2 Timothy 2


‘You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.’ 2 Timothy 2:1-2

The Appeal Renewed

Paul begins this chapter by reminding his son, Timothy, 2 Timothy 1:2, to be ‘strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus’. It’s important to note that grace is only found ‘in Christ’ when a person is baptised for the forgiveness of their sins, Acts 2:38 / Romans 6:3-6.

It’s God’s grace that motivates us to do everything God wants us to do, 1 Corinthians 15:10 / 2 Corinthians 4:15. The more we understand this, the more we give thanks to God for His grace, 2 Corinthians 4:15, and the more we rely on God’s grace, the stronger and mature we become as Christians, 1 Peter 3:18.

Paul himself was directly commissioned by Jesus to preach the Gospel, Galatians 1:11-12, and now he entrusts Timothy to teach others, 1 Corinthians 11:2 / 1 Timothy 3:2-7 / 2 Timothy 1:13-14 / 2 Thessalonians 2:15.

He was to teach reliable men, in order that they, in turn, would be able to teach others, Matthew 28:20 / 1 Timothy 1:7 / 2 Timothy 2:15.

‘Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.’ 2 Timothy 2:3-4

Paul asks Timothy to join him in his suffering and reminds him that all good soldiers of Christ should expect suffering of some kind, Acts 14:22 / 1 Corinthians 9:7 / 2 Corinthians 11:23-29 / 1 Timothy 1:18 / 2 Timothy 1:8 / 2 Timothy 1:12 / 2 Timothy 2:9 / 2 Timothy 2:11 / 2 Timothy 3:8-13 / 1 Peter 1:6-7.

All Christians are involved in spiritual warfare, Ephesians 6:10-20, but the devil will definitely attack anyone who wants to preach or teach the Gospel of Christ.

He tells Timothy ‘no one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs’. In other words, don’t lose your objective as a preacher and teacher of God’s Word, 1 Corinthians 9:25-27. The main objective of a soldier is to please his commanding officer, and as Christians, we must serve in the Lord’s army with our main objective of trying to please Him, Romans 12:1-2.

Remember, Paul was a tentmaker by trade and he made tents so that he could himself in his ministry, Acts 18:3. However, he didn’t allow the making of tents to distract him from the main focus of his life, which was preaching the Gospel, Colossians 3:1-3 / 1 Timothy 6:7-10 / 1 Timothy 6:17-18.

‘Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.’ 2 Timothy 2:5-7

After giving a metaphor about a soldier, Paul now gives the metaphor of an athlete, 1 Corinthians 9:24. He says that no one has the right to change the rules, Matthew 7:21-23 / Mark 7:1-9, if we want to be in the Christian race, we must play by the rules God has set out if we want to have the victor’s crown, 2 Timothy 4:7 / 1 Corinthians 9:26-27.

Paul also shares the metaphor of a farmer, 1 Corinthians 9:10 / 2 Thessalonians 3:8. The farmer expects to eat the food he’s laboured so hard to produce, 1 Corinthians 9:12-18.

Timothy is to reflect upon all these metaphors, for the Lord will give him the insight to understanding all of them and apply them to his own life, Acts 17:11 / 1 Timothy 4:15 / 2 Timothy 2:15 / James 1:5.

‘Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.’ 2 Timothy 2:8-10

The central and most important doctrine for the Christian is the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, Acts 2:24 / 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 / Romans 1:3-4.

If Timothy remembers this important truth and remembers that Jesus was a descendant of David, then he will have the courage to face any suffering which comes his way, Revelation 2:10.

Notice Paul says the gospel is ‘my gospel’, in other words, he personally shared the good news of the death and resurrection of Jesus with Timothy, the Gospel became a part of Paul, Romans 2:16 / Romans 16:25 / Galatians 1:11 / 2 Thessalonians 2:14.

Even though Paul suffered for preaching the Gospel, Acts 9:16 / Ephesians 3:1 / Colossians 4:3 / 2 Timothy 1:8, and ended up in chains, Ephesians 6:20, he knew that God’s Word wasn’t and couldn’t be chained, Acts 4:19-20 / Acts 26:29 / Acts 28:31 / 2 Timothy 4:17 / Philemon 1:13-14.

Paul was willing to endure hardships for the sake of the elect, that is for the church, 2 Corinthians 1:6 / Ephesians 3:13 / 1 Timothy 6:11 / 2 Timothy 3:10 / 2 Timothy 4:5 / 1 Peter 1:2. He was willing to endure if he might save others.

Ward, in his commentary, says the following.

‘This text implies that it is not the bare fact of election that saves men. The Gospel of Christ has to be preached even to the elect.’ The faithfulness of the elect even after they were saved ‘from their old sins’ is likewise implied here, because the message of this verse is that such necessary fidelity would be greatly encouraged and aided by Paul’s faithful suffering of martyrdom.’

Salvation is only ‘in Christ’, Acts 4:12 / Romans 6:3-6, and those who have been baptised into the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit have entered into a relationship with them, Matthew 28:19-20, a relationship which will have eternal consequences.

‘Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.’ 2 Timothy 2:11-13

Paul here encourages Timothy to endure hardships by reminding him of the hope he has for salvation. He tells him this hope is a ‘trustworthy saying’, that is, it’s worthy of his full attention, 1 Timothy 1:15.

Christians have died with Christ by crucifying themselves with Christ, Romans 6:6 / Romans 6:8 / Philippians 3:10. Christians have died with Christ and have been buried with Christ, in the waters of baptism, Romans 6:4-5.

Christians now live and reign with Christ, as Christ rose from the grave, John 11:25 / Romans 5:17 / Romans 6:3-5 / 2 Corinthians 5:17 / 1 Thessalonians 4:14 / 1 Thessalonians 5:10 / 1 John 5:11.

The evidence that we truly belong to Him is seen in our willingness to endure as Christians and suffer as Christ did, Romans 8:17 / 1 Peter 4:13.

However, if we aren’t willing to confess Christ through obedient living, then He denies that we are His, Matthew 10:32-33 / Luke 12:9 / 1 Timothy 5:8 / 2 Peter 2:1 / Jude 4.

Sadly many Christians fall away and choose not to follow Jesus anymore, however, Jesus will remain faithfully committed to His church, Acts 20:28.

Dealing With False Teachers

‘Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarrelling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.’ 2 Timothy 2:14

Timothy is to remind God’s people that there is no value in quarrelling and arguing over ‘words’, that is, over matters of opinion and ministry, 1 Timothy 1:6 / 1 Timothy 5:21 / 1 Timothy 6:4 / 2 Timothy 2:23 / Titus 3:9-11.

He is to warn God’s people ‘before God’, which implies this is a very important matter, 1 Timothy 1:18. Quarrelling and arguing over matters of opinion and ministry, only turns people away from the simplicity of faith and discourages everyone who is listening.

‘Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.’ 2 Timothy 2:15

Although studying God’s Word is important to help us live our lives directed by God, Paul’s command to Timothy means more than just studying God’s Word, 2 Peter 2:10. It also implies living out what we’re teaching and studying, Romans 12:1-2.

If Timothy faithfully performs his duty as an evangelist, when he looks over what he’s done, he won’t be ashamed. He is to ‘correctly handle the word of truth’, which means to use properly, to cut straight, to divide right, Matthew 13:52.

The word used here for ‘correctly handles’ in Greek is the word, ‘orthotomeo’, and this is the only time the word is used in the New Testament.

Paul is encouraging Timothy to be diligent incorrectly applying the word of God so that he can stand against false teachings, 1 Timothy 4:13 / 2 Peter 1:10.

This tells us the importance of studying God’s Word for ourselves, if we don’t study God’s Word, we can’t stand against false teachers, or use it correctly, Hosea 4:6.

‘Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have departed from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.’ 2 Timothy 2:16-18

When Timothy ‘correctly handles the word of truth’, he will be able to ‘avoid godless chatter’, that is, he will be able to avoid getting involved in non-biblical discussions with people. When he does this, he will be able to get more involved in the work he’s supposed to be doing as an evangelist, 1 Timothy 6:20 / Titus 3:9-11.

The more people get involved with ‘godless chatter’, the more ungodly they become and as a result, their teaching spreads like gangrene. The Greek word, ‘gaggraina’ is the word ‘gangrene’, and this is the only time it’s used in the New Testament and it implies that unless it’s dealt with immediately, it will spread throughout the whole body.

In other words, if these false teachings don’t get dealt with quickly, they will spread throughout the church as a whole like a disease. Teaching opinions and being dogmatic about them, only leads to division within the church.

We must remember that everyone is entitled to have an opinion on certain Scriptures, but we mustn’t make those opinions laws and binding on everyone else.

Paul gives two examples of men who were false teachers, Hymenaeus, 1 Timothy 1:20, and Philetus. Although some people didn’t believe in the resurrection, John 5:28-29 / Acts 2:14-16 / 1 Corinthians 15:35-57 / 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18, these men have departed from the truth because they believed the resurrection had already happened, 1 Corinthians 15:12-19, and their teaching was like ‘gangrene’ because it destroyed the faith of some other Christians, 1 Timothy 1:19-20.

‘Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: ‘The Lord knows those who are his,’ and, ‘Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.’ 2 Timothy 2:19

Even though some Christians had fallen away because of the teaching of Hymenaeus and Philetus, the foundation of the church which God had laid remained firm, Matthew 16:18 / 1 Corinthians 3:9-10 / Ephesians 2:20-21.

As long as this foundation, that is Christ, who is the chief cornerstone remained firm, there was no reason to be troubled from the few instances of apostasy which had occurred, Psalm 11:3.

Since the faith of Christians is built on the fact that Jesus is the Christ and Son of God, Matthew 16:18-19 / John 20:30-31, the church will continue to be a shining light amid false teachings.

A seal is used for security, Matthew 27:66, or as a mark of genuineness, Revelation 9:4. The seal here is one that was affixed to the foundation and seems to refer to some inscription on the foundation stone that always remained there.

The words of the inscription imply that God knows those who are saved and loyal to Him, Numbers 16:5 / Numbers 16:26-27 / Isaiah 52:11 / Nahum 1:7 / John 10:27-28.

Christians must turn away from wickedness, this is key to being known by God, our lives should reflect Whom we belong to, Romans 6:17-18. If we claim we know God and love God, we must live like it, John 13:34-35.

‘In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.’ 2 Timothy 2:20-21

Paul now uses a metaphor concerning those who are known by God because of their behaviour and those who are known by God because of their hypocrisy. The articles of gold and silver are for ‘special purposes’, that is, they are profitable for the expansion of the kingdom, 1 Corinthians 12:14-26 / Romans 9:21-23, but the articles of wood and clay are for ‘common use’, because of their unrighteous living.

Paul’s point is that even the articles of ‘common use’ will serve the Father’s will in God’s own way, but that’s a far different thing from the proposition that they will all be saved anyway.

Hervey, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Though everyone that names the Lord ought to depart from wickedness, yet we must not be surprised if it is not so, and if there are found in the church some professing Christians whose practice is quite inconsistent with their profession.’

Those who ‘cleanse’ themselves, John 15:2 / 1 John 1:9, that is, those who are represented as wood and clay, if they repented they would be used for ‘special purposes’.

If Christians make the conscientious choice to turn away from wickedness, God will be able to work through them, Ephesians 2:10 / 2 Corinthians 9:8 / 2 Timothy 3:17.

‘Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.’ 2 Timothy 2:22-23

Paul knows Timothy is a young man and he knew that he would have the same youthful ‘evil desires’ as other young men have and so he tells him to ‘flee’ from them, 1 Corinthians 6:18 / 1 Timothy 4:12 / 1 Timothy 5:2.

For Timothy to do this he had to make a conscious decision to do so and make every effort to do so, 1 Timothy 6:11.

As he flees in one direction he must ‘pursue’ everything which is right, Hebrews 12:14. In other words, he was to practice all that is good and virtuous. He was to practice righteousness, in all his dealings with people. He was to demonstrate ‘faith, love and peace’ to everyone, as others were doing, 1 Corinthians 1:2 / Acts 9:11.

If Timothy is going to pursue everything which is right, he needs to avoid ‘foolish and stupid arguments’, that is arguments about opinions, 1 Timothy 1:4 / 1 Timothy 1:6 / 1 Timothy 4:7 / 2 Timothy 2:16.

These ‘foolish and stupid arguments’ usually begin with those who want to bind laws on the church which God hasn’t bound, Romans 16:17-18. They are the people who often go way beyond what is written, 2 John 9-10.

All these do is cause quarrels and fights within the church and eventually lead to division within the church, 2 Timothy 2:14-16 / Titus 3:9-11.

‘And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.’ 2 Timothy 2:24-26

Although this applies to all Christians, Timothy as an evangelist must lead the church in an example of not quarrelling with their wives, children, friends and other members of the church over matters of opinion, Titus 3:2.

Timothy must be kind to everyone, 1 Thessalonians 2:7, able to teach, 1 Timothy 3:2, and not resentful, that is patient, Ephesians 4:2 / Colossians 3:13, in other words, he should be a man of peace.

The ‘opponents’ are those who like to argue all the time over matters of opinion but Timothy isn’t to get angry with them but deal with them ‘gently’.

If Timothy does this, he may be able to point out the error of their thinking and after being gently taught the truth, Hebrews 4:12, they might repent and embrace the truth, Acts 11:18 / Hebrews 12:13 / 1 John 1:7-9.

It’s often the case, especially with legalists that they truly believe that what their teaching is God’s will, however, Paul here tells us that those who love nothing but to quarrel over opinions are actually being used by the devil to do his will.

They have fallen into a common trap of the devil, Luke 15:17 / 1 Timothy 3:7 / Hebrews 3:13. The good news is that God is ready to set them free from their captivity.

Go To 2 Timothy 3


"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."