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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
2 Timothy 3

 

 

Introduction

CHAPTER 3

2 Timothy 3:1. γίνωσκε] For this, Lachm. and Buttm., on the authority of A F G 238, al., Aeth. Boern. Aug., adopted γινώσκετε. Tisch., on the authority of C D E K L א, most cursives, versions, etc., retained the Rec., of which reading nearly all expositors, even Reiche, have declared themselves to be in favour. Still the plur. might be the original reading, since there was no occasion for changing the sing. into the plur.—2 Timothy 3:2. א omits οἱ before ἄνθρωποι; a mere alteration, because the art. seemed to present a difficulty in meaning.—2 Timothy 3:3. א omits ἄστοργοι.—2 Timothy 3:6. αἰχμαλωτίζοντες, for αἰχμαλωτεύοντες, was adopted even by Griesb., on the authority of A C D* E F G א, many cursives, versions, and Fathers.

Before γυναικάρια the Rec. has the art. τά, which, however, was deleted by Griesb., on the authority of A C D E F G א, etc.—2 Timothy 3:8. The two names are differently written by some MSS.; for ἰαννῆς, C* has ἰωάννης; Vulg. Cypr. etc. have Jamnes; for ἰαμβρῆς, F G, Vulg. It., many Fathers, also the Talmudists, have ΄αμβρῆς. Matthaei thinks that this change was made arbitrarily by Origen, who had a fashion of altering proper names, partim propter ineptas allegorias, partim propter ineptas etymologias suas.—2 Timothy 3:9. The reading in A, διάνοια for ἄνοια, must be regarded as an arbitrary alteration.—2 Timothy 3:10. παρηκολούθηκας] Rec. Tisch. 7; for this, A C F G א 17, al., have the aorist παρηκολούθησας, which was adopted by Lachm. and Tisch. 8; F and G have the simple ἠκολούθησας. The perf. seems to be a correction made after the analogy of 1 Timothy 4:6.

Instead of the difficult τῇ ἀγωγῇ, there is found in D* gr. τῇ ἀγάπῃ, a manifest correction.—2 Timothy 3:11. For ἐγένετο, Lachm. and Buttm. read ἐγένοντο, after A 38, al.; but there is not sufficient testimony to establish its genuineness.—2 Timothy 3:12. Tisch. 7: εὐσεβῶς ζῆν, Rec. supported by a large majority of authorities; on the other hand, Tisch. 8: ζῆν εὐσεβῶς (Lachm. Buttm.), after A P א, etc.—2 Timothy 3:14. τίνος] The reading τίνων, which has the testimony of A C F G 17, 71, al., Slav. It. Ambrosiast., and was adopted by Lachm. Buttm. Tisch., deserves to be preferred to the usual τίνος, for this reason, that the latter may easily be explained to have arisen from thinking here of Paul only. De Wette is undecided, but Reiche is in favour of the Rec.—2 Timothy 3:15. The art. τὰ before ἱερά is placed in brackets by Lachm. and omitted by Tisch. 8; it is wanting in C** D* F G א.—2 Timothy 3:16. As καί seems to disturb the construction, it is omitted in several versions and Fathers; Origen even has once: θεόπνευστος οὖσα, ὠφέλιμός ἐστι.

For ἔλεγχον, Lachm. Buttm. and Tisch. adopted ἐλεγμόν, on the authority of A C F G א, 31, 71, 80, al.


Verse 1

2 Timothy 3:1. Consequent on the previous exhortations we have a foreshadowing of the evil state of things in the future.

τοῦτο δὲ γίνωσκε] Even if the plural γινώσκετε be the correct reading, it does not follow that the epistle was directed to others beside Timothy; when an exhortation is general in nature, there is nothing strange in an extension of the point of view.

ὅτι ἐν ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις] comp. 1 Timothy 4:1; Grotius wrongly translates: posthac. It denotes a definite period, not, however (as in Acts 2:17; Hebrews 1:1), the present, the time between the appearance of Christ in the flesh and His second coming to judgment (Heydenreich), nor the time in which the errors shall come to an end (Mack), but the time immediately preceding Christ’s παρουσία, in which time, according to apostolic prophecy, the might of the wicked one shall be fully revealed in order to be completely overcome; comp. 2 Peter 3:3; Jude 1:18.

ἐνστήσονται] ἐνίστημι, as an intransitive verb, has the sense of “be near at hand,” but in such a way that it passes over into the sense of “be present;” thus in Romans 8:38, 1 Corinthians 3:22, ἐνεστῶτα and μέλλοντα stand in sharp antithesis as “things present” and “things future.” Bengel therefore is correct: aderunt. The same is the case with the Latin instare; hence there is no ground for finding fault with the Vulg. “instabunt” (de Wette), since in the future something future was denoted. Luther is not quite exact: “will come.”

καιροὶ χαλεποί] de Wette: “critical times;” καιρός is not simply the time, but the state of things at the time.

The next verses show in what way these καιροί will show themselves to be χαλεποί.


Verses 2-5

2 Timothy 3:2-5. ἔσονται γὰρ οἱ ἄνθρωποι] The article οἱ is not to be overlooked. Luther is inaccurate: there will be men; Nouveau Test. à Mons: il y aura des hommes. The article points to the generality, but, as Matthies rightly observes, not exactly “all without exception, rather taking the average, as a general rule.”

Bengel: majore gradu et numero tales, quam unquam, in ecclesia.

Mack is incorrect: “the people of whom I am speaking.”

φίλαυτοι ( ἅπ. λεγ.). It may be explained from Arist. ad Nicom. ix. 8: τοὺς φιλαύτους ἐν αἰσχρῷ ἀποκάλουσι. Heinrichs, on the analogy of 1 Corinthians 10:24, says: ζητῶν τὰ ἑαυτοῦ, μὴ τὰ τοῦ ἑτέρου.

φιλάργυροι] only elsewhere in Luke 16:14; the substantive occurs in 1 Timothy 6:10.

ἀλάζονες, ὑπερήφανοι] Romans 1:30; the first expresses boastfulness without intending contempt for others; the second, pride and haughtiness with contempt for others; see Meyer on that passage. Hofmann’s explanation of ἀλάζων is not appropriate: “he who attributes to himself an honour which is not his.”

βλάσφημοι] “slanderous;” not quite “blasphemous” (Matthies). In 1 Timothy 1:13 a definite reference to divine things is given by the context.

γονεῦσιν ἀπειθεῖς] Romans 1:30.

ἀχάριστοι] elsewhere only in Luke 6:35 (Sirach 16:29; Wisdom of Solomon 19:17).

ἀνόσιοι] 1 Timothy 1:9. Beza: quibus nullum jus est nec fas.—2 Timothy 3:3. ἄστοργοι] Romans 1:31, especially of the natural affection between parents and children: caritate a natura ipsa nobis insita orbati, Heinrichs.

ἄσπονδοι] Romans 1:31; both those who make no covenant (Luther: “irreconcilable”) and those who do not keep a covenant made, “covenant-breaking.” Hofmann says: “one who is destitute of moral sense of justice;” but that does not give the reference peculiar to the word.

διάβολοι] 1 Timothy 3:11.

ἀκρατεῖς ( ἅπ. λεγ.), “having no control over one’s passions;” 1 Corinthians 7:5 : ἀκρασία; the opposite is ἐγκρατής, Titus 1:8.

ἀνήμεροι] ( ἅπ. λεγ.). Oecumenius makes it equivalent to ὠμοί, ἀπάνθρωποι; synonymous with ἀνελεήμονες, Romans 1:31.

ἀφιλάγαθοι ( ἅπ. λεγ.); the opposite: φιλάγαθοι, Titus 1:8. Theophylact: ἐχθροὶ παντὸς ἀγαθοῦ. Luther wrongly: “unkindly.”—2 Timothy 3:4. προδόται] Luke 6:16; Acts 7:52; here: “men among whom there is no fidelity” (Wiesinger).

προπετεῖς] (Acts 19:36), qui praecipites sunt in agendo (Bengel), “foolhardy.” Hofmann’s is too weak: “inconsiderate.”

τετυφωμένοι] 1 Timothy 3:6; 1 Timothy 6:4, “puffed up,” not merely “made stupid” (Hofmann).

φιλήδονοι μᾶλλον φιλόθεοι (both words ἅπ. λεγ. Philo, de Agricult.: φιλήδονον καὶ φιλοπαθὴ μᾶλλον φιλάρετον καὶ φιλόθεον ἐργάζεσθαι); such paronomasia are often found in the N. T.; see Wilke’s Hermeneutik, vol. II. p. 346: “rather hunting after pleasure than seeking after God.”(44)2 Timothy 3:5. ἔχοντες μόρφωσιν εὐσεβείας] μόρφωσις, Romans 2:20, in a different meaning from here; see Meyer on that passage. We must not, like Beza, understand it to be vera forma et effigies pietatis, sicut in lege proponitur; it rather denotes the external form in general. But as Paul contrasts it here with δύναμις, it acquires the signification of mere appearance in distinction from true nature.

τὴν δὲ δύναμιν αὐτῆς ἠρνημένοι] δύναμις in contrast with μόρφωσις: “the living, powerful nature of genuine blessedness” (Heydenreich).

ἠρνημένοι] 1 Timothy 5:8; Titus 1:16; Titus 2:12 : “they show that they do not possess the δύναμις, and do not wish to possess it.”

This ends the enumeration of the characteristics which Paul uses to describe the men in the last times.

Romans 1:30-31 is similar to this passage; Wiesinger (following Olshausen) aptly remarks: “it is a new heathendom under a Christian name which the apostle is here describing.”

A definite connection between the ideas cannot be established,(45) but in both passages kindred ideas are placed together. Thus the two first are compounded with φίλος; then follow three expressions denoting arrogance; to γονεῦσιν ἀπαθεῖς there is added ἀχάριστοι; this word begins a longer series of words beginning with privative, and the series is interrupted by διάβολοι; the next expressions: προδόται, προπετεῖς, seem to form a paronomasia; to προπετεῖς there is added the kindred notion τετυφωμένοι; some more general notions close the list. But this very confusion brings out more vividly the varied manifestations of the evil one. It is to be observed, however, that the list begins with φίλαυτοι, that accordingly only such qualities are enumerated as have their root in φιλαυτία, and that hypocrisy is the last mentioned, as the means by which the selfish man seeks to conceal his selfishness by a show of piety.

Heydenreich wrongly tries to establish in the particular expressions a special reference to the peculiar nature of the heretics.

As the closing word, Paul adds the exhortation: καὶ τούτους ἀποτρέπου] ἀποτρέπου, ἅπ. λεγ. (1 Timothy 6:20 : ἐκτρέπεσθαι), is kindred in meaning with παραιτοῦ, 2 Timothy 2:23 : “from these things turn away, these things avoid.”

This exhortation shows that Paul in single phenomena of the day already recognised the approach of the καιροὶ χαλεποί which were to come fully in the future.


Verse 6

2 Timothy 3:6. In this verse the apostle passes on to definite facts in the present. We cannot but see that he is thinking of the heretics on whose ἀσέβεια he lays stress also in other passages; comp. 2 Timothy 3:8 (2 Timothy 2:16). Hofmann says that “Paul was thinking of people who wished to be considered, and pretended to be, on good terms with Timothy;” but there is no hint of this in the context. By similarity of disposition they belong already to the number of the godless men of the future; hence Paul says: ἐκ τούτων γάρ εἰσιν] γάρ gives the reason of the previous exhortation, as the apostle means to declare that men such as he has described already exist.

οἱ ἐνδύνοντες εἰς τὰς οἰκίας] ἐνδύνειν here, “enter, press into,” with a suggestion of secrecy; Luther: “who slip into houses here and there;” Bengel: irrepentes clanculum; in this sense the word is ἅπαξ λεγ.(46) The form of expression οἱ ἐνδύνοντες shows that this ἐνδύνειν is a characteristic of those of whom the apostle is speaking.

The purpose of this secret entering is given in the next words: καὶ αἰχ΄αλωτίζοντες γυναικάρια κ. τ. λ.] αἰχ΄αλωτίζειν, a verb belonging to later Greek: “make a prisoner of war;” it denotes here, getting complete possession of; the word is thoroughly apposite for describing the conduct of the founders of heretical sects.(47)

γυναικάρια] ἅπ. λεγ., the diminutive with a suggestion of contempt; “the contemptuous epithet indicates their weakness and proneness to temptation” (van Oosterzee).

The nature of these γυναικάρια is described in the following three participial clauses: σεσωρευμένα ἁμαρτίαις] σωρεύειν (Romans 12:20), “gather, heap up,” corresponds to the Latin cumulare: “cumulatae peccatis.”

ἀγόμενα ἐπιθυμίαις ποικίλαις (Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:18, ἄγεσθαι πνεύματι). Luther is inaccurate: “who go on with manifold lusts.” Their internal motive and spring of action are their manifold lusts; Chrysostom: τί ἐστι ποικίλαις; ἐνταῦθα πολλὰ ἠνίξατο, τὴν τρυφὴν, τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην, τὴν λαγνείαν. Comp. Titus 3:3.—2 Timothy 3:7. πάντοτε μανθάνοντα] Bengel adds the adverb: curiose. The incentive of their μανθάνειν was not the search after truth, but mere desire for entertainment, a longing for intellectual pastime (comp. the description of the Athenians, Acts 17:21); this longing makes them the prey of teachers who promise new wisdom. Hence it goes on: καὶ μηδέποτε εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν ἀληθείας ἐλθεῖν δυνάμενα] μηδέποτε is ἅπ. λεγ.; δυνάμενα is emphatic; they cannot attain to the truth, because the necessary conditions do not exist in their inner life. Chrysostom: ἐπειδὴ ἑαυτὰς κατέχωσαν ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις ἐκείναις καὶ τοῖς ἁμαρτήμασιν, ἐπωρώθη αὐτῶν διάνοια.

Mosheim thinks that the three participial clauses describe the three different classes of the γυναικάρια: (1) sinners, (2) seekers after happiness, (3) devotees; they rather denote various traits in the same persons, and “the very union of such traits is characteristic” (de Wette).

It is no matter of surprise that the heretics, to win more followers, turned their attentions to the fair sex; that has been done by heretics in all ages. It is a charge brought specially against the Gnostics by various writers. Irenaeus, 1. 13. 3, says of Marcus the Valentinian Gnostic: μάλιστα περὶ γυναῖκας ἀσχολεῖται; and Epiphanius, Haer. xxvi., expressly upbraids the Gnostics with ἐμπαίζειν τοῖς γυναικαρίοις and with ἀπατᾷν τὸ αὐτοῖς πειθόμενον γυναικεῖον γένος;(48) see Baur, p. 36. This, however, cannot be taken as a proof of the later composition of the epistle, all the less that many expressions in the descriptions of the Fathers show that they had this description in their thoughts.


Verse 8

2 Timothy 3:8. Further description of the heretics: ὃν τρόπον δὲ ἰαννῆς καὶ ἰαμβρῆς ἀντέστησαν ΄ωϋσεῖ] Paul here compares the heretics to the Egyptian Magi who are mentioned in Exodus 7. but not named. Origen (Tract. 35 in Matt.) thinks that the apostle extracted them from a liber secretus which bore the title “Jamnes et Mambres.” That is, however, doubtful; Theodoret’s supposition is more probable: τὰ μέντοι τούτων ὀνόματα οὐκ ἐκ τῆς θείας γραφῆς μεμάθηκεν θεῖος ἀπόστολος, ἀλλʼ ἐκ τῆς ἀγράφου τῶν ἰουδαίων διδασκαλίας. The names were a part of Jewish tradition from which they passed into the Talmudic and other Jewish writings; see Targum Jonathan, Exodus 7:11; Exodus 22:22. Even the Pythagorean Numenius in the second century mentioned them, as Origen (Contra Celsum, iv.) and Eusebius (Praep. Evangel. ix. chap. 8) inform us. “According to Jewish tradition, they are said to have been the sons of Balaam, and at first the teachers of Moses, but afterwards his chief opponents, and to have perished at last with the Egyptian army in the Red Sea;” see Heydenreich and Wetstein on this passage.

The correlation of ὃν τρόπονοὕτω does not necessarily place emphasis on the similarity of the manner of the act, but often only on the similarity of the act itself (comp. Matthew 23:37; Acts 7:28). Possibly, therefore, the heretics are compared with these sorcerers only because they both withstood the truth (so Plitt).

Possibly, also, it is because the resemblance lay in the heretics preaching the same thing as Timothy, just as the sorcerers did the same thing as Moses, the heretics and the sorcerers having the same purpose of striving against the truth (so Hofmann). Still the mention of the sorcerers at all is strange; hence we may suppose that the heretics by some more characteristic trait suggested the resemblance to the apostle’s mind, and that this trait was their use of magic arts, to which there is allusion made also in γόητες, 2 Timothy 3:13 (de Wette, Wiesinger, van Oosterzee(49)). The δέ not only marks the transition to a new thought, but also introduces something in contrast to what preceded: what they did they did with an appearance of piety, but in truth they were opposing the truth.

κατεφθαρμένοι τὸν νοῦν] The verb καταφθείρω ( ἅπ. λεγ.; in 2 Peter 2:12 it is the reading of the Rec., but there is more testimony for the simple verb) is synonymous with διαφθείρω, 1 Timothy 6:5.

ἀδόκιμοι περὶ τὴν πίστιν] Luther’s translation: “incapable of believing,” is inaccurate; nor is Beza’s explanation suitable: rejectanei, i.e. falsae et adulterinae doctrinae doctores, quos oporteat ab omnibus rejici. ἀδόκιμος is one who does not stand proof, and in connection with περὶ τὴν πίστιν one who does not stand proof in regard to faith: “not standing proof in respect of faith” (Matthies, de Wette); comp. 1 Timothy 1:19. The description here given of the heretics is the same as in 1 Timothy 6:5 : διεφθαρμένοι τὸν νοῦν καὶ ἀπεστερημένοι τῆς ἀληθείας.


Verse 9

2 Timothy 3:9. A ground of comfort.

ἀλλʼ οὐ προκόψουσιν ἐπὶ πλεῖον] This appears to stand in contradiction with 2 Timothy 3:13; 2 Timothy 2:16-17. Bengel remarks: non proficient amplius: non ita, ut alios seducant; quamquam ipsi et eorum similes proficient in pejus 2 Timothy 3:13. Saepe malitia, quum late non potest, profundius proficit. This, however, is not a satisfactory explanation, since νομὴν ἕξει, 2 Timothy 2:17, and πλανῶντες, 2 Timothy 3:13, point to the increasing extent of the heresy. Chrysostom, however, says rightly: κἂν πρότερον ἀνθήσῃ τὰ τῆς πλάνης, εἰς τέλος οὐ διαμένει. The contradiction exists only when the apostle’s words are wrongly pressed so as to contain a denial of every further extension of the heresy. For the present their influence is extending; but later it will come to an end; this does not contradict the apostle’s prophecy in 2 Timothy 3:1-5, since Paul does not say that the demoralization of men will be brought about by the heretics of whom he is thinking here. Hofmann sees no apparent contradiction, as he supposes that Paul in the passages mentioned is not speaking of the same people; but in this he is wrong, since both the context and the expression show that those mentioned in 2 Timothy 3:13 are the same as those in 2 Timothy 3:6-9.

The apostle confirms the thought expressed by adding the words: γὰρ ἄνοια αὐτῶν ἔκδηλος ἔσται πᾶσιν] The ἄνοια (= “want of judgment, senselessness”) of the heretics does not refer so much to their doctrines opposed to the truth, as to their conduct described in 2 Timothy 3:6.

ἔκδηλος ( ἅπ. λεγ.) … ὡς καὶ ἐκείνων ἐγένετο] “as they were put to shame before Moses,” Exodus 8:18 f., Exodus 9:11 (de Wette).


Verse 10-11

2 Timothy 3:10-11. As a contrast to the heresy, the apostle now describes Timothy’s former conduct, for the purpose of inciting him to show a like fidelity still.

σὺ δὲ παρηκολούθησας] The verb denotes neither that he was an actual witness (Chrysostom: τούτων σὺ μάρτυς; so, too, Theophylact, Oecumenius, Erasmus, and others;—this exposition is unsuitable, since these events, 2 Timothy 3:11, in the apostle’s life had taken place before Timothy’s conversion), nor even that the knowledge was gained through others (Luther: “thou hast come to know”). παρακολουθεῖν means “follow,” either theoretically, as in Luke 1:3 (“of intellectual following after, by which the knowledge of a thing is gained,” Meyer on the passage), or practically, as in 1 Timothy 4:6. Here it can only have the latter meaning. Here, however, as in 1 Timothy 4:6, it is not equivalent to imitari, follow as a pattern (de Wette), for that does not agree with διωγμοῖς (2 Timothy 3:11), but the apostle’s διδασκαλία, ἀγωγὴ κ. τ. λ. are regarded as guides by which Timothy is to steer his course through life (so also van Oosterzee, Hofmann, Otto(50)). Wiesinger explains it: “thou hast let thyself be moved by my διδασκαλία κ. τ. λ. to join thyself to me.” But this explanation unjustifiably limits the παρακολουθεῖν to “the act by which Timothy first joined himself to the apostle;” further, this notion of joining himself is imported; and finally, it would seem superfluous to enumerate the particular points if they are only to be understood as motives for Timothy’s joining himself to the apostle.

The aorist says that Timothy followed the apostle before; there is no indication whether he did so later. This earlier period was, of course, the time when he was the apostle’s συνεργός. The perfect would have meant that Timothy continued to do so.

΄ου τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ] comp. 1 Timothy 4:6.

τῇ ἀγωγῇ] With this and the following words ΄ου is to be supplied. Mack wrongly says that ΄ου is not to be supplied, and that ἀγωγή and the terms following do not refer to Paul, but to Timothy: “thou hast followed my doctrine in behaviour,” etc. Apart from the unnatural construction, this view is decidedly opposed by 2 Timothy 3:11, for it is quite untenable to suppose that Timothy in the places named suffered persecution just as Paul did.

ἀγωγή ( ἅπ. λεγ.) in classic Greek is both transitive, “the guidance,” and intransitive, “mode of life,” ratio vivendi. The latter meaning (see Esther 2:20) should here be retained; the word cannot of itself mean guidance of the church, as some interpret it. Luther says well: “my manner.”

τῇ προθέσει] cf. Acts 11:23, “the purpose on which the mode of life is founded.”

τῇ πίστει] not “fidelity in office,” nor “conscientiousness,” but “faith.”

τῇ ΄ακροθυ΄ίᾳ κ. τ. λ.] The difference between ΄ακροθυ΄ία and ὑπο΄ονή is, that the former is applied to one who is not irritated, the latter to one who is not discouraged.—2 Timothy 3:11. τοῖς διωγ΄οῖς, τοῖς παθή΄ασιν] The transition to these is formed by ὑπο΄ονή. The idea of διωγ΄οῖς is expanded by adding παθή΄ασιν. The apostle is thinking specially of his persecutions, and his reason is that Timothy shrank to a certain extent from suffering; comp. 2 Timothy 1:6-8.

οἷά ΄οι ἐγένοντο ( ἐγένετο)] οἷα is distinguished from the relative , inasmuch as it points to the nature of the παθή΄ατα; would have limited παθή΄ασιν to what the apostle had to endure in Antioch, etc.; but οἷα indicates that he means by παθή΄ασιν all sufferings of the same nature as those endured in Antioch, etc. This is the case also with οἵους farther on. The sufferings endured in Antioch, etc., are mentioned because they took place at the time when Timothy was adopted by Paul as his colleague.

In the next words: οἵους διωγ΄οὺς ὑπήνεγκα, the verb is emphatic; it was important, when directing Timothy to the example given him, to remind him that the persecutions had been borne undauntedly—and then that the Lord had granted rescue from them all; hence he continues: καὶ ἐκ πάντων ΄ε ἐρύσατο κύριος. Erasmus, Flatt, Mack, Heydenreich unnecessarily take the sentence: οἵιυς ὑπήνεγκα, as a touching appeal; Hofmann, both this sentence and the preceding one: οἷά ΄οι ἐγένετο κ. τ. λ. This would only be an unsuitable interruption of the quiet train of thought.(51)

ὑποφέρειν denotes persevering, stedfast endurance, 1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 Peter 2:17.

καὶ ἐκ πάντων με κ. τ. λ.] Chrysostom: ἀμφότερα παρακλήσεως, ὅτι καὶ ἐγὼ προθυμίαν παρειχόμην γενναίαν, καὶ οὐκ ἐγκατελείφθην. He mentions his sufferings, and his rescue from them, that he may encourage Timothy to be ready to suffer for Christ’s sake. It is to be observed that με ἐρύσατο refers not only to rescue from bodily danger, but also to rescue from the danger of being unfaithful to his calling, so that out of his sufferings he had issued without hurt to body or soul; comp. 2 Timothy 4:17.


Verse 12

2 Timothy 3:12. The principle here laid down is intended, like the mention of Timothy’s conduct in 2 Timothy 3:11, to incite Timothy to willing endurance of suffering.

καὶ πάντες δέ] καὶδέ, see 1 Timothy 3:10.

οἱ θέλοντες] is here emphatic: “they whose thoughts are thus directed.”

ζῆν εὐσεβῶς] the adverb εὐσεβῶς only here and in Titus 2:12.

ἐν χριστῷ ἰησοῦ] denotes the pious life as Christian in its nature; but it is to be observed that, according to the apostolic view, true εὐσέβεια is possible only in communion with Christ. Bengel: extra Jesum Christum nulla pietas. Hofmann unsuitably remarks that the emphasis should not be on ἐν χρ. ἰησ., but on εὐσεβῶς, for ζῆν εὐσεβῶς ἐν χρ. ἰησ. forms only one idea: that of the Christian life of piety.

διωχθήσονται] expresses the certainty: Christian piety cannot continue without persecution, because the world is hostile to the kingdom of God; comp. John 15:19-20; Matthew 10:22; Matthew 10:38, and other passages. Wiesinger rightly remarks: “Not to comfort himself does the apostle say this, but to show that his experience was a universal one, as something necessarily bound up with εὐσεβῶς ζῆν,” and, it should be added, to give encouragement to Timothy.


Verse 13

2 Timothy 3:13. Matthies (with whom Wiesinger agrees) thus states the connection between this and the preceding verses: “Quite different is it with evil men, who, instead of suffering for the truth, proceed always farther in their wickedness;” but there is no real opposition in the two thoughts thus opposed.(52) The apostle here continues the description of the heretics which was interrupted at 2 Timothy 3:10; in contrast with οἱ θέλοντες εὐσεβῶς ζῆν, he calls them πονηροὶ ἄνθρωποι καὶ γόητες, and says of them, προκόπτειν ἐπὶ τὸ χεῖρον, which is all the more suitable that it was the very reason why persecution was threatening the honest disciples of Christ, and with them Timothy.

πονηροὶ δὲ ἄνθρωποι] As the article is wanting, the thought is quite general, but καὶ γόητες clearly shows that the heretics mentioned above are specially meant (in opposition to Hofmann). Paul gives this name to the heretics, with reference to 2 Timothy 3:8, where he compared them to the Egyptian sorcerers. The word γόης is ἅπ. λεγ. ( γοητεία, 2 Maccabees 12:24); it is equivalent to μάγος, Acts 13:6; Acts 13:8 (comp., too, Acts 8:9; Acts 8:11). Hofmann generalizes the idea to that of a traitor; but this is all the more arbitrary, that the expression is undoubtedly an allusion to 2 Timothy 3:8.

προκόψουσιν ἐπὶ τὸ χεῖρον] denotes a greater degree of wickedness, while 2 Timothy 3:9 refers to the increase in the extent of its influence.

How this increase of wickedness comes to pass, is told by the words πλανῶντες καὶ πλανώμενοι. Bengel and Heydenreich make πλανῶντες and γόητες, πλανώμενοι and πονηροί parallel to each other; for this, however, there is no ground. Even the meaning of πλανώμενοι is against the parallel, for it is neither transitive: “leading astray” (Matthies), nor middle: qui se seducendos permittunt (Bengel), nor even intransitive: “going astray” (Hofmann); it is purely passive: “being led astray” (Luther), or otherwise it would have been put first. He who leads others astray is himself led astray.


Verse 14

2 Timothy 3:14. To the good testimony given to] Timothy by Paul in 2 Timothy 3:10, there is added the exhortation to stand stedfast in the truth.

σὺ δέ] said in opposition to the heretics.

μένε ἐν οἷς ἔμαθες] μένε, see 1 Timothy 2:15; John 8:31.

ἐν οἷς is equivalent to ἐν τούτοις, .

ἔμαθες] comp. 2 Timothy 2:2.

καί] (sc. not ἐν οἶς, as Heydenreich suggests) ἐπιστώθης] not = quae tibi concredita sunt (Beza, Luther: “and is entrusted to thee”); for πιστόω does not mean “entrust to,” but confirmare. It is rightly interpreted by the Greek expositors, with whom also de Wette and Wiesinger agree; Theophylact: μετὰ πληροφορίας ἔμαθες; properly, “of which thou hast been assured,” i.e. of which thou hast been convinced for certain;(53) it serves to give “more force to ἔμαθες” (Wiesinger), by declaring that Timothy was also convinced of the truth of what he learnt (so, too, van Oosterzee, Plitt, Hofmann).

To strengthen the exhortation, Paul reminds Timothy of those from whom he learnt the truths of the gospel: εἰδὼς παρὰ τίνων ἔ΄αθες] εἰδὼς, see 2 Timothy 2:23.

παρὰ τίνων] With the usual reading παρὰ τίνος, which Hofmann prefers, τίνος is not, as some think, Christ, but the apostle as teacher; but still it would be strange for Paul not to name himself directly and without periphrasis, as he usually does when speaking of himself; comp. 2 Timothy 2:2. If τίνων be the correct reading, then these teachers cannot be the πολλοὶ ΄άρτυρες mentioned in 2 Timothy 2:2 (Matthies), nor Paul and Barnabas (according to Acts 16:1 comp. with Acts 14:6 ff., Grotius); but only, as is shown by ἀπὸ βρέφους following, the grandmother and mother of Timothy, whose faith the apostle expressly mentions, 2 Timothy 1:5 (so, too, van Oosterzee and Plitt).

Timothy had already been instructed in the truth of the gospel before Paul met with him, nay, even before this instruction he had been carefully made acquainted with the holy Scriptures. This very fact, that from childhood he had been under the influence of divine truth and been nourished by the bread of life, was to be an incentive to him to adhere faithfully to this word of truth.


Verse 15

2 Timothy 3:15. καὶ ὅτι] Most expositors, including Wiesinger, Plitt, and Hofmann (Schriftbew. I. pp. 675 f., and so also in his commentary), assume that εἰδώς and ὅτιοἶδας are co-ordinate sentences giving the reason why. In justification of this irregular construction, Bengel directs us to John 2:24-25; Acts 22:29; but wrongly.(54)

Beza, on the other hand, gives the right construction by making καὶ ὅτι on dependent on εἰδώς: sciens a quo didiceris, teque a puero sacras literas novisse. This, too, de Wette (van Oosterzee agreeing with him) adopts, correctly remarking that εἰδώς usually denotes not only knowledge, but also reflection.

ἀπὸ βρέφους τὰ ἱερὰ γράμματα οἶδας] ἀπὸ βρέφονς, Mark 9:21 : παιδιόθεν. Chrysostom: ἐκ πεώτης ἡλικίας; comp. Antip. Th. 32: ἐκ βρέθεος. ἀπὸ βρέφους stands first because it is emphatic; it points back to παρὰ τίων ἔμαθες. In order that he may continue in what he has learned, Timothy is to remember his teacher, and also that he has known the holy Scriptures from childhood.

τὰ ἱερὰ γράμματα] This name for the O. T. only occurs here; in John 7:15 without ἱερά; the more usual name is at αἱ γραφαί, with and without ἅγιαι. De Wette’s conjecture is quite arbitrary, that the author of the epistle was also thinking here of some writings of the N. T.

τὰ δυνάμενά σε σοφίσαι εἰς σωτηρίαν] τὰ δυνάμενα is present and not preterite (“quae poterant,” Bengel); it tells us of a permanent characteristic of the O. T. (de Wette, Wiesinger). σοφίζειν is equivalent to sapientem reddere; to explain the word as synonymous with διδάσκειν is inaccurate. When joined with εἰς σωτηρίαν it is usually taken in the sense: “teach the way to holiness;” but, as Paul adds διὰ πίστεως κ. τ. λ., which cannot be joined immediately with σωτηρίαν (= τὴν διὰ σωτηρ.), but belongs to σοφίσαι, that interpretation is here unsuitable; he who has faith is already on the way to σωτηρία, or rather is in possession of the σωτηρία. We must therefore adhere to the full signification of σωφίζειν; so that he is speaking here not of the first instruction in salvation, but of the ever deepening knowledge of it, how that furthers the σωτηρία (so, too, Wiesinger, van Oosterzee, Plitt).

διὰ πίστεως τῆς ἐν χρ. ἰησοῦ] comp. 1 Timothy 3:13. Wiesinger rightly remarks that these words are not to be taken as giving the means immanent in the Scriptures, but “contain the necessary condition attached to the use of the O. T.” (de Wette). Hofmann asserts that σοφ. εἰς σωτηρίαν only denotes an instruction, “giving complete acquaintance with salvation;” for “in order that Timothy might remain in what he had learnt, it was only necessary for the Scripture to teach what he knew.” But what any one already knows does not require still to be taught to him; and instruction leading on to knowledge ever more complete, does not hinder him from abiding in what he has already learnt. According to Hofmann, διὰ πίστεως is to be joined with σωτηρίαν, because—as he strangely enough asserts—“instruction by means of faith is a chimera” (!).


Verse 16

2 Timothy 3:16. Reason given for the last thought.

πᾶσα γραφὴ θεόπνευστος καὶ ὠφέλιμος πρὸς κ. τ. λ.] πᾶσα γραφή, not: “the whole of Scripture” (Beza: tota scriptura, i. e. Canon Hebraeorum), but “every Scripture;” or, still better, “all Scripture.”

θεόπνευστος] ἅπ. λεγ.; the explanation of this word, which also in classic Greek is applied to seers and poets, is specially aided by the passage in 2 Peter 1:21 : ὑπὸ πνεύματος ἁγίου φερόμενοι ἐλάλησαν οἱ ἅγιοι θεοῦ ἄνθρωποι.

In various old versions (Syr. Vulg.; so also in Clement, Origen, Tertullian, etc.) καί is wanting; and Luther did not express it in his translation; in that case θεόπν. is clearly an attribute belonging to the subject; Luther: “all Scripture inspired by God is.” With the correct reading, however, θεόπν. may be a predicate; so Bengel: est haec pars non subjecti (quam enim scripturam dicat Paulus, per se patet), sed praedicati; so, too, Matthies, de Wette, Wiesinger, van Oosterzee, and others. Other expositors, again, such as Grotius, Rosenmüller, Heinrichs, Plitt, Hofmann, take θεόπνευστος as an attribute of the subject, even with this reading, and explain καί as “also.” This construction is the right one. On the one hand, it is ungrammatical to explain πᾶσα γραφή by “the whole of Scripture.” Wiesinger argues against this by appealing to Ephesians 2:21 and to Hebrews 3:3; see Meyer on the one passage and Delitzsch on the other, where, too, Lünemann translates: “every house.”(55) Wiesinger argues also that γραφή is regarded as a proper name, which he tries to prove by 2 Peter 1:20 and John 7:15; but, though a substantive is used once without an article, it does not follow that it has the signification of a proper name (on John 7:15, comp. Meyer). On the other hand, this sentence does not properly give a reason for the preceding thought (Wiesinger), but rather confirms it, and hence there was no reason for directing attention to the fact that the whole of Scripture is θεόπνευστος. There was no doubt on that point (viz. that the whole of Scripture and not a part of it was inspired by God), but on the point whether the Scriptures as θεόπνευστοι are also ( καί serves to confirm) ὠφέλιμοι. There is no ground for asserting that, with this view, there could not have been an ellipse of ἐστιν (Wiesinger).

πρὸς διδασκαλίαν κ. τ. λ.] Heydenreich thinks that the apostle is not speaking here of the profitableness of Scripture in general and for all Christians, but of its utility to teachers of religion. So also Hofmann: “The sentence does not say of what service Holy Scripture is to him who reads it, but what use can be made of it by him who teaches.” This view, however, is wrong; neither in 2 Timothy 3:14 nor 2 Timothy 3:15 is there anything said regarding Timothy’s work in teaching; the apostle does not pass on to this point till the next chapter, 2 Timothy 3:17 notwithstanding.

πρὸς διδασκ.; Holy Scripture is profitable for teaching by advancing us in knowledge; πρὸς ἔλεγχον (or ἐλεγμόν), by convincing us of sin and rebuking us on account of sin. Theodoret: ἐλέγχει γὰρ ἡμῶν τὸν παράνομον βίον. Chrysostom understands it only of the conviction of error; so, too, Bengel: convincit etiam in errore et praejudicio versantes; Heydenreich, too, refers it, like διδασκαλία, only to what is theoretical. ἐλέγχειν certainly does occur in this sense, Titus 1:9; Titus 1:13, but it is more frequently used of what is practical, 1 Timothy 5:20; Titus 2:15.

πρὸς ἐπανόρθωσιν] by working amendment in us. Theodoret: παρακαλεῖ καὶ τοὺς παρατραπέντας ἐπανελθεῖν εἰς τὴν εὐθείαν ὁδόν;

ἐπανορθ. ( ἅπ. λεγ.) is synonymous with νουθεσία, 1 Corinthians 10:11.

πρὸς παιδείαν τὴν ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ] by advancing us in the further development of the Christian life. Luther is not wrong in translating παιδεία by “correction,” inasmuch as in N. T. usage it is applied to the education which not only developes the existing good, but also counteracts existing evil. δικαιοσύνη: “the Christian life of piety.”

Theodoret: ἐκπαιδεύει ἡμᾶς τὰ εἴδη τῆς ἀρετῆς.

There is an obvious climax in the series of these thoughts.


Verse 17

2 Timothy 3:17. ἵνα declares the purpose which Scripture is to serve.

ἄρτιος τοῦ θεοῦ ἄνθρωπος] ἄρτιος (literally, “adapted”) is a ἅπ. λεγ., equivalent to τέλειος, Colossians 1:28, “perfect;” according to Hofmann: “in suitable condition,” which, however, agrees with the notion of perfection.

τοῦ θεοῦ ἄνθρωπος] is mostly understood by expositors to denote those entrusted with the office of evangelist, and is referred specially to Timothy. The latter point is clearly wrong, since 2 Timothy 3:16 is general in sense; the apostle speaks here not of Timothy only, but of every one who is an ἄνθρ. τ. θεοῦ. Even although Timothy is so named in 1 Timothy 6:11 with reference to his office, it does not follow that here, where the thought is quite general, it is a name for the office; every believing Christian by his relation to God (van Oosterzee: “he who by the Holy Spirit is born of God and is related to God”) may receive the same name.

πρὸς πᾶν ἔργον ἀγαθὸν ἐξηρτισμένος] a more precise definition of ἄρτιος.

πᾶν ἔργ. ἀγ. is also, for the most part, understood to have an official reference. Bengel: genera talium operum enumerantur 2 Timothy 3:16; nam homo Dei debet docere, convincere, corrigere, instituere 2 Timothy 4:2. But this is wrong; it is rather to be taken quite generally (Wiesinger, van Oosterzee; de Wette differs). 2 Timothy 3:16 does not tell for what purpose Scripture may be used with others, but what is its influence on one who occupies himself with it; and though 2 Timothy 4:2 does deal with Timothy’s official work, that does not prove that πᾶν ἔργ. ἀγ. is only to be limited to this special thought.

ἐξηρτιομένος] equipped, Luther: “skilled.”

The same word occurs in Acts 21:5, but in another connection (see Meyer on the passage); corresponding to it we find κατηρτισμένος in Luke 6:40 and other passages.

 


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 3:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/2-timothy-3.html. 1832.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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