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2 Timothy

Be A Diligent Workman

2 Timothy 2:14-19
14 Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. 17 And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, 18 who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some. 19 Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
NKJV

Theme: Christians should be diligent in standing for true doctrine.

Verse:

2 Timothy 2:15
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Teaching Comments:

Do you give your best effort for the ministry? Or are you slack – about devotions, about ministry efforts, about speaking up for Jesus?

Paul encourages Timothy to be diligent in protecting God’s Word.  We finished the last section with a “faithful saying” about the need to be obedient and faithful to Jesus.  Even though we are in a new lesson, we are really continuing this idea of being obedient.

2 Timothy 2:11-13 (NKJV)
11 This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. 12 If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. 13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.

Paul continues this thought by admonishing Timothy to “Remind them of these things.” In other words, Timothy is to keep the Gospel in mind, to remember the purpose of his mission . Paul’s charge to Timothy will come in verse 15, but before the charge, Paul continues by telling Timothy he is to continually be “charging them before the Lord.” It is possible that “them” refers to the faithful men of 2:2 to whom Timothy is to convey the Gospel.  Or, “them” may refer to any audience Timothy addresses.

This peculiar sounding language of “charging” means to attest, testify to, solemnly affirm or to give solemn testimony to someone. Other translations use words such as “command” (NLT), “solemnly charge” (NASB), and “warn” (NIV). In other words, Paul is telling Timothy to confirm the Gospel by Timothy’s own testimony so as not to “strive about words to no profit.”  Timothy is to give public evidence of his faith. Since this is a public statement or testimony it will be “before the Lord” who listens from heaven. Jesus will be able to testify to God the Father about the faith of Timothy.

The negative view of Paul’s statement is that Timothy is not to enter into prolonged, fruitless arguments about the faith because these are of “no profit.” We will look at the positive nature of an extended discussion for the faith next week. 

Paul continues his thoughts by explaining that this testimony about and before Jesus will keep Timothy’s hearers from groping for useless things that have no profit. These “words” of the false teachers are “the ruin of the hearers.” This is a recurring thought in the Pastoral letters.

1 Timothy 5:21 (NKJV)
21 I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality.

1 Timothy 6:4 (NKJV)
4 he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions,

2 Timothy 2:23 (NKJV)
23 But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.

Titus 3:9 (NKJV)
9 But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless.

Paul views endless philosophical discussions as being of no value. These foolish religious discussions are the tools of false teachers and are the method by which they subvert many persons into cults and other religious groups. “Reason” appeals to “reason.” Timothy is to fight these philosophical trends by preaching, teaching, and testifying about Jesus rather than getting into never ending debates.

This is a lesson for all of us and reflects a consistent pattern in Paul’s letters. While in depth debates or discussions with members of cults certainly have their place, for most of us, the point of the exercise is to plant seeds toward salvation. Paul fights false teachers and false religions not by pointing out the weaknesses of the false doctrines but by speaking to the superiority of Jesus. 

To be able to give such a testimony about Christ we must be prepared.  This is our memory verse, 2 Timothy 2:15, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 

The Christian who studies God word is able to testify to the Gospel message.  He will be approved by God because of his discernment of God’s Word.  Such a Christian will be proud of his knowledge of God’s Word and his ability to defend it. Discernment is nothing more than the Christian’s ability of “rightly dividing the word of truth.”  The “word of truth” is the gospel, the testimony of Jesus. This is the foundation of the Christian discipline known as apologetics, the ability to defend the faith.

"Rightly divide" means to cut straight or make a straight path. The good worker will be able to clearly discern good doctrine and teaching from bad doctrine and teaching.

1 Peter 3:15 (KJV)
15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

2 Timothy 2:24-26 (KJV)
24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

Again, we will look at this idea of apologetics in more detail when we get to these verses next week. I cannot repeat enough that the Scriptures’ view of dealing with false religions is not to argue or debate with them but to testify to the superiority of Jesus. This is the loving, positive method of sowing the seeds of Christ and drawing others into salvation.

Paul repeats some of his earlier warnings as a way of getting to a “live” example of his teachings. He first warns Timothy to avoid vain babblings (v16). “Profane” means “common” and is used frequently in Scripture as a description of things “unclean.”  Unclean things are people and items that are not holy. Thus, they are not godly and should be avoided. In fact, says Paul, they will “increase into more ungodliness.”  They not only do not lead people to Jesus, these vain philosophies will lead people away from Jesus!

Paul then provides a real-time example of two who have fallen into this trap. He speaks of “Hymenaeus and Philetus” (v17). Paul says they failed to understand the truth of God by preaching that “the resurrection is past already” Paul calls this an error of the truth (v18). Hymenaeus and Philetus “strayed” from the truth. In the Greek, the verb could be translated as meaning the “missed the target.” 

What is worse, not only did Hymenaeus and Philetus err in their teaching, but their error lead to a failure in “the faith of some.” The word translated as “overthrow” means to destroy or subvert. The NIV translates it as “destroy” while the NLT and the Amplified Bible have “undermine” and the NASB uses “upset.” 

Paul’s clear message to Timothy is that he should not be as Hymenaeus and Philetus. Timothy is to be the approved workmen, the one who can deliver the Gospel with love and meekness. Verse 19 clearly provides a fitting close to this section of admonition. 

Nevertheless, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”  The first phrase comes from Numbers 16:5, while the beginning of the second saying reminds one of Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13, both of which are drawn from Joel 2:32. 

Joel 2:28-32 (NKJV)
28 "And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. 29 And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. 30 "And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. 32 And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the Lord has said, Among the remnant whom the Lord calls.

Paul’s writings draw from his Old Testament training and are consistent within themselves. God’s word does not vary!

Timothy can be an approved workmen because “the solid foundation of God stands.” Paul has already stated that God “remains faithful” and “cannot deny Himself” (v13). Verse 19 is a reinforcement or commentary on the “faithful saying.”  Since God cannot deny Himself and forever remains faithful He stands and provides a solid foundation for our life and testimony. God is the solid foundation. 

Paul continues his thoughts about the solid foundation by pointing to two more faithful sayings, this time calling it a “seal.”  Seals of at the time of Christ were the method of proving the truth of a matter. Wax was poured on documents and rings or stamps were used to place an impression into the hot wax. Such a seal could not be repaired if it were tampered with or broken. You may recall that the religious leaders place such a seal on the tomb of Christ to assure no one would steal the body (Matt 27:62-66).

When Paul speaks of a seal, he is telling Timothy and all of the letters’ readers that God faithfully guarantees the promises of the sayings. The first reminds us of many passages from John’s Gospel.

"The Lord knows those who are His" (v19a)

John 10:14 (NKJV)
14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.

John 10:27 (NKJV)
27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

We have already discussed Timothy having been brought up in the faith.  This upbringing would have been in the teachings of the Old Testament, so this idea of God or Messiah knowing His followers would not be a new idea.

Isaiah 40:11 (NKJV)
11 He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, And carry them in His bosom, And gently lead those who are with young.

Nahum 1:7 (NKJV)
7 The Lord is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him.

The second seal or faithful saying is of a different nature. Remember that part of my preliminary discussion for this letter is that the Bible teaches us two things – How to find God and How to live once we have found Him. The first seal saying goes with the first question, for we cannot be known by God until we have found Him as our Lord and Savior.  The second seal saying goes with the idea of how to live as a believer.

"Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity." (v19b)

This is traditional Paul, and, yet, is the thread of the Gospel message.  It picks up the call of the prophets and carries the Old Testament into the New.

2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV)
14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Matthew 3:1-2 (NKJV)
1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

Matthew 4:17 (NKJV)
17 From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

2 Corinthians 7:10 (NKJV)
10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

Galatians 5:25 (NKJV)
25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

The thread of Scripture is consistent. We are to follow God and not the ways of sin. Salvation is turning to God and away from sin. This is repentance, the turning away from sin and to God. Remember, salvation is turning from sin to God. Sanctification is the process of turning to God. Repentance is the process of turning away from sin, although it also encompasses the idea of turning to God. Repentance is one of those multiple steps involved with being born again and becoming a believer.  And, it is a never-ending process, for we continually need to turn back to God for forgiveness for our daily sins.

Romans 7:8-12 (NKJV)
8 But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. 9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. 12 Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.

1 John 1:8-9 (NKJV)
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

A reading of the entire 7th chapter of Romans will outline the struggle all Christians have following this command. The beauty of Paul’s “seal saying” here at v19 is that the Christian will want to repent and turn back to God. This repentance hopefully will be immediately after the sin, although repentance will take longer fro some situations. David needed a year or more to repent of his sins related to Bathsheba (2 Sam 12). For some sins and some people, the process may take even longer. But the Holy Spirit will continue to work on our hearts and will use our “pure conscience” (1:3) to drive us back into the arms of Jesus.

What a great blessing!

 

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