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Bible Commentaries
2 Timothy 2

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Verses 1-2


2 Timothy 2:1. Be strong.—R.V. “be strengthened,” and continue so.

2 Timothy 2:2. Among many witnesses.—The instrumental form, lit. “by the mediation of,” here is equal to “in presence of many witnesses,” who were present to confirm the word. Able to teach others.—The others would not always be docile learners—others of a different quality or spirit, it is indicated.


The Permanence of Christian Doctrine.

I. That Christian doctrine becomes more vivid as the soul is strengthened by Divine grace.—“Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:1). In contrast to the weak conduct of those who had forsaken him, and in imitation of the devotion of a man like Onesiphorus and of his own resolute attitude, the apostle exhorts Timothy to seek increased spiritual strength. In our own strength we can do nothing; but in the grace supplied by Christ to all who believe in Him and ask Him, we find all we need for strengthening our own Christian character, and for imparting instruction to others. Our power to do good will depend upon the degree in which the truth influences our own souls. In the meeting of Elijah and Ahab at the plot of Naboth we have an illustration of the contrast between strength and weakness: the righteous man is strong, the wicked man weak and vacillating.

II. That the reality of Christian doctrine is attested by reliable witnesses.—“The things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses” (2 Timothy 2:2)—by means of many witnesses. Every true believer is a witness of the truth. In other words, the truth is its own witness, exemplified in the changed lives and righteous conduct of those who have embraced it. The public teacher is called by his office to be a faithful and true witness, and the soundness of his doctrine is attested by the manifold witnesses of its transforming power.

III. That the permanence of Christian doctrine is secured by careful transmission to faithful and competent teachers.—“The same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). There is only one gospel, and this has been authenticated by its own intrinsic value and by the testimony of incorruptible witnesses, and every care must be taken to preserve this gospel inviolate and transmit it in its purity and strength to future generations. Care must also be taken that the human vehicle of the truth be duly fitted and prepared to convey it to others. Here we have the earliest indication of the formation of a theological school, which shall not only train men to instruct the ignorant, but to defend and maintain the truth in its integrity. The teachers of Christian doctrine must be not only able to teach, but be men of unblemished character and undoubted fidelity. Truth will be rendered permanent not simply by human creeds and ecclesiastical traditions, but by living witnesses of its converting power.


1. Christian doctrine and practice must go together.

2. We can only witness for the truth as we know it.

3. Experimental religion is the best guarantee of the permanence of truth.


2 Timothy 2:1-2. The Custody of the Gospel.

I. The truth of the gospel has been verified by reliable witnesses (2 Timothy 2:2).

II. Is to be handed on to the custody of faithful and competent teachers (2 Timothy 2:2).

III. Personal growth in the grace of Christ is essential to the safe custody of the gospel.

Verses 3-7


2 Timothy 2:3. Endure hardness.—R.V. “Suffer hardship with me.” Compare 2 Timothy 1:8, where the same word occurs. It would seem more consistent to refer the fellowship in each case to St. Paul, in behalf of the gospel.

2 Timothy 2:4. No man that warreth entangleth himself.—R.V. “No soldier on service.” The word for “entangleth himself” occurs again only 2 Peter 2:20. St. Paul had before him living illustrations of his saying. The Roman soldier carried his home on his back. Who hath chosen him to be a soldier.—R.V. “who enrolled him as a soldier.” This phrase is represented by one word in the original. It is the term for the general who collects an army.

2 Timothy 2:5. Strive for masteries.―R.V. “contend in the games.” In the best Attic Greek the word would mean to work, to endure. Lawfully.1 Timothy 1:8. Conformably to law. Not merely of the contest itself, but also of the preparation and training for it.

2 Timothy 2:6. The husbandman that laboureth.—The notion of “laboureth” is that of the weariness and lassitude which follow the straining of his powers to the utmost. The lesson seems to be “No sweat, no sweet.”

2 Timothy 2:7. Understanding.—Here means the power of putting things together. It is, as Bishop Lightfoot suggests, the critical application of wisdom to details.


Phases of the Christian Life.

I. The Christian life is a military service.

1. The power of endurance is acquired by continuous drill. “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3). “Military service involves self-sacrifice, endurance, discipline, vigilance, obedience, ready co-operation with others, sympathy, enthusiasm, loyalty” (Plummer). Tertullian writes: “Even in peace soldiers learn betimes to suffer warfare by toil and discomforts, by marching in arms, running over the drill-ground, working at trench-making, constructing the tortoise, till the sweat runs again. In like manner do ye, O blessed ones, account whatever is hard in your lot as discipline of the powers of your mind and body. Ye are about to enter for the good fight, in which the living God gives the prizes, and the Holy Spirit prepares the combatants, and the crown is the eternal prize of an angel’s nature, citizenship in heaven, glory for ever and ever. Therefore your trainer Jesus Christ has seen good to separate you from a state of freedom for rougher treatment, that power may be made strong in you.”

2. The efficiency of service must not be impaired by being excessively engrossed with other occupations (2 Timothy 2:4). The soldier is wholly devoted to his profession, and his term of service is spent either in warfare or in preparation for it. He abandons all other occupations: they would interfere with his efficiency and with his prospects of promotion. So the Christian soldier, if he is to render good service, must not be entangled with worldly affairs: not that he can ignore them or neglect them; but he must guard against their interfering with the obedience he owes to His heavenly Commander.

II. The Christian life is an athletic contest.

1. Victory is gained only by great effort. “And if a man also strive for masteries” (2 Timothy 2:5). Tertullian, continuing his address to martyrs, passes by an easy transition from training for military service to training for athletic contest. “For the athletes also are set apart for stricter discipline that they may have time to build up their strength. They are kept from luxury, from daintier meats, from too pleasant drink; they are driven, tormented, distressed. The harder their labours in training the greater their hopes of victory. Virtue is built up by hardness, but by softness is overthrown.”

2. Reward is given only to those who faithfully observe the rules of the contest. “Yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully” (2 Timothy 2:5). The athlete, though gaining the victory, is not crowned unless he has observed all the conditions of the contest, and the preparation for it as to self-denying diet, exercise, self-restraint, chastity, and decorum. So in the Christian course the prize is given to him who has obeyed all the rules. To share the glory of Christ we must share His suffering: if we shrink from the cross, we miss the crown.

III. The Christian life is moral husbandry.

1. Implying diligent toil. “The husbandman that laboureth” (2 Timothy 2:6). The husbandman knows that according to the labour put into the soil will be its fruitfulness. Christianity not only inculcates work, but ennobles it. Work is necessary for sustenance, and is the condition of all growth. Mental and moral excellence are attained only by great labour.

2. The diligent worker is entitled to reward. “Must be first partaker of the fruits” (2 Timothy 2:6). The first to enjoy the results of work should be he who has been most diligent. “In all labour there is profit.” Work is the pathway to success and honour.

IV. The manifold phases of the Christian life require earnest thought.—“Consider what I say” (2 Timothy 2:7). Christianity must be studied in its many-sided aspects; and it will always be suggestive to regard it as a military service, an athletic contest, and as moral husbandry. But much as we reflect and ponder, it is the Lord only who can give us true understanding in all things. “Timothy is not the only Christian or the only minister who is in danger of being disgusted, disheartened, and dismayed by the coldness and apathy of professing friends, and by the hostility and contempt of secret or open enemies. We are at times inclined to murmur because the rest for which we so often yearn is not given us here—rest from toil, from temptation, from sin. Such a Sabbath rest is the prize in store for us; but we cannot have it here. And if we desire to have it hereafter, we must keep the rules of the arena—self-control, self-sacrifice, work” (Plummer).


1. Religion is adapted to all conditions of life.

2. Obedience is the pathway of safety and success.

3. The highest prizes of religion are not secured without self-denying effort.


2 Timothy 2:3-4. The Military Discipline

I. Requires the putting off or excision of the world as an interruptive and disqualifying power.

II. Raises spirit and high impulse by a training under authority exact and absolute.

III. We find in military discipline how to put a more genial look on our crosses and required self-denials.

IV. The military discipline has as little direct concern to beget happiness as it has to compel self-abnegation.

V. Whatever we get we must somehow fight for it.Bushnell.

Verses 8-13


2 Timothy 2:9. I suffer trouble.—R.V. “hardship.” As an evil-doer.—He is treated as one would be whose whole aim was to do evil—a constant menace to society. Unto bonds.—“Up to the point of bonds.” The indignity of the imprisonment was keenly felt by St. Paul, as well as bodily discomfort. But the word of God is not bound.—Chrysostom explains, “My hands are bound, but not my tongue.” A better contrast is between the messenger and the message. They have bound the messenger, but the message runs on and defies bondage.

2 Timothy 2:10. I endure all things.—This does not denote suffering pure and simple, but the willing, steadfast endurance of it (Huther)—a brave bearing up rather than a passive endurance (Ellicott).

2 Timothy 2:11. It is a faithful saying.I.e. what follows. “We cannot be certain whether the sentences following are strophes from a Christian hymn or not—probably they are” (Huther). If we be dead.—R.V. “if we died.” Some have thought that St. Paul writes of the actual death of the body in martyrdom. The parallel thought in Romans 6:8 seems to be against this. Others say, “The definite event indicated by the form of the verb takes place in baptism.”

2 Timothy 2:12. If we deny Him.—If by any possibility through fear of suffering we should deny any relationship to Him.

2 Timothy 2:13. If we believe not.—R.V. “if we are faithless.” Meyer contends that the word always means to be unbelieving in the New Testament. Ellicott and Alford agree that it is not simply unfaithfulness but definitely unbelief that is meant here.


The Apostolic Gospel

I. Had for its leading theme the resurrection of Christ from the dead.—“Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel” (2 Timothy 2:8). The apostles gave special prominence to the resurrection of Christ. It was the most astounding event of the time, and was an unanswerable evidence of the Divine power of Jesus. The Jews could not deny the fact, for they or their friends were witnesses of it: all their plots against Jesus were baffled; their rage was impotent. The gospel to-day preaches not a dead but a living Christ—Christ incarnate, Christ crucified, Christ risen, Christ regnant and triumphant.

II. Entailed suffering in its proclamation.—“Wherein I suffer trouble.… I endure all things for the elect’s sakes” (2 Timothy 2:9-10). The enemies of the gospel could not destroy its facts or answer its arguments: they took their revenge on its propagators, whose only fault was that they spoke the truth. They testified of what they had seen and felt—they could not do otherwise; and for this they suffered. It is hard to suffer for telling the truth; but it would be harder still for the true preacher to tell a lie. Suffering for the gospel’s sake has helped its spread. The most savage persecutors have been convinced and conquered.

III. Revealed the greatness of man’s salvation.—“That they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ with eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2:10). The apostles not only announced the resurrection of Christ as an undeniable fact, but showed how that fact brought hope and salvation to perishing men. The world had never before heard such news; it seemed almost too good to be true. The grandeur of the blessings offered, staggered them. Salvation is not only rescue from present and future misery, but is the affluent bestowment of unutterable and eternal glory; it is an ever-expanding benediction.

IV. Affirmed certain important and suggestive truths (2 Timothy 2:11-13).—The symmetrical form of “the faithful saying,” and the rhythmical balance of the parallel clauses in these verses, make it probable that they formed part of an ancient Church hymn. The apostolic gospel is here compressed into a short, intelligible, and suggestive formula. To die with Christ is to live with Him; to suffer with Him is to reign with Him; to deny Him is to be denied: if we believe Him not, his faithfulness remains intact. The phrases constitute an epitome of the gospel as to its reception and results. If man changes, Christ cannot change—another argument to remain steadfast in the faith.


1. The leading theme of the gospel is Christ.

2. The gospel cannot be silenced by persecution.

3. The glory of the gospel is its saving effects.


2 Timothy 2:10. Salvation with Eternal Glory.

I. The necessity of salvation.

1. Sin is the cause of danger and ruin.

2. Salvation cannot be procured by human arts or inventions.

II. The source of salvation.—“In Christ Jesus.”

1. By designation and promise.

2. By qualification.

3. Salvation is dispensed by Him.

III. Salvation on earth is succeeded by eternal glory in heaven.

1. Freedom from sin and its consequences.

2. Introduction into heaven.

3. The everlasting vision of Deity.—Helps for the Pulpit.

2 Timothy 2:12-13. Denial of Christ.

I. We may take the part of His enemies, or ignore His supreme claim to allegiance.

II. We may transform Him into a myth, a fairy tale, a subjective principle.

III. Find a substitute in our own life for His grace.

IV. Assume that He is not the ground of our reconciliation, nor the Giver of salvation, nor the sole Head of His Church.Local Preacher’s Treasury.

Verses 14-18


2 Timothy 2:14. Charging them.—Adjure them on their oath of fealty.

2 Timothy 2:15. Study to shew thyself.—R.V. “Give diligence to present thyself.” The word expresses eager striving, and has a suggestion of making haste (cf. 2 Timothy 4:9; 2 Timothy 4:21). A workman that needeth not to be ashamed.—One who has nothing to be ashamed of either in his methods of work or in the examination of his work. For the idea see 1 Corinthians 3:13. Rightly dividing the word of truth.—R.V. “handling aright,” lit. “cutting straight.” The idea of cutting was gradually lost as the word came to signify to manage rightly, to go about a thing in the best way. Same word in LXX. of Proverbs 3:6, “direct.”

2 Timothy 2:16. Profane.1 Timothy 1:9; 1 Timothy 4:7; 1 Timothy 6:20. That which is common to all—in a religious sense, of things not withdrawn by consecration from general use. The natural antagonism between profane and holy grew into a moral antagonism. They will increase.—They will beat forward. See the note on “profiting” in 1 Timothy 4:15. Compare also 1 John 2:9.

2 Timothy 2:17. Will eat as doth a canker.—R.V. “gangrene.” An eating ulcer like a cancer, called in Galen “the cold burn.” Hippocrates says it is “the state of a tumour between inflammation and entire mortification.” Luke the physician was with St. Paul (2 Timothy 4:11).

2 Timothy 2:18. Saying that the resurrection is past already.—As though they said, “The only resurrection you are ever likely to know has taken place already; for the flesh, once corrupted, never rises again.”


Solemn Exhortations on Vital Themes.

I. To avoid unnecessary controversy.

1. Controversy assumes a very different spirit when conducted as in the presence of God. “Charging them before the Lord” (2 Timothy 2:14). The efforts of the controversialist are usually directed more to gaining a victory over his opponent than to secure the triumph of the truth: the contest is apt to degenerate into personalities, and the truth is clouded with the mists of human passions. The true champion of the truth must be willing to efface himself, and to remember the cause is not his but God’s. He must conduct his case as in the presence of God, and be assured that God will triumphantly defend His own cause. Nothing is gained if the truth suffers in the least degree.

2. Verbal controversy is profitless. “That they strive not about words to no profit” (2 Timothy 2:14). “We have two ears and one tongue,” said Zeno, “that we may hear much and talk little.” A remarkable modern writer asserts that empty talk is on the increase in the world. The superabundance is alarming; a new deluge is threatened; the spirit is lost in hollow words. Invention in all spheres is on the increase, the invention of pretences remarkably so. One feels inclined to call out with Hamlet despairingly, “Words, words, words!” Words are the dominant power nowadays in so-called intellectual pursuits: it is not the informing spirit, but the phrase, which is puffed and offered for sale.

3. Verbal controversy tends to unsettle. “To the subverting of the hearers” (2 Timothy 2:14). Much talking does not build up, but pulls down. Idle controversies have wrought widespread mischief. The metaphysical contest between the Jesuits and Jansenists on the sufficiency and efficacy of the grace of God in salvation thickened into a confusion of words, till the Jesuits introduced into this logomachy papal bulls, royal edicts, and a regiment of dragoons.

II. To aim at becoming a worker in the truth Divinely approved.

1. This is attained only by diligent study. “Study”—be earnest, diligent—“to shew thyself approved unto God” (2 Timothy 2:15). It is presumption to expect the help of the Spirit without earnest study and prayer. Patient and sustained investigation will lead to rare discoveries of truth. In all our studies we should seek not our own intellectual gratification, but the Divine approval. The loftiest inquiries after truth terminate in God.

2. This gives courage in declaring and defending the truth. “A workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Dividing the word is a metaphor taken from a father or steward cutting and distributing bread among his children. We must have the confidence and courage to cut a straight line for the truth in which we can walk straightforward, turning neither to the right nor the left. When we confuse the truth, we become ourselves confused and exposed to shame.

III. To be superior to the profanity that wraps up error in the garb of truth.

1. Profanity in speech engenders sin (2 Timothy 2:16). Sin in speech soon becomes sin in act. A profane coachman, pointing to one of the horses he was driving, said to a pious traveller, “That horse, sir, knows when I swear at him.” “Yes,” said the traveller, “and so does One above.” Shun profane and vain babblings; stand above, separate from, be superior to them.

2. Error is a deadly disease. “Their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenæus and Philetus” (2 Timothy 2:17). The consuming progress of mortification is the image. They pretend to give rich spiritual pasture to their disciples: the only pasture is that of a spiritual cancer, or gangrene, feeding on their vitals (Fausset).

3. Error on one fundamental truth is disastrous to faith (2 Timothy 2:18). To teach that the Resurrection is past is to take away one important feature of our hope as to future bliss. We must not confuse the future resurrection of the body with the spiritual resurrection of the soul from the death of sin. The truths of the gospel are homogeneous: to reject one is to impair our faith in all.


1. Truth is rarely helped by controversy.

2. Progress in truth is pleasing to God.

3. Error is the foe of practical godliness.


2 Timothy 2:15. The Important Function of the Gospel Ministry.

I. Rightly to divide the word of truth is clearly and accurately to distinguish truth from error.

II. To mark the proper distinctions between the law and the gospel.

III. To point out the proper connection and harmony which subsist among the doctrines of the gospel.

IV. To treat the various branches of Divine revelation according to their just importance and influence.

V. To unfold the truths of God seasonably and in a suitableness to the calls of Providence and the circumstances of mankind.P. Hutchison.

2 Timothy 2:16-18. Useless Talk

I. Tends to augment impiety (2 Timothy 2:16).

II. Corrupts and destroys the life of godliness (2 Timothy 2:17).

III. Is fruitful in spreading pernicious errors (2 Timothy 2:18).

IV. Unsettles the faith of young converts.

Verses 19-22


2 Timothy 2:19. The foundation of God standeth sure.—R.V. “the firm foundation of God standeth.” St. Paul’s one foundation is Jesus Christ in His complete character and work. Having this seal.—Probably in allusion to the practice of engraving inscriptions over doors and on pillars and foundations.

2 Timothy 2:20. Of earth.—Of burnt clay. St. Paul says God’s treasure is entrusted to earthen vessels (2 Corinthians 4:7).

2 Timothy 2:21. Purge himself from these.—The form of the word “purge” is intensive, as Chrysostom noted: “He said not cleanse, but cleanse out, that is cleanse absolutely.” It is no indifferent reform that will please St. Paul, but reform altogether, like Hamlet’s. Meet for the master’s use.—Fit for using by the master of the house.

2 Timothy 2:22. Youthful lusts.—Pertaining to youth and characteristic of it. “Effeminate luxury, immoderate laughter [pleasure], empty honour, and suchlike things” (Theodoret). Follow righteousness.—As in 1 Timothy 6:11, the apostle warns Timothy to flee from some things and follow others, so he does here. With them that call on the Lord.—The question here is whether Timothy is to follow righteousness, etc., with them, or whether he is to adopt a pacific course towards those who call, etc. With Hebrews 12:14 in view, perhaps the view of Ellicott and Huther that the latter is the meaning is the better.


The Security and Purity of the Church.

I. The Church is Divinely founded.—“The foundation of God standeth sure” (2 Timothy 2:19). Or, according to R.V., “Howbeit the firm foundation of God standeth.” The Church is secure because it rests on God: no other foundation could bear the magnificent superstructure which is being built upon it. There is a story told of Julian the Apostate that, in his youth, he tried to raise a memorial shrine to the holy Mamas; but as he built, the earth at the foundation crumbled—God and the holy martyr refusing to accept the labour and offering of his hands. It is a significant allegory of men who toil and build on rotten and insecure foundations.

II. The Church has a Divine and a human aspect.

1. The Divine aspect. This is indicated in the inscription, “The Lord knoweth them that are His” (2 Timothy 2:19). The members of the Church live in different ages, in different climes, among different nationalities, and in varying conditions; but the Lord knows them all, and each one has his place in the grand Divine commonwealth. The omniscient God is the strength and comfort of His Church. 2. The human aspect. “Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Timothy 2:19). The Lord recognises as His only those who are holy. Some seventy years after Pentecost the veil is lifted by the hand of a Roman statesman from the comparative obscurity of the Christian Church, and discloses an army of soldiers of the cross whose bond of union is still stamped conspicuously with the apostolic seal, “Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” At the commencement of the second century Pliny reports to Trajan, as the result of what he could extort from the Christians in his province, “that this was the sum of their fault or error, that they were wont to meet together on a stated day before sunrise and sing a hymn to Christ as God, and bind themselves by a sacramentum that they would not commit theft or robbery or adultery, that they would not break faith nor repudiate a trust.” A memorable record! honourable to the Roman to whose impartial accuracy it is due, as well as to the Church whose clear and simple character it reflects, and more precious, alike in its historical and in its practical instruction, than many a famous volume (Wace).

III. The grade of membership in the Church depends on moral character (2 Timothy 2:20).—As in a great house there are vessels of gold and silver, and wood and earth—their use being according to their quality—so in the Church every member has his place and use. “The ark of Noah is a type of the Church: as in the former there were together the leopard and the kid, the wolf and the lamb, so in the latter the righteous and sinners, vessels of gold and silver, with vessels of wood and earth” (Jerome). The distinguishing feature in the Church is not wealth, ability, or social distinction, but holiness.

IV. High moral character qualifies for exalted service in the Church (2 Timothy 2:21).—Paul was himself a vessel of honour: once among those of wood and of earth, he afterwards became by grace one of gold. Full out-and-out consecration to God is the qualification for noblest work. God entrusts His loftiest missions to His holiest servants.

V. The Church demands purity in all its members (2 Timothy 2:22).—Especially are youthful lusts to be shunned. There are some temptations which are best conquered by flight. The graces of righteousness, faith, charity, must be followed in “peace with all that call upon God out of a pure heart.” The Church is the centre of peace and purity.


1. The Church is dear to God.

2. The Church is a witness for God.

3. The Church is powerful only as it is pure.


2 Timothy 2:19. Christians must forsake Evil.

I. Those described.—“Every one that nameth the name of Christ.”—

1. To name the name of Christ is to accept Him.

2. To profess Him openly.

3. To be identified with Him.

II. The command.—“Depart from iniquity.”

1. Because a departure from iniquity is involved in accepting Christ.

2. Because otherwise we must be involved in the deepest guilt.

3. Because we must be acting a part characterised by the vilest hypocrisy.

4. Because in Christ there is grace and strength to obey this command.—Stewart.

The Foundation of God.

I. The Lord knoweth them that are His.

1. As redeemed by Him.

2. By the Spirit’s work in them.

3. By the need they have of Him.

4. By the love they bear Him.

5. By the work they do for Him.

6. By their suffering for and with Him.

7. As waiting for Him.

II. Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

1. Naming the name of Christ comes before departing from iniquity.

2. Is to be followed by departing from iniquity.

3. Naming the name of Christ and departing from iniquity thus go together.—R. S. Candlish.

2 Timothy 2:21. Fit for the Master’s Service.

I. There are some in the Church the Master cannot use because they are not fit for service.

1. Because they hold false doctrines.

2. Because they are given to vain babblings.

II. What constitutes fitness for Christ’s service?

1. Uprightness of character.

2. Fidelity to duty.

3. Love.

4. Peace.—Lay Preacher.

Verses 23-26


2 Timothy 2:24. And the servant of the Lord must not strive.—The wrangling spirit that delights in strife should never be seen in the messenger of the gospel of peace and good-will. But be gentle.—The word occurs again in New Testament only at 1 Thessalonians 2:7. “It is used of an amiable conduct or disposition of a superior towards an inferior,” or “an outward mildness and gentleness especially in bearing with others.” Apt to teach.—He must be didactic—not only having the ability but the willingness to teach. Though the public address in the congregation was permitted to every one with a charisma, still the bishop in particular had to know how to handle doctrine. Patient.—Able to endure evil, as it is directed against himself. On the necessity of a high priest being compassionate to the erring see Hebrews 5:2.

2 Timothy 2:25. Those that oppose themselves.—When a man imagines those who are bent on his welfare are his worst enemies, he sets himself with very determined opposition.

2 Timothy 2:26. That they may recover themselves.—A.V. margin, “awake.” R.V. margin, “Gr. return to soberness.” The preposition in the compound word may express motion from beneath, and so the word would mean that they may come up out of the stupefaction which holds them down, but the classical meaning is, to become sober again. Heretical teaching, like intoxication, clouds men’s wits. Who are taken captive by him at his will.—R.V. “having been taken captive by the Lord’s servant unto the will of God.” The sense conveyed by the A.V. (which is the interpretation given by most modern commentators) is singularly flat and insipid, says Bishop Ellicott. The R.V., which gives the interpretation of Wetstein, Bengel, and others, is equally objectionable, says the same authority, who adopts with but little hesitation the interpretation of Beza. This connects “that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil” with “unto His will,” i.e. unto God’s will. So we get the translation, “And that they may return to soberness out of the snare of the devil, though holden captive by him to do his will.” See R.V. marginal note.


The Duty of the Gospel Teacher.

I. To remember that he is the servant of the Lord (2 Timothy 2:24).—The minister of the gospel is not the servant of man, or of a clique or party, nor is he the servant of the Church excepting so far as in serving the Church he is serving the Lord. His high distinction is to be the servant of the Lord; from Him he receives his commission and authority, and to Him he is accountable. The servant should seek to imitate the spirit and example of his Master.

II. To be careful to avoid themes provocative of useless contention (2 Timothy 2:23).—A spark will raise a conflagration; a single word may light the lurid torch of war. “You may tame the wild beast; the conflagration of the American forest will cease when all the timber and the dry wood is consumed; but you cannot arrest the progress of that cruel word you uttered carelessly yesterday or this morning” (Robertson). Of all men the minister of the gospel should be cautious and circumspect in speech. An indiscreet word may lead to endless contention.

III. To mingle gentleness and patience with sound and faithful instruction (2 Timothy 2:24-25).—The successful teacher must have not only intelligence and ability, but the aptitude that comes from patient study and the gentleness which is the fruit of stern self-discipline. He is to be gentle that he may not be the cause of wrong, and patient so as to endure wrong. To gain influence with others we must practise much self-suppression. The simplest statement of truth will sometimes raise opposition. It should be our aim to allay or disarm opposition, so that the taught may receive with meekness the engrafted word. Truth is most effective in the mind prepared for its reception. The judicious teacher will know when and how to speak.

IV. To aim at the moral rescue of those ensnared in error (2 Timothy 2:25-26).—The gospel teacher has to contend not only with subtle phases of error, but with the devil, the great master-spirit of all error. To rescue man from sin is to snatch him from the clutches of the evil one. Everything depends on the manner and spirit in which the truth is presented, and every possible means should be used to ensure success. Anthony Blane, one of Felix Neff’s earlier converts, was very earnest in winning souls for Christ. The enemies of the gospel were angry at his success, and treated him with scoffs and threats. One night he was followed by a man in a rage, who struck him a violent blow on the head. “May God forgive and bless you!” was Anthony’s quiet and Christian rejoinder. A few days after the same man met him in a narrow road, and stretching out his hand beseechingly, cried in a tremulous voice, “Mr. Blane, forgive me, and let all be over!” Thus did this disciple of Christ, by gentle and peaceful words, make a friend of an enemy.


1. The best teacher is always anxious to learn.

2. To teach others to profit we must be masters of ourselves.

3. The highest end of teaching is the salvation of others.


2 Timothy 2:23-26. The Model Preacher

I. Avoids occasions of strife.

II. Understands the use and power of gentleness.

III. Is thoroughly master of his theme.

IV. Aims at the immediate rescue of men from the thraldom of sin and Satan.

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/phc/2-timothy-2.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.
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