Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”
Now in a great house, there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
- Timothy was to remind the teachers in the church that:
- If we died with Christ we will live with him.
- If we endure we will reign with Christ
- If we deny Christ he will deny us.
- God is faithful and cannot deny himself.
- The teachers in the church were not to quarrel over wording.
- Quarreling over wording does no good.
- Quarreling over wording only ruins those who listen.
- Timothy was to do his best to present himself to God as one approved.
- Timothy was to do his best to present himself to God as one who is not ashamed of his work.
- Timothy was to do his best to present himself to God as one who handled the word of God correctly.
- Timothy was to speak the truth and not babble on with useless words.
- Talking about worthless things will lead people into greater and greater ungodliness.
- Quarreling and useless talk spread like gangrene.
- Two examples of people who babbled were Hymenaeus and Philetus.
- Hymenaeus and Philetus claimed the resurrection has already occurred.
- Hymenaeus and Philetus were upsetting the faith of some.
- God’s foundation remains firm.
- God’s foundation bears the seal of those who are His.
- God knows who are his.
- Everyone who claims the name of the Lord is to depart from iniquity.
- In the same household, there are various types of pots made out different materials
- In the same household, there are pots for noble use and ignoble use.
- If we cleanse ourselves of dishonorable things we will be vessels for honorable use.
- If we cleanse ourselves of dishonorable things we will be set apart as holy
- If we cleanse ourselves of dishonorable things we will be useful to God and ready for good work.
- If we cleanse ourselves of dishonorable things we will be ready for good work.
- Timothy was to flee youthful passion.
- Timothy was to pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace with those who call on the Lord with a pure heart.
- Timothy was to have nothing to do with foolish controversies.
- Foolish controversies lead to quarrels.
- The Lord’s servant should not be quarrelsome.
- The Lord’s servant should be kind to everyone.
- The Lord’s servant should be able to teach
- The Lord’s servant should endure evil.
- The Lord’s servant should correct with gentleness.
- God may grant those who are taught repentance.
- Repentance is a gift.
- Repentance may lead to knowledge of the truth.
- When God grants repentance it allows the repentant one to escape the snare of the devil.
- The devil captures and the unrepentant to do his will.
Paul instructs Timothy to remind the teachers in the church what he had taught them. The word Paul is empathic when he says “remind”. That means that the gospel is of great importance and we are to never grow tired of preaching or hearing it. I once asked a pastor why he did not preach the gospel every Sunday. He said the people would grow tired of hearing it every Sunday. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. I mentioned this to someone else and they agreed with the pastor. They would grow tired of hearing the gospel every single Sunday. Paul says to teach the gospel and only the gospel not every Sunday but every day. The job of the pastor is to preach the gospel continually. His is not to tire of preaching it. We are not to tire of hearing it. Frequent repetition is required for learning.
Paul charges Timothy to remind the teachers not to quarrel over words. What Paul is referring to is engaging in earnest contentious disputes. They are the result of someone trying to appear smarter that everyone else in the room. Paul goes further than just telling Timothy to have them knock it off. Paul says to charge them before God. This is to emphasize the importance of avoiding these type of quarrels.
Disputes over doctrine arise from someone finding “something new” in the word of God. They were the ones clever enough to find it. Paul tells Timothy to present himself before God as one approved. He is to handle the word of God as it is intended. People have studied the Bible for thousands of years. If someone has found a new understanding of the scripture, run! They are spreading poison. If it gets into the bloodstream of the church it will spread like gangrene. A look at history demonstrates this to be true. People like Arminius found a new understanding of salvation. Quakers practice of shunning. It was a new practice. It had never before seen before in the church. Well, what about Luther and the reformation? The reformers were taking the church back to the doctrines of the early church. The Catholic doctrine of penance was the novel teaching. God’s word never changes. New or novel doctrines are a guaranteed error.
Paul names the names of two who were teaching a novel doctrine, Hymenaeus, and Philetus. They were teaching the resurrection had already occurred. Paul was not afraid to name names. Nor should we fear to name those who are poisoning the church.
Yet God’s foundation is firm and stands strong. We would do well to remember that. Apostasy produces scandals in the church. This is especially true when those who are well-known and have brilliant reputations commit it. But God’s foundation stands firm.
Using different types of pots within the same house Paul shows both the elect and non-elect are in the church. Many have and will have a show of piety and zeal and then fall away. We should not let that troubled us. We should acknowledge that God’s providence allows it. It all works to the glory of God. Just as the master of the house may use a chamber pot (dishonorable use) and a wine glass (honorable use) so God even uses the wicked.
Many may use this passage to counter what Paul says in Romans 9:16. “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” They try to make the claim that when Paul is saying it is within our power to clean ourselves up. In doing so they are using a poor exegetical technique. The 3 rules of exegetics are context, context, and context. Paul is not addressing the cause or our election here as he is in Romans 9. Rather here is a warning about evil men and a call to their repentance.
Like little children what everyone to think they are special. Their drawings are beautiful. Their prose are delightful. Those trying to impress with new found doctrine and insights are like little children. We are to run from the attraction of those things. Only children go after them. We are to pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace. But we are not to do it alone. We are to pursue them with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
We are not to pursue arguments but to teach. When engaged in theological debates ask this question. What are you trying to win the argument or are you pursuing the truth?