New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary


2:1 You therefore, my child, be strengthened in the grace that is in Christ Jesus- Having exhorted Timothy to be strengthened in the Lord, Paul speaks of how the Lord has strengthened him in his last court appearance (2 Tim. 2:1; 4:17). "Grace", charis, often refers in the New Testament to the internal gift of the Spirit which is given to all believers. It was given to the Corinthians, but they were "not spiritual" (1 Cor. 3:1). We must allow that gift to work. Paul has urged Timothy about this elsewhere- see on 1:14. And here Paul is stating it explicitly; Timothy [as all of us] is to allow the strengthening process. We lack the iron in our soul to force change to any significant extent; but the way to progress is an opening to the superhuman strengthening of the Spirit which is already potentially at work in us. It's tragic that so many are so nearly there- but will not allow the Spirit to work. This can be due to pride in their own strength, and because of theological denial of the work of the Spirit.

2:2 And the things which you have heard from me among many witnesses, you are to commit the same to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also- Paul wanted Timothy to fulfil his ministry, and that required more than Timothy personally remaining strong to the end. If we take seriously our calling, we realize we have goals to achieve which are beyond us personally. We need to think ahead to a future generation, to rope in others to help achieve the goals. The Lord's later letter to Ephesus, where Timothy had his ministry, would indicate that for all his timidity and weakness, Timothy did actually achieve his goals. For in a later generation, there were still "faithful men" in that church.

2:3 Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus- Paul tells Timothy to “endure hardness” and “endure afflictions” in the Gospel’s work, and then goes on to use the same Greek word to describe how he himself ‘suffered trouble’ in the same work (2 Tim. 2:3,9; 4:5). He sets himself up as a role model for Timothy, his child in the faith (:1). He seeks to draw a parallel between himself in a Roman prison, and Timothy doing his ministry in Ephesus.

2:4 No soldier in service entangles himself in the affairs of this life, so that he may please whoever enrolled him as a soldier- There is nothing morally wrong with the pragmatic things of this life; but they can so easily entangle us and take us away from our focus on the Lord Jesus and His service. This is to be paramount. Problems with a leaking roof can take us far away from the Lord's service... The one who enrolled Timothy as a soldier could refer to God who called him to the service of His Son. But we suspect Paul has himself in view, as the one who introduced Timothy to ministry. And again we see Paul's tendency to over personalize things, as noted on 1:15. Personal loyalty to Paul meant, it seems, far too much for him. Much of his angst in dealing with the Corinthians, especially in 2 Corinthians, hinged around this issue of expecting personal loyalty.

2:5 And if also a man competes in the games, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules- We can have an appearance of spiritual progress towards the crown, as did the man who quickly built his house on the sand. But it was the man who perhaps didn't finish his house (we are left to imagine) but who had hacked away at the rock of his own heart, striving to seriously obey the essence of his Lord's words, who was accepted in the end. We can deduce that Timothy was tempted to take short cuts in his ministry; and Paul urges him to see his ministry at Ephesus as a work which had to be done according to principles, rather than meeting each issue ad hoc. "According to the rules" is literally 'according to the law', and Paul consistently argues against keeping any legal code as the basis for salvation. I suggest that he is putting a simple riddle to Timothy, and he gives another in :6, concluding in :7 that Timothy should "consider" these things and the Lord will give him understanding as to Paul's sense. He may be saying that although we are no longer under law, this doesn't mean that we are without principle in any sense; and likewise in :6, Paul wishes Timothy to understand that "labour" is still required- but as a response to grace and faith in the fact we shall be saved by grace. So he is inviting him to not go too far in thinking that freedom from the Mosaic law means no guiding principles or labour at all. Hence he urges Timothy to the disciplined life of a soldier (:3,4). Maybe Timothy had gone too far in not having any principles at all guiding him.

2:6 The husbandman that labours must be the first to partake of the fruits- I suggested on :5 that this and :5 are riddles Paul is putting to Timothy, with the invitation in :7 to consider them and let the Lord guide him to understanding. The ending of the Mosaic law didn't mean that labour is not required- although in response to grace. If Timothy laboured in trying to help spiritual fruit to develop in Ephesus, he would partake in the fruits of it. We too receive blessing from trying to help others towards spiritual fruitfulness. But the riddle includes the obvious connection with the fact that according to 1 Cor. 15, the Lord Jesus partakes of the firstfruits first. And Mt. 21 is clear that the Jewish leadership were the husbandmen who had been fired and replaced with new husbandmen; timid Timothy was therefore invited to see himself as directly replacing the Jewish rabbis and synagogue leadership, who were behind the effort to undermine the Christian mission in Ephesus. Yet "My father is the husbandman" (Jn. 15:1). God works through our efforts in bringing forth spiritual fruit in others. And the Lord Jesus clearly identified Himself with the husbandman in His parable of Lk. 13:8. His labour involved spreading manure around the tree of Israel. This humbling work was required of Timothy, and he would be manifesting the Lord Jesus in such work.

2:7 Consider what I say. And may the Lord give you understanding in all things- As noted on :5 and :6, this applies to the two riddles Paul has given Timothy to think about in the preceding two verses. Our obedience leads to greater obedience, in an upward spiral. The dynamic in this spiral is God's spirit. It is through the Spirit that God draws near to us if we draw near to Him (James 4:7,8). This is neatly summarized in 2 Tim.2:7: "Consider what I say: and the Lord give thee understanding in all things". Thus our freewill 'considering' will result in the Lord adding to our understanding even more that we could ever achieve unaided. 'Considering', literally 'exercising the mind', is one thing; but the Lord will act directly on the human heart to bring about greater "understanding". And that is taught in Col. 1:9; 2:2, where the ministry of the Spirit leads to a filling of believers with "understanding". Clearly the Lord is prepared and eager to act directly upon the mind of believers. Yet too many in conservative circles have left things at just 'considering' Scripture, resistant to the extra element of the Lord adding understanding to their mental gymnastics with Scripture.

2:8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, of the seed of David, according to the gospel I preached- Paul appeals for Timothy to take a Christ-centered approach. Knowing that he is under attack as a charlatan, he emphasizes that his Gospel was what as it were resurrected Christ from the dead. In our hearts, the Lord remains dead until the Gospel reveals His resurrection to us. "Remember" is a similar idea in Greek to the word used for "Consider" in :7; it implies the exercise of the mind. The most basic truths of the Gospel and their implications can easily be forgotten or become swamped in significance by all the angst which goes with grappling with church politics.

2:9- see on 2 Tim. 2:3.

Because of this I suffer hardship, even to bonds, as a criminal; but the word of God is not bound- "Suffer hardship" is the same word as used in encouraging Timothy to do the same in :3. Paul is encouraging Timothy to take himself as a pattern to himself. "A criminal" is the word only elsewhere used about the criminals crucified with the Lord, and "bonds" is used of the binding of the Lord at that time, both immediately before and after His crucifixion (Mt. 27:2; Jn. 19:40); Paul sees in all his sufferings a fellowship with the Lord in His time of dying. He deeply resented his "bonds" and, by implication, the limitations of freedom they imposed upon him. He realized however that he was "bound in the Spirit"; his bonds were of the Spirit rather than simply of men (Acts 20:22). And yet through his prison experience, he came to write the letters which have had such major significance. Our limitations likewise can be used by God for far wider things than we can ever realize at the time. Paul never once hints that he perceived that his letters were going to have significance for millennia to come; and that is the wonder of the lesson to us. What we experience as a limitation of freedom, as intense frustration, can be used by the Lord for eternal significance in ways we can never understand at the time. The word of God, the basic Gospel of :8, is unbound- perhaps Paul perceived that his bonds, his limitations, were playing a part in a wider unbound experience. In Col. 4:3, Paul had asked for prayers that he could be given an opportunity to spread the Gospel despite being in bonds. Perhaps he is saying here at the end of his life that in fact this had worked out; for in chapter 4 he writes of how the Gospel had spread and become "fully known" through is bonds (4:17). If we pray for opportunities to preach we will be granted them. Let's pray daily for meetings with people whom we can witness to successfully.

2:10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sake, so that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory- Their salvation was dependent upon his enduring. And therefore he endured for their sakes. Paul as noted above has been seeing his sufferings as part of the Lord's sufferings; and His suffering led to our salvation, just as our sufferings likewise play a part in the salvation of others, if we are suffering in and with Him. Salvation is "in Christ"; not in any particular ecclesia or fellowship, but through being an active part of His body in the Biblical sense. See on Eph. 2:6. Paul "endured", he held on himself, for the sake of the elect. And likewise the Lord Himself died above all for us, His desire for our salvation lead Him to endure for Himself. And on a mundane level; the husband who does his Bible readings a second time for the sake of his wife or children or because a brother has paid an unexpected visit... this kind of spiritual effort for others keeps us going ourselves. See on 1 Thess. 3:8. All this opens up a fuller understanding of 2 Cor. 4:17- our sufferings lead to an eternal weight of glory "for us", in the plural.

2:11 Faithful is the saying: For if we died with him, we shall also live with him- "The saying" would refer to one of the pithy "faithful sayings" which the New Testament church committed to memory. These would have been especially valuable for the illiterate. Paul has explained that our sufferings for others can play a part in their salvation, if our sufferings are part of the Lord's crucifixion sufferings. So he is giving another dimension to the well known truth that we are to die with Him; our death is not isolated from His death, and our sufferings are not isolated from His- if we are baptized believers "in Him". And so it shall come to pass that because He lives, we in Him shall live also; His life becomes ours, both now and eternally. The tense of "we died with Him" surely alludes to baptism, the one-time moment when we died with Him.

2:12- see on Mt. 26:70.

If we endure, we shall also reign with him; if we shall deny him, he also will deny us- The allusion to death with the Lord in baptism in :11 must be tempered by the fact that we must also "endure". Paul has just written of enduring all things for the sake of the chosen (:10), so that they may be saved. By writing here that thereby we shall also reign with Him, Paul has his mind on the fact that our endurance in Him can lead to "we", others, not just himself, reigning with the Lord in glory. On the other hand, our denial of Him can lead to Him denying us- not just us personally, but our failure can lead to others likewise being denied at the last day, for we all have more influence upon others than we realize. Paul was clearly alluding to Peter's denials- and the grace shown by the Lord. For He will not automatically deny those who deny Him, but works instead for their restoration. This could however be read as a question- if we deny Him, will He deny us? And the answer is no, according to :13.

2:13 If we are faithless, he abides faithful. For he cannot deny himself- "Faithless" in Greek more suggests a loss of faith. This was and is at the root of denying Him; for losing faith is here paralleled with denial. The faithfulness of God is hard to understand unless we understand it as faithfulness towards us. Unlike the tendency in human relationships, God will not break His hope, faith and love toward us in response to our withdrawal of them toward Him. He does not mirror our behaviour towards Him; and we should seek to be like Him when we encounter withdrawal of relationship towards us from others. 'He', "Himself", stands for total commitment to His people throughout their lives, and He will not deny His fundamental self.

2:14 Of these things put them in remembrance, instructing them in the sight of the Lord, that they do not fight about words, to no profit, to the catastrophic destruction of those that hear them- The "them" in view appear to be the teachers at Ephesus. The fact the Lord later commends this church in his letter to them indicates that Timothy successfully obeyed Paul's command here. The teachers were to be redirected towards the basic issues of the Gospel and the implications which arise from it, rather than using their teaching ministry to provoke profitless arguments about words and meanings. Such teachers would lead to the eternal destruction of those who heard them. And this is a profound warning to those right wing groups whose teachers have filled them with third hand garbled stories about "the original Hebrew actually means..." whatever, and demanding everyone accepts their particular peculiar take on a matter of semantics. This warning was especially required in Ephesus, which was under attack from Judaizers who would have insisted that they had superior knowledge of the Hebrew language, and would easily have dominated the Gentile audience with various arguments about Hebrew words. The wicked will be “overthrown” in the final condemnation (2 Pet. 2:6)- but this is the very same word used for ‘apostasy’ or ‘subversion’ (AV) or "catastrophic destruction". If we apostatize, we are overthrowing or condemning ourselves and others ahead of time. Israel in the wilderness "rejected" the land- and so they didn't enter it (Num. 14:31 RV).

2:15- see on Mt. 7:24.

Exert yourself, to prove you are pleasing to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, handling correctly the word of truth- The AV "Study to show thyself..." has been tragically misunderstood as meaning that Bible study makes us pleasing to God. But that is a result of misreading "study"- in the days of King James it means 'to try', and that is the idea of the Greek. For not all are Bible students nor have the apparatus to be that. The context of :14 is specific commandment to the teachers within the church. They were workmen, working on the church of God, and their work with others would be examined at the last day. And they would be ashamed if those under their teaching are given the shame of condemnation. Effort must consciously be made to build up others. We must ‘rightly divide’, or cut straight, the word of truth in our preaching of it. The LXX uses the same word in Prov. 3:6: “He will make straight your paths”. We are to offer people a clear, straight way to the Kingdom; to span that gulf between the word of God and the mind of man. "The word of truth" refers to the basic Gospel, according to the context, which Paul has redirected their attention to. By involving their audience in strife about semantics and words, they were not using the word of truth correctly. The whole of Paul’s exhortation to zealous service in the ecclesia in 2 Tim. 2:15-20 is based on the returned exiles, confirming that they are indeed ‘types of us’; and the teachers are the manual workers, slaving away to build up Zion:

2 Tim. 2


“If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified and meet for the master’s use” (:21)

“I commanded the Levites that they should cleanse themselves, and that they should come and keep the gates… thus cleansed I them from all strangers” (Neh. 13:22,30). Also a reference to the cleansing of the Jews from mixed marriages.

“A workman that needeth not to be ashamed” (:15)

The workmen rebuilding Zion

“The foundation of God standeth sure” (:19)

The laying of the foundation stone

“The Lord knoweth them that are his” (:19)

The spirit of Is. 44:5- that although at the time of the restoration not all knew their genealogy, they were accepted in any case, being surnamed with the Name of Jehovah and that of Jacob

“A great house” (:20)

The temple (1 Chron. 22:5)

“Vessels of gold and of silver” (:20)

“Vessels of gold and silver” (Ezra 5:14)


2:16- see on 1 Tim. 6:21.

But shun profane babblings of false teachers; for they will result in progressive ungodliness- The preceding verses have taught Timothy how to teach the teachers; so the shunning would mean not allowing the false teachers to teach. Their "babblings" referred to the endless striving about the meaning of original Hebrew words, profitless arguments about semantics, words and meanings (:14). It's simply not true that just teaching something about the Bible or Biblical words will lead to spiritual growth; these teachers with their emphasis upon semantic games actually elicited increasing ungodliness in the behaviour of the flock. This is because the need to act and think in a Christ-like way, denying the flesh, is excused by instead focusing upon semantics and hyper interpretation of original words and phrases. And this has been witnessed in so many groups, who have focused upon 'doctrine' and supposed intellectual purity of interpretation- whilst in private life being so far from the spirit of Christ in daily thought and living.

2:17 And their word will eat away like a cancer. An example would be Hymenaeus and Philetus- The "progressive" nature of ungodliness (:16) elicited by their wrong usage of "the word of truth" is likened to the spreading of cancer. Teaching has a real effect upon listeners; we may assume that everyone dozes through Bible studies and teaching, but in fact something- a lot- goes in. Especially in illiterate societies, the word preached by the teacher is their only access to God's word. The Greek gangraina refers to gangrene, leading to the loss of limbs, and spreading from one infected limb to damage the whole body. Paul surely had in mind the overall damage to the body of Christ by losing some who had been taken away from the body by the gangrene of false teaching. Hymenaeus had been "delivered to satan" for blasphemy in 1 Tim. 1:20- but had not been corrected, apparently. The orthodox view of Satan as a cosmic being falls right down in the light of this. The Lord's commendation of Ephesus in His later letter indicates that Timothy did indeed save the body of the church by cutting out this gangrene. But we note that what is being taught here is not guilt by association, nor a call to excommunicate individuals who believe the wrong things. The context is instruction to Timothy regarding who he allowed onto the platform to teach. 

Hymenaeus had destroyed his own faith, and as such often do, wanted to destroy that of others (see on 1 Tim. 1:20). Despite having been "delivered unto satan" he was now back in the teaching ministry. Perhaps Timothy had not fully supported Paul's discipline of Hymenaeus, and this was the fruit of that.

2:18 Men who concerning the truth have erred, in saying that the resurrection is past already; and they ruin the faith of some- "The truth" may refer specifically to the Lord Jesus. These men may have been influenced by the kind of incipient Gnosticism which was pushed by the Judaizers, coming to term in the teachings of the kabbala which deny the significance of the body and of bodily resurrection. The denial of bodily resurrection was associated with "unGodliness" in practice (:16). If we are living only for today, and bodily resurrection [both of the Lord and ourselves] is minimalized to the point of denial, then there will be "ungodliness" in practice. And this is the danger of preterism. Faith is 'ruined' if the bodily aspect of resurrection is minimized or removed. "Ruin the faith" is a Greek word only elsewhere used in Tit. 1:11, where the motive for such false teaching was money. If we do not need to face a future judgment for the things "done in the body" (2 Cor. 5:10), then the flesh can be pleased just as we wish. And this was so attractive that some were even prepared to pay money for that to be true. We see here how the root of much doctrinal, theological heresy is psychologically based; a desire to justify the flesh.

2:19- see on Mt. 7:23.

However the firm foundation of God stands sure, having this seal: The Lord knows those that are his. And: Let every one that names the name of the Lord depart from unrighteousness- The implication is that despite false teachers, those known by the Lord [Jesus?] are on God's firm foundation and will not be shifted from it. But that firm foundation, as Paul uses the metaphor in Corinthians, is a living relationship with the Lord Jesus. Those who know Him, and are known by Him, are thereby in relationship with Him. And having named His Name, calling it upon themselves in baptism, they will "depart from unrighteousness". Any teaching which leads them to unrighteous behaviour will be intuitively rejected by them. In expounding 1 Timothy 2, I noted there were many allusions there to the idol temples of Ephesus, especially the temple of Artemis. The reference to firm foundations likewise refers to that same temple. The two "seals" quoted are likely "faithful sayings" popular amongst the illiterate of the first century Christian community. The seal of God is in the mind, "in the forehead" (Rev. 9:4), likely a reference to the gift of the Holy Spirit in the heart / mind of every believer. This is what knowing the Lord and being known by Him is all about- living relationship with the Lord Jesus through the gift of His Spirit. And the function of that Spirit in practice will be a departure from unrighteousness. The term "depart from" usually refers to departing from persons; and this is the context of this verse- an appeal to depart from false teachers and their teachings. The same word has been used in 1 Tim. 6:5 about withdrawing from those who taught like this.

2:20 Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour and some to dishonour- As noted on :19 and earlier, the context here is of separation from false teachers and their teachings; not allowing them to teach, and not giving heed to their teachings. Those who teach rightly from God's word will not be ashamed (:15); whereas those who do not shall be ashamed. The honourable vessels here refer to the true teachers, and the dishonourable vessels to the false teachers. This is why :21 will go on to speak of separation from the dishonourable. Gold, silver and wood are listed in 1 Cor. 3:12 as the kinds of building which a teacher makes in his or her pastoral work. We note that the existence of dishonourable vessels within the "great house" of the church is taken as something inevitable; there is significantly no call for them to be excommunicated, but rather they should not be given a platform nor their ideas given credence.

2:21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel to honour, sanctified, fulfilling the use intended by the master, prepared to do every good work- As noted on :20, the context is about separation from false teaching and not allowing false teachers the platform. The purging from the dishonourable vessels [= false teachers, see on :20] therefore doesn't speak of excommunication but of not allowing God's house to have such people teaching within it. The Master of the great house (:20) is surely the Lord Jesus; and He has a use intended for all the apparatus ["vessels"] within the large household. There were good works intended for us from the foundation of the world (Eph. 2:10). We need to pray to God to reveal to us what those works are, and which uses He has in mind for us. The language in :20 and :21 is alluding to Is. 22:20-24 about the temple. "Prepared to do every good work" must link with 2 Tim. 3:16,17, which says that the word of God enables the man of God to be "perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works". Thus the sanctifying and purging power is the word (as Jn. 17:17; Eph. 5:26). 

2:22 Enthuse about righteousness, faith, love and peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart- Some manuscripts, followed by the AV, add: "Flee youthful lusts". It is possible that Timothy went through a mid-life crisis, as Hezekiah did. Paul's warning to middle aged Timothy to "flee youthful lusts" was a sure reference back to Joseph fleeing from the advances of Potiphar's wife. If indeed Timothy was now middle aged, Paul would be reasoning that his sexual crushes were the immaturity of youth which by this stage he ought to have left behind. I noted on 1 Tim. 3 that Timothy was the bishop at Ephesus, and the commands concerning bishops and their relationships with their wives were therefore being spoken directly to Timothy. We can assume he was therefore married. And yet Paul sensed Timothy needed exhortation about "youthful lusts". The antidote to these lusts was positive- the energy should instead go into enthusing about spiritual things, not consorting with women in questionable relationships, but taking strength instead from others who "call on the Lord out of a pure [sexually pure?] heart". This rechannelling of energy from sin to righteousness is a common Biblical theme (e.g. "Not coarse joking but rather giving of thanks", Eph. 5:4); and Paul's redirection from persecutor of Christ to ambassador for Him would be the parade example. And so here, pheugo ["flee"] lusts, and instead dioko ["enthuse about"] righteousness. Dioko is the standard term for persecution, used about Paul's persecution of the Christians. His energy for persecution was redirected into a chasing after of righteousness.

Those with a pure or purified heart / mind are those who have allowed the sanctifying / purifying of the Spirit to cleanse their minds, conscience and thinking (1 Pet. 1:22; Heb. 10:22). We must be made clean by the Lord Jesus, it is not of ourselves (Jn. 15:3; 13:10,11). Paul recognizes that not all in the church will have allowed this purifying work of the Spirit, even though all believers have potentially been given the Spirit gift at baptism. But he urges Timothy to associate with those who have.

2:23 But foolish and ignorant questions refuse, knowing that they only cause strife- The command to Timothy to "refuse" surely means in line with :14 and :16 not allowing the platform to teachers who "babble" with issues of semantics, words and meanings. These issues cause strife- the same word used in Tit. 3:9 of how the Judaist false teachers caused "strivings about the law". Teaching with a view to helping others towards spiritual fruitfulness does not leave the hearers with a mass of questions with no answers. This is destabilizing, and such teachers aren't aiming to help anyone towards God's Kingdom; all they will do is cause tension between persons, because different answers will be presented to the questions raised. The style of teaching which throws out a mass of questions was clearly the style of the Judaizers, in their program of destabilizing the Pauline churches. This is not an appeal for simplistic attitudes; rather for direct guidance of the flock, especially the illiterate, towards true spirituality. And this may involve ignoring certain questions, just as the Lord often avoided giving direct answers to leading questions and replied in terms of mega principles.

2:24 And the Lord's servant must not quarrel but be gentle towards all, eager to teach, patient of ills and wrongs- As noted on :23, a minister / teacher will be eager to teach, and not simply present a mass of questions to an illiterate, newly baptized audience which will only destabilize. This was the style of the Judaizers. Such presentation of questions was not teaching, being didactic, as the term means. The new converts needed a didactic approach, instructing them, rather than destabilizing them with endless questions and provoking quarrels. The Judaist false teachers were apparently not gentle, nor patient with disagreement. This dogmatism is somehow attractive to some audiences; Catholic and Orthodox priests were [at least in the past] renowned for their aggressive attitude to their flock. And many like it that way- to be made to feel unworthy and weak, because that is how they feel themselves, and to trust that a firm leadership might somehow lead them to salvation at the end of the day; although they have no firm hope in salvation for that would demand too much of them in mental and secular life. This attitude was prevalent in Judaism and amongst the false teachers. 2 Cor. 11:20 suggests the false teachers beloved of the Corinthians demanded money from them and even hit them on the face.

All teaching must be after the pattern of the Lord Jesus, who taught "as His manner was", i.e. He was "eager to teach". When Paul wrote that “the servant of the Lord must not strive” in his preaching ministry (2 Tim. 2:24 AV), he was alluding back to how the servant song described the Lord Jesus in His preaching as not striving or lifting up His voice in proud argument (Is. 42:2 cp. Mt. 12:19). And Paul goes on: “...but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing...”. This is all a pen picture of the Lord’s witness to men in Galilee. And yet it is applied to us. “Apt to teach” is surely an allusion to the way in which the Lord taught the people “as he was wont” (Mk. 10:1). So it’s not just that we should witness because the Lord, in whom we are, was the “faithful and true witness” (Rev. 1:5; 3:14); because we are in Him, we must witness as He did, with something of that same ineffable mixture of candour, meekness and Divine earnestness for man’s salvation

Paul in 2 Tim. 2:24,25 makes a series of allusions to Moses, which climax in an invitation to pray like Moses for the salvation of others:
“The servant of the Lord [A very common title of Moses] must not strive [As Israel did with him (Num. 26:9)] but be gentle unto all [The spirit of Moses] apt to teach [As was Moses (Ex. 18:20; 24:12; Dt. 4:1,5,14; 6:1; 31:22)], patient [As was Moses], in meekness [Moses was the meekest man (Num. 12:3)] instructing those that oppose themselves [at the time of Aaron and Miriam’s self-opposing rebellion] if God peradventure will give them repentance [i.e. forgiveness] [“Peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin” (Ex. 32:30)]"- and he prayed 40 days and nights for it. And note too: 2 Tim. 2:19 = Num. 16:5,26; 2 Tim. 2:20 = Num. 12:7; 2:21 = Num. 16:37; 2 Tim. 2:22 = Num. 12:2; 16:3; 2 Tim. 2:26 = Num. 16:33. This is quite something. The height of Moses’ devotion for His people, the passion of his praying, shadowing as it did the matchless intercession and self-giving of the Lord, really is our example. It isn’t just a height to be admired. It means that we will not half-heartedly ask our God to ‘be with’ brother x and sister y and the brethren in country z, as we lie half asleep in bed. This is a call to sustained, on our knees prayer and devotion to the salvation of others. For the Judaists, an appeal to be like Moses, to emulate him in teaching, was blasphemous; for they considered Moses at such a level that he could never be imitated. Yet Paul urges timid Timothy and all teachers to realistically be Moses to our audience.

2:25- see on Acts 18:6; 2 Tim. 3:7; Tit. 1:1.

In meekness correcting those that contradict themselves, so that God may give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth- Arrogance is so easily companion of holding a superior understanding about something. To realize we have the correct position and to correct with humility- is really the supreme qualification of a teacher. And the context here is about teachers. If the contradictions can be corrected in humility, then God may give them repentance. He is prepared to confirm the efforts of a sincere teacher, by acting on the mind of the person being corrected. Repentance is a gift, as stated clearly in Acts 5:31. This is more than forgiveness. Repentance itself is a psychological gift, a direct operation upon the human heart. And the text here says that God will grant this when a teacher has humbly corrected a person; so He works with our teaching of others. Repentance is an outcome of having corrected someone who is contradicting themselves; the contradiction is therefore a moral issue, a way of life being lived in contradiction to principles espoused. There is no reference here to simply correcting someone whose theology or intellectual process is self contradictory or logically twisted. That has for too long passed as 'evangelism' or 'preaching'. The issue here is essentially moral, because the resolved contradictions are confirmed by the Lord granting repentance. And a fair case can be made for "contradict themselves" really meaning 'contradict' in the sense of those who contradict the teachers; the same group are mentioned with a similar word in 1 Tim. 6:20 and Tit. 1:9. "Correcting" is a word used about training of children; it is to the spiritual elders / fathers / teachers that these words are addressed.

"The acknowledging of the truth" doesn't mean 'I accept you are right and I am wrong'. This is the stuff of Socratean debate which has been so attractive to conservative Protestants, whereby "Bible truth" becomes a battleground upon which one side strives to win the victory of 'truth' in intellectual, expositional terms; as if Bible study is a concourse with only one glorious winner and many eternal losers. I have demonstrated above that "repentance" means that moral issues are in view. The repentance granted by the Lord leads to "the knowledge of the truth"; "acknowledging" is an unfortunate translation, because it suggests that the contradicting side acknowledges logical defeat. But it is the same word used as in Eph. 1:17 and 4:13, speaking of the effect of having the gift of the Spirit, leading to "the knowledge of Him". Repentance leads to relationship, a knowledge of the Lord Jesus who is "the truth". The very phrase "the knowledge of the truth" is used in 1 Tim. 2:4 [see note there] as meaning 'being saved'. Repentance results finally in salvation, when we shall know the final truth- which is of God's grace in Christ for eternity. Indeed 2 Tim. 3:7 contrasts "ever learning" with "coming to the knowledge of the truth". It is all a moral dimension, rather than an intellectual one of learned intellectual knowledge.

2:26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the Devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will- As noted throughout this chapter, the problem Timothy faced was from Judaizing false teachers, whom Paul was urging him to ban from the platform at Ephesus. Already the "Devil", the Jewish opposition to the Pauline Christian churches, had gained some converts and taken captive some of the converts. But good teaching, with the Lord's additional help, could lead to some of these lost ones being recovered. The parallel is with how the false teachers “overthrow the faith of some” (:18). “Overthrow” is the same word translated “subvert”. Nearly every other time it occurs it is in the context of the Judaizers subverting the Christians - Titus 1:11; 3:9-11 (an equivalent word); Acts 15:24 (the Judaizers “subvert your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law”). The Jewish satan, the great adversary to true Christian mission in the first century, was seeking to make converts. The only other usage of the word for "taken captive" is in Lk. 5:10 about 'catching men' i.e. making converts.

For a critique of the standard view of the Devil in this verse, see .

The RV reflects an alternative manuscript reading: "Having been taken captive by the Lord's servant unto the will of God". It seems to me that whilst on one hand preaching can be likened to a warfare, a tearing down of the bastion of unbelief, the Lord’s servant taking people captive unto the will of God, this is only one facet of the picture. Taken too far, we can become motivated perhaps by a fear of failure, we try harder and only get into a verbal battle, a jousting match, or worse. We will often ‘lose’ these exchanges, because we were unable to convince our 'adversary'. Thus such exchanges become like a court battle of who's right and who's wrong, one-upmanship and point scoring. We will then end up feeling that the person has rejected the calling of the Father simply because my argument wasn't good enough. This need to win, this fear of failure, is the way of the world not the way of God, it is not “reasoning together". There is too much ego involved. Preaching, though it might seem otherwise at times, is not a competitive sport. If we failed it's not because we did not try hard enough, nor is it because we did not know enough, perhaps it's because we tried too hard driven by a fear of failure, or perhaps we have thought too highly of ourselves, thinking we speak for our God?