The Apostle is exhorting Timothy in this Chapter, to Firmness, Constancy, and Perseverance. He useth several very beautiful Figures, in the Recommendation of those Graces.
(1) ¶ Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. (2) And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. (3) Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. (4) No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. (5) And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully. (6) The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits. (7) Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.
I beg. the Reader, at the entrance on this Chapter, to observe, the manner of expression made use of, concerning grace. Paul calls upon Timothy to be strong in grace. What grace? Not the grace in him, and which by regeneration he had received. But the grace that is in Christ Jesus. A very precious distinction. The grace that is in me, given by the Lord, is from the Lord, and depends, both for continuance, and to be kept alive, wholly upon the unceasing supplies issuing from Jesus; similar to those streams which are only kept running, as long as the fountain sends forth, to their continuance. If this was well observed, and well understood, we should learn a most important truth, for daily use There is no living upon past attainments. The grace I had from Christ the first day, I need every day, and to the last day. My spiritual strength, is in Christ: not in what I feel, nor in what I have; but wholly in Him. And this life is kept up, in the constant receiving of fresh communications from Him, and living to Him, and living upon Him. This is to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. There is no other strength. No inherent, no progressive holiness!
And the conflicts to which Paul tells Timothy he will be called, while committing the glorious Truths of the Gospel to faithful men; plainly show the necessity of the measure, to bear him up, in a suited strength, which cannot be derived from himself, but from the Lord. The hardness of the soldier, and the enterprise of those, who contend in races; and the unwearied labor of the husbandmen: all imply the earnestness, which attend a life of faith in Christ. But these descriptions are very sweetly accompanied, with assurances, that the Lord will give his servants to be first partakers of the grace which they bring to his people. They shall eat of the bread they minister in his name to others. They shall drink of the river, whose streams make glad the city of God. 1 John 1:1-2; Psalms 46:4. I hope the Reader will not pass away from this view of the subject, before that he hath duly pondered it, and considered the vast importance of it. All grace is from Christ. And all the grace we receive from Christ, is fed and maintained by continued supplies in Christ. And faith is but one, and the same unceasing act, in receiving of his fullness, and grace for grace. John 1:16 None but those who perform every act of faith upon Christ, and his grace, know the blessedness of it.
(8) ¶ Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: (9) Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. (10) Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
It is delightful, to behold, bow the Lord calls his people to exercises. Paul had eminently asserted the resurrection of the dead in all his preaching, as the foundation stone of a believer's hope. And this above every other point of the Gospel, brought upon him the indignation of the carnal world. Paul therefore bids Timothy remember, that his persecutions were on this account. And he insinuates thereby that Timothy must not be surprised if he meets with similar treatment. And he chargeth him not to shrink from it. But what I chiefly beg the Reader to keep in view in this passage is, what Paul observes, that it is for the elect's sake, he endured all things, Yes! Paul's whole labors, services, preachings, writings, are all directed to this one end. As his divine Lord and Master had all along in view his Church, and both laboured and suffered for them only; Paul expressly declares that his sufferings were all to the same end. John 17:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:9.
(11) It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: (12) If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: (13) If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.
Let the Reader particularly attend to the statement here made, for it is most blessed. Here is a presupposed case, the child of God is dead with Christ. And so he is. For by regeneration he is brought forth into spiritual life, proving thereby his being chosen in Christ, before the foundation of the world. Ephesians 1:4-5. And redeemed by Christ, as a member of his mystical body. Ephesians 1:7. And, regenerated by the Holy Ghost, he is quickened to a new and spiritual life in Christ. Hence he is dead with Christ. For when Christ was crucified, all his members were crucified with him. Galatians 2:20. when Christ died; he died, not in a private capacity, but publicly, as the head of his body the Church whom he represented as their Surety; and consequently each member in the eye of the law, died with him. Colossians 3:3. So that from that moment the whole body of Christ is dead, in a legal sense to a covenant of works. And therefore it must follow, that as in him they were all crucified, and died; so they are equally from their oneness with him, interested in his life. And, oh! what a faithful saying this is?
Some of God's children have been not a little alarmed, at what is said of the Lord's denying them if they deny him. As if Christ's love of his people depended upon their love of him. But blessed be God! our love of Christ forms no standard for his love of us. 1 John 4:19. It is not the weakness and infirmity of Christ's dear children, in their daily frail and imperfect walk of faith that is here alluded to, which may truly be said to be a denial of Christ. For when I doubt his word, or call his providences or his promises in question, no doubt that these things proceed from unbelief. Such was the case of the Church. Isaiah 49:14; Lamentations 3:18. But this is not the denial the Apostle had in contemplation. The apostacy of hypocrites, and the false profession of those who call themselves Christians, which are so only in name, who deny Christ's Godhead, redemption by his blood, and the works of the Spirit; these, with others of a like nature, are the points Paul had in view, when speaking of the denial of Christ, which calls for his denial of us. And beyond all question, such denials must be followed with destruction. For so Christ hath said. Matthew 10:32-33; Mark 8:38.
But what a sweet relief is the following verse, to comfort the feeble minded who would rather die than intentionally deny Christ: If we believe not yet he abideth faithful, he cannot deny himself. Reader! cherish the blessed assurance, for it is most blessed. God's faithfulness doth not depend upon man's belief. His yea, and Amen, are founded in himself, and not in our improvement. It is indeed blessed-and refreshing to the soul, when a regenerated child of God enjoys those love-tokens of God in Christ, by the lively actings of faith upon him. But the Lord's grace is not founded in human merit; and therefore depends not upon human improvement. Oh! the preciousness of an unchangeable God's purposes in Christ. Jeremiah 32:40; Hebrews 6:16, to the end.
(14) ¶ Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. (15) Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (16) But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. (17) And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; (18) Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.
We cannot sufficiently admire the very great attention of the Apostle in following up his advice to his beloved Timothy, how to conduct himself in the Church of God, as a minister of Christ. In these verses, he calls off his attention from using words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers; and directs him to study how to approve himself to God: becoming a workman that needeth not to be ashamed: rightly dividing the word of truth. The dividing rightly the word of truth, seems to be a figure borrowed from the custom in the Jewish Church, when dividing the sacrifice; wherein care was had, that the part consecrated as holy to the Lord might not be kept back; and that which was the portion of the Offerer might be preserved. So that a workman in the ministry which rightly divideth the word of truth, hath an eye to the whole family of Christ. He comforts mourners, supports the weak, rouseth the careless, allures wanderers, and holds up Christ for distressed weary souls, as a rest and consolation. And while speaking to men, hath chiefly his eye unto God: that his blessing may go before, accompany, and follow his labors. That man can never show himself approved unto God, that doth not make Christ what God hath made him, the whole of salvation. Now if Christ be the Alpha, and Omega, in Jehovah's view, in his concerns of the Church: he must be so in the ministry of his servants. And by thus holding up Christ as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness; he follows the footsteps of the Holy Ghost, and makes Jesus the whole of salvation, to everyone that believeth, of the Jew first and also of the Gentile.
(19) ¶ Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. (20) But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. (21) If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.
Reader! what a glorious truth is here! How are all the persons of the Godhead brought into one view, in their Covenant offices and characters to confirm the everlasting purposes toward the Church it Christ. The foundation is in God's eternal decree, and therefore most sure. Ephesians 1:4. It is founded also in Christ the rock of ages. Deuteronomy 32:4; Deu_32:18; Deu_32:31; 1 Corinthians 3:11. And it is sealed by the Holy Ghost. Ephesians 1:13. And the sure consequence resulting from this everlasting security, is that the Lord willeth them by his grace, while enjoining them by his precept, to depart from errors both in faith and practice. God's biddings are enablings where the work of regeneration hath passed on the heart.
The similitude which Paul adopts to illustrate the doctrine he is upon, is very beautiful. He considers the Church of Christ, as a great house, where many enter: for it is an open house. And both Professor and Profane, as well as the children of the household will come. But the difference is at once marked. The vessels of mercy are called gold and silver. Such are Christ's Jewels. Malachi 3:17. The vessels of wood and earth are to dishonor. There needs no further comment. The figure explains itself. But how doth the subject strike the mind of the child of God, when he calls to remembrance from what source alone, the one is chosen to honor, and the other to dishonor! And how doth that question involuntarily arise in the mind, on such a review; Lord, how is it that thou dost manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? John 14:22.
(22) ¶ Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (23) But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. (24) And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, (25) In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; (26) And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
Paul is here again harping on his favorite string. His zeal for Christ's cause in the Church, is always uppermost in his heart. And therefore he can never say enough to Timothy to prompt him to watch over the flock. Oh! what anxiety he expresseth, that the youthful lusts of pride, and vain glory, which young men and young ministers too often feel in their preaching, should give way wholly to the preaching Christ. The fear of man, and the desire of praise in man, bring a snare. It is blessed, where grace abounds, to be kept low, and like Paul, to be content to be nothing, so that Christ be glorified.
BLESSED Lord Jesus how sweetly hath thy servant taught the Church, and every humble member of it like myself, to seek strength only in thee, and the grace in my Lord; and not from anything in our own attainments. Oh! for grace in a daily, hourly communication from Christ to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, that I may abide in thee, as thou hast said, convinced that without thee, I can do nothing. And may God the Spirit continually teach me my need, then lead to thee for a supply; then open a communication between my full Lord and my empty soul; and then keep it everlastingly open, to my joy, and my Lord's glory.
Glory to a faithful Covenant God and Father in Christ Jesus! may my soul never for a moment lose sight of thy faithfulness, amidst all my unbelievings. Oh! the preciousness of that scripture. If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself: Lord I see nothing but evil, unbelief, and emptiness in all I do or say. I am content that it should be so. I am nothing, yea worse than nothing: that my poverty may make me hunger more for the riches of thy grace. Oh! to be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meat for the master's use, and prepared by grace for every good work.
Lord the Spirit! do thou seal my soul, unto the day of eternal redemption. This will form a blessed nevertheless to all my unworthiness. The foundation of God standeth sure. And in proclaiming this foundation, and this assurance, let all thy sent servants show themselves approved unto God; and workmen which need not to be ashamed; and let all thy people follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord, out of a pure heart.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany