2 Timothy 2


He exhorts Timothy to constancy, fidelity, and courage; and to

acquit himself as a true soldier of Jesus Christ; and patiently

expect the fruit of his labours, 1-7.

What the apostle's doctrine was relative to Christ, 8.

He mentions his own sufferings and consolations, 9-13.

What Timothy is to preach, how he is to acquit himself, and what

he is to shun, 14-16.

Of Hymeneus and Philetus, and their errors, 17, 18.

Of the foundation of God, and its security, 19.

The simile of a great house and its utensils, 20, 21.

Timothy is to avoid youthful lusts, and foolish and unlearned

questions, 22, 23.

How he is to act in reference to false teachers, 24-26.


Verse 1. Be strong in the grace] Though the genuine import of

the word grace is favour, yet it often implies an active principle

communicated from God; light directing how to act, and power

enabling to act according to the light.

Verse 2. The things that thou hast heard of me] Those

doctrines which I have preached the most publicly, and which many

persons can attest. But he seems to refer here to the doctrines

delivered to him when, in the presence of many witnesses, he laid

his hands upon him; see 1Ti 6:12. Then the apostle gave him the

proper form of sound words which he was to teach; and now he tells

him to commit those truths to faithful men in the same way that

they were committed to him, that the truth might be preserved in

the Church, and holy men appointed successively to preach it.

These truths are still continued in the Church, and still there

are faithful men who proclaim them. But where is the

uninterrupted apostolical succession! Who can tell? Probably it

does not exist on the face of the world. All the pretensions to

it by certain Churches are as stupid as they are idle and futile.

He who appeals to this for his authority as a Christian minister,

had best sit down till he has made it out; and this will be by the

next Greek kalends.

Verse 3. Endure hardness] He considers a Christian minister

under the notion of a soldier, not so much for his continual

conflicts with the world, the devil, and the flesh, for these are

in a certain sense common to all Christians, but for the hardships

and difficulties to which he must be exposed who faithfully

preaches the Gospel of Christ.

Verse 4. No man that warreth entangleth, &c.] It is well

remarked by Grotius, on this passage, that the legionary soldiers

among the Romans were not permitted to engage in husbandry,

merchandise, mechanical employments, or any thing that might be

inconsistent with their calling. Many canons, at different times,

have been made to prevent ecclesiastics from intermeddling with

secular employments. The who will preach the Gospel thoroughly,

and wishes to give full proof of his ministry, had need to have no

other work. He should be wholly in this thing, that his profiting

may appear unto all. There are many who sin against this

direction. They love the world, and labour for it, and are

regardless of the souls committed to their charge. But what are

they, either in number or guilt, compared to the immense herd of

men professing to be Christian ministers, who neither read nor

study, and consequently never improve? These are too

conscientious to meddle with secular affairs, and yet have no

scruple of conscience to while away time, be among the chief in

needless self-indulgence, and, by their burdensome and monotonous

ministry, become an incumbrance to the Church! Do you inquire: In

what sect or party are these to be found? I answer: In ALL. Idle


Fruges consumere nati,

"Born to consume the produce of the soil,"

disgrace every department in the Christian Church. They cannot

teach because they will not learn.

Verse 5. If a man also strive for masteries] εανδεκαιαθλη

τις. If a man contend in the public games-the Olympic or Isthmian

games among the Greeks, so often alluded to and particularly

explained in the notes on 1Co 9:24-26, to which the reader is

referred for a full illustration of this verse.

Is he not crowned] Though he may have conquered, except he

strive lawfully-unless he enter according to the rules of the

athletae, and act as these direct. No man, however zealous he may

have been, is to expect the Well done, good and faithful servant,

from Jesus Christ, unless he have laboured in the word and

doctrine, preached the truth as it is in Jesus, and built up the

Church upon Him who is its only FOUNDATION.

Verse 6. The husbandman that laboureth] That is: The

husbandman must first till his ground before he can expect a crop;

and he must till it according to the proper rules of agriculture,

else he cannot have a crop. The combatant must fight and conquer,

and fight according to the laws of the agones, before he can be

crowned; so the Christian minister must labour in the spiritual

vineyard, and labour too under the eye and according to the

direction of his Master, before he can expect that crown of

righteousness that fadeth not away.

Verse 7. Consider what I say] Apply my metaphors and

similitudes in a proper manner.

And the Lord give thee understanding] But instead of δωη, may

he give, ACDEFG, several others, besides versions and fathers,

have δωσει he will give. Consider thou properly, and God will

give thee a proper understanding of all things that concern thy

own peace, and the peace and prosperity of his Church. Think as

well as read.

Verse 8. Remember that Jesus Christ] The apostle seems to

say: Whatever tribulations or deaths may befall us, let us

remember that Jesus Christ, who was slain by the Jews, rose again

from the dead, and his resurrection is the proof and pledge of

ours. We also shall rise again to a life of glory and


According to my Gospel] The false teaching of Hymeneus and

Philetus stated that the resurrection was past already. Paul

preached the resurrection from the dead; and founded his doctrine

on the resurrection and promise of Christ. This was his Gospel;

the other was of a different nature.

Verse 9. Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer] This

verse contains one of the proofs that this epistle was written

while St. Paul was a prisoner the second time at Rome. See the

preface, where this is particularly considered.

Verse 10. For the elect's sake] For the sake of the Gentiles,

elected by God's goodness to enjoy every privilege formerly

possessed by the Jews, and, in addition to these, all the

blessings of the Gospel; the salvation of Christ here, and eternal

glory hereafter.

Verse 11. If we be dead with him] That is: As surely as

Christ rose again from the dead, so surely shall we rise again;

and if we die for him, we shall surely live again with him. This,

says the apostle, is πιστοςολογος, a true doctrine. This is

properly the import of the word; and we need not seek, as Bp.

Tillotson and many others have done, for some saying of Christ

which the apostle is supposed to be here quoting, and which he

learned from tradition.

Verse 12. If we suffer-with him] These are other parts of the

true doctrine, which the apostle mentions above.

Verse 13. If we believe not] Should we deny the faith and

apostatize, he is the same, as true to his threatenings as to his

promises; he cannot deny-act contrary to, himself.

Verse 14. That they strive not about words] WORDS, not

things, have been a most fruitful source of contention in the

Christian world; and among religious people, the principal cause

of animosity has arisen from the different manner of apprehending

the same term, while, in essence, both meant the same thing. All

preachers and divines should be very careful, both in speaking and

writing, to explain the terms they use, and never employ them in

any sense but that in which they have explained them.

The subverting of the hearers.] This is the general tendency

of all polemical divinity and controversial preaching, when angry

passions are called in to support the doctrines of the Gospel.

Verse 15. Study to show thyself approved unto God] Endeavour

so to cultivate and improve thy heart and mind, that thou mayest

not be a reproach to him from whom thou professest to receive thy


Rightly dividing the word of truth.] It is generally supposed

that the apostle alludes here to the care taken to divide the

sacrifices under the law; the priests studied, in dividing the

victim down the spine, to do it so scrupulously that one half of

the spinal marrow should be found on each side the backbone.

Probably nothing was much farther from the apostle's thoughts than

this view, which is now commonly taken of the subject. Indeed

this scrupulously dividing does not appear to have been any

original ordinance among the Jews; much stress was laid upon it in

later times, but from the beginning it was not so. The word

ορθοτομειν signifies, 1. Simply to cut straight, or to rectify.

2. To walk in the right way; it is thus used by Gregory Nazianzen,

who, in Orat. Apol. fugae, opposes ορθοτομειν to κακωςοδευειν,

walking in a right way to walking in a bad way. Thus,

καινοτομειν signifies to walk in a new way, and κατευθυνειν to

walk in a straight way. See Kypke. Therefore, by rightly

dividing the word of truth, we are to understand his continuing in

the true doctrine, and teaching that to every person; and,

according to our Lord's simile, giving each his portion of meat in

due season-milk to babes, strong meat to the full grown, comfort

to the disconsolate, reproof to the irregular and careless; in a

word, finding out the necessities of his hearers, and preaching so

as to meet those necessities.

Verse 16. Shun profane and vain babblings] This is the

character he gives of the preaching of the false teachers.

Whatever was not agreeable to the doctrine of truth was, in the

sight of God, empty and profane babbling; engendering nothing but

ungodliness, and daily increasing in that.

Verse 17. Their word will eat as doth a canker] ως

γαγγραινα. As a gangrene; i.e. as a mortification in the flesh,

where the circulation is entirely stopped, and putrefaction takes

place, which continues to corrupt all the circumjacent flesh,

spreading more and more till death takes place, unless stopped by

a timely and judicious application of medicine. Such is the

influence of false doctrine; it fixes its mortal seed in the soul,

which continues to corrupt and assimilate every thing to itself,

till, if not prevented by a timely application of the word of

life, under the direction of the heavenly Physician, it terminates

in the bitter pains of an eternal death. To such a gangrene the

apostle compares the corrupt doctrines of Hymeneus and Philetus.

Verse 18. Who concerning the truth have erred] They had the

truth, but erred or wandered from it, saying the resurrection was

already past, and thus denying the resurrection of the body, and,

by consequence, future rewards and punishments; and this

necessarily sapped the foundation of all religion: and thus the

gangrene had, in reference to their unhappy votaries, a rapid and

unchecked operation.

Verse 19. The foundation of God standeth sure] The word

θεμελιος signifies literally a foundation, and especially the

foundation of a building; and metaphorically, the building

itself, and often a noble mansion or palace. In this place the

apostle compares the religion of Christ to a great or noble

mansion. See 2Ti 2:20.

And as this religion is founded on the authority and power of the

Almighty, it necessarily must stand sure and be permanent. This

house has an inscription on it, for so σφραγις, seal, is

frequently understood; and this is evidently an allusion to the

ancient temples. Above the door of the temple of Delphi there was

the Greek word ει thou art, on which Plutarch has written an

express treatise. In many of the Mohammedan mosques the walls are

covered with inscriptions, which are ordinarily sentences taken

from the Koran, relative to the majesty of God, or the nature of

his worship. And we know that there was an inscription on the

mitre of the high priest among the Jews, viz: kodesh

laihovah, "Holiness to the Lord;" Ex 28:36; 39:30. See also

Zec 14:20. And this inscription may here be represented as being

made with the seal of God, for he stamps this on all things

belonging to himself and his worship.

But some suppose θεμελιος here to signify a contract or

covenant by which two parties are bound to fulfil certain

conditions and duties, the obligation to which, each takes on him

by sealing the instrument with his seal. Among the Asiatics,

these seals have scarcely ever any image or figure on them, but

always some very expressive inscription. I have seen many of

these, and several of them are now before me. The twofold

inscription, i.e. one on the seal of each party, may be here

alluded to; that on God's seal is, εγνωκυριοςτουςονταςαυτου.

The Lord approveth of them that are his. That on the seal of his

followers is, αποστητωαποαδικιαςπαςοονομαζωντοονομακυριου.

Let every one who nameth the name of the Lord (every Christian)

depart from iniquity. Thus each has his peculiar inscription.

κυριου, Lord, instead of χριστου, Christ, is the reading of

almost all the MSS. of importance, and the principal versions.

The Lord knoweth] i.e. Approves, watches over, and provides

for, them that are his true followers. To this his followers most

cheerfully subscribe, and say: Let every one that nameth this Lord

avoid every appearance of evil.

Verse 20. But in a great house] Here the apostle carries on

the allusion introduced in the preceding verse. As the foundation

of God refers to God's building, i.e. the whole system of

Christianity, so here the great house is to be understood of the

same; and the different kinds of vessels mean the different

teachers, as well as the different kinds of members. In this

sacred house at Ephesus there were vessels of gold and

silver-eminent, holy, sincere, and useful teachers and members,

and also vessels of wood and of earth-false and heretical

teachers, such as Hymeneus and Philetus, and their followers.

There are also in such houses vessels employed, some in a more

honourable, others in a less honourable, office. To these he

seems also to compare the same persons.

Verse 21. If a man therefore purge himself from these] He

that takes heed to his ways and to his doctrines, and walks with

God, will separate himself, not only from all false doctrine, but

from all wicked men, and thus be sanctified and proper to be

employed by the Master in every good word and work. The apostle

has not made the application of these different similes, and it is

very difficult to tell what he means.

Verse 22. Flee also youthful lusts] Not only all irregular

and sensual desires, but pride, ambition, and, above all, the lust

of power, to which most men will sacrifice all other propensities,

their ease, pleasure, health, &c. This is the most bewitching

passion in the human heart. Both in Church and state it is

ruinous; but particularly so in the former. Timothy was now

between thirty and forty years of age, the very age in which

ambition and the love of power most generally prevail. Carnal

pleasures are the sins of youth; ambition and the love of power

the sins of middle age; covetousness and carking cares the crimes

of old age.

Follow righteousness] Flee from sin, pursue goodness.

Righteousness-whatever is just, holy, and innocent.

Faith-fidelity both to God and man, improving that grace by which

thy soul may be saved, and faithfully discharging the duties of

thy office, that thou mayest save the souls of others.

Charity-love to God and man. Peace among all the members of the

Church, and as far as possible with all men; but especially among

those who invoke the Lord out of a pure desire to glorify his


Verse 23. Foolish and unlearned questions]

See Clarke on 1Ti 1:4; "1Ti 4:7", and "Tit 3:9".

Verse 24. The servant of the Lord must not strive]

See on 1Ti 3:2, 3.

Verse 25. Those that oppose] αντιδιατιθεμενους. This seems

to refer to those who opposed the apostle's authority; and hence

the propriety of the allusion to the rebellion of Korah and his

company. See observations at the end of the chapter.

If God peradventure] He was to use every means which he had

reason to believe God might bless; and the apostle intimates that,

bad as they were, they were not out of the reach of God's mercy.

Verse 26. And that they may recover themselves] The

construction of this verse is extremely difficult, though the

sense given by our translation is plain enough. I shall set down

the original, and the principal English translations:-



And thei rise agein fro snaaris of the debyl, of whome thei ben

holde captyffis at his wille.-WICLIF. First translation into

English, 1378.

And to turne agayne from the snare of devell, which are holden

in prison of him at his will.-COVERDALE. First printed English

Bible, 1535

That they may come to themselves agayne out of the snare of the

devyll, which are now taken of him at hys will.-EDWARD VIth's

Bible, by Becke, 1549.

And they may recover their senses to perform his will, after

being rescued alive by the servant of the Lord out of the snare of

the devil.-WAKEFIELD; who refers αυτου, him, to the servant of the

Lord, 2Ti 2:24.

And being caught alive by him out of the snare of the devil,

they may awake to do his will.-MACKNIGHT; who remarks that αυτου,

the relative, means the servant of the Lord; and εκεινου, the

demonstrative, refers to God, mentioned 2Ti 2:15.

I leave these different translations with the reader.

I HAVE referred, in the preceding notes, to inscriptions which

appear on the buildings and coins of the Asiatics; such

inscriptions are, in general, very curious, and carry with them a

considerable show of piety to God, in the acknowledgment of his

providence and mercy. I shall quote one merely as a curiosity,

without supposing it to be immediately applicable to the

illustration of the text.

There is extant a gold circular coin of the Great Mogul Shah

Jehan, struck at Delhi, A. H. 1062, A. D. 1651, five inches and a

half in diameter; on each side of this coin is a square, the

angles of which touch the periphery; within this square, and in

the segments, there are the following inscriptions:-

1. Within the square, on one side,

The bright star of religion, Mohammed (a second Sahib Kiran)

Shah Jehan, the victorious emperor.

2. In the segment on the upper side of the square,

The impression upon this coin of 200 mohurs, was struck through

the favour of God.

3. On the lateral segment to the left,

By the second Sahib Kiran, Shah Jehan, the defender of the


4. On the bottom segment,

May the golden countenance from the sculpture of this coin

enlighten the world.

5. On the lateral segment to the right,

As long as the splendid face of the moon is illuminated by the

rays of the sun!

1. On the reverse, within the square,

There is no god but God; and Mohammed is the prophet of God.

Struck in the capital of Shah Jehanabad, A.H. 1062.

2. On the top of the square,

Religion was illuminated by the truth of Abu Beker.

3. On the left hand compartment,

The faith was strengthened by the justice of Omar.

4. On the bottom compartment,

Piety was refreshed by the modesty and mildness of Othman.

5. On the right hand compartment,

The world was enlightened by the learning of Aly.

On these inscriptions it may be just necessary to observe that

Abu Beker, Omar, Othman, and Aly, were the four khalifs who

succeeded Mohammed. Abu Beker was the father of Ayesha, one of

Mohammed's wives. Othman was son-in-law of Mohammed, having

married his two daughters, Rakiah, and Omal-Calthoom. And Aly,

son of Abi Taleb, Mohammed's uncle, was also one of the

sons-in-law of Mohammed, having married Fatima, the daughter of

his favourite wife, Ayesha. The Ottoman empire was not so called

from Othman, the third khalif, but from Ottoman, the successful

chief, who conquered a small part of the Grecian empire in Asia,

and thus laid the foundation for the Turkish.

Grotius and others have supposed that the apostle alludes to

the custom of putting an inscription on the foundation stone of a

city or other building, giving an account of the time in which it

was founded, built, &c. Sometimes engraved stones were placed

over the principal gates of cities and fortresses, particularly in

the east, specifying the date of erection, repairs, &c., and

containing some religious sentiment or verse from the Koran. But

I do not think it likely that the apostle refers to any thing of

this kind. There appears to be an allusion here to the rebellion

of Korah and his company against the authority of Moses, Nu 16:5,

where, it is said: The Lord will show who are his: here the words

of the Septuagint are nearly the same that the apostle uses in

this verse, εγνωοθεοςτουςονταςαυτου. God knoweth or

approveth of them that are his. And the words in Nu 16:26,

Depart from the tents of these wicked men, are similar to those of

the apostle, Let every one that nameth the name of the Lord depart

from iniquity. We may therefore take it for granted that those

false teachers, the chief of whom were Hymeneus and Philetus, had

risen up against the authority of St. Paul; and he, in effect,

informs Timothy here that God will deal with them as he did with

Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, and their company. And as the true

Israelites were to separate themselves from the tents of those

wicked men, so he and the believers at Ephesus were to hold no

sort of communion with those workers of iniquity. This subject he

farther illustrates by a contract between two parties, each of

which sets his seal to the instrument, the seal bearing the motto

peculiar to the party. This I conceive to be the meaning; but the

common mode of interpretation will, it is probable, be most

commonly followed.

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