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2 Timothy 2:14-26 Notes


C. Keeping attention on the most important things.

1. (2 Tim. 2:14) Keep focused; don't be distracted by unprofitable things.
14 Remind 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.

a. Remind them of these things: After reminding Timothy of the essential points of the gospel, Paul added that Timothy must always remind his hearers of these things. Timothy's job as a pastor was to keep his congregation always focused on the gospel.

            i. The church is constantly tempted to get its focus off of the message that really matters, and is tempted to become an entertainment center, a social service agency, a mutual admiration society, or any number of other things. But this temptation must be resisted, and the church should constantly remember these things, such as:

    ▪ The things of 2 Tim. 2:8: Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel,   

    ▪ The things of 2 Tim. 2:11-13: 11 It is a trustworthy statement:  For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; 12 If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; 13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

b. Not to wrangle about words, which is useless: At the same time, there were things that Timothy must not focus on. The church must stand for the truth, but it must not become a debating society.

            i. We can get distracted by endless discussion or contention over things that don't have central importance. "Words, not things, have been a most fruitful source of argument in the Christian world; and among religious people, the principle cause of animosity has arisen from the different manner of apprehending the same term, while, in essence, both meant the same thing." (Clarke)

            ii. "Let us notice first that teaching is rightly condemned on the sole ground that it does no good. God's purpose is not to pander to our inquisitiveness but to give us profitable instruction. Away with all speculations that produce no edification!" (Calvin)

c. leads to the ruin of the hearers: This shows that it is a serious matter and there is much to lose. If we take the focus off the message of God and put the focus on human opinions and endless debates, it will result in the ruin of the hearers.

            i. The Bible says, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17 ). Yet if people do not hear the word of God, then ruin comes by hearing the opinions and speculations and entertainment of man.

2. (2 Tim. 2:15) Keep focused; pay attention to your own life and ministry.
15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

a. Be diligent: Paul often had to exhort Timothy to courage and action. Earlier in the chapter (2 Timothy 2:3-5), Paul encouraged him to hard work and endurance for the service of the Lord.

b. To present yourself approved to God: Timothy's goal was not to present himself approved to people, but to God. He wasn't to regard the job of being a pastor as a popularity contest but instead as a call to faithfulness to God-to be approved by God. 

c. A worker who does not need to be ashamed: It is embarrassing to do a job poorly and then to have your work examined. The Bible warns us that the work of each Christian will be examined at the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10 ). Therefore, we have another motivation to work diligently for the Lord, so we will not be ashamed when our work is examined.  "It is better explained as a workman who has no cause for shame when his work is being inspected." (White)

d. accurately handling the word of truth: This was to be a focus of Timothy's hard work. He was to work hard so he could rightly divide the word of God.

            i. Timothy, as a faithful pastor, was to be accurately handling God's Word. That is, he had to know what it said and didn't say, and how it was to be understood and how it was not to be understood. It wasn't enough for Timothy to know some Bible stories and verses and sprinkle them through his sermons as illustrations. His teaching was to be a "right dividing" of the Word of God, correctly teaching his congregation.

            ii. "Swords are meant to cut and hack, and wound, and kill with, and the word of truth is for pricking men in the heart and killing their sins. The word of God is not committed to God's ministers to amuse men with its glitter, nor to charm them with the jewels in its hilt, but to conquer their souls for Jesus." (Spurgeon)

            iii. Accurately handling has several ideas associated with the ancient term.

                ▪ Accurately handling the Word of God, as one would rightly handle a sword.

                ▪ Plow straight with the Word of God, properly presenting the essential doctrines.

                ▪ Properly dissect and arrange the Word of God, as a priest would arrange and animal for sacrifice.

                ▪ Allot to each their portion, as someone distributing food at a table.

f. Accurately handling: This also means there is such a thing as wrongly handling; not everyone gets it right. We must understand that Biblical truth is not just an issue left up to everyone's interpretation. There is a right way and a wrong way to understand the Bible, and a pastor especially must work hard to master the right interpretation.

            i. For example, many people love to say when the Bible is quoted, "Well, that's just your interpretation." Their idea is, "You interpret the Bible your way, I interpret it my way, and another person interprets it their way. We can never really know what it means, so don't judge me with your Bible verse."

            ii. When someone tells me, "That's just your interpretation," I think in response: "It's true that it is my interpretation, but it isn't just my interpretation, it is the correct interpretation, and we need to pay attention to what the Bible says correctly interpreted."

            iii. This is an important point: The Bible does not mean just what anyone wants it to mean. There may be many people trying to twist the Scriptures to their own ends, but they are wrongly handling the word of truth. We can't just pick the interpretation that seems most comfortable to us and claim it as true - it must be accurately handling the word of truth, and it must be consistent with what the Bible says in the specific passage and with the entire message of the Scriptures.

            iv. For example, a correct interpretation of Matthew 7:1 (Judge not, that you be not judged) is not the idea of "You have no right to judge my behavior or anyone else's behavior." If this were the case, then Jesus repeatedly broke His own commandment because He often told people their behavior was wrong in the sight of God. The correct understanding of Matthew 7:1 is easily seen by reading Matthew 7:2: For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you. Jesus was saying "Don't judge anyone by a standard you are not willing to be judged by. God will hold you to the same standard you hold others to." This clearly does not forbid judging someone else's life, but it does prohibit doing it unfairly or hypocritically, or living with a judgmental attitude.

            v. The point is clear: There is a right way and a wrong way to divide the Matthew 7:1 , which is one verse in the word of truth. Every Christian, but pastors especially, must work hard to be rightly dividing the word of truth. Though perfection in understanding God's word is impossible, and should never be assumed, we should still work hard at it.

3. (2 Tim. 2:16-18) The price of not keeping focus: The faith of some is overthrown.
16 But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some.

a. But avoid worldly and empty chatter:  This refers to anything that takes the focus off of the gospel and God's Word.  Such chattering is worldly because it's an unholy in contrast to the holiness of God's Word. They are empty, because even though people like to hear them, they don't have lasting value.

            i. Man's opinions, man's teachings, man's opinion polls, man's stories, man's programs, are all empty chatter compared to the simple Word of God. When these things become the focus of the message from the pulpit, it will increase to more ungodliness.

b. Their message will spread like gangrene: The message of worldly and empty chatter may spread quickly and be popular. They are like a disease that spreads fast and captures an audience.

            i. Who in 2 Timothy 2:18 "Implies that Hymenaeus and Philetus were only the more conspicuous members of a class of false teachers." (White)

c. Hymenaeus and Philetus: Hymenaeus is mentioned in 1 Timothy 1:20  as a man whom Paul delivered to Satan that [he] may learn not to blaspheme. This is the only place where we hear of Philetus, and here Paul tells us of their error.

            i. They were men who have gone astray from the truth - that is, they had a message full of worldly and empty chatter, and apparently the message was somewhat popular, because it spread quickly.

            ii. They had strayed concerning the truth: Apparently, they started out correctly, and then strayed from that correct position.

            iii. They were saying that the resurrection is already past: It seems they were teaching that we were already in God's millennial kingdom, or that there was no resurrection to come - it had already occurred.

            iv. They did overthrow the faith of some: Though the only false doctrine Paul mentioned regarding these two is that they taught that the resurrection is already past, the effect was to overthrow the faith of some. Undoubtedly, this was not their only error; and a fundamental error in such an area often leads to many more strange beliefs, until one has abandoned Jesus and His truth all together.

            v. Many today accept and honor teachers who are way off in one area or another; and they justify it by saying, "I eat the meat and spit out the bones." This kind of thinking will certainly overthrow the faith of some because some will certainly choke to spiritual death on the bones you say you spit out.

            vi. Notice Paul said, they overthrow the faith of some. We shouldn't require that everyone be led astray by a teacher before we avoid them; even if some are having their faith overthrown, it is bad enough.

4. (2 Tim. 2:19) The reward of focus: The solid foundation of God.
19 Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness."

a. Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands: In the preceding passage, Paul sounded as if he were under severe attack and might not stand against the rising tide of deception and wickedness. But here, he makes it clear, both to himself and to us that the kingdom of God cannot be shaken.

            i. Though men like Hymenaeus and Philetus made dangerous attacks against the church and their message spread like cancer, and even though the faith of some might be overthrown, nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands.

            ii. God has a plan, God has a purpose, God has a strategy, and it is not going to fail. It doesn't matter how many fall away, how many reject the truth, how many go their own way after profane and vain babblings - Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands.

b. Having this seal: There are two seals on the solid foundation of God. "The one seal bears two inscriptions, two mutually complementary parts or aspects." (White)

            i. It seems that Paul drew these allusions from Numbers 16, in reference to the rebellion of Korah.

                ▪ The Lord knows those who are His: "The words are taken from Num. 16:5, 'In the morning the Lord will show who are His.'" (White)

                ▪ Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity: "The language is perhaps another echo of the story of Korah (Numbers 16:26-27). But Isaiah 52:11 is nearer in sentiment." (White)

c. The Lord knows those who are His: This is the first inscription on the seal. If Hymenaeus and Philetus continue their destructive ministry, the Lord knows those who are His. If profane and vain babblings sweep through the church like cancer, the Lord knows those who are His. If the faith of some is overthrown, the Lord knows those who are His.

            i. We don't always know those who are His. We can know for ourselves, for as Romans 8:16  says, The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. But with others, we cannot always know those who are His.

            ii. God does not sit in heaven, wondering and worrying if you are saved or not. He does not hope or wonder if you will make it to the end. He knows. The Lord knows those who are His.

d. Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness: This is the second inscription on the foundation of God. It is true that God knows those who are His; and He calls those who are His to leave their sin behind.

            i. Some might say, "I belong to the Lord, I know I'm His. I am going to heaven. It doesn't matter so much how I live." Yet, such a son has forgotten that there are two inscriptions on the foundation of God. There are two - and those who are His will have the desires and the actions to abstain from wickedness.

            ii. If someone does not have the desire or the actions to abstain from wickedness, it is fair to ask if they really belong to Jesus or if they have just deceived themselves.

e. The firm foundation of God stands: It isn't going to change; therefore, we can keep our focus on it. It is hard to focus on something that often changes, so God gave us a solid foundation in His Word to keep our focus on.

            i. "The first seal marked it for the Lord, the second secured its removal from the common stones around it. First comes election, and sanctification follows. I want every professing Christian to have that double mark, and so to be Christ's man, known of all to be such by coming out from the unclean, and being separated unto the Lord." (Spurgeon)

D. Living your life and being used by God.
1. (2 Tim. 2:20-21) Vessels of honor and dishonor.
20 Now 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. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.

a. Now in a large house: Paul just used the picture of God's building (the solid foundation of God stands). Now he thinks of that building as a large house that has a variety of vessels in it - bowls, plates, vases, and other such things.  Thus, the church of God is indeed a large house, in that:

    ▪ It is a large house because of who it belongs to. The house of our great God is certainly a great house. 

    ▪ It is a large house because it is planned and designed on a great scale. It has the most brilliant Architect and houses a great multitude of the greatest people to ever walk the earth.

    ▪  It is a large house because of the great cost it took to build it. This is a mansion far more valuable than any real estate on earth, built by the great work of Jesus on the cross.

    ▪  It is a large house because of its importance. This house and what happens in it is at the center of God's plan of the ages. The business of this house is more important than any of the trivia most of the world is interested it.

b. Vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay: Some of these vessels are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. Some are used on occasions of great honor (the gold and silver vessels), and some are used for dishonor - such as a garbage bin or an ashtray.

c. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from the latter: The latter things are the things of dishonor mentioned in 2 Timothy 2:20. If we cleanse ourselves from dishonorable things, God will regard us as vessels of honor, sanctified and useful for the Master.

d. If anyone cleanses himself: Paul spoke about a cleansing that isn't just something God does for us as we sit passively. This is a self-cleansing for service that goes beyond a general cleansing for sin.

            i. There is a main aspect of cleansing which comes to us as we trust in Jesus and His work on our behalf. This work of cleansing is really God's work in us and not our work. This is the sense of 1 John 1:9 : If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

            ii. But there is another aspect of cleansing which God looks for us to do with the participation of our own will and effort. Not that it is our work apart from God, but it is a work that awaits our will and effort: If anyone cleanses himself. This aspect of cleansing is mostly connected with usefulness for service, and closeness to God.

            iii. "Oh, happy be you that you be now in this scouring-house; for shortly you shall be set upon the celestial shelf as bright as angels." (Trapp)

e. Sanctified and useful: Sanctified means set apart, just as much as there are certain bowls and plates that we use more than others, or are set aside to some honorable purpose, so some people are more sanctified and useful to God than others. They are more prepared for every good work than others.

            i. We must never think that some Christians are better than others, or that some have passed into a place where they are super-spiritual. However, we must also realize that some Christians are more able to be used by God than others, because they have cleansed themselves, and made themselves more usable to God.

f. Prepared for every good work: We must not think of being usable primarily in the sense of serving in the church. God wants to use His people for every good work, including those at the workplace, the school, in the home, in the community. This happens as one will cleanse himself and set yourself aside to God as a vessel for honor.

            i. There is a large sense in which it is left to us how we want to be used by God. We have the potential to be used as a vessel of honor or as a vessel of dishonor. According to this picture, we could be a gold platter in the house of God, beautifully displaying the fruit of the Spirit. Or we could be an ashtray or a garbage can in God's house.

            ii. Your conduct - clean or unclean; set apart to God or not set apart to God; useful to Jesus or not useful to Jesus - really matters. It greatly effects how God can use you and will use you to touch the lives of others.

2. (2 Tim. 2:22-23) How to cleanse yourself.
22 Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.

a. Now flee from youthful lusts: This is the first aspect of cleansing that Paul mentioned to Timothy.  Youthful lusts describe the sort of desires and temptations that are especially prominent when someone is an adolescent or young adult. Sexual temptation, illicit pleasure of the flesh, and a longing for fame and glory often mark one's youth.

            i. The command is simple: youthful lusts. Don't entertain them. Don't challenge them. Don't try and endure them. The idea of "I will just test myself on this one to see if I can stand against it" has made many fall into sin.

            ii. If you cannot flee from youthful lusts, there is a real limit to how much God can use you, a limit to how useful to the Master you will be. You can't really say "yes" to God until you can say "no" to some other things.

            iii. "He has just been cautioned against the errors of the intellect; he must be warned also against vices of the blood." (White)

b. But pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace: Cleansing can never be a matter of just avoiding bad things. It must also be the pursuit of good things. Therefore, there are both things that we must flee from and things we must pursue.

c. Pursue... peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart: To be cleansed, we must do everything we can to be right in our personal relationships with others. Cleansing needs to extend to how we treat others.

            i. Sometimes relationships are not right with others, but we have done all we can do to set it right. We must take great care that we do all we can do. As Paul wrote in Romans 12:18 : If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

            ii. Bad relationships really hinder our service to the Lord. We must do what we can to set things right if we want to be used of God as much as we can be.

d. But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes: Walking clean also means staying clear of endless disputes and arguments. These distracting interests can limit how much God can use us.

3. (2 Tim. 2:24-26) The kind of attitude God can use: The gentle servant.
24 The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

a. The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all: The great men of our world are not usually thought of as servants nor as gentle. Yet in the kingdom of God, greatness is marked by being a servant of the Lord and by being kind to all.

i. "Paul's meaning is that gentleness should be shown even to those who least deserve it, and even if at first there is no apparent hope of progress, still the challenge must be accepted." (Calvin)

b. A servant of the Lord must: When Paul wrote to Timothy about a servant of the Lord, he told him about some of the basic characteristics of a godly pastor.

            i. Timothy must not quarrel but be kind [gentle] to all. It was not his job as a pastor to pick fights and to look for conflict. Some men only feel energized and motivated if they have an argument; Timothy (and every pastor) should be of a different sort.

            ii. Timothy must be able to teach. With the great emphasis Paul placed on God's Word, a pastor who is not able to teach is like a surgeon who can't use a scalpel.

            iii. Timothy must be patient. God's work often takes time. Sometimes we can see why it's so but sometimes we can't - but God is not in a hurry, and wants us to learn how to patiently trust Him.

            iv. Timothy must be in humility correcting those who are in opposition: The gentleness and patience Timothy must have does not mean he is to never confront those who need to be confronted; but he must do it in humility.

c. With gentleness correcting those who are in opposition: Paul specifically told Timothy how to correct those in opposition to him.

            i. If God perhaps will grant them repentance: They need to repent, and this repentance will never happen apart from a work of God in their heart.

            ii. If God perhaps will grant them repentance: The idea is not, "Maybe God will or maybe God won't grant them repentance." The idea is more, "It's remarkable thing to see this work of God, and I won't presume upon it happening."

            iii. So that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses: Anyone who fights against God is deceived and must come to their senses; repentance flows as someone comes to the truth in this way.

            iv. and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will:  Those who are in opposition to God's work, whether they know it or not, are bound in a demonic deception, and are doing the devil's work. They need to escape the snare of the devil, and God is ready to set them free.

d. Held captive by him to do his will: Paul spoke of those who serve the devil and those who serve God. There is a choice for every person, every Christian, who they will decide to serve.

            i. To be a servant of the Lord - a vessel of honor for Him - we must be empty, clean, and available. If we refuse to empty ourselves, clean ourselves, and make ourselves available to the Lord, we will find ourselves captive to the devil in one sense or another.


CONTEXT:  We're continuing Chapter 2 at v. 14.  Paul, we know, is imprisoned in Rome, having been judged guilty on the charge of spreading an illegal religion that's considered a threat to the stability of the Roman Empire.  The penalty is death, and he's now waiting for the authorities to carry out sentence.  As he waits, he writes to his protégé, Timothy, who was pastor of the Church in Ephesus.  Paul dearly wants to see his friend before the end so this letter was sent to ask him to come, and quickly but knows that he may be executed at any time and Timothy might not make it there before he's gone.  Timothy has troubles at Ephesus:  The church has been rocked again and again with false teachers who have led split after split.  Also, persecution from the outside has turned up - so Timothy and the faithful are getting hammered from both sides.  Paul writes to encourage Timothy, whom he knows tends to be timid and lacking in perseverance.  The objective of the letter is to strengthen him by laying a sober charge on Him to be a man and endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.  In the first half of this chapter, which we looked at last week, we see Paul placing a serious challenge before Timothy to not grow weak or shrink back but to be strong in the grace God has given him to be the pastor of Ephesus.

v. 14a:  Remind them of these things,

• What "things?"  Paul is referring to the "things of vvs. 11-13, above:  11 It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; 12 If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; 13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.  As we learned last week, this speaks of our union with Christ through faith:  (1) If we believe in Him, then our old nature died with Him on the cross and now we live a new life, empowered by His resurrection; (2) If our faith endures the trials of this life, then we will receive the reward; (3) But if our faith fails and we finally turn away from the Lord, then in the end, He will turn away from us.  Yet, even when we stumble and fall along the way, when our faith is less than perfect, God remains faithful and extends to us His promise of forgiveness and restoration if only we will repent and turn to Him once again.

• Paul says remind "Remind them" of these things, who are:

      ▪ Those who are being persecuted-not to give up but to endure.

      ▪ Those who are being deceived by the lies and distortions of the false teachers-to not turn from the truth that is in Christ.

      ▪ Those who have stumbled and fallen along the way-to turn back to the Lord in sincere repentance and confession, because God is faithful and will restore them.

v. 14b:  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.

solemnly charge them in the presence of God: Timothy was also to continue confronting false teachers

with their error and warning them to stop their gross distortions of the truth.  These false teachers were masters at taking words, gutting them of their true meaning and inserting new meaning into them.  Then, pretending to be scholars, they were peddling their error to gullible people who didn't know any better. 

      ▪ Cults do this - they wrangle About words that are precious to the believer, gut them of their meaning, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers.  The Jesus of Mormonism is not God incarnate - he is a spirit child of Elohim, who was once a Mormon man on a planet named Kolob who was elevated to the place of deity because he was a really good Mormon on his home world.  What rubbish!  So - if you talk with a Mormon and say you believe in Jesus, he or she will say they do too, but it's a completely different Jesus.

      ▪  The Jesus of the Watchtower, the Jehovah's Witnesses is not the Eternal Son of God; their Jesus is an incarnation of the archangel Michael.  The cults redefine other words like, salvation, grace, works, faith, the Holy Spirit, and a host of others.  Just as Paul has been "charging" Timothy with instructions, now he tells Timothy to charge others that they stay true to the faith and not get caught up in these word games.

v. 15:  Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

• The word "diligent" as used here means to apply every effort.  If you have a KJV, it's translated as study, because  the old usage of the word study meant to be diligent or zealous.  If we say someone is studious, we mean that they are applying themselves in a concentrated way.

    ▪ Earlier, in the chapter, Paul likened Timothy to a soldier in battle, an athlete in the heat of competition and a hard-working farmer - so here, he likens him to a laborer whose foreman will soon be by to inspect his work.

    ▪ The phrase "accurately handling" is actually a work-word.  In the Greek, it literally means to "cut-straight" and was used in the context of a farmer who could plow in straight neat rows, or a carpenter who was able to make a straight cut, or a seamstress who could sew a straight line.  Thus, Paul is saying that Timothy is a spiritual laborer whose work is to cut-straight in the Word of God.  Timothy, for his part, was to apply himself to this - bend his every every effort to the study of the scriptures, making sure he understood what was there, and then faithfully sharing that with the people.

vv. 16-18:  16 But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some.

• While Timothy is busy studying and teaching God's Word, he must avoid the trap of getting caught up in controversies and movements that are nothing more than " empty chatter." The word "worldly" means "outside the temple" and refers to that which is void of God.  Some religious talk is actually godless in that It is a blanket denial of God's word. 

    ▪ The teaching of the false teachers was like that - it sounded spiritual, but was wide of truth, and so void of God.  Paul tells Timothy to stay away from these discussions completely. Eventually, they will be like "gangrene," the word used here can also be translated as cancer.  In the same way that gangrene spreads, infects, and kills other tissue, so false doctrine spreads and infects the church, and this infection must be exposed and removed.  Only the sound doctrine of the Word of God can keep a church healthy and growing. 

    ▪ Paul named two false teachers who were examples of this kind of godless chatter that spread spiritual infection.  Hymenaeus is mentioned in 1 Timothy 1:20 though this is the first time we meet Philetus.  Both of them "wandered from the truth" by teaching that the resurrection had already taken place.  We're not sure in what way they were teaching this but they were guilty of doing what Paul has already condemned in this chapter - of redefining words and leading people from the foundations of the Faith into error.  In 1 Cor. 15, Paul makes it very clear that the bodily resurrection of Christ and the future bodily resurrection of the Church is a foundational doctrine of the Faith.  To deny it is to pass outside the bounds of orthodoxy - you can't be a Christian and deny the resurrection.  Hymenaeus and Philetus had done that.  Paul's purpose in this letter is to both encourage and challenge Timothy.

vv. 19-21:  19 Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness."  20 Now 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. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.

• The challenge has come in the first 18 verses of this chapter - now comes encouragement!  When Paul says "Nevertheless," he means that, despite bad teachers like Hymenaeus and Philetus and the damage they have done to the Church, "the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal." When Paul says the solid foundation of God stands with the seal of these two truths, he means that the Church is based on two unalterable and corresponding facts:  The "large house" which is the church, is built on two solid rock truths:  1) "The Lord knows those who are His"  (Num. 16:5); and 2) "Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity  (Num. 16:26).  The use of seals was a common practice in the ancient world. When closing a document or letter, wax was dripped on the seam to close it, and then an identifying ring or stamp was pressed into the wax before it set up to show the owner or author, and crates and cargo were sealed in the same way - the seal signifying ownership.

• When Paul says the firm solid foundation of God stands with the seal of these two truths, he means that the Church is based on two unalterable and corresponding facts. False teachers may attack the church and at times do it great damage and the church itself may go through periods of trial and darkness.  Persecution will hammer away at the church throughout the ages.  But the church is built on the Faithfulness of God who knows those who genuinely belong to Him, and He will never fail His people.  And His people - will prove themselves to be so, because no matter what error sweeps through, or who falls away, or what trouble comes, they will remain true to the Lord.

• Paul then moves from the foundation of the house to it's furnishings, vessels which are used around the house for various purposes.  He divides these purposes into two broad categories - 1) honorable vessels used for storing precious and valuable things; and 2) dishonorable vessels used for things like wash water or as a bedpan.  The honorable vessels are made of precious metal while the dishonorable vessels are made of common materials.  While the true church, the invisible church, is built on the foundation of God's grace and man's response - the visible church is populated by people who are both genuine and fake.  The genuine are vessels of honor which hold the precious gift of the presence of the Holy Spirit.  The fake are vessels of dishonor which are void of truth and are filled only with that which is worthless.  But Paul says the vessels of dishonor can at any time empty themselves of the worthless things they've been holding and instead be filled with the precious treasure of God.  Once they do, they will find they've gone from being common to precious and useful as a vessel to honor God.  Those false teachers that so troubled Timothy - though they were vessels of dishonor full of spiritual and moral sewage, if all they did was repent, they could become productive members of God's Church.

v. 22:  Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.   

• Just as Timothy must be diligent to stay far from the error of the false teachers, he must also stay far From he error of his own flesh.  The word lust means "strong desire."  So, what are the strong desires of youth? The word "lust" has driven many to conclude Paul is warning Timothy against sexual sin because that is how we usually use the word today.  But the Greek word does not carry this connotation - it simply means any strong desire or passion.  If it is for something right and good, then it can be a holy desire, but if it's object is evil, then it is sin.  Because Paul never speaks to Timothy about his struggle with sensuality, it's likely he doesn't mean sexual sin here.  Instead, he's referring to the passions of a youthful mind and ego; things that Timothy, as a pastor, would be faced with regularly.  Things like impatience.  The young and immature have an idealistic belief that all someone needs to do is be shown the facts, and they'll make a dramatic and instantaneous reversal.  While it is certain God's will that we repent and change, He gives us grace and patience to change over time.  The renewing of the mind is a process that takes years.  If God gives us grace and is patient - we need to be gracious and patient with one another.  Especially pastors need this with their people - they must be patient.  It may be that you see a situation going on with someone else and it seems obvious to you what they need to do - but it takes a while. It's so easy to see other's faults while we remain blind to our own. Pray for that person, as as they evidence an awareness that they need to grow and change, bear with them as you see a genuinely repentant and broken heart before the Lord. Be patient - God is!  Now, just as the pastor needs to be patient with the flock and let the Lord work in His time and way - so the flock needs to remember that before he is their pastor, he too is a man who is growing.  There are going to be times when I am going to fail - maybe fail you.

PATIENCE - Longsuffering - being gracious with one another, not expecting instant perfection while we all move toward it; this is what will maintain the integrity of the Body of Christ and protect our unity. Another youthful tendency is to be harsh.  This is the lack of tact that comes from immaturity and expresses itself in sharp and caustic words that are meant to shut down the other person instead of building understanding.  Rolling the eyes - throwing up the arms - setting the jaw - the tone of voice, all these come in to play with the immature who just want to be right and don't care how they get there.  Paul tells Timothy to stay far away from these things.  He must be careful to resist his own youthful tendencies and instead, walk in the Spirit.  As is typical for Paul, he doesn't just give a negative - he follows it up with a positive.  The best way to stay clear of youthful passions is to be busy with the pursuit of the good, like righteousness, faith, love, and peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.  If when dealing with people his mind is set not on defending himself or just "fixing people" but on seeking righteousness and faith and love and peace, then it will all turn out alright.  Note the contrast in v. 22 . . .

• Timothy  is to stay clear of youthful lusts but be near "those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart."  It would be easy for Timothy, faced as he was with so many trials and troubles to isolate himself and withdraw from fellowship.  Paul knew how important fellowship is to the health of the spirit, so he exhorted Timothy to center himself among those vessels of honor there in the Ephesian church.

v. 23:  But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.

• Once again, Paul tells Timothy to not get caught up in the endless word-games and pointless debates the false teachers loved to engage in.  In these contests, it's rarely truth that prevails because truth isn't valued. The one who wins is the one who talks the longest or the most eloquently.  They are not forums for discovering what is real, but what is strong, what is popular, what is fashionable and chic.  It's best to just stay out of these discussions.  There are dozens of religious discussions on the Internet that debate al kinds of issues.  Truth is not at all the issue of concern for many of them--just and endless chronicle of name calling and insults.  Quarrels--who needs it?!  Paul didn't, Timothy didn't, you and I don't!

vv. 24-26:  24 The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

• By "Lord's bond-servant" in v. 24, Paul means specifically, Timothy in his role as pastor.  The pastor must not quarrel, but instead be gentle with all.  A true servant doesn't care about winning arguments and proving his point just so he can be right, a servant is more concerned for souls.  So, he carefully and patiently brings instruction whenever and wherever it is needed.

With gentleness correcting those who are in opposition:  When someone is just set in opposition to him or the church, then he goes and humbly corrects the erring person.  Whether or not they receive the correction is between them and the Lord, but at least the pastor must correct them - again, humbly, seeking to see the Lord's glory promoted, not his own reputation defended.

• The goal of the humble correction of those who are in error is that they may come to their senses, repent, and be delivered from the deceit that has blinded them to the truth.  Because they have set themselves in opposition to the truth , they have brought disunity and division into the church and Paul calls this nothing less than being a tool of the devil.

Escape from the snare of the devil, One of the devil's chief tactics is to divide the church and to bring disharmony among it's members.  A united church, loving one another with the love of Christ is a formidable foe.  Satan knows this, so he runs through our ranks and seeks to set us at odds with one another. 

    ▪ Remember the story of Gideon and his band?  Gideon had 300, while the Midianites numbered into the thousands!  At night, while the Midianites were sleepy and not watching, Gideon's band surrounded their camp with lit torches covered by clay vessels in one hand and horns n the other.  At the signal, Gideon's men broke their pitchers, revealing their light and then blew their horns like crazy.  The Midianites woke up in complete disarray, grabbed their swords and started hacking at anything that moved and ended up killing themselves in a great slaughter!  The devil uses the same tactic time and time again in the church. We aren't watching for his stealthy positioning around us, and when he has everything neatly set up by causing little hurts and misunderstanding, miscommunications, stupid, selfish acts, and all the rest, he shouts and blows the horn and says, "Start hacking!" and guess what, we foolishly jump to do his bidding.

    ▪ Here Paul says that the pastor must be one who works for unity.  If he's quarrelsome, then he is being used as one more tool of the enemy to bring division.  On the contrary, the pastor ought to be a peacemaker -  one who aims at reconciliation.  He confronts error when he finds it, and then patiently works at bringing healing and unity.