Fidelity Verses Apostasy (2:14-4:8)
2:14 Timothy is to remind them of these things, that is, the things of verses 11-13. But to whom does Paul refer with the word them? He probably refers in a general sense to all Timothy’s hearers and in a special sense to those who were introducing strange and wrong doctrines. This is evident from the remaining part of the verse, where those who obviously occupied the place of teachers or preachers are warned against quarreling about words. Apparently there were those who made great issues over the technical meaning of certain words. Instead of building up the saints in the truth of God’s word, they were only undermining the faith of some who heard them.
Dinsdale Young warns:
“It is so easy to become a theological crank-so readily are we engrossed with questions that are of no supreme moment. Life is too brief and too busy for the wasting of brain and heart on what is not formative of character. When a world awaits evangelization, it ill becomes us to be forever either sauntering or hurrying along doctrinal byways. Keep to the highways. Be true the greater verities. Emphasize essentials, not incidentals. Do not emulate the victims of panic in the days of Shamgar and of Joel, who left the highways unoccupied and walked through by ways.”
2:15 Timothy should do his best to present himself to God as one approved. His efforts should be concentrated on becoming a workman who does not need to be ashamed. This he could do by correctly handling the word of truth. This expression means to handle the scriptures correctly, to treat truth fully without falsifying it.
2:16 Godless chatter (Profane and idle babbling KJV) are teachings that are irreverent, evil, and useless. It is not profitable for the people of God and should be shunned. Timothy is not instructed to combat these teachings but rather to treat them with disdain, not even dignifying them with his attention.
One serious thing about these chatterers is that they are never static. They always become more and more ungodly. It is so with all forms of error. Those who teach error must be continually adding to it.
This explains the new doctrines and pronouncements that are constantly being issued by false religious systems. And, the more these doctrinal errors are expanded, the more ungodliness results.
2:17 The way in which evil teachings spread is compared to gangrene. Most of us know only too well how this dreaded disease spreads rapidly in the human body, destroying tissue wherever it goes. Gangrene refers to the mortification of part of the body when it is cut off from its normal supply of blood and nutrition.
Elsewhere in the N.T. evil doctrine is likened to leaven, which, if allowed to spread, will eventually effect the whole lump of meal.
Two men are named whose teachings were corrupting the local church. They were Hymenaeus and Philetus. Because they failed to handle the word of truth correctly, they take their place with others in God’s hall of shame.
2:18 Their false teaching is here exposed. They told the people that the resurrection has already taken place. Actually, they spiritualized the resurrection and scoffed at the idea of a literal rising of the body from the grave. Paul recognized this as a serious threat to the truth of the Gospel.
They destroy the faith of some by teaching a corrupt doctrine. These men earned for themselves an undesirable entry in God’s eternal book.
2:19 As Paul thinks of Hymnaeus and Philetus and their false teaching, he realizes afresh that dark days are coming upon the church. Unbelievers have been accepted into the local church. Spiritual life is at such a low ebb that it is often hard to tell true Christians from mere professors. Christendom is a mixed multitude, and the resulting confusion is devastating.
In the midst of such a condition, Paul finds comfort in the assurance that God’s solid foundation stands firm. This means that whatever has been established by God Himself will endure in spite of the falling away of many from the truth in the church.
The church is God’s solid foundation. This foundation has two inscriptions on it: There is a divine inscription stressing the security of the church and the other inscription emphasizes the human responsibility to turn away from wickedness. In other words those who claim to be Christians must prove the reality of their claim (profession) by lives of holiness and godliness. The true Christian should have no dealing with unrighteousness.
2:20 In this illustration, we understand that the large house refers to Christendom in general. In a broad sense, Christendom includes believers and claimers (professors) – those who are truly born again and are walking the Christian walk and those who are nominal Christians living carnal lives.
In this large house there are articles (vessels) of gold and silver but also of wood and clay.
Articles of gold and silver would refer to genuine believers, holy, sincere, and useful teachers and members. Articles of wood and clay refer to false heretical teachers and their followers, such as Hymenaeus and Philetus.
2:21 Here Timothy is instructed to separate himself from evil men and especially from evil teachers and their false doctrines.
If a man cleanses himself from the latter. Timothy is not instructed to leave the church, but rather to separate himself from evildoers and avoid contamination from false doctrines.
If a man keeps himself free from evil associations, he will be an instrument for noble purposes. God can use only clean vessels in His holy service.
“Be pure, you who carry the vessels of the Lord.” (Is.52:11)
Such a man will also be holy in the sense that he will be set apart from evil to the service of God. He will be useful to the Master – something to be desired by all who love the Lord.
Finally, he will be prepared to do any good work. He will be ready at all times to be used in whatever way his Master may dictate.