corner graphic

Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

2 Timothy 2



Other Authors
Verse 1

1. σὺ οὗν. Thou therefore; sc. in reference to the defections of which he had just spoken.

τέκνον μου. see on 1 Timothy 1:2.

ἐνδυναμοῦ, be strengthened (passive, not middle, voice). The present tense marks an abiding and continual strengthening. See note on 1 Timothy 1:12.

ἐν τῇ χάριτι τῇ ἐν Χρ. Ἰησ., the sphere within which alone a man can be truly strong.

Verses 1-10


Verse 2

2. καὶ ἃ ἤκουσας παρʼ ἐμοῦ. Cp. 2 Timothy 1:13 and the note at that place. Observe that personal strength in the grace of Christ precedes in importance as in time the transmission of the Apostolic deposit of faith.

διὰ πολλῶν μαρτύρων, through many witnesses; not only the instruction which St Paul had given orally to Timothy, but the ‘sound doctrine’ which Timothy had received from him indirectly through the report of others, is to be transmitted to succeeding generations. Many commentators, however, both ancient and modern, take διά here as equivalent to coram, ‘in presence of,’ and examples have been found to illustrate this use of διά where we should expect ἐπί. So it is understood by Chrysostom, πολλῶν παρόντων; and thus the ‘many witnesses’ are taken to be the presbyters present at Timothy’s ordination (see 1 Timothy 1:18; 1 Timothy 4:16; 1 Timothy 6:12). But there is no need thus to strain the meaning of διά or to limit the reference to any single moment in Timothy’s life. Through the intervention of many witnesses gives a clear and good sense.

ταῦτα παράθου. The delivery of a definite παραθήκη at Ordination is symbolised in our own Office for the Ordering of Priests by the handing a Bible to the newly ordained.

οἵτινες, quippe qui.

ἱκανοὶ ἔσονται. Yet these ‘faithful men’ who are ‘able’ to teach must needs continually remember ἡ ἱκανότης ἡμῶν ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ (2 Corinthians 3:5).

ἑτέρους διδάξαι, to teach others. The ἐπίσκοπος at this stage of the Church’s life needed to be διδακτικός (1 Timothy 3:2).

Verse 3

3. συνκακοπάθησον. Take your share of hardship. see on 2 Timothy 1:8, and cp. also the critical note above.

ὡς καλὸς στρατιώτης Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ. Cp. 1 Timothy 1:18, and see the note on καλός at 1 Timothy 1:8. A καλὸς στρατιώτης is a soldier ‘sans peur et sans reproche.’

Verse 3-4


Verse 4

4. οὐδεὶς στρατευόμενος, no one serving as a soldier.

ἐμπλέκεται ταῖς τοῦ βίου πραγματίαις, entangles himself with the affairs of life, sc. the affairs of worldly business, as distinct from the higher life (ζωή) of the soul; see note on 1 Timothy 4:8. ἐμπλέκειν only occurs again in the N.T. at 2 Peter 2:20, where it is also used of entanglement in ‘the defilements of the world.’ The connexion of this and what follows with 2 Timothy 2:3 is in the thought that no one, whether soldier, athlete, or husbandman, can achieve success without toil. Therefore take your share of hardness, &c. remembering that singleness of purpose and detachment from extraneous cares are essential conditions of successful service; cp. Romans 8:8; 1 Corinthians 7:32.

ἵνα τῷ στρατολογήσαντι ἀρέσῃ, that he may please him who enrolled him as a soldier. στρατολογεῖν, to levy a troop, is not found again in the Greek Bible, but is used by Josephus and Plutarch. Ignatius (Polyc. 6) takes up the thought and words of this verse in his exhortation ἀρέσκετε ᾦ στρατεύεσθε.

Verse 5

5. ἐὰν δὲ καὶ ἀθλῇ τις κ.τ.λ., if any man, again, strive. in the games, &c. See the note on 1 Timothy 6:12 for the use of this metaphor in St Paul and in Philo. ἀθλεῖν does not occur elsewhere in the Greek Bible, but it is a classical word and is used by Philo in similar contexts.

οὐ στεφανοῦται. The word only occurs again in N.T. at Hebrews 2:7, but it is sufficiently common elsewhere. See 1 Corinthians 9:25; 2 Timothy 4:8, and notes on 1 Timothy 6:12.

ἐὰν μὴ νομίμως ἀθλήσῃ, unless he strive according to the rules. For νομίμως see on 1 Timothy 1:8. Unless the athlete submit to the rules, whether of preparatory discipline or those by which the actual contest is ordered, he cannot expect the crown. So Epictetus (who taught at Nicopolis about 95 A.D.) speaks of the need of bodily discipline, of eating ‘by rule,’ to him who would conquer in the Olympic games, applying the illustration as St Paul does here (Encheiridion xxix. b).

Verse 6

6. τὸν κοπιῶντα γεωργὸν δεῖ κ.τ.λ., the husbandman that laboureth must first, sc. before him who is lazy and careless, partake of the fruits. The emphatic word is κοπιῶντα; as in the preceding verse, the main thought is that labour, discipline, striving are the portion of him who would succeed in any enterprise, be he soldier or athlete or farmer; E cura quies. On κοπιᾷν cp. 1 Timothy 4:10. The fruits to which the apostolic labourer may look forward are not here specially in question; they are only fully to be reaped in the world to come (Matthew 5:12; Matthew 19:21). The verb μεταλαμβάνειν (cp. 1 Timothy 4:3) does not occur elsewhere in St Paul’s letters; but cp. Acts 27:33-34.

Verse 7

7. νόει δ λέγω. Understand what I say, sc. what has just been said about the hardness which the ‘good soldier’ of Christ must face. νοέω seems to mean ‘understand’ or ‘grasp the meaning of’ (as in 1 Timothy 1:7) rather than ‘consider’; though no doubt attention is a necessary condition of understanding.

δώσει γάρ σοι κ.τ.λ., for the Lord, sc. Christ, will give thee understanding in all things. See critical note on δώσει, and cp. for σύνεσις, Ephesians 3:4; Colossians 1:9; σύνεσις is the faculty of ‘right judgement’ and is defined by Aristotle (Eth. Nic. VI. 10) as consisting ἐν τῷ χρῇσθαι τῇ δόξῃ ἐπὶ τὸ κρίνειν περὶ τούτων, περὶ ὧν ἡ φρόνησίς ἐστιν, ἄλλου λέγοντος, καὶ κρίνειν καλῶς.

Verse 8

8. Bengel’s comment on the verse is, as usual, illuminating. Paulus exemplo Christi suum, ut solet, exemplum animat.

μνημόνευε. Keep in remembrance, have ever in your thoughts. We have μνημονεύειν with the acc. again in 1 Thessalonians 2:9.

Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν ἐγηγερμένον ἐκ νεκρῶν. Jesus Christ, as risen from the dead. The memory of the Risen Lord will inspire with courage and faithfulness; note that it is the Vision of the Risen One, not the Vision of the Crucified, which Timothy is bidden to keep before him. The power of the risen life of Christ is ever in St Paul’s mind; cp. Romans 6:9; Romans 7:4.

ἐκ σπέρματος Δαυείς, of the seed of David. Cp. Romans 1:3 where these two leading thoughts, the true Messiahship of Jesus on the one hand, and His Divine Sonship on the other, as guaranteed by His Resurrection, are placed in juxtaposition in like manner. ‘Jesus Christ, risen from the dead’; He is the centre of the New Dispensation. ‘Of the seed of David’; here is the pledge that He has fulfilled the hopes of the Old. Hanc unam genealogiam, says Bengel, a Timotheo vult attendi.

κατὰ τὸ εὐαγγέλιόν μου, according to my gospel, i.e. according to the good tidings which I am commissioned to preach. Cp. for the phrase Romans 2:16; Romans 16:25. To limit it to the written gospel of St Luke (as Jerome suggested) is to introduce an idea quite foreign to the Apostle’s thought.

Verse 9

9. ἐν ᾧ, in which, sc. in the preaching of which good tidings.

κακοπαθῶ μέχρι δεσμῶν ὡς κακοῦργος. I suffer hardship unto bonds, as a malefactor. Timothy must be ready to take his share of hardship; and St Paul here introduces for his encouragement this notice of his own sufferings.

κακοπαθεῖν (see 2 Timothy 2:9 and 2 Timothy 4:5) occurs in the N.T. outside this Epistle only at James 5:13.

μέχρι δεσμῶν. This degradation seems to have been deeply felt by St Paul, as was natural in a man of his ardent and generous nature. See Philippians 1:7 and Colossians 4:18, and also 2 Timothy 1:16 with the note thereon. μέχρι has the force of even unto; the δέσμοι were among the worst indignities to which he, a Roman citizen and an innocent man, was subjected.

ὡς κακοῦργος, as a malefactor, the word used only occurring again in the N.T. at Luke 23:32-33; Luke 23:39. Such an expression suggests that St Paul’s second imprisonment was more rigorous than his first (see Acts 28:30-31). And it has been supposed by some[517] that the phrase ὡς κακοῦργος explicitly describes the charge under which Paul lay in prison, and that it refers to the flagitia for which Christians were condemned under Nero (Tacitus Ann. xv. 44). In 1 Peter 4:15 we have in like manner μὴ γάρ τις ὑμῶν πασχέτω ὡς φονεὺς ἢ κλέπτης ἢ κακοποιός (cp. 1 Peter 2:12). In such phrases indications have been found of the date of writing; for (it is argued) the persecution of Christians with which the writer was acquainted was a persecution instituted not against the mere profession of Christianity, but against the Christians as persons convicted of disgraceful crimes (flagitia). And as Christianity was not proclaimed a religio illicita until the time of Domitian, when the ‘Name’ was absolutely proscribed, a persecution of the Christians, not eo nomine but as flagitiosi, such as is suggested to us in the words ὡς κακοῦργος, must be ascribed to an earlier date and, probably, to the reign of Nero. The argument is, however, a little precarious; we know too little about the details of the early persecutions to be quite sure of our ground, and, further, the charge of flagitia was brought against Christians at all periods, whether early or late.

ἀλλὰ ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ οὐ δέδεται, but the Word of God is not bound, i.e. the Gospel message (see Addit. Note on 1 Timothy 4:5) is still being preached to the nations, despite the imprisonment of the Apostle of the Gentiles. Others were carrying on the work which he began; and he himself, even if not by speech as during his first imprisonment (Philippians 1:13) yet by letter could do much for the furtherance of the Gospel. The paronomasia will be observed, δεσμῶν suggesting δέδεται in the next line.

Verse 10

10. διὰ τοῦτο, wherefore, sc. because the work is going on, although the worker is bound in chains.

πάντα ὑπομένω, I endure all things; in the spirit of that charity of which he had himself said, πάντα ὑπομένει (1 Corinthians 13:7).

διὰ τοὺς ἐκλεκτούς, for the elect’s sake, sc. for the sake of all those whom it is God’s purpose to bring to a knowledge of the Truth; cp. Romans 8:33; Colossians 3:12; Titus 1:1. The uncertainty implied in the words which follow ἵνα καὶ αὐτοὶ σωτηρίας τύχωσιν shews that it is not in reference to an election to final salvation that St Paul uses the word ἐκλεκτοί; in his Epistles and also in 1 and 2 Peter, the words κλητοί and ἐκλεκτοί are continually used of the whole body of believers, ‘chosen’ and ‘Called’ by God to the privileges of the Gospel. See esp. Lightfoot on Colossians 3:12 and Hort on 1 Peter 1:1.

ἵνα καὶ αὐτοὶ σωτηρίας τύχωσιν κ.τ.λ., in order that they too, sc. as well as I, may obtain the salvation &c. The Apostle’s personal confidence is worthy of careful notice; cp. 2 Timothy 4:8.

τῆς ἐν Χρ. Ἰη. μετὰ δόξης αἰωνίου. The consummation of this salvation which is in Christ Jesus is eternal glory. In 2 Corinthians 4:17 he speaks of αἰώνιον βάρος δόξης as the issue of ‘our light affliction which is for the moment.’

Verse 11

11. πιστὸς ὁ λόγος. See notes on 1 Timothy 1:15; 1 Timothy 4:9. Commentators are not agreed as to the reference of this formula here; some, following Chrysostom, hold that it refers to what precedes, viz. the motive to patient endurance set forth in 2 Timothy 2:10. And it is urged that γάρ, which seems to introduce a reason for what has been said, necessitates this explanation and excludes the reference of πιστὸς ὁ λόγος to 2 Timothy 2:12-13. But, on the other hand, there is nothing in the preceding verses of the nature of a formula or aphorism or quotation, and it is to such stereotyped phrases that πιστὸς ὁ λόγος has reference in the other instances of its occurrence. And there can be little doubt that 2 Timothy 2:12-13 are a quotation from a Christian hymn or confession, probably from a hymn on the glories of martyrdom. The antithetical character of the clauses is obvious:—

εἰ συναπεθάνομεν καὶ συνζήσομεν·

εἰ ὑπομένομεν καὶ συνβασιλεύσομεν·

εἰ ἀρνησόμεθα κἀκεῖνος ἀρνήσεται ἡμᾶς·

εἰ ἀπιστοῦμεν ἐκεῖνος πιστὸς μένει·

ἀρνήσασθαι γὰρ ἑαυτὸν οὐ δύναται.

The last line is, possibly, not part of the quotation, but an explanatory comment added by the writer; but, in any case, this fragment of a hymn is exactly the kind of ‘saying’ to which the formula πιστὸς ὁ λόγος would apply. The presence of γάρ in the first clause may be variously accounted for. It may actually be a part of the quotation (as is suggested in the text of the Revised Version); or, again, its force may be merely explanatory, ‘for, as you remember,’ &c.

εἰ συναπεθάνομεν. The words are very close to those of Romans 6:8, εἰ δὲ ἀπεθάνομεν σὺν Χριστῷ, πιστεύομεν ὄτι καὶ συνζήσομεν αὐτῷ; but while in that passage the thought is of baptism as typifying a death to sin, in this fragment of a hymn the reference seems to be to death by martyrdom. The ethical reference of the words here to baptism would, no doubt, give a good sense, but it is not harmonious with the context; the hymn is quoted as an incentive to courage and endurance. The aorist tense, συναπεθάνομεν, should be noted; it points to a single definite act of self-devotion, and in this is contrasted with ὑπομένομεν in the next line, where the present tense marks a continual endurance.

καὶ συνζήσομεν, we shall also live with Him; not to be interpreted in any figurative or allegorical sense, but literally, of the life of the blessed in heaven.

Verses 11-13


Verse 12

12. εἰ ὑπομένομεν. We have again a close parallel in the Ep. to the Romans (Romans 8:17), εἵπερ συνπάσχομεν ἵνα καὶ συνδοξασθῶμεν; cp. Romans 5:17 and Revelation 1:6. The verb συμβασιλεύειν only occurs in the N.T. here and in 1 Corinthians 4:8.

εἰ ἀρνησόμεθα κ.τ.λ., if we shall deny Him, He also will deny us, a reminiscence of our Lord’s words recorded in Matthew 10:33, words which may well have been present to the mind of many a martyr for the Name of Christ. The tense ἀρνησόμεθα has in this third clause been made future, to mark a mere contingency, improbable in itself and to be deprecated.

Verse 13

13. εἰ ἀπιστοῦμεν, ἐκεῖνος πιστὸς μένει. If we are faithless, He abideth faithful. The last clause gives a solemn warning; this gives a message of hope. Not every weakness of faith will call down the awful judgement ἀρνήσεται ἡμᾶς; for man’s faith in God is not the measure of God’s faithfulness to man. He is ‘the faithful God’ (Deuteronomy 7:9). ἀπιστεῖν here, as always in the N.T., definitely means unbelief, a wavering of faith, not an open act of disloyalty, so much as an inward distrust of God’s promises. We have the same thought in Romans 3:3 (in a different context), εἱ ἠπίστησάν τινες, μὴ ἡ ἀπιστία αὐτῶν τὴν πίστιν τοῦ θεοῦ καταργήσει; μὴ γένοιτο.

It thus appears that clauses 1, 2, 4 of this remarkable hymn are little more than reproductions of phrases from St Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, clause 3 being based on words of Christ. It does not seem an improbable conjecture that the hymn was actually composed at Rome in reference to the earlier persecutions of Christians under Nero, and that it thus became known to St Paul during his second imprisonment in the imperial city. If this be so, he is here, as it were, quoting a popular version of words from his own great Epistle, which had become stereotyped by liturgical use.

ἀρνήσασθαι γὰρ ἑαυτὸν αὐ δύναται, for He cannot deny Himself; ἀδύνατον ψεύσασθαι θεόν (Hebrews 6:18). The ‘Omnipotence’ of God does not include such acts of self-contradiction; omnipotence for a perfectly moral and holy Being is conditioned by that morality and holiness.

Verse 14

14. ταῦτα ὑπομίμνησκε, put them in mind of these things; sc. remind those over whom you are placed of the need and the reward of courage and endurance. ὑπομιμνήσκω is only used once elsewhere by St Paul, at Titus 3:1.

διαμαρτυρόμενος ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ. see on 1 Timothy 5:21 and critical note above.

μὴ λογομαχεῖν, not to strive with words, i.e. not to indulge in controversy. See the note on λογομαχίαι at 1 Timothy 6:4; the verb λογομαχεῖν does not occur again in the Greek Bible.

ἐπʼ οὐδὲν χρήσιμον, which is profitable for nothing; the words are in apposition to the preceding λογομαχεῖν. χρήσιμος is a ἄπ. λεγ. the N.T. See critical note. The preposition ἐπί both here and in the next clause marks the result rather than the intention (which would be expressed by εἰς) of the logomachies which are condemned.

ἐπὶ καταστροφῇ τῶν ἀκουόντων, to the subversion of them that hear. καταστροφή does not occur again in the N.T. (in 2 Peter 2:6 it is not the true reading), but it is not uncommon in the LXX.; it is used here as almost equivalent to the καθαίρεσις of 2 Corinthians 13:10, which is the direct opposite of οἰκοδομή.

Verses 14-16


Verse 15

15. σπούδασον σεαυτὸν δόκιμον παραστῆσαι τῷ θεῷ. Give diligence to present thyself approved unto God. For the phrase παριστάνειν τῷ θεῷ cp. 1 Corinthians 8:8; and for a salutary warning as to the true meaning of δόκιμος cp. 2 Corinthians 10:18, οὐ γὰρ ὁ ἑαυτὸν συνιστάνων, ἐκεῖνός ἐστιν δόκιμος, ἀλλὰ ὅν ὁ Κύριος συνίστησιν.

ἐργάτην ἀνεπαίσχυντον, a workman who is not to be put to shame, sc. by the poor quality of his work. ἀνεπαίσχυντος (ἄπ. λεγ. in the Greek Bible) is thus taken passively by Chrysostom, and the resulting sense seems to be more harmonious with the context than the rendering of the English versions, “that needeth not to be ashamed.”

ὀρθοτομοῦντα τὸν λόγον τῆς ἀληθείας, rightly dividing the word of truth. The exact meaning of ὀρθοτομεῖν here (it does not occur elsewhere in the N.T.) is uncertain. The analogy of the only two places where it is found in the LXX. (Proverbs 3:6; Proverbs 11:5) has suggested to some that the metaphor is that of laying down a straight road, the road of Truth, from which heretics diverge on this side and on that. But we cannot read the idea of ὅδος into λόγον where it is not suggested by the context. The image here seems rather to be that of a man cutting the λόγος τῆς ἀληθείας into its right pattern, the standard provided being the Gospel. This is practically involved in the vaguer rendering given by the Revisers handling aright the word of truth (the Vulgate has recte tractantem); but the literal and primary meaning of ὀρθοτομεῖν cannot be to handle aright. The words at once recall 2 Corinthians 2:17, καπηλεύοντες τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ, but the metaphor employed there is quite different from that in the writer’s mind here.

St Paul offers what amounts to a definition of ὁ λόγος τῆς ἀληθείας in Ephesians 1:13, viz. τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς σωτηρίας ὑμῶν; cp. 2 Corinthians 6:7.

Verse 16

16. τὰς δὲ βεβήλους κενοφωνίας περιίστασο, but shun profane babblings, such being the direct opposite of the word of truth, which it is Timothy’s business rightly to divide. Cp. the parallel passage 1 Timothy 6:20 and the note thereon. περιιστάναι is only used by St Paul here and at Titus 3:9 (which see).

ἐπὶ πλεῖον γὰρ προκόψουσιν ἀσεβείας, for they, sc. the false teachers, will proceed further in ungodliness. ἀσεβεία is, of course, the opposite of εὐσεβεία; see on 1 Timothy 2:2. For ἐπὶ πλεῖον cp. 2 Timothy 3:8 and Acts 4:17.

Verse 17

17. καὶ ὁ λόγος αὐτῶν, and their word, sc. not specifically their ‘doctrine’ but their ‘talk’; cp. 2 Corinthians 10:10; 2 Corinthians 11:6.

ὡς γάγγραινα, as a gangrene. The word does not occur elsewhere in the Greek Bible, but is used by medical writers of a sore which eats into the flesh. Cp. the note on the wholesome doctrine, 1 Timothy 1:10.

νομὴν ἓξει, will eat, lit. ‘will have pasture’; cp. John 10:9, the only other place where the word is found in the N.T. νομή is often used by medical writers of the ‘spreading’ of a disease, as here; cp. Polyb. 1. 81. 6.

ὦν ἐστὶν Ὑμέναιος καὶ Φιλητός. Hymenaeus has been mentioned already, 1 Timothy 1:20; but we know nothing further either of him or of Philetus.

Verses 17-22


Verse 18

18. οἵτινες περὶ τὴν ἀλήθειαν ἠστόχησαν, who concerning the truth have missed their aim. See 1 Timothy 1:6; 1 Timothy 6:21 and the notes there.

λέγοντες ἀνάστασιν ἤδη γεγονέναι, saying that the Resurrection is already past. These persons seem to have interpreted the doctrine of man’s Resurrection in an ethical or spiritual sense only. Difficulties about a resurrection of the body were early felt (see 1 Corinthians 15:12 ff.), and such teaching as that of St Paul (Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12) about the analogy between the Lord’s Resurrection and the baptized believer’s ‘newness of life’ may have given occasion to heretical speculators to deny that the future bodily resurrection was an article of Christian faith. A like error is mentioned by Polycarp (§ 7) ὄςλέγει μήτε ἀνάστασιν μήτε κρίσιν; there is a warning against it in [2 Clem.] § 9 μὴ λεγέτω τις ὑμῶν ὅτι αὕτη ἡ σὰρξ οὐ κρίνεται οὐδὲ ἀνίσταται: and in the Acts of Paul and Thecla (§ 14) Demas and Hermogenes are introduced as saying ἡμεῖς σε διδάξομεν, ἥν λέγει οὖτος ἀνάστασιν γενέσθαι, ὅτι ἤδη γέγονεν ἐφ ̓ οἶς ἔχομεν τέκνοις. It is probable, however, that this last passage is directly dependent on the verse before us (the reference to the Resurrection being already past is not found in the Syriac version), and therefore it does not furnish additional evidence for the prevalence of the form of error in question. By the time of Justin (Dial. 80) and of Irenaeus (Haer. II. 31. 2) an allegorising explanation of the Resurrection was a recognised Gnostic tenet; but at this early stage in the Church’s life, if we judge from the language here employed, we are not to think of the error of Hymenaeus and Philetus as the necessary outcome of a definite heretical system so much as a private blunder based on misinterpretations of the Apostolic doctrine. The mischievous results of such ‘vain babblings’ were already becoming apparent (2 Timothy 2:17).

καὶ ἀνατρέπουσιν τήν τινων πίστιν, and subvert the faith of some. ἀνατρέπειν only occurs again in the N.T. at Titus 1:11, in a somewhat similar context, but it is a common LXX. word.

Verse 19

19. ὁ μέντοι στερεὸς θεμέλιος τοῦ θεοῦ ἕστηκεν. Howbeit, despite the subversion of some who are weak in the faith, the firm foundation of God standeth; not, as the A.V. has it, “the foundation of God standeth sure,” for στερεός is not the predicate here. This θεμέλιος τοῦ θεοῦ, ‘foundation laid by God,’ as the following words shew, is the Church, which remains firm (cp. 1 Timothy 3:15) despite the aberrations of individual members; cp. Hebrews 12:28. It is upon this foundation that the οἰκοδομνή or ‘building up’ of the faithful is based; cp. Ephesians 2:20, although the metaphor there is slightly different.

μέντοι is not found again in the Pauline Epistles, but is common in St John. στερεός also is used here only by St Paul (he has στερέωμα in Colossians 2:6), but occurs Hebrews 5:12; Hebrews 5:14; 1 Peter 5:9.

ἔχων τὴν σφραγῖδα ταύην, having this seal. As the foundations of the New Jerusalem are said to have upon them the names of the Apostles (Revelation 21:14; cp. also Revelation 7:3), so this ‘foundation of God’ has a double inscription; cp. Deuteronomy 6:9; Deuteronomy 11:20.

Ἔγνω κύριος τοὺς ὄντας αὐτοῦ. The Lord knoweth them that are His, a quotation from Numbers 16:5, words addressed by Moses in stern reproof to the rebellious Korah and his company, ψευδοδιδάσκαλοι of the Old Covenant. Cp. John 10:14; John 10:27; and, for γινώσκω as used in a sentence of judgement, Matthew 7:23.

καί· Ἀποστήτω ἀπὸ ἀδικίας πᾶς ὁ ὀνομάζων τὸ ὄνομα κυρίου, and, Let everyone that nameth the Name of the Lord depart from unrighteousness. This is not an exact quotation from any part of the O.T.; it resembles, however, several passages, e.g. Isaiah 52:11 and (in continuation of the parallel suggested in the previous quotation) Numbers 16:26; cp. also Isaiah 26:13. See crit. note.

Verse 20

20. ἐν μεγάλῃ δὲ οἰκίᾳ. But, it must be remembered, although the Church is holy, that in a great house &c. The δέ introduces the answer to a possible objection to the suitability of such watchwords for the visible Church. In a great house there are vessels of every kind. The lesson is the same as that in the Parable of the Draw Net (Matthew 13:47 ff.); it is noteworthy that this is the only place where St Paul directly expresses the thought of the Church embracing evil members as well as good.

οὐκ ἔστιν μόνον κ.τ.λ., there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and of earth, and some unto honour and some unto dishonour. We have already the idea of vessels ‘for honour’ and ‘for dishonour,’ i.e. for dignified and for ignoble or petty uses, in Romans 9:21. “To the former class belonged the table, to the latter the footstool, according to Diod. Sic. XVII. 66,” is the interesting observation of Field (Ot. Norvic. III. 130). St Paul’s thought however is not merely of a difference in use between the different vessels, for all service may be ‘honourable’ in itself, but of the sorrowful fact that some are destined εἰς ἀτιμίαν, as unworthy of being εἰς τιμήν; cp. Wisdom of Solomon 15:7.

St Paul has the adjective ὀστράκινος again in 2 Corinthians 4:7; cp. Leviticus 6:28.

Verse 21

21. ἐὰν οὖν τις ἐκκαθάπῃ ἑαυτὸν ἀπὸ τούτων. If a man therefore purge himself from these. Quite generally it may be necessary from time to time to cast out the ‘vessels for dishonour’; here St Paul seems specially to have had in mind Timothy’s situation in respect of the ψευδοδιδάσκαλοι. It will be a stern duty to ‘purge himself’ from them. For ἐκκαθαίρειν cp. 1 Corinthians 5:7.

ἕσται σκεῦος εἰς τιμήν, he shall be a vessel unto honour. (Cp. Acts 9:15, σκεῦος ἐκλογῆς.) Otherwise, we know that “evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Corinthians 15:34).

ἡγιασμένον, sanctified. For this word as applied to believers by St Paul cp. Romans 15:16 and Acts 20:32; Acts 26:18.

εὔχρηστον τῷ δεσπότῃ, meet for the master’s, or owner’s, use. See crit. note. εὔχρηστος is only found again in N.T. 2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 1:11.

For δεσπότης see on 1 Timothy 6:1.

εἰς πᾶν ἔργον ἀγαθὸν ἡτοιμασμένον, prepared unto every good work. Cp. ch. 2 Timothy 3:17; Titus 3:1; and cp. also 2 Corinthians 9:8; Titus 1:16. As it is true that the ἔργα ἀγαθά are prepared of God for us to walk in (Ephesians 2:10), so it is also true, and equally important to remember, that God’s servants must be on their part prepared for these ἔργα ἀγαθά.

Verse 22

22. τὰς δὲ νεωτερικὰς ἐπιθυμίας φεῦγε, but flee youthful lusts. The injunction may seem inapposite, as addressed to one who presided over the important Christian community at Ephesus, but it is quite intelligible when we remember that we have here the words of an old man writing to one of his disciples. To St Paul, Timothy would always be ‘young,’ and exposed to the dangers of youth. The ἐπιθυμίαι which Timothy is to guard against (juvenilia desideria of the Vulgate) would include all the passions and desires of a young and vigorous man. See further on 1 Timothy 4:12. The adjective νεωτερικός does not occur elsewhere in the N.T.

δίωκε δὲ δικαιοσύνην κ.τ.λ. See the note on 1 Timothy 6:11, where a similar injunction was affectionately given. Here, as there, righteousness, faith, love, are recommended to him; and St Paul now adds εἰρήνην μετὰ τῶν ἐπικαλουμένων τὸν κύριον κ.τ.λ. If Timothy is to ‘purge himself’ from the society of the ‘false teachers,’ he is not, on the other hand, to forget the duty of promoting “peace and love among all Christian people, and especially among them … committed to [his] charge[518].” The clause μετὰ τῶν ἐπικαλ. τὸν κύρ. is to be taken in close connexion with εἰρὴνην; cp. Romans 12:18; Hebrews 12:14. τὸν κύριον is here, of course, Christ; cp. Romans 10:12; 1 Corinthians 1:2. See critical note.

ἐκ καθαρᾶς καρδίας. See note on 1 Timothy 1:5.

Verse 23

23. τὰς δὲ μωρὰς καὶ ἀπαιδεύτους ζητήσεις παραιτοῦ, but foolish and ignorant questionings refuse. The irrelevancy of much of the controversy then prevalent among Christians seems to have deeply impressed St Paul; again and again he returns to this charge against the heretical teachers, that their doctrines are unprofitable and vain, and that they breed strife about questions either unimportant or insoluble. See 1 Timothy 1:4; 1 Timothy 1:7; 1 Timothy 4:7; 1 Timothy 6:4; 1 Timothy 6:20; Titus 3:9 &c. The adj. ἀπαίδευτος (undisciplined, or untaught, and so ignorant) does not occur again in the N.T. For παραιτοῦ see on 1 Timothy 4:7.

εἰδὼς ὅτι γεννῶσιν μάχας, knowing that they gender strifes. A seemingly harmless speculation as to obscure problems of theology or sacred history may become directly injurious to true religion, if it issue in verbal controversies. Cp. 2 Timothy 2:14.

Verses 23-26


Verse 24

24. δοῦλον δὲ κυρίου οὐ δεῖ μάχεσθαι. But the Lord’s servant (a title generally applicable to all Christians, as at 1 Corinthians 7:22, but specially appropriate to one who has been entrusted with the oversight of the Lord’s family, as Timothy had been) must not strive, sc. must not give way to the temptations of controversy with other Christians. In a true sense he is a ‘soldier’ (2 Timothy 2:3) and his course is a ‘warfare’ (see on 1 Timothy 1:18); but his foes are spiritual powers of evil and not his brothers in the family of Christ.

ἀλλὰ ἤπιον κ.τ.λ., but, on the contrary, he must be gentle toward all, apt to teach, patient of wrong. ἤπιος, gentle, is not found again in the N.T.[519]; it seems to have special reference to that kindliness of outward demeanour, so important in one who was, as bishop, the persona ecclesiae, the representative of the Church to the world. That a bishop should be διδακτικός has been already laid down, 1 Timothy 3:2, where see the note.

ἀνεξίκακος, a word which does not occur elsewhere in the Greek Bible (cp. ἀνεξικακία, Wisdom of Solomon 2:19) expresses patient forbearance.

Verse 25

25. ἐν πραὑτητι παιδεύοντα τοὺς ἀντιδιατιθεμένους, in meekness correcting those who are adversely affected.

πραΰτης is commended again in the list of Christian graces in Titus 3:2 (see also on Titus 1:7), and several times elsewhere in St Paul’s Epistles (Galatians 5:23; Galatians 6:1; Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:12 &c.). It expresses the Christian’s attitude, not to God (for this does not enter into the idea) but to man, and as a Christian virtue, it is based on the example of Christ, who was Himself, as He said, πραΰς (Matthew 11:29).

It is a question whether ἀντιδιατιθεμένους has a passive or a middle sense. The English versions take it in the latter way as equivalent to ‘those who oppose themselves,’ which yields a quite satisfactory sense; but, as Field has pointed out, in the only other instance of the occurrence of ἀντιδιατίθεσθαι (in Longinus) it is unquestionably passive, which therefore may rule the present passage. Ambrosiaster renders eos qui diversa sentiunt, which agrees with the translation here adopted. The general force of the injunction is not much affected, whichever rendering we adopt; it is comparable to Titus 1:9, τοὺς ἀντιλέγοντας ἐλέγχειν, although the thought here is rather of a gentle and persuasive exhibition of the error of the false teachers, than of their formal refutation.

μήποτε δῴη αὐτοῖς ὁ θεός, if haply God may give to them. We have adopted the reading δῴη, as better attested by manuscripts than δῷ of the rec. text (see crit. note); but the optative here is strange (see Blass, Gram. of N.T. Greek, § 65. 3). If it is correct, it perhaps suggests the idea of the contingency as more remote than δῷ would indicate. μήποτε does not occur again in St Paul.

μετάνοιαν, repentance. It is remarkable how seldom St Paul uses this word (only again in Romans 2:4; 2 Corinthians 7:9-10), although the idea of repentance and reconciliation is continually in his thoughts.

εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν ἀληθείας unto knowledge of the truth. Cp. 2 Timothy 3:7 and see note on 1 Timothy 2:4.

Verse 26

26. καὶ ἀνανήψωσιν ἐκ τῆς τοῦ διαβόλου παγίδος, and may return to soberness out of the snare of the devil. ἀνανήφειν is not found again in the Greek Bible, but we have ἐκνήφειν at 1 Corinthians 15:34. The παγὶς τοῦ διαβόλου here is certainly the snare laid by the devil for the feet of the unwary; the thought of man’s great spiritual adversary as a dangerous personal opponent is frequently before St Paul’s mind (see Ephesians 4:27; Ephesians 6:11). Compare the note on 1 Timothy 3:6.

ἐζωγρημένοι ὑπʼ αὐτοῦ εἰς τὸ ἐκείνου θέλημα. There is a difficulty here as to the reference of the pronouns αὐτοῦ and ἐκείνου. Do they refer to different subjects, and if so, how are they severally to be interpreted? Commentators have given very different answers. (i.) First it may be observed that the rendering of the A.V. which refers both words to ὁ διάβολος “taken captive by him at his will,” is not absolutely inconsistent with the change of pronoun from αὐτός to ἐκεῖνος. We have, e.g., in Wisdom of Solomon 1:16 συνθήκην ἔθεντο πρὸς αὐτόν, ὅτι ἄξιοι εἰσιν τῆς ἐκείνου μερίδος εἷναι, where the two pronouns seem to refer to the same subject; and other similar examples have been cited. But, nevertheless, such a usage of pronouns is undoubtedly harsh; and further to render εἰς as if it were identical with κατά, calls for justification. We therefore decline to adopt the rendering of the A.V. unless no other will suit the context. (ii.) The Revisers refer αὐτοῦ to the δοῦλος κυρίου of 2 Timothy 2:24 and ἐκείνου to θεός of 2 Timothy 2:25, translating “having been taken captive by the Lord’s servant unto the will of God.” But it is surely unnatural and far-fetched to refer αὐτοῦ to an antecedent so far back as 2 Timothy 2:24, clause after clause having intervened, and the main thought having changed. (iii.) We prefer to adopt the interpretation suggested in the margin of the R.V. αὐτοῦ relates to the devil, as the position of the words indicates; ἐκείνου relates to God, and the whole sentence runs may return to soberness from the snare of the devil (having been caught by him) unto, i.e. to do, the will of God. Thus ἐζωγρημένοι ὑπʼ αὐτοῦ merely affords the explanation, logically necessary for the sense, as to how these unwary ones got into the devil’s snare, viz. they were taken captive by him; and εἰς τὸ ἐκείνου θέλημα expresses the purpose which they, when rescued, shall strive to fulfil. ἐκ τῆς τοῦ διαβόλου παγίδος is in strict correspondence with εἰς τὸ ἐκείνου θέλημα.

ζωγρεῖν only occurs elsewhere in N.T. at Luke 5:10 where it means ‘to catch alive,’ as it does here. In medical writers it is often used as equivalent to ‘to restore to life.’


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
"Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology