of this chapter. If the Apostle, in the first half of the second chapter, exhort Timothy to patient suffering, now he rouses him to vigorous action, and communicates directions to him on the manner and way in which especially he shall act against false teachers. The beginning of the admonition refers back to 2 Timothy 2:11-13, since the recollection of the great judgment in the glorious appearing of the Lord is pre-eminently fitted to hold any one back from every insignificant strife of words. The question whether the immediately following words, διαμαρτυρόμενος ἐνώπιον τοῦ κυρίου, belong to the preceding, or to the following μὴ λογομαχεῖν, depends upon another, viz., whether the reading here of the Recepta be genuine, or whether, with A. C., Vulgat., Ital., Æth., and the Latin church-fathers, we must read λογομαμάχει; which last reading Lach mann also has adopted, and Matthies and Huther defended. In this event, the words διαμαρτ. ἐνώπ. τοῦ κυρ. must be referred to ὑπομίμνησκε. We believe, nevertheless, that the usual reading, μὴ λογομαχεῖν, as well on account of the number as of the weight of the witnesses, deserves the preference, and that this latter was what Timothy should testify to his hearers, ἐνώπιον τοῦ κυρίου. The admonition, not to strive about words, was more appropriate and necessary for the surroundings of Timothy, than for Timothy himself. The λογομαχίαι (1 Timothy 6:4) were much sought after and liked by the heresiarchs of those days, since, through their dexterity in disputation, they endeavored to win for themselves the reputation of deep thinkers and forcible rhetoricians; against which folly, and the obscuration connected with it, the Apostle has already, earlier, declared himself (1 Corinthians 1:17). The desire to engage in such controversies could easily enough transfer itself from the false teachers to the congregation, in which event it must feel itself impelled naturally to enter the lists in behalf of some party, and it is in so far forth not necessary to consider this exhortation as directed exclusively to a teacher. The reason why Paul opposes this perversion with so great emphasis, appears from what immediately follows: to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. This is also an oppositional addition of an entire proposition, in which the foregoing exhortation is enforced through a more definite statement of the nature and result of the said λογομαχεῖν. It does not breed the slightest advantage (χρήσιμος only here; comp. the ζητήσεις�. μάταιοι, Titus 3:9), but, on the contrary, direct harm, since it calls forth just the reverse of the desired οἰκοδομή. Καταστροφή = καθαίρεσις (2 Corinthians 13:10), subversion, perversion, corruption, since in this way only vanity and caprice are awakened, and schism is nourished, which indeed is not the conscious aim, but is, nevertheless, the inevitable result (ἐπὶ) of the deplorable λογομαχεῖν.

2 Timothy 2:15. Study to … which needeth not to be ashamed. After the Apostle has now pointed out to Timothy the evils he has to contend with in his sphere of action, he tells him what he must, in his own person, seek to accomplish.—Study, σπούδασον; be zealously affected thereto. “Verbum conveniens characteri totius epistolæ;” Bengel.—To show thyself approved unto God.Δόκιμος = spectatus, probatus; to be taken here absoluté, not to be connected with the following ἐργάτην. Παραστῆσαι τῷ Θεῷ (comp. Romans 6:13; Romans 6:16), not only = εὐάρεστον εἶναι τῷ Θεῷ, but so that he become manifest to God as δόκιμος. In what character he must address himself to the service of God, appears from the words which immediately follow: a workman, &c. Ἔργάτης, also Philippians 3:2; 2 Corinthians 11:13, is used of labor in the field of the kingdom of God. Ἄνεπαίσχυντος, he who is not ashamed of His cause (comp. Philippians 1:20; 1 John 2:28); strictly, barefaced, impudent; hence, one who does not expect confusion. “Cui sua ipsius conscientia nullum pudorem incutiat.” Others explain: one who, without being ashamed of himself, comes forward freely for the cause of the Lord, as in 2 Timothy 1:8, which explanation is less supported by the context than the foregoing.—Rightly dividing the word of truth. A more precise designation of the laborer “approved unto God,” which has made much trouble for the interpreters of every age. The word of truth can be, naturally, nothing else than the gospel which Timothy preached. Ὀρθοτμεῖν, recte secare; strictly, to cut in the true direction. In respect, now, of the question in how for this conception can be applied to the λόγος τῆς�, we must certainly agree with De Wette, when he says that, without proof from usage, men have had in their minds the dissection of an animal offered in sacrifice, or of the cutting up of bread upon the part of the οἰκόνομος. His own view, however, that the metaphor is borrowed originally from ploughing, admits just as little of satisfactory proof as the other supposition, that the figure is taken from the work of the carpenter (Conybeare and Howson). It was likewise entirely arbitrary when certain church-fathers (Chrysostom, Œcumenius, Theophylact) were pleased to have thought of the cutting off of what was foreign, or of false teachers; and, least of all, is there any ground here (Calovius, Olshausen) for supposing that the correct distinction between the law and the gospel is enjoined. If we weigh all maturely, De Wette’s interpretation will, in the end, have the most in its behalf (comp. καινοτομεῖν, nova via incedere). As the farmer, when he cuts crooked furrows, injures his field, so also the minister of the word, who does not rightly deal with it. That also which Paul here desires of Timothy, is just the reverse of the καπηλεύειν τὸν λόγον τοῦ Θεοῦ (Galatians 2:14; 2 Corinthians 2:17); and the old church-fathers were in so far forth right when they used, now and then, ὀρθοτομία in the sense of ὀρθοδοξία. In any event, there is here an opposition to heterodidaskalia, no prescript for the practical conduct of Timothy, which must be wholly adjusted to the word of God.

2 Timothy 2:16. But shun … unto more ungodliness. Of profane, empty chattering (see Observ. on 1 Timothy 6:20).—Shun, περιΐστασο, avoid; strictly, go out of the way of (comp. Titus 3:9). Why we must go out of the way of this, the immediately following phrase shows: for they will increase unto more [fall into a greater measure of] ungodliness.Ἄσεβείας is to be understood here as genitive, dependent upon ἐπὶ πλεῖον; and the entire expression is to be considered not merely a warning, but also a prophecy, as 2 Timothy 3:13. The Apostle speaks of error itself, not of loose babbling (Luther), and especially shows how apparently pure theoretic error has nevertheless a pernicious practical tendency.

2 Timothy 2:17. And their word will eat as doth a canker. “The blessed Luther has translated γάγγραινα by cancer (Krebs), but it signifies a still more miserable evil; because he who is afflicted with cancer can still nevertheless preserve his life from ten to twenty years; but he who is smitten with gangrene dies in a few hours, if the limb wherein the disease is be forthwith not cut off; for it deprives one limb after another of life and sensation, through the entire body. The Greeks call this disease, usually, σφάκελον, and amongst us it is named gangrene” (kalte Brand); Starke. The tertium comparationis is the extensive and intensive spread of the disease in the body of the entire congregation. Jerome, in the Commentary upon the Epistle to the Galatians: “Doctrina perversa ab uno incipiens, vix duos aut tres primum in exordio auditores invenit, sed paulatim cancer serpit in corpore.”—Hymeneus and Philetus. [“That these two were Gnostic teachers, none of the ancients do insinuate; nor did the Gnostics teach that the ‘resurrection was past already,’ but that the flesh was not fit to rise,” &c.; Whitby. We should be cautious in making assertions about Gnosticism in the apostolic age. The Gnostic temper was in being then, but how much of it had come to the surface under a distinctly Christian form is still an obscure matter. Cf. Gibbon, vol. i., chap. 15; Baur, Christliche Gnosis, p. 36 sqq.—E. H.] Hymeneus, mentioned also in 1 Timothy 1:20, remained in his error; the other (an ordinary nomen proprium, see Wetstein on the place) is not known farther.

2 Timothy 2:18. Who concerning the truth have erred, οἴτινες περὶ τὴν�; literally, who, in respect of the truth, have missed the way (De Wette); comp. 1 Timothy 6:21 (ἀστοχεῖν; strictly, to lose or miss the good). Wherein the core of their error consisted, the Apostle states in the words: saying that the resurrection is past already.The resurrection can only be the resurrection of the dead bodies, which Paul, upon the ground of our Lord’s own words (John 5:28-29), teaches us to expect at the end of the present dispensation, simultaneously with the personal parousia of the Lord (see 1 Corinthians 15:53-54; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). It is also in the meanwhile evident, from 1 Corinthians 15:12, that already, very early, in the congregation, there were persons to whom this apostolic doctrine was offensive, and who either denied it, or, through a false spiritualism, avoided it. The view (Baur) is consequently wholly superfluous,19 that there is here a pointed reference to Marcion, which, in that case, still further, would be a proof against the genuineness of the Epistle. In so far as we can learn the very earliest Gnosticism from the genuine Epistles of Paul, the view contains nothing improbable that already in the Apostle’s time, at Ephesus and other places, false teachers appeared, who understood, what the gospel teaches of a resurrection in the specific sense, of a spiritual resurrection to some higher gnosis, or also to a new life in fellowship with Christ, and misapplied perhaps even expressions of the Apostle, as Romans 6:3; Ephesians 2:6, and other passages, for the purpose. They found, indeed, amongst the Essenes and Therapeutæ, and still more amongst the Sadducees, manifold points of contact, and they stood, through their morbid idealism, in principial opposition to the healthy and vigorous realism of the apostolic preaching [Predigt = κήρυγμα, the thing preached.—E. H.], while they also overthrow the faith of some. The hope of the future resurrection was indeed an essential factor of the Christian faith, and Paul always laid the greatest stress Upon it (comp., e.g., Acts 24:15). The denial of the future resurrection must also lead to a perversion of the fact of the resurrection of Christ, which had already taken place, and shake to its foundations the whole fabric of the Christian faith (ἀνατρέπειν, Vulg., labefactare), especially amongst the ἀμαθεῖς and ἀστήρικτοι, of whom there is mention in 2Pe 3:16.20

2 Timothy 2:19. Nevertheless, the foundation of God, &c. “Paulus ingressus in hanc tristem commemorationem de dissipationibus Ecclesiæ, opponit consolationes duos, alteram publicam, alteram pertinentem ad singulos;” Melanchthon. It is as if the Apostle were feeling the need of encouraging himself, together with Timothy, with a nevertheless, like that of Asaph (Psalms 73:1). The firm foundation of God, however (ὁ μέντοι στερεὸς θεμέλιος τοῦ Θεοῦ), the hard foundation-stone, the firm foundation laid by God Himself. It is incorrect to maintain that θεμέλιος here = οἰκία; rather, the foundation of the building must be understood, although with the firmness of the foundation, the firmness like wise of the building itself is secured. Apparently the Apostle here refers to the latter, and one can in so far forth say that the θεμέλιος τοῦ Θεοῦ denotes nothing else than the congregation founded by God Himself. “But Paul designates this as θεμέλιος, not because this expression means in itself a building, but in so far as the congregation, as it has been established originally by God, forms only the substructure of the edifice, which is to be gradually completed;” Huther. So all becomes intelligible enough; and it is just as useless as it is arbitrary to think here, by θεμέλιος, of believers in general (Chrysostom), or of the entire evangelical truth (Theodoret), or of the doctrine of the resurrection (Michaelis, Ernesti), or of the decree of election (Calvin), or of the Divine promises (Ambrose), or, in a word, of anything for which the connection, as well as the literal meaning of the words, gives a support equally feeble.—Standeth sure. Ἔστηκεν, notwithstanding, and in spite of all human efforts to shake or to destroy the building of God.—Having this seal, Ἔχων τὴν σφραγῖδα ταύτην. From the remote ages, it was the custom to place inscriptions upon door-posts, as well also as upon corner-stones (comp. Deuteronomy 6:9; Deuteronomy 11:20; Revelation 21:14). In other passages, also, the Apostle uses the word σφραγίς in a metaphorical sense; e.g., Romans 4:11; 1 Corinthians 9:2; Ephesians 1:10. Here, by the same word, a superscription is signified which stands legible on the λιθ. θεμέλ., whereby the peculiarity of the house of God built thereupon is expressed, and also security for its imperishable continuance is given. The superscription is twofold (symbolum)—perhaps with reference to the two sides of the seal, each of which is furnished with a special motto. The first, The Lord Knoweth them that are his, by the judgment of most interpreters, an allusion to Numbers 16:5, LXX: Ἔγνω κύριος τοὺς ὔντας αὑτοῦ. More probably, however, it is a reminiscence of the word of the good Shepherd (John 10:14).—And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ [the Lord] depart from iniquity. The second side; according to some, an allusion to Numbers 16:26, or to Isaiah 52:11. A thought so simple and clear requires no searching, however, after an Old Testament sympathetic chord. To name the name of the Lord is not precisely the same as to call upon this name for salvation (Seligkeit = blessedness) (Acts 2:21), but it means, to confess this name as that of Christ, the Lord (comp. 1 Corinthians 12:3). The invocation of this name is completely inseparable from a renunciation of unrighteousness, which, of itself, banishes the sinner from the kingdom of God (Mark 7:23). Ἀδικία includes also here the doctrine of the false teachers, in so far as this of itself leads to ἀσέβεια (see 2 Timothy 2:18). The obverse side of the inscription refers also to the highest consolation of the faithful (Bengel: “Novit amanter, nee nosse desinit, sed perpetuo servat suos”), the reverse side to their holy calling; while the union of the two pithy sentences shows that in this way the immovable firmness of the building of God, both upon the part of God and also of men, is secured perfectly Since the Lord knows indeed them that are His, so also, in point of fact, He distinguishes them from those who do not belong to Him, and will never permit Himself to make any mistake through the mere outside of these latter. If every one who names His holy name must depart from all unrighteousness, then sin can never succeed, even when it has already crept into the temple of the Lord, in destroying it wholly. A building which demands holiness, carries within itself no ground of dissolution and overthrow.

2 Timothy 2:20. But in a great house, &c. To the question whether, by the great house, we are to think here of the whole world, or in particular of the Christian Church, Calvin returns the proper answer: “Non convenit inter interpretes, an domus magna Ecclesiam solam, an totum mundum significet. Ac contextus quidem huc potius nos ducit, ut de Ecclesia intelligamus; neque enim de extraneis disputat Paulus, sed de ipsa Dei familia. Quod tamen pronuntiat, generaliter verum est, adeoque aliter ab eodem Apostolo ad totum mundum extenditur.”—[“It is not settled amongst interpreters whether ‘great house’ signifies the Church only, or the entire world. And the context indeed leads us rather to understand it of the Church. For Paul is not discoursing of outside matters, but of the family of God itself. Nevertheless, what he declares is true generally, and so elsewhere by the same Apostle is applied to the whole world”] (Romans 9:21). He expected, apparently, from Timothy, the not unnatural objection as to why evil, if only here in time, is permitted generally within the temple of God, and is not rather at once wholly cast forth from it. In the way of answer, Paul refers to the fact, that with the comparatively large extension of this building, it cannot well be otherwise than in other great houses; in other words, that in a community so numerous in membership, significant moral diversity amongst its individual members must necessarily exist. There is no reason for thinking here exclusively of the ministers of the congregation, since, rather, what is here said can be equally well applied to its members. By vessels of gold and of silver, we may understand the true, the faithful, the eminent teachers and members of the congregation; by vessels of wood and of earth, not the less distinguished, yet who, at the same time, are ever upright believers (it is not necessary to purify the house of such, 2 Timothy 2:21), but mere Christians in name, and false teachers; in other words, those who are represented, in the well-known parable of the Lord (Matthew 13:0), as the tares among the wheat, as the worthless fish in the net. The first-named vessels are to honor, the last to dishonor; not of the house nor of the proprietor, but only in respect of themselves, in so far as they subserve an honorable or an ignominious use. The Apostle says besides, moreover, in Romans 9:21, that they have been ἡτοιμασμένα thereto. In both these classes, as is manifest from the diverse materials here named, there are gradations, whereby before all it must not be overlooked that the first are made of imperishable, noble metal, the latter, on the other hand, of fragile wood or earthen ware, and are not designed for enduring, but only for temporary use, after which they are cast aside. How often the visible Church is compared by Paul to a building, is known (comp. upon 1 Timothy 3:15).

2 Timothy 2:21. If a man therefore purge himself, &c. “Hæc mundatio non est desertio congregationis, sed conversio ad Deum;” Melanchthon. The in ward separation from the evil is here denoted, with out which there can be no moral purification (comp. 1 Corinthians 5:1).—From these, can only refer to those persons in the congregation whom the Apostle, in the preceding verse, has described under the figurative expression, “vessels of wood and earth.” The breaking away of all fellowship with these was the first requisite, if one would reach the high ideal of Christian life set forth in the words that follow.—He shall be a vessel unto honor; consequently an ornament of the house of God, a living member of the congregation, like the good wheat in the field and the good fish in the net. The hint here given applies, first of all, to Timothy, but then also, in a wider sense, to all the members of the congregation.—Sanctified—as belonging to the Lord—(and) meet for the Master’s use [without the intervening and (καὶ); see the critical remark]. Εὔχρηστος, here, as in 2 Timothy 4:11 and Phil. 11, good to use, fitted directly for the service of the Master, for whose use, indeed, the others also—the vessels of wood and earth—serve, but are nevertheless prepared only indirectly and temporarily for the purpose.—Prepared unto every good work (comp. Ephesians 2:10). Prepared for every kind of useful service, and also not worthless and unfruitful on the day of the coming of Christ (2 Peter 1:8; 2 Peter 1:10).

2 Timothy 2:22. Flee also youthful lusts. Would Timothy be a vessel unto honor, then he must not only purify himself from the corruption without (i.e., outside of) him, but must do battle also inwardly with that which was impure within him. In this way this exhortation hangs together with the foregoing context, without any violence. The youthful lusts (Vulg., juvenilia desideria) do not consist, as some are pleased to fancy, in a search after novelty, or in a propensity to think out new doctrines, or to secure approbation for them (νεωτερίζειν, res novas moliri)—an explanation which is just as little called for, through the context, as through the needs of Timothy—but, as this appears also from the antithesis which immediately follows, we must think here of those lusts which usually make themselves felt especially in youth; not merely of πορνεία, but more, in a general way (Ambrose), of the voluptates mundanæ, by which, for the most part, we are seduced in the first half of our lifetime, to which, also, inordinate enjoyment of the senses and an idle honor belong.—But follow (comp. 1 Timothy 6:11) righteousness, faith, charity, peace (“inward fellowship and concord;” De Wette) with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. The words with them do not refer to the earlier δίωκε, but to the immediately preceding εἰρήνην. Timothy ought to keep this peace with all who call upon the name of the Lord—a qualification of believers, like that given in 1 Corinthians 1:2. The calling upon the name of the Lord is also mentioned in Acts 2:21; Ib. Acts 9:14; Romans 10:12, as the peculiarity of the confession of Christ.—Out of a pure heart; contrast with the heretical teachers, to whom this was wanting (comp. 1 Timothy 1:5). A genuine Christian catholicity, which is also enjoined upon Timothy, over against all separatistic exclusiveness (sonderwesen). The more decidedly he must take his stand against certain persons, for the sake of the Lord, so much the more shall he attach himself towards others, with whom he feels united in the great cause.

2 Timothy 2:23. But the foolish and unlearned questions avoid (comp. 1 Timothy 1:14; 1 Timothy 6:4). Here also the ζητήσεις are the peculiar mark of the heretical teachers. They are foolish, μωραί (comp. Titus 3:9), since they are in themselves groundless and weak, and are useless (comp. 2 Timothy 3:16, where the reverse is maintained of the Holy Scriptures); properly, uneducated, uninstructed; hence, inapt, insipidus, and, in consequence of this, unfit also to accomplish any good; yea, as appears from what follows, engendering not little evil.—Knowing that they do gender strifes. Forth from the egoistic impulse which lies at the bottom of such ζητήσεις, necessarily spring, sooner or later, μαχαί. Calvin: “Ne ergo nos placendi ambitio ad captandum ex tali ostentatione gratiam sollicitet, semper nobis occurrat hoc Pauli elogium, quæ in maximo pretio hebentur quæstiones, esse tam insulsas eo, quod sint infructuosæ. Deinde malum etiam, quod parere solent, exprimit, nec aliud dicit, quam quod experimur quotidie, eas scilicet jurgandi et digladiandi præbere materiem.”—[“Lest the ambition, therefore, of pleasing seduce us to the winning of grace by such ostentation, this saying of Paul often occurs to us, that questions which are held in the highest estimation are senseless because they are unfruitful. Thus he expresses also the evil which they are accustomed to bring to light, nor does he say anything else than what we daily experience, viz., that they furnish material for jangling and quarrelling.”]

2 Timothy 2:24. And the servant of the Lord must not strive. Everything which causes strife and contention is, precisely upon that account, in contradiction with the calling of a minister of Christ, who strives not nor cries—whose crying must not be heard in the streets (Matthew 12:19-20). We scarcely need a reminder that the Apostle does not forbid all, but only useless and ignoble strife, all actual wrangling, upon the part of the minister of the gospel (Luther, short of the mark: Shall not be quarrelsome).—But be gentle unto all (men);ἤπιος, mild, gentle, benevolent, and affectionate, emphatically, towards all; not alone towards his associates in the faith, but towards those with whom he comes in contact.—Apt to teach, διδακτικός. Not only apt, but always ready to teach all who are willing to receive instruction from him.—Patient [of evil], ᾀνεξίκακος; tolerans malorum (comp. Book of Wisdom, 2 Timothy 2:19). It is not used here in respect of troubles generally, but for the designation of patience under every opposition, upon the part of men, as is clear from what follows immediately.

2 Timothy 2:25. In meekness. A farther exposition of the manner and way in which Timothy should exhibit the temper just enjoined. In meekness, ἐν πραότητι; incorrectly joined by Luther to the preceding verse.—Instructing those that oppose themselves. The ἀντιδιατιθέμενοι here designated are, naturally, no personal opponents of Timothy; not, farther, unbelievers in general, but the false teachers who, principially and diametrically, resisted the pure doctrine of the Apostle, together, perhaps, with such members of the congregation as were led away through them. These must he teach, and, by this teaching, ascertain if God peradventure will give them repentance. The conversion of those in the opposition (Widersacher) should be also the supreme object of his teaching; an object the attainment of which is in the highest degree difficult, but not in any way hopeless. God must effect this conversion (non est enim opis humanæ: motivum patientiæ;” Bengel), and it first leads to the acknowledging [knowledge] of the truth, ἐπίγνωσις; here also, as in Titus 1:1, plena et accuratacognitio. As ἀδικία is the deepest ground of their error, so also is μετάνοια the indispensably necessary requisite in order to the attainment of a genuine ἐπίγνωσις. How desirable it is that such a μετάνοια fail not, the Apostle states in the concluding verse.

2 Timothy 2:26. And (that) they may recover themselves, &c. Immediate result of the conversion wrought by God. Ἀνανήφειν, to become cool again, to awaken out of a drunken fit, to come to one’s senses again.—Out of the snare of the devil, ἐκ τῆς παγίοδος; constructio prægnans, καὶ ῥυθῶσιν might be supplied. Here also, as in Ephesians 4:27; Ephesians 6:11, the devil is represented as an author of evil: in his snares (παγίδες), i.e., by his enticements, are the false teachers not only led captive, but also delivered over into slumber. They have also a twofold need—to be awakened, and to be delivered.—Taken captive by him, ἐζωγρημένοι ὑπ̓ αὐτοῦ; made prisoners alive by him; i.e., the devil. Designation of their actual moral condition.—At his will, εἰς τὸ ἐκείνου θέλημα. In the judgment of some, this is spoken of the will of God; according to others, of that of Satan. The latter, indeed, is the most probable, judging according to the entire connection; and ἐκείνου can very well refer to the same subject as αὐτοῦ (see De Wette). The captives here referred to are also ensnared through Satan to do his will; ad illius, sc. seductoris tyranni voluntatem peragendum. Just this thought of the unhappy fate of those “that oppose themselves” should dispose one to the gentleness enjoined in 2 Timothy 2:24-25, which otherwise is difficult enough.


1. To the duty rightly to divide the word of truth, belongs, in the broader sense of the word, not only the representation of the truth in the form most appropriate thereto, but likewise a representation and development of its contents, which is directed and sustained by the Spirit of Truth in all particulars. “Nihil prætermittere, quod dicendum sit, nil adjicere de suo, nil mutilare, discerpere, torquere, deinde diligenter spectare, quid ferat auditorum captus, quidquid denique ad ædificationum conducat;” Beza.

2. The rapid growth of evil, and the slow progress of good, as the experience of all centuries in the history of the kingdom of God shows, is a convincing proof of the inner untruth of Pelagianism.
3. The denial of the resurrection can be made under manifold forms, and its apparent force is partly founded in the fact, that the proper distinction is not made between resurrectio carnis et corporis. [This is a pregnant suggestion for American preachers.—E. H.] The declaration of Paul (1 Corinthians 15:50) should just as little be thrown into the shade as the promise (in 2:53, 54). This denial, however, is always conjoined with a misconception of the great truth which is the key to the entire biblical eschatology.—Bodily form (Leiblichkeit = bodiliness = that of which body can be predicated) is the scope of God’s ways. [A saying of Oetinger.—P. S.]

4. Paul is just as far removed from a narrow-hearted separation as from an unchristian syncretism. No outward separation, but an inward purification from everything which is perverted in the visible congregation of the Lord, is here also his motto. As strongly as he declares himself against all false and violent union with those of whom we are convinced that they do not build on the same foundation with ourselves, he is equally decided against the donatistic effort to erect a perfected separatistic church, and so to cut off all the tares, as if the field were already the granary. [It is surprising how this patent teaching of the Bible is still obscured.—E. H.]
5. It is a proof of the profound wisdom of the Apostle, in teaching, that he enjoins upon Timothy no high, rare virtues, for the exercise of which opportunity presents itself only extremely rarely, but precisely such as can be required also of the least important disciples of the Lord, and which can come anew daily into exercise. “Never should a minister of the Lord allow himself to be betrayed to neglect or to despise these simple attributes of an ordinary Christian, for the sake of other pretended excellences.”

6. The often diversely answered question, in how far the carrying on of controversy is permissible in the minister of the gospel, is here set forth in its true light by the Apostle (2 Timothy 2:2-3 et seq.). If our love be true, i.e., a holy love, it is impossible for it to preserve an indifferent bearing over against error and sin; and Augustine is right in his saying: “Melius est cum servitate diligere quam cum lenitate decipere.” On the other side, we must distinguish clearly between persons and things, and our sympathy become aroused, just through reflection upon the unhappy condition of the erring. Hence, he who cannot bear calmly and reply with dignity to contradiction, is just as little fitted for the ministry of the gospel, as the physician would be for his profession who would allow himself to become moved by the abusive speech of a patient in fever-delirium, either to forsake the sick-bed, or to hurl back the abuse.

7. The minister of the gospel must not be afraid of the conflict with the wisdom of the world. That is a great expression of Gregory the Great, viz.: “Deus primo collegit indoctos, postmodum philosophos, nec per oratores docuit piscatores, sed per piscatores subegit oratores.”—[“God first gathered the unlearned, afterwards philosophers; nor has He taught fishermen by orators, but has subdued orators by fishermen.”—E. H.]


Not a strife about words, but a strife about principles, is the true strife in the sphere of God’s kingdom.—The Christian principle of utility as the measure of everything which shall or shall not be defended.—As much as a man is before God, so much is he really and truly.—Preach also that thou mayest please God (a very noble homiletical principle of Theremin).—Not only the wheat, but tares also must grow.—The denial of the resurrection an unchristian error.—Error is manifold, truth but one.—The rule of Frederic the Great: Let every one get to heaven à sa façon.—Before the tribunal of Paul the Great.—The divine structure of the Church: (1) The architect; (2) the foundation; (3) the inscription.—Grounds of tranquillity amid the attacks with which the divine structure of the Church is threatened: (1) It is a building of God; (2) the Lord knoweth them that are His; (3) let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.—The temporary union of true believers and of nominal Christians in the same community: (1) An original fact; (2) an invaluable benefit; (3) an earnest alarm-voice for both.—Every separatistic impulse a precipitate anticipation of the final separation in the future.—The Christian should be just as little indifferent as impatient of the tares in the field.—The value of the fellowship of the saints in the days of increasing strife.—Avoiding and seeking united in the same life.—Our Christianity cannot be simple and practical enough.—In how far the minister of the gospel may strive, and in how far he may not.—He who will be anything to many, must wish to be all things to all.—Conversion of the heart, the way to a purer illumination of the understanding.—God bestows conversion, yet not without instruments (means); without our merit, but not without our co-operation.—The demonic background of much apparently very profound error.—Sight of the unhappiness of many opposers of the truth must move us to so much the deeper sympathy with their perversities.

Starke: Cramer: A preacher must often repeat an exhortation, because we dwell in a land of forget-fulness.—Hedinger: We should distinguish well between doctrine and people. All kinds of food are not suited to every one. What is best, can become poison through a hurtful misuse upon the part of the hearer. Alas ! that through much confusion upon this point, the ministry of the word must become to many a savor of death.—Skill in disputation is useful in the preservation of the truth; but it becomes misapplied in the palliation of lies (Proverbs 22:24-25; 2 Kings 21:9; 2 Kings 21:11).—Cramer: The doctrine against the resurrection is the way to more errors, yea, to the greatest evils.—Every age has, usually, its special defects, to which before all others it is inclined.—Towards erring opponents of the truth, we must use patience and gentleness, just as towards the drunken and the insane (2 Timothy 2:24).

Heubner: Strife and contention must be hated by the Christian.—The opinion of Hymeneus and Philetus is pernicious: (1) If the body in itself be the source of evil, then evil is not the guilt of free will: (2) if the dead do not rise, the resurrection of Christ, and (3) all resurrection, and all immortality are uncertain.—The virtues which Timothy should desire are just those which are over against youthful failings.—Lisco: In the Church of Christ there is a mixture.—The right preaching of the gospel: (1) That from which it keeps itself free (2 Timothy 2:16-18); (2) that upon which it lays emphasis (2 Timothy 2:19-21); (3) that by which it is sustained (2 Timothy 2:22-26).—In what does the glory of the temple of God consist?


2 Timothy 2:14; 2 Timothy 2:14.—[τοῦ κυρίου; so Recepta, Lachmann, Tischendorf. The Sin. has Θεοῦ.—E. H.]

2 Timothy 2:14; 2 Timothy 2:14.—μὴ λογομαχεῖν, instead of λογομάχει. It is difficult to decide upon the proper reading here. The reader is referred to the critical comment upon the verse. [Lachmann puts a full period after κυρίου, and thus connects the first clause of the sentence with the preceding section. The new section would thus begin with μὴ λογομάχει. I confess to a preference for this latter arrangement, εἰς οὐδ., κ.τ.λ.—E. H.]

2 Timothy 2:14; 2 Timothy 2:14.—[The critical editions, and the Sin., read ἐπί.—E. H.]

2 Timothy 2:19; 2 Timothy 2:19.—[τ. Θεοῦ. Sin., τ. κυρίου.—E. H.]

2 Timothy 2:19; 2 Timothy 2:19.—[A. C. Δ. G., Tischendorf, Lachmann, Cod. Sin., κυρίου instead of Χριστοῦ.—E. H.]

2 Timothy 2:21; 2 Timothy 2:21.—The Recepta has a connecting καὶ after ἡγιασμένον, which is omitted properly by the critical editors; omitted also in the Sin.

2 Timothy 2:22; 2 Timothy 2:22.—[Lachmann, on the strength of A. C. G., has πάντων after μετὰ.—E. H.]

2 Timothy 2:25; 2 Timothy 2:25.—[Recepta, πραότητι. Πραΰτητι, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Sin.; in fact, the Recepta is entirely exceptional here.—E. H.]

[19][Baur liked to find support for his theory of a later date for the composition of some of the Epistles (this amongst the rest) in such allusions and hints, often entirely without reason.—E. H.]

[20][Probably the two errors which our expositor here names as separate explanations of this passage should be united.—W.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/2-timothy-2.html. 1857-84.
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