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Bible Commentaries
2 Timothy 2

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary

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A.M. 4070. A.D. 66.

Here the apostle

(1,) Exhorts Timothy, in the strength of Christ, to labour in his ministerial work with courage, diligence, patience, and perseverance, in hopes of a happy issue, 2 Timothy 2:1-13 .

(2,) He warns him against unprofitable and erroneous doctrines and teachers, 2 Timothy 2:14-18 .

(3,) Comforts him with the assurance that God would save his true people, and uphold his church, though different sorts of professors would always be found in her while on earth, 2 Timothy 2:19-21 .

(4,) He charges him to flee youthful lusts, and to preserve a meek spirit in all his endeavours to instruct and recover sinners from the miserable condition into which they were fallen, as the most likely way to be successful in winning souls, 2 Timothy 2:22-26 .

Verses 1-2

2 Timothy 2:1-2. Thou therefore, my son Animated by the example of fidelity and courage manifested by Onesiphorus; be strong Ενδυναμου , be encouraged and strengthened, in a firm reliance on the grace that is in Jesus And which he is always ready to communicate to all that pray for and expect it. And the things The wholesome doctrine, (2 Timothy 1:13,) that thou hast heard of me To which I have often borne solemn testimony; among many witnesses See 1 Timothy 6:12. By these many witnesses, he seems to have meant the elders, deacons, and others, present when Timothy was set apart to the sacred office of the ministry, and received a solemn charge from the apostle to execute his trust faithfully. The same commit thou With great seriousness, care, and diligence, before thou leavest Ephesus; to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others After thou art gone: that the truth may be continued, in an uninterrupted succession of such persons, who shall hand it down from one to another throughout all ages, even till the end of time.

Verses 3-7

2 Timothy 2:3-7. Thou therefore endure hardness Κακοπαθησον , literally, endure evil; that is, expect persecutions and various sufferings, and, by the powerful aids of divine grace, endure them with courage, constancy, and patience; as a good soldier of Jesus Christ Who endured much greater afflictions in the days of his flesh, and hath thereby shown all who engage to fight under his banner, and would approve themselves his faithful soldiers, that they must expect to meet with various hardships and sufferings, and in what spirit they must sustain them, that they may war a good warfare, and prove victorious. No man that warreth entangleth himself any more than is unavoidable, in the affairs of this life With any other business or employment; that Minding war only; he may please him who hath chosen him, &c. Namely, his captain or general. In this and the next verse, there is a plain allusion to the Roman law of arms, and to that of the Grecian games. According to the former, no soldier, at least no legionary soldier, (as Grotius has here shown,) was suffered to engage in any civil occupation, such as agriculture, merchandise, mechanical employments, or any business which might divert him from his profession. According to the latter, no one could be crowned as conqueror who did not keep strictly to the rules of the game. The apostle, by applying these things to the ministers of the gospel, hath shown that all who undertake the office of the ministry should, on the one hand, avoid engaging in such secular businesses as would engross their attention, and require much time to execute; and, on the other, should be careful to observe all the rules of faith and practice enjoined in the gospel. The husbandman that laboureth, &c. This should undoubtedly be rather rendered, The husbandman must first labour, and then partake of the fruits; or, must labour before he partake of the fruits. For it was entirely to the apostle’s purpose to remind Timothy that the labour of the husbandman must precede the harvest; but whether he was to receive these fruits first, or before any others, was not the point in question. How much more, as if the apostle had said, oughtest thou to labour, O Timothy, in the ministry before thou art rewarded. Consider what I say Concerning the necessity of devoting thyself wholly to the ministry, and enduring evil; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things Belonging to the gospel, and thy duty as a Christian and a minister.

Verses 8-10

2 Timothy 2:8-10. Remember So as to be encouraged against, and supported under, any sufferings which thou mayest be called to endure for the truth; that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David According to the flesh; see on Romans 1:3; Hebrews 2:16; was raised from the dead And thereby demonstrated himself to be the true Messiah. So our translators have rendered the clause, understanding the sense to be, Remember and adhere to this important fact, as the great foundation of the gospel. But the original expressions, μνημονευε Ιησουν Χριστον εγηγερμενον εκ νεκρων , are, literally, Remember Jesus Christ raised from the dead, &c. That is, think on him, keep him continually in remembrance, and it will be instead of a thousand arguments to support thee under, and carry thee through, all thy dangers and difficulties, thy labours and sufferings. Wherein In the service of which gospel; I suffer trouble as an evildoer A malefactor, deserving some heavy punishment; even unto bonds Imprisonment and chains. But the word of God is not bound It will spread itself in spite of all opposition. “This short sentence,” says Macknight, “is a beautiful display of the apostle’s character. The evils which he was suffering for the gospel, though great, he reckoned as nothing, because of the joy which he felt from his persuasion that the honour of Christ and the happiness of mankind would be promoted by his sufferings, and because he knew that all the opposition which infidels were making to the gospel, would not hinder it from being preached and believed. They have bound me in chains, said he, and may put me to death, but the word of God they cannot bind. Not only the strength of the apostle’s reasoning here, but the energy of his expression is admirable.” Therefore In hope of a glorious reward, to be conferred in due time on them and myself. I endure all things for the elect’s sake That is, that I may thereby promote the salvation of God’s people. See on 2 Thessalonians 2:13. Observe the spirit of a real Christian! Who would not wish to be like-minded! That they may obtain salvation From sin and all its consequences, or deliverance from all evil; with eternal glory The enjoyment of all good.

Verses 11-14

2 Timothy 2:11-14. It is a faithful saying A saying as important as it is true. If we be dead Greek, συναπεθανομεν , die, or have died, with him To the world and sin, and be ready to die for him; we shall live with him In that everlasting happiness which he hath prepared for all his people. If we suffer with him Persecution, or whatever he may be pleased to appoint or permit to happen to us, with faith and patience becoming a Christian; we shall also reign with him In heavenly glory: see on Rom 8:17 ; 1 Peter 4:13. If Intimidated with these transitory evils, we desert his cause, and deny him Before men, that we may escape suffering for him; he also will deny us In the great day, before his Father and the holy angels, Matthew 10:33; Luke 12:9. If we believe not That he will deny us, presuming upon his mercy; yet he abideth faithful And will fulfil his threatenings on such as expose themselves to them; he cannot deny himself Cannot falsify his word, or fail to make it good. Or the verse may be interpreted in a more general sense thus: If we believe not the truths and promises of his gospel, or if we are unfaithful, (as some render απιστουμεν , considering it as opposed to πιστος , faithful,) yet he abideth faithful, and will steadily adhere to those rules of judgment, and distribution of rewards and punishments, which he hath so solemnly laid down in his word: for it is certain he cannot deny himself, or frustrate his own public declarations. Therefore be diligent, as if the apostle had said, in the discharge of thy duty, and shrink not from it for fear of suffering. Of these things put them in remembrance Remind those who are under thy charge of these powerful motives to persevere in patiently suffering ill, and diligently doing well; charging them before the Lord As in his presence, and as they will answer it to him; not to strive Greek, μη λογομαχειν , not to contend, or quarrel, about words An evil to which they are prone; to no profit Such a contention is altogether unprofitable, and even tends to the subverting of the hearers The diverting their attention from true, vital religion, and the important truths on which it is built, and filling their minds with pride and passion, and numberless other disorders and vices. There is an awful solemnity, as Doddridge justly observes, in this charge, which plainly shows the great folly and mischief of striving about little controversies. Indeed, consequences such as those here referred to, are wont to flow from most religious disputes as they are commonly managed; so that they tend to nothing out to the subverting of the faith and morals of those who engage keenly in them. They ought therefore to be carefully avoided by all who desire to promote true piety and virtue, agreeably to the apostle’s direction.

Verse 15

2 Timothy 2:15. Study to show thyself approved, &c. Greek, σπουδασον σεαυτον δοκιμον παραστησαι τω Θεω , literally, be zealous, make haste, or diligently endeavour, to present thyself approved to God, what ever men may judge of thee and thy services; a workman that needeth not to be ashamed Either on account of unfaithfulness, unskilfulness, lukewarmness, negligence, or sloth; rightly dividing the word of truth Greek, ορθοτομουντα , literally, rightly cutting up the word In allusion, as some think, to the action of the Jewish priests in dissecting the victims, and separating the parts in a proper manner, as some were to be laid on God’s altar, and others to be given to those who were to share in the sacrifices. Or rather, the metaphor may be taken from the distribution made by a steward in delivering out to each person under his care such things as his office and their necessities require; or to the action of one who carves at a table, and distributes meat to the guests, according to their ages, and their state of health. In this manner the apostle himself divided the word to the Corinthians, feeding them with milk, as babes in Christ, and not with meat, as not being then able to bear it. See Hebrews 5:12-14. The Vulgate version renders the clause, recte tractantem, rightly handling the word, which gives the apostle’s meaning very well. Thus those ministers handle it who duly explain and apply the whole gospel, so as to give each hearer his due portion. But they that give one part of the gospel to all, (the promises and comforts, suppose, to unawakened, hardened, and scoffing sinners,) have real need to be ashamed. To divide or handle the word of truth aright, implies that it be done, 1st, With evidence and demonstration, so as to convince the conscience, Acts 2:37; 1 Corinthians 2:4. 2d, With sincerity and faithfulness, delivering the whole counsel of God, Acts 20:27. 3d, With power and authority, Matthew 7:29; 1 Thessalonians 1:5. 4th, With wisdom and seasonableness, as men are able to bear it, Mark 4:33; John 16:12. 5th, With meekness, gentleness, love, and all winning insinuations, 2 Timothy 2:24-25; 1 Thessalonians 2:7. 6th, With courage and boldness, Jeremiah 1:17; Ephesians 6:19.

Verses 16-18

2 Timothy 2:16-18. But shun profane and vain babblings See on 1 Timothy 1:4; for they will increase, &c. Though the evil of some of them may not immediately appear, and they may seem trifling rather than mischievous, they will advance unto more impiety; for the persons who so babble, having been prevailed on by Satan to quit the right way of experimental and practical godliness, will proceed not only to neglect, but even to deny, the most essential articles of the Christian faith. And their word Their doctrine; will eat as doth a canker Will destroy the souls of men, as a gangrene destroys the body, spreading itself further and further till the whole is infected. Of whom Of which sort of ungodly talkers; are Hymeneus and Philetus The apostle mentions these two by name as empty babblers, whom the faithful were to resist, because their errors were of the most dangerous nature, as is evident from the account which the apostle gives of them in the next verse. Of Hymeneus, see on 1 Timothy 1:20; Philetus is mentioned nowhere else in Scripture. Probably these teachers denied that Jesus Christ came in the flesh, (see 1 John 4:2,) consequently they denied the reality both of his death and resurrection. Who concerning the truth have erred Ηστοχησαν , have gone wide of the mark; have fallen into a most dangerous and destructive error, by their allegorical interpretations, explaining away one of the most fundamental doctrines of Christianity, and maintaining that the resurrection is past already That is, that there is no other but a spiritual resurrection, from a death in sin to a life in righteousness, which consequently is already past with regard to all true Christians; and overthrow the faith of some In a capital point, namely, concerning the resurrection of the body, and a future life of glory designed for it, as well as for the soul. By explaining the doctrine of the resurrection in a figurative sense, these false teachers probably endeavoured to recommend the gospel to the Greek philosophers, who considered the resurrection of the body not only as impossible in itself, but as a thing highly disadvantageous had it been possible.

Verse 19

2 Timothy 2:19. Nevertheless the foundation of God That is, the foundation of God’s church, represented as a house, 2Ti 2:20 ; 1 Timothy 3:15; 1 Peter 2:5; in which God dwells, Ephesians 2:22; as a family inhabiting a house, Hebrews 3:3; as a temple, Ephesians 2:21; in which God displays his glory, communicates his blessings, receives the prayers, praises, and oblations of his people, and is worshipped in spirit and in truth. The foundation of this church Isaiah , 1 st, The great truth spoken of 2 Timothy 2:8, namely, the resurrection of Christ, the principal support of the whole fabric of Christianity, as manifesting Christ to be the Son of God, Romans 1:4; confirming his doctrine, showing the efficacy of his atonement, Romans 4:25; obtaining for us the Holy Spirit, John 16:7; showing the necessity of our rising to a new life, Romans 6:4-5; Ephesians 2:5-6; proving that we shall rise at the great day; that immortality is before us; and that we ought, therefore, to set our affections on, and seek, the things above. 2d, The doctrine of our resurrection through Christ, which is a capital article of Christianity, (Hebrews 6:1; 1 Corinthians 15:19,) and all the other fundamental doctrines of the gospel connected with that of Christ’s and his people’s resurrection, termed, (Ephesians 2:20,) the foundation of the apostles and prophets; that is, the foundation laid by them. See the note there, and on 1 Timothy 3:15-16. 3d, Christ himself, in whom all these doctrines are yea and amen, is the foundation of his church, and of the knowledge, experience, and practice of every individual belonging to it, of which see the note on 1 Corinthians 3:11. This three-fold foundation standeth sure Remains immoveable and the same, throughout all ages. But who build on this foundation? Who are true members of this church, true worshippers in this spiritual temple? This we learn from the next clause. Having this seal Or inscription, as the word σφραγις often signifies, meaning the mark made by a seal, as well as the seal itself. So it signifies Revelation 9:4; and the expression is here used with propriety, in allusion to the custom of engraving upon some stones laid in the foundation of buildings, the names of the persons by whom, and the purposes for which, the structure was raised. See Zechariah 3:9. And nothing can have a greater tendency to encourage the confidence and hope, and at the same time to engage the obedience of sincere Christians, than the double inscription here mentioned. One part of this is, The Lord knoweth Or acknowledgeth; them that are his Namely, those who truly turn to him in repentance, faith, and new obedience, or who confess with their mouth the Lord Jesus, even when their confessing him might be followed with the loss of all things, with imprisonment and martyrdom, and who believe with their heart unto righteousness, that God hath raised him from the dead, Romans 10:9-10. All such he assuredly knows, acknowledges, and will favour and protect as his. Dr. Whitby supposes that the apostle alludes here to Numbers 16:5, To-morrow the Lord will show who are his, and who is holy; and that the clause has a peculiar reference to the apostles, in opposition to heretical teachers. Let it be observed, however, that all these will manifest that they are the Lord’s not merely by naming the name of Christ Or making a profession of Christianity; but by departing from iniquity Without which they would not be worthy of being accounted members even of the visible church, as they would show themselves visibly, or evidently, to be of the devil, by doing his works, John 8:4; 1 John 3:8.

Verses 20-21

2 Timothy 2:20-21. But in a great house Such as the Christian Church soon became, taking in multitudes of Gentiles in all parts of Asia, Macedonia, Greece, and Italy, and such as it has long been, and now is; there are not only vessels of gold and silver Designed for the most honourable uses; but of wood and of earth Intended for uses less houourable. The apostle alludes to the houses of nobles, princes, and other great persons, in which are usually found vessels of different materials, and for various uses. Thus, in the visible church, there always have been, are, and will be, persons of different gifts or abilities, and intended for different offices, as is also represented where the apostle compares the members of the church of Christ to the different members of the human body, as Romans 12:4-5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, and elsewhere. And some to honour, and some to dishonour That Isaiah , 1 st, Some designed and qualified for more honourable offices than others; and, 2d, Some whose holy tempers and practices are an honour to the religion they profess; and others who, if by departing from outward iniquity they obtain a name and place among the people of God, and are reckoned members of the visible church, yet, by their hypocrisy, formality, lukewarmness, and negligence, are so far from adorning the doctrine of God their Saviour, or from being an honour to the cause of Christ, that they are a disgrace to it. But if a man purge himself from these 1st, By making application by faith to Christ’s cleansing blood, 1 John 1:7; 1 John 2:0 d, By praying for and receiving God’s purifying Spirit, Ezekiel 36:25-27; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 Peter 3:0 d, By receiving and obeying the purifying word, John 15:3; 1 Peter 1:23; 1 Peter 4:0 th, By exercising purifying faith, Acts 15:9; Acts , , 5 th, By self-denial and mortification Romans 8:13; he shall be a vessel unto honour He shall be a credit to the religion of Jesus; sanctified That is, separated from sin and sinners, and dedicated to God in heart and life; meet for the master’s use For the service of Christ; prepared unto And employed in; every good work Which he is called to perform. Add to this, not only may those who are vessels unto dishonour in the bad sense, and a reproach to the Christian cause, become an honour to it by their vital piety and active virtue; but those whose gifts are inferior, and who are like vessels of wood and earth, only fit for lower offices in the church, may, by properly exercising their gifts and graces, so improve them as to become qualified for higher and more useful offices; and be, as it were, vessels of silver and gold. For to him that hath, that makes a right use of, and improves what he hath, shall more be given, Matthew 13:12. Still, however, they will be but vessels; empty in themselves, and useless, if not filled by, and employed for, the Lord.

Verse 22

2 Timothy 2:22. Flee youthful lusts Or desires, namely, those peculiarly incident to youth; that is, shun all occasions of exciting or gratifying them, whether, on the one hand, the love of sensual pleasure and the inclination to gratify the appetites and senses of the body, or, on the other, pride, ambition, vain-glory, rashness, contention, obstinacy; vices to which young persons are peculiarly obnoxious; and which some who are free from sensual lusts, are at little pains to avoid; but follow, &c. That is, instead of making provision for these carnal dispositions, or yielding to their motions when they arise, pursue with the greatest ardour and intenseness of mind, and with all diligence and constancy, righteousness In all its branches; every part of thy duty toward God and man; faith Or fidelity; charity That is, love; peace with them that call on the Lord, &c. Especially with all the true people of God.

Verses 23-25

2 Timothy 2:23-25. But foolish and unlearned questions Or unimportant subjects of inquiry and debate; avoid, knowing that they gender strifes Or contentions in the church; and certainly it is a most important part of the duty of a Christian minister to guard against all occasions of offence and mischief. For the servant of the Lord must not strive Or contend eagerly and passionately, as do the vain wranglers spoken of in the preceding verse; but be gentle Or mild, forbearing, and long-suffering; unto all men; apt to teach Chiefly by patience and unwearied assiduity. In meekness Of which he has always need; instructing those who oppose themselves Or who set themselves in opposition to the doctrines of the gospel; if peradventure Or by any means; God may give them repentance to the acknowledgment The belief and profession; of the truth In these verses, “the apostle seems to have had Christ’s example as a teacher in his eye, proposing it as a model to all who are employed in teaching. The virtues here mentioned, our Lord generally exercised in teaching. Yet, on some occasions, he departed from his usual mildness, and with great severity reproved notorious sinners; such as the scribes and Pharisees. In the same manner, the prophets and apostles used strong speech in checking obstinate offenders; while those who showed any candour and honesty in their opposition to the truth, they instructed with the greatest meekness.” Macknight. That they may recover themselves Or rather, may awake, and deliver themselves; out of the snare of the devil In which they have lain sleeping, and, as it were, intoxicated. “In order to understand this beautiful image,” says Doddridge,” it is proper to observe, that the word ανανηψωσιν properly signifies to awake from a deep sleep, or from a fit of intoxication, and refers to an artifice of fowlers to scatter seeds impregnated with some drugs intended to lay birds asleep, that they may draw the net over them with the greater security.” Who are taken captive by him Greek, εζωγρημενοι , caught alive. The word denotes the action of a fisher, or hunter, who takes his prey alive in order to kill it; which is properly applied to Satan’s insnaring men in order to destroy them. And the snares in which he takes them are those prejudices, errors, lusts, and vices, in which he entangles, and by which he detains them his captives, in the most shameful bondage, danger, and misery, while they have been dreaming, perhaps, of liberty and happiness.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/2-timothy-2.html. 1857.
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