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2 Timothy 2



A Good Soldier of Christ Jesus Be Strong in Grace An Appeal to Show Courage
A Loyal Soldier of Christ Jesus How Timothy Should Face Hardships
2:1-7 2:1-13 2:1-7 2:1-7 2:1-2
2:8-13   2:8-13 2:8-13 2:8-13
An Approved Workman Approved and Disapproved Workers The Pastor and the Flock
An Approved Worker The Struggle Against the Immediate Danger from False Teachers
2:14-26 2:14-26 2:14-19 2:14-19 2:14-18
    2:20-3:9 2:20-26 2:20-21

READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired but it is the key to following the original author's intent which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.



 1You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. 3Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. 5And also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. 6The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops. 7Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

2:1 "You therefore" This seems to relate to 1:15-18, where Paul contrasts those who abandoned him with those who remained faithful.

▣ "my son" This refers to Paul as Timothy's father in the gospel (cf. 1:2; 1 Tim. 1:2; Titus 1:4).

▣ "be strong" This can be

1. a present passive imperative, "continue to be made strong" (Word Pictures in the Greek New Testament by A. T. Robertson; A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek NT by Zerwick and Grosvenor; and Analytical Greek New Testament by Barbara and Timothy Friberg)

2. a present middle imperative, "continue to be strong" (The Analytical Greek Lexicon Revised by Harold K. Moulton and the Charles B. Williams translation).

Does the believer participate in the empowering, or does God do the empowering? This is the tension between the sovereignty of God and the free will of humans. In the NT both are involved in salvation and the Christian life. God deals with fallen mankind in a covenant relationship. There are both rights and responsibilities, requirements and privileges! Grace (i.e., divine initiative) is always priority, but a human response is mandated!


2:2 "the things you have heard from me" Timothy is to pass on Paul's Apostolic teachings, not his own personal opinions or theories (cf. 1:13, see Special Topic at 1:14).

▣ "in the presence of many witnesses" This phrase could mean

1. Timothy's ordination sermon (cf. 1:6; 1 Tim. 4:14)

2. what Timothy heard Paul teach he also heard confirmed by other prophets/teachers

3. Timothy heard Paul preach/teach the same truths many times


▣ "entrust these" This is an aorist middle imperative. This is the same word used in 1:12,14 and 1 Tim. 1:18. See note at 2 Tim. 1:12 and 1 Tim. 1:18.

NASB, NKJV"to faithful men"
NRSV"to faithful people"
TEV, NJB"to reliable people"

This is the Greek noun pistis translated into English as "faith," belief" or "trust." Here it is used as an adjective, pistos, in the OT sense of trustworthy, faithful, hopefully discerning potential church leaders. This is the principle of delegation and multiplication. Jesus spent His time on a select few so as to reach many through them. Two wonderful books which develop this concept are The Master Plan of Evangelism and The Maser Plan of Discipleship, both by Robert E. Coleman.

▣ "who will be able" Christian preachers'/teachers' competency/adequacy comes from

1. God Himself, cf. II Cor. 2:17; 3:5-6

2. their having received/believed Apostolic truth

Adequacy does not come from one's intelligence or education or personality type. We must be faithful communicators of God's word/truth!

2:3 "Suffer hardship with me" This is an aorist active imperative. It has been a recurrent theme (cf. 1:8,12; 2:3,9; 4:5). See fuller note at 1:8. Ministry often causes a reaction from a lost neighbor, civil authority or culture.

▣ "as a good soldier" Paul often described the Christian life in military (cf. v.4) or athletic (cf. v.3) metaphors (cf. Rom. 13:12; II Cor. 6:7; 9:7; 10:4; Eph. 6:11-17; Phil. 2:25; Philemon 2; 1 Tim. 1:18; 6:12; 2 Tim. 4:7).

2:4 "No soldier. . .athlete. . .farmer" Paul uses three occupational examples to express his encourage-ment to Timothy.

▣ "entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life" This is a present middle participle which emphasizes continuing actions on the part of the subject. It is not that secular things are bad, they just cannot be priority or ultimate (cf. II Pet. 2:20). Leaders must maintain a ministry focus!

2:5 "if" This is a third class conditional sentence which speaks of potential action.

▣ "competes according to the rules" This was used of professional, full-time athletes. If a competitor deviates from the rules, he/she is disqualified (cf. I Cor. 9:24-27).

2:6 "the hard-working farmer" Paul uses three strenuous professional examples:

1. soldiers fight for their commander

2. athletes strive within the rules to win a crown

3. farmers work hard to partake of the fruit of their crops

All involve commitment, effort, patience and suffering! All receive their due reward (cf. Pro. 27:18).

2:7 "Consider what I say" This is present active imperative which implies "continue to think through this carefully." Notice the continuing play between human responsibility and God's gracious provision.

▣ "the Lord will give you understanding in everything" The Lord, by means of the Holy Spirit, will give His people understanding (cf. John 14:16; 16:13). This may reflect the new covenant of Jer. 31:31-34 (esp. vv. 33-34).

This surely does not refer to specific, complete knowledge in every area of life, but a full and complete knowledge of the gospel and its implications. The Spirit provides believers with all the knowledge they need to live a life pleasing to God.

 8Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, 9for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned. 10For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory. 11It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him; 12If we endure, we shall also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; 13If we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He cannot deny Himself.

2:8 "Remember" This is present active imperative. Paul calls on Timothy's memory several times (cf. 1:3,4,5,6; 2:8,14). This particular occurrence emphasizes doctrines related to Christology.

▣ "Jesus Christ, risen from the dead" This is a perfect passive participle which implies that Jesus was raised by the Father and that He remains the resurrected One. Jesus' resurrection was the sign that the Father fully accepted the Son's earthly work, teachings and sacrifice for sin. Jesus' resurrection is one of the central pillars of Christianity (cf. I Cor. 15).

The resurrection of Jesus is also an integral part of the early preaching (kerygma, see Special Topic at 3:15) of Peter and Paul in Acts, which shows the often-repeated main truths of the gospel in the early church:

1. the Messiah must suffer

2. Jesus fulfilled OT prophecy

3. the new age of the Spirit has come in Jesus

4. Jesus died for sinners, which was God's predetermined plan

5. Jesus was raised from the dead and exalted to God's right hand

6. Jesus is coming again

7. whoever will trust Him in repentance and faith will be saved

A footnote (2,d) on page 365 of the Jerusalem Bible (1966) makes a good comment, "the Greek mind found the resurrection particularly hard to accept, Acts 17:37; I Cor. 15:12."

2:9 "I suffer hardship" This was a characteristic of first century gospel preaching. Paul knew it will and called on Timothy to join him (cf. 1:8; 2:3; 4:5).

▣ "even to imprisonment as a criminal" Paul was imprisoned for preaching the gospel and was expecting to be beheaded soon (cf. 4:6). Serving God in a fallen world costs (cf. II Cor. 4:7-15; 6:1-10; 11:23-30)!

▣ "but the word of God is not imprisoned" I entitled this volume "Paul Bound, but the Gospel Unbound" from this verse. Only our silence imprisons "the word of God"!

▣ "descendant of David" This speaks of His true humanity (cf. Matt. 1:1; Rom. 1:3) and the fulfillment of prophecy (cf. II Sam. 7:14ff).

▣ "according to my gospel" These are Paul's very words in Rom. 2:16; 16:25. This refers to his apostolic preaching of the gospel.

2:10 "I endure" This means "voluntary, active, steadfast endurance." Paul chose to remain under the load of gospel ministry for the sake of others.

▣ "who are chosen" God knows His own (cf. Titus 1:1; Rev. 13:8). Apparently this refers both to those who have responded and those who have not yet responded (cf. Rom. 11:25-26) to the gospel.

▣ "that they also may obtain the salvation" This salvation is only through Christ and unto eternal life (cf. I Thess. 5:9; II Thess. 2:13-14).

▣ "and with it eternal glory" NT salvation can be characterized by the things one is delivered from and the things one is given.

A. Delivered from

1. sin

2. Satan and the demonic powers

3. error

4. self-deception

B. Given

1. a peace with God now

2. a purpose in life now

3. a giftedness for ministry now

4. a Spirit-filled and directed life now

5. a future consummation

6. a future home in heaven

7. a future glory with Christ

8. a future reigning with Christ

9. a future body like Christ's


▣ "glory" This glory refers to the final salvation called "glorification" in Rom. 8:28-30. See fuller note at I Tim. 1:17.

2:11 "if" This is the last of the five "trustworthy statements" in the Pastoral Letters (cf. 1 Tim. 1:15; 3:1; 4:9; Titus 3:8). This one (vv. 11-13) appears to be a quote from a creed or hymn.

1. a series of four "if" clauses (first class conditional sentences, cf. vv. 11,12,13 twice)

2. the first two are positive; the last two are negative

3. the third and fourth clauses have an extra line


▣ "we died with Him" This is one of several syn compounds in 2 Timothy. It speaks of the biblical metaphor of baptism by immersion (cf. Rom. 6:1-11; Gal. 2:20). This exact form occurs only here, in Mark 14:31, and II Cor. 7:3.

▣ "we shall live with Him" This is another rare syn compound (cf. Rom. 6:8; II Cor. 7:3). This refers to the believers' confidence of sustained fellowship with Jesus, not only now by faith but one day (and every day) face to face.

The first three "if" clauses end in future tense verbs which assume an eschatological (i.e., end time) setting. The entire NT has this same already-but-not-yet tension. The kingdom of God has come (inaugurated) in Jesus but it has not been consummated. Believers experience many aspects of the Kingdom now, but others are reserved for the Second Coming.

"if we endure" This grammatical construction (first class conditional sentence) assumes believers will persevere.


2:12 "we will also reign" This is another syn compound found here and in I Cor. 4:8. Paul is very fond of these compounds. The time, place, and participants are uncertain.


▣ "If we deny Him He also will deny us" This is a strong warning (see SPECIAL TOPIC: APOSTASY (APHISTĒMI) at 1 Tim. 4:1)! Remember that this was an age of persecution, torture, and death (cf. Matt. 10:32-33; Luke 9:26; 1 Tim. 5:8; Titus 1:16; II Pet. 2:1; Jude 4).

2:13 "If we are faithless, He remains faithful" This phrase is very surprising. The condition is still first class (assumed to be true); one would have expected a third class (potential action).

In what sense is the believer faithless? Does this mean

1. faltering under persecution or trial

2. following the false teachers

3. ungodly lifestyle

This may reflect the OT covenant's concept of God's faithfulness amidst Israel's continual unfaithfulness (cf. Mal. 3:6). Ultimately the hope of believers is on the unchanging character and promises of God. YHWH's faithfulness is both a descriptive title (Deut. 7:9; Isa. 49:7; I Cor. 1:9; 10:13; II Cor. 1:18; I Thess. 5:24; II Thess. 3:3) and a characteristic (Ps. 36:5; 40:10; 89:1,2,5,8; 92:2; 119:90; Heb. 6:17-18; I Pet. 4:19) which is fully revealed in Christ (Heb. 6:13-20). Because some abandon the faith (see Special Topic: Apostasy at 1 Tim. 4:1) does not imply that God abandoned them (see SPECIAL TOPIC: ASSURANCE at 1:12)! Free will functions at every level. God's grace and faithfulness are not in jeopardy because of the false teachers and their followers' faithlessness!

▣ "He cannot deny Himself" This asserts that as the character of God is unchanging (i.e., Ps. 102:27; Mal. 3:6), so too, Jesus is unchangeable (cf. Heb. 13:8). It is this unchanging Divine nature of mercy and grace that is the bedrock of the believer's hope, confidence, and assurance!

 14Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless, and leads to the ruin of the hearers. 15Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth. 16But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, 17and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and thus they upset the faith of some. 19Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Let everyone who names the name of the Lord abstain from wickedness."

2:14 "Remind them" This is a present active imperative. See note at 1:3 on "remember."

▣ "these things" This could refer to vv. 11-13 or 14-19. The false teachers are characterized in vv. 14, 16, and 23 as they are in 1 Tim. 1:4,6; 6:4,20.

NASB"solemnly charge them in the presence of God"
NKJV"charging them before the Lord"
TEV"warn them before God"
NJB"tell them in the name of God"

There is a Greek manuscript variant between "God" (MSS א, C, F, G, I) and "Lord" (MSS A, D). A similar phrase using "God" appears in 4:1 and 1 Tim. 5:4,21 (see Metzger, p. 647), therefore, Theos is probably original. The UBS4 gives it a "B" rating (almost certain). Like so many of these variants, this makes no significant theological difference.

This is the compound term dia + marturomai, which means "to declare earnestly and solemnly" (cf. Luke 16:28; Acts 2:40; 8:25; 10:42; 18:5; 20:21,24; 23:11; 28:23; 1 Tim. 5:21; 2 Tim. 2:14; 4:1).

Timothy was to use his authority both as Paul's apostolic representative and God's spokesman to confront the false teachers in godliness, not theological speculation (cf. vv. 14-26).

▣ "not to wrangle about words" There was a factious element present (cf. v. 16; 1 Tim. 1:3-4; 4:7; 6:4,5,20; Titus 3:9).

Timothy is warned not to enter into a theological dialogue with these false teachers for several reasons.

1. it was useless because their minds had been seared and blinded (cf. v. 14; 1 Tim. 4:2; 6:5; Titus 3:11)

2. it causes other believers who overhear the dialogue to falter (cf. v. 14,18; 1 Tim. 6:20-21)

3. it leads to further ungodliness (cf. v. 16,19; 1 Tim. 6:3)

4. it will spread like gangrene (cf. v. 17)

▣ "leads to the ruin of hearers" "Ruin" is the Greek term from which we get the English word "catastrophe." It literally meant "to overthrow" (cf. II Pet. 2:6) or "to overturn" (cf. Matt. 21:12).

2:15 "Be diligent to present yourself" This is an aorist active imperative with an aorist active infinitive. This is a call for a decisive act of the will (cf. Rom. 6:13; Eph. 4:3).

▣ "approved"This is a metallurgical term which became an idiom for "a test with a view toward approval," a metaphor for confirming something as genuine (cf. I Cor. 11:19; II Cor. 10:18). See Special Topic: Greek Terms for "Testing" and Their Connotations at 1 Tim. 6:9.

▣ "to God" God is the one who must approve our teaching, preaching, and our lifestyle.

▣ "as a workman who does not need to be ashamed" Spiritless Bible teaching and un-Christlike daily living will cause believers shame when they stand before their Lord (cf. II Cor. 5:10). Paul was concerned about being ashamed before the Lord, but not before humans (cf. 1:8,12,16).

▣ "accurately handling" This is a present active participle meaning "to cut straight." It is found only here in the NT. This was often used of constructing a road, plowing a furrow, or a stone mason building a structure (cf. Pro. 3:6; 11:5 in the Septuagint).

This term is used metaphorically to cut a straight line. The Word of God is a straight (righteous) path to truth. The word "straight" is an OT construction term taken from the word for a "river reed" which was used to confirm the horizontal straightness of walls, streets, etc. YHWH used this term to describe His own character. It is translated "just" or "right" (and all the related forms, see Special Topic at Titus 2:12). God is the ruler or standard by which all else is evaluated. Apostolic truth reflects God's character; Apostolic living reflects God's character. The false teachers fail at both!

▣ "the word of truth" In Eph. 1:13; Col. 1:5 and James 1:18 this refers to the gospel. Here it refers to Apostolic truth preached by Paul and passed on by Timothy and accepted and lived out by mature believers. For a good book on the development of Apostolic preaching, teaching and letters in the New Testament see Birth of a New Testament by William L. Bevins (Union Baptist University, Carson City, TN). See Special Topic: Truth in Paul's Writings at 1 Tim. 2:4.

2:16 "But avoid worldly and empty chatter" This is a present middle imperative. This is a major theme in the Pastoral Letters (cf. 1 Tim. 6:20; Titus 3:9).

▣ "it will lead" Believers are to cut a straight path to righteousness and truth (cf. 2:15) but the false teachers and their followers are making a path to ungodliness and self-deception (cf. 3:9,15).


NASB, NRSV"their talk will spread like gangrene"
NKJV"their message will spread like cancer"
TEV"such teaching is like an open sore that eats away flesh"
NJB"talk of this kind spreads corruption like gangrene"

What a vivid idiom of the effects of false teaching! Heresy spreads like a fast growing cancer, even among believers, and the consequences are as horrible as the metaphor (cf. 1 Tim. 6:20-21).

▣ "Hymenaeus" See note at 1 Tim. 1:20.

Philetus" This is the only mention of this person in the NT.

2:18 "who have gone astray from the truth" This is literally "to miss the mark," which is a metaphor from archery (cf. I Tim. 1:19; 4:1; 5:8; 6:10,21). The general word for sin (hamartia) means to fall short of the mark. This relates to the emphasis in this chapter on cutting a straight path (cf. 2:15-16). God is "straight" (i.e., from a Hebrew commercial metaphor using a river reed, see Special Topic at Titus 2:12), which equals "right or "just." His people should reflect His character, but these false teachers and their followers had clearly demonstrated by their deviation from Apostolic truth that they had left the straight path (i.e., "The Way" which was an early title for the church). See SPECIAL TOPIC: APOSTASY (APHISTĒMI) at 1 Tim. 4:1.

▣ "saying that the resurrection has already taken place" This is a perfect active infinitive (cf. I Cor. 15:12). The possible interpretations are

1. Greek dualism, which rejected a physical aspect to eternity

2. Greek philosophy's emphasis on the divine spark in every person united with God at death

3. a Sadducean-like denial of any physical afterlife

4. resurrection was for Christ only

5. resurrection had already occurred (cf. II Thess. 2:1-2)

6. believer's resurrection to new life occurs at salvation (cf. John 5:25; Rom. 6:1-11; Col. 2:12-13)

The UBS4 has "the" in brackets to show the possibility that the original text, following MSS א, F, G, and the Georgian version (5th century), as well as the Greek text used by Cyril of Alexandria (a.d. 444), may have excluded it.

Even though there are variants like this one, the true text is not lost but is one of the options. The inspired text of the Apostles is still available to modern readers. There is no loss of truth, meaning, or doctrine.

Gnosticism apparently made this theological assertion. This is noted and refuted by

1. Polycarp (a.d. 69-155) to the Philippians 3:5

2. Justin Martyr (killed in a.d. 162-168) – Dialogue with Trypho 80

3. Irenaeus (wrote Adv. Haer in a.d. 180) – Against Heresies I.23.5; II.31.2

4. Tertullian (a.d. 160-220)

a. Prescriptions Against Heretics 33:7

b. Of the Resurrection of the Flesh 19


NASB"thus upset the faith of some"
NKJV"they overthrow the faith of some"
NRSV, TEV"they are upsetting the faith of some"
NJB"they are upsetting some people's faith"

This is a present active indicative from "to overturn" (cf. John 2:15) or "to overthrow" which came to be used metaphorically for "to subvert" or "to corrupt" (cf. Titus 1:11 and the results in 1 Tim. 1:19; 6:21). Exactly what this means or implies in relation to apostasy (see Special Topic at 1 Tim. 4:1) is uncertain, but it is certainly a spiritual disaster! The words of Matthew 7, "by their fruits you shall know them" (cf. 2:19), are true!

The term "faith" can be understood in three ways

1. a person to welcome

2. truths about that person to believe

3. a life like that person to live


2:19 "firm foundation of God" God's people as a building built on Christ as the foundation is one of Paul's favorite metaphors (cf. I Cor. 3:10ff; Eph. 2:20ff; 1 Tim. 3:15). In this context it refers to God's truth remaining sure and solid in contrast to the false teachers. The believer's hope is in the character of God and His trustworthiness to His promises.


▣ "stands" This is a perfect active indicative. The United Bible Societies A Handbook on Paul's Letters to Timothy and Titus, p. 210, lists four options as to the identification of this "foundation."

1. Christ Himself, the cornerstone (cf. Isa. 28:16; Rom. 9:33; I Cor. 3:10-12)

2. the message about Christ (cf. Eph. 2:20)

3. the Church, the body of Christ

4. the Truth (sound teaching)



▣ "having this seal" This is possibly an allusion to

1. the ancient custom of inscribing the purpose of the building on the cornerstone

2. a reference to an official wax seal of ownership (cf. John 3:33; 6:27; Rom. 4:11; 15:28; I Cor. 9:2; II Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13; 4:30; Rev. 7:3-8)



▣ "The Lord knows those who are His" This may be an allusion to Num. 16:5 in the Septuagint, a historical setting of factions and division, as well as John 10:14,27.

▣ "Let everyone who names the name of the Lord" This may be a purposeful ambiguity. Does the term "Lord" refer to YHWH or Jesus? In the OT, calling on YHWH's name was a metaphor of worship. The NT author adopts this use of "the name" as a way of

1. asserting Jesus' deity

2. acknowledging Him as Savior and Master

3. implying that to call on Him is to emulate His actions and character in daily life (as well as worship events)

This is a present active imperative which refers to those who continue to claim a relationship with Jesus. The name in Hebrew was a way of affirming the character of a person. If believers call on Jesus' name to be saved and reflect His name as followers, then they must believe and live as He did!


▣ "abstain from wickedness" This is an aorist active imperative. This may be an allusion to Num. 16:26-27 in the Septuagint. In context this obviously refers to associations with the godless false teachers and their followers (i.e, "earthernware. . .of dishonor," v. 20; 3:5).

 20Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. 21Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. 22Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. 24The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged,25with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

2:20 "a large house" The immediate context strongly implies that this is a metaphor for the church (cf. John 14:2).

▣ "some to honor and some to dishonor" Some see this as describing the different kinds of skills, personalities and gifts (cf. Rom. 9:19-24; I Cor. 12:12-31) of believers but others see it as relating to the troublemakers of vv. 22-23.

2:21 "if anyone cleanses himself" This is a third class conditional sentence which implies potential action, but with some degree of contingency as to a person's volitional actions.

The term "purify" is an aorist active subjunctive possibly related to conversion or turning back from following false teachers. The compound term ek + kathairō is used only here and in I Cor. 5:7. Believers have a choice in their involvement and usefulness in the Kingdom's work.

▣ "sanctified" This is a perfect passive participle which implies several things:

1. they were sanctified in the past and that state or condition continues (perfect tense)

2. they were sanctified by God (passive voice)

Notice the condition of one choosing to cleanse himself and then the statement of God's action. Sanctification is both a divine act and a human act. This pattern characterizes the covenant relationship in all of God's dealings with humans. He always takes the initiative and sets the agenda, but mankind must respond appropriately and continue to respond.


▣ "useful to the Master" This is the Greek term from which we get the English "despot." It refers to a slave owner (cf. v.24) having complete authority over another (cf. 1 Tim. 6:1-2; Titus 2:9; I Pet. 2:18).

Believers who cleanse themselves are useful to God. The false teachers are not useful!

▣ "prepared for every good work" This is another perfect middle or passive participle. This verb is found only here and in the quote from Isaiah in I Cor. 2:9 (i.e., Isa. 64:4 and 65:17). Good works do not make us acceptable or bring us to God (i.e., Eph. 2:8-9), but once we meet Him in Christ they are the expected result (cf. Eph. 2:10; James 2:14-26)! We are a people created for Christlikeness, the restoration of the image of God which was lost in the fall of Genesis 3. Believer's godly lives confirm their salvation and attract others to Christ. See SPECIAL TOPIC: VICES AND VIRTUES in the NT at 1 Tim. 1:9.


NASB, NKJV"Flee. . .pursue"
NRSV"Shun. . .pursue"
TEV"Avoid. . .strive for"
NJB"Turn away. . .concentrate on"

These are both present active imperatives. Believers are to continue to exhibit God's character (cf. I Tim. 6:11).

▣ "from youthful lusts" Every stage of life has its unique temptations (cf. Eccl. 3:1-8; 11:10; 12:1-8).

▣ "righteousness, faith, love and peace" These are all characteristics of the triune God (see Special Topic at 2:19) which need to be developed and exhibited in His people (cf. 1 Tim. 1:5,14). For "righteousness" see Special Topic at Titus 2:13.

▣ "who call on the Lord from a pure heart" This is a present active participle, which implies continuing action. In Joel 2:32, Acts 2:21 and Rom. 10:9-13 this phrase seems to imply an initial response, but in this context it refers to the maturing believers. Our purposeful and continuing association with mature believers is one secret of a faithful, joyful, and peaceful Christian life. See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE HEART at 1 Tim. 1:5.

2:23 "refuse" Timothy is commanded to continue not to participate in the false teacher's silly arguments and speculations (present middle [deponent] imperative).

▣ "foolish" This term may reflect the Hebrew/Aramaic term for "senseless evil" (i.e., raca cf. Matt. 5:22).

▣ "ignorant" This is the term used of instructing children with the alpha privative. Paul often used the un-negated term in its various forms in the Pastorals (cf. 1 Tim. 1:20; 2 Tim. 2:25; 3:16; Titus 2:12). These false teachers are without sense and without training; this is purposeful and willful! All they want to do is debate and speculate about non-essentials (cf. 1 Tim. 1:4; 4:7; 6:4; 2 Tim. 2:14; 4:4; Titus 1:14; 3:9). This type of arrogant debating is repeatedly denounced in the Pastoral Letters.

2:24-25 Here are a series of things that believers should do to help "the seduced ones" return to the Lord:

1. must not be quarrelsome (cf. 1 Tim. 3:3; Titus 3:9)

2. be kind to all (cf. Titus 3:2)

3. be able to teach (cf. 1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:7)

4. be patient when wronged (different terms but parallel in 1 Tim. 3:3; 6:11; 2 Tim. 3:10; Titus 2:2)

5. be gentle in correcting (cf. 1 Tim. 3:3; Titus 3:2)

Obviously Paul is reflecting on the necessary qualities of leadership (cf. I Timothy 3) and also the godly characteristics of every believer (cf. Titus 3:1-3).

2:25 "those who are in opposition" This is a present middle participle (i.e., those who continue willfully to oppose Apostolic truth and ethics). Notice, even these are to be treated as potential believers. How we treat those who oppose the gospel says something important about the gospel and about us!

▣ "if perhaps God may grant them repentance" The "if" is not in the Greek text but the aorist active subjunctive implies a third class conditional sentence.

The theological issue related to the phrase is the sovereignty of God related to salvation versus the free will of humans. Is faith and repentance (cf. Mark 1:15; Acts 3:16,19; 20:21) a human response or a gift from God? There are texts which strongly imply that they are a gift from God (cf. Acts 5:31; 11:18; Rom. 2:4). Since I believe that all Scripture is inspired (cf. 2 Tim. 3:16) then one must compare all texts related to any given theological issue and not succumb to a proof-text method. It is obvious that the one true God is in control of all things! But He has chosen to relate to His highest creation by means of covenant. God always takes the initiative and sets the agenda, but mankind must respond and continue to respond. It is never an either/or question. It is always a both/and relationship. See SPECIAL TOPIC: COVENANT at 2:1 


▣ "leading to the knowledge of the truth" The path to truth (alētheia) and full knowledge (epignōsis) is not found in (1) Jewish genealogies or (2) Gnostic speculations but in the gospel of Jesus Christ (cf. 3:7; 1 Tim. 2:4; Titus 1:1). See Special Topic: Truth at 1 Tim. 2:4.

2:26 "they may come to their senses" This is the aorist active subjunctive compound form (ana + nēphō) of the term nēphalios ("be sober") used metaphorically for "be alert" (cf. 1 Tim. 3:2,11; Titus 2:2).

"having been held captive by him" This is a perfect passive participle of the compound term "to catch" + "alive" which was used of hunting animals. Here it is used of taking a prisoner of war captive. The passive voice and the immediate context identify Satan as the agent and the false teachers and their followers as the prisoners! As the gospel catches humans (cf. Luke 5:10), so too, the evil one (cf. 1 Tim. 3:7).


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. What is the basic purpose of the pastor?

2. Why is suffering a part of Christianity?

3. Why is the resurrection so central to the Christian faith?

4. To what does verse 12b refer? What does it mean?

5. How should Timothy deal with false teachers?

6. Why is verse 15 so important to all Christians?

7. Does God grant humans repentance? If so, for some or for all?

8. Who is said to have captured the false teachers and their followers? How can they escape?