2 Timothy 2:1
1Be strong in the grace As he had formerly commanded him to keep, by the Spirit, that which was committed to him, so now he likewise enjoins him “to be strengthened in grace.” By this expression he intends to shake off sloth and indifference; for the flesh is so sluggish, that even those who are endued with eminent gifts are found to slacken in the midst of their course, if they be not frequently aroused.
Some will say: “Of what use is it to exhort a man to ‘be strong in grace,’ unless free-will have something to do in cooperation?” I reply, what God demands from us by his word he likewise bestows by his Spirit, so that we are strengthened in the grace which he has given to us. And yet the exhortations are not superfluous, because the Spirit of God, teaching us inwardly, causes that they shall not sound in our ears fruitlessly and to no purpose. Whoever, therefore, shall acknowledge that the present exhortation could not have been fruitful without the secret power of the Spirit, will never support free-will by means of it.
Which is in Christ Jesus. This is added for two reasons; to shew that the grace comes from Christ alone, and from no other, and that no Christian will be destitute of it; for, since there is one Christ common to all, it follows that all are partakers of his grace, which is said to be in Christ, because all who belong to Christ must have it.
My son. This kind appellation, which he employs, tends much to gain the affections, that the doctrine may more effectually obtain admission into the heart.
2 Tim 2:1. Thou therefore, my son, be strong] Rather render my child, as in 1Ti_1:2 where the difference is explained, and be strengthened, ‘be emboldened,’ because the verb is of the same class in Greek as our English verbs with the ending -en. It occurs again in the active 4:17 ‘the Lord stood by me and strengthened me.’ So the Vulg. here has the Low Latin ‘confortare,’ whence our own ‘comfort’ and ‘comforter.’
in the grace that is in Christ Jesus] ‘Christ Jesus’ here and in ver. 3 according to the order of the words as they framed themselves on the aged Apostle’s lips in these last years. See note on 1Ti_1:1. ‘In the grace,’ strengthened, that is, in those virtues and spiritual powers which in their fulness are in Christ. ‘The grace that is in Christ Jesus,’ as distinguished from ‘the Grace of Christ’ appears to be used only here. We have had ‘life that is in Christ Jesus’ 2Ti_1:1; then ‘faith and love that are in Christ Jesus,’ the first two movements and powers of that life, 1:13; and now the full ‘grace,’ all the developed activities of strong life. As a matter of language the prepositional phrase ‘that is in Christ Jesus’ may mark progress towards the adjectival phrase which we should use now, ‘the Christian life,’ ‘the Christian graces’; see note on 1Ti_1:2. But we may rejoice that the changing phrase was (as it were) crystallised for us here at a stage that shews so plainly how inward sanctification is nothing but continued and increased vital personal union with Christ.
2 Timothy 2:2
2And which thou hast heard from me. He again shews how earnestly desirous he is to transmit sound doctrine to posterity; and he exhorts Timothy, not only to preserve its shape and features, (as he formerly did,) but likewise to hand it down to godly teachers, that, being widely spread, it may take root in the hearts of many; for he saw that it would quickly perish if it were not soon scattered by the ministry of many persons. And, indeed, we see what Satan did, not long after the death of the Apostles; for, just as if preaching had been buried for some centuries, he brought in innumerable reveries, which, by their monstrous absurdity, surpassed the superstitions of all the heathens. We need not wonder, therefore, if Paul, in order to guard against an evil of such a nature and of such magnitude, earnestly desires that his doctrines shall be committed to all godly ministers, who shall be qualified to teach it. As if he had said, — “See that after my death there may remain a sure attestation of my doctrine; and this will be, if thou not only teach faithfully what thou hast learned from me, but take care that it be more widely published by others; therefore, whomsoever thou shalt see fitted for that work, commit to their trust this treasure.”
Commit to believing men He calls them believing men, not on account of their faith, which is common to all Christians, but on account of their pre-eminence, as possessing a large measure of faith. We might even translate it “faithful men;” for there are few who sincerely labor to preserve and perpetuate the remembrance of the doctrine intrusted to them. Some are impelled by ambition, and that of various kinds, some by covetousness, some by malice, and others are kept back by the fear of dangers; and therefore extraordinary faithfulness is here demanded.
By many witnesses He does not mean that he produced witnesses in a formal and direct manner in the case of Timothy; but, because some might raise a controversy whether that which Timothy taught had proceeded from Paul, or had been forged by himself, he removes all doubt by this argument, that he did not speak secretly in a corner, but that there were many alive who could testify that Timothy spoke nothing which they had not formerly heard from the mouth of Paul. The doctrine of Timothy would therefore be beyond suspicion, seeing that they had many fellow-disciples, who could bear testimony to it. Hence we learn how greatly a servant of Christ should labor to maintain and defend the purity of doctrine, and not only while he lives, but as long as his care and labor can extend it.
2 Tim 2:2. the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses] ‘Of’ in the sense of from as in 1:13; ‘among,’ i.e. ‘in the presence of according to the well-known use of the same preposition in Gal_3:19 ‘(the law) ordained through angels,’ i.e. ‘in the presence of,’ ‘amid the pomp of.’ Cf. Winer iii. § 47 i., ‘intervenientibus multis testibus.’ We are most probably to understand the presbyters who assisted at Timothy’s ordination. See 1Ti_4:14; and note the similar form of the statement there ‘amid the pomp of prophesying’ with the similar use of the preposition.
the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able] Lit., ‘who are of such a class that they will be able,’ as 1Ti_1:4, &c. St Clement of Rome, St Paul’s contemporary, thus further defines the rule of this apostolic succession, ad Cor. c. 44. ‘The Apostles appointed the above-named priests and deacons, permanence being afterwards given by them to the office in order that on the death of the first-appointed other reputed men should succeed to their ministry. Those then who were appointed either directly by the Apostles or in the second generation by other approved heads with the consent of the whole Church … we do not think can be rightly ejected from office.’ See Lightfoot’s emended text, p. 136.
Which for that, A.V.; from for of, A.V. The things which thou hast heard, etc. Here we have distinctly enunciated the succession of apostolical doctrine through apostolical men. We have also set before us the partnership of the presbyterate, and, in a secondary degree, of the whole Church, with the apostles and bishops their successors, in preserving pure and unadulterated the faith once delivered to the saints. There can be little doubt that St. Paul is here alluding to Timothy’s ordination, as in 1Ti_4:14; 1Ti_6:12; 2Ti_1:6, 2Ti_1:7, 2Ti_1:13, 2Ti_1:14. Timothy had then heard from the apostle’s lips a certain “form of sound words”—something in the nature of a creed, some summary of gospel truth, which was the deposit placed in his charge; and in committing it to him, he and the presbyters present had laid their hands on him, and the whole Church had assented, and confirmed the same. “Thus through many witnesses,” whose presence and assent, like that of witnesses to the execution of a deed of transfer of land (Gen_23:10, Gen_23:16, Gen_23:18), was necessary to make the transaction valid and complete, had Timothy received his commission to preach the Word of God; and what he had received he was to hand on in like manner to faithful men, who should be able to teach the same to others also. Commit (παράθου); identifying the doctrine committed to be handed on with the deposit (παραθήκη) of 1Ti_6:20 and 2Ti_1:14. It is important to note here both the concurrence of the presbyters and the assent of the Church. The Church has ever been averse to private ordinations, and has ever associated the people as consentient parties in ordination (Thirty-first Canon; Preface to “Form and Manner of Making of Deacons,” and rubric at close—”in the face of the Church;” “Form and Manner of Ordering of Priests”—”Good people,” etc.).
2 Timothy 2:2
From me (par’ emou). As in 2Ti_1:13. Paul was Timothy’s chief teacher of Christ.
Among many witnesses (dia pollōn marturōn). Plutarch has dia in this sense and Field (Ot. Norv.) suggests that it is a legal phrase “supported by many witnesses.” Not mere spectators, but testifiers. See Paul’s use of dia 1Th_4:2; 2Co_2:4; Rom_2:27; Rom_14:20. Paul in 1Co_15:1-8 gives many witnesses of the resurrection of Christ.
Commit thou (parathou). Second aorist middle imperative of paratithēmi (1Ti_1:18) to deposit, same metaphor as parathēkē in 2Ti_1:12, 2Ti_1:14. “Deposit thou.”
Faithful (pistois). “Trustworthy,” “reliable,” as in 1Ti_1:12 of Paul himself.
Able (hikanoi). Capable, qualified, as in 1Co_15:9; 2Co_2:16; 2Co_3:5.
Others also (kai heterous). Not necessarily “different,” but “others in addition.” This is the way to pass on the torch of the light of the knowledge of God in Christ. Paul taught Timothy who will teach others who will teach still others, an endless chain of teacher-training and gospel propaganda.
2 Timothy 2:3
3Do thou therefore endure afflictions Not without strong necessity has he added this second exhortation; for they who offer their obedience to Christ must be prepared for “enduring afflictions;” and thus, without patient endurance of evils, there will never be perseverance. And accordingly he adds, “as becomes a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” By this term he means that all who serve Christ are warriors, and that their condition as warriors consists, not in inflicting evils, but rather in patience.
These are matters on which it is highly necessary for us to meditate. We see how many there are every day, that throw away their spears, who formerly made a great show of valor. Whence does this arise? Because they cannot become inured to the cross. First, they are so effeminate that they shrink from warfare. Next, they do not know any other way of fighting than to contend haughtily and fiercely with their adversaries; and they cannot bear to learn what it is to “possess their souls in patience.” (Luk_21:19)
2 Timothy 2:3
Suffer hardship with me (sunkakopathēson). See note on 2Ti_1:8 for this verb. The old preacher challenges the young one to share hardship with him for Christ.
As a good soldier (hos kalos stratiōtēs). Paul does not hesitate to use this military metaphor (this word only here for a servant of Christ) with which he is so familiar. He had already used the metaphor in 1Co_9:7; 2Co_10:3.; 1Ti_1:18. In Phi_2:25 he called Epaphroditus “my fellow-soldier” (sunstratiōtēn mou) as he did Archippus in Phm_1:2.
2 Timothy 2:3
Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ – Such hardships as a soldier is called to endure. The apostle supposes that a minister of the gospel might be called to endure hardships, and that it is reasonable that he should be as ready to do it as a soldier is. On the hardships which he endured himself, see the notes at 2Co_11:23-29. Soldiers often endure great privations. Taken from their homes and friends; exposed to cold, or heat, or storms, or fatiguing marches; sustained on coarse fare, or almost destitute of food, they are often compelled to endure as much as the human frame can bear, and often indeed, sink under their burdens, and die. If, for reward or their country’s sake, they are willing to do this, the soldier of the cross should be willing to do it for his Saviour’s sake, and for the good of the human race. Hence, let no man seek the office of the ministry as a place of ease. Let no one come into it merely to enjoy himself. Let no one enter it who is not prepared to lead a soldier’s life and to welcome hardship and trial as his portion. He would make a bad soldier, who, at his enlistment, should make it a condition that he should be permitted to sleep on a bed of down, and always be well clothed and fed, and never exposed to peril, or compelled to pursue a wearisome march. Yet do not some men enter the ministry, making these the conditions? And would they enter the ministry on any other terms?
2 Timothy 2:4
4No man who warreth He continues to make use of the metaphor which he had borrowed from warfare. Yet, strictly speaking, he formerly called Timothy “a soldier of Christ” metaphorically; but now he compares profane warfare with spiritual and Christian warfare in this sense. “The condition of military discipline is such, that as soon as a soldier has enrolled himself under a general, he leaves his house and all his affairs, and thinks of nothing but war; and in like manner, in order that we may be wholly devoted to Christ, we must be free from all the entanglements of this world.”
With the affairs of life By “the affairs of life”, he means the care of governing his family, and ordinary occupations; as farmers leave their agriculture, and merchants their ships and merchandise, till they have completed the time that they agreed to serve in war. We must now apply the comparison to the present subject, that every one who wishes to fight under Christ must relinquish all the hindrances and employments of the world, and devote himself unreservedly to the warfare. In short, let us remember the old proverb, Hoc age , which means, that in the worship of God, we ought to give such earnestness of attention that nothing else should occupy our thoughts and feelings. The old translation has, “No man that fights for God,” etc. But this utterly destroys Paul’s meaning.
Here Paul speaks to the pastors of the Church in the person of Timothy. The statement is general, but is specially adapted to the ministers of the word. First, let them see what things are inconsistent within their office, that, freed from those things, they may follow Christ. Next, let them see, each for himself, what it is that draws them away from Christ; that this heavenly General may not have less authority over us than that which a mortal man claims for himself over heathen soldiers who have enrolled under him.
2 Tim 2:4. No man that warreth] More literally no one on service, as in Luk_3:18 ‘men on march’ came to St John Baptist. Carr, however, there quotes instances from the classics for the absence of the article, Eur. Ion 639, Med. 68, as shewing that possibly it may be used irregularly as a substantive, ‘no fighting man.’
entangleth himself with the affairs of this life] The verb occurs only here and in 2Pe_2:20; the noun only here: ‘affairs,’ in the sense in which we speak of a ‘man of affairs’ skilled in public business; the word has been debased and generalised since the writing of A.V. and of Shakespeare’s
‘There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which taken at the flood leads on to fortune.’
And now we use the word chiefly of ‘the affairs of every-day life’ and the like. The Vulg. has well ‘implicat se negotiis secularibus.’
who hath chosen him] Rather, who enrolled him; the word is only here in N.T., a later Greek word.
2 Timothy 2:4
No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life – Having alluded to the soldier, and stated one thing in which the Christian minister is to resemble him, another point of resemblance is suggested to the mind of the apostle. Neither the minister nor the soldier is to be encumbered with the affairs of this life, and the one should not be more than the other. This is always a condition in becoming a soldier. He gives up his own business during the time for which he is enlisted, and devotes himself to the service of his country. The farmer leaves his plow, and the mechanic his shop, and the merchant his store, and the student his books, and the lawyer his brief; and neither of them expect to pursue these things while engaged in the service of their country. It would be wholly impracticable to carry on the plans of a campaign, if each one of these classes should undertake to prosecute his private business. See this fully illustrated from the Rules of War among the Romans, by Grotius, “in loc.” 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. So with the ministers of the gospel. It is equally improper for them to “entangle” themselves with the business of a farm or plantation; with plans of speculation and gain, and with any purpose of worldly aggrandizement. The minister of the gospel accomplishes the design of his appointment only when he can say in sincerity, that he “is not entangled with the affairs of this life;” compare the notes at 1Co_9:25-27.
That he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier – That is, him who has enlisted him, or in whose employ he is. His great object is to approve himself to him. It is not to pursue his own plans, or to have his own will, or to accumulate property or fame for himself. His will is absorbed in the will of his commander, and his purpose is accomplished if he meet with his approbation. Nowhere else is it so true that the will of one becomes lost in that of another, as in the case of the soldier. In an army it is contemplated that there shall be but one mind, one heart, one purpose – that of the commander; and that the whole army shall be as obedient to that as the members of the human body are to the one will that controls all. The application of this is obvious. The grand purpose of the minister of the gospel is to please Christ. He is to pursue no separate plans, and to have no separate will, of his own; and it is contemplated that the whole “Corps” of Christian ministers and members of the churches shall be as entirely subordinate to the will of Christ, as an army is to the orders of its chief.
2 Timothy 2:5
5And if any one strive He now speaks of perseverance, that no man may think that he has done enough when he has been engaged in one or two conflicts. He borrows a comparison from wrestlers, not one of whom obtains the prize till he has been victorious in the end. Thus he says:
“In a race all run, but one obtaineth the prize; run so that ye may obtain.” (1Co_9:24.)
If any man, therefore, wearied with the conflict, immediately withdraw from the arena to enjoy repose, he will be condemned for indolence instead of being crowned. Thus, because Christ wishes us to strive during our whole life, he who gives way in the middle of the course deprives himself of honor, even though he may have begun valiantly. To strive lawfully is to pursue the contest in such a manner and to such an extent as the law requires, that none may leave off before the time appointed.
2 Timothy 2:5. And if a man also strive for masteries] The ‘also’ is placed by R.V. before ‘a man’ instead of after as A.V.; correctly, though awkwardly; as implying not that a man may perhaps beside soldiering also contend in the games, which is the proper inference from the position of ‘also’ in A.V., but that ‘there is first the case of a soldier, and there is also the case of an athlete.’ The verb, from which comes our ‘athlete,’ occurs here only in N.T., though the substantive in the derived sense of ‘conflict’ occurs in Heb_10:32, ‘a great conflict of sufferings.’ Render, and if again a man contend in the games. We have had the illustration from the race-course and its ‘games’ in 1Ti_6:12, and shall have it again lower down, ch. 4:7. As Eph_6 is the chief soldier’s illustration, so 1Co_9:25 sqq. is the chief athlete’s, in St Paul. The foot-race is used very strikingly also, Heb_12:1. Cf. Appendix, K.
except he strive lawfully] Except he have kept the rules of the contest. ‘The six statues of Jupiter at Olympia were made from the fines levied on athletes who had not contended lawfully.’ Pausan. v. 21. (Bp Wordsworth.) Among the rules of the Olympic games were the following; competitors had to prove to the judges that they were freemen, of pure Hellenic blood, not disfranchised, or convicted of sacrilege, and that they had gone through the ten months’ preparatory training; they, their fathers, brothers, and trainers had to take oath that they would be guilty of no misconduct in the contests; and they had then a month’s preliminary exercises in the gymnasium at Elis under the superintendence of the judges. The ‘games’ included longer and shorter foot-races for men and for boys, chariot-races, horse-races, wrestling, boxing; the pentathlon, a combination of leaping, flat-racing, discus-throwing, spear-throwing, and wrestling; and the pancration, a union of boxing and wrestling. ‘Without interruption for upwards of a thousand years the full moon after the summer solstice every fourth year witnessed the celebration of these games. b.c. 776-a.d. 394.’ Wordsworth, Greece, p. 315.
2 Timothy 2:5
Strive for masteries (ἀθλῇ)
N.T.o. olxx. Paul uses ἀγωνίζεσθαι (see 1Co_9:25), which appears also in 1Ti_4:10; 1Ti_6:12; 2Ti_4:7. For masteries is superfluous. Rev. contend in the games; but the meaning of the verb is not limited to that. It may mean to contend in battle; and the preceding reference to the soldier would seem to suggest that meaning here. The allusion to crowning is not decisive in favor of the Rev. rendering. Among the Romans crowns were the highest distinction for service in war. The corona triumphalis of laurel was presented to a triumphant general; and the corona obsidionalis was awarded to a general by the army which he had saved from a siege or from a shameful capitulation. It was woven of grass which grew on the spot, and was also called corona graminea. The corona myrtea or ovatio, the crown of bay, was worn by the general who celebrated the lesser triumph or ovatio. The golden corona muralis, with embattled ornaments, was given for the storming of a wall; and the corona castrensis or vallaris, also of gold, and ornamented in imitation of palisades, was awarded to the soldier who first climbed the rampart of the enemy’s camp.
Is he not crowned (οὐ στεφανοῦται)
The verb only here and Heb_2:7, Heb_2:9. For στέφανος crown, see on Rev_2:9; see on Rev_4:4; see on 1Pe_5:4. Paul has στέφανον λαβεῖν, 1Co_9:25.
Pasto. See 1Ti_1:8. According to the law of military service which requires him to abandon all other pursuits. So the law of the ministerial office requires that the minister shall not entangle himself with secular pursuits. If he fulfills this requirement, he is not to trouble himself about his worldly maintenance, for it is right that he should draw his support from his ministerial labor: nay, he has the first right to its material fruits.
2 Timothy 2:6
6The husbandman must labor before he receive the fruits I am well aware that others render this passage differently; and I acknowledge that they translate, word for word, what Paul has written in Greek; but he who shall carefully examine the context will assent to my view. Besides, the use of (κοπιῶντα) to labor instead of (κοπιᾷν)to labor, is a well-known Greek idiom; for Greek writers often make use of the participle in place of the infinitive.
The meaning therefore, is, that husbandmen do not gather the fruit, till they have first toiled hard in the cultivation of the soil, by sowing and by other labors. And if husbandmen do not spare their toils, that one day they may obtain fruit, and if they patiently wait for the season of harvest; how much more unreasonable will it be for us to refuse the labors which Christ enjoins upon us, while he holds out so great a reward?
2 Timothy 2:6
The husbandman that laboureth – The margin is, “labouring first, must be partaker.” The idea, according to the translation in the text, is, that there is a fitness or propriety (δει dei) that the man who cultivates the earth, should enjoy the fruits of his labor. See the same image explained in the notes at 1Co_9:10. But if this be the meaning here, it is not easy to see why the apostle introduces it. According to the marginal reading, the word “first” is introduced in connection with the word “labour” – “labouring first, must be partaker.” That is, it is a great law that the husbandman must work before be receives a harvest. This sense will accord with the purpose of the apostle. It was to remind Timothy that labor must precede reward; that if a man would reap, he must sow; that he could hope for no fruits, unless he toiled for them. The point was not that the husbandman would be the first one who would partake of the fruits; but that he must first labor before he obtained the reward. Thus understood, this would be an encouragement to Timothy to persevere in his toils, looking onward to the reward. The Greek will bear this construction, though it is not the most obvious one.
2 Timothy 2:7
7Understand what I say He added this, not on account of the obscurity of the comparisons which he has set forth, but that Timothy himself might ponder, how much more excellent is the warfare under the direction of Christ, and how much more abundant the reward; for, when we have studied it incessantly, we scarcely arrive at a full knowledge of it.
The Lord give thee understanding in all things The prayer, which now follows, is added by way of correction. Because our minds do not easily rise to that “incorruptible crown” (1Co_9:25) of the life to come, (164) Paul betakes himself to God, to “give understanding” to Timothy. And hence we infer, that not less are we taught in vain, if the Lord do not open our understandings, than the commandments would be given in vain, if he did not impart strength to perform them. For who could have taught better than Paul? And yet, in order that he may teach with any advantage, he prays that God may train his disciple.
2 Timothy 2:7
Consider what I say – Apply my metaphors and similitudes in a proper manner.
And the Lord give thee understanding – But instead of δῳη, may he give, ACDEFG, several others, besides versions and fathers, have δωσει he will give. Consider thou properly, and God will give thee a proper understanding of all things that concern thy own peace, and the peace and prosperity of his Church. Think as well as read.
2 Timothy 2:8
8Remember that Jesus Christ, being raised from the dead. He expressly mentions some part of his doctrine, which he wished to go down to posterity, entire and uncorrupted. It is probable that he glances chiefly at that part about which he was most afraid; as will also appear clearly from what follows, when he comes to speak about the error of “Hymenaeus and Philetus,” (2Ti_2:17;) for they denied the resurrection, of which we have a sure pledge in this confession, when they falsely said that it was already past.
How necessary this admonition of Paul was, the ancient histories shew; for Satan put forth all his strength, in order to destroy this article of our faith. There being two parts of it, that Christ was born “of the seed of David,” and that he rose from the dead; immediately after the time of the Apostles, arose Marcion, who labored to destroy the truth of the human nature in Christ; and afterwards he was followed by the Manichaeans; and even, in the present day, this plague is still spreading.
So far as relates to the resurrection, how many have been employed, and with what diversified schemes, in laboring to overthrow the hope of it! This attestation, therefore, means as much as if Paul had said, “Let no one corrupt or falsify my gospel by slanders; I have thus taught, I have thus preached, that Christ, who was born a man of the seed of David, rose from the dead.”
According to my gospel He calls it “his gospel,” not that he professes to be the author but the minister of it. Now, in the resurrection of Christ we all have a sure pledge of our own resurrection. Accordingly, he who acknowledges that Christ has risen affirms that the same thing will take place with us also; for Christ did not rise for himself, but for us. The head must not be separated from his members. Besides, in the resurrection of Christ is contained the fulfillment of our redemption and salvation; for it is added, from the dead. Thus Christ, who was dead, arose. Why? and for what purpose? Here we must come to ourselves, and here too is manifested the power and fruit of both, namely, of his resurrection and of his death; for we must always hold by this principle, that Scripture is not wont to speak of these things coldly, and as matters of history, but makes indirect reference to the fruit.
Of the seed of David This clause not only asserts the reality of human nature in Christ, but also claims for him the honor and name of the Messiah. Heretics deny that Christ was a real man, others imagine that his human nature descended from heaven, and others think that there was in him nothing more than the appearance of a man. Paul exclaims, on the contrary, that he was “of the seed of David;” by which he undoubtedly declares that he was a real man, the son of a human being, that is, of Mary. This testimony is so express, that the more heretics labor to get rid of it, the more do they discover their own impudence. The Jews and other enemies of Christ deny that he is the person who was formerly promised; but Paul affirms that he is the son of David, and that he is descended from that family from which the Messiah ought to descend.
2 Timothy 2:8
Remember that Jesus Christ – was raised, etc.
Incorrect. Rend. remember Jesus Christ raised from the dead. Μνημόνευε remember, only here in Pastorals: often in Paul. Ἑγείρειν to raise, very often in N.T., but only here in Pastorals. The perfect passive participle (ἐγηγερμένον) only here. The perfect marks the permanent condition – raised and still living.
Of the seed of David
Not referring to Christ’s human descent as a humiliation in contrast with his victory over death (ἐγηγερμένον), but only marking his human, visible nature along with his glorified nature, and indicating that in both aspects he is exalted and glorified. See the parallel in Rom_1:3, Rom_1:4, which the writer probably had in mind, and was perhaps trying to imitate. It is supposed by some that the words Jesus Christ – seed of David were a part of a confessional formula.
According to my gospel
Comp. Rom_2:16; Rom_16:25, and see 1Co_15:1; 2Co_11:7; Gal_1:11; Gal_2:2; 1Ti_1:11.
2 Timothy 2:9
9In which I am a sufferer This is an anticipation, for his imprisonment lessened the credit due to his gospel in the eyes of ignorant people. He, therefore, acknowledges that, as to outward appearance, he was imprisoned like a criminal; but adds, that his imprisonment did not hinder the gospel from having free course; and not only so, but that what he suffers is advantageous to the elect, because it tends to confirm them. Such is the unshaken courage of the martyrs of Christ, when the consciousness of being engaged in a good cause lifts them up above the world; so that, from a lofty position, they look down with contempt, not only on bodily pains and agonies, but on every kind of disgrace.
Moreover, all godly persons ought to strengthen themselves with this consideration, when they see the ministers of the gospel attacked and outraged by adversaries, that they may not, on that account, cherish less reverence for doctrine, but may give glory to God, by whose power they see it burst through all the hindrances of the world. And, indeed, if we were not excessively devoted to the flesh, this consolation alone must have been sufficient for us in the midst of persecutions, that, if we are oppressed by the cruelty of the wicked, the gospel is nevertheless extended and more widely diffused; for, whatever they may attempt, so far are they from obscuring or extinguishing the light of the gospel, that it burns the more brightly. Let us therefore bear cheerfully, or at least patiently, to have both our body and our reputation shut up in prison, provided that the truth of God breaks through those fetters, and is spread far and wide.
2 Timothy 2:9
Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil-doer – as if I were a violator of the laws. That is, I am treated as if I were a criminal.
Even unto bonds – As if I were one of the words kind of malefactors; see the notes at Eph_6:20. During the apostle’s first imprisonment at Rome, he was permitted to “dwell in his own hired house,” though guarded by a soldier, and probably chained to him; see the notes at Act_28:16, Act_28:30. What was his condition in his second imprisonment, during which this Epistle was written, we have no means of knowing with certainty. It is probable, however, that he was subjected to much more rigid treatment than he had been in the first instance. The tradition is, that he and Peter were together in the Mamertine prison at Rome; and the place is still shown in which it is said that they were confined. The Mamertine prisons are of great antiquity. According to Livy, they were constructed by Ancus Martius, and enlarged by Servius Tullius. The lower prison is supposed to have been once a quarry, and to have been at one time occupied as a granary. These prisons are on the descent of the Capitoline Mount, toward the Forum. They consist of two apartments, one over the other, built with large, uncemented 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. The upper prison is twenty-seven feet long, by twenty wide; the lower one is elliptical, and measures twenty feet by ten. In the lower one is a small spring, which is said at Rome to have arisen at the command of Peter, to enable him to baptize his keepers, Processus and Martianus, with 47 companions, whom he converted. No certain reliance can be placed on any part of this tradition, though in itself there is no improbability in supposing that these prisons may have been used for confining Christians, and the apostle Paul among others. Dr. Burton says that a more horrible place for the confinement of a human being can scarcely be conceived.
But the word of God is not bound – This is one of Paul’s happy turns of thought; compare the notes at Act_26:29. The meaning is plain. The gospel was prospered. that could not be lettered and imprisoned. It circulated with freedom. even when he who was appointed to preach it was in chains; see Phi_1:13-14. As this was the great matter, his own imprisonment was of comparatively little consequence. What may befall us is of secondary importance. The grand thing is the triumph of truth on the earth; and well may we bear privations and sorrows, if the gospel moves on in triumph.
2 Timothy 2:10
10Wherefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect From the elect he shews, that his imprisonment is so far from being a ground of reproach, that it is highly profitable to the elect. When he says that he endures for the sake of the elect, this demonstrates how much more he cares for the edification of the Church than for himself; for he is prepared, not only to die, but even to be reckoned in the number of wicked men, that he may promote the salvation of the Church.
In this passage Paul teaches the same doctrine as in Col_1:24, where he says, that he “fills up what is wanting in the sufferings of Christ, for his body, which is the Church.”
Hence the impudence of the Papists is abundantly refuted, who infer from these words that the death of Paul was a satisfaction for our sins; as if he claimed anything else for his death, than that it would confirm the faith of the godly, for he immediately adds an exposition, by affirming that the salvation of believers is found in Christ alone. But if any of my readers wishes to see a more extended illustration of this subject, let him consult my Commentary on the chapter which I have just now quoted — the first of the Epistle to the Colossians.
With eternal glory This is the end of the salvation which we obtain in Christ; for our salvation is to live to God, which salvation begins with our regeneration, and is completed by our perfect deliverance, when God takes us away from the miseries of this mortal life, and gathers us into his kingdom. To this salvation is added the participation of heavenly, that is, divine glory; and, therefore, in order to magnify the grace of Christ, he gave to salvation the name of “eternal glory.”
2 Timothy 2:14
14Remind them of these things. The expression (ταῦτα) these things, is highly emphatic. It means that the summary of the gospel which he gave, and the exhortations which he added to it, are of so great importance, that a good minister ought never to be weary of exhibiting them; for they are things that deserve to be continually handled, and that cannot be too frequently repeated. “They are things” (he says) “which I wish you not only to teach once, but to take great pains to impress on the hearts of men by frequent repetition.” A good teacher ought to look at nothing else than edification, and to give his whole attention to that alone. On the contrary, he enjoins him not only to abstain from useless questions, but likewise to forbid others to follow them.
Solemnly charging them before the Lord, not to dispute about words. Λογομαχεῖν means to engage earnestly in contentious disputes, which are commonly produced by a foolish desire of being ingenious. Solemn charging before the Lord is intended to strike terror; and from this severity we learn how dangerous to the Church is that knowledge which leads to debates, that is, which disregards piety, and tends to ostentation; of this nature is the whole of that speculative theology, as it is called, that is found among the Papists.
For no use, On two grounds, λογομαχία, or “disputing about words,” is condemned by him. It is of no advantage, and it is exceedingly hurtful, by disturbing weak minds. Although in the version I have followed Erasmus, because it did not disagree with Paul’s meaning, yet I wish to inform my readers that Paul’s words may be explained in this manner, “That which is useful for nothing.” The Greek words are, εἰς οὐδὲν χρήσιμον, and I read χρήσιμον in the accusative case, and not in the nominative. The style will thus flow more agreeably; as if he had said, “Of what use is it, when no good comes from it, but much evil? for the faith of many is subverted.”
Let us remark, first, that, when a manner of teaching does no good, for that single reason it is justly disapproved; for God does not wish to indulge our curiosity, but to instruct us in a useful manner. Away with all speculations, therefore, which produce no edification!
But the second is much worse, when questions are raised, which are not only unprofitable, but tend to the subversion of the hearers I wish that this were attended to by those who are always armed for fighting with the tongue, and who, in every question are looking for grounds of quarreling, and who go so far as to lay snares around every word or syllable. But they are carried in a wrong direction by ambition, and sometimes by an almost fatal disease; which I have experienced in some. What the Apostle says about subverting is shown, every day, by actual observation, to be perfectly true; for it is natural, amidst disputes, to lose sight of the truth; and Satan avails himself of quarrels as a presence for disturbing weak persons, and overthrowing their faith.
2 Timothy 2:14
Of these things put them in remembrance – These great principles in regard to the kingdom of Christ. They would be as useful to others as they were for Timothy, to whom they were specially addressed.
Charging them before the Lord – In the presence of the Lord, implying that it was a very important matter; see the notes at 1Ti_1:18.
That they strive not about words to no profit; – see the notes at 1Ti_1:6; 1Ti_6:4.
But to the subverting of the hearers – Turning them away from the simplicity of faith. It is rare, indeed, that a religious controversy does not produce this effect, and this is commonly the case, where, as often happens, the matter in dispute is of little importance.
2 Timothy 2:15
15Study to shew thyself to be approved by God Since all disputes about doctrine arise from this source, that men are desirous to make a boast of ingenuity before the world, Paul here applies the best and most excellent remedy, when he commands Timothy to keep his eyes fixed on God; as if he had said; “Some aim at the applause of a crowded assembly, but do thou study to approve thyself and thy ministry to God.” And indeed there is nothing that tends more to check a foolish eagerness for display, than to reflect that we have to deal with God.
A workman that doth not blush Erasmus translates ἀνεπαίσχυντον “ that ought not to blush.” I do not find fault with that rendering, but prefer to explain it actively, “that doth not blush;”, both because that is the more ordinary meaning of the word as used by Greek writers, and because I consider it to agree better with the present passage. There is an implied contrast. Those who disturb the Church by contentions break out into that fierceness, because they are ashamed of being overcome, and because they reckon it disgraceful that there should be anything that they do not know. Paul, on the contrary, bids them appeal to the judgment of God.
And first, he bids them be not lazy disputants, but workmen. By this term he indirectly reproves the foolishness of those who so greatly torment themselves by doing nothing. Let us therefore be “workmen” in building the Church, and let us be employed in the work of God in such a manner that some fruit shall be seen then we shall have no cause to “blush;” for, although in debating we be not equal to talkative boasters, yet it will be enough that we excel them in the desire of edification, in industry, in courage, and in the efficacy of doctrine. In short, he bids Timothy labor diligently, that he may not be ashamed before God; whereas ambitious men dread only this kind of shame, to lose nothing of their reputation for acuteness or profound knowledge.
Dividing aright the word of truth. This is a beautiful metaphor, and one that skillfully expresses the chief design of teaching. “Since we ought to be satisfied with the word of God alone, what purpose is served by having sermons every day, or even the office of pastors? Has not every person an opportunity of reading the Bible?” But Paul assigns to teachers the duty of dividing or cutting, as if a father, in giving food to his children, were dividing the bread, by cutting it into small pieces.
He advises Timothy to “cut aright,” lest, when he is employed in cutting the surface, as unskillful people are wont to do, he leave the pith and marrow untouched. Yet by this term I understand, generally, an allotment of the word which is judicious, and which is well suited to the profit of the hearers. Some mutilate it, others tear it, others torture it, others break it in pieces, others, keeping by the outside, (as we have said,) never come to the soul of doctrine. To all these faults he contrasts time “dividing aright,” that is, the manner of explaining which is adapted to edification; for that is the rule by which we must try all interpretation of Scripture.
2 Timothy 2:15
Study to show thyself approved unto God – Endeavour so to cultivate and improve thy heart and mind, that thou mayest not be a reproach to him from whom thou professest to receive thy commission.
Rightly dividing the word of truth – It is generally supposed that the apostle alludes here to the care taken to divide the sacrifices under the law; the priests studied, in dividing the victim down the spine, to do it so scrupulously that one half of the spinal marrow should be found on each side the backbone. Probably nothing was much farther from the apostle’s thoughts than this view, which is now commonly taken of the subject. Indeed this scrupulously dividing does not appear to have been any original ordinance among the Jews; much stress was laid upon it in later times, but from the beginning it was not so. The word ορθοτομειν signifies,
1. Simply to cut straight, or to rectify.
2. To walk in the right way; it is thus used by Gregory Nazianzen, who, in Orat. Apol. fugae, opposes ορθοτομειν to κακως ὁδευειν, walking in a right way to walking in a bad way. Thus, καινοτομειν signifies to walk in a new way, and κατευθυνειν to walk in a straight way. See Kypke.
Therefore, by rightly dividing the word of truth, we are to understand his continuing in the true doctrine, and teaching that to every person; and, according to our Lord’s simile, giving each his portion of meat in due season – milk to babes, strong meat to the full grown, comfort to the disconsolate, reproof to the irregular and careless; in a word, finding out the necessities of his hearers, and preaching so as to meet those necessities.
2 Timothy 2:15
Study to show thyself approved unto God – Give diligence 2Pe_2:10, or make an effort so to discharge the duties of the ministerial office as to meet the divine approbation. The object of the ministry is not to please men. Such doctrines should be preached, and such plans formed, and such a manner of life pursued, as God will approve. To do this demands study or care – for there are many temptations to the opposite course; there are many things the tendency of which is to lead a minister to seek popular favor rather than the divine approval. If any man please God, it will be as the result of deliberate intention and a careful life.
A workman that needeth not to be ashamed – A man faithfully performing his duty, so that when he looks over what he has done, he may not blush.
Rightly dividing the word of truth – The word here rendered “rightly dividing,” occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means, properly, “to cut straight, to divide right;” and the allusion here may be to a steward who makes a proper distribution to each one under his care of such things as his office and their necessities require; compare the notes at Mat_13:52. Some have supposed that there is an allusion here to the Jewish priest, cutting or dividing the sacrifice into proper parts; others, that the allusion is to the scribes dividing the law into sections; others, to a carver distributing food to the guests at a feast. Robinson (Lexicon) renders it, “rightly proceeding as to the word of truth;” that is, rightfully and skillfully teaching the word of truth. The idea seems to be, that the minister of the gospel is to make a proper distribution of that word, adapting his instructions to the circumstances and wants of his hearers, and giving to each that which will be fitted to nourish the soul for heaven.
2 Timothy 2:22
22Flee youthful desires. This is an inference from what goes before; for, after mentioning useless questions, and having been led by this circumstance to censure Hymenaeus and Philetus, whose ambition and vain curiosity had led them away from the right faith, he again exhorts Timothy to keep at a distance from so dangerous a plague, and for this purpose he advises him to avoid “youthful desires.”
By this term he does not mean either a propensity to uncleanness, or any of those licentious courses or sinful lusts in which young men frequently indulge, but any impetuous passions to which the excessive warmth of that age is prone. If some debate has arisen, young men more quickly grow warm, are more easily irritated, more frequently blunder through want of experience, and rush forward with greater confidence and rashness, than men of riper age. With good reason, therefore, does Paul advise Timothy, being a young man, to be strictly on his guard against the vices of youth, which otherwise might easily drive him to useless disputes.
But follow righteousness He recommends the opposite feelings, that they may restrain his mind from breaking out into any youthful excesses; as if he had said, “These are the things to which thou oughtest to give thy whole attention, and thy whole exertions.” And first he mentions righteousness, that is, the right way of living; and afterwards he adds faith and love, in which it principally consists. Peace is closely connected with the present subject; for they who delight in the questions which he forbids must be contentious and fond of debating.
With all that call on the Lord Here, by a figure of speech, in which a part is taken for the whole, “calling on God” is taken generally for worship, if it be not thought preferable to refer it to profession. But this is the chief part of the worship of God, and for that reason “calling on God” often signifies the whole of religion or the worship of God. But when he bids him seek “peace with all that call upon the Lord,” it is doubtful whether, on the one hand, he holds out all believers as an example, as if he had said, that he ought to pursue this in common with all the true worshippers of God, or, on the other hand, he enjoins Timothy to cultivate peace with them. The latter meaning appears to be more suitable.
2 Timothy 2:22
Flee also youthful lusts – Not only all irregular and sensual desires, but pride, ambition, and, above all, the lust of power, to which most men will sacrifice all other propensities, their ease, pleasure, health, etc. This is the most bewitching passion in the human heart. Both in Church and state it is ruinous; but particularly so in the former. Timothy was now between thirty and forty years of age, the very age in which ambition and the love of power most generally prevail. Carnal pleasures are the sins of youth; ambition and the love of power the sins of middle age; covetousness and carking cares the crimes of old age.
Follow righteousness – Flee from sin, pursue goodness. Righteousness – whatever is just, holy, and innocent. Faith – fidelity both to God and man, improving that grace by which thy soul may be saved, and faithfully discharging the duties of thy office, that thou mayest save the souls of others. Charity – love to God and man. Peace among all the members of the Church, and as far as possible with all men; but especially among those who invoke the Lord out of a pure desire to glorify his name.
But flee for flee also, A.V.; and follow after for but follow, A.V.; love for charity, A.V. Youthful (νεωτερικάς); of or belonging to νεώτεροι, young men; “cupiditates adolescentiae” (Tacit., ‘Hist.,’ 2Ti_1:15). The word only occurs here in the New Testament, never in the LXX., but is found in Josephus, who speaks of αὐθαδεία νεωτερική, “youthful arrogance,” and is common in classical Greek. Lusts (ἐπιθυμίαι) include, besides the σαρκικαὶ ἐπιθυμίαι of 1Pe_2:11, all those ill-regulated passions to which youth is peculiarly liable, such as intemperance, love of company, arrogance, petulance, ambition, love of display, levity, vehemence of action, wilfulness, and the like. Timothy at this time was probably under forty (see note on q Ti 1Pe_4:12, and Ellicott on ditto). Follow after (δίωκε); as 1Ti_6:11, where, as here, it is in contrast with φεῦγε. Eagerness in pursuit, and difficulty in attainment, seem to be indicated by the word. With them, etc. (μετὰ τῶν ἐπικαλουμένων κ.τ.λ..). “With them” may mean either pursue righteousness, etc., in partnership with all who call upon the Lord; i.e. make the pursuit of righteousness, etc., your pursuit, as it is that of all who call upon the Lord; or it may be construed with εἰρήνην, so as to limit the exhortation to peace to those who call upon the Lord, εἰρήνην μετὰ τῶν ἐπικαλουμένων “peace with those that call,” etc., which is the construction in Heb_12:14 and Rom_12:18. It is, however, remarkable that in both these passages, which are referred to for the grammar, the inference from the doctrine goes rather the other way, as they teach “peace with all men.” So does the balance of the sentence here.
2 Timothy 2:23
23But avoid foolish and uninstructive questions He calls them foolish, because they are uninstructive; that is, they contribute nothing to godliness, whatever show of acuteness they may hold out. When we are wise in a useful manner, then alone are we truly wise. This ought to be carefully observed; for we see what foolish admiration the world entertains for silly trifles, and how eagerly it runs after them. That an ambition to please may not urge us to seek the favor of men by such display, let us always remember this remarkable testimony of Paul, that questions, which are held in high estimation, are nevertheless foolish, because they are unprofitable.
Knowing that they beget quarrels Next, he expresses the evil which they commonly produce. And here he says nothing else than what we experience every day, that they give occasion for jangling and debates. And yet the greater part of men, after having received so many instructions, do not at all profit by them.
2 Timothy 2:23
But foolish and unlearned questions avoid; – see the notes at 2Ti_2:16; compare the notes at 1Ti_1:4, 1Ti_1:6; 1Ti_4:7. The word “unlearned,” here, means “trifling; that which does not tend to edification; stupid.” The Greeks and the Hebrews were greatly given to controversies of various kinds, and many of the questions discussed pertained to points which could not be settled, or which, if settled, were of no importance. Such has been the character of no small part of the disputes which have agitated the world. Paul correctly says that the only effect of such disputes is to engender harsh contention. Points of real importance can be discussed with no injury to the temper; but people cannot safely dispute about trifles.
2 Timothy 2:24
24But the servant of the Lord must not fight Paul’s argument is to this effect: “The servant of God must stand aloof from contentions; but foolish questions are contentions; therefore whoever desires to be a ‘servant of God,’ and to be accounted such, ought to shun them.” And if superfluous questions ought to be avoided on this single ground, that it is unseemly for a servant of God to fight, how impudently do they act, who have the open effrontery of claiming applause for raising incessant controversies? Let the theology of the Papists now come forth; what else will be found in it than the art of disputing and fighting? The more progress any man has made in it, the more unfit will he be for serving, Christ.
But gentle towards all, qualified for teaching When he bids the servant of Christ be “gentle,” he demands a virtue which is opposite to the disease of contentions. To the same purpose is what immediately follows, that he be διδακτικός, “qualified for teaching.” There will be no room for instruction, if he have not moderation and some equability of temper. What limit will be observed by a teacher, when he is warmed for fighting? The better a man is qualified for teaching, the more earnestly does he keep aloof from quarrels and disputes.
Patient to the bad The importunity of some men may sometimes produce either irritation or weariness; and for that reason he adds, “bearing with them,” at the same time pointing out the reason why it is necessary; namely, because a godly teacher ought even to try whether it be possible for him to bring back to the right path obstinate and rebellious persons, which cannot be done without the exercise of gentleness.
The Lord’s servant for the servant of the Lord, A.V.; towards all for unto all men, A.V.; forbearing for patient, A.V. The Lord’s servant (δοῦλον Κυρίου). So St. Paul repeatedly describes himself (Rom_1:1; Gal_1:10; Php_1:1; Tit_1:1), as do also the apostles James, Peter, Jude, and John (Jas_1:1; 2Pe_1:1; Jud 2Pe_1:1; Rev_1:1). The term seems, therefore, especially (though not exclusively, Eph_6:6; 1Pe_2:16; Rev_19:2, Rev_19:5; Rev_22:3) to describe those whose office it is to preach the gospel, either as apostles or as ministers (Col_4:12). Must not strive (μάχεσθαι); a conclusive reason against engaging in those foolish and ignorant questionings which necessarily engender strife. Gentle (ἤπιον); only here and in 1Th_2:7, where we see how St. Paul carried this precept into practice. A nurse does not meet the child’s waywardness by blows or threats, but by gentleness and love. It is a classical word. Apt to teach (see 1Ti_3:2, note). Forbearing (ἀνεξίκακον); only here in the New Testament, not found in the LXX., and only in late Greek. It means literally “bearing up against ill treatment,” patiently enduring it.
2 Timothy 2:24
And the servant of the Lord – Referring here primarily to the Christian minister, but applicable to all Christians; for all profess to be the servants of the Lord.
Must not strive – He may calmly inquire after truth; he may discuss points of morals, or theology, if he will do it with a proper spirit; he may “contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints” Jud_1:3; but he may not do that which is here mentioned as strife. The Greek word – μάχεσθαι machesthai – commonly denotes, “to fight, to make war, to contend.” In Joh_6:52; Act_7:26; 2Ti_2:24;, it is rendered “strove,” and “strive;” in Jam_4:2, “fight.” It is not elsewhere used in the New Testament. The meaning is, that the servant of Christ should be a man of peace. He should not indulge in the feelings which commonly give rise to contention, and which commonly characterize it. He should not struggle for mere victory, even when endeavoring to maintain truth; but should do this, in all cases, with a kind spirit, and a mild temper; with entire candor; with nothing designed to provoke and irritate an adversary; and so that, whatever may be the result of the discussion, “the bond of peace” may, if possible, be preserved; compare the notes at Rom_12:18.
But be gentle unto all men; – see the notes at 1Th_2:7. The word rendered “gentle,” does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. It means that the Christian minister is to be meek and mild toward all, not disputatious and quarrelsome.
Apt to teach; – see the notes at 1Ti_3:2.
Patient – Margin, “forbearing.” The Greek word here used does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. It means, patient under evils and injuries. Robinson, Lexicon. Compare the Eph_4:2 note; Col_3:13 note.
2 Timothy 2:25
25If sometime God grant to them repentance This expression, “If sometime,” or “If perhaps,” points out the difficulty of the case, as being nearly desperate or beyond hope. Paul therefore means that even towards the most unworthy we must exercise meekness; and although at first there be no appearance of having gained advantage, still we must make the attempt. For the same reason he mentions that “God will grant it.” Since the conversion of a man is in the hand of God, who knows whether they who today appear to be unteachable shall be suddenly changed by the power of God, into other men? Thus, whoever shall consider that repentance is the gift and work of God, will cherish more earnest hope, and, encouraged by this confidence, will bestow more toil and exertion for the instruction of rebels. We should view it thus, that our duty is, to be employed in sowing and watering, and, while we do this, we must look for the increase from God. (1Co_3:6.) Our labors and exertions are thus of no advantage in themselves; and yet, through the grace of God, they are not fruitless.
To the knowledge of the truth We may learn from this what is the actual repentance of those who for a time were disobedient to God; for Paul declares that it begins with “the knowledge of the truth.” By this he means that the understanding of man is blinded, so long as it stands out fiercely against God and his doctrine.
2 Tim 2:25. in meekness instructing] Meekness, gentleness of heart, the feeling as separate from the demeanour: still more clearly brought out by the use of the compound word 1Ti_6:11. The corresponding adjective is used by ‘the Lord’ Himself of Himself, ‘I am meek and lowly in heart,’ Mat_11:29. See note on Tit_3:2. A very interesting passage where it occurs is Gal_5:22, where Bp Lightfoot divides the nine fruits of the Spirit into three sets of three, and shews how each of the first two triads is arranged in an ascending scale, (1) love, joy, peace, (2) patient endurance, kindly feeling, active beneficence. May not the third triad be similarly arranged thus, (3) a childlike trust, a woman’s meekness, a man’s self-mastery?
instructing] The word is explained 1Ti_1:20 and Tit_2:12; in all but two of the thirteen places where it occurs in N.T. the sense of ‘correction,’ ‘discipline’ is clear; and in those two, Act_7:22, Act_22:3, the instruction is that of school or college, and ‘schooled’ will best express it. So here ‘correcting,’ bringing under discipline.
those that oppose themselves] Lit. ‘that are becoming contentiously disposed’; the usage of the middle is disponere aliquid, not disponere se; hence ‘oppose themselves’ must not be taken as at any rate a literal version; the word corresponding to the perfect of this verb is the well known ‘adversaries’ 1Co_16:9, used also 1Ti_5:14.
if God peradventure] Lit. ‘if God might perchance at some time,’ Lat. ‘si forte aliquando.’
will give] The optative not subjunctive mood has the best authority. The exact force then is ‘You must discipline them, in case God may give them repentance, as we wish and pray.’
repentance] The word occurs only four times in St Paul’s Epistles, though frequent in St Luke’s Gospel and Acts. Cf. Trench, N. T. Syn. p. 247, who defines it as ‘a change of mind, taking a wiser view of the past, a regret for the ill done in that past, and out of all this a change for the better.’
to the acknowledging of the truth] Better, unto the full knowledge; ‘unto’ expresses the state into which repentance is designed to bring them, as Act_11:18, ‘hath God granted repentance unto life’; ‘full knowledge’ as in 1Ti_2:4, where see note.
2 Timothy 2:25
In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves – That is, those who embrace error, and array themselves against the truth. We are not to become angry with such persons, and denounce them at once as heretics. We are not to hold them up to public reproach and scorn; but we are to set about the business of patiently “instructing them.” Their grand difficulty, it is supposed in this direction, is, that they are ignorant of the truth. Our business with them is, “calmly to show them what the truth is.” If they are angry, we are not to be. If they oppose the truth, we are still calmly to state it to them. If they are slow to see it, we are not to become weary or impatient. Nor, if they do not embrace it at all, are we to become angry with them, and denounce them. We may pity them, but we need not use hard words. This is the apostolic precept about the way of treating those who are in error; and can any one fail to see its beauty and propriety? Let it be remembered, also, that this is not only beautiful and proper in itself; it is the wiseST course, if we would bring others over to our opinions. You are not likely to convince a man that you are right, and that he is wrong, if you first make him angry; nor are you very likely to do it, if you enter into harsh contention. You then put him on his guard; you make him a party, and, from self-respect, or pride, or anger, he will endeavor to defend his own opinions, and will not yield to yours. “Meekness” and “gentleness” are the very best things, if you wish to convince another that he is wrong. With his heart first, and then modestly and kindly show him “what the truth is,” in as few words, and with as unassuming a spirit, as possible, “and you have him.”
If God peradventure will give them repentance, … – Give them such a view of the error which they have embraced, and such regret for having embraced it, that they shall be willing to admit the truth. After all our care in teaching others the truth, our only dependence is on God for its success. We cannot be absolutely certain that they will see their error; we cannot rely certainly on any power which argument will have; we can only hope that God may show them their error, and enable them to see and embrace the truth; compare Act_11:18. The word rendered “peradventure,” here – μήποτε mēpote – means, usually, “not even, never;” and then, “that never, lest ever” – the same as “lest perhaps.” It is translated “lest at any time,” Mat_4:6; Mat_5:25; Mat_13:15; Mar_4:12; Luk_21:34; “lest,” Matt, Luk_7:6; Luk_13:29; Luk_15:32; “et al.: lest haply,” Luk_14:12; Act_5:39. It does not imply that there was any CHance about what is said, but rather that there was uncertainty in the mind of the speaker, and that there was need of caution LesT something should occur; or, that anything was done, or should be done, to prevent something from happening.
It is not used elsewhere in the New Testament in the sense which our translators, and all the critics, so far as I have examined, give to it here – as implying A hope that God would give them repentance, etc. But I may be permitted to suggest another interpretation, which will accord with the uniform meaning of the word in the New Testament, and which will refer the matter to those who had embraced the error, and not to God. It is this: “In meekness instructing ‘those that oppose themselves’ (ἀντιδιατιθεμένους antidiatithemenous) ‘lest’ – μήποτε mēpote – God should give them repentance, and they should recover themselves out of the snare of the devil,” etc. That is, they put themselves in this posture of opposition so that they shall not be brought to repentance, and recover themselves. They do it with a precautionary view that they may not be thus brought to repentance, and be recovered to God. They take this position of opposition to the truth, intending not to be converted; and this is the reason why they are not converted.
2 Timothy 2:26
26And deliverance from the snare of the devil Illumination is followed by deliverance from the bondage of the devil; for unbelievers are so intoxicated by Satan, that, being asleep, they do not perceive their distresses. On the other hand, when the Lord shines upon us by the light of his truth, he wakens us out of that deadly sleep, breaks asunder the snares by which we were bound, and, having removed all obstacles, trains us to obedience to him.
By whom they are held captive A truly shocking condition, when the devil has so great power over us, that he drags us, as captive slaves, here and there at his pleasure. Yet such is the condition of all those whom the pride of their heart draws away from subjection to God. And this tyrannical dominion of Satan we see plainly, every day, in the reprobate; for they would not rush with such fury and with brutal violence into every kind of base and disgraceful crimes, if they were not drawn by the unseen power of Satan. That is what we saw at Eph_2:2, that, Satan exerts his energy in unbelievers.
Such examples admonish us to keep ourselves carefully under the yoke of Christ, and to yield ourselves to be governed by his Holy Spirit. And yet a captivity of this nature does not excuse wicked men, so that they do not sin, because it is by the instigation of Satan that they sin; for, although their being carried along so resistlessly to that which is evil proceeds from the dominion of Satan, yet they do nothing by constraint, but are inclined with their whole heart to that to which Satan drives them. The result is, that their captivity is voluntary.
2 Tim 2:26. and that they may recover themselves] Omit ‘that,’ the verb depending on ‘if perchance.’ The verb ‘recover themselves’ is literally ‘return to soberness.’ Constructed with the preposition ‘out of’ it has the pregnant force very frequent in Greek ‘become sober and escape out of.’ Cf. Winer, Gr. § 66, 2, p. 547. The simple verb occurs ch. 4:5 ‘be sober’; another compound in 1Co_15:34 ‘awake out of’ drunkenness ‘righteously.’ This compound is only here in N.T.
the snare of the devil] Has occurred 1Ti_3:7, where, as here, it is the snare laid by the devil, a state of proud self-will morally and intellectually, the very opposite to a state of obedience to God’s will.
who are taken captive by him at his will] The A.V. rendering is a mere enlargement of the idea of ‘snare,’ requires the aorist part. and refers the two different pronouns to the devil. But (1) St Paul’s use of the perfect passive participle, held captive, is very strongly in favour of a reference to the final state of ‘recovery,’ not to the previous state of ‘entanglement.’ The final clause in ver. 21, where this participle ends the sentence, expresses the final state of ‘the vessel unto honour.’ The final clause in 3:5 where the false teachers are described, has the same participle to shew their permanent rejection of vital godliness. The final clause in 3:17, where the man of God is described, is ended in the same weighty form, ‘for every good work in a state of perfect preparedness.’ Hence the force of the perfect participle (as distinguished from the aorist) required here is ‘that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, continuing in the state of willing captivity into which they have been brought,’ ‘held willing captives.’
(2) St Paul’s use of the first pronoun here, rendered ‘by him,’ is strongly in favour of a reference to the ‘servant of the Lord.’ A certain person or thing is in his mind as his chief subject; and he refers to him or it after an interval, short or long, merely with this pronoun. Cf. 1Ti_4:16, ‘continue in them’—the words of the faith and of the good doctrine; Tit_3:1, ‘Put them in mind’—the aged men and women, the younger men and servants of ch. 2; 2Ti_2:17, ‘their word will eat’—‘those who strive about words,’ ver. 14.
(3) St Paul’s use of the preposition ‘unto’ for ‘into a state of,’ ‘into conformity with’ is strongly in favour of the last clause being intended to express the resulting state and condition; cf. ‘unto honour,’ ‘unto every good work,’ ver. 21; ‘unto full knowledge,’ ver. 25.
Render, therefore, held willing captives henceforth by their deliverer (the servant of the Lord) to do the will of God. So substantially the R.V. The participle is from a verb to ‘capture alive.’ Cf. Luk_5:10 the only other N.T. passage where the word occurs, and see Farrar’s note, ‘The word seems to imply the contrast between the fish that lay there glittering in dead heaps, and men who should be captured not for death (Jam_1:14) but for life.’ Both places refer to the evangelising work of the ministry.
2 Timothy 2:26
They may recover themselves (ananēpsōsin). First aorist active subjunctive of ananēphō, late and rare word, to be sober again, only here in N.T., though nēphō is in 1Th_5:6.
Out of the snare of the devil (ek tēs tou diabolou pagidos). They have been caught while mentally intoxicated in the devil’s snare (1Ti_3:7). See note on Rom_11:9 for pagis.
Taken captive (ezōgrēmenoi). Perfect passive participle of zōgreō, old verb, to take alive (zōos, agreō), in N.T. only here and Luk_5:10 (of Peter). “Taken captive alive.”
By him unto his will (hup’ autou eis to ekeinou thelēma). This difficult phrase is understood variously. One way is to take both autou and ekeinou, to refer to the devil. Another way is to take both of them to refer to God. Another way is to take autou of the devil and ekeinou, of God. This is probably best, “taken captive by the devil” “that they may come back to soberness to do the will of God.” There are difficulties in either view.
2 Timothy 2:26
And that they may recover themselves – Margin, “awake.” The word which is rendered “recover” in the text, and “awake” in the margin - ἀνανήψωσιν ananēpsōsin – occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It properly means, to become sober again, as from inebriation; to awake from a deep sleep, and then, to come to a right mind, as one does who is aroused from a state of inebriety, or from sleep. The representation in this part of the verse implies that, while under the influence of error, they were like a man intoxicated, or like one in deep slumber. From this state they were to be roused as one is from sleep, or as a man is recovered from the stupor and dullness of intoxication.
Out of the snare of the devil – The snare which the devil has spread for them, and in which they have become entangled. There is a little confusion of metaphor here, since, in the first part of the verse, they are represented as asleep, or intoxicated; and, here, as taken in a snare. Yet the general idea is clear. In one part of the verse, the influence of error is represented as producing sleep, or stupor; in the other, as being taken in a snare, or net; and, in both, the idea is, that an effort was to be made that they might be rescued from this perilous condition.
Who are taken captive by him at his will – Margin, “alive.” The Greek word means, properly, to take alive; and then, to take captive, to win over Luk_5:10; and then, to ensnare, or seduce. Here it means that they had been ensnared by the arts of Satan “unto (εἰς eis) his will;” that is, they were so influenced by him, that they complied with his will. Another interpretation of this passage should be mentioned here, by which it is proposed to avoid the incongruousness of the metaphor of “awaking” one from a “snare.” It is adopted by Doddridge, and is suggested also by Burder, as quoted by Rosenmuller, “A. u. n. Morgenland.” According to this, the reference is to an artifice of fowlers, to scatter seeds impregnated with some intoxicating drugs, intended to lay birds asleep, that they may draw the snare over them more securely. There can be no doubt that such arts were practiced, and it is possible that Paul may have alluded to it. Whatever is the allusion, the general idea is clear. It is an affecting representation of those who have fallen into error. They are in a deep slumber. They are as if under the fatal influence of some stupefying potion. They are like birds taken alive in this state, and at the mercy of the fowler. They will remain in this condition, unless they shall be roused by the mercy of God; and it is the business of the ministers of religion to carry to them that gospel call, which God is accustomed to bless in showing them their danger. That message should be continually sounded in the ears of the sinner, with the prayer and the hope that God will make it the means of arousing him to seek his salvation.