1: You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
- As we begin, we see the word “therefore.” What do we think when we see the word “therefore?” Right! We see what it’s there for! Recall that “therefore” is a word that coveys context, usually from what immediately precedes, in this case, that everyone in Asia Minor that was with Paul turned away from him, though he gives special mention of Onesiphorus, who did NOT! Paul’s main thrust here was that because of the persecution brought down on Christians by Nero, seeking to blame his own horrible actions on a group that wouldn’t bow to him, a number had been intimidated away from publicly acknowledging Kurios Iosus Christos and his servant Paul.
- Paul understood that this was headed Timothy’s way, and was giving instruction on how to behave in light of this persecution. Paul already had told Timothy to “kindle afresh the gift of God” that was in him and to live in “power, love, and discipline” as opposed to fear (1:6, 7). Now, with all this in his own mind, Paul says, “be strong.” [endunamoo, be empowered] How? “In the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” Grace [charis, kindness]. Think about that for a moment. Be empowered in the kindness of Christ Jesus. How are we “empowered by the grace of Christ Jesus?”
- Charis is used 122 times in the New Testament to describe the provisioning kindness and mercy of God in Christ. It’s first use is in the Gospel according to Luke, explaining how the grace of God was with young boy Jesus as he grew. Then it is used in John 1 to explain how the Word of God, THE very God Himself [ton Theon, not just Theon as the JW cult falsely teaches] became flesh and dwelt among us, and as a result His people received His fullness, grace upon grace, and that though the Law, the very thing that made Israel the people of God, came through Moses, that grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. So first, grace is a gift of God, and Jesus Christ is God, and He is the one that gives the Grace.
- The next we read of grace, it is conferred upon a believing man in the book of Acts, also written by Doctor Luke. First, grace was given to the believers of the church, and then one man is singled out for our attention. His name is Stephen, mentioned in Acts 6:8 as how he was full of grace and power [dunamis, the root of endunamoo]. In the 7 verses before this, it explains how he was one of 7 men that were chosen (by God and then the church assembled) to serve as Deacons. Their job? To wait tables. To act as servants. And for Stephen, who is specifically named, something more – to be a faithful witness for Christ Jesus, right up to death in the next chapter.
- In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, it is that gift that God gives to enable people to believe that Jesus died for their sins on the cross and that gives them the ability to repent resulting in salvation (Eph. 2:8, 9). [I have heard people say that it is actually the faith that is the gift, but I only partly agree after looking at the Greek sentence. It is not just the faith or the grace that is the gift, it is the entirety of salvation.] In 1 Corinthians 10, we find in verse 13 that the grace Paul spoke of in great detail in chapter 9 is the very thing that keeps us holy and allows us that “way of escape” he speaks of. He gives us grace to stand in places that we are not able naturally to stand. He gives us the grace to be strong and to lead from the front like Paul, as opposed to how many CEOs and boards of directors, and dare I say church councils lead their congregations. I’m sorry if that offends you, but as Christ’s spokesman, one called to preach and teach, I MUST be faithful to God’s Word.
2: The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
- Here is why we must stand and lead from the front – for the purposes of propagation of the church, the body of Christ. Paul here is saying to Timothy, “Look, Timothy, you know what I have said. Everybody knows you know what I said, because I said it in front of everybody! Now take faithful men, like I described to you in my last letter, and teach it to these men, so that THEY can teach it. Interestingly, this seems to be the number one qualification for church leadership – the ability to learn from the Scriptures and teach it to others in a life-changing way. Wow, Timothy, the president of the first ever Bible College. [ha ha ha]
- Now please notice, this is in the context of verse 1 – be strong in the grace of Christ Jesus. This is because this will be anything but easy, and may put you in personal danger. Do it anyway. Next verse.
3: Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
- See? Suffer. I won’t try to pronounce the Greek word, it’s one of those strung-together words Paul loved, but it means to endure hardship alongside of someone. My first thought is, we are sometime’s standing alone, but we are not ever really alone. Christ is with us. And not just Him – think of Elisha. At a certain point, the Assyrians had surrounded the whole country of Samaria (I know, really big army, right? I know, it just means they occupied it, but my line is funnier) with the express purpose of closing the leak of Elisha telling the King of Israel where and how to do things to avoid the Assyrian traps that were laid for him. His servant was panicked when Elisha prayed for him. “Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (2 K. 6:17) And note – they were centered around (and therefore guarding) Elisha, not the city or the king. No, we are not ever alone. In fact, did you know that the pulpit in a Protestant church symbolizes the bulwark of God’s defense of His own preacher? It is usually large and heavy, big enough for a grown man to hide behind. We may be lambs to the slaughter when we are out of the pulpit, but we are called to represent the Lion of Judah and be like him – courageous – when we speak for Him.
- Paul also compares himself and Timothy (and by extension us because we also follow Jesus) to soldiers of Christ Jesus. Good soldiers train (drill) for battle, in which they accomplish their objectives. We are to be like that. But as Paul said in his letter to the Ephesian church where Timothy was, our warfare is not against people per se. It is against the hellish beings behind them. Our weapons are likewise spiritual, and are only spiritually employed. William Gurnell wrote a book in the 1800s called “The Christian in Complete Armour” that is very instructive on just what that means for us in terms of how we “fight” in a spiritual battle. I am unarmed for mortal combat, but I am NOT a pacifist exactly. I have friends who are, and I have respect for them, but we are still to have a battle mentality, according to Paul in Ephesians 6. But when it comes to the people, we are to recognize that they are deceived and caught in the trap and service of those enemy forces, and we have the message that might set them free if they will turn to Christ in Faith.
- Soldiers fight. Sometimes, they fight while wounded. Sometimes, they sacrifice themselves for a greater objective. Suffer THAT hardship as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
4: No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.
- Paul isn’t done with that soldier point either. He continues with the idea of separation from the “affairs of everyday life.” He doesn’t say don’t engage in them. We all have jobs, we all have families, we all have commitments. Paul isn’t telling us not to have those things. He is saying don’t let them trip you up. And that is something you control directly. It isn’t a sin to enjoy going camping (something I like), or watching football (it is Super Bowl weekend). But the moment that takes you away from or interferes in the slightest way with your commitment to Christ and His things, you should revisit the camping trip or the super bowl party idea. Why? Well, Paul says so that you can please your commanding officer. Who is that? Christ Jesus. He is the one who called you and enlisted you in the ranks of His army. You need to honour Him and not live your life for your own aims, goals, or pleasures. None of those things are wrong in and of themselves. But put Christ first, and Paul is reminding Timothy and us of that here.
5: Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules.
- Here, Paul is switching up analogies to say much the same thing. Now, I have known Olympic athletes. I went to high school with Michael Smith, who ran Decathlon for Canada in I think 3 separate games, and even carried the flag in the last one. Actually, I wrestled him. It’s a funny story. He and I were a fair match on the mat. I know looking at me now, you might not believe I ever beat him, but I did, and more than once. He also beat me about the same amount of times I beat him. I wondered how he knew the defenses to some of my Judo-inspired offenses, and then I figured it out. Mike’s little brother Dave took Judo with me (and I fought Dave all the time for practice at the dojo). He was going home and teaching Mike all the stuff he learned at the dojo.
- Hey, the fact that Mike could pick that stuff up like that attests to his ability as an athlete. But I certain Mike would tell you that it was about more than just knowing how to do it. There are RULES to a competition. And if you don’t play by the rules, you can’t win. You’re disqualified. I’m also sure he would tell you that at the Olympic level, all the athletes are more or less equal in abilities. It is the one that is more motivated to win that will take the prize. Our “games” here in this analogy is just like that. We need to master the skills (what we teach disciples), and then the rules (I know, you’re thinking the rules for behaviour, but I’m not being legalistic here, I’m talking about the behaviours we as Christians should reflect to the world and each other), and then have the motivation to compete (that comes from Christ as we learn to love Him).
6: The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops.
- And Paul switches analogies again. It’s almost like he knew this letter was going to be read by more than just Timothy…wait a minute…it was. We’re reading it. I don’t think Paul would have imagined that it would be read 2000 years after he wrote it, but I do think he was trying to make the same point in multiple ways. Why? We all relate to different things. And he’s trying to get his last words to be understood.
- Paul here is not talking about how to run a farm. (I’ve never run one, but I watched my grandmother’s second husband run one (her first husband, my grandfather, died when I was 8 before you ask, and I was the ring bearer at their wedding, her second). I saw how it was done, and because I have the entrepreneurial gene, I know how it works.) he is simply saying that it is not wrong for the farmer to feed himself from his own labours. In fact, that’s kind of the origin to the North American holiday Thanksgiving, which is a month earlier in Canada because of the shorter growing season. The farmer should be able to feed himself from what he does, and so should the minister of Christ.
7: Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
- Paul isn’t just telling Timothy the way it is, however. He’s saying that if Timothy thinks about it, he’ll see the point, and that the Lord will give him specific understandings about all of it.
8: Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel,
- Paul here begins to shift gears a bit, but he’s still on the general subject of leadership and leading from the front. He starts off the verse by reminding Timothy of the ultimate from-the-front leader, Jesus Christ. The man Jesus is the one that lived a pure life in perfect accordance with the Law of God so that He as a man could pay the sin debt owed to God by the human race. THAT Jesus Christ.
- Risen from the dead – that shows that His own sacrifice was effective! His death justified us before God and showed that all who turn to Him are set free from the penalty of sin. However, those who follow after him and learn to walk in the spirit learn more – that we are becoming holy, or being sanctified – that is, we are set free from the power of sin in our lives. Finally, this man has purchased our final salvation, our glorification, where we will be set free from the presence of sin! And it started with his rising from the dead.
- Descendant of David. This means two things I can think of – first, it shows Jesus’ royal lineage. David was the second king of Israel, and according to God, a man after His own heart. Because of David’s walk, God promised him that an eternal King would come from his line. That’s the second thing. Jesus was not only foretold, but was promised, and not just to David, but to all those who would believe.
- According to my Gospel. Well, we’ve already covered the highlights – this is just a statement that shows this was the point Paul was making.
9: for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned.
- And here is WHY Paul is making the point – he’s giving Christ, and then himself as examples of men who lead in ministry FROM THE FRONT. Paul was caught in a government sweep looking for Christians as the culprits of the burning of Rome. Although this was actually Nero covering up his actions because of the anger over the loss of property and life that occurred, Paul was unashamed and unafraid to be identified with Jesus Christ. All I can think is that if it ever comes to that here in Canada, I hope and pray for the boldness of Paul.
- And in all of the hardship that being a true servant of Jesus Christ brings, there is a piece of good news. The Word of God is not imprisoned. Can you just picture it? There is Paul, chained to the wall next to thieves and murderers or worse, and he shares the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection. You see, that’s the beauty of this. Man can chain us up. But they can’t chain our Lord of His word. Think about this – 300 years later when Constantine was looking for something that could unify his kingdom, he arrived at Christianity. I don’t happen to think he was a believer, but he was observant. He chose the dominant religion of the time. And Christianity had supplanted the Roman gods all while worshipping in Christ’s name was illegal and carried a possible death penalty. You CANNOT chain the Lord or His word. And I think He would defy you to try.
10: For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.
- Paul even tells us that it is for this very reason that he endures all this, for the sake of those who are chosen. This is where all you Calvinists in the crowd get a little excited – the Greek word for chosen is eklektos, the word sometimes translated as elect. Regardless of what one’s opinion on sovereign election may be, Paul endured it so that those who were to be chosen by God could obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and the accompanying eternal glory.
- This is a bit of a sidebar, but I have noticed a tendency of some of my Calvinist brothers (and only some to be fair) to sit back because if only the elect will be saved, and God’s call is always accompanied by irresistible grace, then God will save them regardless of what they do. Nothing could be further from the truth. In Romans 10, it tells us that they cannot hear without a preacher, and those preaching are sent by that same God. Don’t wait until you feel sent like a charismatic! If you have been saved by God, this is one of the things he tells us we are to do – preach the gospel to every creature! I don’t know if that includes animals and trees and the like, but just to be safe, my dog hears the gospel all the time! And if you are of the Calvinist persuasion, as I am becoming more and more from a reading of the scriptures, do you KNOW who those elect are? I don’t think so! You better preach that gospel to everyone so those elect of God can be saved! That’s the responsibility He gave US! And if you are NOT of a Calvinist persuasion, you really DON’T know who will respond, and Jesus told us to preach to everyone! Get to it! There are people who need to be saved! Don’t just sit there like a houseplant!
11: It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him;
- And here, Paul invokes that famous phrase we’ve noticed since 1 Timothy. “It is a trustworthy statement.” He uses this 5 times over the pastoral epistles, and it has a specific meaning attached. I learned this concept from my third year cell biology professor in university. He used just such a phrase. “This will be on the test.” It makes you sit up and pay attention, because what follows is mission critical.
- If we died with Him, we will also live with Him! But wait, this continues down to verse 13, and says some incredibly important stuff.
12: If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us;
- If we endure, we will reign with Christ. This is the first half of the verse, and it is an incredibly motivating passage that gives us the strength to face persecution and death! If we endure, if we are faithful to the point of death, like those faithful believers at Smyrna in Revelation 2, we will rule with Christ! If we allow the suffering and trial that the Lord allows in our lives to make us holy, we will overcome and rule with Him. It is very plain, very straightforward, and very encouraging. Except that isn’t the end of the verse – there is more.
- If we deny Him, He also will deny us. This has a serious consequence. The word “deny” in Greek is “will deny,” and connotes a deliberate act of the will. This therefore relates to Hebrew 6:6 – “and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.” This is a serious statement. It means that although you cannot lose your salvation, you can, by deliberate and conscious act of willfulness, throw it away. If you decide to leave the faith of Christ, you are able to do so. However, you will never be able to return. If we will deny Him, He will deny us. Deny in Greek here can be translated, “disown.” And before you start thinking strange things about me, I do believe in the eternal security of the believer in all cases except the deliberate and conscious renunciation of Christ – also known as Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. What does that mean? I don’t know, and I have NO wish to find out. Arminians will tell us that that person has lost his salvation. Calvinists will tell us that the individual was not saved in the first place. Who is correct here? Who knows? Who cares? I don’t want to find out the hard way. And if that’s not scary enough, the thought continues.
13: If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.
- Personally, I believe this is a nail in the coffin for all those that claim to be Christian and then live like the death of Jesus on the Cross was of little or no value. It doesn’t matter what doctrinal view you hold here. If you will not live like it matters, you are said to be living with faith in disregard, or you are faithless. If you will instead repent and be filled with the faith of our Lord, you are full of faith, or faithful. Whatever you decide is going to be your course, Jesus has already decided His, and He will always be faithful to Himself and to His Father. After all, he cannot disown Himself.
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.
- It’s like that here, Paul says, okay, now that I’ve told you about Jesus, about me, about what is at stake, it’s your turn now. The statement is what is called an imperative – that is, a command. There is always a word that is left out because it is inherently understood – “You.” Timothy, YOU remind them of these things. YOU lead them by example, word, and deed. YOU, Timothy. YOU, Christian. Remind them of all the things that we have just discussed.
- And solemnly charge them in the presence of God. This is the same kind of language that Paul uses later in chapter 4 – “I charge you in the sight of God…etc.” What are we to “give command” about? Not to fight with words. What does that mean? Paul is here speaking about our behaviour toward others, and he’s going to get there in verse 24, so I’ll say more about the behaviour then. But do you see how important it is? Paul wants Timothy to COMMAND them.
- Why? What good is fighting with words? My systematic Theology professor quoted this from Dale Carnegie (How to Win Friends and Influence People): A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still. The topic really doesn’t matter. The argument can’t be won if the opponent is lost. And anyone who hears it is defiled by the argument. Stop it.
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.
- If this chapter had a key verse, this one would be it for me. Paul has almost exclusively in this chapter been writing with the view of explaining how to become and remain a workman approved by God. This requires some things.
- First, it requires diligence. This could be said to be discipline applied. You know what needs to be done, AND you DO IT. There is also a kind of repetition in this diligence. This is a continual discipline. And the thing you are being constantly disciplined in doing? Presenting yourself as approved to God as a workman.
- Second, this brings a kind of holy cognizant recognition as opposed to shame. There is never a need for the approved workman to be ashamed because he is diligent, AND He is diligent!
- Third, such a divinely approved workman has a job – to accurately handle the word of truth. The workman knows the scriptures and what they say and mean, and he knows how to teach others also.
16: But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness,
- We know what this is! How about that local sports team? Wow, it’s cold out there. All this kind of stuff does is to distract honest Christian dialogue and cause spiritual drift. I’m not saying don’t follow sports or check the weather. We used to call this “participating in the small talk.” Minutiae that really doesn’t do anything but fill dead air. Stop that.
17: and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus,
- And this spiritual malaise does nothing but spread like a cancer. Paul even names two relevant (we assume) examples of this and the kind of trouble they got into doctrinally. We don’t know much about these two gentlemen other than what they espoused as personal belief, which Paul explains in the next verse.
18: men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some.
- This heresy actually has a name if you’re curious – it’s called Full Preterism, and roughly stated it says that ALL biblical prophecy, including future events in Revelation for example, was fulfilled by AD 70. It seems most common with postmillennialism, but I have seen it connected with Amillenialism, and once with Dispensationalism (which was a complete mess and put forth by the valedictorian of a graduating class of the “bible” college of a cult).And by teaching that nonsense, Paul says that it has upset the faith of some. The word for “upset” is also translated “overturned” or “destroyed.” False teaching is a big deal for a reason. I’ve seen this happen, and recently, too. And what a mess it creates.
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.”
- And then Paul says this. What can that possibly mean? “The Lord knows those who are His.” In my opinion, I think this is a reference to God’s sovereign election of believers. The next statement is an imperative to all believers to stop sinning. Anyone who has read Paul’s other letters know that this is part of that call he has in every letter he wrote to a church – walk worthily of your calling. Scripture says that we can know if a person is really a Christian by the fruit such a person produces. The implication of that, is that if you participate in visible sin, everyone has reason to question your status as a Christian. If you participate in secret or hidden sin, YOU have reason to question your own status. If it doesn’t really matter to you, my guess would be that you are not really a Christian, you’re what is called a false convert, or a tare. You need to repent and believe the gospel. I’m not saying we all get everything perfect, that is not possible until Christ returns. But you should at least be changing for the better. A brother once said, “If the difference in your life makes no difference, then there’s no difference.”
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.
- At risk of allegorizing here, I believe the large house Paul is referring to is the church through all of time. It makes some sense from the perspective that looks at vessels of honour and of dishonour. There are believers that you just have to say are pure gold and silver. They serve the Lord with gladness, it’s just plain encouraging to be around them. And then there are others – honestly these ones look like they’ve been baptized in vinegar and lost their last friend – well, we tend to try to naturally avoid them, though Scripture says that we are to try to go out to them. It’s my own thought that the difference here is the same one Jesus talked about in the Gospels – the difference between sheep and goats, wheat and tares. As you recall, they are to be together until the harvest, and then the Lord will sort it all out personally. So why is Paul talking about this here?
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.
- Here is the answer. However, commentators have some contextual issues with this verse. You see the word “things” in italics, and that means it isn’t in the Greek. It isn’t out of place, by the way. It was done to make the NASB a little less choppy when reading. But what are “these?”
- Dr. John MacArthur, for example, feels that the context is best served if a direct approach to context is applied. The immediately previous verse talks about vessels for honour and vessels for dishonour, so if we apply direct interpolation, “these” are the vessels of dishonour. My problem is that I don’t entirely agree with how he got there.
- Vessels of honour and dishonour are not the subject of that last sentence. They are subordinate clauses to the subject of that last sentence, the great house. It is not our job to purge the tares or the goats, as nice as that would be at times. It isn’t our job to get rid of the vessels of dishonour, they are still in use at present. For a better understanding of what “these” refers to, we have to go back to verse 18 – men who have gone astray from the truth. This actually fits my understanding better – it is our job to read, learn the truth, and then do the truth. We should be purging out falsehood, especially false teachers.
- This makes sense when one regards what the new church talked about. They pursued the truth, and put out false teachers. Then in the historical reformation, what happened? Those men put out as much of the false teaching as their limited views would permit. Luther put out indulgences along with Sacerdotalism and Sacrementalism in part. Zwingli put out the rest of Sacrementalism with Calvin. Calvin then started to put together his theology of the Reformation. They put out heretics along the way, and more importantly their ideas. This doesn’t mean they didn’t make mistakes, of course they did – but so do we. We need to keep up this personal search for truth and we must continue to surgically excise error with the scalpel of the Word.
- Then we are sanctified, we become a vessel of honour, and we are prepared for our Master to use us wherever he wants, if He wants.
22: Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
- As if to strengthen my point about purging out false and sinful ideals, Paul begins a couple of lists of those things, and behaviours to replace them!
- Timothy was in his mid to late 30s here in all likelihood. I don’t know that Timothy had an issue with lust as some (erroneous) commentators have suggested. But I can tell you that if you flee lust, you will become a better Christian. Sadly, I’ve seen a few men fall into sin by NOT fleeing youthful lusts, and they ruined their family, their ministry, and disqualified themselves from ever being in any position of church leadership again.
- Instead, if you have to run away from lust, you can run in pursuit if right behaviour and thinking. Faith. Love. Peace. Join other believers as they do the same.
- And PLEASE note that this is done with others! This is yet another solid reason to find a good place of fellowship where this kind of thing is practiced. ‘Nuff said about that.
23: But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.
- Refuse [beg off from] foolish [moros, dull, stupid; we get our English word moron from this] and ignorant [uninstructed; ought to know better] speculations [a search, questioning; contoversies, debate]. Hmm. Sounds like a lot of theologians I’ve heard recently. I just had one try to teach systematic theology to a bunch of us. He would ask a questions, and find ways to tell you that you were wrong right out of the gate. Look, I’ll freely admit I’m not the smartest guy in the room sometimes, but there was no logic or consistency to his arguments. I’ll not get into the stuff he said – but he succeeded at least twice over last weekend to create arguments and quarrels just so he could be right. And the worst part is that he wasn’t right sometimes. Just…beg off. Find someplace else to be if you can.
24: The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged,
- Why? Because the Lord’s servant MUST NOT ARGUE AGRESSIVELY! The word in Greek means to fight. We are supposed to be KIND to ALL. Even that atheist yelling at you because he saw your bible. Even that church curmudgeon berating you for hitting a note flat when everyone else heard you were on key. Even your biology thesis professor who caught you reading Romans with some friends and tried to keep you out of grad school because of it (he failed).
- We, as servants of Christ MUST be kind. The Greek word means to be gentle and mild. To EVERYONE! That’s a tall order. We must also be didaktikos, “skilled at teaching.” This is one of the primary if not THE primary requirement for church leaders. The ability to teach others. Remember verse 2? Teach these things to other faithful men who will teach others also. Now here is the hard one – patient when wronged. That insulting atheist, that dastardly curmudgeon, my thesis advisor – they ALL wronged me. And I needed to be patient with them all. Why?
25: with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,
- So that we can correct those in opposition. So the atheist, the curmudgeon, and the angry thesis supervisor. Were they angry at me personally? Well, maybe they thought so, but not really. They were really angry at God for whatever reason. Paul here is calling me to act in accordance with the Gospel for the chance that they may be granted repentance that leads to them learning the truth and being saved. He has some specific things to say about that.
- Gentleness – prautes, power under control. When the assualt comes, verbally, or however (I know brothers where the fists came out and they beat him – Ask Steve Camp what happened when he tried to share Christ with some LGBTQ+ people. They beat him badly enough that he had a short stay in the hospital, I believe. I probably would have at least tried to block, but there’s only so much you can do if a crowd of three or more is beating on you, especially if they hold your arms and/or legs. And there were about a dozen that beat Steve from my understanding. But that’s the job. Control yourself.
- Correcting – paideuo, to train children by chastening them into correct behaviour. This isn’t beating your kid. This is a correction of bad behaviour or thought out of love for that person. It may in fact be painful to them – but a doctor sometimes has to cut away dead (but still enervated) skin (which stings like the dickens) so that he can begin to work on the injury (especially burns, which is kind of relevant here; Paul uses the phrase “snatch them like brands out of the fire” at least once).
- Opposition – antidiatithēmi, to set oneself in opposition. This isn’t just taking up the opposing argument and playing devil’s advocate. This is entrenching oneself into an aggressively opposing position, prepared to resist as necessary. It isn’t easy, and it isn’t intended to be. This is what we need to be ready for.
- We’ve already talked about why, but it bears repeating. No matter what position you may take here, Calvinist or Arminian, we are to represent God in our controlled, kind, mild, disciplined correction on the chance that the person with whom you speak might be granted repentance and salvation, because you never know – and I’ve even seen this work! For real! With Me! That’s how you know God is all-powerful – he uses complete morons for His work. Like me.
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.
- The sense here is so that they may return to soberness. Now I understand this a little too well. I’ve been to a few parties where I passed out from the amount of alcohol I consumed (and as a diabetic that’s way more than most people). One of the first questions you always seem to ask is “Where am I?” After that, you start to have different things register for you. You realize where you are and who you’re with first. Once I had passed out in the bathroom floor and woke up on the sofa. No one would ever show me the pictures, so I assume they did some questionable things while I was unconscious. But when I came back to soberness, I started to realize that I needed a way home, among other issues. My shoes were missing. My coat was missing. It was January 1, and there was no bus service, and even if there was, it wouldn’t get me to the farm. It was -40. I looked awful and felt worse. But as your faculties return, you begin to get it together (often with some help, and I did have some friends at the party). And I eventually got home – by calling my father. Interesting analogy.
- Now that was a “fun” night relatively speaking. These individuals are in the snare of the devil [slanderous false accuser], and because they were freely doing his will and work, he is not prepared to let them go without a fight. And yet, if we are controlled, gentle, kind, mild, and disciplined in our correction, they just might be able to call their heavenly Father and escape the trap of the devil and come to Christ in repentance and faith.
Now that’s chapter 2, but the narrative doesn’t actually end here, although we will this time. Paul’s first words next time talk about how we must realize that difficult times are coming for us. But we’ll pick up that consideration next time.