2 Timothy 2 14 21
Continuing Education for the Christian
2 Timothy 2:14-21
14 Remind them of these things,
charging them before the Lord
not to strive about words to no profit,
to the ruin of the hearers.
15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God,
a worker who does not need to be ashamed,
rightly dividing the word of truth.
But shun profane and idle babblings,
for they will increase to more ungodliness.
17 And their message will spread like cancer.
Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort,
18 who have strayed concerning the truth,
saying that the resurrection is already past;
and they overthrow the faith of some.
19 Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands,
having this seal:
“The Lord knows those who are His,” and,
“Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
20 But in a great house,
there are not only vessels of gold and silver,
but also of wood and clay,
some for honor and some for dishonor.
if anyone cleanses himself from the latter,
he will be a vessel for honor,
sanctified and useful for the Master,
prepared for every good work.
Continuing means enduring or lasting, characterized by uninterrupted flow or extension in time or space. In other words, continuous. A sense of continuity or connected whole. Education then is either teaching, learning or training. When we put them together, we get the idea that Paul is stressing to Timothy.
Paul begin with a general exhortation for Timothy to “present himself to God as one approved. He then offered specific guidelines as to how Timothy could accomplish this through his study and teaching of God’s Word.
Finally, he offered a negative illustration followed by a positive one: timothy was not to be like Hymenaus and Philetus, who had strayed from the truth. Instead, he was to be like a gold vessel in a great house. That vessel, when kept clean and polished, would be used by the Master for a noble purpose.
Now, Let us look at these strong charges to Timothy as a means to Christian Education.
You know, more trouble is stirred and brewed by words than by any other act. See James who tells us to brigle our tonges.
First, this passage reminds us no to argue and strive over words that do not profit the hearers.
Words— Talk— Speculation: That is, do not argue and strive over petty matters nor over religious theories, speculations, and ideas.
Time is short, and we are not able to fellowship nor to be together that much.
Therefore, when we are together, we must be communicating and sharing words that profit us all.
However, this is not always the case. Too often, our words are useless and unprofitable, and sometimes they are even upsetting and destructive.
Picture both the unprofitable and the upsetting words that go on in the church and among believers, the arguments and strife of words that do not profit the hearers. There are...
· the words over petty matters. (Just think of some of the petty matters that go on in the church.)
· the words over buildings, traditions, and rituals.
· the words about people, the rumors, gossip, and criticism.
· the words about trivial day-to-day matters.
· the words that waste and pass the time.
· the words that focus on debating theological positions, speculation, and ideas.
· the words over pet ideas and theories.
There are essentially three kinds of unprofitable talk that go on among believers.
Þ First, there is the trivial talk that passes the time away, talk that fails to build up the believer.
Þ Second, there is the talk that engages in criticism and gossip, talk that tears a person down.
Þ Third, there is the talk that enjoys discussing the theories and speculations of theology.
William Barclay put it this way: “Discussion can be stimulating and invigorating for those whose approach to the Christian faith is intellectual, for those who have a background of knowledge and of culture, for those who are characteristically students, for those who have a real knowledge of, or interest in, theology.
But it sometimes happens that a [plain talking or an emotional person finds himself/herself in a group which is tossing heresies about, and propounding unanswerable questions, and it may well be that the faith of that person, so far from being helped, is upset.... And it may well happen that clever, subtle, speculative, destructive, intellectually reckless discussion may have the effect of demolishing, and not building up, the faith of that person who happens to become involved in it. As in all things, there is a time to discuss, and a time to be silent" (The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p.197).
"Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying…." (1 Tim. 1:4).
"But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain" (Titus 3:9).
The point is this: the preacher and teacher must remind believers—do not argue and strive over words that do not profit the hearers. Do not upset or tear down people with your words.
Secondly, Paul says, study to be a true teacher of God's Word. By study is meant to set your heart upon—be diligent, hurry, rush, and seek the approval of God. Note that it is the approval of God that is to be the believer's concern. A believer is a fool if he/she does not seek the approval of God. To be disapproved is to be displeasing and unacceptable to God.
How then can we secure the approval of God?
Þ By being a workman—the idea is a diligent worker who toils and labors to the point of exhaustion.
But note: our work is pinpointed and identified.
We are to study the Word of God and rightly divide it. Rightly dividing (orthotomounta), as the KJV says.
This word means “to cut straight,” as to cut a straight road or to keep a straight course. The idea could also be that of plowing a straight furrow or of squaring and cutting a stone to fit it in its proper place. In the Greek Old Testament, the word is used in Prov. 3:6; 11:5 to depict God’s provision of a straight path for the righteous. Paul encouraged Timothy to handle the word of truth in a straight way, like a road that goes straight to its goal. Believers are to cut straight to the truth; they are not to take crooked paths and side tracks to the truth. We are to study the truth and rightly divide it., without being turned aside by useless debates
Once we have studied and learned the Word of God, we are to accurately teach the Word of God. We are not to teach...
· our own ideas.
· the theories of other people.
· what we think.
· what other men think.
We are not to mishandle the Word of God: twist it to fit what we think or want it to say; over-emphasize or under-emphasize its teachings; add to or take away from it. Any person who mishandles God's Word is not approved of God. This is the point of this verse: if we want God's approval—if we want to be acceptable to God—we must study, rush and seek to be a true teacher of God's Word. We must be workmen or workers who study God's Word, workers who study diligently: who correctly analyze and accurately divide—rightly handle and skillfully teach—the Word of Truth (Amplified New Testament).
This is the believer who will not be ashamed when he faces the Lord Jesus Christ in the great day of judgment. The Bible says that we all will stand before the judgment seat of Christ….
"These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so" (Acts 17:11).
"Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood" (Acts 20:28).
"And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified" (Acts 20:32).
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16).
"And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live" (Deut. 8:3).
Thirdly, Talk— Speech— Rationalization— Teaching, False: Paul says, keep away from godless chatter and discussion. This is descriptive language picturing so much talk that goes on among people.
Þ So much talk is "profane" (bebēlos): common, irreverent, and godless talk.
Þ So much talk is vain: empty and meaningless.
Þ So much talk is babbling: nothing more than empty voices chattering away in empty and godless discussions.
The charge is direct and forceful: avoid, shun, keep away from godless and empty talk. What are some examples of talk that is godless and empty? There is such talk as...
|· false teaching· worldly philosophy· cursing· theological theories· criticism· gossip||· off-colored conversations· indecent insinuations· immoral suggestions· suggestive enticements|
Note that such talk is not only ungodly and empty, it leads to more and more ungodliness.
Such talk actually increases ungodliness in the heart and life of a person.
In fact, the picture could be no more descriptive: ungodly talk eats away at a person just like a cancerous growth, Paul would say.
This is often ignored and neglected by most people, for most people want to go about doing their own thing. And if we took this charge seriously, just think how it would affect the control of...
|· television· films· music· positions (theological, social, political)||· discussions· opinions· differences· decisions· arguments|
This charge affects every form of communication and relationship imaginable. Imagine—no communication and no talk is ever to take place that is ungodly and empty.
Why? Because ungodly and empty talk eats like a cancer. It leads a person into more and more ungodliness and emptiness.
"Here then is the test. If at the end of our talk and discussion, we are closer to one another and closer to God, then all is well.
“But if at the end of our discussion, we have erected barriers between each other and we have left God more distant and our view of Him befogged, then all is wrong. The aim of all Christian discussion and of all Christian action is to bring a man/woman nearer to God" (William Barclay. The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p.199).
Here, Paul gives a negative example of two men who were engaged in godless talk or teaching: Hymenaeus and Philetus.
Apparently, these two men were church members who spiritualized the coming resurrection of believers. They were probably saying one of three things: that the resurrection was a spiritual experience that took place...
· at conversion when a believer is counted by God to be raised with Christ.
· at baptism when a person is lifted up out of the water.
· at the birth of the believer's children; that is, his life was being resurrected and living on in the lives of his children.
The point is this: all such godless talk, whether false teaching or just meaningless and empty talk, is to be shunned, and turned away from.
The believer is to do what 2 Tim. 2:15 says: study, rush, and seek the approval of God. He/she is to live and move and have his/her being in the Word of God, concentrating and focusing upon God.
God and His Word are to be the obsession of the believer—the very life and breath of the believer.
All godless, meaningless, and empty talk is to be shunned.
"Should he reason with unprofitable talk? or with speeches wherewith he can do no good?" (Job 15:3).
"In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise" (Proverbs 10:19).
Fourthly, Foundation, Spiritual, Paul says, the foundation of God's house is sure.
Some may turn away from Christ; the faith of some may be overthrown and undermined by godless teaching and talk.
"Nevertheless the foundation of God stands sure."
What is meant by the foundation of God? It means the household of God or the household of faith.
It means the great house of believers that God is building.
It is the family and church of God—the true family and true church of God. Note two facts about the great house of believers.
1. The great house of God has two inscriptions written upon it that seal and guarantee its security.
a. The first inscription is this: "The Lord knows those who are his." There are no false professions and no hypocrites in God's household—not in His real household.
No one fools God. Within the earthly church, there are both wheat and tares, both believers and unbelievers. But when God looks upon us, He knows those who are truly His.
He knows those who have really entered into His household and those who are only saying that they have entered.
The point is this: if a person is living within the household of God—remaining stedfast and loyal—he is a true believer, a true member of God's household.
And he is secure within God's house.
But if a person has forsaken the family of God, he is not of God's household.
God is not taken by surprise by any of us. God knows those who are His, and those who are His will remain faithful and loyal
"To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out" (John 10:3).
"I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine" (John 10:14).
"But if any man love God, the same is known of him" (1 Cor. 8:3).
"Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity" (2 Tim. 2:19).
This is the second inscription: "Let everyone that names the name of Christ depart from iniquity [unrighteousness]." The sign that a person is of the household of God is a pure and righteous life. A person who follows Christ does not live in sin. If a person lives in sin, he is not following Christ. Therefore, if we name the name of Christ, we must depart from iniquity. If we continue in sin, then we are only making a false profession. We are not of God's household—not really. Our sinful behavior proves the fact.
The point is this: the foundation of God is sure; His household is established forever and it is built upon the principle of righteousness:
Þ Everyone that names the name of Christ repents and departs from iniquity (unrighteousness).
This is a fact; it is an eternal principle established by God. His household is built upon righteousness. Righteousness is the inscription that is written across the face of His household. Therefore, if a person is a member of His household, they have forsaken and departed from iniquity. They do not live in sin.
"That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts" (Ephes. 4:22).
"Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul" (1 Peter 2:11).
"If iniquity be in thine hand, put it far away, and let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles" (Job 11:14).
"Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon" (Isaiah 55:7).
Finally, Paul tells us that God's earthly house (the church) has a variety of vessels, both noble and base.
The church has some vessels or people who are like gold and silver; that is, they honor Christ.
But the church also has some vessels or people who are like wood and clay; that is, they dishonor Christ. The church has a mixture of people...
· some are good and some are bad.
· some are true and some are false.
· some are genuine and some are counterfeit.
· some are clean and some are dirty.
· some are pure and some are tarnished.
· some are clear and some are stained.
· some illuminate light and some illuminate darkness.
Note what it takes to become a noble vessel: it takes a purging.
A person has to cleanse himself from...
· behavior that is dishonorable and unrighteous.
· words that are corruptible and dirty.
· talk that is unclean and contaminating.
· teaching that is false and cancerous.
A person who purges himself from these will become a vessel unto honor...
· sanctified, that is, set apart unto Christ and His service.
· fit for the Master's use; that is, Christ will be able to use him.
· prepared to every good work; that is, Christ will be able to use him for any work.
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Romans 12:1-2).
"Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty" (2 Cor. 6:17-18).
"And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them" (Ephes. 5:11).
"Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us" (2 Thes. 3:6).
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world" (1 John 2:15-16).
2:15 Devote yourself to responsible Bible study. Become a sensible interpreter of Scripture.
Study the Bible as a library,
66 books, 39 & 27.
Old Testament: Law, history, poetic/wisdom literature, major prophets and minor prophets.
New Testament: Gospels, history, Pauline Epistles, General Epistles and prophecy.
Curriculum of the Church
And Maria Harris says that we can most effectively carry out our mission through
leiturgia [prayer and worship], didache [teaching],
and diakonia [outreach].
Manna Bible Institute, Seminary.
[Rev. Dr. Arvelle C. Jones, President of Manna Bible Institute. 215-878-2856 or 215-745-5393]