2 TIMOTHY: PAUL’S LAST WORD
The Apostle Paul
Attributed to Rembrandt, circa 1657, Wikimedia Commons, public domain
All Scripture quotations in this publication are from the holy Bible, New International Version, except where noted (published by Zondervan Corporation, copyright, 1985)
© 2013 Jim Gerrish
2 TIMOTHY INTRODUCTION
First Timothy and Titus were likely written from somewhere in Macedonia by the Apostle Paul, but Second Timothy was no doubt written by him from Rome. Scholars are almost unanimous that this last epistle was written from this great capital city. 1 It was surely Paul’s last communication to the churches. However, the time and circumstances of this last letter continue to be much debated.
In Acts 28:30-31, Luke mentions that Paul was imprisoned for two years in Rome. This would have fallen into the period of AD 61-63. It was more of a “house arrest” than an actual imprisonment, and he was allowed to stay in his own rented dwelling. Paul was also given a great deal of freedom to preach and minister. He certainly had the freedom to receive guests and to write what we know as the “Prison Epistles” of Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians and Philemon.
It is clear from Scripture that Paul felt he would be quickly released from his house arrest (Phil. 2:23-24). He made some firm plans to visit ministers and churches after his expected release (Phm. 1:22). Many scholars feel that he was released and that this happened around AD 63. From that point on things seem to get a little murky regarding his activities. Paul’s immediate plans were to visit Colossae as indicated by the letter of Philemon. It appears that he actually made a journey to Crete, where he left Titus (Tit. 1:5). From there he may have gone to Miletus (1 Tim. 1:3; 2 Tim. 4:20), which was fairly near Ephesus. At Miletus he could have dropped off Timothy. 2 There he may have eventually left Trophimus sick (2 Tim. 4:20). Afterward, he may have gone inland to Colossae, across the country to Troas (2 Tim. 4:13) and then by sea to Philippi (Phil. 2:24). He could have then traveled through other Macedonian and Greek cities before returning to Rome.
There was still time enough before his death that Paul could have conceivably reached Spain. We know this was his fervent desire (Rom. 15: 24, 28). While we have no geographic records of his being there, we do have some historical ones. As early as AD 96 Clement of Rome spoke of Paul’s traveling to the “farthest bounds of the west.” This was ancient terminology for Spain. Also, the Muratori Canon (AD 170) mentions Paul’s trip to Spain. 3 The church historian Eusebius later notes that after Paul’s imprisonment he was sent again on ministry, without specifying locations. 4
It is obvious that the letter of Second Timothy pictures Paul once again in prison. This time his incarceration was much more severe and serious. It is clear that he was in fear of his life. It appears that he had already had a preliminary hearing and that it didn’t go well. At this point many of his friends had forsaken him. It appears that he was uncomfortably cold and suffering boredom as well as the indignity of being chained to a Roman soldier. It appears that he had few visitors and that his prison was actually difficult to locate.
While his friend Onesiphorus had managed to find him and lend some comfort, Paul greatly desired to see his spiritual son, Timothy, for the last time. He also desired his warm cloak which was somehow left at Troas, as well as some important parchments. It has been suggested that these were left because Paul was suddenly apprehended by Roman authorities at this point. 5 It is clear in this his final epistle that the eminent Apostle Paul was about to check out of earth’s shabby hotel and to check into his well-deserved heavenly mansion.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, 2 Timothy 1:1
Paul is likely making his written claim of apostleship for the last time here (cf. 1:11). We would have to admit that Paul was himself a super-apostle, probably accomplishing more regarding the spread of Christianity than any of the other apostles.
Now Paul is obviously coming to the end of his remarkable career. While he literally has the shadow of death hanging over him, it is amazing that at such a time he still speaks of the promise of life in Jesus.1 All over the Mediterranean world Paul had proclaimed this message of life in Christ. What good news this was to a dead and decaying Roman society. What good news the gospel still is to our dead and decaying world. The preacher and evangelist Ray Stedman says here, “…I have discovered that everybody everywhere, young and old alike, has a hunger for life.” 2
“To Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord” (1:2). Timothy was like a son to Paul (1 Tim. 1:2), and it was very likely that Paul led him to the Lord. We initially meet young Timothy in Acts 16:1-3, as Paul returned to Lystra in his Second Missionary Journey. Luke, the writer of Acts, mentions that Timothy’s mother was a Jewess and a believer, while his father was a Greek. The locals spoke very well of Timothy and Paul decided to take him along on the remainder of his missionary tour.
The greetings of grace and peace were common in Paul’s salutations but mercy is seen only with his greetings in the Pastorals. The famous preacher Charles Spurgeon felt that ministers probably needed more mercy than other folks, and perhaps that is the case. Actually, we all need a lot of grace, mercy and peace. Stedman describes them all saying: “Grace, incredibly abundant grace, gives us what we do not deserve; Mercy withholds what we do deserve, it keeps us from getting all that we have coming; and peace reassures us that it will all work out to our good and God’s glory.” 3
PAUL’S PRAYERS AND RECOLLECTIONS
I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 2 Timothy 1:3-4
Paul was thankful for a believing heritage. Certainly, all the people of Israel did not faithfully serve God. However, in every age there were faithful men and women who carried the torch of true belief. There were always people like Simeon and Anna, who recognized the Christ child although most of Israel missed him (Lk. 2:25-38).
The early eighteenth century British Methodist theologian and scholar, Adam Clarke, says here: “It is a very rare thing now in the Christian church that a man particularly thanks God that he is enabled to pray for others.” 4 We might even say that it is now almost becoming uncommon for Christians to pray seriously for others. We cannot help but be amazed over the faithfulness of Paul’s prayers for other people, even for people he had never met.
As Paul remembered and prayed, he became touched at the thought of young Timothy’s tears. We cannot be certain as to the setting of this reference. Some scholars think it took place when Paul and Timothy parted. Perhaps it was at that dreadful time when Paul was re-arrested by the Romans and drug off to his final imprisonment. 5
Today in our society it is almost unacceptable for men to shed tears. Men are supposed to be macho and stoic with their emotions. However, great men of the past like David shed many tears. Even Jesus shed tears (Jn. 11:35). The commentator Ronald Ward says, “We are not called to a hard Stoicism which condemns all emotional experience.” 6 Paul at times became very emotional. In fact, this epistle of Second Timothy has been called the most emotional of the Pastoral Epistles.7
THE BLESSINGS OF A FAITH HERITAGE
I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. 2 Timothy 1:5
Once more Paul may be reflecting back on his Second Missionary Journey recorded for us in Acts 16:1-4. In mentioning young Timothy’s grandmother and mother, he notes that they were not just women of faith but of “sincere faith.” The Greek word used is anupokritou, which has the meaning of “un-hypocritical.” 8 Luke in Acts says that Timothy’s mother was a Jewess and a believer but his father was a Greek. Apparently his father was not a believer, but Timothy was indeed fortunate to have a father in the home. The Bible notes that his mother Eunice was still a woman of un-hypocritical faith although she, as a Jewess, had married a Gentile.
We must pause here and try to understand the wonderful benefits of a Christian home. Young Timothy was reared in the faith. The sixteenth century reformer John Calvin adds here that he was so nurtured and educated from infancy that “he might have sucked godliness along with his milk.” 9 Unfortunately, these benefits are fast disappearing in our society as more and more homes, even Christian ones, are being fragmented by the aggressive and godless spirit of this age.
In this day when biblical marriage is often rejected and even scorned, we need to think of some of its benefits. First of all, there is great blessing for children to have both a father and mother as the Bible teaches. When we look at nature, we most often see both parents working with all their might to feed and defend their offspring. Even with two birds working continually, the little mouths in the nest are still wide open, waiting for another worm. We can praise and appreciate those valiant single parents who have somehow overcome nature’s obstacles and reared children alone. We can also know “It ain’t easy!”
So often, it is the children who suffer most of all in such an arrangement. The researcher and writer David Kupelian remarks: “Numerous studies show that adult children of divorce have more psychological problems than those raised in intact marriages…If they don’t have a real father in their lives, they’ll gravitate to another male role model, even a poisonous one.” 10
Writers Michael Reagan and Jim Denney note: “According to the studies on the economic effects of divorce, the standard of living of a man goes up 42 percent during the first year after a divorce; in that same period the standard of living of a woman and her children drops 73 percent.11
Reagan and Denny go on to say:
According to statistics from the US Census Bureau, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Department of Justice, 70 percent of long-term prison inmates- including 72 percent of adolescent murderers and 60 percent of all rapists- grew up in fatherless homes. Fatherless children account for roughly 90 percent of all homeless and runaway children, 85 percent of all youth in prison, 75 percent of adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers, 71 percent of high school dropouts, and 63 percent of youth suicides. Nearly 24 percent of all American kids-almost seventeen million kids-live in fatherless homes. 12
The writer and TV personality, Star Parker, adds that children “in single-parent households are seven times more likely to be poor than those born to couples who stay married. Girls raised in welfare homes are five times more likely to give birth before marriage.13 All the above information simply reflects reality and truth. It also is proof that the Bible conveys to us words of blessing, health and wellbeing.
There is also great blessing in a godly family heritage itself, with many loving and obedient children, and grandchildren. Timothy’s grandmother Lois and mother Eunice must have smiled contentedly countless times at the thought of producing an able assistant to the eminent Apostle Paul. The seventeenth century Anglican divine, John Trapp, observes: “A sweet happiness to any child to have a good mother and grandmother. …The mothers of the kings of Judah are constantly mentioned; and as they were good or evil, so were their children.” 14
BEING GOOD STEWARDS OF GOD’S GIFTS
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 2 Timothy 1:6
We have noted in other places that Timothy may have been a little timid. Paul seems determined to bring him out of his timidity. The apostle encourages his young helper to “fan the flame of the gift” which is in him. The Greek here is anazopureo. Moody Professor and Greek scholar Kenneth Wuest notes that the word is a compound made up of ana (again), zoe (life) and pur (fire). It has the meaning “to kindle anew, rekindle, resuscitate.” 15 Paul in his first letter had written a very similar thing to Timothy (1 Tim. 4:14).
In the Bible we are informed that each believer has differing spiritual gifts (Rom. 12:5-8; 1 Cor. 12:4-11; 12:27-31; 1 Pet. 4:10-11). Much discussion has gone on among commentators as to the actual spiritual gift Timothy possessed. Stedman thought it to be the gift of a teacher-evangelist, Alford saw it as a gift of teaching and ruling the church while Plummer was certain it was “the authority and power to be a minister of Christ.” 16 It must surely have included evangelism since Paul in 4:5 encourages Timothy to do this very work.
We might ask how a believer could allow a spiritual gift to cool off and become useless. The illustrious early preacher John Chrysostom (c. 347-407) says: “For by sloth and carelessness it is quenched, and by watchfulness and diligence it is kept alive.” 17 We all know how by blowing on near-dying embers, a fire can be re-kindled. So it is in the spiritual life. If we allow it, the fresh wind of the Holy Spirit can set our lives aflame once more.
This verse makes clear that Paul had a big part in young Timothy’s ordination and his receipt of spiritual gifts. It was his hands upon the head of Timothy. The laying on of hands was a common practice in first century Christianity (Acts 6:6; 13:3), although it has fallen somewhat out of favor in the modern and postmodern churches.
“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (1:7). The Greek word used here for “timidity” is an old word, deilia. When used in the Greek language it always expressed a sense of cowardice. 18 As Christians, we cannot allow cowardice and fear to rule in our lives. Yet, we are certainly in a society where fear is greatly increasing. Frank Furedi once documented the increase of fear expressed in British newspapers. He did so by counting the times the term “at risk” appeared. In 1994, he noted that the expression appeared 2,037 times. By the end of the following year the amount of appearances had doubled. Later in 2000, the expression “at risk” appeared an astounding eighteen thousand times. 19
This verse above is one I have often used to bring up my own level of courage. No doubt many Christians have this verse memorized or at least in their collection of verses stored away for those bad days. We need to be constantly reminded of what God has already given us. He has given us a spirit of power, a spirit of love and one of self-discipline or self-control. When we become terrified by what we don’t have, we need to take stock of what we do have. What a difference it makes in the church when one person stands up against evil. The American hero Andrew Jackson once said, “One man with courage makes a majority.”
Here we need to remember some of those courageous souls in the Old Testament. I am thinking particularly of Shammah the son of Agee. On one occasion all the Israelite troops fled away in fear and cowardice at the Philistine advance. However, Shammah took his stand in the middle of a field of lentils and began to slay the enemies. On that day he alone brought about a notable victory for Israel (2 Sam. 23:11-12).
In this day when the devil is making an all-out attack on the minds of people, we need to remember that God has given each of us a sound mind. The Greek word is sophronismos. Nineteenth century commentator, A.R. Faussett citing Bengel opts for the meanings of “a sound mind,” or “sober-mindedness.” 20 The various modern translations alternate with meanings of self-control, self-discipline, and having a sound mind. When we feel that Satan and this evil world are making us crazy we can always throw this verse in the face of the adversary. After all, the Bible does say that we have now been given the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16).
NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL
So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, 2 Timothy 1:8
Paul’s situation had now become difficult and desperate. He was now a noted enemy of the Roman state. We will see later how other Christians began to avoid him. It had almost become life-threatening for them to be associated with him. The famous English commentator, William Barclay says, “It is inevitable that loyalty to the gospel will bring trouble.” 21 There are many places in Scripture where we are assured that the gospel will bring persecution (cf. Matt. 5:10-12; John 15:18-21; 16:1-2; Acts 14:22; Rom. 5:3-4; 2 Cor. 4:16-17; 6:4-10; 11:23-28; Phil. 1:29; 1 Thess. 3:3; 2 Tim. 3:12; Jam.1:2-4).
The radio preacher of earlier times, Dr. J. Vernon McGee, once cited Samuel Rutherford, who said “If you were not strangers here the hounds of the world would not bark at you.” 22 Stedman tells us a little more about Paul’s situation, that he was likely imprisoned in the Mamertine Dungeon across from the old senate and near the Roman Forum. Stedman thinks Paul was cold and uncomfortable since he was requesting a cloak. He also thinks Paul was bored with long, lonely hours on his hands and thus he was requesting some books and parchments he had left behind (2 Tim. 4:13). 23
In all his suffering Paul never considered himself a prisoner of Rome but a prisoner of the Lord (cf. Eph. 3:1; Phile. 1:9). He requested that others not be ashamed of him or of the gospel. Certainly Paul himself was never ashamed of the gospel (v. 12; Rom. 1:16). In Mark 8:38, Jesus says of this, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
We certainly live in an adulterous and sinful generation. To stand for the gospel or for any Bible truth in this age opens one up to discomfort and even scorn. Loren Cunningham once reminded us: “Jesus also said not to put our lamp under a bed. The bed is a symbol for ease. If all we’re living for is to be comfortable, to avoid getting into any situation where we are ill at ease, then we are hiding the light of Christ.” 24 We can add here that if we become involved in illicit sexual pursuits we have also in a real sense put out lamp underneath our bed.
Paul continues about the Lord, “who has saved us and called us to a holy life— not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace…” (1:9a) There is no question that the concept of being saved or of salvation, has been cheapened in modern times. The English pastor and teacher John Stott says of this:
The term “salvation” urgently needs to be rescued from the mean and meager concepts to which we tend to degrade it. “Salvation” is a majestic word, denoting that comprehensive purpose of God by which he justifies, sanctifies and glorifies his people: first, pardoning our offenses and accepting us as righteous in his sight through Christ, then progressively transforming us by his Spirit into the image of his Son, until finally we become like Christ in heaven, with new bodies in a new world. 25
We should be careful to note that the Lord has saved us for a holy life. The modern and postmodern church has surely missed the last part of Paul’s statement here. When we are called to follow the Lord we are put on a path of sanctification and from that point on we are called to be more and more like the Master in his holiness. This sanctification process takes place through the word of God and through the Holy Spirit living in us (Jn. 17:17; Rom. 15:16). It is not anything we can do but something he does within us if we but
Many are the wonderful stories of those who have been saved and made holy by the gospel of the Lord Jesus. William Barclay relates one such story:
There was a New York gangster who had recently been in prison for robbery with violence. He was on his way to join his old gang with a view to taking part in another robbery when he picked a man’s pocket in Fifth Avenue. He went into Central Park to see what he had succeeded in stealing, and discovered to his disgust that it was a New Testament. Since he had time to spare, he began idly to turn over the pages and to read. Soon he was deep in the book, and he read to such effect that a few hours later he went to his old comrades and broke with them forever. For that ex-convict, the gospel was the call to holiness. 26
AN ETERNAL SALVATION
…This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, (1:9b).
Here we have an amazing and astounding thought, saying that this grace and salvation were given to us before time began. We see this mysterious truth in other scriptures such as Ephesians 1:4 where it is said, “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight…” Our salvation in Jesus was no afterthought in God’s mind. Indeed, the Scripture says, “I know that everything God does will endure forever…” (Eccl. 3:14). Here we cannot avoid the Bible truth that the saved are very much predestined in the mind and heart of God (Rom. 8:29-30).
Paul continues with the thought of God’s salvation saying, “but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” (1:10). Although the salvation of God had been spoken of for centuries by Israel’s prophets, it was only revealed in its fullness with the appearing of Jesus Christ on earth. The early church father Theodore of Mopsuestia (c. 350-428) commented here: “The gospel is ancient in the will of the Giver, even if new in the chain of events.” 27
In some mysterious way, when Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave, he signaled the final defeat of death itself. Without a doubt, death is the greatest crisis of life. It is the “biggie” in all human experience, although some try to make light of it today. Certainly, any religion that is worthwhile must deal with death. Stott says here, “One of the most searching tests to apply to any religion concerns its attitude to death.” 28 Indeed, Christianity stands alone with a real solution to this problem. No other religious leader in history emerged victoriously from the grave as Jesus did.
In all of earth’s religions including Judaism, death was a murky thing. In all the Old Testament very little is said about the possibility of eternal life for God’s people. This was so much the case that the sect of the Sadducees did not even believe in the resurrection. We see here that it is only Jesus who has “…brought life and immortality to light…” It is only in the gospel today that we can have the hope of resurrection and life eternal. With this, Paul could exult in 1 Corinthians 15:55, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” We Christians can now be certain that death will never be able to separate us from the love of our Savior (Rom. 8:38-39).
PAUL – HERALD, APOSTLE AND TEACHER
And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 2 Timothy 1:11
Paul was not only appointed an apostle and teacher but he was appointed a herald of the gospel. The Greek word for herald is kerux. In ancient times the kerux was the person who came making an important announcement from the king. In times of war he brought the request for a truce.29 How aptly this word describes the proclaimers of the gospel who offer the important message of reconciliation and terms of peace to a rebellious humanity.
A few decades ago in the seminary, scholars were making a distinction between kerygma or what was preached and didache, what was being taught. The claim was that the kerygma was the essential gospel or good news of Christ while the didache was mostly made up of ethical instruction. There may be some truth in this, but Stott is probably accurate in saying, “There was a lot of didache in the kerygma and a lot of kerygma in the didache.” 30
It is of note that preaching is never listed in the Bible as a gift, but teaching is listed as a spiritual gift in several places (Acts 13:1; Rom. 12:6-7; 1 Cor. 12:28). Perhaps we should give heed to John Trapp here. He says that since Paul was a teacher of the Gentiles his writings should be carefully studied and highly prized by us Gentiles. 31
Paul says, “That is why I am suffering as I am” (1:12a). It was the gospel that consistently got Paul into trouble. It got him in trouble with both the Jews and the Gentiles. We can understand why the gospel was offensive to the Jews since it proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah of Israel and the Son of God. Such claims of deity were unthinkable to the Jews. It is more difficult to understand why the gospel was such a problem to Gentiles. Stott says: “It is the undeserved freeness of the gospel which offends. The ‘natural’ or unregenerate man hates to have to admit the gravity of his sin and guilt, his complete helplessness to save himself, the indispensable necessity of God’s grace and Christ’s sin-bearing death to save him, and therefore his inescapable indebtedness to the cross.” 32
Stott goes on to say, “No man can preach Christ crucified with faithfulness and escape opposition, even persecution.” 33 We may wonder how we can supposedly preach the gospel in the western world today and not raise an eyebrow from the persecutors. We may wonder if we are still preaching the gospel. Perhaps we are afraid of the loss the real gospel might bring us— loss of property or even some jail time. Albert Barnes, the nineteenth century American theologian, says, “A man’s great interests may be more safe when in a prison than when in a palace; on a pallet of straw than on a bed of down.” 34
“Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day” (1:12b). Here is another of Paul’s grand statements of faith that has no doubt been a bulwark for millions of Christians over the last twenty centuries. Paul was certain that God was able to guard him and the precious things the Lord has committed to him. The word “able” is the Greek dunatos. It means to be able or to have power. The Greek term “keep” is phulasso, and it is a military term. It means “to guard, defend, keep watch.” 35
Paul had entrusted many things to the Lord against the coming Day. He had entrusted his own salvation as well as that of the many churches. He had entrusted his gospel that it would be sufficient to bring both himself and the churches safely home to glory.
The concept of the “coming Day” was a very common one in Scripture. The prophets often spoke of the Day of the Lord. It is also spoken of in several ways in the New Testament. There seems to be no good reason for us to separate the concepts of “the Day of the Lord,” “the Day of Christ,” “the Day,” and “that Day” as they are used in Scripture. All these speak of the same event. The entire book of Revelation likewise speaks in detail of this Day. The Day of the Lord is a time of judgment upon the wicked (Isa. 13:6). On that day, Earth’s great and mighty ones will cry for the rocks and mountains to fall on them and hide them from the face of the Lamb (Rev. 6:15-16).
While the Day will be a time of awful judgment for the wicked it will be a time of recompense and blessing for the righteous. The prophet Malachi also says that the righteous will go forth leaping like calves released from a stall. In Malachi 4:3 the Lord says: “Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things…” The righteous will have great confidence and boldness on that day (1 Jn. 4:17). After all, when Jesus appears we will appear with him in glory (Col. 3:4), and be like him (1 Jn. 3:2-3). In 2 Thessalonians 1:10, we see that he will come “…to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed…”
On that blessed day, Jesus will come with all his saints (1 Thess. 3:13). Even those who sleep in Jesus will be brought in that splendid triumphal procession. For the saints of the Lord, the Day of the Lord has nothing for us to fear. It is a day of blessing and glory.
What great confidence we see in the Apostle Paul as he looks forward to the Day of the Lord. Stott says of him: “Although Paul’s body is confined within the narrow limits of an underground cell, his heart and mind can thus soar into eternity?” 36
GUARDING THE DEPOSIT
What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you— guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. 2 Timothy 1:13-14
It is very interesting that Paul mentions a “pattern” for sound teaching. The Greek word is hypotyposis and it has the meaning of an outline or a sketch. This would be like what an architect would draw out for a building. Donald Guthrie, president of London Bible College says, “The importance of this pattern cannot be over-emphasized. It means that the apostle claims his own teaching to be no more than a starting-point. It was to be a guide-line rather than a stereotyped form of words. It would allow for growth within the guide-line” 37
Warren Wiersbe, pastor, Bible teacher and inexhaustible commentator, adds to this saying: “There was a definite outline of doctrine in the early church, a standard by which teaching was tested.” 38 So in the early church there was something more than sound teaching. There was a form of doctrine as well as content. All teaching would have to match this blueprint or pattern.
James Burton Coffman, the prolific author, preacher and leader among churches of Christ in the twentieth century, laments about the present state of the church saying, “The great disaster which has befallen modern Christianity is precisely that of departing from the pattern, despite the frequent warnings in the New Testament against it, some even going so far as to affirm that there is no pattern given. Hebrews 8:5…should be studied in connection with the admonition here.” 39
Not only is there a pattern of sound teaching but there must be sound teaching itself. Here the Greek term is hugiainein and it means both sound doctrine and healthful teaching. It is from this word that we get “hygiene.” 40 We see this word in its various forms several times in the Pastorals (cf. 1 Tim. 1:10; 6:3; 2 Tim. 1:13; 4:3; Titus 1:9, 13; 2:1, 2). Sound Bible teaching ought to be healthy teaching. The problem with much modern and postmodern Christian teaching is that it is not healthy.
For instance, today many Christian leaders say that divorce is OK and thus the rate of divorce among Christians is about the same as it is in the fallen world. But now there are tons of statistics proving that divorce is unhealthy since it brings undue stress upon all those involved and does permanent emotional damage to children caught up in it. There are many more areas where the church today has relaxed biblical teaching, such as turning its head on premarital sex and accepting homosexuality. Homosexuality, despite being much lauded in our society, is positively unhealthy. Paul says in Romans 1:27 that homosexuals receive in their own bodies the penalty for such perversion. No doubt this penalty includes such things as STD’s and AIDS.
Real Christianity promotes good doctrine and good health. Quite a number of recent studies have documented the natural help that comes from Christianity. These studies have shown that committed Christians are healthier and happier than others. …that they recover from surgery more quickly than non-believers. They are less likely to abuse drink, use drugs or commit suicide. 41
In this verse Paul also challenges Timothy: “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you…” We might ask, exactly what is the good deposit? It would surely include the biblical pattern we have spoken of. It would also include the sound and healthy doctrine mentioned. It would surely include keeping the gospel intact and making certain that the gospel always brings “good news.”
This is a constant job for Christians. It is much like raising a garden and making sure the weeds do not take over. As the ancient church father, John of Damascus (c. 675-749), said: “Let no weeds of heresy grow up among you, but preserve the heavenly seed pure and sincere, that it may yield a great harvest to the Master.” 42
We need to look at the Greek term for deposit (paratheke). In the ancient world the deposit was something really sacred. It was something committed to another person’s trust. In those days before banking, temples often served as the banks in which such deposits could be made.43 Barclay says, “There was no more sacred duty than the safe-guarding of such a deposit and the returning of it when in due time it was claimed.” 44
However, in the last analysis it is God who watches over his church and his word. It is the Holy Spirit within us who sanctifies and seals the word in us. The distinguished English preacher Charles Spurgeon once said, “Scripture is like a lion. Who ever heard of defending a lion? Just turn it loose; it will defend itself.” 45
The nineteenth century American poet, James Russell Lowell, put it well in these immortal lines:
Though the cause of evil prosper,
Yet ‘tis truth alone that’s strong.
Truth forever on the scaffold,
Wrong forever on the throne.
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadows
Keeping watch above his own. 46
You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes. 2 Timothy 1:15
It was likely that Paul was now considered a political prisoner and it was becoming dangerous for other Christians to be associated with him. He was now suffering a similar fate that Jesus experienced when all his friends forsook him and fled away. 47 Paul Kretzman in his Popular Commentary feels that the apostle might have been expecting certain influential believers in the Province of Asia to aid him with their testimony and that these backed away due to their fear of the authorities. 48 Paul was no longer just a common prisoner but he was standing trial before the madman Nero, as a hated Christian leader. We can imagine how even valiant men melted away from being seen with Paul.
When Paul notes that everyone in the Province of Asia had forsaken him, he was speaking of the Roman province which included the districts of Lydia, Mysia, Caria, Phrygia and the coastal islands. Today this area is a part of the modern country of Turkey.
While we do not know the identity of Phygelus and Hermogenes, it is likely that they were important leaders of the church. Barnes remarks about them saying, “It is a sad thing when the only record made of a man— the only evidence which we have that he ever lived at all— is, that he turned away from a friend, or forsook the paths of true religion.” 49
“May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains” (1:16). We do know a thing or two about Onesiphorus. He was a native of Ephesus and was no doubt well known to Timothy, who was still ministering there. Paul, in fact, prays for mercy upon his household. Calvin says here: “Hence we infer, that ‘the blessing of God rests, not only on the head of the righteous man,’ but on all his house.” 50 The name Onesiphorus has been interpreted by several commentators to mean “help bringer,” “profitable”, or “a bringer of profit.” 51 Peter Pett, of London Bible College, remarks about him saying: “We must not underestimate the cold bravery and courage of Onesiphorus. To search for a political prisoner in Rome in the suspicious atmosphere of that time was to court an attention that was undesirable, and to be put at risk of arrest and worse. To visit such a prisoner in his cell was even more dangerous. To do it constantly was to court disaster.” 52
There has been some discussion, especially in Catholic circles, that Onesiphorus was now dead, since Paul prays for mercy on his household. Several commentators feel that this is an inaccurate assumption. Were such the case, Paul would have found himself praying for the dead and we have no biblical authorization to pray in this way. 53 Actually such a prayer would have violated the very outline, sketch or standard of the gospel message that Paul dealt with earlier in this chapter.
“On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me” (1:17). Paul’s prison was probably a cold dark dungeon. What a tragic picture of the great apostle. Clarke describes him saying: “Wherever he went, he left a track of light and life behind him. To him, as the grand instrument of God, the Gentiles, the whole habitable world, owe their salvation. Yet see him, in his old age, neglected by his friends, apparently forsaken of God, and abandoned to the hands of ruthless men.” 54 But one man, Onesiphorus, did not abandon him. He searched hard for him and then came to Paul on many occasions, no doubt always at the risk of his life. He reminded us of Jesus’ words: “I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me” (Matt. 25:36).
The apostle goes on in his praise for this one faithful man as he writes to Timothy. “May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus.” (1:18). One does not just wake up and become a servant of God all of a sudden. Being a servant takes practice. This man had been a servant to Paul in many ways earlier at Ephesus. Wiersbe even suggests that he might have served as a deacon at Ephesus.55 We cannot stress too much that in those days prisoners were often sustained by food and other help brought into the prison by friends. Paul no doubt desperately needed this service of love. Onesiphorus certainly fits the scripture of Proverbs 18:24 which says, “…there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 2:1
Once again, we find Paul encouraging Timothy to be strong. He does this over twenty times in the Pastorals. Commentators make much of Timothy’s timidity. However, Pett assures us that almost any normal young Christian with Timothy’s great responsibilities would have needed much encouragement. 1 We must remember that this was a special time, with the proliferation of noxious and dangerous heresies as well as official Roman government persecution already standing in the doorway. 2 Young Timothy would need to find his strength in the word of God, in such passages as Isaiah 40:29, “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Paul continues to call Timothy his son, as he has done in several other places (cf. 1 Tim. 1:2, 18 and 2 Tim. 1:2).
“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2:2). In early times, the church was preoccupied with the subject of “apostolic succession.” This was an attempt to prove that lines of apostolic authority could be traced back through many leaders to the apostles themselves. The early church historian, Eusebius, was very fond of tracing these supposed apostolic lines. Such an attempt is today considered unfruitful and really impossible. However, we have represented here the pattern for a spiritual apostolic succession, as the important truths of Scripture are handed down from one generation to another. 3
Today we probably do not take this charge of Paul seriously enough. Each committed Christian has the responsibility to pass on the faith that was once passed to him or her. But especially pastors have this responsibility. Guzik says that this is a very essential part of the pastor’s job. He is to pass on to others what has been passed on and committed to him. Training such future leaders is simply part of his job description. He must not focus on the smart, the popular, the strong, the good-looking, but upon the faithful. 4 After all, Jesus placed his focus on twelve faithful men and with them he changed the world.
Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 2:3
In the next few verses, Paul presents three primary pictures of our continuing hardship and responsibility as Christians. They are the soldier, the athlete and the farmer. He begins here with the soldier, who must endure great hardship (sunkakopatheo). This Greek word tells us that these difficulties are something that are shared with all the other soldiers. 5 The picture of a soldier was a favorite one of Paul, no doubt because he had spent years in their company and even chained to them at times (e.g. 1 Cor. 9:7; 2 Cor. 6:7; Eph. 6:11-18). Also, the Roman soldier was a good example of successful warfare. The Romans, with their splendid armies, had conquered and controlled most of the known world in Paul’s day.
Paul no doubt wished to toughen Timothy up for the hardship that was coming. Hebrews 13:23, seems to indicate that Timothy himself finally had to endure some prison time. We do not know exactly when this took place. It was important that this young apostolic helper conduct himself like a soldier in all situations. Paul apparently liked to call his associates “fellow soldiers” as we see in Philippians 2:25 and Philemon 1:2.
The word “soldier” may sound romantic to some but it was a very difficult life. The soldier had to march long and tiring miles, often with insufficient clothing and rations. He had to endure the cold and heat. He had to sleep on the ground in all kinds of weather. No doubt, most difficult of all, he had to fight vicious enemies while he ran the real risk of being seriously wounded or killed.
The soldier had to be totally devoted to his commander. Each Roman soldier had to take an oath of loyalty (sacramentum) to the Emperor. He served the empire under what was called the Code of Theodosius. This code said: “We forbid men engaged on military service to engage in civilian occupations.” He had to be a soldier and nothing else. He had to stand ready to obey his commander and his Emperor without question. 6
Let us pause and try to apply this picture to the Christian life today. Not only did Timothy have to be a good soldier and have to fight the good fight (1 Tim 1:18), but we all have to do the same. The early church father Tertullian (c. 160-225) in addressing the Martyrs put it: “No soldier comes to the war surrounded by luxuries.” 7 As modern Christian soldiers we need to lightly hold the luxuries of this age. We need to put on the armor of light (Rom. 13:12) which is spelled out for us clearly in Ephesians 6:11 ff. There is one piece of armor that we really need to put on today and that is the helmet of salvation (Eph. 6:17). Depending on which figures we accept, some 25-50 percent of Christians are now dabbling in pornography. This is a popular means of opening up the gates of our citadel and allowing the devil to come in and take over. No real soldier can do such a thing. We desperately need this “mind protector” in this evil age.
“No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs— he wants to please his commanding officer” (2:4) We note that a soldier cannot be involved in civilian affairs or in secular activity. The general rule of Christianity is that the minister of the gospel should receive his living by the gospel (1 Cor. 9:14). We see this same picture in the priests and Levites of old, who lived from the offerings of Israel. However, we see that Paul, and perhaps others, gave up this privilege and often helped support themselves as “tentmakers.” They did this so they would not be stumbling blocks to the young churches (Acts 18:3). Nevertheless, we should note that Paul often received wonderful gifts from other churches to aid him in his ministry (Phil. 4:18).
Perhaps this quandary is summed up by some remarks of commentator E. M. Zerr who said: “Any kind of occupation whether right or wrong in itself that prevents a disciple from doing his duty would constitute the entangling affairs mentioned in this verse.” 8
Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules. 2 Timothy 2:5
It is not just the soldier who had a tough life. The athlete had one too. The athlete had to strive for masteries. The term “competing” or “striving” for masteries is athleo and it is from this word that we get our words “athletic” and “athlete.” 9 Not only did the Greek athlete spend ten months in training before the contest, but he had to engage in certain prescribed exercises, observe a very rigid diet, and live a separated life. 10 If he was competing in the Olympics he had to state on oath that he had fulfilled all the ten months of training. 11 In addition, he had to strive lawfully (athlein nominos) in order to win the coveted crown, which was made up of laurel or garland.
Now, how do these requirements apply to pastors, and indeed to average Christians today? The radio preacher of last century, J. Vernon McGee used to say, “The only exercise some Christians get is jumping to conclusions, running down their friends, sidestepping their responsibilities and pushing their luck.” 12 Our preachers, as well as most of us, have little discipline in our lives. In the US over 60 percent of us are overweight and that includes a lot of prominent fat pastors and Christian leaders.
We might also ask, “Are we playing by the rules?” Athletes could not cut corners in their training or in the contest itself. In other words, are we living by the word of God and by the guidance of the Holy Spirit? In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Paul tells us that many participators run the race, but only the one who is most diligent gets the prize. All the athletes of old and those today compete for a prize that is perishable. How much more diligent should we be as Christian leaders and average Christians, to gain our prize which is imperishable and eternal. We must not allow ourselves to fail or be disqualified in this important race of life. We cannot help but notice today that many of our star athletes have lost their prizes because they have not played by the rules and have cheated by using performance enhancing drugs. Stott says “No rules, no wreath!” That was the order of the day in ancient times and so the same order is in effect today. 13
The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. 2 Timothy 2:6
I had the good fortune to spend my younger years on the farm. From that experience I know full well that the life of a farmer is difficult. The work seems to never end, unless it rains or the weather is otherwise inclement. There were always cows to milk, fences to fix, weeds to cut, in addition to all the other regular farm work. I remember as a fairly young boy, driving the tractor all night preparing the ground and my dad taking over in the morning and doing the final preparation and sowing. We had to make use of every hour lest we would have a stretch of wet weather and might miss a crop entirely on that piece of ground.
The good part of farming was that we always had plenty to eat, while that was not the case with other families in those days just after the Great Depression. Paul says here that the hard-working farmer should get the first share of the harvest. Of course, if the farmer doesn’t work hard there will be little or no harvest. The author of Proverbs tells us about the field of the lazy farmer that is all overgrown with thorns and thistles (Pro. 24:30-31). The good farmer may not have the glory of the soldier or the fame of the athlete but he should have plenty to eat. Who would dare keep him from enjoying the fruits of his labor? Actually those fruits go out to countless other people as the farmer takes his harvest to market.
Like the farmer, the Christian pastor or worker has to sow the seed of the word (Gal. 6:8) in order to be found bringing in the sheaves of spiritual harvest. Truly, today the harvest is plentiful because of the hard labor of others before us (Matt. 9:37). Literally, about all we have to do to participate in the greatest farming operation ever, is to gather in the sheaves. Yet, we are quite reluctant to do that. The preacher and teacher, Derek Prince used to shame those sons of God who dared sleep through such an enormous harvest (Pro. 10:5).
“Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.” (2:7). Paul has certainly given us something to think about in these pictures. He has given us “three aspects of wholeheartedness…the dedication of a good soldier, the law-abiding obedience of a good athlete and the painstaking labor of a good farmer.” 14 May we meditate and learn.
SUFFERING FOR THE SAVIOR
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. 2 Timothy 2:8-9
Here Paul gives us two grand truths of the Christian faith. The first is spiritual and the second is natural. First he tells us the astounding news that Jesus is risen from the dead. No other religious leader in the history of the world has such a qualification. In the Greek language, the word for “raised” is a perfect participle. It refers to action that is completed in the past but that still has a present result. Jesus was raised in the past but he is still alive and with us. 15
The whole idea of bodies being raised from the dead was a repulsive idea to the Greeks, who saw real existence as being a solely spiritual thing (Acts 17:32). Several early Christian leaders were Greek philosophers prior to their conversions, or else they were deeply involved in Greek philosophy. Some of these overemphasized the spiritual and ignored the natural, not realizing that the two had to go together (1 Cor. 15:46). As time went on, the church would have a life and death struggle with Gnosticism. This early heresy was in some ways a continuation of Greek thought, by its emphasis on the spiritual and by ignoring the natural. This early struggle, as we have mentioned, was presently going on in Ephesus where Timothy ministered.
We certainly do not want to ignore the spiritual since it is vitally important. The resurrection of the dead is a deeply spiritual process. Jesus was raised by the Holy Spirit of God (Rom. 8:11). But there was a natural part of his resurrected life, and he illustrated it by eating fish in the presence of his amazed disciples (Lk. 24:39-43).
The other grand truth about Jesus was related very closely to his natural life. He was a descendant of King David, as the prophets had long foretold (2 Sam. 7:14-16; Isa. 55:3; Ezek. 37:24-25; Lk. 1:32; Rom. 1:3). For this reason, the throne of David is an eternal throne just as God promised (1 Ki. 9:5). It seems that these two areas have been the point of attack of God’s enemies throughout the ages and even today. 16 The world cannot accept that Jesus was raised form the dead and neither can it accept that David has an eternal throne and that Jesus is even today sitting upon it.
It was this message, this gospel, that caused Paul and the others so much trouble. Many Jews despised the message and so did many of the Greeks. Paul was now chained and in a Roman dungeon because of this message. He was chained as a malefactor or evil doer (kakourgos). 17
Although Paul was chained, he knew that the word of God was not chained. As Psalm 147:15 says, “He sends his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly.” When Paul was imprisoned the first time in Rome, and even chained at times, he wrote to the Philippians that his chains had really advanced the gospel. Because of being chained to soldiers, the gospel had made headway with the whole imperial guard, and the church was thus encouraged (Phil. 1:12-14).
Unfortunately, there is a way that the word of God can be bound. We can bind it ourselves. Pastor and commentator David Guzik says, “If there is any sense in which the word is bound, it is bound when it is abandoned by its very friends. When pulpits sound more like self-help books than those who proclaim God’s word; when Scripture is used sparingly like a spice in a message, instead of being the core of it, pastors themselves put a chain around the Bible.” 18
“Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory” (2:10). Paul knew that he could endure anything and everything with the Lord’s help. He could endure it for the sake of Christ and his church. He knew that there was a great reward awaiting him. Actually, Paul had to endure a lot. We have mentioned earlier that Paul was likely a political prisoner as well as a prisoner of the gospel.
In the year AD 64, an enormous fire devastated Rome. The fire burned for six days and nights. Because many of the residents of Rome lived in tenements largely built of wood, they were made homeless, destitute and hopeless. There was a story going around that the Emperor Nero was responsible for the fire and thus tempers flared. The government quickly had to find a scapegoat for the fire and that lot fell upon the Christians. This worked well, since the Christians were often hated for their supposed abominations and for the fictional idea that they were part of a secret sect. Secret sects had been closely regulated by the suspicious Roman government. Special permission had to be granted before any such meetings could take place, and therefore the Christians were looked upon as an illegal sect.
Paul, of course, would have been looked upon as the leader of this illegal sect. Perhaps he was even the one responsible for the fire. 19 Paul was thus cast in prison, likely at the Mamertine Prison in Rome. Barnes describes this prison saying: “The lower prison is supposed to have been once a quarry, and to have been at one time occupied as a granary. This prison was on the descent of the Capitoline Mount, toward the Forum. It consisted of two apartments, one over the other, built with large, un-cemented stones. There is no entrance to either, except by a small aperture in the roof, and by a small hole in the upper floor, leading to the cell below, without any staircase to either.” 20 With this description we can almost understand why others were reluctant to visit Paul.
A BLESSED HYMN AND TESTIMONY OF FAITH
Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; 2 Timothy 2:11
A number of commentators feel that these lines make up the beginning or a fragment of an early Christian hymn or confession of faith. 21 The lines open by declaring that if we die with Christ we shall live with him. There are obviously two ways we can look at this statement. We know that according to Romans 6:3-5, when we are baptized into Christ we are baptized into his death. Baptism is therefore a picture of our dying with Christ in a spiritual sense. As we turn away from ourselves and from sin each day of our lives, it is surely a process of dying. However, with Paul in dire straits and facing an almost certain death, it is not likely he was thinking of baptism. Guzik citing Hiebert says, “The context here seems rather to point to physical death as the highest point of suffering for Christ. The reference then is to the martyr’s death now viewed from the standpoint of the crowning day.” 22
Indeed, the Christian life is a strange one. The enigma of it is expressed so well in the lines that are perhaps erroneously attributed to Saint Francis. The last words go like this:
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. 23
Paul continues with his hymn or confession saying: “if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us;” (2:12). To endure with him is surely to share in his rejection and his sufferings. In Luke 21:17, Jesus says: “All men will hate you because of me.” In John 15:20, he says: “Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also…” Early Christians were certain that the reigning with Christ would take place on this earth (Rom. 5:17; Rev. 5:10; 20:6; 22:5).
But it is clear that there is no crown without a cross; no throne without a thorn. We must share in his sufferings (e.g. 2 Tim. 3:12; Matt.5:10-12; 24:13; Acts 14:22; Rom. 5:3-5). If we fail him or deny him, he will deny us, as he says in Matthew 10:33, “But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.” Lewis Donelson, Associate Professor of New Testament at Austin Presbyterian Seminary, says here: “Thus far, we might assume that heretics should be treated brusquely and even highhandedly. This passage contends otherwise.” 24 We remember the great grace that was showered on Peter, who disowned the Master three times, and at last with a curse. Yet, by the boundless mercy of the Master he was forgiven and reinstated (Jn. 21:15-17).
Paul finishes the lines saying, “if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself” (2:13). From Bible history we see how Israel was faithless and yet God remained faithful to the nation as a whole. In fact, today we have a mostly restored Israel in our midst simply because God is faithful to the words he spoke through the prophets thousands of years ago. Israel was not faithful and is not really faithful today, but God is faithful.
Long ago Augustine (354-430) said, “The only thing the Almighty cannot do is what he does not will…” 25 Stott sums it up another way saying: “God can do everything consistent with being himself. The one and only thing he cannot do, because he will not, is to deny himself or act contrary to himself.” 26
TIMOTHY, GOD’S APPROVED WORKMAN
Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 2 Timothy 2:14
Christians are prone to quarrel, and often they are found quarreling about things which are not core items of the faith but rather quite peripheral. I remember hearing of a church that argued and finally got into a brawl over whether or not to have a Christmas tree. Paul terms such arguments as logomachia, or word battles. He deems them useless. “At the time of the great Communist revolution in Russia, the Orthodox Church was engaged in a tremendous argumentative crisis over the making of church vestments! Many a time, Christians have plunged into useless and silly arguments while the citadel of their faith was destroyed.” 27
Stedman tells the story of famous Admiral Nelson as the decisive Battle of Trafalgar was about to take place. The Admiral, “came across two officers of his own flagship who were arguing hotly and about to take sword to each other. Nelson stepped between them and said, ‘Stop.’ Then, pointing to the French fleet, he said, ‘There is the enemy.’” 28
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2:15). The translators have had a field day on this verse. The New American Standard has it, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.”The New Revised Standard says: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth.”
The American Greek scholar A.T. Robertson translates the participle “correctly handles” orthotomounta as “cutting straight.” Although it has other meanings like making straight paths (cf. Prov. 3:6; 11:5 LXX), he feels it is much more sensible to interpret it in pictures that both Paul and Timothy would readily be familiar. Paul was a tentmaker by profession and he knew how to make a straight cut with rough camel hair cloth. 29 We can imagine the problems of a leaky tent when someone cut the cloth in such a way that the pieces didn’t fit together properly. While the term can mean “cut a path in a straight direction,” 30 or dividing and distribution portions of food as a steward,31 or plowing a straight furrow, 32 we can get the general idea.
We must not twist the word of God or interpret it in a way to support our pet doctrines. Neither should we be afraid to stand for what the Bible says in our perverted and depraved age. It is important that we keep in mind the whole counsel of Scripture and always interpret Scripture by other Scripture.
It has been common in the last generations to translate the admonition “Do your best” as “Study.” This was the long cherished interpretation made in the early seventeenth century with the King James Version. Sadly, we must now discard this interpretation for the Greek word spoudazo conveys the ideas “to make haste, to exert one’s self, endeavor, give diligence.” 33 While it does not mean “study” it must certainly include it as we learn to properly handle the word of God.
AVOIDING GODLESS TEACHING
Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 2 Timothy 2:16
The term for “godless chatter” is kenophonia and it can mean “vain babblings” or words that are empty or hollow. 34 Paul had warned of this kind of thing when speaking to his young helper in 1 Timothy 6:20. In this day when there is such an abundance of words, through the Internet and through other media, we tend not to be careful with our words. We forget the warning of Jesus in Matthew 12:36-37: “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Today especially, we have numerous teachers, and some very popular ones, who are uttering all kinds of nonsense and claiming it is from the Lord. For sure, much of this qualifies as godless chatter and vain babbling. We should not put up with these false teachers for a moment. Guzik remarks about this saying: “Many today accept and honor teachers who are way off in one area or another; and they justify it by saying, ‘I eat the meat and spit out the bones.’ This kind of thinking will certainly overthrow the faith of some, because some will certainly choke to spiritual death on the bones you say you spit out.” 35
“Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some” (2:17-18). A couple of good examples of false teaching and vain babbling in Paul’s day were Hymenaeus and Philetus. We have likely heard of Hymenaeus before. In 1 Timothy 1:20, Paul had already disciplined one with that name by handing him over to Satan in order that he would learn not to blaspheme.
No doubt these heretics were following the trend of Greek thought and were trying to spiritualize or allegorize the resurrection. Conversely, several early Christian interpreters thought these heretics were saying that resurrection merely comes through the natural human birth process. 36 Regardless of their exact teaching, these two remind us of Korah, Dathan and Abiram. No doubt we remember that the ground opened up and destroyed their families and followers (Num. 16:1 ff.).
Paul says that such false teaching will spread like gangrene (gangraina). According to the Mayo Clinic, gangrene involves the death of body tissue due to bacterial infection or lack of blood flow. 37 We know that gangrene is a life-threatening condition and must be identified and dealt with immediately. Just as gangrene is followed by mortification and death, such is the case with false teaching. It also must be identified and dealt with immediately.
GOD KNOWS HIS OWN
Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” (2:19).
There are no surprises in the Kingdom of God. The Lord knows those who are his (Jn. 2:24; 6:64; 13:18; Rom. 8:29; 1 Pet. 1:1-2). Some who think they are his may be surprised in that day, but God will not be surprised. Actually, those chosen by the Lord were predestined before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). Their names were written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Rev. 21:27) and they are sealed with the Spirit for the difficult days of the end (Eph. 4:30).
It was customary in ancient times to write certain information on the cornerstone of a building as it was being constructed. This inscription or seal indicated ownership and destination or purpose. 38 Two scriptures come to mind here. Paul says in 1 Timothy 3:15, that the church is “…the pillar and foundation of the truth.” In 1 Corinthians 3:11, he also says that Jesus is the support of the foundation and that “no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” We might wonder if the words spoken to Peter at Caesarea Philippi might also be seen on this foundation: “…on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matt.16:18).
Going hand in hand with our security, it is important to note as Kenneth Wuest points out, “The purity of the Church is indispensable to its security.” 39 We can understand why this prominent message was written on the foundation stone, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” The saved and predestined must cooperate on a daily basis with the program of sanctification which is carried out by the Holy Spirit, who is our seal (Eph. 4:30).
MADE FOR NOBLE PURPOSES
In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. 2 Timothy 2:20
Paul continues here with the subject of sanctification. From the Bible we know that there are two aspects of sanctification or holiness. We are assured that sanctification is in fact included in the salvation package (positional sanctification). Holiness, is first of all a gift given to us from above. It is from Jesus and is based upon his atonement (Heb. 13:12). We read in Hebrews 10:10, that we are sanctified by the once for all offering up of the body of Jesus Christ. We read of the eternal nature of this offering in Hebrews 10:14; “because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.”
But there is a second side to sanctification (progressive sanctification). There is still a responsibility on our part to apply that holiness to our lives (2 Tim. 2:21; 2 Cor. 7:1). We learn several things about the holiness process in Scripture. We see that holiness or sanctification comes by faith. It also comes by the washing of the word, or through heeding the word of God each day that we live (Jn. 17:17& Eph. 5:26). It is also certainly the work of the Holy Spirit as we note in Romans 15:16.
Paul tells us that in a large house or palace there are all kinds of vessels. It is possible here that Paul is speaking of the whole professing church. 40 We know that the church is mysteriously made up of wheat and tares (Matt. 13:30) and is thus a mixture. These will not be separated until the harvest. We see the same picture in the Ark of Noah. Inside the saving ark there were animals of all kinds, the clean and the unclean.
So, some vessels are of gold and very precious while others are just plain old clay pots. These are sometimes used for ignoble and unholy purposes. For instance, until the middle of the 20th century, chamber pots were still used in many US houses. It had been that way since ancient times. Finally they were replaced by indoor plumbing. We can think of several other vessels that are used for ignoble purposes, such as garbage cans, slop buckets and wastebaskets. The early Christian writer Theodoret of Cyr (c. 393 – c. 457) expands upon this picture saying: “The golden vessels are persons of faith and virtue, the silver those who embrace civil life virtuously and righteously and the wooden those who live irreverent and disgraceful lives.” 41
Of course, we know that God can use simple earthen clay pots for his holy purposes if he wishes. He can also take these pots and fill them with his glory (2 Cor. 4:7). The secret is that the clay pots, as well as all other vessels, must be cleansed and ready for the Master’s use.
“If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work” (2:21). Sometimes we might wonder why certain people are mightily used of God. The answer is likely that they are mightily prepared. We think of young Daniel for instance. He not only prepared himself in the things of God but he was thoroughly learned in the wisdom and literature of the Babylonians. He was prepared and qualified to serve (Dan. 1:3-4). He absolutely refused to be defiled with that king’s pagan food that was not kosher and had likely been offered to idols (Dan. 1:8).
Paul says in Romans 6:13, “Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.” When we allow ourselves to be daily sanctified by the word and by the Holy Spirit we will find ourselves “…thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:17).
FLEEING EVIL THINGS
Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:22
We have two commands here. We are to flee the evil desires of youth and we are to run after good things like love and peace (cf. 1 Pet. 3:11). The word for flee is pheugo, and it means literally to seek safety in flight or to escape.42 In the Bible it is permissible to flee from persecution if possible (Matt. 10:23). But here the meaning is to flee from sin and spiritual temptations, particularly those of youth. We can all think of some really stupid things we did in our youth. We certainly don’t want these things to continue in our adult lives. A wonderful biblical example of fleeing temptation is found in the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife (Gen. 39:7-20). Although the wife of Potiphar begged Joseph to have sex with her, he would not consent. Finally she grabbed hold of his cloak and attempted to force him into the sexual act. Joseph would have no part of it but he fled from her leaving his cloak in her hands.
We are not only to flee evil but we are to run after or pursue (dioko) good things like righteousness, faith, love and peace. “We are both to run away from spiritual danger and to run after spiritual good.” 43
“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels” (2:23). The term for foolish is moros. It means dull, sluggish or stupid. 44 Obviously, it is from this Greek word that we derive our word “moron.” It is moronic to engage in arguments. We should be aware that the one who wants to argue with us is probably a real expert in arguing and debating. We would no doubt lose the argument anyway. Also, arguing never wins people to Christ and it does not convince them of Christian truth. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”
“And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful” (2:24). There can be no quarreling among the Lord’s people or among the ministry. “Charles Spurgeon spoke about those in his day whom, he said, ‘…went about with theological revolvers in their ecclesiastical trousers’” 45 There also can be no quarreling among the flock of God.
The term “servant” is the Greek word doulos or the word for slave. In ancient times the slave was the sole property of his master. He literally had no will or rights of his own. A slave who was arguing with other slaves was thus a contradiction. That slave’s will and his words were really reserved for service to his master (Tit. 2:9). We simply cannot tell how much damage arguing and quarreling has done over the centuries. Stott says, “The combination of unbiblical speculations and uncharitable polemics has done great damage to the cause of Christ.” 46
So, we must not be argumentative or resentful. Instead we must be kind and considerate to everyone and be able to instruct others in the way of righteousness. We will be able to teach and instruct (didaktikos) if we express these other good qualities. Calvin says, “There will be no room for instruction, if he have not moderation and some equability of temper.” 47 Here we are reminded of Isaiah’s Servant Messiah. It was said of him in Isaiah 42:2: “He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets.” Jesus himself said in Matthew 11:29, “…for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Paul finishes up this chapter saying: “Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” (2:25-26). It is clear that the human race is greatly deceived. The Scripture says: “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor.4:4). The glory of God is displayed everywhere in creation but these cannot see. No one likes to be told that he or she is blind, so it is important that we gently instruct others, always being careful to show humility, concern and pure unfailing love.
The purpose of course is to bring these to repentance (metanoian) and into a knowledge of the truth. The Greek word here for knowledge is epignosis, and it means a “precise, experiential knowledge.” 48 The citizens of this evil age are blind, deaf, confused and are being carried off to an eternal hell in the devil’s chains. The word sogreo means to be captured alive and most commentators see this as being captured by the devil. 49 We must get the saving word, the saving knowledge to them before it is too late.
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 Timothy 3:1
In the western world a lot of Christians mark their Bibles with colored pencils. I suppose that if there is anything we should be diligent to mark in our Bibles, it is these verses.
When we look at this passage carefully we realize that we must define what Paul is talking about when he uses the expression “last days.” There are a lot of different ideas about this subject, of course. We see this expression several places in the Old Testament, like Isaiah 2:2, Hosea 3:5, and Micah 4:1. In these passages the prophets speak of good things coming to pass. This is also pictured in Isaiah 2:2, “In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.”
When we look in the New Testament we see that the last days have begun (cf. Heb. 1:2; Jas. 5:3). Listen to the words of Peter in Acts 2:17: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” Since the Spirit was poured out at Pentecost, Peter was essentially claiming that the last days had started. So in spite of all the terrible times and terrible people that are coming, we can rejoice that good things are also coming.
Since Paul is speaking here both of terrible times and terrible people we need to first gain some overall understanding of the times. In Matthew 16:2-3, Jesus charged the Sadducees with knowing how to discern the weather but not knowing how to discern the signs of the times. Today, thanks to our many cyber wonders, we can check the weather on our hand-held devices several times a day if we like. However, we might wonder how often we are checking on the signs of the times.
To really gain some understanding of biblical time we must go back to the prophet Daniel. Many scholars have scoffed at Daniel, but we should remember that Jesus put a lot of stock in Daniel’s prophecies. We need to open Daniel at chapter two and consider carefully Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. After the king had brought about an end to the sovereign theocracy of Israel, he had this awesome and alarming dream. Daniel saw that the dream represented the rise of four Gentile world empires, beginning with Nebuchadnezzar. The king was the head of gold in the image. The second kingdom was made of silver and represented the Media-Persian Empire. The third kingdom was of bronze and represented Greece. Finally, the fourth kingdom was of iron and represented Rome.
It is interesting that these kingdoms were in a state of devolution, not evolution as many would suppose.1 Quite simply, governments will get worse and worse as time goes on. Nebuchadnezzar saw that the Roman Empire would divide into two parts and that finally it would separate into ten nations that would be made of iron and clay. He later saw in Daniel 7:8, that out of the fragile and worthless mixture of iron and clay a little horn (the antichrist) would arise. Today we seem to be living in this toe period of history as governments crumble to pieces all around us. Daniel realized that the influence of these four empires would last through the ages until finally the whole mess would be destroyed by the rock hewn out of the mountain (Christ and his Kingdom from Mt. Zion).
Since these kingdoms all fall at the same time (Dan. 2:35) we must realize that we have been under the influence of all these kingdoms throughout our lives. For instance, just consider how we have been impacted by the Greeks, with their undue emphasis upon man and their legacy of humanism. Also, the Romans have had a tremendous influence on us. Latin continued to be taught in many public schools through the early 20th century. Even today, I still find myself using Roman numerals at times.
It is important that we not only understand the world governmental system but that we understand something about divine timing. Daniel 9:24 is perhaps the most mysterious verse in all of scripture (read vs. 24-27 for the whole picture). In this one verse God encapsulates history by dividing it into a period of “seventy sevens.” These are probably seventy time periods of seven years each. This very long period most likely began with the Second Decree of the Persian king Artaxerxes in 445 BC. In this passage we are dealing with a total of 490 years. However, by the time Christ appeared, clearly sixty-nine of the seventy time periods of seven had elapsed. Only one period of seven years remained. We can now understand how New Testament people felt they were living in the last days.
Were they mistaken? Two thousand years have now elapsed and the end has not come. How do we explain this? It is important for us that the decree of the King Artaxerxes had to do with rebuilding Jerusalem. It seems likely that when the Roman general Titus destroyed Jerusalem as well as the Temple in AD 70, the divine time clock stopped. After two thousand years we are still not only living in the last days but still looking forward toward the end of the age. We can guess that the restoration of Jerusalem in our time, as well as the final rebuilding of the Temple sometime soon, will bring on the end of this period and usher in the last day. This is called the Day of the Lord, or the consummation (cf. Matt. 13:39, 40; 24:3; 28:20; Heb. 9:26).2 Until that time, we continue to live in the “times of the Gentiles” as Jesus mentioned (Lk. 21:24), and the “last days” as Paul speaks of here.
Before we can fully comprehend the use of time in the Bible we must realize that Jewish people divided time into two different segments. There was “This present evil age” and the “age to come,” which would be one of glory (Lk. 18:30; Eph. 1:21). Between these two ages was the Day of the Lord when God would personally intervene to remake the world. 3 Although the kingdom is coming, there will be many “birth pains” and much suffering (Matt.13:36-43; 24:8). The Day will bring blessing for God’s people but horrible suffering and judgment for the godless world. We have only to look at the Book of Revelation to see these mighty judgments falling upon a rebellious earth.
The early church father Lactantius (c. 240 – c. 320) describes this end-day for us: “At that time, there will be no faith among men, nor peace, kindness, shame, or truth. As a result, there will be no security, no government, nor any rest from evil. The entire earth will be in a state of tumult. Wars will rage everywhere. All nations will be in arms and will oppose one another.” 4
TERRIBLE TIMES, TERRIBLE PEOPLE
People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 2 Timothy 3:2
We see in Scripture that not only will the times be terrible (chalepos – difficult dangerous v. 1), but the people will also be terrible. First of all, people will be lovers of themselves. We still live in the long-extended “Me Generation.” The self-esteem movement has virtually taken over our society. It is very prevalent in the schools today and self-esteem seems to be much more important than the student mastering any particular body of knowledge. With this system, students can feel great about themselves in spite of their gross ignorance. Christina Sommers and Sally Satel, in their book, One Nation Under Therapy note, “A growing body of research suggests there is, in fact, no connection between high self-esteem and achievement, kindness, or good personal relationships. On the other hand, unmerited self-esteem is known to be associated with antisocial behavior- even criminality.” 5 In the US, we live in a nation of narcissists and self-lovers. The Greek word is philautos and it portrays this basic sin of humanity. Jessica Nelson North describes self-love in her little poem, The Tea Party:
I had a little tea party
This afternoon at three.
‘Twas very small-
Three guest in all-
Just I, myself and me.
Myself ate all the sandwiches,
While I drank up the tea;
‘Twas also I who ate the pie
And passed the cake to me. 6
We see that as the last days progress, people will become lovers of money as well. The word here is philargyroi and it means a love of silver. The city of Ephesus where Timothy ministered was situated on a trade route from the rich Euphrates valley. For this reason Ephesus was called “the treasure-house of the ancient world.” 7 In such a setting there was certainly no lack of silver and gold and no lack of love for the same. Of course, when we turn from the love of God to the love of self, the love of money is the next step down.
Today we have incorporated the love of money into the very teaching of the church. It is called the “Prosperity Gospel.” With such theology, every Christian is expected to be wealthy, and those who are not are often looked down upon as not having enough faith. We should remember that Jesus described the Pharisees as lovers of money. Such love is really idolatry (Lk.16:14) and in the end it led to the crucifixion of Jesus.8
Paul mentions next the sins of boastfulness and arrogance as hallmarks of last day people. To be boastful, or to be a braggart, is the term alazon. It appears that the root of this word meant wandering about, or even being a wandering quack. It later took on the meaning of being boastful. 9
Barclay points out how boastfulness and arrogance naturally lead to the next evil quality in Paul’s list, which is abuse or the love of insult (blasphemia). This word often means insult toward God but it can also mean insult toward individuals. 10 Blasphemy toward God is very well expressed by Richard Dawkins, who says in his popular book, The God Delusion: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomanical, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” 11
Well, it seems that there is no end to Paul’s list of evildoers. It is very similar to the list he gives in Romans 1, and is a pretty full description of unsaved and depraved humanity.
Next, the apostle mentions disobedience to parents. In the Roman world obedience to parents was of utmost importance and it was required throughout life. The Roman father was in total control of the family. He could sell a child into slavery or he could will the child’s death and carry out the execution himself. In such a society the parents were held in high regard and it was considered as bad as murder to strike a father. 12 Today, we see much disobedience to parents and a good deal of parental abuse. Our society seems to condone this. Guzik tells of a case some years ago in Orlando, Florida where an11-year-old boy was given the right to seek a “divorce” from his parents. This was so that he could be adopted by a foster family. 13 It is not unusual for a child to murder one or both of the parents, as was the case in the recent and infamous Sandy Hook School shootings in Connecticut.
Paul ends the second verse with “ungrateful” and “unholy.” Ingratitude is always like a sign of worse things to come. It is like a hole in the dam so to speak. If it is not fixed promptly there will be a great disaster on the way. Ingratitude is reflected in the remark “But what have you done for me lately?” We need to be thankful every day and every moment of our lives because the Lord has given us so much. One of our good friends reflected thankfulness to an unusual degree. Even when she was handed a glass of water she was profusely thankful. The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Along with ungrateful there is unholy. The Greek word for unholy is anosios. It has the meaning of offending against unwritten laws and codes that are basic to the essence of life. For instance, to the Greeks it meant refusing to bury the dead. It also meant marrying one’s own sister or mother. 14 Today we often see such things that are absolutely outrageous. Actually, as the last days progress, we are beginning to see a lot of outrageous things.
Paul goes on to say that these people will be: “without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good” (3:3). These end-time folks will be without love (astorgoi). Clarke says they are, “Without that affection which parents bear to their young, and which the young bear to their parents. An affection which is common to every class of animals; consequently, men without it are worse than brutes.” 15
They are unforgiving and slanderous. To be unforgiving is to hit the very depths of depravity. It means that the Father in heaven will never be able to forgive us because we cannot forgive others (Matt. 6:14-15). The actual word is aspondos and it has the meaning of implacable or not willing to make a truce. 16 Next, to be slanderous is to rob others of their good name. Interestingly, the Greek term for slander is diabolos, this translates into the English word for “devil.” When we slander another person we are doing the devil’s own work. Long ago the eminent Shakespeare said it in Iago’s words to Othello: “But he that filches from me my good name robs me of that which not enriches him, and makes me poor indeed.” 17
Then the apostle says that people will be without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good. Self-control (akrates) is a big one for our society. Today people have lost control of their bodies and their minds. They are addicted to alcohol, to drugs, to internet porn, to sports and to dozens of other things. No doubt, because they have lost control, they become brutal or untamed (anemeros). Barclay says this word should more readily apply to wild animals rather to human beings, and that it denotes savagery. 18 We are living in an age of brutes and Neanderthals. As I write this, the latest fad is for thugs to go down the streets of our cities and knock out some poor innocent and unsuspecting soul. It is called the Knockout Game. In many ways our streets are becoming worse than a jungle. At least in the jungle there are laws, and animals usually do not just hurt and kill for the fun of it.
Of course, such as these are not lovers of good things or good people (aphilagathos). They have in fact become haters of these things.
Paul continues with his long laundry-list of evils, saying that end-time people will be “treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—” (3:4). They are treacherous (prodotes) or traitors. Today we have many traitors who betray country, society, church and family. In Paul’s day Christianity was becoming a crime. One of the curses of the Roman society was the existence of informers.19 Jesus tells us that at the end of the age children will betray their parents and parents will betray their children (Mk. 13:12). They will no doubt do this for their great fear of government or else for personal rewards and gains.
People will become rash or reckless. The term is propetes, and it is taken from pro (before) and pipto (to fall). It conveys the idea of being headstrong or falling forwards in pursuit of an evil end.20 The next word in this verse is “conceited.” It is the Greek word tuphoo and has the meaning of being high-minded (raising a smoke). 21
Next, these end-day folks are lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. The US is a pleasure loving and pleasure seeking country. No doubt the money spent on pleasure would run into the trillions of dollars each year. That may very well be why Americans now seem to have so little money. Proverbs 21:17 says: “He who loves pleasure will become poor…” If we could only seek God with the diligence we seek pleasures it would change our nation and perhaps our world. How sad it is that we do not seek God, who is the source of the greatest pleasures. Psalm 16:11 says: “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
There is a strange and interesting hallmark of these last-day people. Paul describes them as “having a form of godliness but denying its power.” He quickly advises, “Have nothing to do with them” (3:5). Guzik says of these “In our self-obsessed world, people feel very free to have a ‘salad bar’ religion – they pick and choose what they want. They feel free to be very ‘spiritual,’ but sense no obligation to be biblical.” 22 Trapp says, “Hollow professors are as hollow trees in an old wood; tall, but pithless, sapless, unsound.” 23
It is easy for us to judge such as these but we must remember that the church itself must bear a lot of blame for the condition of people today. Stedman said in the last century, “We are living heirs today of the lukewarmness of the churches of the ‘20s and ‘30s of this century.” 24 He says “that the primary cause of these repetitive cycles of stress and danger is the hypocritical lives of Christians who outwardly look pious, religious, committed and devoted, but are actually unchanged inside and have no power to overcome evil in their lives. Hypocritical Christianity— that is the bottom line in these times of stress.” 25 We must remember that the church is the light and salt for our dark and polluted world.
THOSE WHO “WORM THEIR WAY”
They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 2 Timothy 3:6
Here we see some men whom we might call “creepy crawlers.” Maybe we should just call them “creeps.” They worm their way into houses and get control over weak women.
The word for women here is gynikaria and it means “little women.” It is a term of contempt for those women who are idle, silly and weak. 26 No doubt the false teachers were sharing their conjured up mysteries of the faith with these women. Barclay notes here that it was the Christian gospel that brought about the emancipation of women in the ancient world, and along with it came some problems. 27 The early church father Irenaeus (AD 130-202) tells of one Marcus who wandered about and deceived a number of silly women, defiling them in the process. They began to boast that they were greater than all others in knowledge and perfection. 28
Of course, most women do not fall into this category. Wuest adds here: “One of the great virtues of womanhood, namely that of trusting another, is turned into a weakness by Satan here.”29 Of course, the same thing happened long ago with Eve the mother of our human race.
Paul describes these weak-willed women and others saying that they are: “always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.” (3:7). Gnosticism had a vast appeal to females likely because it elevated them from their lowly position in ancient societies. The problem with Gnosticism and with many forms of cultural Christianity today is that it does not bring people to a full knowledge of truth. The Greek word used here is epignosis. It is an important word in the New Testament and means “precise and correct experiential knowledge.” 30 This full knowledge is obviously a saving knowledge of truth.
“Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth—men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected” (3:8). Here we are given the names of those magicians who withstood Moses when he came before Pharaoh (Exo. 7:11, 8:7; 9:11). This information is not found in the Old Testament, but a reference to the two is found in the Dead Sea Scrolls Zadokite Document. Also there is an ancient reference in the Jewish Targum of Jonathan on Exodus.31 We remember that the New Testament is “God breathed,” and there are times when the Holy Spirit will take some bit of information from the ancient world and include in in the inspired Scriptures.
These two men opposed Moses by working false signs and miracles, no doubt using the powers of deception and darkness. Likewise the Gnostic teachers in Timothy’s day were probably using various types of deception to lure people away from God. These teachers had depraved and corrupted minds and were opposed to truth. The word used here is a combination of the Greek words kata and patheiro and it has the meaning of being depraved through some outside agency such as from Satan or the demonic realm. 32
We are living in an unusual time today where millions of people are opposing the truth just as Jannes and Jambres did in Moses’ day, or just as the Gnostics did in Timothy’s day. Our postmodern philosophers now tell us that there is no universal standard of truth. All “truth” is now seen as ever-changing and relative. Truth is based on a person’s social and cultural background and thus the pagan’s truth is just as true as the Christian’s truth. What is true for one person or group may not be true for another. 33 It seems that Paul is speaking of our day in 2 Thessalonians 2:10 when he says of these, “…They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.”
Paul adds of all these: “But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone” (3:9). Stott says, “There is something patently spurious about heresy, and something self-evidently true about the truth.” 34 Sin just never works out, and the same thing is true of heresy. Barnes says of this: “Error will advance only to a certain point, when it will be ‘seen’ to be falsehood and folly, and when the world will arise and cast it off.” 35
PAUL’S PATTERN OF SUFFERING
You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings— what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 2 Timothy 3:10-11
Timothy had been with Paul a lot and was a regular companion on many trips. He certainly knew Paul’s teaching well and he had watched his way of life, his patience and so forth. He was undoubtedly a witness to Paul’s suffering particularly in Lystra, his home town, and in many other places (Acts 14:19-20). “When Paul says, ‘You observed this,’ he uses a very strong word in the Greek [parakoloutheo], which means, ‘You came right along with me; you accompanied me through all of this; you saw all these things, now don’t forget them.’” 36 Guthrie says here: “The apostle’s bearing during these trying events may even have been the major factor in influencing Timothy’s attachment to the apostle.” 37 We can certainly not know for sure, but a very young Timothy may have witnessed Paul’s stoning and even his miraculous rising up from it at Lystra.
Stott says of Timothy: “No doubt he had begun by taking pains to grasp the meaning of Paul’s instruction. But then he went further. He made it his own, believed it, absorbed it, lived by it….Thus in both belief and practice, in ‘teaching’ and ‘conduct’ Timothy became and remained Paul’s faithful follower.” 38
There are two words used in this verse that are vitally important for last-day saints. They are patience (makrothumia), which really means patience with people. And then there is endurance (hupomone). Barclay defines endurance as “a triumphant facing of them [problems] so that even out of evil there can come good. It describes not the spirit which accepts life but the spirit which takes control of it.” 39 Some translators treat patience as long-suffering. I like to spell it loooooong suffering. Also they treat endurance as steadfast endurance or perseverance.
“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (3:12-13). Not only was Paul persecuted in the Galatian area where Timothy lived but he was persecuted all over because of the gospel. Many scriptures tell of his persecutions (e.g. 1 Cor. 4:10-13; 2 Cor. 4:7-11; 6:3-10; 11:23-28). Persecutions and persecutors will become worse and worse as time goes on.
We simply cannot escape the fact that persecution is the lot of sincere Christians. We are certainly not to seek persecution, but if we are not having it, we should probably check ourselves to see if we are really living in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5). Again, there are many scriptures that speak of persecution being normal for Christians (e.g. Matt. 5:10-12; John 15:18-21; 16:1-2; 17:14; Acts 14:22; Rom. 5:3-4; 8:17; 2 Cor. 4:16-18; Phil. 1:29; 2 Tim. 1:8; 2:3; 3:12; 1 Thess. 3:3; James 1:2-4; 1 Pet. 4:12-19). Quite simply, “It is Paul’s conviction that the real follower of Christ cannot escape persecution.” 40
Obviously, there is a cultural Christianity or what might be called a “phony folk Christianity” that will be able to escape persecution. Stedman describes this type of religion saying: “I would like to buy $3.00 worth of God, please. Not enough to explode my soul, or disturb my sleep…I don’t want enough of him to make me love a Black man, or to pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation. I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy just $3.00 worth of God, no more….” 41
Obviously, Paul is here conveying once more the age-old truth that the church will always be made up of wheat and tares (Matt. 13:30). The two will only be separated at the end of the age. Impostors in the church seem to live by the creed, “If you can’t be good—look good.”
Unfortunately, sin exerts upon us almost a gravitational pull, always taking us lower. As Barnes says, “This is the general law of depravity— that if men are not converted, they are always growing worse, and sinking deeper into iniquity.” 42
CONTINUING IN CHRIST
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:14-15
The Scripture is plain that we must continue to the end to be saved (Matt. 24:13; Mk. 13:13). This continuing or enduring is not something we can do by ourselves, but something God does in us and with us. Someone has said that it is not we who persevere but God who perseveres in us.
We need to hold on to what we have learned in this faith. We must not be like those false teachers who were ever learning but never coming to a full knowledge of the truth. Paul challenges Timothy to continue in the truth he had learned and to remember where that truth came from. It came from God’s own apostles and prophets. It was to be guarded as a precious treasure.
Regarding this treasure, Paul reminds Timothy of his childhood and how he had learned the Holy Scriptures from his young and tender years. The Greek term here is brephos and it has the meaning of “a new-born child, an infant a babe.” 43 We know today that there is not an age that is too young for reading Scriptures to a child. Some Christian couples have even read Scriptures while the child was yet in the womb, trusting in some way that the word of God would make a penetration into the little heart of the unborn.
We have discussed how the word of God is one of the means in which we become sanctified in our walk. Stott says, “Scripture is the chief means which God employs to bring the man of God to maturity.” He says, “Let the word of God make you a man of God!” 44 All this presumes not only the reading of the word but daily meditation in the word (Josh. 1:8).
It is the word of God that changes people. It is also the word of God that changes nations and civilizations. There is a true story relating to the famous Mutiny on the Bounty:
A group of British sailors on the ship H.M.S. Bounty mutinied in the early part of the nineteenth century, seized the ship and fled to the island of Pitcairn in the South Pacific. There they hid from British justice for many years. But they were such a community of cut-throats that their life there was desperate and dangerous. They were so debauched and degraded that they started killing each other off, until it looked as though their colony would only last a few years before it would be destroyed by their own debauchery. Then one of the mutineers, Alexander Smith, found a Bible which his mother had placed in his trunk. He began to read it, and soon his own life was changed as he came to know the Lord through the Book. He taught it to the others and rather quickly life on the island took on a wholly different cast. When the mutineers were discovered, they were found to have an almost ideal community. There was no jail because there was no crime. They were godly people, every family among them transformed by the power of the Word of God. 45
Guthrie points out that the expression Holy Scriptures (hiera grammata) is an unusual one.46 It obviously has a primary reference to the Jewish Scriptures that we know as the Old Testament. Several scholars state this as a certainty. However, by the late time this epistle was written, some books of what was to become the New Testament were already in existence. Certainly, many sayings of Jesus were circulating in the churches. It is interesting that Paul could connect a quotation of Deuteronomy 25:4 with a saying of Jesus that is now found in Luke 10:7. It is also interesting that Peter would clearly declare Paul’s letters to be Scripture (2 Pet. 3:16).” 47
SCRIPTURE IS GOD-BREATHED AND USEFUL
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 2 Timothy 3:16
Here we have a great proof-text for the importance of the Bible in the Christian life. The Bible is the spiritual breath of God and all Scripture is inspired by the Lord. The physicist, Gerald Schroeder gives us an example of this inspiration:
From the time of Aristotle, 2,300 years ago, scientific theory held the universe to be eternal…Through the early 1960s in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary, two thirds of leading U.S. scientists surveyed believed it. For 3,300 years, since the revelation on Sinai, the Bible denied it, steadfastly claiming there was a beginning to our universe. Only in the past thirty years has science resolved the question. 48
Schroeder is not only a famous physicist but is a competent Bible scholar. He also cites the historian Paul Johnson: “The Bible is the earliest identifiable source of the great conceptual discoveries essential for civilization: equality before the law, sanctity of life, dignity of the individual, individual and communal responsibility, peace as an ideal, love as the foundation of justice.” 49
Loren Cunningham, who has taken the Bible into much of the world through his organization claims: “The great technological advances of the Western world would not have been possible without thinking based on a biblical principle of absolute truth.” 50
The Bible itself is an amazing miracle. Guzik says of it: “The Bible is unique in its continuity: It was written over 1600 years, over 60 generations, by more than 40 authors, on three different continents, in different circumstances and places, in different times, different moods, in three languages, concerning scores of controversial subjects, but it speaks with one united voice…” 51
Much of the success of the early church was because of its unfailing dependence upon the Bible as the word of God. Early writers like Justin Martyr, Iranaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Tertullian, often quoted the New Testament. In fact, they quoted it a total of 36,289 times. It is actually possible to reconstruct the New Testament with all but eleven verses from their many quotes. 52
The Bible has an enormous and enduring power to change lives. Barclay tells one such story:
Vincente Quiroga of Chile found a few pages of a book washed up on the seashore by a tidal wave following an earthquake. He read them and never rested until he obtained the rest of the Bible. Not only did be become a Christian; he devoted the rest of this life to the distribution of the Scriptures in the forgotten villages of northern Chile.53
Paul states, “All Scripture is…useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” This does not mean “parts” of Scripture, but “all” of Scripture. The Bible can be trusted in all things. As Wiersbe says of Scriptures: “They are profitable for doctrine (what is right), for reproof (what is not right), for correction (how to get right), and for instruction in righteousness (how to stay right).” 54
The disciple of the Lord and the word of the Lord should not be long separated. The modern disciple, Smith Wigglesworth, felt that he could not go more than fifteen minutes without stopping to read the Bible. It is said that when he was invited out to dine he would insist on reading the Bible before each course in the meal. On one occasion he was being driven to a meeting when he cried for the car to stop. The driver thought something was wrong and brought the vehicle to a swift stop. Wigglesworth bowed his head and asked the Lord’s forgiveness for talking about other things and not the word of God. 55
It is tragic that in our generation we no longer have this great respect for the word of God. Pastor and evangelist Ray Stedman laments: “As I travel around America, and around the world, I am troubled that, in church after church today, the congregation is biblically illiterate.” Stedman’s prayer is “…that we will be men and women who cry out, like John Wesley, ‘O give me that Book. Above all else let me have the Book of God.’” 56
Paul says that the Scripture is useful in all the above areas “so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (3:17). The Greek term for “thoroughly equipped” is exartizo. It can mean thoroughly furnished or fitted out. 57 The King James Version rendered the word “perfect,” and that translation no doubt caused a good deal of concern and frustration for Christians over the many years. We can much better understand the ideas of furnished, fitted out, thoroughly equipped and complete, rather than dealing with the idea of any perfection on this earth.
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Timothy 4:1
Once more Paul charges Timothy, and this charge seems to be the most serious one of all. He actually charges Timothy by God and Christ, the Judge of all the whole earth and by the coming or appearing of the Lord. There seems to be more here than meets the eye with all the serious charges Paul is giving his young helper (cf. 1 Tim.1:18; 5:21; 6:13; & 2 Tim. 4:1). The remarkable Apostle Paul, who for some thirty years has conducted a vast and important ministry to the Gentiles, is about to pass from the scene. Wuest says here that Timothy is “…the one upon whose shoulders he is now placing the responsibility for the care of all the churches and the leadership in maintaining the Faith once for all delivered to the saints…”1 The weighty mantle of Paul is about to fall upon young Timothy.
The word the apostle uses here for “charge” is diamarturomai. In the pagan Greek culture it was the term used to call both gods and men to witness.2 Stott says of this important word that it has legal connections and can mean to ‘testify under oath’ in a court of law or to ‘adjure’ a witness to do so.” 3 Since this Greek word has a connection with testimony, Coffman adds that “It may be called the last will and testament of the great apostle to the Gentiles.” 4 We have mentioned before how Jewish apostles and disciples handed the gospel to the Gentiles. Timothy, who was half-Jewish appears to be the last link in this divine chain of distribution.
We note that Timothy is charged by the appearing of Jesus (epiphaneia). In the ancient world this term was used for the intervention of the gods. It was especially used for the accession of the Roman emperor to his throne. 5 We can understand here how it is a reference to the coming of Jesus in his kingdom and his accession to the throne of all the ages.
The expression “of God and of Christ Jesus” helps us understand the full deity of the Lord Christ as we see in other places (cf. Matt. 25:31ff; Acts 10:42; 17:31; Rom. 2:16; 1 Pet. 4:5). Wuest makes a note here that “the translation should read, ‘our God, even Christ Jesus.’” 6
Paul charges Timothy: “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage— with great patience and careful instruction” (4:2). Here is an important three word challenge to all ministers— “preach the word.” It means simply “proclaim the gospel as well as the whole word of God.” The preaching of the word might be the noblest task on earth. The evangelist Billy Graham was a good friend of US President Lyndon Johnson. It is said that at the latter’s election he asked the evangelist if he would like some position in the new administration. Dr. Graham answered without a moment’s hesitation, “Sir, I believe that Jesus Christ has called me to preach his gospel. To me that is the highest calling any man could have on earth.” 7
The preacher must be prepared (epistemi) to do his ministry at all times, whether “in season” or “out of season.” This Greek term for “be prepared” conveys the idea of being instant or standing by. It also has the idea of being alert and urgent. 8 The minister of God should also correct, rebuke and encourage. This gets us into the unpleasant area of church discipline. In our “seeker-friendly” churches today we have all but backed away from this, lest people turn from us and find fellowship somewhere else. This is a sad situation and does not do much for the moral condition of the churches and communities as well. The theologian and philosopher Francis Schaeffer has said of this situation: “First we may say that there is a time, and ours is such a time, when a negative message is needed before anything positive can begin.” 9
Of course, when we correct and rebuke we should also be ready to encourage (parakaleo). This word conveys the idea of exhorting, begging and urging people to turn away from their wrong. 10 So, along with rebuke must always go love and encouragement. Perhaps these little lines sum it all up:
Lord, help us in love
To rebuke and exhort
That the time is short.
So Christian preachers must preach the word wherever they go. St. Francis of Assisi once said, “Unless you preach everywhere you go, there’s no use to go anywhere to preach.” God’s people are to preach in season and out of season. They are to be persistent and urge their word on all hearers. But they must sometimes get tough with people, even rebuking them when necessary. “It was Alcibiades, the brilliant but spoiled darling of Athens, who used to say to Socrates: ‘Socrates, I hate you, because every time I meet you, you make me see what I am.’” 11
MORE ABOUT SOUND OR HEALTHY DOCTRINE
For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 2 Timothy 4:3
The apostle tells us that the time will come when people will not endure sound or healthy Bible teaching. Once again, as we have seen several places in the Pastorals, we come across the subject of “sound doctrine.” The Greek word is (hugiaino), and it conveys the idea of “healthy” or “wholesome” doctrine. 12 In fact, this word is used for “healthy” and “health-giving” throughout the Pastoral Epistles. 13 Since Doctor Luke was in close company with the apostle while he was in prison, and since Paul might have dictated these letters to him, we wonder if the good doctor may have had something to do with the use of this word.
We have surely come to a time today when people, including many Christians, have forsaken healthy doctrine. Some of our popular church doctrines are now based on greed (the sanctified kind of course). Yet, the Bible says of greed, “…It takes away the life of its owners.” (Prov. 1:19 NKJ). This sounds a bit unhealthy doesn’t it?
Also, many people in the US are trying to “keep up with the Joneses.” That means that they are supposed to envy the Jones family next door and do their best to get a better house, car and job than the Joneses have. Unfortunately, the Bible speaks in disparaging tones concerning such endeavors. In Proverbs 14:30, the Bible simply states that, “… envy rots the bones.” In some strange way, when we envy other people, it destroys our physical makeup and causes us to be sick.
There are a lot of other unhealthy things we do. Sometimes we are deceitful. Deceitfulness is a very sophisticated form of lying. By using deceit we can let other people believe a lie without actually telling them one. We seem at first to get away with this tricky business. However, the Bible says in 1 Peter 3:10: “For, ‘Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.’” Thus, we see that there is something about deceit that will eventually kill us. Perhaps it raises our blood pressure and gives us ulcers and other ailments.
Then, there is the whole business of adultery, fornication and other sexual sins. Our society is crazed with the subject of sex. It is an amazing paradox that some who are involved in the pursuit of illicit sex are “health nuts” in other areas of their lives. The Bible says that adultery and fornication will ruin our health and even kill us. Our actions may also cause other innocent people to die, as we see in the case of King David’s adultery with Bathsheba. Illicit sex can kill. In Proverbs 7:27, the author speaks of the loose woman in these words: “Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death.”
Modern developments have clearly illustrated the unhealthiness of illicit sex. Figures in 2013 show that more than 35 million people worldwide are now living with HIV/AIDS. 14 Much of this plague has been the result of illicit sex. We are told that AIDS reduces the average life expectancy by 50 percent, and that active homosexuals who are twenty years old are finding it difficult to live to age forty. The Bible assures us that illicit sex is unhealthy and we now have millions of statistics to prove it.
The way of sin and rebellion is and has always been an unhealthy and hazardous business. In Proverbs 13:21, we see that “Misfortune pursues the sinner…” The Apostle Paul speaks even more clearly. He says that “There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil…” (Rom. 2:9). Or, as the Prophet Ezekiel states, “…The soul who sins is the one who will die” (Ezek. 18:4).
Stedman says of the group Paul has reference to that they have “itching ear disease.” With such a strange disease, they gather around them teachers who will scratch where they itch. The result is that they are led into myths. 15 Paul Kretzmann, professor at Concordia College says, “People do not care for wholesome doctrine, for the sound teaching of the word of God, they are impatient with the ‘old-time religion.’ The doctrine of the vicarious satisfaction through the blood of Jesus Christ is called ‘blood theology,’ faithful admonitions and warnings are denounced as antiquated pietism.” 16
These people heap-up false teachers around them. We may wonder why there are so many false teachers to every true one. Also, we may wonder why so many false doctrines spread quickly and why false doctrine is always so popular and in such demand. Mark Twain once said, “A lie can go around the world while truth is lacing up her boots.”
Paul says, “They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths” (4:4). We are now living in a day when this scripture has come to pass. Our postmodern philosophers have assured us that there is no universal standard of truth. They say that all truth is relative and ever-changing. Unfortunately, their idea of truth does not correspond with every-day reality. Now after a half-century of trying out all their new “truths” we are finding that they don’t work. The horrible cost of all these new ideas is showing up everywhere in our society. It is becoming a “train-wreck.”
Unfortunately, many in the church are clinging to these new ideas. The Greek word used here is muthos or fable. It refers to fiction rather than to fact. 17 We have talked earlier about all the myths we are believing in the church today. This is such an important subject that we need to say more about it. Let us look at a few more modern myths. The pagan myth of reincarnation has seeped into the church. Please be advised that it is impossible to believe in the resurrection and reincarnation together. This doctrine is very attractive and it says, “If at first you don’t succeed, die, die again!” 18 It is utter nonsense and the Bible warns against it as we see in Hebrews 9:27-28.
One more myth is that science can solve all our problems. Another one is that the homosexual lifestyle is good and commendable.19 Today we have governments falling all over themselves to make all sorts of homosexuality legal. The Bible condemns it in no uncertain terms (Rom. 1:24-27) and it doesn’t work in the real world. Yet one last myth in our modern and postmodern world is that psychology can help us become happy and well-adjusted persons. We have now even joined together pagan and depraved Freudian psychology with pastoral ministry.
Today we put the emphasis upon what we think, not on what the word of God says. The Christian philosopher and researcher Nancy Pearcey describes our situation exactly: “The very meaning of the word true has been distorted. It no longer means that a statement matches what really exists in the world but only that it matches my inner experience.” 20 When we put all these new ideas to work in the real world we will find that they crash and burn. Normal Geisler and Frank Turek describe this so aptly saying: “That’s what happens when a beautiful theory meets a brutal gang of facts.” 21
There are some things that are true eternally, regardless of what the postmodern philosophers tell us. I like the story that Lloyd C. Douglas, author of The Robe relates to us. It is the story of an old retired music teacher living in a boarding house. He would often tap his tuning fork on the side of his wheelchair and say: “That’s middle C! It was middle C yesterday; it will be middle C tomorrow; it will be middle C a thousand years from now. The tenor upstairs sings flat, the piano across the hall is out of tune, but, my friend, that is middle C!” 22
KEEPING ONE’S HEAD
But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:5
Paul advises Timothy and all of us as well to keep our heads, and this is not so easy a task in this age of mythology and make-believe. The actual Greek word here is nepoho. Literally, it means to be sober but figuratively it pictures freedom from every kind of mental and spiritual drunkenness. It also has the meaning of being well-balanced and self-controlled. 23
Timothy is never to get the idea that the ministry is easy. He is to continually do the work of an evangelist. This is the Greek term euangelion and it has the meaning of being an evangelist or sharing the gospel. Wuest says that the idea is to let one’s work be of an evangelistic character, rather than one having to go from place to place evangelizing. 24
Timothy is also to discharge all his duties. The Greek word used for discharge is plerophoreo, and it has the meaning “to cause a thing be shown to the full, to carry through to the end, to fully perform.” 25 The apostle knew the vast work of Gentile salvation was very important and would take all the effort young Timothy could muster.
FINISHING THE RACE
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:6-7
Paul knew his departure was near and he was ready. The pictures here are very graphic and the apostle says he is about to be poured out like a drink offering No doubt, Paul is referring to the drink offering that was often presented by the Israelites (cf. Gen. 35:14; Exo. 29:40-41; Lev. 23:13; Num. 15:1-10). However, the Romans also made a drink offering at the end of every meal as they poured out a cup of wine to the gods.26 This is such a vivid picture because, for a Roman citizen like Paul, the manner of execution was by beheading and not by crucifixion.27
This section continues to be very descriptive. The apostle speaks of his departure. The word is analuo, and in military talk it meant taking down one’s tent or it spoke of an army departing. In nautical language it meant hoisting up the anchor and sailing away. 28
Paul once more returns to the idiom of the battle or of the race. He says “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race.” Once more, the term is agōnizomai, and it is a favorite word with Paul (cf. 1 Cor. 9:25; Col.1:29; & Phil.1:30). The word can be used either for a fight or for an athletic contest. 29 It seems that the picture of an athletic contest looms large here, particularly the picture of the important Marathon.
Barclay describes the origin of the great Marathon race, which was world-famous:
The Battle of Marathon was one of the decisive battles of the world. In it, the Greeks met the Persians; and, if the Persians had conquered, the glory that was Greece would never have flowered upon the world. Against fearful odds, the Greeks won the victory; and, after the battle, a Greek soldier ran all the way, day and night, to Athens with the news. He ran straight to the magistrates. “Rejoice,” he gasped, “we have conquered” – and, even as he delivered his message, he fell down dead. He had completed his course and done his work, and there is no finer way for an individual to die. 30
“Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day— and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (4:8). Paul was about to finish his race in victory. He had delivered the true faith to the Gentile world. Now he was about to be offered up. Yet, he knew that the victor’s crown was due him. In the New Testament there are two words for crown, the royal crown and the victor’s crown or stephanos. Here he is speaking of the victor’s crown. Long before, Paul had witnessed the victory of a man by this same name (Acts 6:8). Stephen (Stephanos) had died while Paul was a witness to his martyrdom. No doubt, this picture had remained embedded in the apostle’s mind. 31
The great apostle had suffered much for Christ. Now he was about to depart and be with the Lord. He had earlier said in Philippians 1:23-24: “I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” This inner struggle would now come to an end.
We note that the crown is not just reserved for Paul. It is available for all those who have won the Christian race and who have kept the faith. Unlike the laurel given to the runners in ancient times, this will be an imperishable crown of righteousness (1 Cor. 9:25).
SOME PERSONAL REMARKS
Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. 2 Timothy 4:9-10
Here the apostle is longing to see his son in the faith, Timothy, for one last time. There appears to be an urgency in Paul’s voice. He requests that Timothy come to him shortly. We see in verse 21 that he means before the winter season sets in. Because of the frequent winter storms, most shipping and sea travel would stop with the onset of cold weather. Since he was intent on handing his important ministry over to Timothy, there were no doubt many things he wished to share with him (cf. Jn. 16:12).
Paul is obviously feeling lonely and forsaken by friends. Only Luke is with him (v. 11) and others have scattered to the winds. Demas has actually turned his back on Paul and has deserted the mission entirely. Crescens and Titus have gone off on missions of their own. We will soon see how some prominent Christian friends have also deserted Paul.
No doubt the desertion of Demas was weighing heavily on him. Demas had been a faithful worker with the apostle for some time as we see in Colossians 4:14 and Philemon 1:24. The Greek word for “deserted” or “forsaken” (egkataleipo) means “to abandon, desert, leave in straits, leave helpless, leave in the lurch, let one down.” 32
Demas had left Paul because he loved the present world or the present evil age (aion) as it is called in scripture. The “present age” is difficult to define although it has some hold on all of us. Trench defines it as:
That floating mass of thoughts, opinions, maxims, speculations, hopes, impulses, aims, aspirations at any time current in the world, which it may be impossible to seize and accurately define, but which constitutes a most real and effective power, being the moral and immoral atmosphere which at every moment of our lives we inhale, again inevitable to exhale, the subtle informing spirit of the world of men who are living alienated and apart from God. 33
From a very practical viewpoint, it is entirely possible that Demas had become alarmed about his situation as he saw persecution closing in on himself and Paul and as he realized the ultimate cost of their enterprise. Perhaps he was just tired and worn out. He had in fact been in prison once before with Paul as we see in the Colossian and Philemon passages noted above.
In regard to the other workers mentioned here, we have no other New Testament reference to Crescens. Guthrie speaks of a tradition connecting him with the areas of Vienne and Mayence in Gaul. 34 Titus, of course had been the apostle’s representative on Crete but now he is likely being dispatched to Dalmatia (todays Croatia). Titus had been Paul’s faithful go-between and trouble shooter (2 Cor. 2:13; 7:6; 7:13; 12:18). He was with Paul in Jerusalem when the touchy subject of circumcision for Gentiles came up. He was actually the “test case” in this early Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15).
Throughout this concluding section the apostle seems to be making arrangements before his approaching final departure. He urges Timothy to make haste because he was apparently not too optimistic that there would be time enough to fulfill the request.35 In those days it was not possible for Timothy to catch the next flight. Much preparation for the voyage must be made. Obviously, months could quickly elapse before his arrival. In addition, he had instructions to pick up Mark somewhere along the way and to stop at Troas to recover Paul’s things left there.
“Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry” (4:11). Luke was a faithful companion of Paul and was often present on Paul’s missionary journeys. Since Luke was the author of Acts, he always uses “we” when he is present in any particular place. He was a physician who no doubt gave up a profitable vocation to spread the gospel message. Wuest says he knew all the hardships, privations, and dangers of Paul’s journeys plus he must have known all the marks (stigmata) of the Lord Jesus (Gal. 6:17) on the body of Paul as he no doubt ministered to him on many occasions in the cell.36 Luke had also suffered the first imprisonment with Paul as we see in Philemon 1:24 and Colossians 4:14.
We might wonder how Luke could actually be in prison with Paul. Barclay sheds some light on this saying: “It is thought that, when an arrested prisoner was on his way to trial at Rome, he was allowed to be accompanied by only two slaves, and it is therefore probable that Luke signed up as Paul’s slave in order to be allowed to accompany him to Rome and to prison.” 37
It is amazing that Paul here requests Timothy to bring Mark with him. During the First Missionary Journey young Mark, who was a cousin of Barnabas, had tagged along. However, he somehow grew discouraged and returned home to Jerusalem (Acts 13:13). Later Barnabas wanted to take Mark on the Second Missionary Journey but Paul absolutely refused (Acts 15:37-39). Because of this sharp disagreement, Paul and Barnabas never again worked together. We do see here a great picture of reconciliation. We know by Colossians 4:10 that Mark had made up with Paul and was working with him. Now, we see that Paul greatly desires his company.
Surely it is interesting that Paul was to have with him in prison the future writers of the gospels of Mark and Luke as well as the Book of Acts. We know that Mark had also become a close companion of Peter and that he wrote his gospel from the recollections and sermons of Peter. Peter even calls Mark his “son” in 1 Peter 5:13.
Paul says: “I sent Tychicus to Ephesus” (4:12). Guthrie says of this, “The most likely explanation of Tychicus’ mission to Ephesus is that he was to relieve Timothy during the latter’s absence in Rome while visiting Paul (cf. Tit 3:12).” 38 We know on another occasion Tychicus was sent to Crete to relieve Titus (Tit. 3:12). We know he was a “dear brother” to Paul and a “faithful servant” (Acts 20:4; Eph. 6:21). From other places such as Colossians 4:7, we know that Tychicus was a very useful person to have around.
“When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments” (4:13). There has been a lot of speculation among scholars and commentators concerning this passage and why Paul left these valuable items at Troas. Commentators Meyer and Moule feel that Paul was re-arrested at Troas and was therefore unable to gather his personal items. 39
Let us take a look at the items Paul is requesting here. The Greek word for cloak (phelonēs, sometimes phailones) does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. It is supposed to represent the Latin “penula.” 40 Commentators feel that it was similar to our present-day poncho. It was made of heavy material in a circular shape with a hole cut for the head. It could be used for a coat or even a sleeping bag in the winter. 41
Of course, much interest among commentators has been raised concerning the scrolls and parchments mentioned here. He asks for his scrolls (biblia), but especially he wanted his parchments (membranas). The scrolls were no doubt made of papyrus, while the parchments were surely made of animal skins. “The parchment manuscripts (membrane) were made from the skins of sheep, goats, or antelopes or of vellum, which later was made from the skins of young calves.” 42 These precious parchments may very well have contained some books of the Old Testament.
A.T. Robertson says these were “probably copies of Old Testament books, possibly copies of his own letters, and other books used and loved …The dressed skins were first made at Pergamum and so termed ‘parchments.’ These in particular would likely be copies of Old Testament books, parchment being more expensive than papyrus, possibly even copies of Christ’s sayings (Lk.1:1-4). We recall that in Acts 26:24, Festus referred to Paul’s learning…He would not waste his time in prison.” 43
Wuest adds here; “What a reprimand this is to those who have had training in Greek, and who have put aside their Greek New Testament.” 44 What a reprimand it is for those who have casually put aside their Bibles!
Barclay notes that history has a strange way of repeating itself. He relates how “1,500 years later, William Tyndale was lying in prison in Vilvorde, waiting for death because he had dared to give the people the Bible in their own language. It is a cold damp winter, and he writes to a friend: ‘Send me, for Jesus’ sake, a warmer cap, something to patch my leggings, a woolen shirt, and above all my Hebrew Bible.’” 45
ONE TROUBLESOME ENEMY
Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message. 2 Timothy 4:14-15
Although Alexander is fairly well identified here, we are still not exactly sure who he is. The name was a common one in that time. There are two other possible references to this Alexander and they are found in Acts 19:33-34 and 1Timothy 1:20. In the Acts account we see that he was a Jew who was put forth as a spokesman in the Ephesus riot. In 1 Timothy we realize that he was a believer, but one whom Paul had to discipline severely.
It is possible that the Bible is speaking of the same person in these accounts. Pett wonders why this Alexander is mentioned here with the other greetings and with mention of the other co-workers. He wonders if Alexander had been a co-worker of Paul and had become a turncoat since his mention is connected with Paul’s preliminary hearing.46 Some commentators feel that this man had actually informed on Paul. Others think he might have been a witness against Paul at the first hearing. 47 It is interesting that Paul uses the word endeikumi for expressing the harm this man caused him. This word “was in fact often used for giving information against someone.” 48
At least, this man was dangerous enough that Paul warns Timothy about him. It is encouraging that in spite of the serious problems he had caused, Paul held no grudge against him but rather was able to turn him over to God’s righteous judgment.
At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. 2 Timothy 4:16
Roman trials were in two parts. They began with a preliminary examination in order that a precise charge could be formulated against the prisoner. At this preliminary hearing it was possible for testimonies to be heard for or against the prisoner. Unfortunately for Paul, none of his friends showed up to testify on his behalf. We cannot help but note how this situation paralleled Psalm 22, a Psalm that was recited by the Lord as he was crucified. 49 Although all his friends had deserted him, still Paul was unwilling to hold any bitterness toward them. Stott refers to this as “Paul’s Gethsemane.” 50
We can only imagine the charges that were brought against Paul, who was obviously a ringleader of the often despised sect of Christians.
We know from Tacitus, Pliny and other contemporary writers the kind of allegations which were being made against Christians at that time. They were supposed to be guilty of horrid crimes against the state and against civilized society. They were accused of “atheism” (because they eschewed idolatry and emperor worship), of cannibalism (because they spoke of eating Christ’s body), and even of a general “hatred of the human race” (because of their supposed disloyalty to Caesar and perhaps because they had renounced the popular pleasures of sin). 51
We might wonder why faithful Luke did not stand with Paul at his first hearing. If in fact Luke had signed on in prison as Paul’s slave, just to be with him, that might have disqualified him from testimony. A man’s slave was not considered as a witness. 52
“But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth” (4:17). Although friends may forsake, the Lord always stands by. In Deuteronomy 31:8 it is written: “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” In the Scripture it is written that God’s people will be brought before governors and kings for the Lord’s sake. They will be a testimony to them and to the Gentiles (Mk. 13:9, 11; Lk.12: 11-12). 53
From what we know of Paul and his appearance before magistrates we can believe that all those Romans in the court for his hearing got an ear-full of the gospel that day. Somehow, Paul felt he had been rescued from the lion’s mouth. Perhaps this was another reference to Psalms (cf. 22:21). Some have tried to say that Paul was fearful of being assigned to the amphitheater but this type punishment was not possible since Paul was a Roman citizen. The early Greek commentators believed that Paul was referring obliquely to Nero, 54 but of this we cannot be sure.
It is possible that he was seized in a tumultuous manner, and perhaps he expected to be torn to pieces.55 Obviously, we cannot know the details of this event and all this would be speculation.
“The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (4:18). It is amazing that at such a dangerous and forlorn hour the apostle could express such faith and confidence in God. What an example the notable apostle has left us!
PAUL’S FINAL GREETINGS
Greet Priscilla and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus. 2 Timothy 4:19
Priscilla and Aquila were some of Paul’s most faithful friends (cf. Acts 18:2; 18:18; 18:26; Rom. 16:3). They were his hosts at Corinth and his fellow-workers at Ephesus (Acts 18:2-28). They had obviously laid down their necks for him during the later riot at Ephesus (Acts 18:2; Rom. 16:3-4; 1 Cor. 16:19). Then there is the blessed Onesiphorus and his household at Ephesus. We have already spoken of this man and how he remained a faithful visitor to Paul’s cell in Rome, even when all others had forsaken him.
“Erastus stayed in Corinth, and I left Trophimus sick in Miletus” (4:20). Perhaps this is the same Erastus who accompanied Timothy to Macedonia (Acts 19:22). Trophimus was a companion of Paul on some of his journeys. He accompanied Paul to Jerusalem after the Third Missionary Trip, and a riot ensued because the Jews assumed that he as a Gentile had entered the Temple area (Acts 20:1-5; 21:29). Now he lay sick at Miletus, which was fairly near the city of Ephesus. This incident tells us that Paul did not possess some miraculous healing power but that healing came from God and was done at his timing. 56 We remember that Paul himself had a physical affliction that God would not heal (2 Cor. 12:7-9). Also, we remember in Philippians 2:25-27, how Epaphroditus got sick while in Paul’s company, and almost died.
“Do your best to get here before winter. Eubulus greets you, and so do Pudens, Linus, Claudia and all the brothers” (4:21). As we have mentioned, when winter began to descend upon the Mediterranean most shipping was stopped. The fierce winter storms were much too dangerous for it to continue.
This is the only mention of Eubulus in the New Testament and we know nothing about him except that he was Paul’s helper. Linus may have become a very important person after Paul’s death. Later, a Linus is mentioned both by Irenaeus and Eusebius as the first Bishop of Rome.57
The mention of Prudens and Claudia is interesting. Some commentators think there is a connection here with a Prudens who was a Roman noble and who married Claudia, daughter of the British king Cogidunus. This daughter had been sent to Rome as a pledge of the king’s fidelity. Apparently she became a Christian while there. Much of this account is mentioned by the Roman historian Tacitus and some of it is confirmed by an inscription found in Britain.58 Of course, we cannot be sure that there is a perfect match here.
“The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you” (4:22). These are probably the last written words of the great Apostle Paul. According to tradition he was beheaded just outside Rome’s Ostian Gate in the year AD 67 or perhaps in early 68.
Several sources I have cited here are from the electronic media, either from websites or from electronic research libraries. Thus in some of these sources it is not possible to cite page numbers. Instead I have cited the verse or verses in each chapter of 2 Timothy (e.g. verse v. 3:1 or vs. 4:1-2) about which the commentators speak.
1. Albert Barnes, Commentary on 2 Timothy, Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament, http://www.studylight.org/com/bnb/view.cgi?bk=54&ch=0. Introduction.
2. John R. W. Stott, The Message of 2 Timothy (Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1973), p. 17.
3. Otto F.A. Meinardus, “Paul’s Missionary Journey to Spain: Tradition and Folklore,” “The Biblical Archaeologist,” Vol. 41, No. 2, Jun., 1978),” p. 61.
4. Eusebius Pamphilus, The Ecclesiastical History, Popular Edition (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1976, p. 74.
5. Stott, The Message of 2 Timothy, p. 17.
1. James Burton Coffman, Commentary On 2 Timothy, Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament (Abilene TX: Abilene Christian University Press, 1983-1999), v. 1:1. http://www.studylight.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?bk=54&ch=1.
2. Ray Stedman, Timothy The Pastor’s Primer (Mt. Hermon CA: Ray Stedman Ministries, 1010), vs. 1:1-7. http://www.raystedman.org/new-testament/timothy.
4. Adam Clarke, Commentary on 2 Timothy, The Adam Clarke Commentary, 1832, v. 1:3, http://www.studylight.org/com/acc/view.cgi?bk=54&ch=1.
5. Stedman, Timothy The Pastor’s Primer, vs. 1:1-7.
6. Ronald A. Ward, Commentary on 1, 2Timothy and Titus (Waco, Texas: Word Books, Publisher, 1974), p. 143.
7. Lewis R. Donelson, Colossians, Ephesians, First and Second Timothy, and Titus (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1996), p. 151.
8. Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1952), p. 118.
Stott (p. 27) adds here: “Good biographies never begin with their subject, but with his parents, and probably his grandparents as well….for Paul can write of the ‘sincere faith’ of all three generations.”
9. John Calvin, Commentary on 2 Timothy, Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible, 1840-57, v, 1:3, http://www.studylight.org/com/cal/view.cgi?bk=54&ch=3″.
10. David Kupelian, The Marketing of Evil, (Nashville: WND Books, 2005), p. 107.
11. Michael Reagan with Jim Denney, Twice Adopted (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2004), p. 46.
12. Ibid., p. 82.
13. Star Parker, Uncle Sam’s Plantation (Nashville: WND Books, 2003), p. 115.
14. John Trapp, Commentary on 2 Timothy, John Trapp Complete Commentary, 1865-1868, v, 1:5 “http://www.studylight.org/com/jtc/view.cgi?bk=54&ch=1.
15. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 118.
16. Stedman, Timothy The Pastor’s Primer, vs. 1:1-7.
Also see Stott, The Message of 2 Timothy, pp. 29, 30.
17. Peter Gorday, Ed., Ancient Christian Commentary On Scripture, New Testament IX (Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 2000), p. 232.
18. A. T. Robertson, Commentary on 2 Timothy, Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament, (Nashville: Broadman Press, Renewal 1960), 1932-33, v. 1:7. http://www.studylight.org/com/rwp/view.cgi?bk=54&ch=1.
19. Max Lucado, Fearless (Nashville, Dallas: Thomas Nelson, 2009).
20. Robert Jamieson; A. R. Fausset; David Brown, Commentary on 2 Timothy, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, 1871, v. 1:7. http://www.studylight.org/com/jfb/view.cgi?bk=54&ch=1.
21. William Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1975, 2003), p.163.
22. Dr. J. Vernon McGee, Commentary on 2 Timothy, Thru the Bible with Dr. J. Vernon McGee, From recordings, 2008, v. 1:8. http://www.studylight.org/com/ttb/view.cgi?bk=54″.
23. Stedman, Timothy The Pastor’s Primer, vs. 1: 1-7.
24. Loren Cunningham, The Book That Transforms Nations: The Power of the Bible To Change Any Country (Seattle: YWAM Publishing, 2007), p. 32.
25. Stott, The Message of 2 Timothy , p. 35.
26. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon , p. 164.
27. Gorday, Ed., Ancient Christian Commentary On Scripture, p. 235.
28. Stott, The Message of 2 Timothy, p. 39.
29. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon , p. 166.
30. Stott, The Message of 2 Timothy, p. 42.
31. Trapp, Commentary on 2 Timothy , v. 1:11.
32. Stott, The Message of 2 Timothy, p. 42.
33. Ibid., p. 43.
34. Barnes, Commentary on 2 Timothy, v. 1:12.
35. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles, pp. 123, 124.
36. Stott, The Message of 2 Timothy, p. 40.
37. Donald Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, Revised Edition (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; Leicester England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1990). p. 145.
38. Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, NT (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2007), p. 774.
39. Coffman, Commentary On 2 Timothy, v. 1:13.
40. Dr. Bob Utley, Paul’s Fourth Missionary Journey, 1 Timothy, Titus & 2 Timothy , v. 1:10. http://www.freebiblecommentary.org/new_testament_studies/VOL09/VOL09_11.html
41. Patrick Glynn, God: The Evidence: The Reconciliation of Faith and Reason in a Postsecular World (Rocklin CA: Prima Publishing, 1997), p. 77.
42. Gorday, Ed., Ancient Christian Commentary On Scripture, p. 236.
43. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon , pp. 169, 171.
44. Ibid., p. 169.
Stedman adds here (v.1:14), “All of us live just one generation away from total apostasy. The work of the church can fall apart in one generation if we do not faithfully pass on what we ourselves know.”
45. Stedman, Timothy The Pastor’s Primer, v. 1:14.
47. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon , p. 174.
48. Paul E. Kretzmann, Commentary on 2 Timothy, Kretzmann’s Popular Commentary, 1921-23, vs. 1:15-18. http://www.studylight.org/com/kpc/view.cgi?bk=54&ch=1.
49. Barnes, Commentary on 2 Timothy, v. 1:15.
50. Calvin, Commentary on 2 Timothy, Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible, v. 1:16.
51. David Guzik, Commentary on 2 Timothy, David Guzik’s Commentaries on the Bible, 1997-2003, vs. 1:16-18. http://www.studylight.org/com/guz/view.cgi?bk=54&ch=1.
See also Barclay p. 174 and Stott p. 45.
52. Peter Pett, Commentary on 2 Timothy, Peter Pett’s Commentary on the Bible, 2013, vs. 1:15-18. http://www.studylight.org/com/pet/view.cgi?bk=54&ch=1.
53. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, p. 775.
54. Clarke, Commentary on 2 Timothy, v. 1:18.
55. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, p. 775.
1. Pett, Commentary on 2 Timothy , vs. 1:1-18.
2. Coffman, Commentary On 2 Timothy, v. 2:1.
3. Stott, The Message of 2 Timothy, p. 52.
4. Guzik, Commentary on 2 Timothy , v. 2:2.
5. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 129.
6. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon , pp. 180, 179.
Barnes adds to verse 2:4 saying: “Rules of War among the Romans, by Grotius…Roman soldiers were not allowed to marry, or to engage in any husbandry or trade; and they were forbidden to act as tutors to any person, or curators to any man’s estate, or proctors in the cause of other men. The general principle was, that they were excluded from those relations, agencies, and engagements, which it was thought would divert their minds from that which was to be the sole object of pursuit…”
7. Stott, The Message of 2 Timothy, p. 53.
8. Quoted in Coffman, Commentary On 2 Timothy, v. 2:3.
9. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 129.
10. Ibid., pp.129-130.
11. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 153.
12. McGee, Commentary on 2 Timothy, v. 2:5.
13. Stott, The Message of 2 Timothy, p. 55.
14. Ibid., p. 58.
15. Citing Vincent, Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 131.
16. Calvin, Commentary on 2 Timothy, v. 2:8.
17. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 132.
18. Guzik, Commentary on 2 Timothy, v. 2:8.
19. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon , pp. 186-187.
20. Barnes, Commentary on 2 Timothy, v. 2:9.
For more details on the Mamertine Prison see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mamertine Prison. Wikipedia says: “According to tradition, the prison was constructed around 640-616 BC, by Ancus Marcius was originally created as a cistern for a spring in the floor of the second lower level. Prisoners were lowered through an opening into the lower dungeon.”
21. See Pett, Robertson, Guzik, Utley and Faussett on verse 2:11.
22. Quoted in Guzik, Commentary on 2 Timothy, v. 2: 11.
24. Lewis R. Donelson, Colossians, Ephesians, First and Second Timothy, and Titus, p.160.
25. Gorday, Ed., Ancient Christian Commentary On Scripture, p. 246.
26. Stott, The Message of 2 Timothy, p. 65.
27. Coffman, Commentary On 2 Timothy, v. 2:14.
28. Stedman, Timothy The Pastor’s Primer, v. 2:14.
29. Robertson, Commentary on 2 Timothy, v. 2:15.
30. Stott, The Message of 2 Timothy, p. 67.
31. Barnes, Commentary on 2 Timothy, v. 2:15.
32. Coffman, Commentary On 2 Timothy, v. 2: 15.
33. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 134.
34. Ibid., p. 136.
Stott (p. 69) adds here: “He seems to refer to something ‘like the hair-splittings of the schoolmen in the Middle Ages.”
35. Guzik, Commentary on 2 Timothy, vs. 2:16-18.
36. Gorday, Ed., Ancient Christian Commentary On Scripture, pp. 250-251.
This author lists Ambroiaster, Chrysostom, Theodore of Mopsuestia and Theodoret of Cyr as holding this general opinion.
38. Robert Jamieson; A. R. Fausset; David Brown, Commentary on 2 Timothy, v. 2:19.
39. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 139.
40. Stedman, Timothy The Pastor’s Primer, vs. 2:20-22.
See also Wuest, p. 139.
41. Gorday, Ed., Ancient Christian Commentary On Scripture, p. 254.
42. Stott, The Message of 2 Timothy, p. 74. (Stott is citing the Arendt and Gingrich lexicon).
43. Ibid., pp. 74-75.
44. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 140.
45. Quoted in Stedman, Timothy The Pastor’s Primer, vs. 2:23-26.
46. Stott, The Message of 2 Timothy, p. 77.
47. Calvin, Commentary on 2 Timothy, Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible, vs. 2:24.
48. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 141.
49. Stott, The Message of 2 Timothy, p. 79.
Peter Pett adds at this verse: “The word for recover means ‘sober up, awaken’. The point is that they have been in a state of stupefaction. They have been led astray and deceived by the Devil (the god of this world who has blinded their eyes lest they see the glory of Christ – 2 Corinthians 4:4), and, stumbling along, have been caught in his trap (see also 1 Timothy 3:7; 1 Timothy 6:9).”
1. David Guzik, David Guzik’s Commentaries on the Bible, (Commentary on Daniel), Internet electronic media, 1997-2003, comment on Daniel 2:31-35.
2. Utley, Paul’s Fourth Missionary Journey, 1 Timothy, Titus & 2 Timothy, v. 3:1.
3. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon , p. 204.
4. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1956), v. 7, p. 212.
5. Christina Hoff Sommers and Sally Satel, M.D., One Nation Under Therapy, How The Helping Culture is Eroding Self-Reliance (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2005), p. 6.
The Reformer Calvin adds at this verse: “Self-love, which is put first, may be regarded as the source from which flow all the vices that follow afterwards.”
7. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 207.
8. Coffman, Commentary On 2 Timothy, v. 3:2.
9. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 209.
10. Ibid., p. 210.
11. Quoted in David Kupelian, How Evil Works: Understanding and Overcoming the Destructive Forces That Are Transforming America (New York: Threshold Editions, 2010), p. 146.
12. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 211.
13. Guzik, Commentary on 2 Timothy, vs. 3:2-5.
14. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 211.
15. Clarke, Commentary on 2 Timothy , v. 3:3.
Barclay adds here (p. 212): “People will be without human affection (astorgos). Storge is the word used especially of family love.
16. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 169.
17. Quoted in Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon , pp. 212-213.
18. Ibid., p. 213.
19. Ibid., p. 214.
20. Citing Vincent, Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 145.
22. Guzik, Commentary on 2 Timothy, vs. 3:2-5.
23. Trapp, Commentary on 2 Timothy, v. 3:5.
24. Stedman, Timothy The Pastor’s Primer, vs. 3:1-9.
26. Stott, The Message of 2 Timothy, p. 90.
27. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 216.
28. Gorday, Ed., Ancient Christian Commentary On Scripture, p. 261.
29. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 146.
30. Ibid., p. 147.
31. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 171.
32. Utley, Paul’s Fourth Missionary Journey, 1 Timothy, Titus & 2 Timothy, v. 8.
33. Dennis McCallum, ed., The Death of Truth, (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1996), pp. 19-44.
Wiersbe adds here (p. 781) “On radio and TV today, we have a great deal of ‘pseudo-Christianity’ which is a mixture of psychology, success motivation, and personality cults, with a little bit of Bible thrown in to make it look religious. Beware!”
34. Stott, The Message of 2 Timothy, p. 91.
35. Barnes, Commentary on 2 Timothy, v. 3:9.
36. Stedman, Timothy The Pastor’s Primer, vs. 3:10-13.
37. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 173.
38. Stott, The Message of 2 Timothy, p. 94.
39. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon , pp. 221-222.
40. Ibid., p. 222.
41. Stedman, Timothy The Pastor’s Primer, vs. 3:10-13.
42. Barnes, Commentary on 2 Timothy, v. 3:13.
43. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 150.
44. Stott, The Message of 2 Timothy, pp.103-104.
45. Stedman, Timothy The Pastor’s Primer, vs. 3:14-16.
46. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 174.
47. Stott, The Message of 2 Timothy, p.101.
48. Gerald Schroeder, The Science of God: The Convergence of Scientific and Biblical Wisdom, (NY: The Free Press, 1997), p. 22.
49. Ibid., p. 18, quoting Johnson.
50. Loren Cunningham, The Book That Transforms Nations: The Power of the Bible To Change Any Country (Seattle: YWAM Publishing, 2007), p. 135.
51. Guzik, Commentary on 2 Timothy, vs. 3:16-17.
52. Norman L. Geisler & Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2004), p. 228.
53. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 226.
54. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe bible Commentary, p.782.
55. Albert Hibbert, Smith Wigglesworth, The Secret of His Power (Tulsa: Harrison House, 1982), pp. 30-31.
56. Quoted in Stedman, Timothy The Pastor’s Primer, vs. 3: 14-16.
57. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 151.
1. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 152.
“The word “quick” (zao) has changed its meaning in the years since the Authorized Version was translated. Today it means ‘fast, swift.’ Then it meant ‘alive.’” Wuest p.153.
3. Stott, The Message of 2 Timothy, p. 105.
4. Coffman, Commentary On 2 Timothy, v. 4:1.
5. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon , p. 228.
6. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 152.
7. Stedman, Timothy The Pastor’s Primer, v. 4:2.
8. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 154.
See also Stott, pp. 106-07.
9. Francis A. Schaeffer, Death In The City (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1969), p.79.
10. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 155.
11. Quoted in Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon , p. 230.
12. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles, p.156.
13. Meyer, Frederick Brotherton, Commentary on 2 Timothy, F. B. Meyer’s ‘Through the Bible Commentary, 1914, vs. 4:1-12. http://www.studylight.org/com/fbm/view.cgi?bk=54&ch=1″.
15. Stedman, Timothy The Pastor’s Primer, vs. 4: 1-4.
Wiersbe adds here (p. 783): “It is but a short step from ‘itching ears’ to turning one’s ears away from the truth.”
16. Kretzmann, Commentary on 2 Timothy, vs. 4:1-5.
17. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 158.
18. Stedman, Timothy The Pastor’s Primer, vs. 1-4.
20. Nancy Pearcey, Saving Leonardo, A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, & Meaning (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2010), p. 30.
21. Norman L. Geisler & Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2004), p. 61. (citing Reader’s Digest).
22. Donald W. McCullough, The Trivilization of God: The Dangerous Illusion of a manageable Deity (Colo. Springs: Nav Press, 1995), p. 66.
23. Stott, The Message of 2 Timothy, p. 112, citing the Arndt & Gingrich Lexicon.
24. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 159.
26. Guzik, Commentary on 2 Timothy, v. 4:5.
27. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 160.
29. Robertson, Commentary on 2 Timothy, vs. 6-7.
30 Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 237.
31. Guzik, Commentary on 2 Timothy, v. 4:5.
32. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 164.
Coffman says here (v. 4:10): “Significantly, only Demas was mentioned unfavorably; and thus it may be assumed that the others were all absent on legitimate business.”
33. Ibid., pp. 164-165. Quoted from Trench.
34. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 183.
35. Ibid., pp. 182-183.
36. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 165.
Utley comments (v. 4:11): “It is possible that the term physician may simply mean ‘educated.’ He is the only non-Jewish NT author (i.e., the Gospel of Luke, Acts, and possibly the scribe for the Pastoral Letters).
37. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 242.
38. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 184.
39. Meyer, Frederick Brotherton, Commentary on 2 Timothy, vs. 4:13-22.
See also Stott, p. 120.
40. Barnes, Commentary on 2 Timothy, v. 4:13.
41. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, p.185.
See also Utley v. 4:13.
42. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 167.
Stott adds (p. 120): “These Papyrus rolls may have been writing materials or his correspondence or some official documents, even perhaps his certificate of Roman citizenship.”
43. Robertson, Commentary on 2 Timothy, v. 4:13.
44. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 167.
45. Quoted in Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon , p. 247.
46. Pett, Commentary on 2 Timothy , vs. 4:14-18.
47. Stott, The Message of 2 Timothy, p. 122.
See also Guzik vs. 4:14-15.
48. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon , p. 246.
49. Ibid., p. 248.
See also Kretzmann 4:16-18.
50. Stott, The Message of 2 Timothy, p. 123.
52. Pett, Commentary on 2 Timothy , vs. 4:16.
53. Ibid., p. 17.
54. Stott, The Message of 2 Timothy, p. 124.
55. Clarke, Commentary on 2 Timothy , v. 4:17.
56. Guzik, Commentary on 2 Timothy, vs. 4:19-21.
57. Stott, The Message of 2 Timothy, p. 118.
58. Robert Jamieson; A. R. Fausset; David Brown, Commentary on 2 Timothy, v. 4:19-21.
Stedman adds (4:9-22): “There is some slight evidence that the apostle was not beheaded until the spring of the year 68, and this letter was written in the late summer or fall of 67. …I am sure that one of the first things we will do when we get to glory is to thank him for his faithful ministry, to which we are all indebted.”