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Bible Commentaries

Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament
2 Timothy 2

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-7

Endure hardships as a good soldier

2 Timothy 2:1-7

2Ti_2:1. ‘My son’ indicates the close relationship between these two servants of Christ and expresses the deep affection Paul had for Timothy. We are members of his family, and we love one another. ‘Be strong,’ inwardly and outwardly, in the grace of Christ. Be rooted and grounded in it, have a full persuasion of your interest in it, preach it boldly, and defend it bravely. Oppose every error and false teacher. Grace comes from Christ alone; it is to be found only in him; and what he gives in his Son, he will maintain and strengthen by his Spirit. The flesh is sluggish, and we must frequently be aroused and encouraged (Hebrews 3:13; Hebrews 10:24-25).

2 Timothy 2:2. The things Timothy had heard from Paul were the doctrines of the gospel, the mysteries of the grace of God, the walk and works of faith, and justification by faith alone apart from works of the law. This was not Paul's theology and teaching ALONE, but was confirmed by many witnesses –Moses and the prophets, Christ Jesus our Lord and Saviour, and all the other apostles and witnesses of his grace and glory (Acts 10:43; 1 John 1:1-3).

‘Commit this gospel to competent, capable, and faithful men,’ men who are not only believers in Christ and have received the grace of God into their hearts, but men who will preach it boldly, declare the whole counsel of God, and will not be turned aside by covetousness, fear, nor the praise of men. If future generations are to hear the gospel, we must pass the torch on to faithful young men who will continue the ministry of the gospel.

2 Timothy 2:3. It is certain that those who believe and preach the gospel of God's grace shall suffer persecution, trial, and affliction for the sake of the gospel (John 16:33; John 15:18-20; 2 Timothy 3:12-14). Christ is our Captain and we are his warriors, engaged in the warfare against the forces of evil! We must expect to be attacked by the enemy and put to a stern test by our adversaries. These hardships and trials are to be borne patiently and courageously for the glory of our Lord.

2 Timothy 2:4. This verse is applicable to every believer. As soon as a soldier enrolls himself under a general, he leaves his affairs and thinks of nothing but war. The war is first and foremost; and the soldier must relinquish all hindrances, alliances, and employments of the world that would interfere with his devotion to his general and the victory of his cause. But the main reference is to ministers of the gospel, who are gospel preachers and are not to be involved and implicated in worldly affairs, politics, secular businesses and cares (1 Corinthians 9:13-14; 1 Corinthians 2:2). Our chief concern is pleasing Christ, making Christ known, and honoring Christ.

2 Timothy 2:5. If a man competes in a sporting event such as running, jumping, or wrestling, he is not acclaimed a winner unless he competes according to the rules and finishes the required distance or time set. Even so, no man who calls himself a Christian or a minister can expect the crown of life unless he runs the race set before him according to the word of God, looking to Christ alone, pressing through all hardships and barriers to the end of the race (Hebrews 3:6; Hebrews 12:1-2).

2 Timothy 2:6. To interpret this verse correctly, we must examine and stay with the context. The farmer does not gather fruits until he has first plowed, sowed the seed, and labored in the field. ‘The farmer must labor before of the fruits partaking’ is the better translation. As laborers together with Christ, we must be faithful in the preaching of the gospel, witnessing, enduring hardships and trials; and that to the end if we are to sit down in the kingdom of heaven, take our rest, and enjoy the crown of glory. All three of these illustrations (soldier, athlete, farmer) are encouraging us to faithfulness, devotion, consecration, and perseverance in the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

2 Timothy 2:7. ‘Consider what I say.’ Be strong in the grace of Christ, commit the truth of the gospel to faithful men, endure trials and hardship as a good soldier of Christ, persevere in the ministry according to the rules and word of God as a soldier, runner, and farmer. May the Lord give you an understanding of these things. No man has understanding of the mysteries of grace in himself; this is the gift of God (1 Corinthians 2:7-10).


Verses 8-14

Persecution for Christ’s sake

2 Timothy 2:8-14

2Ti_2:8. Paul had exhorted Timothy to hold fast the pattern of sound words, to be strong in the gospel of grace, to endure hardness as a good soldier, and to commit the truth to faithful men who shall be able to teach others. In this verse, he especially mentions that part of his doctrine which was under heavy attack from Satan–that Jesus Christ was born of the seed of David and arose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:12-19). Christ our God really came to earth in the flesh, was truly man, was truly the Messiah, and died on the cross for our sins. He arose from the dead, which not only implies that he died but that his sin-offering and sacrifice was accepted by the Father, who raised him and exalted him to his right hand, where he is our Mediator. This is the fundamental truth of greatest importance to our faith, which Satan and his ministers seek to discredit (Acts 4:1-3; Acts 17:18; Acts 17:32; Acts 23:6; Acts 24:14-15). Paul calls it ‘my gospel’ because he was saved by it, entrusted with it, committed to it, and distinguishes it from the gospel of the false teachers.

2 Timothy 2:9. For the sake of that gospel, I am suffering afflictions, put in prison, and even wearing chains like a common criminal (2 Corinthians 11:23-28); but the word of God is not chained nor imprisoned. Men may be fettered and bound for the sake of the gospel, but persecution becomes the means for spreading the gospel (Philippians 1:12-13) and encouraging others to preach it (Acts 8:1-4). When men try to extinguish the light of the gospel, it burns more brightly!

2 Timothy 2:10. There is an elect people, chosen by God and given to Christ (John 6:37-39; John 17:2; John 17:9), for whom Christ suffered and died. It is on their account that the gospel is sent, preached, and published in this world (John 10:24-28; Romans 10:13-14). For the sake of God's elect, ministers are called and qualified; so, whatever suffering, afflictions, or reproach these ministers are called upon to bear, they do so cheerfully if it promotes the salvation of the Lord's church. We will go to jail to preach to a jailer, or to the hospital to preach to a patient, or to a leper colony to call one of his own. Our goal is the salvation and eternal glory of Christ and his church, so whatever we endure here is nothing (Romans 8:18).

2 Timothy 2:11. ‘It is a faithful saying.’ Paul uses this phrase frequently in matters of great importance and when what he is about to say is opposite to the feelings of the flesh. Nothing is more opposite to the thoughts of men or the feelings of the flesh than that we must die in order to live or that life in the Spirit demands death in the flesh. It is true that when Christ died, we died with him as our representative and we are alive to God forevermore. But there is a daily dying to this world, to our flesh, to those things which interrupt our fellowship and communion with him, and a willingness to even lay down our lives for the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:7-11). As far as this world, its glories, its relationships, and its advantages are concerned, we are dead men (Galatians 6:14).

2 Timothy 2:12. If we really love Christ, are called by his grace, and are partakers of his blessings, we shall also be called upon to endure reproach, loss of friends, persecution, and maybe even death (John 16:33; John 15:18-21; 2 Timothy 3:12). But those who are faithful in the gospel shall enjoy gospel benefits (Matthew 10:40-42; Matthew 19:29). However, if we recant, disown, and deny Christ out of the fear of men, or to win the favor of men, or to avoid persecution for the sake of the word, Christ shall disown and deny us (Luke 9:26; Matthew 13:20-21).

2 Timothy 2:13. Most writers agree that the meaning is that our unbelief and denial of Christ takes nothing from the Son of God nor from his glory; he stands in no need of our confession. Let those deny Christ who will; he remains unchanged. Christ is not like men who are as changeable as the wind. He will abide faithful to his covenant, to his word of promise, and to his word of threatenings (Mark 16:15-16). He cannot go contrary to his word nor his nature; for that would be to deny himself, which is not possible. Mr. Gill suggests that he may be speaking of believers whose faith is sometimes quite low, but Christ is faithful to his covenant engagements for them and will not suffer them to finally fall away. He is ever the same to them in love, mercy, and grace.

2 Timothy 2:14. Tell the people of God these things which I have showed to you; and charge them in the presence of God that they avoid controversy over words of no profit (useless debates over doubtful subjects) which does no good but upsets and undermines the faith of the hearers.


Verses 15-19

Rightly dividing the word of truth

2 Timothy 2:15-19

2Ti_2:15. Those who study the word to please men, to boast of their knowledge of theology and Bible mysteries or to win the applause of men are not the servants of Christ! Sometimes those who are approved of by men are disapproved of by God. There is nothing that will check a foolish eagerness for man's approval and a personal display of so-called knowledge more than remembering that we must give an account to God alone (Hebrews 13:17; 2 Corinthians 5:9). Therefore, we study, labour, preach and declare the gospel as in the sight of God, seeking only his approval!

The study and ministry of the word is a work that requires diligence, application and sincerity, and for which no man is sufficient without the grace of God. Those who are employed in it are laborers together with God and are worthy of respect and honour. If they are faithful, bold and diligent in their study and ministry, they need not be ashamed, either before men or their Master. Those who play at preaching and are covetous of honour, applause and possessions should be ashamed now and will be in that day!

‘Rightly dividing the word of truth’ is rightly handling, skillfully teaching and correctly interpreting the scriptures in their relation to other scriptures (concerning Christ, his person and work, the law and the gospel) and being able to give both milk and meat to feed the babes, the young men and the elders (2 Peter 1:20-21; Acts 10:43; Luke 24:44-45; Acts 20:20; Acts 20:27; 1 Corinthians 3:2).

2 Timothy 2:16. ‘Be diligent in imparting to your hearers solid instructions, doctrines and teaching. Aim at edifying, not entertaining!’ We are not to amaze and amuse men, but to instruct them in the things of Christ. Therefore, avoid vain, empty, useless rambling, empty talk and speculation. Those who are not content with the simplicity of the gospel turn it into profane philosophy, aiming at applause rather than the profit of the church (1 Corinthians 2:1-5; 1 Corinthians 1:17-24). We do not need novelties of words, high-sounding phrases and modern criticisms; these only lead men into more ungodliness. We need the word of our Lord preached as it is to men as they are!

2 Timothy 2:17. Paul compares the errors and heresies of false teachers to gangrene. If it is not cut out, it will spread to all of the adjoining parts until it destroys the man. These false teachers and their errors are to be opposed and those infected with them are to be cut off lest they corrupt the whole church.

2 Timothy 2:18. These two persons fell from the truth and went astray claiming that there was no future resurrection of the dead. Some think that they taught that there is no resurrection except spiritual resurrection or regeneration. Some think that they taught that parents live again in their children, whatever they taught, it was contrary to the scriptures and undermined the faith of some. These errors must be rooted up and out! (Titus 1:13-14; 1 Timothy 1:19-20; 1 Timothy 4:16.)

2 Timothy 2:19. We know too well (by experience) how much trouble and scandal is produced by the apostasy and falling away of those who at one time professed faith in Christ. This is especially true in the case of those who were preachers, elders, and leaders in the church. A man or woman who has been regarded as a pillar in the church cannot depart from the gospel without involving others in his or her ruin, especially the weak. ‘Nevertheless,’ there is no reason why believers should lose heart and be over-disturbed, although they see people fall whom they thought to be strong.

‘The foundation of God standeth sure.’ That faith (which is the faith of God's elect) is the operation of God, is the gift of his grace, has Christ as its author, finisher and object and is firm and immovable as a foundation laid by God! It stands sure, being supported by the power of God and the intercession of Christ, and cannot be overthrown by Satan, false teachers or trials of life (Romans 8:28-31; Romans 8:38-39).

The seal or stamp put on the elect of God is ‘The Lord knows them.’ He chose them, wrote their names in his book and will never suffer them to perish (Philippians 4:3; Philippians 1:6; John 6:37-39). ‘Let everyone who loves and calls upon the name of Christ in sincerity depart from iniquity’ – both doctrinal and practical iniquity. We have a gospel to believe, preach and adorn. We have a beloved Master to love, trust and glorify in our attitude, actions and words. To call on his name is also to be called by his name as a woman is married to a man and is called by his name!


Verses 20-26

A good minister of Christ Jesus

2 Timothy 2:20-26

2Ti_2:20. It grieves every believer to see those who have made a profession of faith in Christ, who put on a show of piety and zeal, who even preached and taught the word to fall away from grace, the gospel, and the fellowship of the saints. However, Paul's object is to show that we ought not be amazed, unduly disturbed, nor think it strange that tares are mixed with wheat, dead branches are on every tree, and hypocrites are present in the church.

In a palace there are pieces of furniture and articles which serve noble purposes and others which serve baser and sordid purposes. There are vessels of beauty, and there are vessels of clay and wood which have no beauty. In the church there are men and women in whom the beauty and glory of Christ are seen. There are also some who do not reflect the grace of Christ but rather bring shame and reproach upon him and the church.

2 Timothy 2:21. If a man stays away from the company, the heresies, the errors, and the influences of these dishonorable vessels, he can be an honorable and useful vessel, set apart by God, filled with the spirit of grace, truth, and love, useful to the Master for witnessing, teaching, and helping others in the household of faith. But evil communication and companions corrupt good manners. Association and fellowship with unregenerate, murmuring, indifferent, troublemakers in the church have a corrupting influence (Rom. 16-17, 18).

2 Timothy 2:22. ‘Flee youthful lusts.’ It is true that Timothy and all young people must and will avoid the lusts of uncleanness, lasciviousness, and worldliness; but staying with the subject and context, this is not Paul's meaning. He is speaking of such lusts as are apt to entice young ministers and leaders; such as vain glory, popular applause, seeking and having pre-eminence, and becoming involved in disputes, debates, and divisions. If some debate arises, problem is presented, or contention appears, young men more quickly grow heated, are more easily irritated, and blunder through lack of experience; they are given to rashness. Flee this!

Follow after conformity to the will of God and exhibit faith, love, and peace with all of the believers who call on the name of the Lord in sincerity and truth. There are enough disturbers of the church from outside without having strife and division from within!

2 Timothy 2:23. Foolish and ignorant controversies over matters that do not edify the church and are not clearly resolved by the word of God are to be avoided. These speculations and arguments over secret mysteries, silly trifles, and unprofitable traditions only serve to foster strife and breed quarrels.

2 Timothy 2:24. The servant of the Lord, especially the minister of the word, ought not to strive and contend about words to no profit! He ought to strive for the faith of the gospel. To be quarrelsome and contentious over mere words, customs, and doctrines to show his intelligence, mastery, and piety is to defeat the very purpose of his office. He is to be kind, mild-tempered, and gentle to all men, preserving the bond of peace. He must be a skilled and suitable teacher, patient, and willing to bear reproach (2 Corinthians 2:15-17; 2 Corinthians 3:5-7).

2 Timothy 2:25. Let the minister learn to correct with courtesy and gentleness those who oppose the word of God, and in turn oppose ‘themselves;’ for any man who opposes truth does so to his own ruin and unhappiness. We must be firm in the truth, yet tender in the spirit with our opponents in the hope that God will grant to them repentance and an understanding of the word. Don't build a wall so high between you and an opponent that he is prevented from repenting and returning without embarrassment and humiliation. It is only by God's grace that we stand.

2 Timothy 2:26. Our desire and objective in ministering the truth is that men might ‘come to themselves’ as the prodigal, that they might ‘awake out of the sleep of death’ and be restored to ‘their right mind.’ Rebels are like drunken men, intoxicated with error and taken captive by Satan to do his will. Only the Son can make us free. Let us pray for those who will not pray themselves (Romans 10:1).

 


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Bibliography Information
Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:4". Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hms/2-timothy-2.html. 2013.

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Friday, December 6th, 2019
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