2 Timothy 3. 14 – 4. 8

Adequacy of the Scriptures for the Man of God

Verse 14

But abide thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom (lit., what persons) thou hast learned them: - this injunction conveys the intimation that, notwithstanding the increase of evil, the truth would remain for the adherence of believers to it. Instead therefore of turning aside and seeking after the “knowledge” falsely so called, a danger - which has certainly not decreased in our times, Timothy was to hold the more tenaciously to the faith in which he had been instructed and the power of which had been carried with conviction to his heart.

The “whom” is plural, the reference being to his mother and his grandmother (1. 5) and the Apostle’s own teaching (3. 10). The verb pistoo, to give assurance to, is used here only in the N.T., and is in the Passive Voice.

Verse 15

and that from a babe thou hast known the sacred writings - every Jewish child was taught from his earliest days to repeat many parts of the Old Testament; it was a primary step in their education, and in Timothy’s case this knowledge of Old Testament Scripture had guided his feet into the way of salvation.

which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus - this declares the sufficiency of the Old Testament Scriptures to lead a soul to Christ. Their aim is not simply to provide a record of the creation of man, or of the history of the human race in its earliest stages, or of the history of Israel. The object of these writings is not mere knowledge, whether historical or scientific (though there is nothing in them contrary to historical facts or principles of science). The object is the salvation of men, and not only so, but to make man wise with a view to his salvation. Everything requisite for this is contained in the Scriptures, and the present participle of the verb rendered “are able” expresses the abiding power and sufficiency of Scripture. The wisdom which it supplies, with the purpose in view, is here set in contrast to the fluctuating and ever-varying teachings of men, whether scientific or religious. They neither produce the wisdom which is from above nor do they in any way lead man to salvation. Salvation is accomplished on man’s part solely by faith, and the fact that it is “faith which is in Christ Jesus” forms the link between the Old Testament and the New. As Hooker said, “the Old did make wise by teaching salvation through Christ that should come, the New by teaching that Christ the Saviour is come.” The order of the titles is significant. Faith is put in the living and exalted Christ who was raised from the dead as the One who, by reason of His Name Jesus, had come to be the Saviour of men through His death.

Verse 16

Every Scripture inspired of God is also profitable - Timothy’s Bible consisted of the Old Testament only. He was now to observe that there were other Scriptures being produced which were also inspired of God, as, for instance, the Epistles of Paul himself, which had been written by this time, as well as other books of the New Testament. Whichever translation of the 16th verse is adopted, whether the Authorized Version or the Revised, there is no essential difference between the two, and each is grammatically legitimate. The fact that there are other passages in the New Testament where the Greek word kai could not be translated by “also,” though the order of the sentence is similar, by no means makes it impossible for kai to be translated by “also” in this passage. Each Version bears testimony to the fact that the Scriptures are God-breathed.

The Revised Version lays special stress upon the fact that the Scriptures which are now incorporated in what is known as the New Testament, and which were in process of being produced in Timothy’s time, were to be regarded by him as equally of Divine origin, authority, and profitableness with the Old Testament Scriptures which were so familiar to him. The younger missionary would therefore learn to regard Paul’s own Epistles as part of the inspired Word of God.

for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness: - these purposes have immediate reference to the spiritual needs of Timothy himself and so to the needs of all who use the Scriptures. It is only as we ourselves give heed to their teaching, reproof, correction, and instruction, that we can walk worthily of God and fulfil His will. They are also designed to enable the man of God to benefit others in these ways.

The word elegtnos, rendered “reproof,” has underlying it the thought of conviction, the reproof bringing its power home to the conscience. The word epanorihosis, “correction,” literally denotes a restoration to an upright or right state, and indicates resulting improvement of character and life. The word paideia signifies more than “instruction,” it conveys the thought of training by instruction. The righteousness referred to is not only that which characterizes the instruction itself, it is also the condition of uprightness before God which is the effect of the instruction.

Verse 17

that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work. - the phrase the “man of God” is a general term for every true follower of Christ, it signifies a person whose life and conduct represent the mind of God and fulfil His will; it is not used as an ecclesiastical designation. It is not here to be regarded in its Old Testament usage with reference to a prophet acting in a distinctive character and possessed of Divine authority.

The word artios, “complete,” is derived from artos, a limb or joint. It is used here only in the N.T. The verb exartizo, rendered “furnished completely,” is connected with the preceding adjective, and signifies to fit out (the prefix ex- being intensive). It is found elsewhere only in Acts 21. 5, where it is rendered “had accomplished.”

What is here stated bears witness to the completeness and absolute sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures. It enforces both their Divine origin and authority and their finality in doctrine. For if the man of God can thus be completely equipped for every good work, no additional doctrine is required, or was to be expected.

Chapter 4. Introductory Note

Verses 1 to 8 contain exhortations to faithfulness in view of Christ’s appearing and Kingdom, and these may be set out as follows: -

  1. vv. 1, 2, the charge to preach the Word;
  2. vv. 3, 4, a reason for the charge;
  3. v. 5, the charge re-enforced;
  4. vv. 6 to 8, an additional reason for the charge - the crown of righteousness.

Verses 9 to 18, contain messages concerning the Apostle’s immediate circumstances.

Verses 19 to 22, convey salutations, details about other servants of God, a command to Timothy, and a benediction.

Verse 1

I charge thee in the sight of God, and of Christ Jesus, - the same phrase is used in 1 Tim. 5. 21. The verb rendered, “I charge” is intensive and denotes to charge solemnly; see 2.14. The statement bears testimony to the Deity of Christ, as in 1.2, where see Note. .

who shall judge the quick and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom; - the R.V., which follows the authentic texts of the original, should be noted. The text used by the A.V. here supports the erroneous idea that Christ will judge the living and the dead together at His appearing and His Kingdom. The Scriptures nowhere teach that the judgment of the living and the dead will be simultaneous. The judgment of the living will take place when the Lord comes to receive His Church to Himself, and will be exercised at the “Judgment-Seat of Christ,” when every believer will have the counsels of his heart made manifest and every one will have his praise from God (1 Cor. 4. 5). The judgment of the dead is not a matter of reward but of condemnation, and will take place after the 1,000 years of the Millennial reign of Christ on the earth (Rev. 20. 5). The charge to Timothy, given “in the sight of God and of Christ” and in view of the fact that He is to be the Judge of all men, first the living and then the dead, is further given by reason of His appearing and the establishment of His Kingdom. The life of the believer should ever be lived in view of these things. They need to be kept constantly in mind, as they have an all important bearing upon the character, effects and issue of all service.

Verse 2

preach the word; - “ the word” stands here for the message of the gospel, as in Gal. 6. 6; Col. 4. 3. The verb kerusso signifies to preach as a herald. Compare and contrast evangelize, to proclaim good tidings, as, e.g., in Luke 4. 18, R.V.

be instant in season, out of season; - the word rendered “be instant” literally means to stand by, to be at hand. Whilst the exhortation has special reference to oral ministry, it probably includes the general duties of his service, and the exhortation is to be on the alert to seize every opportunity without paying regard to the prejudice or wishes of others, where these would be in conflict with what was committed to him by the Lord.

reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. - whatever calls for reproof or rebuke requires to be dealt with, not in a spirit of irritability or indignation, but with forbearance, and with a readiness diligently to apply the teaching of the Word of God, meeting every case with its instruction, thus using the Scriptures for rhe profit of the hearers. Teaching should ever accompany reproof and exhortation. The purpose of the latter is only defeated by controversy.

Verse 3

For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; - for the last phrase see 1 Tim 1. 10. The rejection of the truth, as if it was effete or out of date, is either the outcome of the reception of false teaching, or paves the way for it, and the latter is especially in view here. The carnal mind readily becomes hardened against the truth,

but, having itching ears, - the verb knetho, to tickle or scratch, is here used metaphorically, to indicate an eagerness to hear.

will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; - that is, they would gather to themselves (the metaphor of heaping together is very vivid) a number of teachers to suit their own liking. The reference may be to those who, like the Athenians, gad about to hear and follow those who proclaim new ideas of their own invention. It is a sad feature of the trend of things in the past centuries of the history of Christendom, that certain congregations have adopted the plan of choosing their own ministers. How paradoxical, that sheep should choose their own shepherds!

Verse 4

and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables. - when people turn away from the truth, they desire to listen to teachers who will suit their own fancies. The human mind naturally craves for something to feed upon, and, in abandoning the truth, is ready to receive any and every false notion that may be advanced. The Apostle’s predictions were fulfilled in post-apostolic times. The legendary stories of the lives and miraculous deeds of the saints, held the attention of people in the churches far more than the Scriptures of truth. Timothy had been warned against myths and similar things in the former Epistle, 1. 4 and 4. 7. Neglect of the Scriptures ever results in the advancement of superstition and vain theories. When the authority and decrees of the Church take the place of the Word of God, there is no end to the adoption of tenets and practices which have no support in it, and lead to mere formalism and profitless ideas.

Verse 5

But be thou sober in all things, - the verb nepho, to be sober, whilst literally signifying freedom from the influence of intoxicants, is used in the N.T. only in a metaphorical sense, and conveys the thought of freedom from credulity as well as from excitability. It does not actually signify watchfulness, but rather indicates stability, a contrast to the excitement of drunkenness. The exhortation here is set in contrast to the fickleness of those who aspire to novelty (ver. 3).

suffer hardship, - this translates the single verb kakopathed; see at 2. 3, 9.

do the work of an evangelist, - he was to continue the kind of work which he began when he was associated with the Apostle; at the same time he was to engage still in pastoral work. A teacher of the Word does not thereby cease to engage in ministry of the gospel.

fulfil thy ministry. - the word “ministry” is comprehensive of all forms of service. The verb rendered “fulfil” literally denotes to bring in full measure. See further at verse 17.

Verse 6

For I am already being offered, - the motive for faithfulness is now taken up with relation to the Apostle’s own life and testimony, and his expectation of a reward at the JudgmentSeat of Christ. The verb spends denotes to pour out as a drinkoffering, to make a libation. This is a reference to his approaching death, upon the sacrifice of his ministry. Upon the offerings of the children of Israel made by fire they were to pour out a drink-offering of a certain measure of strong wine, an indication of the Divine satisfaction in the completed sacrifice (Ex. 29. 40). Paul’s whole life since his conversion had been devoted as a sacrifice to the service of God, and now, conscious of the acceptance of his sacrifice, he views his death in this way. This provides a high incentive to all who would be true to Christ to spend their lives in absolute devotion to Him.

and the time of my departure is come. - the word analysis, lit., an unloosing, is used here only in the N.T. and the metaphor is either nautical, from loosing from mooring, or military, from breaking up an encampment or the striking of a tent by a traveller who is going on a journey. The Apostle says, not that his departure is at hand, but more vividly, viewed as if it were already present, “is come,” and this runs parallel to what he has just said as being already poured out.

Verse 7

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith: - there is no expression of regret about the past, no sighing for what might have been, no “longing,” lingering, look behind.” As a warrior his warfare had been well waged; as a racer his course had been completed; as a guardian of the faith he had kept his treasure to the end. How goodly an example he set us 1 Cp. 1 Tim. 6. 12 and 2 Tim. 1. 14.

Verse 8

henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, - the verb apokeimai is used in Luke 19. 20 of money in a napkin; metaphorically, in Col. 1. 5, of a hope. In the present passage the Apostle is renewing his reference to the Grecian games, where the victor received a crown of laurel leaves. Paul looked forward to an unfading crown, the crown of righteousness, that is, a reward rightly adjusted for faithful service. The definite article before “crown” suggests both the certainty of the reward and the exact measure of the recompense to be bestowed. The verb is used again only in Heb. 9. 27, and there of physical death, and translated “it is appointed” (R.V. marg., “laid up for”).

which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give to me at that day: - as the righteous Judge He will act without prejudice or partiality. The “day” referred to is the period in which believers will stand before the Judgment-Seat of Christ.

and not only to me, but also to all them that have loved His appearing. - it is characteristic of the Apostle that he thinks of others while speaking of his own interests. So in looking forward to his own reward he rejoices in the thought of the great company of those who will receive theirs. To love the Lord’s appearing is not only to look forward to it with ardent expectation, but to do as Paul did, to fight the good fight, to finish the course and keep the faith. The appearing here mentioned is the coming of the Lord Jesus into the air to the meeting with His saints (as in verse 1).


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