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Bible Commentaries
2 Timothy 2

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentZerr's N.T. Commentary

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Verse 1

2Ti 2:1. See comments at 1Ti 1:2 for explanation of son. Being a pupil of Paul, his teacher was desirous that he do the good work that was entrusted to him (1Ti 1:3-4). Grace is the unmerited favor of the Lord, but it may be obtained by faithfulness to His cause. Timothy is directed to be Strong in that favor, and that can be accomplished by properly handling the inspired truths that His apostle has communicated to his "son."

Verse 2

2Ti 2:2. Timothy was not an inspired man, but had to receive instructions from Paul or others who were inspired. The witnesses evidently included those referred to in 1Ti 4:14 1Ti 6:12. It is true also that the truths about the divinity and authority of Jesus that Paul had declared to Timothy, had been attested by many who could speak from personal knowledge. With such an array of basic support, Timothy should be fully persuaded of their genuineness, and of their right to be transmitted to others. Hence Paul instructs him to commit them to faithful or trustworthy men, not to men of ambition for prominence but perhaps lacking in sincere interest. These faithful men thus equipped with the truths coming to them from Paul through Timothy, would be able to teach others in the principles of the Gospel.

Verse 3

2Ti 2:3. A good soldier is one who is willing to endure hardness or hardships on behalf of his country. He cannot always be resting in the comfort of his own camp, but must be out on the firing line before the enemy. Likewise the soldier of the cross must face the many persecutions as he battles against the enemies of the Lord.

Verse 4

2Ti 2:4. There are two applications of this verse, a specific and a general one. The former is concerning a person like Timothy who has gone into the special "work of an evangelist" (chapter 4:5). Such a person must give his entire attention to that work, not being involved in temporal affairs. The latter is applied to all Christians, and pertains to matters that would interfere with the kind of personal conduct a true disciple of Christ should practice. Specifications would be tOo numerous to mention in this space, but any kind of occupation, whether it is right or wrong of itself, that will prevent a disciple from doing his duty, would constitute the entangling affairs mentioned in this verse.

Verse 5

2Ti 2:5. The apostle takes up another subject for the purpose of illustration, and that is the athletic performances that were popular in those days. Strive for masteries is rendered "contend in the games" by the Englishman's Greek New Testament. It is the same exercise mentioned in 1Co 9:25 and commented upon in that place. In those games there were certain rules that the contestants were required to observe, and if they did not strive according to the rules, they were denied the prize even though they appeared to have outdone their rivals. The lesson is that in the great contest where the crown of eternal life is the goal, no one will receive that prize uness he complies with the rules. Of course those regulations have been laid down by the Lord, and they are recorded in the New Testament (Joh 12:48; Mat 7:21). As in the case of the temporal contests, no matter how earnestly a professed contestant labors for the prize of salvation, his earnestness will not count unless it is guided by the law of Christ. Such "zeal" will be unavailing because it is "not according to knowledge" of the authorized rules prescribed by the "righteousness of God" (Rom 10:1-3).

Verse 6

2Ti 2:6. According to the Greek text, the words of this verse should be arranged as follows: "The husbandman must labor before partaking of the fruits." This is both scriptural and logical, for no man can expect to partake of the fruits of the ground, until after he has labored to produce them. Likewise no one may expect to reap eternal life unless he first sows the proper seed for such a harvest (Gal 6:7-8).

Verse 7

2Ti 2:7. The Lord gives things in various ways; sometimes direct and sometimes through the agency of an other. In the present case, He will give Timothy understanding of the proper application of his duties by considering what Paul says to him. Consider is defined by Thayer, "to think upon, heed, ponder, consider." The simplest statement may convey no proper meaning to one if he treats it with indifference. For this reason Timothy was also told to "give attendance" to reading, etc. (1Ti 4:13). The ancient Israelites failed to know what they could have known, because they did not "consider" what the Lord said unto them. "Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider" (Isa 1:3). Furthermore, Paul named a large number of important subjects, then exhorted the brethren to "think on these things" (Php 4:8).

Verse 8

2Ti 2:8. Among the things Timothy was to consider and remember was the great fact of the story of Christ. He was of the seed of David--was a lineal descendant Of the ancient patriarch, yet that relationship did not keep Him from dying. In truth, He was predestined to die in harmOny with the aims of that lineage. His death was not permanent, however, for his resurrection was accomplished which was the final fact of the Gospel. Paul calls it my Gospel with the meaning of saying "the Gospel which I preach." He words it in that very way at 1Co 15:1.

Verse 9

2Ti 2:9. Wherein means for which cause Paul was in trouble, being falsely accused as an evildoer. Even unto bonds is literal, for he was fastened to a real chain as a prisoner held for execution. Word of God is not bound. The exact date set for the slaying of Paul is not stated, and we do not know whether he was informed of it. However, he was still able to tell the story of Jesus to those who came within the sound of his voice, and to write it as he is doing in this epistle, which is the reason he said the word was not bound. That is not the only sense in which the word of the Lord cannot be bound. Others who received it, and especially those who learned that Paul was being persecuted because of his devotion to it, would be thereby roused to speak out boldly on its behalf (Php 1:12-14).

Verse 10

2Ti 2:10. The over-all meaning of elect is given in Thayer's lexicon as, "picked out, chosen." All special meanings, such as who does the choossing and on what condition the choice is made, must be determined in each case by the connection in which it is used. In the present passage it means those whom God has chosen as heirs of salvation, because they have complied with the terms that He has made known to man. Each disciple must work out his own salvation (Php 2:12), but he can be greatly assisted in that conflict by the co-operation of others who likewise are engaged in the struggle. Such encouragement is especially helpful when it comes from one who has "borne the brunt of battle" as Paul has been doing. Hence he says he is enduring his suf-fering3 for their sakes, to the end they may win the reward of salvation made possible only through Christ. Eternal glory signifies that which will be enjoyed by the residents of Heaven, in contrast with the glitter and tinsel of this world which will soon fade away.

Verse 11

2Ti 2:11. A faithful saying is one that is based on the truth. An example of such a saying is that now expressed, namely, that the dead in Christ shall also live with him. Of course this means in a figurative or spiritual sense, for all mankind whether good or bad will live bodily at the resurrection (Joh 5:28-29). But those who die to sin by obedience (Rom 6:7 Rom 6:11 Rom 6:17-18), will enjoy the life referred to.

Verse 12

2Ti 2:12. Reign with is from SUMBASILEUO, which Thayer defines, "to reign together." Since Christ is the sole king in the realm of religious government (Mat 28:18; Ephe-sians 1:22, 23), we know this reigning is not in the sense of sharing in His authoritative rule. Thayer explains his definition as follows: "Figuratively to possess supreme honor, liberty, blessedness, with one in the kingdom of God." But Christians are expected to "take the bitter with the sweet." Christ had to suffer to establish his kingdom, hence the citizens must be willing to share in the persecutions heaped upon the kingdom by the enemy. To refuse to endure sufferings for the sake Of Christ, is equivalent to denying or disowning Him. Those who do such an unworthy thing will be disOwned by the Lord; not only in this world but in that to come (Mar 8:38).

Verse 13

2Ti 2:13. Unbelief on the part of man is here put as a contrast with the faithfulness of God. This is hardly a clear presentation of the subject, for it is inappropriate to speak of God either as believing or disbelieving; He knows everything. When the faithfulness of God is mentioned it means that He is always true to his word. This verse means, then, that regardless of whether man believes on the Lord or not, he will maintain his divinity and will make all divine declarations come true. Since God cannot lie (Tit 1:2), it would be impossible for Him to deny or disown his personal divinity and eternal existence.

Verse 14

Verse 14. Timothy was left in Ephesus to guard the truth against false teachers (1Ti 1:3). He is still there and the same kind of instruction is repeated in this verse. These things are the facts and truths in the preceding verses. Charging them means he is to insist earnestly and religiously before the Lord. Let them know that all they do and say is known to Him. Strive not denotes they should not spend their time disputing over unprofitable words. Such contentions do no one any good, but rather result in subverting the hearers. The italicized word is from the Greek word KATASTROPHE which Thayer defines, "overthrow, destruction." We know how serious a catastrophe is considered as the English word terms it, and Paul considers the result of heeding unprofitable words as a happening amounting to a calamity.

Verse 15

Verse 15. Study is from SPOUDAZO, and Thayer's definition at this place is as follows: "To exert one's self, endeavor, give diligence." Robinson defines it, "To give diligence, to be in earnest, to be forward." Hence the word does not especially apply to the mental process of investigating a literary subject, although it includes that. The general meaning is to be diligent in trying to show one's self approved unto God, whether in the actions of the body or the mind. If one's work is the kind that God will approve, the workman will have nothing of which to be ashamed. One important task for a workman employed in the service of God, is to make the proper application of the word of truth. Rightly dividing is from ORTHOTOMEO, and Thayer's definition at this place is as follows: "To make straight and smooth; to handle aright." The familiar use of this passage, that it means to divide rightly between the Old and New Testament is correct as a human comment, but it is not what the original word means, for the New Testament had not been composed when this epistle was written. Hence the word covers all phases of one's treatment of the word of God, and requires the teacher to give it the respect due a document coming from the Lord.

Verse 16

2Ti 2:16. Shun profane and vain babblings is the same instruction that is stated in 1Ti 6:20, and refers to empty and foolish talk that has no good use. But any kind of activities on the part of human beings is bound to produce some kind of results. Paul says these vain babblings will advance along the wrong lines, namely, more ungodliness. Thayer defines the last word, "want of reverence towards God." That is logical, for everything pertaining to God and the speech originating with Him, is full of helpful principles. Hence if one is concerned with such foolish lines of thought as are here described, it can be only from lack of respect for God.

Verse 17

2Ti 2:17. Canker is from GAGGRAINA which Thayer defines, "a gangrene." He explains the word as follows: "A disease by which any part of the body suffering from inflamation becomes so corrupted that unless a remedy be seasonably applied, the evil continually spreads, attacks other parts, and at last eats away the bones." An evil influence, whether it is in the form of false teaching or sinful conduct, is sure to spread and increase. This truth is illustrated by various figures in the Bible. The spread of bad leaven is used in 1Co 5:6, and the eating of a gangrenous infection is the illustration in our verse. Hence it should be attacked and destroyed as soon as it is discovered. Hymenaeus is mentioned in 1Ti 1:19-20 as one who had given up the faith, but nothing is specified. In our chapter (verse 18) his false doctrine is revealed. Philetus is called a heretic by Thayer.

Verse 18

2Ti 2:18. Concerning the truth have erred. The last word means to wander from the path, and the men just named had departed from the truth concerning the resurrection. They taught that no resurrection was to come in addition to what had already occurred. That same hersy was taught at Corinth, and the fifteenth chapter of Paul's first epistle to that church deals with the subject. Overthrow the faith of some. The most cherished item of a Christian's faith, is that of the resurrection from the dead at the day of judgment. This heresy of the false teachers, that no future resurrection was to occur, naturally destroyed the faith of all who received the false doctrine.

Verse 19

2Ti 2:19. Nevertheless. The preceding verse states that the faith of some men was being overthrown by false teaching. A man's faith must be resting upon some foundation or base, and the faith in God is based on the facts of the Gospel. If a man is seduced by false teaching to forsake that divine foundation, it will be the ruination of his faith, yet he cannot take the foundation along with him into ruin. In spite of the desertion of some professing believers, the foundation remains unmoved. Because of these precious truths, the ones who remain faithful need not be discouraged, for the Lord knoweth (recognizes and cares for) his own. That is, amid the turmoil and confusion of the backsliders, the Lord will not lose sight of those who are remaining on the unmoveable foundation. A seal is an inscription attached to a book or other document or any other• important article, that signifies the approval of an authority concerned. This is used figuratively to denote the surety of acceptance for all who will remain true to God. However, to receive and keep such a seal, each man must keep himself apart from iniquity. The last word is from ADIKIA, which Thayer defines, "unrighteousness of heart and life." But in order to be free from it, the professors of faith (those who nameth the name of Christ) must depart from such a life, and not expect God to perform a special miracle to rid them of sin.

Verse 20

2Ti 2:20. A great house literally refers to the material structures made by men, but it is used to illustrate the church which is also called a house (1Ti 3:15). In the material buildings there are various kinds of vessels (defined "house-hold utensils" in Thayer's lexicon). These vessels will be made of different kinds of material, depending on the service expected to get from them. Honor ,and dishonor in a material building means only that the use of some utensils is more special or particular than that of others. When such a service is wanted, the householder will use the utensils that are made of the best materials, and those most in keeping with the dignity or importance of the occasion. A utensil made of gold or silver could be used on occasions when those of wood or clay would not serve the purpose. 2Ti 2:21 Verse 21. In the illustration, a vessel is whatever kind its owner decrees for it. But in the house of God every man may be an "honorable" vessel if he will. Hence if a man therefore purge himself from these, meaning the objectionable principles referred to in the preceding verses, he can be the kind of vessel that is desirable. Sanctified means he is cleansed from iniquity by obedience to the truth, and set apart for a righteous use, namely, that of the Master's. Such a reformation in his life prepares him for the work that is designed by his Owner. Note that nothing is said about doing great or highminded work, but every good work.

Verse 22

2Ti 2:22. Youthful lusts. Thayer defines the first word, "peculiar to the age of youth, youthful." The phrase means those desires that are more common in one who is young. The Lord will not overlook a misdeed of one on the ground of his "early years." Joseph was scarcely out of his "teens" when his mistress tried to seduce him, yet he was able to resist her advances by the faith he had in God. In 1Ti 4:12 the evangelist is told not to let anyone despise or belittle his youth. Our present passage is similar in its purpose, and he is to maintain the respect of others by practicing the things that both young and old should do in order to please God, and be an example to others. Righteousness is a general term and always means the practice of that which is right. To follow after it requires that one make it his daily conduct, not merely when it is covenient. Faith, when used with reference to one's manner of life, means the conduct of one who is true or faithful to the will of the Lord. Charity in this passage denotes a sincere interest in the welfare of others. Peace must be in accord with the wisdom that is from above (Jas 3:17). Such a peace is not always agreeable to others, hence Paul specifies that Timothy may have it with those who are pure in heart in the sight of the Lord.

Verse 23

2Ti 2:23. Unlearned questions means subjects that are not instructive. Many times we hear brethren worrying and laboring over matters that are not set forth in the scriptures, and often it is concerning inquiries that would not be of any profit even if they could be solved. Such conversations are foolish, and Timothy is directed to avoid them. They not only are without any lawful result, but rather will they gender (beget) strifes. The last word is from MACHE which Thayer defines, "A fight, combat; quarrel." Sincere contention on behalf of a revealed principle is right and is commanded (Jud 1:3), but an argument over useless words is always wrong.

Verse 24

2Ti 2:24. The Bible does not contradict itself, and when there seems to be a disagreement there is always a proper explanation. This verse says a servant of the Lord must not strive, while other passages show he may (verse 5). But it is from a different original in the present verse which Thayer defines, "to quarrel, wrangle, dispute." The connection shows Paul is writing about Timothy's work among those who are out of the way because of being uninformed; he should be gentle and patient toward such. Apt to teach. This phrase is from DIDAKTIKOS, which occurs only twice in the Greek New Testament. Thayer's definition is, "apt and skilful in teaching." The other place where the word is used is 1Ti 3:2 where it is applied to the elders, while in our verse it is applied to anyone who is a servant of the Lord, which might not always be an evangelist even. In one place it is applied to a man with authority in the church, in the other the connection does not indicate authority. Since the definition does not state how skilful he must be in teaching, we must consult some other passage for that. Tit 1:9 is considering the qualifications and work of a bishop (or elder), and it shows he must be able by "sound doctrine" (teaching) to convince the gainsayers. Unless a man is able to do that kind of teaching, he is not qualified for the eldership, while a man without that degree of teaching ability might be an acceptable servant of the Lord.

Verse 25

2Ti 2:25. Meekness means humbleness and is about the same in effect as gentleness in the preceding verse. Oppose themselves refers to those who place themselves in opposition to the truth that Timothy was teaching. Peradventure. God wishes every person in sin to repent (2Pe 3:9), and never prevents him from so doing if he becomes penitent in mind. Hence the uncertainty expresses by the word is on the question of whether these people in error will be persuaded by the means that God will be using through the services of Timothy. Such repentance or reformation must begin by the acknowledging of the truth that was offered to them.

Verse 26

2Ti 2:26. These people engaged in opposition to the truth are compared to a victim caught in a snare or trap. The trap has been set by the devil (from DIABOLOS) , who uses various means to capture the people of the Lord. Sometimes he is overt and vicious after the manner of a roaring lion (1Pe 5:8), at other times he captures them with his wiles or snares. Taken captive is from ZOGREO which Thayer defines, "to take alive." The last clause is a very interesting use of an illustration. It pictures a scene where the Lord finds a human being who had once been His servant, but was caught in the trap of the devil. The victim is released and taken captive by the Lord, who originally had possession of him anyway, and who now will again be turned into the kind of service that is in harmony with His will.
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 2". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/2-timothy-2.html. 1952.
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