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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary
2 Timothy 3

 

 

Verse 1

1.] But (the contrast is in the dark prophetic announcement, so different in character from the hope just expressed) this know, that in the last days (see 1 Timothy 4:1, where the expression is somewhat different. The period referred to here is, from all N. T. analogy (cf. 2 Peter 3:3; Jude 1:18), that immediately preceding the coming of the Lord. That day and hour being hidden from all men, and even from the Son Himself, Mark 13:32,—the Spirit of prophecy, which is the Spirit of the Son, did not reveal to the Apostles its place in the ages of time. They, like the subsequent generations of the Church, were kept waiting for it, and for the most part wrote and spoke of it as soon to appear; not however without many and sufficient hints furnished by the Spirit, of an interval, and that no short one, first to elapse. In this place, these last days are set before Timotheus as being on their way, and indeed their premonitory symptoms already appearing. The discovery which the lapse of centuries and the ways of providence have made to us, χρονίζει ὁ κύριός μου ἐλθεῖν, misleads none but unfaithful servants: while the only modification in the understanding of the premonitory symptoms, is, that for us, He with whom a thousand years are as one day has spread them, without changing their substance or their truth, over many consecutive ages. Cf. ref. 1 John,—where we have the still plainer assertion, ἐσχάτη ὥρα ἐστίν) grievous times shall come (we can hardly express ἐνστήσονται nearer in English: ‘instabunt,’ of the Vulg., though blamed by De W., is right, in the sense in which we use ‘instant’ of the present month or year (Ellic. quotes Auct. ad Herenn. ii. 5, ‘dividitur (tempus) in tempora tria, præteritum, instans, consequens’); ‘aderunt’ of Grot. and Bengel amounts in fact to the same. See note on 2 Thessalonians 2:2):


Verses 1-9

1–9.] Warning of bad times to come, in which men shall be ungodly and hypocritical:—nay, against such men as already present, and doing mischief.


Verse 2

2.] for (reason for χαλεποί) men ( οἱ generic: the men who shall live in those times) shall be selfish ( οἱ πάντα πρὸς τὴν ἑαυτῶν ὠφέλειαν ποιοῦντες, Theod-Mops. Aristotle, in his chapter περὶ φιλαυτίας, Eth. Nicom. ix. 8, while he maintains that there is a higher sense in which τὸν ἀγαθὸν δεῖ φίλαυτον εἶναι,—allows that οἱ πολλοί use the word of τοὺς ἑαυτοῖς ἀπονέμοντας τὸ πλεῖον ἐν χρήμασι, καὶ τιμαῖς, καὶ ἡδοναῖς ταῖς σωματικαῖς: and adds, δικαίως δὴ τοῖς οὕτω φιλαύτοις ὀνειδίζεται, covetous (ref.: we have the subst., 1 Timothy 6:10, and the verb, 2 Maccabees 10:20), empty boasters ( ἀλαζόνες, καυχώμενοι ἔχειν ἃ μὴ ἔχουσιν, Theod-Mops.: see ref. and definitions from Aristotle in note), haughty ( μεγάλα φρονοῦντες, ἑπὶ τοῖς οὖσιν, Theod-Mops.: ref. and note), evil speakers ( κατηγορίαις χαίροντες, Theod-Mops. Not ‘blasphemers,’ unless, as in ref. 1 Tim., the context specifies to what the evil-speaking refers), disobedient to parents (‘character temporum colligendus imprimis etiam ex juventutis moribus.’ Bengel), ungrateful,unholy (ref. ἐπιμέλειαν τοῦ δικαίου μὴποιούμενοι, Theod-Mops., and Beza’s ‘quibus nullum jus est nec fas’ are perhaps too wide: it is rather ‘irreligious’), without natural affection (ref. and note), implacable (it does not appear that the word ever means ‘truce-breakers,’ οὐ βέβαιοι περὶ τὰς φιλίας, οὐδὲ ἀληθεῖς περὶ ἃ συντίθενται,—as Theod-Mops. In all the places where it occurs in a subjective sense, it is, ‘that will make’ or ‘admit no truce:’ e.g., Æsch. Agam. 1235, ἄσπονδόν τʼ ἀρὰν φίλοις πνέουσαν: Eur. Alcest. 426, τῷ κάτωθεν ἀσπόνδῳ θεῷ: Demosth. p. 314. 16, ἄσπονδος κ. ἀκήρυκτος πόλεμος: the same expression, ἄσπ. πόλεμος, occurs in Polyb. i. 65. 6. For the primary objective sense, ‘without σπονδή,’ see Thucyd. i. 37; ii. 22; v. 32, and Palm and Rost’s Lex.), calumniators (reff.), incontinent (we have the subst. ἀκρασία, 1 Corinthians 7:5), inhuman ( ὠμοί, ἀπάνθρωποι, Œc.), no lovers of good ( ἐχθροὶ παντὸς ἀγαθοῦ, Thl.), traitors, headlong (either in action, ‘qui præcipites sunt in agendo,’ Beng.: or in passion (temper), which would in fact amount to the same), besotted by pride (see note, 1 Timothy 3:6), lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God ( τὸν λαὸνφιλήδονον κ. φιλοπαθῆ μᾶλλον ἢ φιλάρετον κ. φιλόθεον. Philo, de agric. § 19, vol. i. p. 313), having a (or the?) form (outward embodiment: the same meaning as in ref., but here confined, by the contrast following, to the mere outward semblance, whereas there, no contrast occurring, the outward embodiment is the real representation. “The more correct word would be μόρφωμα (Æsch. Ag. 873, Eum. 412), μόρφωσις being properly active, e.g., σχηματισμὸς κ. μόρφωσις τῶν δενδρῶν, Theophr. de caus. plant, iii. 7. 4: there is, however, a tendency in the N. T.: as in later writers, to replace the verbal nouns in - μα by the corresponding nouns in - σις: cf. ὑποτύπωσις, ch. 2 Timothy 1:13.” Ellicott) of piety, but having repudiated (not pres., ‘denying,’ as E. V.,—‘renouncing,’ as Conyb.; their condemnation is, that they are living in the semblance of God’s fear, but have repudiated its reality) the power of it (its living and renewing influence over the heart and life).

Cf. throughout this description, Romans 1:30-31. Huther remarks, “We can hardly trace any formal rule of arrangement through these predicates. Here and there, it is true, a few cognate ideas are grouped together: the two first are connected by φίλος: then follow three words betokening high-mindedness: γονεῦσιν ἀπειθεῖς is followed by ἀχάριστοι: this word opens a long series of words beginning with privative, but interrupted by διάβολοι: the following, προδόται, προπετεῖς, seem to be a paronomasia: the latter of these is followed by τετυφωμένοι as a cognate idea: a few more general predicates close the catalogue. But this very interpenetration serves to depict more vividly the whole manifoldness of the manifestation of evil.” And from these turn away (ref.: cf. ἐκτρέπεσαι, 1 Timothy 6:20. This command shews that the Apostle treats the symptoms of the last times as not future exclusively, but in some respects present: see note above, 2 Timothy 3:1):


Verse 6

6.] for (reason of the foregoing command, seeing that they are already among you) among the number of these are they who creep ( εἶδες τὸ ἀναίσχυντον πῶς ἐδήλωσε διὰ τοῦ εἰπεῖν, ἐνδύνοντες· τὸ ἄτιμον, τὴν ἀπάτην, τὴν κολακείαν, Chrys. Cf. Aristoph. Vesp. 1020, εἰς ἀλλοτρίας γαστέρας ἐνδύς. Bengel interprets it ‘irrepentes clanculum’) into (men’s) houses and take captive (as it were prisoners; a word admirably describing the influence acquired by sneaking proselytizers over those presently described: attach to themselves entirely, so that they follow them as if dragged about by them a late word, said to be of Alexandrian or Macedonian origin, and condemned by the Atticist: see Ellicott) silly women (the diminutive denotes contempt) laden with sins (De W. alone seems to have given the true reason of the insertion of this particular. The stress is on σεσωρευμένα: they are burdened, their consciences oppressed, with sins, and in this morbid state they lie open to the insidious attacks of these proselytizers who promise them ease of conscience if they will follow them), led about by lusts of all kinds (I should rather imagine, from the context, that the reference here is not so much to ‘fleshly lusts’ properly so called,—though from what we know of such feminine spiritual attachments, ancient (see below) and modern, such must by no means be excluded,—as to the ever-shifting ( ποικίλη) passion for change in doctrine and manner of teaching, which is the eminent characteristic of these captives to designing spiritual teachers—the running after fashionable men and fashionable tenets, which draw them ( ἄγουσι) in flocks in the most opposite and inconsistent directions), evermore learning (always with some new point absorbing them, which seems to them the most important, to the depreciation of what they held and seemed to know before), and never (on μηδ., see Ellicott) able to come to the thorough knowledge (reff., and notes: the decisive and stable apprehension, in which they might be grounded and settled against further novelties) of the truth (this again is referred by Chrys., all., to moral deadening of their apprehension by profligate lives: ἐπειδὴ ἑαυτὰς κατέχωσαν ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις ἐκείναις καὶ τοῖς ἁμαρτήμασιν, ἐπωρώθη αὐτῶν ἡ διάνοια. It may be so, in the deeper ground of the psychological reason for this their fickle and imperfect condition: but I should rather think that the Apostle here indicates their character as connected with the fact of their captivity to these teachers.

With regard to the fact itself, we have abundant testimony that the Gnostic heresy in its progress, as indeed all new and strange systems, laid hold chiefly of the female sex: so Irenæus i. 13. 3, p. 61, of the Valentinian Marcus, μάλιστα περὶ γυναῖκας ἀσχολεῖται, and in ib. 6, p. 63 f., καὶ μαθηταὶ δὲ αὐτοῦ τινεςἐξαπατῶντες γυναικάρια πολλὰ διέφθειραν: and Epiphanius, Hær. xxvi. 12, vol. i. p. 93, charges the Gnostics with ἐμπαίζειν τοῖς γυναικαρίοις and ἀπατᾷν τὸ αὐτοῖς πειθόμενον γυναικεῖον γένος, then quoting this passage. Jerome, Ep. 133. ad Ctesiphontem 4, vol. i. p. 1031 f., collects a number of instances of this: “Simon Magus hæresin condidit Helenæ meretricis adjutus auxilio: Nicolaus Antiochenus omnium immunditiarum repertor choros duxit fœmineos: Marcion Roman præmisit mulierem quæ decipiendos sibi animos præpararet. Apelleos Philumenem suarum comitem habuit doctrinarum: Montanus … Priscam et Maximillam … primum auro corrupit, deinde hæresi polluit …: Arius ut orbem deciperet, sororem principis ante decepit. Donatus … Lucillæ opibus adjutus est: Agape Elpidium … cæcum cæca duxit in foveam: Priscilliano juncta fuit Galla.”

The general answer to Baur,—who again uses this as a proof of the later origin of these Epistles,—will be found in the Prolegomena, ch. vii. § i. De Wette remarks, “This is an admirable characterization of zealous soul-hunters (who have been principally found, and are still found, among the Roman Catholics) and their victims. We must not however divide the different traits among different classes or individuals: it is their combination only which is characteristic.” “Diceres, ex professo Paulum hic vivam monachismi effigiem pingere.” Calvin).


Verse 8

8.] But (q. d. it is no wonder that there should be now such opponents to the truth, for their prototypes existed also in ancient times) as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses (these are believed to be traditional names of the Egyptian magicians mentioned in Exodus 7:11; Exodus 7:22. Origen says (in Matt. comment. 117, vol. iii. p. 916), “quod ait, ‘sicut Jannes et Mambres (see var. readd.) restiterunt Mosi,’ non invenitur in publicis scripturis, sed in libro secreto, qui suprascribitur Jannes et Mambres liber.” But Thdrt.’s account is more probable ( τὰ μέντοι τούτων ὀνόματα οὐκ ἐκ τῆς θείας γραφῆς μεμάθηκεν ὁ θεῖος ἀπόστολος, ἀλλʼ ἐκ τῆς ἀγράφου τῶν ἰουδαίων διδασκαλίας), especially as the names are found in the Targum of Jonathan on Exodus 7:11; Numbers 22:22. Schöttgen has (in loc.) a long account of their traditional history: and Wetst, quotes the passages at length. They were the sons of Balaam—prophesied to Pharaoh the birth of Moses, in consequence of which he gave the order for the destruction of the Jewish children,—and thenceforward appear as the counsellors of much of the evil,—in Egypt, and in the desert, after the Exodus,—which happened to Israel. They were variously reported to have perished in the Red Sea, or to have been killed in the tumult consequent on the making the golden calf, which they had advised. Origen, contra Cels. iv. 51, vol. i. p. 543, mentions the Pythagorean Noumenius as relating the history of Jannes and Jambres: so also Euseb. præp. evang. ix. 8, vol. iii. (Migne), p. 412. Pliny, H. Nat. xxx. 1, says, “Est et alia Magices factio, a Mose et Jamne et Jotape Judæis pendens, sed multis millibus annorum post Zoroastrem.” The later Jews, with some ingenuity, distorted the names into Joannes and Ambrosius), thus these also withstand the truth, being men corrupted (reff.: the Lexx. quote καταφθαρεὶς τὸν βίον from a fragment of Menander) in mind, worthless (not abiding the test, ‘rejectanei’) concerning the faith (in respect of the faith: περὶ τὴν πίστιν is not, as Huther, equivalent to περὶ τῆς πίστεως, but expresses more the local meaning of περί: ‘circa,’ as the Vulg. here has it. In 1 Timothy 1:19, περὶ τήν πίστιν ἐναυάγησαν, we have the local reference brought out more strongly, the faith being, as it were, a rock, on, round which they had been shipwrecked).


Verse 9

9.] Notwithstanding (Ellic. well remarks that ἀλλά here after an affirmative sentence should have its full adversative force) they shall not advance further (in ch. 2 Timothy 2:16, it is said, ἐπὶ πλεῖον προκόψουσιν ἀσεβείας: and it is in vain to deny that there is an apparent and literal inconsistency between the two assertions. But on looking further into them, it is manifest, that while there the Apostle is speaking of an immediate spread of error, here he is looking to its ultimate defeat and extinction: as Chrys., κἂν πρότερον ἀνθήσῃ τὰ τῆς πλάνης, εἰς τέλος οὐ διαμενεῖ): for their folly (unintelligent and senseless method of proselytizing and upholding their opinions (see ref. Luke),—and indeed folly of those opinions themselves) shall be thoroughly manifested (ref. πάντʼ ἐποίησεν ἔκδηλα, Demosth. 24. 10) to all, as also that of those men was (Exodus 8:18; Exodus 9:11; but most probably the allusion is to their traditional end).


Verses 10-17

10–17.] Contrast, by way of reminding and exhortation, of the education, knowledge, and life of Timotheus with the character just drawn of the opponents. But thou followedst (ref. not, as Chrys., Thl., Œc., al., τούτων σὺ μάρτυς,—for some of the undermentioned occurred before the conversion of Timotheus, and of many of them this could not be properly said,—but ‘followedst as thy pattern:’ ‘it was my example in all these things which was set before thee as thy guide—thou wert a follower of me, as I of Christ.’ So Calvin (‘laudat tanquam suarum virtutum imitatorem, ac si diceret, jam pridem assuefactus es ad mea instituta, perge modo qua cœpisti’), Aret., De W., Huther, Wiesinger, all. The aorist is both less obvious and more appropriate than the perfect: this was the example set before him, and the reminiscence, joined to the exhortation of 2 Timothy 3:14, bears something of reproach with it, which is quite in accordance with what we have reason to infer from the general tone of the Epistle. Whereas the perfect would imply that the example had been really ever before him, and followed up to the present moment: and so would weaken the necessity of the exhortation) my teaching, conduct (reff.: and add 2 Maccabees 4:16; 2 Maccabees 6:8; 2 Maccabees 11:24; τῇ διὰ τῶν ἔργων πολιτείᾳ, Thdrt. All these words are dependent on μου, not to be taken (Mack) as applying to Timotheus, ‘Thou followedst my teaching in thy conduct, &c.,’ which would introduce an unnatural accumulation of encomia on him, and would besides assume that he had been persecuted (cf. τοῖς διωγμοῖς), which there is no reason to suppose), purpose (ref. τοῦτο περὶ προθυμίας καὶ τοῦ παραστήματος τῆς ψυχῆς, Chrys. Ellic. remarks, that in all other passages in St. Paul’s Epistles, πρόθεσις is used with reference to God), faith ( ὁποίαν ἔχω περὶ τὸν δεσπότην διάθεσιν, Thdrt.), long-suffering ( ὅπως φέρω τὰ τῶν ἀδελφῶν πλημμελήματα, Thdrt.: or perhaps, as Chrys., πῶς οὐδέν με τούτων ἐτάραττε,—his patience in respect of the false teachers and the troubles of the time), love ( ὅπερ οὐκ εἶχον οὗτοι, Chrys.), endurance ( πῶς φέρω γενναίως τῶν ἐνατίων τὰς προσβολάς, Thdrt.), persecutions (‘to these ὑπομονή furnished the note of transition.’ Huth.), sufferings (not only was I persecuted, but the persecution issued in infliction of suffering), such (sufferings) as befell me in Antioch (of Pisidia), in Iconium, in Lystra (why should these be especially enumerated? Thdrt. assigns as a reason, τοὺς ἄλλους καταλιπὼν τῶν ἐν τῇ πισιδίᾳ καὶ τῇ λυκαονίᾳ συμβεβηκότων αὐτῷ κινδύνων ἀνέμνησε. λυκάων γὰρ ἦν καὶ αὐτὸς πρὸς ὃν ἔγραφε, καὶ ταῦτα τῶν ἄλλων ἦν αὐτῷ γνωριμώτερα. And so Chrys., and many both ancient and modern. It may be so, doubtless: and this reason, though rejected by De W., Huther, Wiesinger, al., seems much better to suit the context and probability, than the other, given by Huther, al., that these persecutions were the first which befell the Apostle in his missionary work among the heathen. It is objected to it, that during the former of these persecutions Timotheus was not with St. Paul. But the answer to that is easy. At the time of his conversion, they were recent, and the talk of the churches in those parts: and thus, especially with our rendering, and the aor. sense of παρηκολούθησας, would be naturally mentioned, as being those sufferings of the Apostle which first excited the young convert’s attention to make them his own pattern of what he too must suffer for the Gospel’s sake. Baur and De Wette regard the exact correspondence with the Acts (Acts 13:50; Acts 14:5; Acts 14:19; Acts 16:3) as a suspicious circumstance. Wiesinger well asks, would they have regarded a discrepancy from the Acts as a mark of genuineness?); what persecutions (there is a zeugmatic construction here—understand, ‘thou sawest; in proposing to thyself a pattern thou hadst before thee …’ (I cannot see how, as Ellic. asserts, this rendering vitiates the construction. Doubtless his rendering, ‘such, persecutions as,’ is legitimate, but it seems to me feeble after the preceding οἷα.) Heydenr., Mack, al, understand these words as an exclamation: οἵους διωγμ. ὑπήνεγκα! I need hardly observe that such an exclamation would be wholly alien from the character and style of the Apostle) I underwent, and out of all the Lord delivered me ( ἀμφότερα (both clauses of the sentence) παρακλήσεως· ὅτι καὶ ἐγὼ προθυμίαν παρειχόμην γενναίαν, καὶ ( ὅτι) οὐκ ἐγ κατελείφθην. Chrys.).


Verse 12

12.] Yea, and (or, and moreover. I have explained this καὶδέ on 1 Timothy 3:10. ‘They who will, &c., must make up their minds to this additional circumstance,’ viz. persecution) all who are minded (purpose: see reff.: ‘whose will is to,’ Ellic.: hardly so strong as ‘who determine,’ Conyb. Nor can it be said that θέλοντες is emphatic, as Huth. It requires its meaning of ‘purpose’ to be clearly expressed, not slurred over: but that meaning is not especially prominent) to live piously (ref.) in Christ Jesus (‘extra Jesum Christum nulla pietas,’ Beng.: and this peculiar reference of εὐσέβεια (cf. 1 Timothy 3:16) should always be borne in mind in these Epistles) shall be persecuted.


Verse 13

13.] But (on the other hand: a reason why persecutions must be expected, and even worse and more bitter as time goes on. The opposition certainly, as seems to me (see also Wiesinger and Ellicott), is to the clause immediately preceding, not, as De W. and Huther maintain, to 2 Timothy 3:10 f. There would thus be no real contrast: whereas on our view, it is forcibly represented that the breach between light and darkness, between εὐσέβεια and πονηρία, would not be healed, but rather widened, as time went on) evil men (in general,—over the world: particularized, as applying to the matter in hand, by the next words) and seducers (lit. magicians, in allusion probably to the Egyptian magicians mentioned above. Jos. contra Apion. ii. 16, has the word in this sense,— τοιοῦτός τις ἡμῶν ὁ νομοθέτης, οὐ γόης, οὐδʼ ἀπατεών. Demosth. p. 374. 20, puts into the mouth of Æschines, respecting Philip, ἄπιστος, γόης, πονηρός. See Wetst., and Suicer in voc., and consult Ellic.’s note here) shall grow worse and worse (‘advance in the direction of worse:’ see above, 2 Timothy 3:9. There the diffusion of evil was spoken of: here its intensity), deceiving and being deceived ( πλανώμενοι is not middle (as Bengel, ‘qui se seducendos permittunt’) but passive: rather for contrast’s sake, as the middle would be vapid, than for the reason given by Huther, that if so, it would stand first, because he that deceives others is first himself deceived: for we might say exactly the same of the passive. Nor is the active participle to be assigned to the γόητες and the passive to the πονηροί, as Bengel also: both equally designate both. But his remark is striking and just, ‘Qui semel alios decipere cœpit, eo minus ipse ab errore se recipit, et eo facilius alienos errores mutuo amplectitur’).


Verse 14

14.] But do thou continue in the things which (the object to ἔμαθες, and the remoter object to ἐπιστώθης, must, in the construction, be supplied out of the ἐν οἷς) thou learnedst (= ἤκουσας παρʼ ἐμοῦ, ch. 2 Timothy 2:2) and wert convinced of (so Homer, Od. φ. 217 f., where Odysseus shews his scar,— εἰ δʼ ἄγε δὴ καὶ σῆμα ἀριφραδὲς ἄλλο τι δείξω, | ὄφρα μὲ εὖ γνῶτον, πιστωθῆτόν τʼ ἐνὶ θυμῷ, and Soph. Œd. Col. 1040, σὺ δʼ ἡμῖν, οἰδίπους, | ἕκηλος αὐτοῦ μίμνε, πιστωθεὶς ὅτι | ἢν μὴ θάνω ʼ γὼ πρόσθεν, οὐχὶ παύσομαι. The Vulg. ‘credita sunt tibi,’ followed by Luth., Beza, Calv., besides the Roman-Catholic expositors, would require ἐπιστεύθης, cf. 1 Corinthians 9:17 al.), knowing (as thou dost) from what teachers (viz. thy mother Lois and grandmother Eunice, ch. 2 Timothy 1:5; cf. ἀπὸ βρέφους below: not Paul and Barnabas, as Grot., nor the πολλοὶ μάρτυρες of ch. 2 Timothy 2:2. If the singular τίνος, then the Apostle must be meant) thou learnedst them, and (knowing) that (the Vulg. renders ὅτι quia, and thus breaks off the connexion with εἰδώς: and so also Luth., ‘und weil’ … Bengel (adding, ‘ætiologia duplex. Similis constr. διὰκαὶ ὅτι, John 2:24,— ἐπιγνοὺςκαὶ ὅτι, Acts 22:29’). But the other construction is much more natural) from a child ( ἀπὸ πρώτης ἡλικίας, Chrys. The expression carries the learning back to his extreme infancy: see Ellic. here) thou hast known the (with or without the art., this will be the rendering) holy scriptures (of the O. T. This expression for the Scriptures, not elsewhere found in the N. T. (hardly, as Huther, John 7:15), is common in Josephus: see Wetst.: cf. also reff. 2 Macc.) which are able (not as Bengel, “ ‘quæ poterant:’ vis præteriti ex nosti redundat in participium:” for οἶδας is necessarily present in signification: ‘thou hast known … which were’ would be a solœcism) to make thee wise (reff. So Hes. Op. 647,— οὔτε τι ναυτιλίης σεσοφισμένος, οὔτε τι νηῶν: Diog. Laert. v. 90, in an epigram, ἀλλὰ διεψεύσθης, σεσοφισμένε) unto (towards the attainment of) salvation, by means of (the instrument whereby the σοφίσαι is to take place: not to be joined to σωτηρίαν, as Thl., Bengel, al.; not so much for lack of the art. τήν prefixed, as because the τῆς ἐν χ. ἰησ. would thus become an unnatural expansion of the merely subordinate πίστεως) faith, namely that which ( σωτηρία διὰ πίστεως being almost a technical phrase, it is best to keep πίστις here abstract, and then to particularize) is in (which rests upon, is reposed in) Christ Jesus.


Verse 16

16.] The immense value to Timotheus of this early instruction is shewn by a declaration of the profit of Scripture in furthering the spiritual life. There is considerable doubt about the construction of this clause, πᾶσα ὠφέλιμος. Is it to be taken, (1) πᾶσα γραφὴ (subject) θεόπνευστος (predicate) ( ἐστιν), καὶ ὠφ., i.e. ‘every Scripture (see below) is θεόπνευστος and ὠφέλιμος:’ or (2) πᾶσα γραφὴ θεόπνευστος (subject) καὶ ὠφέλ. ( ἐστιν) (predicate), i.e. Every γραφὴ θεόπνευστος is also ὠφέλιμος? The former is followed by Chrys. ( πᾶσα οὖν ἡ τοιαύτη θεόπνευστος), Greg.-Nyss. ( διὰ τοῦτο πᾶσα γραφὴ θεόπνευστος λέγεται), Ath., Est. (‘duo affirmantur: omnem scripturam esse divinitus inspiratam, et eandem esse utilem,’ &c.), all., by Calv., Wolf, al.: by De W., Wiesinger, Conyb., &c., and the E. V. The latter by Orig. ( πᾶσα γραφὴ θεόπνευστος οὖσα ὠφέλιμός ἐστι, in Jesu nave Hom. xx. 3, vol. ii.: repeated in the Philocal. c. 12, vol. xxv. p. 65, ed. Lomm.), Thdrt. ( θεόπνευστον δὲ γραφὴν τὴν πνευματικὴν ὠνόμασεν), al.: by Grot. (‘bene expressit sensum Syrus: omnis Scriptura quæ a Deo inspirata est, etiam utilis,’ &c.), Erasm. (‘tota Scr. quæ nobis non humano ingenio, &c., magnam habet utilitatem,’ &c.), Camerar., Whitby, Hammond, al.: by Rosenm., Heinr., Huther, &c. and the Syr. (above), Vulg. (‘omnis Scriptura divinitus inspirata utilis est,’ &c.), Luth. (denn alle Schrift von Gott eingegeben ist nütze u. s. w.), &c. In deciding between these two, the following considerations must be weighed: (a) the requirement of the context. The object of the present verse plainly is to set before Timotheus the value of his early instruction as a motive to his remaining faithful to it. It is then very possible, that the Apostle might wish to exalt the dignity of the Scripture by asserting of it that it was ( θεόπνευστος, and then out of this lofty predicate might unfold καὶ ὠφέλ., &c.—its various uses in the spiritual life. On the other hand it may be urged, that thus the two epithets do not hang naturally together, the first consisting of the one word θεόπνευστος, and the other being expanded into a whole sentence: especially as in order at all to give symmetry to the whole, the ἵνα ἄρτιος ᾖ κ. τ. λ. must be understood as the purposed result of the θεονευστία as well as the ὠφέλεια of the Scriptures, which is hardly natural: (b) the requirements of the grammatical construction of καί, which must on all grounds be retained as genuine. Can this καί be rendered ‘also,’ and attached to ὠφέλιμος? There seems no reason to question its legitimacy, thus taken. Such an expression as this, πᾶς ἀνὴρ πλεονέκτης, καὶ εἰδωλολάτρης, though a harsh sentence, would be a legitimate one. And constructions more or less approximating to this are found in the N. T. e.g., Luke 1:36, ἐλισάβετ ἡ συγγενίς σου καὶ αὐτὴ συνειληφυῖα: Acts 26:26, πρὸς ὃν καὶ παῤῥησιαζόμενος λαλῶ: Acts 28:28, αὐτοὶ καὶ ἀκούσονται: Romans 8:29, οὓς προέγνω καὶ προώρισεν: Galatians 4:7, εἰ δὲ υἱὸς καὶ κληρονόμος. In all these, καί introduces the predicatory clause, calling special attention to the fact enounced in it. Cf. also such expressions as καὶ τοῦτο μὲν ἧττον καὶ θαυμαστόν, Plato, Symp. p. 177 b,— σκέψαι τάλαν, ὡς καὶ καταγέλαστον τὸ πρᾶγμα φαίνεται, Aristoph. Eccl. 125,— ᾗ μᾶλλον καὶ ἐπετίθεντο, Thuc. iv. 1.

I own on the whole the balance seems to me to incline on the side of (2), unobjectionable as it is in construction, and of the two, better suited to the context. I therefore follow it, hesitatingly, I confess, but feeling that it is not to be lightly overthrown. See on the whole, Ellicott, who takes the same view. Every Scripture (not ‘every writing:’ the word, with or without the art., never occurs in the N. T. except in the sense of ‘Scripture;’ and we have it, as we might expect in the later apostolic times, anarthrous in 2 Peter 1:20, πᾶσα προφητεία γραφῆς. Where it occurs anarthrous in the Gospels, it signifies a passage of Scripture, ‘a Scripture’, as we say: e.g. John 19:37. It is true, that πᾶσα γραφή might be numbered with those other apparent solœcisms, πᾶσα οἰκοδομή, Ephesians 2:21, πᾶσα ἱεροσόλυμα, Matthew 2:3, where the subst. being used anarthrous, πᾶς = πᾶς ὁ: but, in the presence of such phrases as ἑτέρα γραφὴ λέγει (John l. c.), it is safer to keep to the meaning, unobjectionable both grammatically and contextually, ‘every Scripture’—i.e. ‘every part of (= in the sense, ‘all’) Scripture’) given by inspiration of God (as γραφή answers to γράμματα above, so θεόπνευστος to ἱερά. De W. has well illustrated the word: “ θεόπνευστοςdivinitus inspirata,’ Vulg., is an expression and idea connected with πνεῦμα (properly breath), the power of the divine Spirit being conceived of as a breath of life: the word thus amounts to ‘inspired,’ ‘breathed through,’ ‘full of the Spirit.’ It (the idea) is common to Jews, Greeks, and Romans. Jos. contra Apion. i. 7, τῶν προφητῶν τὰ μὲν ἀνωτάτω καὶ τὰ παλαιότατα κατὰ τὴν ἐπίπνοιαν τὴν ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ μαθόντων. Æschyl. Suppl. 18; ἐπίπνοια διός, and similarly Polyb. x. 2. 12. Plato, Republ. vi. 499 b, legg. v. 738 c: Phocyl. 121, τῆς δὲ θεοπνεύστου σοφίης λόγος ἐστὶν ἄριστος: Plut. mor. p. 904, τοὺς ὀνείρους τοὺς θεοπνεύστους: Cic. pro Arch. 8, ‘poetam … quasi divino quodam spiritu af-(l. in-) flari:’ de nat. deor. ii. 66, ‘nemo vir magnus sine aliquo afflatu divino unquam fuit:’ de div. i. 18, ‘oracula instinctu divino afflatuque funduntur.’ First of all, θεόπνευστος is found as a predicate of persons: ὁ θεόπνευστος ἀνήρ Wetst. (from Marcus Ægyptius), cf. Jos. and Cic. in the two passages above,—2 Peter 1:21, ὑπὸ πνεύματος ἁγίου φερόμενοι ἐλάλησαν ἀπὸ θεοῦ ἄνθρωποι: Matthew 22:43, δαυεὶδ ἐν πνεύματι καλεῖ αὐτὸν κύριον: then it was also applied to things, cf. the last passage of Cicero, and Phocyl., Plutarch, above.” On the meaning of the word as applied to the Scriptures, see Prolegg. to Vol. I. ‘On the inspiration of the Gospels:’ and compare Ellicott’s note here. As applied to the prophets, it would not materially differ, except that we ever regard one speaking prophecy, strictly so called, as more immediately and thoroughly the mouthpiece of the Holy Spirit, seeing that the future is wholly hidden from men, and God does not in this case use or inspire human testimony to facts, but suggests the whole substance of what is said, direct from Himself) is also (besides this its quality of inspiration: on the construction, see above) profitable for (towards) teaching ( ἃ γὰρ ἀγνοοῦμεν ἐκεῖθεν μανθάνομεν, Thdrt. This, the teaching of the person reading the Scriptures, not the making him a teacher, as Estius characteristically, is evidently the meaning. It is not Timotheus’s ability as a teacher, but his stability as a Christian, which is here in question), for conviction ( ἐλέγχει γὰρ ἡμῶν τὸν παράνομον βίον, Thdrt. The above remark applies here also), for correction ( παρακαλεῖ γὰρ καὶ τοὺς παρατραπέντας ἐπανελθεῖν εἰς τὴν εὐθεῖαν ὁδόν, Thdrt. So Philo, Quod Deus immut. 37, vol. i. p. 299, ἐπὶτῇ τοῦ παντὸς ἐπανορθώσει βίου: similarly Polyb. p. 50, 26 al. freq. in Raphel: so Epictetus, ib.), for discipline (ref. Eph. and note) in (if the construction is filled out, the παιδείαν is abstract, and the τὴν ἐν particularizes; discipline, viz. that which …) righteousness (which is versed in, as its element and condition, righteousness, and so disciplines a man to be holy, just, and true): that (result of the profitableness of Scripture: reasons why God has, having Himself inspired it, endowed it with this profitableness) the man of God (ref. 1 Tim. and note) may be perfect (ready at every point: ‘aptus in officio,’ Beng.), thoroughly made ready (see note on ref. Acts. It is blamed by the etymologists as an ἀδόκιμον. Jos. Antt. iii. 2. 2, has πολεμεῖν πρὸς ἀνθρώπους τοῖς πᾶσι καλῶς ἐξηρτισμένους) to every good work (rather to be generally understood than officially: the man of God is not only a teacher, but any spiritual man: and the whole of the present passage regards the universal spiritual life. In ch. 2 Timothy 4:1 ff. he returns to the official duties of Timotheus: but here he is on that which is the common basis of all duty).

 


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Bibliography Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 3:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/2-timothy-3.html. 1863-1878.

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Friday, November 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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