Introduction to 1 & 2 Timothy

By James M. Rochford

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Who was Timothy?

Timothy came from a broken home. It’s very likely that Timothy grew up without a father in the home. Acts records that his mother was a “believer” but “his father was a Greek” (Acts 16:1). Later Paul refers to the fact that Timothy’s mother and grandmother raised him in his faith (2 Tim. 1:5; 3:15), but Paul makes no mention of Timothy’s dad. Did his father die? Did he abandon the family? Was his father simply disengaged—not being a believer in Jesus? We’re not entirely sure, but he didn’t seem to play a very big role in Timothy’s life.

Yet Paul did play an exceptional role in Timothy’s life. In 1 Timothy 1:2, Paul refers to Timothy as his “true child in the faith” (1 Tim. 1:2). Stott comments, “Gnēsios (‘true’ or ‘genuine’) was used literally of children ‘born in wedlock, legitimate’ (BDAG). It is possible, therefore, that Paul is hinting at the circumstances of Timothy’s physical birth. Since his father was a Greek, Jewish law will have regarded him as illegitimate.”[1] Paul, however, was happy to regard Timothy as his “true child” in the faith.

Paul likely led Timothy to Christ on his first missionary tour, and discipled him on his second missionary tour. Timothy may have met Christ on Paul’s first missionary journey (Acts 13-14). By the time Paul came around the second time, he took Timothy as a disciple and a co-worker. Paul handpicked Timothy as his disciple, because he had a good reputation (Acts 16:2).

Timothy doesn’t seem to be a gifted leader. For all intents and purpose, Timothy seems to have been a particularly fearful and nervous guy. Paul felt the need to tell the Corinthians, “If Timothy comes, see that he is with you without cause to be afraid” (1 Cor. 16:10). Even though Timothy helped Paul plant this church in Corinth (Acts 18:5; 1 Cor. 4:17; 16:10; 2 Cor. 1:1; 2 Cor. 1:19), Timothy was still scared to return. However, to be fair, even the strident and stalwart Paul the apostle was himself shaking with fear as he preaching to the Corinthians on his first occasion (1 Cor. 2:3; Acts 18:9). So, we shouldn’t be too hard on Timothy.

Timothy also seems to have been rather sickly. Paul writes, “No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments” (1 Tim. 5:23). We can’t fault Timothy for getting sick—especially in the ancient world. But he simply doesn’t strike us as a rough and tough man.

But even though Timothy wasn’t necessarily a gifted leader, he seems to have been Paul’s most influential and faithful disciple. Thus, regarding Timothy, Paul could write, “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition. 20 For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:19-21). What high praise to be compared to Jesus himself! This must be why Paul left Timothy in the largest church of Ephesus—even though he was a young man (1 Tim. 4:12). Paul didn’t care about seniority; he trusted Timothy deeply. Later in Jesus’ letter to the church of Ephesus, we discover that Timothy’s leadership rooted out the false teachers, so Paul’s trust was well-founded (Rev. 2:1-7). It has been said that Timothy was Paul’s closest and most fruitful disciple, and it is difficult to disagree.

Paul and Timothy had a very close friendship. After all, Timothy was able to show the Corinthians how Paul operated in ministry (1 Cor. 4:17). Elsewhere, Paul sent Timothy to strengthen the Thessalonians and the Philippians (1 Thess. 3:2; Phil. 2:20). This shows us that Paul believed that Timothy was capable of being sent to lead independently of him. Paul grew so close to Timothy that he calls him his son (Phil. 2:22; 1 Tim. 1:2). This isn’t condescending, however, because Paul also speaks of him as a brother (1 Thess. 3:2). In other words, Paul eventually viewed him as his peer. Timothy coauthored six of Paul’s letters (2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Philemon)—three of which were in prison.

Furthermore, Paul writes incredibly touching comments to Timothy in these two letters, showing the type of friendship that they shared:

“This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son” (1 Tim. 1:18).

“I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long” (1 Tim. 3:14).

“[I am] longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy” (2 Tim. 1:4).

This makes us wonder why God would include this book in the Bible, if it is such a personal letter between Paul and Timothy. And yet, upon reflection, we see that we are given tremendous insight into the nature of discipleship and oversight through this letter.

Similarly, God could have given us a step-by-step instruction manual on prayer, but instead, he gave us the Psalms, wherein the psalmists model a vibrant prayer-life. Here, Paul models a vibrant discipleship relationship with his friend Timothy. Moreover, we can point out that Paul’s final words were addressed in the plural—not the singular (1 Tim. 6:21). Therefore, we need to keep in mind that this letter was meant for all of us in addition to Timothy.

Table of Contents

Authorship: Internal Evidence. 4

Authorship: External Evidence. 8

Date. 10

What was the False Teaching in Ephesus?. 10

How to use this commentary well 11

Consulted Commentaries. 12

Commentary on 1 Timothy. 12

1 Timothy 1 13

1 Timothy 2. 22

1 Timothy 3. 27

1 Timothy 4. 36

1 Timothy 5. 45

1 Timothy 6. 54

Commentary on 2 Timothy. 58

2 Timothy 1 59

2 Timothy 2. 68

2 Timothy 3. 82

2 Timothy 4. 89

Authorship: Internal Evidence

Critical scholars deny that Paul wrote the Pastoral Epistles (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus), even though these letters claim to be written by him, and Christians univocally held that these were written by Paul until the 19th century in the wake of Enlightenment thinking and Higher Criticism. Consider three central arguments given for denying that Paul wrote the Pastoral Epistles:

ARGUMENT #1: Paul mentions events in the Pastoral Epistles that are not recorded anywhere in the book of Acts

Critics point to several examples of historical events in the Pastoral Epistles that the book of Acts doesn’t contain:

  • Paul left Timothy in Ephesus and went to Macedonia (1 Tim. 1:3). In Acts, Paul called Timothy from Macedonia to Ephesus—not the other way around (Acts 19:22).
  • Paul spoke of false teaching in the future tense to the elders in Ephesus (Acts 20:28-30), but he spoke of false teaching in the present tense to Timothy (1 Tim. 1:3-4).
  • Paul left Titus in charge of leading the church in Crete (Titus 1:5). Yet, Acts never mentions Titus, nor does it mention a church plant in Crete.
  • An otherwise unknown man named Onesiphorus found Paul in Rome, and he was apparently a mighty servant of God in Ephesus (2 Tim. 1:16-18). For being such a bigshot, he is nowhere mentioned in Acts.

Since Acts doesn’t mention any of these people, places, or events, critics argue that this is a sign of a forgery in Paul’s name—whereby the forger tried to lace his letter with historical allusions to make it look authentic. In response to this argument, we can make several observations:

First, false historical allusions wouldn’t boost the credibility of a pseudepigraphical author. If a person was trying to impersonate Paul, why would he invent people and events that never occurred? Surely it would be better to appeal to well-known historical events instead.

Second, this is an argument from silence. While Acts tells the story of the expansion of the early Church truly, it does not tell it fully. No historical account can be absolutely exhaustive. If it was, then all of the books on Earth would not be able to contain the information (Jn. 21:25). Therefore, we cannot expect Luke to mention every single historical detail of the early church in a 28-chapter book. This is simply an unreasonable expectation.

Third, Paul mentions Titus in letters that critics hold to be authentic (e.g. Galatians and 2 Corinthians). Paul mentions Titus in Galatians (Gal. 2:1) and 2 Corinthians (2 Cor. 2:13), which are held to be authentic Pauline letters—even by critical scholars. Therefore, critical scholarship is using a double standard: If the Pastorals cannot be authentic, because they mention Titus, then neither can Galatians and 2 Corinthians, which they hold to be authentic.

Fourth, Acts never states that Paul dies at the end of his Roman custody. In fact, Paul himself believed that he would beat his charge and get out of Roman imprisonment (Phil. 1:19; 25). Therefore, Paul was probably released from house arrest, and then, continued to preach. Clement of Rome (AD 95) said that Paul went “to the extreme limit of the west” (1 Clement 5). Since Clement wrote from Rome, he is most likely referring to Spain.[2] The Muratorian Canon (AD 180) speaks of “Paul’s departure from the city as he was proceeding to Spain.”[3] Moreover, Paul himself stated that he intended to preach in Spain, if he had the opportunity (Rom. 15:24). Furthermore, the great church historian Eusebius writes (AD 340):

Paul is said, after having defended himself, to have set forth again upon the ministry of preaching, and to have entered the city [RMichael Prior stands the amanuensis theory on its head: he recognizes that the Pastoral ome] a second time, and to have ended his life by martyrdom. Whilst then a prisoner, he wrote the Second Epistle to Timothy, in which he both mentions his first defence, and his impending death.[4]

Acts does not end with Paul’s martyrdom. In fact, just the opposite: Acts ends with Paul still alive and well under Roman house arrest, and Luke states that he remained there for two years (Acts 28:30).

Additionally, the Pastorals state that Paul left Trophimus ill in Miletus (2 Tim. 4:19-20), but according to Acts, Trophimus came with Paul to Jerusalem (Acts 21:29-30). This demonstrates that Paul must be referring to another period of time after his first imprisonment in Rome—one in which Paul returned to Miletus after being imprisoned.

Finally, there are also a list of places that Paul mentions that aren’t recorded in the book of Acts. Paul mentions a forthcoming trip to Spain (Rom. 15:24) and Epaphras who helped establish a church in Colossae (Col. 1:7; 4:12; Philemon 23). While these come from undisputed Pauline letters, these events are not mentioned in Acts. Why then is it such a stretch to accept the existence of other geographical markers like Crete (Titus 1:5), Miletus (2 Tim. 4:20), and Nicopolis (Titus 3:12)? All of these references are best explained by a fourth missionary journey. Paul most likely visited these people and places on an unrecorded fourth missionary journey.

ARGUMENT #2: The Pastoral Epistles mention church leadership, which wasn’t developed until the 2nd century

Critics argue that official church leadership didn’t exist until the 2nd century AD. Because the Pastoral Epistles contain so much regarding church leadership, this must demonstrate that they date to the second century. Specifically, “overseers” (or “bishops”) became prominent in the second century. Since the Pastoral Epistles mention bishops (episkopoi, 1 Tim. 3:1; Titus 1:7), this suggests a second century date. However, these arguments are highly problematic for several reasons:

First, other NT documents reference “elders.” Luke mentions “elders” throughout the early church (Acts 11:30; 14:23; 15:2; 20:17), and James—one of our earliest NT letters—also mentions “elders” (Jas. 5:14). This demonstrates that leadership existed in the primitive church, and wasn’t a second century invention.

Second, other NT documents refers “overseers.” Paul mentions “overseers (episkopoi) and deacons” in the church of Philippi (Phil. 1:1), which even critics hold to be an undisputed letter of Paul.

Third, NT scholars are now generally agreed that the terms “overseer” and “elder” are interchange terms. Paul writes that he left Titus behind to “appoint elders in every city” (Titus 1:5), and he quickly goes on to write that “the overseer must be above reproach…” (Titus 1:7). We see the same practice in the book of Acts: Paul “sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church” (Acts 20:17), but then he tells this same group of people that “the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God” (Acts 20:28). Put simply, an overseer is an elder, and an elder is an overseer. Donald Guthrie stated that “this fact is now generally accepted among New Testament scholars.”[5]

Fourth, the material regarding leaders is short and simple. Indeed, the material regarding church leadership is only about 10% of the Pastoral Epistles (1 Tim. 3:1-13; 5:3-22; Titus 1:5-9),[6] and the material is terse—mostly mentioning character. If these letters reflect a full borne leadership structure, like that found in the second century, then why is so little written in these letters? After all, we are never even told what duties deacons have, and nothing in these letters reflect the idea of a single bishop overseeing a province of churches (i.e. a monarchical episcopate).

Fifth, we should expect Paul to write more about leadership in these letters. After all, these letters are written to… [drumroll please] …two Christian leaders! It shouldn’t surprise us at all that Paul would write more on this subject when coaching two young Christian pastors.

ARGUMENT #3: The Pastoral Epistles contain words and theology not used by Paul in the rest of his letters

Critics charge that the vocabulary and theology of the Pastoral Epistles is far different than Paul’s other writings. This, they argue, demonstrates that another author must have written the Pastoral Epistles. Friedrich Schleiermacher (1807) was the first person to make this argument, but P.N. Harrison gave a robust statistical case concerning Paul’s language in the Pastorals (1921):[7]

  • The Pastorals use 902 words. Since 54 are proper names, this leaves us with 848 remaining words in the Pastoral Epistles.
  • Of these 848 words, 306 (over one-third) do not occur in any of Paul’s other letters.
  • Of these 306, 175 do not occur anywhere else in the NT.
  • Of these 306, 211 of them occur in second century writings by the early church fathers.
  • Additionally, Harrison argued that the original words (i.e. hapax legomena) occur in the second century Church Fathers.

Many found Harrison’s case to be convincing—a century ago. Today, his argument has fallen under considerable criticism. Indeed, a number of counterpoints can account for this literary argument against Pauline authorship:

First, Paul was OLDER, when he wrote these letters. Do you think that you’ll write differently twenty years from now? If you do, then you should acknowledge that Paul probably did as well. As a young missionary, Paul probably wrote differently than he did as an old, imprisoned man, writing around AD 64-65.

Second, Paul’s other epistles were written for a PUBLIC audience, but these were written to a PRIVATE audience. With the exception of Philemon (an incredibly short letter), Paul wrote all of his other epistles to groups of people. However, the Pastoral Epistles were written to individuals—either Timothy or Titus. Do you think that you would write differently to a group than you would to an individual? Surely Paul did as well.

Third, the SUBJECT MATTER in Paul’s letters was different. When Paul was writing his other epistles, he was addressing specific needs of the church. However, when he wrote the Pastoral Epistles, he was addressing the specific needs of these pastors (e.g. discipleship, leadership development, combating false teachers, etc.). Since there were different needs, it shouldn’t surprise us to see Paul using unique language.

Fourth, the amount of words in the Pastorals is TOO SMALL OF A SAMPLE for a significant statistical analysis. An 848 word sample is far too small to generate any undeniable conclusions. Carson and Moo write, “Statisticians object to the brevity of the Epistles and to the lack of statistical controls.”[8] Indeed, the statistician G. U. Yule stated that statistical analysis of this sort needs at least 10,000 words,[9] and thus, the sample size for the Pastorals is simply too small.

Fifth, Paul might have written these letters by HAND, rather than collaborating or using a SCRIBE. Paul normally used an amanuensis (pronounced uh-man-you-EN-sis) to write his letters for him (Rom. 16:22; 1 Cor. 16:21; Gal. 6:11; Col. 4:18; 2 Thess. 3:17). Moreover, Paul wrote six of his letters with Timothy, as a coauthor (2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Philemon). Since Paul usually wrote his letters with others, the difference in the Pastoral Epistles might be accounted for by observing that Paul wrote these letters alone. Carson and Moo write,

Michael Prior stands the amanuensis theory on its head: he recognizes that the Pastoral Epistles are somewhat different from the ten Paulines, but suggests that the reason is not because they are pseudonymous but because they ‘are private letters in a double sense’—not only were they written to individuals, but they were written by Paul himself without an amanuensis. For most of the ten, and perhaps for all of them, Paul used an amanuensis; for six of the ten, Timothy is listed as the coauthor. But in the case of the Pastorals, Prior suggests, Paul wrote everything himself—and this accounts for the differences.[10]

Sixth, the original words (hapax legomena) occur in Greek writing prior to AD 50. J. N. D. Kelly noted that “almost all of the hapax legomena in the Pastorals appear in use by Greek writers prior to AD 50.”[11] Moreover, the proportion of these words occur in 1 Corinthians, which is an undisputed letter of Paul.[12]

Therefore, these arguments do not weaken the conviction that Paul wrote these letters himself. In fact, based on the internal and external evidence, we have a strong case for Paul’s authorship of the Pastoral Epistles.

Authorship: External Evidence

Polycarp (AD 110) cites 1 Timothy 6:10 (Philippians, 4.1).

Irenaeus (AD 180) cites 1 Timothy 6:20, “Paul well says [of them, that they make use of] ‘novelties of words of false knowledge’” (Against Heresies 2.14.7; 3.3.3).

The Muratorian Canon (AD 170, Rome) places the Pastoral Epistles “after the church epistles of Paul, together with Philemon.”[13] It mentions “the journey of Paul as he journeyed from Rome to Spain.” As we have already seen, Paul himself expressed a desire to travel beyond Rome to Spain (Rom. 15:24, 28).

The second-century Church Fathers refer to the Pastoral Epistles approximately 450 times.[14] Moreover, by the second century, these letters had already been translated into Latin and Syriac.

The external evidence for Paul’s authorship is quite extensive. Hence, Gordon Fee writes, “By the end of the second century they are firmly fixed in every Christian canon in every part of the empire and are never doubted by anyone until the nineteenth century.”[15]

Why are the Pastoral Epistles are missing from Marcion’s canon (AD 150)?

Tertullian says Marcion rejected them (Against Marcion 5.21), which implies that he was indeed aware of them. Likely, Marcion excised the Pastoral Epistles because of the fact that 1 Timothy 4 was antithetical to Marcionism.[16]

Why are the Pastoral Epistles are missing from the Chester Beatty Papyri (P46, AD 250)?

For one, the P46 document also doesn’t contain Philemon, which is regarded as authentic by critical scholars.

Second, the document may have excluded letters written to individuals, and only included letters written to churches. Mounce hypothesizes, “The absence of Philemon may suggest that the codex included only Paul’s public letters, omitting letters to individuals such as Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.”[17]

Third, the copyist may have run out of space. Mounce[18] and Guthrie[19] both argue that that the copyist simply may have run out of room on the papyrus parchment, because the writing of P46 grows smaller and smaller toward the end of the manuscript.

Date

Where was Paul when he wrote these two letters? The best suggestion is that Paul wrote this letter from Macedonia. 1 Timothy 1:3 suggests that Paul left Timothy behind in Ephesus, and he travelled to Macedonia from which he wrote this letter. However, Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy from prison in Rome (2 Tim. 1:8; 2:9; 4:13).

Paul died under the Roman emperor Nero. Since Nero died in ~AD 68, this would date the Pastoral Epistles some time before then. Paul tells Timothy to come before the winter (2 Tim. 4:21), placing it in AD 67. Since Paul was released from Roman house arrest in roughly AD 62, this would place the date of the Pastoral Epistles sometime between AD 62 and 67. We also need time for Paul to do a fourth missionary journey. Thus, the best estimate is AD 64-65.

What was the False Teaching in Ephesus?

Paul encouraged Timothy to promote sound doctrine and fight heretical teaching in Ephesus (1 Tim. 1:3). Timothy succeeded in this mission, because Revelation states that the church in Ephesus was free from heresy (Rev. 2:1-3), even if they fell short on love (Rev. 2:4). But, what false teaching was Timothy battling in Ephesus? This is disputed.

To understand the false teaching in Ephesus at this time, we actually need to incorporate Paul’s letter to the Colossians, which was a neighboring city. Because of their close proximity, these two cities probably had the same false teaching. When we compare these two cities, we see that Timothy must have been battling both (1) Jewish legalism and (2) proto-Gnosticism in Ephesus:

Historically, full blown Gnosticism hadn’t erupted yet, but an early version of it had begun to arise in Ephesus—what has been called proto-Gnosticism. Paul writes, “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’” (1 Tim. 6:20). The word “knowledge” (gnosis) is the Greek word from which we get the term Gnosticism. The fact that these false teachers were forbidding marriage (1 Tim. 4:3) suggests Gnostic thinking (i.e. asceticism). When Paul wrote to the Colossians, he was fighting against angel worship and ungodly philosophy, which would also fit with Gnosticism—not Judaism (Col. 2:8; 18-19). Finally, Paul’s use of the word “fullness” (pleroma, Col. 2:9) was a term that Gnostics used for the “fullness” of their deity. Paul must have been turning this Gnostic language on its head.

However, proto-Gnosticism doesn’t fully explain the false teaching in Ephesus or Colossae. Legalistic Judaism was in full force as well. In Colossae, Paul argued against circumcision (Col. 2:11-15), kosher laws, Sabbath keeping, and seasonal festivals (Col. 2:16). In Ephesus, Paul spoke about the false teachers as those “wanting to be teachers of the Law” (1 Tim. 1:7; cf. Titus 1:10, 14; 3:9). Surely, there were Jewish false teachers as well.

While some commentators try to blend these two types of false teaching together (into some kind of Jewish mysticism?), we feel most comfortable stating that there could have been more than one type of false teaching going on at this time.[20] Similarly, in the modern church, a pastor might speak about the problems of postmodernism and modernism in the same teaching; or, he might speak about the teachings of cult groups and New Age mysticism. Likewise, Timothy could have been battling various forms of false teaching. (For more on this subject, see “Introduction to Colossians”).

How to use this commentary well

For personal use. We wrote this material to build up people in their knowledge of the Bible. As the reader, we hope you enjoy reading through the commentary to grow in your interpretation of the text, understand the historical backdrop, gain insight into the original languages, and reflect on our comments to challenge your thinking. As a result, we hope this will give you a deeper love for the word of God.

Teaching preparation. We read through several commentaries in order to study this book, and condensed their scholarship into an easy to read format. We hope that this will help those giving public Bible teachings to have a deep grasp of the book as they prepare to teach. As one person has said, “All good public speaking is based on good private thinking.”[21] We couldn’t agree more. Nothing can replace sound study before you get up to teach, and we hope this will help you in that goal. And before you complain about our work, don’t forget that the price is right: FREE!

Discussion questions. Each section or chapter is outfitted with numerous discussion questions or questions for reflection. We think these questions would work best in a small men’s or women’s group—or for personal reading. In general, these questions are designed to prompt participants to explore the text or to stimulate application.

Discussing Bible difficulties. We highlight Bible difficulties with hyperlinks to articles on those subjects. All of these questions could make for dynamic discussion in a small group setting. As a Bible teacher, you could raise the difficulty, allow the small group to wrestle with it, and then give your own perspective.

As a teacher, you might give some key cross references, insights from the Greek, or other relevant tools to help aid the study. This gives students the tools that they need to answer the difficulty. Then, you could ask, “How do these points help answer the difficulty?”

Reading Bible difficulties. Some Bible difficulties are highly complex. For the sake of time, it might simply be better to read the article and ask, “What do you think of this explanation? What are the most persuasive points? Do you have a better explanation than the one being offered?”

Think critically. We would encourage Bible teachers to not allow people to simply read this commentary without exercising discernment and testing the commentary with sound hermeneutics (i.e. interpretation). God gave the church “teachers… to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-12). We would do well to learn from them. Yet, we also need to read their books with critical thinking, and judge what we’re reading (1 Cor. 14:29; 1 Thess. 5:21). This, of course, applies to our written commentary as well as any others!

In my small men’s Bible, I am frequently challenged, corrected, and sharpened in my ability to interpret the word of God. I frequently benefit from even the youngest Christians in the room. I write this with complete honesty—not pseudo-humility. We all have a role in challenging each other as we learn God’s word together. We would do well to learn from Bible teachers, and Bible teachers would do well to learn from their students!

At the same time, we shouldn’t disagree simply for the sake of being disagreeable. This leads to rabbit trails that can actually frustrate discussion. For this reason, we should follow the motto, “The best idea wins.” If people come to different conclusions on unimportant issues, it’s often best to simply acknowledge each other’s different perspectives and simply move on.

Consulted Commentaries

Ralph Earle, “1 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981)

Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990).

Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992).

Commentary on 1 Timothy

Unless otherwise stated, all citations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB).

1 Timothy 1

 

1 Timothy 1:1-5 (Timid Timothy)

(1:1-2) “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope, 2 To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Paul took his leadership qualifications directly from God. “Savior” refers to the past, and “hope” refers to the future. This speaks to what is behind and what is ahead. Our hope is focused in the person of Jesus. Earle writes, “He is our only hope.”[22]

Timothy was Paul’s spiritual “child.” Clearly, Paul viewed Timothy as a close friend. Notice the direct and yet gentle way in which Paul exhorts Timothy to lead change in Ephesus.

(1:3) “As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines.”

“Remain on at Ephesus.” This was a massive church! Maybe Timothy wanted to quit.

  • Ephesus had a large population. Witherington estimates it somewhere between 200,000-250,000 people.[23] It was the third largest city in the Roman Empire (behind Rome and Alexandria).
  • Ephesus was massively influential. This was the second most influential city that Paul reached—second only to Corinth. Ephesus was the “hub of all culture and commerce in western Asia,”[24] and it is the place from which the seven churches of Revelation 2-3 were formed (Acts 19:10).
  • Ephesus contained a massive amount of occult activity. Jewish exorcists lived and practiced there (Acts 19:14ff). When the church exploded, they burned their occult books for 50,000 pieces of silver (Acts 19:19).
  • They had a temple erected to Artemis. The Temple was 4x the size of the Parthenon. Its pillars were 60 feet tall, and it was 425 feet long and 225 feet wide.[25] This was considered “one of the great wonders of the ancient world.”[26]
  • A massive Jewish settlement was there. Josephus records this (Josephus, Antiquities225-27; 16.162-68, 172-73).

“Instruct” (paraggellō) literally means “to pass commands from one to the other.”[27] It is both a “military and a legal term, describing a military command or an official summons to court.”[28]

“Strange doctrines” (heterodidaskalein; cf. 1 Tim. 6:3) means “to teach doctrine that is essentially different.”[29] This shows that Christianity had a set basis for recognizing true from false doctrine.

We’re not sure when Paul left Ephesus for Macedonia. This most likely occurred after his two-year house arrest in Rome. After this, he left Timothy in charge to lead the Ephesian church.

Right from the beginning of this letter, we discover that false teachers had entered this church. Paul had already warned the leaders in the Ephesian church about this when he was leaving them. He said, “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be on the alert” (Acts 20:29-31).

How did Paul know this? Probably, Paul could foresee this because he was a tenured church planter and leader at this point. He had seen false-teaching creep in everywhere else—even right from the beginning of his ministry (Gal. 1:6-9; 4:17; 5:10). It’s also possible that this was some sort of prophetic insight from Paul. Either way, his prediction was correct.

(1:4) “Nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith.”

There must have been some proto-Gnosticism or Jewish mysticism that plagued this church (see comments on 1 Timothy 2:12-15).

“Myths” also appears later in the letter. Paul later writes, “Have nothing to do with worldly fables [mythous] fit only for old women” (1 Tim. 4:7). Later, Paul will write, “[People] will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” (2 Tim. 4:4; cf. Titus 1:14).

“Strange doctrines” must refer to Jewish mysticism (see v.7).

“Myths and endless genealogies” might be the same as Titus 1:14, which refers specifically to Jewish teachers. Guthrie writes, “An example of the way in which Jewish delight in such speculations led to the composition of mythical histories based on the Old Testament is found in the Jewish book of Jubilees.”[30] Lea and Griffin write, “The Jewish Book of Jubilees, an apocryphal work from the second century b.c., has a number of legendary accretions to the Old Testament which may resemble what Paul had in mind. These stories are patriotic legends that are similar to such American traditions as the story of George Washington and the cherry tree.”[31]

(1:4) What was the false teaching in Ephesus?

(1:5) “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”

The word “goal” (telos) means purpose (cf. Rom. 10:4). Every preacher has a goal in mind when they teach. Some stress that the Christian worker should be a good spouse and parent; some stress a deeper knowledge of God; others stress a radical commitment to God; some stress our obedience to the Law; others stress truth, etc. When you hear these preachers every week, this goal pervades every teaching. Because they have a picture in their mind, it flows out of their teaching.

What was Paul’s “goal” in his teaching? Paul’s emphasis was staying under grace, building our faith, and radical love.

“Love” (agape) is at the heart of true spirituality. Other religions focus on duty, behavior, and fear. The ethical context matters on actions (e.g. cutting the grass for your grandpa). Love is the fulfillment of the law. Thus, Paul puts it before the law.

  • “Pure heart.” The heart is “the center of a person (cf. 1 Pet. 3:4), i.e., the person as he or she really is within himself or herself and before God.”[32] This refers to being an authentic person—inside and out (Mt. 23:25). This isn’t describing perfection, but being able to get under grace quicker (1 Jn. 1:7). Jesus taught that those with a “pure heart” would see God (Mt. 5:8).
  • “Good conscience.” The concept of keeping a “good conscience” comes up throughout this letter. Paul later writes that Hymenaeus and Alexander lost their “faith” and a “good conscience,” and this “shipwrecked” their faith (1 Tim. 1:18-20). He tracks the roots of apostasy back to a searing of the “conscience” (1 Tim. 4:2; Titus 1:15). Moreover, elders should serve God with a “clear conscience” (1 Tim. 3:9; cf. 2 Tim. 1:2). Remember, we cleanse our conscience knowing that “God is greater than our heart and knows all things” (1 Jn. 3:20). Hebrews states, “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb. 9:14).
  • “Sincere faith.” This isn’t mental assent or peer pressure. God can tell the difference between lip service and sincerity. People can tell this too. Preach the gospel here.

1 Timothy 1:6-20 (The Proper Use of the Law)

(1:6) “For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion…”

“These things.” In context, what did they stray from? They strayed from love, a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith mentioned in verse 5. Later, Paul will mention two men (by name!) who lost their faith over drifting from these spiritual essentials (vv.19-20).

These men replaced “love” with “fruitless discussion.” The false teachers loved to talk about esoteric theology, but they didn’t love people.

Nobody wakes up one day and tells themselves that they want to wreck their relationship with God and become a false teacher. Instead, they “stray.” They drift. If we’re not careful, we can slowly fall away from the main emphases of the Christian life.

(1:7) “Wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.”

Paul has the clout to say that these men don’t know how to be good law-teachers, because he himself had been a master Pharisee. He is saying, “Not only do these guys not grasp the gospel, but they don’t even know how to exposit the Old Testament law, either!” While they had many words, they had a complete lack of insight.

(1:8) “But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully.”

There is nothing wrong with the Law. It is our use of the Law that can be unbiblical.

(1:9-10) “Realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers 10 and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching.”

“Realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person.” Lea[33] holds that the “righteous person” refers to the Christian believer, and we tend to agree. This would confirm that Christians are no longer under Law (see comments on Romans 7:6).

Is Paul referring to the Ten Commandments or the civil law? Guthrie[34] and Lea[35] argue that Paul is referring to the Ten Commandments:

For one, Paul uses the article to refer to “law” in verse 8 (“the law”). Even though verse 9 lacks the article, it still seems to refer to the Law of Moses (i.e. the Ten Commandments).

Second, the Law is not for the believer; it is for the “lawless… rebellious… ungodly… sinners… unholy… profane.” We wouldn’t create laws unless we assumed people were going to break them. For instance, the purpose of the speed limit sign is because we know that people won’t naturally drive 65 mph down the highway. Likewise, the Law is meant to show sinful people their need for the gospel (v.11).

In this section, Paul practically repeats the entire 10 commandments:

(1-2) for the ungodly and sinners, [all sin is idolatry (Col. 3:5)]

(3-4) for the unholy and profane,

(5) for those who kill their fathers or mothers,[36]

(6) for murderers

(7) and immoral men and homosexuals

(8) and kidnappers

(9) and liars and perjurers,

(10) and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching,

Do the Ten Commandments restrain sin? Guthrie writes that the Law functions “in the restraint of evil-doers.”[37] Not true. It serves to convict evil-doers of their need for Christ.

Is Paul referring to homosexuality in this passage? Paul uses the word arsenokoitēs in this passage. It is a compound word which literally means “male” (arsēn)[38] and “bed” (koitē)—or “to lie down” (keimai).[39] Pro-homosexual interpreters claim that not all compound words carry a literal meaning. For instance, “honeymoon” and “butterfly” are both compound words, but they do not carry a meaning from the words that compose them. For this reason, commentators debate whether this refers to homosexuality, male prostitutes, or pedophilia.

Since the Greek word “homosexuals” (arsenokoitēs) does not appear in extrabiblical Greek before Paul’s time,[40] we need to consider where Paul is drawing this term. Remember, in verse 8, Paul writes, “We know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully.” Clearly, he had the OT law on his mind. But from where (in the OT) was he drawing this concept?

The clearest source is the book of Leviticus. In Leviticus 18:22, we read: “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.” Leviticus 20:13 explains: “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act.” In fact, the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the OT) renders both Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 very closely to Paul’s term arsenokoitēs:[41]

(Lev. 18:22) meta arsenos ou koimethese koiten gunaikos.

(Lev. 20:13) hos an koimethe meta arsenos koiten gunaikos.

Moreover, after the time of Paul, the church fathers consistently used this term to refer to homosexuality. Copan writes, “Every usage of the word after Paul by the Christian church fathers indicates male homosexual activity, and it is frequently placed on their ‘vice lists.’”[42] By contrast, if Paul was merely attacking male prostitution (as some have claimed), he would have used the common word porneuon or porne, as seen in the context of 1 Corinthians 6:15 (“Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her?”).

“Contrary” is the Greek word heteros (cf. Gal. 1:6; 1:9; 2 Cor. 11:4). This can either refer to adding to the gospel or subtracting from it (Rev. 22:18-19).

“Sound” (hygiainō) is where we get our modern word “hygienic.”[43]

(1:11) “According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.”

Paul viewed his commission from God as being trusted (episteuthen) with the truth.

(1:12) “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service…”

Paul was thankful for the privilege of being commissioned to serve God. Our service to God is a privilege—not an obligation.

God provides the strength and the calling to serve. We provide the faith.

Compare how Paul got into ministry versus how the false teachers were trying to get into ministry. The false teachers got in through law, but Paul got in through grace. The false teachers gave themselves the glory, while Paul gave God the glory (“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord…”).

God didn’t just “appoint” Paul for his role (NIV). He has “appointed” all believers (1 Cor. 12:28).

(1:13) “Even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief.”

Paul moved from blaspheming (i.e. his former worldview) to violent persecution (i.e. the logical outworking of his worldview). Our worldview affects the way we live in the world.

In verse 20, Paul writes that the false teachers were taught “not to blaspheme.” Why was Paul put into ministry as a “blasphemer,” but Hymenaeus and Alexander were thrown out of ministry for being “blasphemers”? The key to understanding this is in the fact that Paul acted “ignorantly in unbelief.” There is such a thing as willful ignorance: “So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart” (Eph. 4:17-18; cf. Acts 3:17). Furthermore, Paul committed this sin before conversion, while Hymenaeus and Alexander persisted in this sin after conversion. Guthrie notes that Paul’s “misguided pre-Christian career had been the object of pity rather than judgment in the sight of God, who recognized in Saul of Tarsus a servant of mighty potential when once he was enlightened.”[44]

(1:14) “And the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.”

We can never fully exhaust the grace of God.

“More than abundant” (hyperpleonazō) means “to experience extraordinary abundance” or to refer to “a vessel that becomes too full run over, overflow” (BDAG, p.1034).

(1:15) “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.”

This is the first of the five “trustworthy statements” in the Pastoral Epistles (1 Tim. 3:1; 4:9; 2 Tim. 2:11; Titus 3:8). Paul must use this repetition to signify the importance of these verses.

Paul’s understanding of God’s grace made his new life possible. He revisits his sinful life through the lens of the grace of God. Many Christians are quick to point to the list of vices in verses 9-10. Paul agrees that these are sinful. But instead of becoming self-righteous, he calls himself the worst of “all” sinners—even those mentioned in verses 9-10.

Is Paul’s statement hyperbole? Perhaps, but it’s also possible that he realized just how sinful he was. As my friend Jim Leffel likes to say, “Since we only know our own motives and sinful hearts, we are the most sinful people that we know!”

(1:16) “Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.”

Paul explains that God had a reason in choosing the worst of all sinners. This choice glorified him. If God worked through a pretty decent person, we would generally glorify the person—not God. But, if God worked through a rebellious man like Paul, it shows just how great God is.

A portrait becomes more magnificent if the artist paints it with worse materials. (“You painted this with a children’s paint set?!”) A poor kid who learns how to play competitive chess is much more impressive than a rich kid who plays at the same level with the use of a computer, tutor, and parental support. Likewise, God enjoys using broken people like us to bring about the greatest results. Likewise, Paul could’ve speculated that God saved him for his smarts, education, knowledge, gifts, etc. Instead, he says, “If God can save me, he can save anybody!”

Paul is “an example.” But to whom? He is an example to the rest of us! We might feel inadequate to follow God; yet if God could work through a man like Paul (“the worst of all sinners”), he can work through the rest of us as well.

As we reflect on our poor work for God, we too realize Jesus’ “perfect patience” to keep working through us.

(1:17) “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”

This is why God gets the glory. It seems as though Jesus is being called “the only God.” In context, this entire section is about Jesus. At the same time, this could be a shift in context, because Paul calls the King “invisible,” which is not true of Jesus.

(1:17) Can we see God or not?

(1:18) “This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight.”

Paul was “entrusted” with the gospel (v.11)… So was Timothy… And so are we.

(1:18) Did a prophet predict Timothy’s ministry?

(1:19) “Keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.”

“Keeping faith and a good conscience.” Losing your conscience is like sailing a boat with a blindfold on. Lea writes, “Most religious error is born of moral rebellion rather than intellectual denial.”[45] The way to avoid spiritual death as a leader is to keep faith and a good conscience. If we don’t pursue these two things, we will suffer shipwreck in our faith. Paul mentions two guys by name who are bad examples of this. Perhaps these were personal friends of Timothy.

(1:20) “Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme.”

By handing them over to Satan, this could be a form of passive discipline—similar in principle to Romans 1:24, 26, 28. It is not uncommon to see walking Christians wreck their relationships with Christ (cf. 1 Tim. 1:5; 3:9; 4:2). If we don’t cling to grace to cleanse our conscience, we will be no different. Paul wept over these people who were sent out of the church (Phil. 3:18-19). Jesus said that we are to treat them “as the Gentiles” (Mt. 18:17). Yet, Jesus still cared for the Gentiles with compassion and love.

Hymenaeus is mentioned in Paul’s second letter (2 Tim. 2:17). He spread a false teaching that Jesus had already returned in his Second Coming.

Alexander could refer to the man in Acts 19:33-34, and/or Alexander “the coppersmith” who personally betrayed Paul (2 Tim. 4:14).

The purpose of their removal from fellowship was not punitive, but redemptive.[46] Paul wanted them to learn “not to blaspheme.” Paul himself had been a “blasphemer” (v.13). So the issue is not with the sin itself, but with the lack of repentance on their part.

(1:20) Handed over to Satan?

Questions for Reflection

Read verse 5. No one really ever thinks that they are getting off track from the main goal of Christianity (v.5). What would be some signs that a group of Christians was slowly starting to lose an emphasis on grace, faith, and love?

What are some ways that we can guard ourselves from losing our focus on grace, faith, and love?

Paul told the Ephesian elders, “I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God” (Acts 20:27). This means that Paul taught about Scripture in a robust and exhaustive way. How does this harmonize with choosing to emphasize love as the goal of our instruction?

1 Timothy 2

1 Timothy 2:1-8 (Petitionary Prayer)

Remember, this is a Pastoral Epistle (or “Leadership Letter”), which is given to train Timothy, as well as all subsequent leaders down throughout Christian history. After getting through his introductory material, what does Paul place at the top of the list for leadership…?

Petitionary prayer!

(2:1) “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men.”

“First of all.” Commentators agree that prayer is “first” in its importance—not in its order (first, second, third…). Earle writes, “‘First of all’ probably emphasizes primacy in importance rather than in time.”[47] Paul lists several types of prayer. While these words have distinct meanings (as we’ll see below), we shouldn’t create sharp distinctions between these types of prayer. Paul was mostly likely “collecting synonyms that effectively communicate the importance of prayer.”[48]

“Entreaties” (deēsis) refers to an “urgent request to meet a need” (BDAG).

“Prayers” (proseuchē) is the most common word for prayer. BDAG defines it as a “petition.” It’s more generally defined as prayer.

“Petitions” (enteuxis) refer to “requests.” BDAG defines it as “a formal request put to a high official or official body, petition, request.”

“Thanksgiving (eucharistia) shows that Paul was able to sit and give thanks for every person—even the rulers and authorities in his day. An unfortunate tendency in serving God is to become negative and critical—even with fellow believers. One way to combat this is to give thanks for them regularly. Earle writes, “Thanking God for what he has done for us in the past strengthens our faith to believe that he will meet our needs in the future.”[49]

Paul tells us to pray for all men.” We should never say, No, for someone else, deciding in advance who would be interested in the message of Jesus. Instead, we should pray for all people, and pray that all would come to faith.

(2:2) “For kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.”

The believers may have felt disgruntled toward the authorities. In verse 8, Paul tells them to pray “without wrath and dissension.” The “kings and all who are in authority” are likely the last people that they would want to pray for. But instead of grumbling under their leadership or cursing them, Paul teaches that they should pray for them. Paul prayed that the government would leave the Church alone (“…so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life…”). That is, he prayed that the government would respect the rights of believers to practice their faith without persecution.

(2:3-4) “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

This passage is very difficult for Calvinistic interpreters. God is pleased when we pray for all men” (v.1), because he desires to save all men.” The 5-point Calvinistic doctrine of Limited Atonement doesn’t fit with verse 1 (or verse 6). According to a 5-point Calvinist, we’re not supposed to pray for all men—only the “elect.” We agree with Guthrie when he writes, “Intercession for all men could be justified only on the ground of God’s willingness to save all.”[50] Verse 3 refers back to God being pleased with our prayers for “all men” (v.1), and therefore, verse 4 builds on this concept. Thus, Lea comments, “Intercession for all people pleases the God who desires all to be saved.”[51]

Why does Paul bring up God’s universal desire for all people to come to salvation? Likely, Paul is countering both rabbinical Judaism and proto-Gnosticism in this verse.[52] Rabbinical Judaism held that God wanted to destroy sinners, and Gnostics held that only a small spiritual elite would be saved. Paul refutes both of these views in just a few short verses.

What is the application for listeners? This means that the only person who is stopping you from coming to Christ… is YOU!

(2:5) “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

“One God… one mediator.” This could be a refutation against the plethora of mediators taught in Gnosticism.[53]

Since Jesus was fully God, he can represent God. Since he was fully human, he can represent humanity. Like an ambassador with dual citizenship, Jesus can represent both parties fairly—being truly God and truly man (Heb. 2:17).

The five-point Calvinist needs to interpret “men” here to refer only to the “elect.” However, we are supposed to pray for “all men,” then it would follow that Jesus also died for “all men.”

(2:6) “[Jesus] gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.”

“Gave himself.” God the Father didn’t force Jesus to die for us. Jesus did this voluntarily (Jn. 10:17-18).

Jesus also used this concept of a “ransom” to describe his atoning death (Mk. 10:45; Mt. 20:28), though he used a different Greek word from Paul. The term “ransom” (antilytron) can mean “either a ‘ransom’ (involving ‘payment’) or ‘redemption’ (in the Exodus sense of delivery from bondage). In both Mark 10:45 and here, the latter is to be preferred (as well as in Titus 2:14).”[54] Guthrie writes, “The anti in the noun means ‘instead of,’ and the hyper following the verb means ‘on behalf of’ (although it should be noted that hyper can in some contexts sustain the meaning ‘instead of’). Christ is pictured as an ‘exchange price’ on behalf of and in the place of all, on the grounds of which freedom may be granted.”[55]

He also came at the “proper time.” Elsewhere, Paul says that Jesus came in the “fullness of time” (Gal. 4:4). See our earlier article, “Why Did God Decide to Spread the Gospel When He Did?”

(2:7) “For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.”

While Jesus died for all people, God uses human agency to spread this message. Was Paul’s mission to the Gentiles so scandalous that he felt the need to interject, “I am telling the truth, I am not lying”?

Paul uses the emphatic egō in Greek (I was appointed…”). Earle writes, “Perhaps he is thinking ‘even I’—the one who blasphemed Christ and persecuted the church (see 1:12-14).”[56] Even toward the end of his life, Paul was just as shocked as anyone else that he was allowed to be a minister of Jesus’ message of love and forgiveness.

(2:8) “Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.”

Many (or perhaps most?) commentators believe that Paul is describing a worship service here. However, he is referring to prayer—not singing. The “holy hands” refers to our lifestyle with our hands (Ex. 30:19-21; Ps. 24:4; Isa. 1:15; 59:3). Notice that Paul does not use the standard word for “holy” (hagios). He uses the term hosious, which means to be “without fault relative to deity, devout, pious, pleasing to God, holy” (BDAG). Our “lifestyle” of being “morally pure”[57] is in view here. In verse 2, Paul told them to pray and “lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.”

The people in this church may have experienced persecution from the governing authorities (v.1), and Paul is teaching that they need to pray for these authorities, rather than grow embittered (“without wrath and dissension”). Jesus taught that we should forgive our brother before we engage in religious activities (Mt. 5:23-24; 6:12-15; Mk. 11:25). James writes that we need to find repentance in order to draw close with God: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (Jas. 4:8). Peter writes that we should treat our wives with respect and love, so that our “prayers will not be hindered” (1 Pet. 3:7).

Questions for Reflection

Read verses 1-8. In what ways does this section motivate us to pray? In what ways might it challenge the way that we pray?

1 Timothy 2:9-15 (Women)

(2:9-10) “Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, 10 but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.”

The term “modesty” (aidous) can also be translated “respectful” as in Hebrews 12:28. The KJV (“shame-faced”) is surely a poor translation! Paul is encouraging women not to abuse their liberty in the way that they dress. The context here refers to obsessing over their appearance (e.g. “braided hair”), and also non-materialistic attire (e.g. “gold or pearls or costly garments”).

Why is Paul against “braided hair”? This might refer to showing off their hair in general, which was considered scandalous in this culture. Indeed, some women in this church were engaging in sexual immorality—what Paul calls “various impulses” (2 Tim. 3:6). The Greek word means “over desires” (epithumia). Fee writes, “Indeed, for a married woman so to dress in public was tantamount to marital unfaithfulness (see, e.g., Sentences of Sextus 513: ‘A wife who likes adornment is not faithful’).”[58] (See further comments on 1 Corinthians 11:5-6). Paul may have been writing to addressed specific concerns in this church, whose women were having “sensual desires in disregard of Christ” (1 Tim. 5:11). If these women were “making a claim to godliness,” but were dressing in a scandalous way, then this would send a mixed message.

While modern Western culture takes offense at Paul’s view of modesty, most cultures in world history would see no problem at all with this. At the same time, modesty is not an emphasis in the NT, so this shouldn’t turn into a focus for Christian women. The emphasis should be on showing good character. As the Proverbs state, “Strength and dignity are her clothing” (Prov. 31:25).

(2:11-15) “A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. 12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.”

(2:12-15) Are women allowed to teach men or not?

Questions for Reflection

Based on verse 1. What are some goals that we would like to see in the area of prayer?

Based on verse 1. What might be some signs that someone close to you has a vibrant prayer life? What would be some signs that they do not?

1 Timothy 3

1 Timothy 3:1-16 (Recognizing Leaders)

Overseers

(3:1) “It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.”

Isn’t it arrogant to want to be a spiritual leader?

First, it depends on our definition of leadership. If you define leadership as being dictatorial or authoritarian, then yes, wanting to lead is profoundly arrogant, not to mention dangerous. But what if you define leadership as “servant leadership,” as Jesus did (Mk. 10:45). This would change our perspective entirely. Christian leadership is not here to fulfill our desire to achieve or add to our resumes. We don’t lead to make ourselves somebody, but because we already are somebody “in Christ.”

Second, Jesus is the ultimate “Guardian [episkopos] of our souls” (1 Pet. 2:25). Is Jesus arrogant for adopting this role? (Mt. 11:28-30).

Third, God assigns ministry to us (2 Cor. 10:13). Therefore, properly understood, it is actually arrogant to say, “No,” to God, when he calls us to step forward for him (consider Moses’ objections in Ex. 3-4). All of this explains why Paul writes that it is a “fine work” if a person “aspires” and “desires” to lead.

  • “Aspire” (oregō) means “to seek to accomplish a specific goal, aspire to, strive for, desire” (BDAG).
  • “Desire” (epithumeo) is literally an “over desire.” This Greek word is usually used for sin, but here it is used for serving. Consequently, this implies that the cure to our selfish “over desires” is actually to live for others instead.

The aspiration is not simply for a title (“the office of overseer”), but primarily for a role (“it is a fine work he desires to do”). The aspiration and desire is to serve in the “work,” not simply the title.

Why would anyone want to lead?

Leadership sounds like a lot of work, and indeed it is (1 Tim. 4:15-16). Leading others for Christ is one of the toughest things you’ll ever do. At the same time, it is also one of the most rewarding. In fact, one study found that 98% of pastors agreed with the statement, “I feel privileged to be a pastor.”[59] This is despite the fact that the same study measured the difficulties and suffering of this job.

Leadership is all about love. Earlier, Paul wrote, “The goal of our instruction is love” (1 Tim. 1:5). Leadership is all about loving others, and teaching them to learn to love others. What does it say about our spirituality if we aren’t interested in loving others?

Leadership is unavoidable. A good synonym for leadership is “influence.” When we lead others, we influence them—one way or another. All of us naturally influence our friends, families, colleagues, etc. The question is not whether we will lead but what sort of leader we will be.

Leadership is incredibly meaningful. All of us hate “busy work.” Why? Because it’s meaningless! By contrast, influencing others for Christ is lightyears away from “busy work.” Caring for people’s spiritual health is one of the most important purposes we could ever have.

Leadership builds our faith. Serving as a leader gives us a “great confidence” in our faith (v.13). In other words, it builds our faith to see God come through over and over again.

Leadership grows our friendships. The people we lead and lead alongside often become our best friends (3 Jn. 4; 1 Thess. 2:19-20).

Leadership challenges us to grow spiritually. We end up treating our character issues more seriously. We pray more, study more, serve more, and love more than we normally would. When people step down from having the title of leadership, it isn’t uncommon to see their lives fall apart. Why is that? When we choose to lead others, we realize that people are depending on us. Our love for them helps us to persevere through difficult times.

Leadership is profoundly healthy for our marriages and children. Instead of leading separate lives, you get to lead with your spouse, drawing you together. Moreover, your children grow up in a home where Mom and Dad focus on loving others. What a gift for children to see an example like this! In fact, 79% of pastors think that their vocation has had a positive effect on their families.[60]

Should Christians lead by themselves or on teams?

The Bible repeatedly teaches plurality for Christian leaders.

First, we have biblical principles for plurality in leadership. In each passage, we see plural leaders overseeing a singular church:

  • “They had appointed elders [plural] for them in every church [singular]” (Acts 14:23).
  • “[Paul] sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders [plural] of the church [singular]” (Acts 20:17).
  • “He must call for the elders [plural] of the church [singular]” (Jas. 5:14).
  • “To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi [singular], including the overseers and deacons [plural]” (Phil. 1:1).
  • “I exhort the elders [plural] among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, 2 shepherd the flock [singular] of God among you [plural],[61] exercising oversight.” (1 Pet. 5:1-2).
  • “This reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders [plural] in every city [singular] as I directed you” (Titus 1:5).

Second, since “overseers” and “elders” are interchangeable offices, Paul’s mention of plural “elders” later in the letter demonstrates plurality (1 Tim. 5:17).

Third, Paul’s use of “if anyone” seems to suggest a group—not a single person.[62]

Fourth, Paul uses the singular to refer to “the overseer” (rather than the plural “overseers”). However, the “singular is generic in meaning,”[63] just as we see in the previous chapter where Paul refers to how “a woman must quietly receive instruction” and “I do not allow a woman to teach…” (1 Tim. 2:11-12). Surely Paul did not have a single woman in view! We see the same usage in Paul’s letters where he writes, “If any man…” (1 Cor. 3:18; Gal. 1:9).

Fifth, solitary leadership very often leads to problems.

  • Since human nature is fallen, we can make an argument from wisdom that sole authority is unwise.
  • A group of leaders also have more availability to serve a big church.
  • Lifeway found that 55% of pastors agreed that they “discouraged” and “lonely” at times. Ironically, “pastors of larger churches are lonelier… It appears that the larger the church the more present the loneliness.”[64]
  • In 2021, Barna found that 38% of pastors are seriously considering quitting vocational ministry.[65]

Leading on a team doesn’t cure all of these problems above, but it does curb these issues to a significant degree.

Are “overseers” and “elders” different offices?

No. An elder is an overseer, and an overseer is an elder. These terms are used interchangeably:

  • “I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders (presbyterous) in every city as I directed you, namely, if any man is above reproach… For the overseer must be above reproach (episkopos)” (Titus 1:5-7)
  • “[Paul] sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church… 28 The Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God” (Acts 20:17, 28).
  • “An overseer, then, must be… able to teach… The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching” (1 Tim. 3:2; 5:17).
  • “I exhort the elders (presbyterous) among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight (episkopeō)”[66] (1 Pet. 5:1-2)
Are “overseers” and “bishops” different offices?

Yes and no. Both English words are translations of the original Greek term (episkopos). Some translations use the archaic term “bishop” to translate this same Greek word (see KJV, ASV, NRSV). In that sense, and only in that sense, are bishops different from overseers: both are English translations of the same word.

However, this is far different from the erroneous notion that there is a leadership office above elders and overseers called “bishops.” We agree with Guthrie that “there is no hint here or elsewhere in the Pastorals of the monarchical episcopacy so much lauded by Ignatius.”[67] Lea writes, “We must not confuse the office of overseer or bishop mentioned here with the ecclesiastical office of bishop that developed later. In later times a bishop was a superintendent over a diocese. This office did not appear in a fully developed sense until the second century. Paul was not discussing a hierarchical office.”[68]

Why does Paul bring up the importance of leadership?

It’s very likely that Paul was trying to get Timothy to get some backup to fight against the false teachers in Ephesus. It could also be that this would serve as a stark contrast between what true and false spiritual leaders. By describing the characteristics of true leaders, the false teachers would stick out like a sore thumb.

What kind of qualities does a spiritual leader need?

Winsomeness? Gifting? Boldness? Good looks? None of these qualities would hurt, but these are simply not the qualities Paul lists. Instead, Paul teaches that leaders need (1) Christian character and (2) Christian service.

(1) GOOD CHARACTER: God wants to call forward men and women of character. Character is the backbone or skeletal structure that holds our muscles together. Like a man on steroids whose muscles develop faster than his bones, gifted leaders will snap if they have not developed character.

(2) HARD WORKING: Christian leaders cannot just be nice people. They need to be hard workers. Paul states that the office of an overseer is a fine “work” (1 Tim. 3:1). Overseers need to show love to non-Christians (philoxenos, 1 Tim. 3:2) to the point where they have a “good reputation with those outside the church (1 Tim. 3:7). These are people who have “served well” (1 Tim. 3:13), and those who “work hard at preaching and teaching” (1 Tim. 5:17).

(3) EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP: A leader needs to “lead his own household well” (1 Tim. 3:4-5). If a leader can lead when no one is looking, he will be more qualified to lead in more public settings. Later, we read, “The elders who lead well… and who work hard at preaching and teaching” (1 Tim. 5:17).

Paul emphasizes both character and service throughout this chapter.

(3:2) “An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach.”

(3:2) Does this passage preclude female eldership?

For a thorough word study of these character qualities and questions for discussion, see our article, “Character and Leadership.”

(3:3) “Not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money.”

(3:4) “He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity.”

(3:5) (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?).

(3:6) “Not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil.

(3:7) “And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”

Deacons

(3:8) “Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain.”

(3:9) “But holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.”

The “mystery of the faith” isn’t a mystery in the sense that we use that term today. Instead, it refers to “teachings once hidden but now revealed,”[69] and the reality that God has revealed the truth about Christ to the world (Rom. 16:25-26).

Leaders need a “clear conscience.” Otherwise, they will go off the rails (1 Tim. 1:5-6, 19).

(3:10) “These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach.”

“First be tested” (dokimazo) was a term used for the testing of the purity and quality of gold (see comments on 1 Peter 1:7). This must mean that we should wait to recognize deacons until we see them experience suffering, failure, and success.

(3:11) “Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things.”

(3:11) Are these instructions for “female deacons” or “the wives of deacons?”

(3:12) “Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households.”

Again, for a thorough word study of these character qualities and questions for discussion, see our earlier article, “Character and Leadership.”

(3:13) “For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.”

Their “high standing” doesn’t refer to having “an advance in ecclesiastical rank.”[70] Rather, according to Earle,[71] Guthrie,[72] and Lea,[73] it could refer to having a high standing both in the eyes of people whom you have been leading (1 Cor. 16:15-18; 1 Thess. 5:12; Heb. 13:7) and in the eyes of God who will tell us, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Mt. 25:21-23 NIV; Jn. 5:44).

The “great confidence” (parrēsia) refers to having great boldness in coming to God in faith (Eph. 3:12; Heb. 10:19). This is likely because leaders have seen God build their faith time and time again.

Their “great confidence” could refer to others having confidence in them. It could also refer to their own confidence in their faith, because they have seen God’s faithfulness in ministry over time.

The Church

(3:14) “I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long.”

Paul wanted to come and check in with Timothy. Even though he was trying to empower him as a leader, he also wanted to come and get his hands dirty with the work of leadership. He wasn’t leading from a “crow’s nest” far away. He wanted to be down on the deck with Timothy.

(3:15) “But in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.”

(3:15) Is the Church the foundation for the Bible?

(3:16) “By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness.”

Why does Paul refer to the basic gospel truths as a “mystery”? He could be wagging his finger at the Gnostic false teachers. To paraphrase Paul, he might be saying, “The Gnostics think that they can reveal all of the mysteries about spirituality. But they have nothing on the true revelation through Jesus!”

Scholars believe that what follows was an “an early creedal statement about the incarnation, vindication, and ascension of Jesus.”[74] The difficulty of this passage is whether or not to take it chronologically arranged, topically arranged, or poetically arranged. The passage seems to be chronological until you reach line 6.

Another way to understand this is simply to hold to a non-chronological view. Under this reading, the passage starts with Jesus’ humiliation and ends with Jesus’ exaltation. A good parallel would be Philippians 2:5-11.

“He who was revealed in the flesh.” This seems to refer to the incarnation (Jn. 1:14), and it “presupposes the pre-existence of Christ.”[75]

“Was vindicated in the Spirit.” The term “vindication” is the same word for “justified” (Rom. 1:3-4), which seems to refer to the resurrection. This passage is parallel: “in flesh” and “in spirit.” Thus, Paul is saying that “God had vindicated Christ in the spiritual realm, i.e. when he declared him to be his son.”[76]

Lea states, “What Paul was saying is that just as Christ was manifested in human flesh, so he was proved to be what he claimed to be in the spiritual realm. The resurrection of Christ declared that he was God’s Son.”[77]

Romans 1:3-4

1 Timothy 3:16

[Jesus] was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh.

He who was revealed in the flesh.
[Jesus] was DECLARED the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Was VINDICATED in the Spirit.

It’s also possible to take this to refer to Jesus’ baptism, where he received the Holy Spirit (Mt. 3:16) and the vindicating words of God: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased” (Mt. 3:17).

“Seen by angels.” The word “seen” is the “regular formula in the NT for resurrection appearances (Luke 24:23; Acts 9:17; 1 Cor. 15:5-8).”[78] However, this could also refer to Jesus’ triumph over fallen angels (Col. 2:15; Eph. 6:12) or good angels (1 Pet. 1:12; Eph. 3:10). This is understood to refer to his ascension by some interpreters.[79]

“Proclaimed among the nations.” This could refer to the spread of the gospel after Pentecost.

“Believed on in the world.” This would be the ongoing spread of the gospel through the “world” (kosmos) the Church Age. It could also refer to the gospel piercing through the world-system (kosmos) in general.[80]

“Taken up in glory.” The words “taken up” elsewhere in the NT refer “to the Ascension (Luke 9:51; Acts 1:2, 11, 22; cf. Mark 16:19).”[81] Again, everything seemed to be in chronological order until we reached this line. How do we explain this? Fee writes, “The answer seems to lie with the phrase in glory, which less likely refers to the place of his exaltation as to its manner, that is, it was ‘glorious’ or ‘accompanied with glory.’ Like line 3, then, this line also emphasizes his triumph and glorification more than the actual event of the Ascension itself, chronologically understood.”[82] Furthermore, Fee adds, “Indeed, in this view, line 6 is the glorious climax of the whole that begins in line 1 with the humiliation of Incarnation.”[83]

Lea[84] argues that Jesus gave the Great Commission before he ascended. So, the notion that Jesus was “believed on in the world” would refer to the initial commission that is still being fulfilled to this day.

Why does Paul include this early statement of faith? He could be affirming the early view of Jesus’ resurrection against the false teachers (2 Tim. 2:17-18). Moreover, in chapter 4, Paul goes on to refute false teachers. So, Paul is setting up sound doctrine in this verse before he attacks false doctrine in the subsequent verses.

1 Timothy 4

1 Timothy 4:1-5 (False teachers)

(4:1) “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith…”

“The Spirit explicitly says.” What does Paul mean by the Spirit speaking to him about the future?

  • OPTION #1: Old Testament predictions. This view is very unlikely. Fee writes, “Such a formula is never used by Paul when referring to the Old Testament.”[85] More importantly, it’s hard to know exactly where in the OT we read about people apostatizing at the end of human history.
  • OPTION #2: Jesus’ teaching in the Olivet Discourse. Guthrie[86] holds that Paul received his insight about false teachers from Jesus. Indeed, Jesus taught, “At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 11 Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many” (Mt. 24:10-11; cf. Mk. 13:22). The difficulty with this view is that Paul states that this came from the Spirit—not from the Lord Jesus (compare with 1 Cor. 7:10; Gal. 1:12).
  • OPTION #3: The Holy Spirit’s direct revelation. This view seems most likely. This could be in conjunction with God inspiring all Scripture through the Spirit (2 Tim. 3:16; cf. 2 Pet. 1:20-21), or perhaps the Spirit speaking to and through Paul at his farewell discourse in Ephesus: “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30).

“In later times” doesn’t necessarily refer to the end times—though it could. When Paul refers to the end times, he prefers the phrase “in the last days” (2 Tim. 3:1), rather than “in later times.” Earle understands this to refer to within Paul’s own lifetime.[87] Of course, Paul taught that a great apostasy would occur at the end of human history (2 Thess. 2:3ff).

“…paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.” The term “demons” (daimonion) refers to literal fallen angels—not false teachers. Paul combines this word with the words “deceitful spirits,” which can hardly refer to humans. Moreover, these demons work through the agency of the “hypocrisy of liars” (v.2). The term “slanderers” (diabolos) refers more generally to defamation of others in general (1 Tim. 3:11; 2 Tim. 3:3; Titus 2:3).

These false teachers are not innocent: They are responsible for believing demonic ideas (cf. Gen. 3:1-16). Yet, their deception runs deep. Paul later refers to false teachers as both “deceiving and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:13).

Postmodern people are often suspicious of “doctrine” (didaskalia). But this term simply refers to “the act of teaching” or “instruction” (BDAG, p.240). Indeed, postmodern people cannot reject doctrine without teaching their own doctrines! The question isn’t whether we’ll teach others, but what we’ll teach them. According to Paul, some people will teach others the “doctrine of demons.”

(4:2) “By means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron.”

How does someone lose their faith to the point that they could be teaching the Bible from Satan’s perspective? Paul has already addressed that the goal of our instruction “is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Tim. 1:5). When people have sin on their conscience, this causes a poisoning effect on their souls. When we lose “faith and a good conscience,” Paul describes this as “shipwreck” in regards to our faith (1 Tim. 1:19), and he even names two men who lost their faith this way: Hymenaeus and Alexander (1 Tim. 1:20).

Here in verse 2, Paul elaborates on this concept. When we have sin on our conscience, we can confess it and agree with God, or we can turn to the “hypocrisy of liars.” Hypocrisy has a numbing effect on our conscience. Like burning your finger with a “branding iron,” our conscience becomes “seared” and calloused and numb. We become desensitized to conviction from the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:19), and open ourselves to various other spiritual forces. The Greek term for “seared” (kaustēriazō) is the root from which we get the term “cauterized.” When we live a double-life like this, we open ourselves to hypocrisy and refuse to come under the grace of God.

Does this refer to being branded by Satan? Fee[88] believes that Paul is referring to a brand from Satan on their conscience (see the NEB). But we disagree. The term “seared” (kaustēriazō) is a verb—not a noun. Hypocrisy is the way that the conscience is seared. As we have argued above, a clear conscience is a major theme in Paul’s letter.

(4:3-4) “Men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude.”

The rejection of marriage and foods refers to some sort of Gnostic false teaching. Indeed, Guthrie is quite strong when he writes, “There is no doubt that these point to an incipient Gnosticism with its dualistic view of matter, which found its climax in the heretical teachers of the early second century.”[89] Paul confronts two components to the Gnostic teaching in Ephesus:

(1) Is marriage inherently evil? Not at all. Gnostic teachers believed that marriage was sinful, because the physical body was inherently dirty and evil. By contrast, Genesis 1-2 teaches that God created marriage, and he called it “good.” Stott writes, “The Encratites, for example, are described by Irenaeus as having ‘preached against marriage, thus setting aside the original creation of God, and indirectly blaming him who made them male and female for the propagation of the human race’.”[90]

(2) Are different forms of food inherently evil? Not at all. God created everything, and over and over he said, “It was good… And it was good… And it was good… And it was very good” (Gen. 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31).

What does this ascetic view say about God? The word “asceticism” refers to rigorous self-denial (and in extreme cases even self-harm). Such a perspective of God really pictures him as unloving and unnecessarily restrictive. Indeed, Paul is fighting against this perspective because “what is at stake is our whole conception of God.”[91] Paul viewed God as an incredible giver, who wants us to enjoy the good gifts that he gives us. Later he writes, “[God] richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment” (1 Tim. 6:17). Imagine if a young boy didn’t eat any of the food in the fridge because they thought that this would anger his parents. Imagine if he refused to open up his presents on Christmas because he didn’t think he should enjoy them. What would this say about their view of their parents? John Stott writes, “To reject these things is to abandon the faith, since it insults the Creator. To receive them thankfully and celebrate them joyfully is to glorify God.”[92]

(4:4) Does the Bible condone drug use?

(4:5) “For it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.”

Earle,[93] Guthrie,[94] and Lea[95] understand this as a reason for “saying grace” before meals (cf. Mk. 6:41; 8:6). However, it seems that Paul’s reference to “the word of God” is simply a statement that God’s word allows us to eat anything we want (Gen. 1:29-30; Gen. 9:3; Mk. 7:19).

(4:6) “In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.”

God’s word (“the words of the faith”) and doctrine (“the sound doctrine”) are combined together. We need sound theology. In light of the context of false teaching, Guthrie makes a wise observation when he writes, “The best refutation of error is a positive presentation of truth.”[96]

Furthermore, as we teach God’s word to others, this has a nourishing effect on our own souls. Perhaps you’ve had the experience of teaching a biblical truth only to realize, “I needed to hear that just as much as them!”

(4:7) “But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women…”

These myths weren’t “fables” in the modern sense (e.g. the tortoise and the hare). The content of these “worldly” (bebēlos) myths led people to fall away from the truth. Paul used this term “worldly” (bebēlos) to refer to men who are “profane” (1 Tim. 1:9). The fact that Paul uses this “word to describe professedly religious people shows the utter bankruptcy of their religion.”[97] While these fables and myths might seem innocuous to the average reader, Paul elsewhere notes “[They] will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” (2 Tim. 4:4). In other words, these “myths” were not harmless stories; they were aberrations that turned people away from the truth.

“…On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” To “discipline yourself” (gymnazō) draws on the concept of an athlete training in a “gymnasium.” We can experience “training” from God’s discipline in our lives (Heb. 12:11), or we can have our hearts “trained in greed” (2 Pet. 2:14). In this context, our training begins with Bible study, reflection, meditation, and prayer. As we nourish ourselves on these things (v.6), we have the power to step out experience deep “training” in loving others.

(4:8) “For bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”

The Gnostics had all sorts of “bodily discipline” (v.2; Col. 2:23). But this asceticism wasn’t “godliness” according to Paul. Paul isn’t against bodily discipline; however, he writes that it’s of little profit. Many people focus on sculpting their bodies in the gym, while their minds and souls turn into a flabby bowl of mush! This is Os Guinness’ thesis in his book Fit Bodies Fat Minds: Why Evangelicals Don’t Think and What to Do About It (1994).

(4:9) “It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance.”

Here is one of the five “trustworthy statements” in the Pastoral Epistles. Most commentators believe that Paul is referring to verse 8.[98] Though, it’s possible that the trustworthy statement refers to verse 10 and following. The connecting word (“For…”) implies that verse 10 is building upon verse 9. However, we’re simply not sure.

(4:10) “For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God.”

Paul begins be describing our hard work:

“Labor” (kopiaō) means “to become weary or tired” or “to exert oneself physically, mentally, or spiritually, work hard, toil, strive, struggle” (BDAG, p.558). Paul uses the term to refer to the strain of athletic exhaustion (Phil. 2:16). John uses it of Jesus who was weary in the noon-day sun (Jn. 4:6). Of course, we need to remember that Jesus welcomes the weary to give them rest (Mt. 11:28). There is a strange paradox that we find rest from our labor, when we get into Jesus’ “yoke” (i.e. his labor). In other words, we don’t get rest unless we’re working alongside Jesus.

“Strive” (agōnizō) refers to “agony.” Earle writes, “The second (agōnizō, ‘agonize’) was used for competing in an athletic contest. So it meant ‘struggle’ or ‘strive.’ Just as athletes exert what seems to be their last ounce of energy to win a race, so Paul was giving the ministry all he had.”[99]

Do we simply muster the power to work hard from within? Not at all. The source of our energy comes from our source of hope: Where have you been “fixing your hope” lately? What have you been thinking about throughout the day? What have you been focusing on? Spiritual growth begins in the mind (“fixed our hope…”), but it results in hard work.

“[God] is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.” Guthrie understands this to mean that God is the “preserver of all men.”[100] This doesn’t seem to fit with God being our “Savior” (1 Tim. 1:1). God is the “Savior of all men” in the sense that he “genuinely wants all human beings to experience salvation.”[101] God is the potential Savior of all people, but only the actual Savior of those who trust in him for salvation.[102] The atonement was universal in its scope (1 Tim. 2:6; 1 Jn. 2:2), but not in its application. Even five-point Calvinists agree that a person is born under God’s wrath (Eph. 2:3) until they receive Christ. Therefore, the person doesn’t experience the application of the atonement until they receive it.

1 Timothy 4:11-16 (Leadership principles)

(4:11) “Prescribe and teach these things.”

The terms “prescribe and teach” are in the present tense. This means that Timothy should keep on preaching” and keep on teaching” these principles. We should never feel like God’s truth isn’t relevant because people have “heard all of this before.” Human nature forgets and rejects even the most essential and important truths from God. As Bible teachers, we are very often just glorified “broken records” to others!

(4:12) How old was Timothy?

(4:12) “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.”

“Look down on” (kataphroneō) implies “contempt and aversion” for this person (BDAG, p.529). Such a view is sinful: We shouldn’t look down on younger people simply because of their age. Moreover, we don’t choose leaders by “seniority.” Instead, we recognize them from their character and love—just as Paul has been arguing throughout this letter.

In the ancient world, age conferred a significant amount of respect. Indeed, Paul told Timothy to respect those who were older than him (1 Tim. 5:1-2). However, this doesn’t mean that Timothy should hand over the leadership of the church to these people. Instead, these older men and women should respect Timothy.

But how could Timothy gain the respect of older people? Should he stomp his feet and raise his voice, demanding their respect? No, Paul tells Timothy to focus on the “example” (typos) that he was setting for these other believers to follow. Through his example, Timothy would show that “authority in the community is contingent on character, not on age.”[103]

“Speech, conduct, love.” As leaders, we lead through our words and also through our works—through our lips as well as our lives.

“Faith.” Leaders model faith to their church. When circumstances are poor, God uses the faith of leaders to galvanize the church. Leaders can model faith by:

  • Sharing what they’re learning about God.
  • Not panicking during “out of season” times.
  • Initiating prayer with others, helping them to gain a vertical focus.
  • Suffering victoriously and with a godly attitude. (Leaders should share about their suffering, but they shouldn’t complain about it. It isn’t whether you talk about your suffering, but how you talk about it that matters. There may be times of honest lament and vulnerability, but without expressing trust in God, this will not influence others toward God.)

“Purity” (hagneia) only occurs here and in 1 Timothy 5:2. As Paul has already taught (1 Tim. 3:2ff), leaders need to have a quality character.

(4:13) “Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.”

“Until I come.” This return to Ephesus must’ve happened after the book of Acts ended. Paul didn’t think that he would return to Ephesus when he left (Acts 20:25, 38), but it’s likely that he did.

“Give attention to the public reading of Scripture.” It was common for the Bible to be read publicly (1 Thess. 5:27; Col. 4:16). This implies that even young Christians can understand the Bible—even children (2 Tim. 3:15). The “simple” can gain “understanding” from the Scriptures (Ps. 119:130). We are “blessed” by God if we “read” or even “hear” the words of the Bible—even the difficult book of Revelation! (Rev. 1:3) Indeed, even non-Christians can understand the truth of Scripture—at least enough to know how to come to faith in Christ (Jn. 20:31). Theologians refer to this as the perspicuity of Scripture—namely, that the main message of Scripture is clear.

“Exhortation and teaching.” In addition to reading the Scriptures, we should teach the Scriptures and exhort people to follow Christ. This is the best solution for the false doctrine happening in Ephesus: get the people reading and hearing the teaching of Scripture.

(4:14) “Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery.”

To “neglect” literally means “to be careless.”[104] Not all leaders have the gift of leadership, but all leaders are gifted in some way. Leaders should learn to leverage their gifts are and exploit them as much as possible to make an impact for Christ. When we go on autopilot, we will begin to drift away from our important calling.

(1 Tim. 4:12) How old was Timothy? (cf. 2 Tim. 1:6)

(4:15) “Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all.”

“Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them.” The term “take pains” (meletaō) means “to work with something definite in mind, take care, endeavor” (BDAG, p.627). It can also mean “to ponder.”[105] This implies thinking through how we can use our gifts effectively. This could imply that we either think hard about how to use our gifts, or perhaps to work hard at using our gifts (or more likely, both are in view).[106]

Many people in our culture appreciate hard work and high commitment. They admire those who give countless hours to career advancement, education, etc. For instance, when someone trains for the Olympics, they give up their adolescence, their friends, their education, and even their own families—all with a 99.9% that they will never win a medal. Yet people cheer for this sort of commitment. However, when someone decides to commit their lives to Christ, this is often considered to be extreme or bizarre.

We only get out of our relationship with God what we put into it. Many Christians are averse to working hard for the cause of Christ. Yet, they also complain about feelings of guilt, loneliness, apathy, and even low-grade depression. They can’t seem to grasp the simple truth that we experience happiness when we give out—not when we pamper ourselves with entertainment, stimulation, and overall laziness (Jn. 13:17; Acts 20:35).

“That your progress will be evident to all.” It’s easy to focus on all of the problems in the church—many of which are out of our control. Instead of focusing on what is out of our control, Paul instructs us to focus on what is in our control—namely, our own faith, love, teaching, and sanctification. Timothy was to focus on nourishing his own soul through the Scriptures (v.6), living a disciplined life (v.7), being an example to others (v.12), giving out quality teaching (v.13), and using his spiritual gifts (v.14). This is one of the most effective ways to challenge others around us: setting a powerful example.

Leaders who focus on these things ask questions to see if there is “progress” in their lives: Can people around me see that God is still growing me? Are all of my examples of spiritual growth from years ago, or can I point to recent areas of progress? Is my inner life with God one of the highest priorities in my leadership of others? Does my personal study of the Word motivate others around me? Does my personal time in prayer motivate others around me? Is my dedication to servant love motivational to others around me?

(4:16) “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching…”

Paul isn’t teaching a “self-focus.” The purpose of watching and evaluating ourselves is to bring transformation into the lives of others, as the context makes clear (e.g. loving others, harnessing our spiritual gifts, teaching, etc.). Earle writes, “While he is watching over others, the pastor must keep an eye on himself.”[107] This implies that there is a danger for Christian leaders to neglect their own spiritual growth. Pastor Chuck Smith writes,

What I mean by devotional life is that private time the pastor spends with God. The time that is essential for feeding your own soul; that time of drawing close to God in personal worship. Not that time of sermon preparation or prayer for the ministry, but rather that time of personal study and intimate communion with God. What makes this so difficult for the pastor is his lack of time and the demands of the congregation. You will be tempted to feel that you should be attending to more urgent matters. You may even feel guilty that you take this time for yourself when others need you so badly. The usual approach is to begin to combine your devotional time with your sermon study time, and this is easy to justify because you are in the word. This temptation must be resisted! The pastor’s devotional time must become the greatest priority of his life. You must recognize the importance of this! You must make the necessary time! If you neglect this important discipline, you will begin to personally dry up spiritually, and that will begin to affect your ministry! You must resist the temptation to lessen its importance! You must resist the tyranny of the urgent and seek the eternal! This is what will make you the most effective person for God in the long run![108]

“…persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.”

The term “persevere” (epimene) means “to remain at or in the same place for a period of time, stay, remain” (BDAG). In other words, don’t budge! Instead of panicking or jumping from one theological fad to another, mature leaders know how to stand their ground with their feet planted on the truth.

(4:16) How could Timothy ensure salvation for people?

Discussion questions

Read verses 12-16: What key principles of leadership can you learn from this section?

Based on verse 15: What would be key differences between seeking progress in spiritual growth versus seeking perfection?

Based on verse 16: At what point do we cross the line from evaluating our spiritual lives and falling into morbid introspection?

Imagine a parent who gave their child 500 life skills to learn all at once. This would be overwhelming to say the least! Did you sense God bringing one area to mind through the study of his word? If so, what steps do you sense you should take to move forward in that area?

1 Timothy 5

1 Timothy 5:1-17 (How to Fight Poverty Well)

In this chapter, Paul covers what our stewardship should look like toward the poor (vv.3-16) and toward Christian leaders (vv.17-23).

(5:1-2) “Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, 2 the older women as mothers…”

Paul compares Christian community to a family. This implies that we correct all people in the Christian community, but we should do so as dearly loved family members.

We can correct or admonish older men. In fact, according to verse 20, we are even told to rebuke elders in the church. But Paul qualifies this by saying that we should not do this “sharply” (NASB) or “harshly” (NIV). The term “sharply rebuke” (epiplēssō) is only used here in the NT, and it means to “censure severely”[109] or giving a “severe verbal pounding.”[110] After all, it’s already difficult enough for older people to listen to younger people—especially in Paul’s culture! (cf. 1 Tim. 4:12)

“Appeal” (parakaleō) literally means to call alongside the person.

“…and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.”

Paul brought up “purity” (hagneia) in a list of virtues that Timothy should strive toward (1 Tim. 4:12). This term refers to “the quality of moral purity, purity; of a pure mind” (BDAG). Paul’s way of changing this lustful mindset is to rethink how leaders should look at their people. Leaders should look at young women in the church as sisters—as a part of their flock—not as people to be sexually objectified (contra the false teachers in 2 Timothy 3:6-7).

Discussion questions

Based on verses 1-2: How is the Christian community similar to a family? How is it different? Why do you think Paul might use this imagery so frequently in describing the Christian community?

(5:3) “Honor widows who are widows indeed.”

In this section, Paul spills a lot of ink describing how the church should allocate its money for the poor. He gives a list of criteria for the people who should receive help.

In the first century, widows often suffered abject poverty. It would’ve been awful to see the generosity of these early Christians squandered on people who didn’t really need financial aid (Ps. 68:5; 146:9; Prov. 15:25; Jas. 1:27; Gal. 6:10). In this day and age, hospitals, social security, and nursing homes did not exist. Elderly widows were in a state of utter helplessness and hopelessness. Yet Paul even places stipulations on these people who were getting financial assistance from the church (cf. Acts 6:1-6).

(5:4) “But if any widow has children or grandchildren, they must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God.”

If a widow could get help from her family, then she shouldn’t seek it from the church. It’s a duty for children to take care of their parents in their old age (see verses 8 and 16).

The term “practice piety” (eusebein) was a word for worship in the ancient world. Caring for elderly relatives is a way to worship God. James states that it is “pure and undefiled religion” to care for “widows and orphans” (Jas. 1:27).

(5:5) “Now she who is a widow indeed and who has been left alone, has fixed her hope on God and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day.”

The widow “who has been left alone” is the one who is “childless.”[111] The widow should be a woman of character: In this context, this means being prayerful.

(5:6) “But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead even while she lives.”

The term “wanton pleasure” (spatalaō) means “to indulge oneself beyond the bounds of propriety, live luxuriously/voluptuously” (BDAG). James uses this term to refer to the rich who “have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure” (Jas. 5:5). We shouldn’t give aid to those who waste it. In a sense, Paul is asking, “Are they needy or greedy?” On the other hand, this could refer to prostitution. Guthrie writes that many widows “were tempted to resort to immoral living as a means of support, and that is probably in the apostle’s mind”[112] when he used the term “wanton pleasure” (spatalaō).

(5:7) “Prescribe these things as well, so that they may be above reproach.”

We need to be “above reproach” in how we give our money to the poor. People need to see that we are taking precautions for how we collect, hold, and give money to the poor. The whole process needs to be above the board. It’s our responsibility to give out money responsibly.

(5:8) “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

Even non-Christians know how to love their own families (Mt. 5:46-47). This fits with verse 4, which states, “These should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family” (NIV). If we don’t care for our families, we are not putting our faith into practice (“…denied the faith…”). Stott writes, “The church’s sense of social responsibility is not to encourage irresponsibility in others.”[113]

(5:9) “A widow is to be put on the list only if she is not less than sixty years old…”

The widow needs to be elderly—not young. Making it to 60 years old was rare in this culture.

“…having been the wife of one man.”

This is the same expression used for elders (3:2) and deacons (3:12). Literally, she is a “one man woman.” That is, she isn’t promiscuous. We know that this isn’t referring to remarriage, because Paul addresses that in verse 14.

(5:10) “Having a reputation for good works…”

A widow needs to have been a woman of character.

“…if she has brought up children…”

This could refer to her own children or perhaps to taking care of orphans.[114]

“…if she has shown hospitality to strangers…”

The term “hospitality to strangers” (xenodocheō) refers to welcoming strangers, and seems similar to philoxenos (“loving strangers,” 3:2).

“…if she has washed the saints’ feet…”

It could refer to the practice Jesus initiated at the last supper (Jn. 13:15), which refers to serving fellow believers.

“…if she has assisted those in distress…”

How could we give money to a distressed widow, if she herself never helped distressed people around her?

“…if she has devoted herself to every good work.”

In summary, widows qualified for aid if they had good character and love for others.

(5:11-12) “But refuse to put younger widows on the list, for when they feel sensual desires in disregard of Christ, they want to get married, 12 thus incurring condemnation, because they have set aside their previous pledge.”

(5:11-12) Can widows remarry or not?

These are widows who got remarried and “set aside their previous pledge” to remain single. If they did this, then they shouldn’t receive financial aid for the church, but from their new family. To use the language of our day, this would be “double dipping” and immoral.

It’s also possible that these are women who rejected Christ and “had abandoned their initial commitment to Christ.”[115] The “previous pledge” could refer to her pledge to follow Christ (Rev. 2:4).

(5:13) “At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention.”

The term “busybodies” (periergoi) refers to false teachers. Kroeger and Kroeger write, “They speak nonsense, a characteristic of Gnostic communication, and are called periergoi, often translated ‘busybodies’; but the Greek word might well be translated ‘workers of magic.’”[116] Likewise, Keener writes, “A survey of every word in extant Greek literature translated ‘busybodies’ …[refers to] those spreading false or improper teaching.”[117]

(5:14-15) “Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach; 15 for some have already turned aside to follow Satan.”

Earle doesn’t understand “the enemy” to refer to Satan, because “Satan” is mentioned in verse 15.[118] However, we could flip this argument on its head. After all, verse 15 begins with the connecting word “for,” and thus the context would imply that “the enemy” is indeed Satan. This fits with the lexical argument stated above that the “busybodies” were, in fact, false teachers (v.13).

(5:16) “If any woman who is a believer has dependent widows, she must assist them and the church must not be burdened, so that it may assist those who are widows indeed.”

Again, the family should take care of widows in general. This could refer to a younger woman, a younger wealthy woman, or perhaps both.[119] We might summarize Paul’s view of financial giving in this way:

Eligible Widows

Ineligible Widows

“really in need and left all alone”

“lives for pleasure”
“over sixty…”

“younger…”

“faithful to her husband”

“sensual desires overcome [her]”
“well known for her good deeds”

“gossips and busybodies”

What principles do we learn from this passage about how to battle poverty?

When we help the poor, this is a form of Christian worship (v.4).

Families should take care of poor relatives before asking the church for help (v.4, 8, 16). If a woman didn’t have a family, remarriage was a feasible option (v.14).

We should help the truly poor (v.3). Requirements in this cultural situation were:

  • They have no family support (“left alone” v.5).
  • The person is spiritually oriented (“fixed her hope on God” v.5).
  • They are not living an openly immoral lifestyle (“wanton pleasure” v.6), and they are living a sacrificial lifestyle (“good works… hospitality to strangers… washed the saints’ feet” v.10).
  • They are unable to work for themselves (“60 years old,” v.9).

Christians should be unaccusable in their handling of financial giving (v.7).

Does our church have a list of widows?

No, but we still follow the principles in this passage. In this culture, it was very hard for widows to get remarried, and they couldn’t work or collect Social Security. Anyone who faces these sorts of barriers would qualify for financial aid (whether they are widows or not). We follow the spirit of this command—not the letter of the law.

Discussion questions

Consider these statistics from Robert Lupton’s book Toxic Charity:

  • Africa has received $1 trillion in benevolent aid in the last 50 years, and per capita income is now lower, life expectancy has stagnated, and adult literacy is lower.
  • 85 percent of aid money flowing to African countries never reaches the targeted areas of need.
  • S. missions teams who rushed to Honduras to help rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Mitch spent on average $30,000 per home—homes locals could have built for $3,000 each.
  • The money spent by one campus ministry to cover the costs of their Central American missions trip to repaint an orphanage would have been enough to hire two local painters and two new full-time teachers and purchase new uniforms for every student in the school.

What might happen if our church failed to be good stewards of our financial resources? What impact might this have on us? On others?

How to properly pay elders

(5:17) “The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.” The term “rule well” (proestōtes) means “to exercise a position of leadership, rule, direct, be at the head of” (BDAG). It is used of military leadership outside of the Bible (1 Macc. 5:19). Inside the Bible, it surely refers to spiritual authority, but this is done out of loving and humble service to Christ and the Church.

“Double honor” doesn’t refer to being paid twice what the widows make. It could simply refer to “ample provision”[120] or “proper pay.”[121] They should be adequately paid for their work, but certainly not overpaid for their work. The NLT understands the “double honor” to refer to (1) being “respected” and (2) being “paid well.”

“Work hard” (kopiaō) means “to become weary or tired” or “to exert oneself physically, mentally, or spiritually, work hard, toil, strive, struggle” (BDAG, p.558). Paul already used this term to refer to Timothy’s need for hard work in 4:10. Paul uses the term to refer to the strain of athletic exhaustion (Phil. 2:16). John uses it of Jesus who was weary in the noon-day sun (Jn. 4:6). Of course, we need to remember that Jesus welcomes the weary to give them rest (Mt. 11:28).

Elders should be “able to teach” or more literally “skilled at teaching” (1 Tim. 3:2). Leaders should focus on leading, studying, teaching, and prayer (cf. Acts 6:1-4). There is a tendency among leaders to give into the “tyranny of the urgent.” This is a major mistake. Instead, we should focus on the main things to which God has called us.

(5:18) “For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,’ and ‘The laborer is worthy of his wages.’”

Clearly, Paul is thinking of financial pay in verse 17 based on this passage. Note that Paul quotes both Deuteronomy 25:4 and Luke 10:7 as “Scripture.” This is one reason why we believe that the canon of Scripture was recognized early. By contrast, this is another reason why critics want to late-date the Pastoral Epistles—namely, they don’t believe that Scripture was recognized as early as the 60’s AD!

Elders shouldn’t be overpaid (1 Tim. 3:3; 6:5), but neither should they be underpaid.

(5:18) Why does Paul cite Deuteronomy 25:4?

What should we do if an elder is in sin?

(5:19) “Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses.”

Why should we favor the word of an elder over others? If so, is this biased or unfair? Not at all. This makes sense in light of the character requirements needed for elders in chapter 3. If an elder really has these character requirements, then we should give him or her the benefit of the doubt. The principle here is that we should move people into eldership cautiously and out of eldership cautiously. Paul presupposes that we should not be biased or partial to anyone, and take our time recognizing elders or removing them (vv.21-22). It’s also possible that Paul is thinking of a public accusation—based on verse 20 (“…in the presence of all…”). Furthermore, Lea observes, “Paul was not urging special treatment for the elder, but he was urging fair protection from capricious accusations. The church leader should enjoy at least as much protection as the ordinary Jew had under the law.”[122]

If an accusation is made, we should still investigate this. But if it comes down to one person’s unfounded accusation versus an elder’s statement of innocence, we should drop the case. Of course, an elder’s sin could come out later (vv.24-25).

If we don’t follow this process, then one person could make unfounded accusations against every elder, and this could single-handedly decapitate a church’s leadership!

(5:20) “Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning.”

“Continue in sin” is in the present tense. As the NASB rightly captures this, it implies ongoing sin—not an isolated “fall from grace.” Of course, if a sin was serious enough, an elder could be immediately stepped out of leadership.

If an elder is busted, he should stand before the entire church. If you’ve led the entire church, then you need to hear the rebuke of the entire church.

Earle understands this rebuke to only take place in the presence of the other elders, understanding “the rest” to refer to other elders.[123] But the language of “in the presence of all implies the entire church. Paul didn’t shy away from publicly talking about false teachers—even by name (1 Tim. 1:19-20). When Peter was in error, he “opposed him to his face” (Gal. 2:11) and “in the presence of all” (Gal. 2:14).

(5:21) “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality.” It can be scary to confront leaders in the church. But we should not give way to the fear of man. All believers are under the authority of Christ. Therefore, we shouldn’t show “bias” or “partiality,” even when adjudicating situations with elders.

(5:22) “Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin.” Some commentators understand the “laying on of hands” to refer to reconciliation after repentance. But this view is anachronistic, coming from the practice of bringing heretical elders back into the church in the fourth century. For instance, Eusebius (4th century AD) writes, “The ancient custom prevailed with regard to such that they should receive only the laying on of hands with prayers” (Ecclesiastical History, 7.2.). Instead, when Paul refers to the “laying on of hands,” he is speaking about recognizing leaders—not reconciling leaders. After all, Paul used this expression to refer to Timothy being recognized as a leader (cf. 1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:7).[124]

This teaches us to be cautious when recognizing leaders. Paul already taught that an elder should “not [be] a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil” (1 Tim. 3:6). When we recognize leaders too hastily, we “share in the sins of others.” That is, when we raise up leaders prematurely, we share in their sin because it wreaks havoc on the church.

Paul concludes by warning Timothy to “keep [himself] free from sin.” He’s warning Timothy not to be one of these fallen elders. We shouldn’t be so self-righteous to think that we could never fall into sin.

(5:23) “No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.”

(5:23) Is it right or wrong to drink alcohol?

(5:24) “The sins of some men are quite evident, going before them to judgment; for others, their sins follow after.

“Sins follow after.” This could also be rendered “trail behind them” or “show up later.”[125]

In the context of recognizing leaders, this passage implies that we won’t always make the right call. Some sins are hidden from our recognition. But this passage promises that sin cannot be hidden indefinitely. Eventually, our lying and hypocrisy will come to the surface. The real question that confronts leaders is this: Are we willing to take a strong stand once an elder’s sin comes out? Or will we turn a blind eye to sin in the leadership of the church?

(5:25) “Likewise also, deeds that are good are quite evident, and those which are otherwise cannot be concealed.”

If we feel like we aren’t being recognized quickly enough, then we need to be patient. If we are doing good work, others will be able to see this with time. Solomon writes, “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips” (Prov. 27:2).

1 Timothy 6

1 Timothy 6:1-2 (Slavery)

(6:1-2) “All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against. 2 Those who have believers as their masters must not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but must serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved. Teach and preach these principles.”

The expression “under the yoke as slaves” implies that masters in this culture would normally have “regarded their slaves as little more than cattle.”[126]

The reason for submission was so that the gospel could spread more easily to more people.

(1 Tim. 6:1-2) Does the Bible support slavery?

1 Timothy 6:3-21 (The Hidden Costs of Materialism)

(6:3-5) “If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.”

Paul has been identifying false teachers by their doctrine, but now, he turns to recognizing them by their deeds. Paul began his letter by addressing the false teachers, and here, he addresses them once again. These false teachers didn’t have “love” as their end goal (1 Tim. 1:5). Instead, their teaching led to ripping apart people’s spiritual lives, including their own (1 Tim. 1:20).

“Morbid interest” (noseō) means “to be sick.”[127] This is in contrast to the life-giving words of Jesus in verse 3. Guthrie writes, “Controversies and arguments have impaired their mental health to such a degree that they have become diseased.”[128] Nothing is ever resolved. No reconciliation. No forgiveness. Just endless bitterness, suspicion, and hatred. All of this sort of fighting leads to a sickness of the soul and a poisoning of the mind.

(6:6) “But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.”

The key to overcoming materialism is to reach a state of contentment, wherein we do not feel the unquenchable thirst for more and more (2 Cor. 9:8; Phil. 4:11). Instead, we feel happy with what we’ve already been given. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just be happy with what we have, rather than constantly longing for more and more?

It’s interesting that most Americans are incredibly wealthy by global standards, but they always think that they are just scraping by.

“Contentment” (autarkeia) was a favorite word of the Stoics that described how “to be independent of external circumstances.”[129] Paul used it, but took it a step further. We don’t look to circumstances because we have transcendent joy in God. The Stoics lacked God in their worldview.

(6:7) “For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.”

Our possessions cannot follow us into eternity. Like the stock market crash during the Great Depression, seconds after we die, all of our possessions will immediately lose their value.

(6:8) “If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.”

The use of the words “food and covering” serve as a synecdoche—where the part refers to the whole.[130] A ship’s captain might say, “We need all hands on deck!” Surely, this means more than merely the hands of the sailors! This means that Paul is referring to the basic elements of survival. While we should work to meet our need, we should not work for our greed. Guthrie comments, “Contentment does not come from owning whatever we want, for there is no end to what we want.”[131]

(6:9) “But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.

Look at how many different ways Paul explains the perils of materialism. Materialism (the inordinate love of money) leads to abject, spiritual ruin! Being rich is not a sin (1 Tim. 6:17-19), but desiring to become rich is a sin based on this passage (“those who want to get rich”).

(6:10) “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil…”

Money isn’t intrinsically evil, but the love of money” is evil. It is a root of all kinds of evil—not the root (as is often misquoted).

“…and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

The term “wandered away” (apeplanēthēsan) is the same term used for people following false teachers in Mark 13:22. They might not make a sudden decision to abandon Christ, but they dopily drift.

The result is a self-inflicted grief. When we preach against materialism, we are trying to spare people from bringing into their own lives. This is why it says that Jesus “felt a love” for the rich young man, when he told him to sell his possessions (Mk. 10:21). It is ultimately loving to speak against materialism in the lives of others.

(6:11) “But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.”

Paul instructs us to flee from sexual sin (1 Cor. 6:18). Why? Sexual sin is so entangling and difficult to resist that we usually succumb to it, if we entertain it for too long. In precisely the same way, he tells us to flee from materialism. If we flirt with materialism, we will likely end up succumbing to it. Moreover, we need to replace materialism with our love for God and other people. It is hard to battle the former without the latter.

(6:12) “Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

The term “fight” (agonizou) refers to “agony.” Because this word is in the present tense, it means that we need to keep on fighting. We are able to endure this by taking hold of our position in Christ (“take hold of the eternal life”). The metaphor is an athletic one that can refer to “running or boxing or wrestling.”[132]

What is the “good confession”? Earle understands this to be Timothy’s baptism.[133] Yet, in context, Paul is probably referring to evangelism, because in the next verse Paul refers to Jesus’ “good confession” in front of Pontius Pilate.

(6:13-14) “I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, 14 that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Timothy already knew to stay above reproach (1 Tim. 3:2). But Paul felt the need to remind him again. He points to Jesus as the model of keeping our confession with integrity.

(6:15) “Which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords.”

Just as Jesus’ First Coming was at the “proper time” (1 Tim. 2:6), so his Second Coming will be at the “proper time” as well.

(6:16) “Who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.”

Paul uses provocative words to describe Jesus: the “only Sovereign,” “King of kings,” “Lord of lords,” who “alone possesses immortality,” and “dwells in inapproachable light.” These are all descriptions of God, but the nearest antecedent is Jesus. Hence, Jesus is God.

(6:16) Does this passage support annihilationism?

(6:16) Can we see God or not?

(6:17) “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God…”

“Rich in this present world.”

We might expect Paul to use sharp words against the rich here. Instead, he encourages them to get the focus off of themselves, learn to become givers, and focus on eternity. He reminds them that there is a future world where we can store up our wealth. Investing in eternity is the best investment a person can ever make.

“Fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God.”

Paul instructs the rich to reset their mindset, focusing on eternity and God, rather than their fortunes. David writes, “Behold, the man who would not make God his refuge, but trusted in the abundance of his riches and was strong in his evil desire” (Ps. 52:7).

“…who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.”

The Gnostics would argue that God doesn’t give us physical pleasures to enjoy (cf. 1 Tim. 4:1-5), but Paul takes a different view. God is the one who gives us our money, and he does this for us to enjoy it.

(6:18) “Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.”

How should wealthy Christians think about their wealth? Paul doesn’t argue for guilt, but for gratitude. Gratitude leads to generosity.

(6:19) “Storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.”

Jesus taught, “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt. 6:20-21).

(6:20) “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’—”

“Guard what has been entrusted to you.” The term “entrusted” (parathēkē) is a “banking term denoting a sum deposited to the responsibility of a bank.”[134]

Gnosticism comes from the Greek word gnosis, which means “knowledge.” Paul encourages Timothy to fight with these false teachers.

(6:21) “Which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith. Grace be with you.”

Paul opened the letter describing how false teachers had strayed from their faith. Here, he ends the letter with the same message. He must have been worried for this to happen to his friend, Timothy.

Paul extends grace to them all using the plural pronoun (“you”). This suggests “that Paul intended that the letter be read to the assembled congregation.”[135]

Discussion Questions

How can we prepare now for handling materialism later on when we get older and into our careers?

What would we see in a Christian who was beginning to fall into the sin of materialism? How would you counsel a fellow Christian who was beginning to fall into the sin of materialism?

Commentary on 2 Timothy

Unless otherwise stated, all citations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB).

2 Timothy 1

The situation and scene changes in this letter. Paul is in Roman prison—not house arrest. This is why tells Timothy not to be ashamed of his “chains” (2 Tim. 1:16)[136] and why he is requesting necessities like his Bible and a warm cloak (2 Tim. 4:13). Moreover, Paul believes that he is going to die soon, which implies that he has been caught for a second time and died according to the order of Emperor Nero (2 Tim. 4:6-8).

These are the last words of Paul the great apostle. And we learn a lot about a person by looking at their final words:

Alfred Hitchcock: “One never knows the ending. One has to die to know exactly what happens after death.”[137]

Steve Jobs: “Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.”[138]

Jane Austen: “I want nothing but death.”[139]

Chris Farley: “Just don’t leave me alone.”[140]

Winston Churchill: “I’m bored with it all.”[141]

Leonardo Da Vinci: “I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.”[142]

As one person put it, “Last words are lasting words.” As you read 2 Timothy, understand that these are Paul’s final words to his dear friend Timothy. This letter should be read through the lens of Paul realizing that he is going to die by the executioner’s sword, and it will happen “soon” (2 Tim. 4:9). What does Paul have to say to Timothy (and us) in his final conscious moments?

2 Timothy 1:1-7 (Boldness)

(1:1) “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus.”

“By the will… according to the promise.” Paul believed that his role as a Christian leader was based on God’s will and God’s promise. Later, he writes that this was also based on God’s mercy (v.9). Paul didn’t make himself a leader—the merciful God of the Bible sovereignly placed him in this role.

(1:2) “To Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Paul calls Timothy his “beloved son.” Since Timothy didn’t have a believing father (Acts 16:1), these words must have meant a lot to Timothy.

(1:3) “I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day.”

“Clear conscience.” In his first letter, Paul stated that having a “good conscience” was one of the keys to the Christian life (1 Tim. 1:5).

Why does Paul emphasize the fact that his forefathers followed God in the way that he did? He might be trying to connect his story (and Timothy’s) with the larger story of salvation history.

“I constantly remember you in my prayers.” Even though Paul had sent Timothy out to lead this church in Ephesus, he continued to pray for Timothy “night and day.” Our coleaders need our prayers—even if we believe they are ready to lead on their own. We can’t do a lot of things for our coleaders and friends, but we can pray for them. As it turns out, this is one of the most important activities we can engage in.

The expression “night and day” does not mean constantly, but repetitively. Griffin writes, “Paul was describing his prayers in the sense of a frequent repetition and not in the sense of uninterrupted intercession. Every time Paul turned to God in prayer, whether it was day or night, he thought of Timothy.”[143]

(1:4) “Longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy.”

Timothy may have been with Paul as he made his final address to the elders at Ephesus (Acts 20:37). This gives us an insight into the nature of Paul’s friendship with Timothy. Earle writes, “Paul was a stalwart soldier, but he had a tender heart.”[144] When we serve together in Christian work, we form a unique bond with our coworkers.

(1:5) “For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.”

Timothy grew up in a Christian home, but not without its problems. Paul makes no mention of Timothy’s father. This interlocks with the book of Acts which states that “Timothy’s father was a Greek” (Acts 16:1), and Timothy hadn’t been circumcised (Acts 16:3) despite the fact that his mother was Jewish. Many can relate to Timothy’s upbringing, having parents who have fundamental disagreements about their belief: Mom believes one thing, and dad believes something completely different. This can be quite confusing for a child.

Truly, this isn’t ideal (see comments on 2 Corinthians 6:14). At the same time, Timothy had two women who raised him in his faith: his “grandmother” (mammē) or “mama,”[145] and his “mother.” These women were the real deal. They had a “sincere faith” (anhypokritou), which literally means “unhypocritical.” Timothy’s mom and grandma were such great spiritual leaders that they were able to deliver Timothy as a strong believer—despite the difficulties. Moreover, Paul helped to teach and train Timothy, picking up where these women left off.

(1:6) “For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”

“The gift of God” must refer to some sort of spiritual gift (see comments on 2 Timothy 1:6). It cannot refer to salvation, because Timothy received this when the elders sent him off: “Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received through the prophecy spoken over you when the elders of the church laid their hands on you” (1 Tim. 4:14 NLT). According to this passage, Paul was there with the elders when they laid hands on Timothy.

(2 Timothy 1:6) What was Timothy’s spiritual gift?

“Kindle afresh” (anazōpyreō) can describe “the act of rekindling the embers of a dying fire.”[146] It can also be translated “‘keep in full flame.”[147] Fires tend to go out unless they are maintained. William Booth wrote, “The tendency of fire is to go out; watch the fire on the altar of your heart.”[148]

Paul wanted to “remind” Timothy about rekindling his spiritual gift. We need reminded about this as well, because our spiritual lives slowly drift into atrophy and apathy without regular reminders.

What are some ways to “rekindle” your zeal if you’ve lost it?

Hang around with zealous and passionate people. Zeal is more often caught than taught.

Hang around lost people, bursting your Christian bubble. When we spend time with people who don’t know Christ, we remember what it felt like to travel through life without a purpose or meaning.

Take a step of faith that you’ve been putting off. This keeps your Christian life exciting. Sure, you might fail, but we’d rather have battle scars than bed sores any day.

Recommit to loving the people in your life. Love them until you like them. Love them until you enjoy spending time with them.

Do some good reading to energize your thought life. Read the chapter “Earnestness” by Charles Spurgeon in the book Encounter with Spurgeon.

Make regular time for gratitude.

(1:7) “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.”

“Timidity” (deilias) literally means “cowardice” (BDAG). We often think that we need to muster courage in order to serve Christ. Yet Paul writes that this comes from the Holy Spirit. While Timothy may have been temperamentally inclined toward fear (1 Cor. 16:10), Paul also battled with fear in doing Christian work (1 Cor. 2:3; Acts 18:9). Moreover, Timothy was leading a massive church filled with false teachers… If you were in his shoes, what sort of emotions would you be feeling? Indeed, there are two kinds of Christian servants: those who admit to being afraid and those who are liars!

“Power” (dynamis) is the root from which we get our modern term “dynamite.” (Of course, Alfred Nobel didn’t invent dynamite until the 19th century. This is simply the root word.). Peter denied that he had “power” within himself to cause miracles (Acts 3:12). We gain God’s “power” through the gospel (Rom. 1:16) and the “word of truth” (2 Cor. 6:7). Paul wrote that God gives us his power when we faithfully suffer for him (2 Cor. 4:7; 12:9).

“Love” (agapē) refers to sacrificial love—not mere love feelings.

“Self-discipline” (sōphronismos) is an unfortunate translation. The root sophron means “wisdom.” This term should rather be rendered “sound mind.” For instance in Mark 5:15, after Jesus healed the demon-possessed man, he was “in his right mind” (NASB) or “perfectly sane” (NLT). To call this formerly demon-possessed man “self-disciplined” wouldn’t capture the nature of this term!

None of these qualities are commands. Instead they are truths about us. These aren’t imperatives; they are indicatives. In the next verse, Paul writes that we gain these virtues “according to the power of God.”

What are healthy ways to battle fear?

Focus on what you do—not how you feel. Trying to control your fear is the worst choice you can make. The more you try, the more fearful you become. Instead, just let the feelings just wash over you. Let it come and go. Commit to doing what needs done—even if you feel afraid.

Focus on what you do—not on whether you succeeded. When we focus on the results, this becomes obsessive. We aren’t engaging in “two steps forward and one step backward.” In every opportunity, we can curiously observe and thoughtfully learn about the ways we can grow. We might as well fail as fast as possible, so we can learn how to take a better approach.

Quit trying to control or know the future. Entrust it all to God. Admit before God that he is the one who is in charge of the outcome, and you can do nothing apart from him (Jn. 15:5). Jesus said, “Do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Mt. 6:34).

Dr. Robert Leahy writes about one study regarding our predictive capacity for worrying. He writes, “In one study, worriers were asked to write down their worries over a two-week period and predict what would happen. 85% of the actual outcomes were positive79 percent of the time worriers coped with different negative outcomes better than they thought they would.[149] In other words, the predictions of worriers were 97% wrong!

Remember the past. Consider times where God used you in the past—even though you were scared.

Push your boundaries a little bit at a time. You’ll discover that over time you are doing things that you didn’t think were possible before.

Turn anxiety into excitement. Dr. Alison Brooks (of Harvard Business School) ran a study for people who needed to give public speeches.[150] In one group, she told the students tell themselves, “I am calm.” Meanwhile, she told the other group to tell themselves, “I am excited.” Interestingly, both groups reported that they still felt nervous. However, the group that interpreted their anxiety as excitement were more confident, and impartial listeners reported that they were more persuasive, confident, and competent. It’s much easier to change our feelings from anxious to excited, than from anxious to calm.

Consider exposure therapy. As a young man, the great cognitive therapist Albert Ellis had an intense fear of being romantically rejected by women. His solution? In a period of one month, he forced himself to talk socially and respectfully to 130 women—thirty of whom immediately got up and walked away! However, after this social experiment, he claimed that his social anxiety went into complete remission, and he was able to successfully talk to women without anxiety.[151] As a consequence, psychologists have dubbed this technique “exposure therapy.”

In a counterintuitive way, confronting our fear is the greatest way to conquer it. This isn’t a preferable medicine to the fearful person, but it is powerful medicine. Every time you avoid your fear, it only makes it worse. But ironically, the problem of fear is actually the solution to our fear. Do you realize that the best thing that could ever happen to you is to taste a good dose of rejection? When your greatest fear is realized, you will discover that it wasn’t as bad as you thought. Some experts in cognitive therapy claim that exposure therapy is unavoidable eventually; that is, a person cannot be cured from their fear until they confront it. Indeed, Dr. David Burns states, “Exposure is the single most validated psychotherapy technique in the world.”[152]

Nobody thinks about you as much as you do. This thought assumes that “everyone” in a room is observing you—even down to the most minute details. They are monitoring the hue of your skin, carefully measuring your perspiration, recording the inflections of your voice, and counting the seconds between your sentences.

Nobody remembers your faults as much as you do. This statement sounds like someone is video recording you so that they will have a perfect recollection of everything you said. The reality is just the opposite. The video recording is only in your mind—not anyone else’s.

2 Timothy 1:8-18 (Standing for Jesus’ message of love and forgiveness)

Paul prefaces this material about sharing our faith in the midst of turmoil by addressing our fear (2 Tim. 1:7). While we can gain freedom from fear in a number of areas, in this context, the primary application is evangelism. While we ordinarily think of the fear of evangelism in civil contexts (e.g. friendships, family, etc.), Paul was calling on Timothy to surpass his fear in the context of Roman imprisonment before the Roman Emperor Nero himself. God’s “power” is truly powerful if it can be accessed in such a frightening situation.

(1:8) “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God.”

“Do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me.” Why would Timothy be tempted to be ashamed of Jesus or Paul? There definitely were false teachers in Ephesus, and they probably had slandered Paul during his imprisonment. We can imagine them saying, “You’re a disciple of Paul, huh? Well, look what happened to him! I heard he’s locked up in prison, and God only knows how he’s being treated in there.” How would you feel if one of your spiritual mentors was locked up in jail? On the one hand, you’d know that the accusations were unjust. But on the other, you’d wonder what people were gossiping about and how they viewed you. Paul’s words are resolute and encouraging, cutting through this mental fog: “Do not be ashamed!”

One point of application is that we shouldn’t be (1) ashamed of Christianity or (2) ashamed of our Christian brothers and sisters.

His prisoner.” Paul considered himself to be a prisoner of Jesus Christ—not Rome. Paul’s imprisonment wasn’t from Satan, from Nero, or from the religious leaders. In Paul’s mind, if he was incarcerated, it was because Jesus wanted him there (cf. Eph. 1:13; 3:1; 4:1). Paul wasn’t imprisoned for breaking the law or hurting anyone. He was imprisoned because Jesus wanted him to be there.

“Join with me in suffering for the gospel.” Later Paul writes, “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 2:3). Suffering is of course unpleasant, but we gain strength suffering alongside other faithful Christians.

(1:9) “[God] has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity.”

We were not saved by works. Neither were we given a role or “calling” in God’s plan according to our works. Our service and influence for Christ is always and only based on grace.

(1:10) “But now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”

Normally, the word “appearing” (phanerōtheisan) is used of Jesus’ Second Coming. Here it is applied to his First Coming. If Jesus appeared literally and physically at his First Coming, then he will appear the same way at his Second Coming: literally, physically, and visibly (cf. Mt. 24:27; Acts 1:11).

(1:11) “For which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher.”

God doesn’t give us the role to make his plan happen (i.e. the Cross of Christ, the Atonement, etc.). Instead, our role is to tell others about what he accomplished, and teach them these core truths. We are the messengers of this great message—every single one of us—whether we are in vocational ministry or not.

(1:12) “For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.”

Paul told Timothy not to be ashamed (v.8), because he himself wasn’t ashamed (“I am not ashamed”). True, he was suffering, but this didn’t lead to shame. We can’t avoid the pain of suffering in our bodies, but we can avoid our interpretation of this in our minds. The pain was unavoidable, but the shame was not. How was Paul able to avoid shame?

“I know whom I have believed.” It’s easy to overlook the social pressure that Paul must have felt. Being in jail is one thing, but being falsely accused is another. Paul would’ve gotten an earful of derisive criticism for his faith in Christ. Yet he writes that he still isn’t ashamed (cf. Rom. 1:16; 2 Tim. 1:8). He kept his focus on God. He trusted that God would guard his deposit.

“He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” Earlier, Paul told Timothy to guard what was entrusted to him (v.14; cf. 1 Tim. 6:20). But what exactly was God guarding? Earle[153] understands this to be a broad promise that includes his teaching, his ministry, and his life. Guthrie[154] understands this to refer to all of what God had entrusted to Paul, because this is the way that the term “entrusted” (parathēkē) is normally used in the Pastorals. Another view is that God would guard Paul’s spiritual life, because Jesus was holding it.

(1:13) “Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.”

“Retain” (echō) means “to possess or contain, have, own” (BDAG, p.420). This implies that people will try to take away what we possess. What did Timothy possess that was in jeopardy?

The “standard (hypotypōsin) of sound words” is Paul’s example of teaching and doctrine. The term was used of “an outline sketch such as an architect might make before getting down to the detailed plans of a building.”[155] Of course, Paul wrote inspired letters to Timothy, but that isn’t what he is focusing on here. Paul didn’t want Timothy to simply regurgitate specific words. Instead, he wanted Timothy to teach the overarching truths of God to the people, applying them to the needs of the individuals.

How do we remain solid with our teaching? We do it through “faith and love.” If we don’t actively trust in these truths (“faith”) and live them out (“love”), then we can lose our doctrine. Paul grounded his convictions in the truth (“sound words”), and he feels that this is the most important gift he can pass on to Timothy.

(1:14) “Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.”

“Guard” (phulassō) can mean to perform the role of an actual guard who would “watch” or “guard” a prisoner (which is quite an ironic term given Paul’s living situation!). The same term is used of shepherds guarding their flocks (Lk. 2:8)It can also mean to “protect” (BDAG, p.1068).

“Through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.” It’s not very exciting to see a person finish the race—strong until the end (2 Tim. 4:7). But this is a work of the Holy Spirit, and it should be celebrated as such. Many of Paul’s contemporaries didn’t finish the race, and Paul lists many of them by name (e.g. “all who are in Asia,” Phygelus, Hermogenes, Hymenaeus, Philetus, Demas, Alexander, etc.).

“The treasure which has been entrusted to you.” God’s word is a costly “treasure” (cf. Prov. 16:16). When God gives us his truth, this is something to be “treasured” and “guarded.” In the movie Contact with Jodie Foster (1997), an advanced alien civilization reaches out to humanity using binary code (i.e. a series of prime numbers). They reveal instructions for a complex space ship (which turns out to be a teleporter), so that we can make “contact” with them. As you watch the film (or read the original book by Carl Sagan), you realize just how coveted it would be to have communication like this from an advanced alien civilization.

As believers in Christ, we have something far, far greater! We have the very words of God, the thoughts of God, and the mind of God revealed to us through the pages of Scripture. This is something that deserves to be “treasured” and “guarded.”

(1:15) “You are aware of the fact that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes.”

The province of “Asia” refers to the Roman province of Asia Minor—not the modern continent of Asia. Ephesus was the capital of this large territory. Remember, Paul had spent three years in Ephesus (Acts 20:31), and his ministry there had far reaching effects to the entire region: “All who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord” (Acts 19:10). Even though Paul had invested so deeply in this region, he writes, All who are in Asia turned away from me.” This is surely hyperbole, but it seems to mean that no one had the courage to come to his defense: “At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them” (2 Tim. 4:16). This could explain why Paul exhorted Timothy not to shrink back in fear, but to stand alongside him (vv.7-8).

“Turned away” (apostrephō) refers to apostasy (cf. 2 Tim. 4:4; Titus 1:14). Paul had a thriving ministry in Ephesus, but now, many of these same people left the faith—or at least crumbled in fear.[156]

“Phygelus and Hermogenes” are two men that we know nothing else about.[157] Given the context, however, they seem to have been former friends or colleagues of Paul.

(1:16-18) “The Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains; 17 but when he was in Rome, he eagerly searched for me and found me— 18 the Lord grant to him to find mercy from the Lord on that day—and you know very well what services he rendered at Ephesus.”

If everyone abandoned Paul in Ephesus, this must have been quite devastating. Yet Paul chose to focus on the one man who supported him: Onesiphorus (on-ess-SIFF-or-us). It takes a disciplined mind to focus on the positive people in ministry, rather than the ones who abandon, betray, and hurt our trust.

Questions for Reflection

Based on verse 8: What are some signs that we’ve started to lose our love for lost people? How do we regain zeal for sharing our faith if we’ve felt like we’ve lost it?

Based on verse 14: What are some key ways to guard the treasure of Scripture in the local church?

Based on verse 15: We know that we will face abandonment in pursuing Christ—even from those we’ve loved. What are some keys to keep a tender heart toward people, rather than becoming self-protective or jaded?

2 Timothy 2

2 Timothy 2 (Soldier, farmer, athlete)

(2:1) “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

“Be strong” (endynamoō) is a present passive imperative, which implies “continuous active cooperation with God.”[158] This is the same term used in Ephesians where Paul writes, “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (Eph. 6:10).

(2:2) “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.”

“In the presence of many witnesses.” Commentators elaborate ad nauseum regarding the identity of these people (e.g. Timothy’s ordination, the elders, etc.). However, Guthrie is surely right that this should “be understood in a general sense and not restricted to a single event.”[159]

“Entrust” (paratithēmi) also occurs in Paul’s first letter to Timothy where he tells Timothy that he has “entrusted” him to “fight the good fight” (1 Tim. 1:18). This refers to “retaining the standard of sound words which you have heard from me” and “guarding, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you” (2 Tim. 1:13-14). Luke also records that Paul “commended” (paratithēmi) the elders to the Lord (Acts 14:23; 20:32). Paul was entrusting the truth to men who had two primary qualities:

  1. “Faithful men.” The goal of discipleship is to discern and select faithful men to invest in. Just as Jesus invested in his twelve disciples, we are “entrusting” the truth and our time with other believers.
  2. “Able to teach others.” This implies that we are transmitting content and values with the goal of replication. Modeling. Field training together.

Some commentators think that Paul primarily has the elders in Ephesus in mind (1 Tim. 3:1-7; 5:17-22).[160] Perhaps. But nothing restricts discipleship to merely the leaders of a church. The text states that discipleship is for all people who are faithful and able to teach others, thereby replicating themselves.

“Teach others also.” A large part of discipleship is teaching. The word for “disciple” (mathētēs) means “learner.” Discipleship is more than just passing on knowledge, but it is never less than that. It’s interesting that the expression “able to teach” is used in Paul’s earlier letter to refer to the qualifications of elders (1 Tim. 3:2).

Paul is describing four-tiered discipleship here: (1) Paul, (2) Timothy, (3) faithful men, and (4) others also. This is a biblical command—not just an example.

Soldier, Athlete, and Farmer

From here, Paul gives three metaphors or analogies for discipleship: (1) soldier, (2) athlete, and (3) farmer.

1. Soldier

(2:3-4) “Suffer hardship with me, 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.”

The NT frequently uses the metaphor of warfare to describe the Christian life:

  • Paul called his coworkers his “fellow soldiers” (Phile. 3; Phil. 2:25).
  • Christians need to put on spiritual “armor” (Rom. 13:12; Eph. 6:11, 13), “breastplates” (Eph. 6:14; 1 Thess. 5:8), “shields” (Eph. 6:16), and “helmets” (Eph. 6:17; 1 Thess. 5:8).
  • Christians have spiritual “weapons” (2 Cor. 6:7; 10:3-5) and the “sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17).
  • Our victory in Christ is compared to a Roman military victory procession (2 Cor. 2:14-16).
  • We are told to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Tim. 6:12).
  • We have an enemy: Satan (1 Pet. 5:8). Jesus destroyed his blasphemous claims at the Cross, but we still need to liberate people from his influence (1 Jn. 3:8; Acts 26:17-18).

With this in mind, why does Paul compare serving Christ to serving as a soldier in war? In what ways are these similar?

If we think of ourselves as being like a soldier in the middle of a war, then it makes sense:

  • That we need training and equipping. Soldiers are in the business of conquest. Soldiers look to take territory from the enemy, invading enemy territory from time to time. Similarly, Christians are on the offensive—not the defensive—in spiritual warfare. Christians should not merely protect existing believers, but rather, continue to take ground from the Enemy, as Jesus commands (Mt. 16:18; 28:18-20). We wouldn’t want to simply send a civilian into war. They wouldn’t be ready. Even the youngest believer can make a powerful impact for Christ. However, it doesn’t take long before they realize how much equipping and training play a role in reaching people for Christ (e.g. learning to pray, having tact, answering questions, etc.).
  • That we would suffer pain, heartache, and tangible losses. In warfare, soldiers need to be tough. They need perseverance and a militant spirit. Similarly, believers who engage in spiritual warfare need to be tough and be ready to experience suffering for Christ. No one has found a way to win a war without suffering in the process.[161] Only a fool would agree to sign away their rights to a Marine recruiter without knowing that they will face suffering in the process.
  • That we would need to be “alert” (1 Pet. 5:8; Eph. 6:18), because the Enemy could strike at any time.
  • Why “no soldier” would “entangle himself in the affairs of everyday life.” Too much is at stake. If a soldier is in “active service,” he volunteers to give up benefits that he would have during peace time. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with “the affairs of everyday life,” but it’s preposterous to participate in these things during wartime. For example, a soldier who was on leave might spend his time watching movies, vacationing, etc. But when he’s at war (i.e. active service”), it would be absurd to lounge around and relax like this. Similarly, believers are involved in a spiritual war, and the war won’t be over until Jesus returns. We need to freely volunteer to give up activities that could get in the way of our service to the cause of Christ.
  • Why we would willingly choose to give up our rights and freedoms during times of war. Simply too much is at stake to demand my rights. No soldier regrets the sacrifices once they have won the war.
  • Why we need to be unified.

For further resources, see Dennis McCallum, Members of One Another (Chapter 6: “God’s Army”). See also Gary Delashmutt’s teaching, “The Christian Worker as a Soldier” (2003).

2. Athlete

(2:5) “Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules.”

The New Testament often uses sports imagery to describe the Christian life:

  • The Christian life is compared to running a “race” (Acts 20:24) or to boxing (1 Cor. 9:26).
  • In this race, we should persevere and get rid of anything that will weigh us down (Heb. 12:1-2).
  • Those who serve God faithfully will receive a “prize” (1 Cor. 9:24) which is “imperishable” (1 Cor. 9:25). This prize is contrasted with the wreaths given to athletes (1 Cor. 9:24; Phil. 3:14; 1 Pet. 5:4; Jas. 1:12). We are urged to “win” the race (1 Cor. 9:24).
  • Paul didn’t want to get to the end of his life and realize that he had “been running in vain” (Gal. 2:2; cf. Phil. 2:16).
  • We need “self-control” (1 Cor. 9:25) and “discipline” (1 Cor. 9:27).
  • Paul writes about the disqualification that comes from not “competing according to the rules” (2 Tim. 2:5).

With this in mind, why does Paul compare serving Christ to being a competitive athlete? In what ways are these similar?

If we think of the Christian life as being like a competitive athlete training or performing, then it would make sense:

  • Not to cheat. Athletes who cheat are disqualified. After surviving stage 3 testicular cancer, Lance Armstrong went on to win the Tour de France seven consecutive times (1999-2005), and he started a non-profit cancer foundation called “Livestrong.” He became a national celebrity and sports icon. In a Nike commercial (2001), Armstrong spoke against “doping,” or using performance-enhancing drugs. In the commercial, he said, “Everybody wants to know what I’m on. What am I on? I’m on my bike, busting my @ss, six hours a day. What are you on?” Unfortunately, in 2012, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) discovered that Armstrong was on far more than his bike. He was the ringleader of “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”[162] Armstrong was permanently banned from all professional sports, and all of his victory jackets were returned. Likewise, it is tempting to use unethical or pragmatic approaches to ministry in order for the “greater good” of accomplishing “God’s goals.” Don’t you dare! This egotistical approach to Christian ministry is doomed to failure: God will not honor it, nor will he reward it. We should beware of cutting corners like this (e.g. skipping our time with God, engaging in manipulation, boasting, selfishness and greed, etc.).
  • To push our boundaries beyond what is comfortable. Athletes grow through painful conditioning and competition. The more they care about the goal, the more they are willing to sacrifice their comforts. All of the sudden, pleasures and comforts aren’t as important as the goal of winning.
  • To rest. Athletes work hard, but they also rest hard. Without rest, the body breaks down and all of our work is actually counterproductive. Similarly, Christians need to learn to take their seat with Christ daily, rest from their works by taking up their position in Christ, learn to take days off for physical and mental rest, and take full advantage of the word, “No,” when being asked to do too much.
  • To create goals. Athletes don’t simply walk into the gym and start moving weights around in awkward and bizarre directions. They set a careful regiment for themselves that increases over time. In a word, they set goals. Similarly, committed Christians should set goals as well (1 Cor. 9:26).
  • To start slow. At first, athletes look awkward as they try to perform in their sport. Some fall prey to embarrassment, and give up. The same is true with following Christ. It doesn’t come naturally at first. While we see results quickly, it often takes years before we start to see besetting sins being healed and feel relatively equipped to influence others. Reading Gleason Archer, Survey of the Old Testament Introduction.
  • To get some coaching and equipping. Athletes need help from others who know more about training, strategy, and playing.

We are not competing against each other, but with ourselves. Each one of us will receive a crown (2 Tim. 4:8).

“Competes according to the rules.” The term “rules” (nomimōs) was earlier translated as “lawfully” (1 Tim. 1:8). In the ancient world, athletes needed to agree that they had trained to the standards of the games in which they were competing. Guthrie writes, “Each athlete for these Olympics had to state on oath that he had fulfilled the necessary ten months’ training before he was permitted to enter the contest. Any athlete who had not subjected himself to the necessary discipline would have no chance of winning and would in fact lower the standard of the Games. There were severe penalties imposed on any who infringed the rules.”[163]

The “prize” (stephanos) was a wreath placed on the head of a winning athlete. This is different from the “crown” (diadēma) which was a “royal crown.”[164] Athletes freely give up pleasures in life for the purpose of this prize.

For further resources, see Jeff Gordon’s teaching, “The Christian Worker as an Athlete” (2003).

3. Farmer

(2:6) “The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops.”

The New Testament often uses farming imagery to describe the Christian life:

  • Paul refers to his work of church planting like a farmer who needed to plant and water the crops (1 Cor. 3:6-9).
  • Jesus compared growth of his kingdom to farming (Mt. 13:3-9, 18-23).
  • The growth of the church would be matched by the growth of the world-system (Mt. 13:24-30).
  • Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few” (Mt. 9:37).

With this in mind, why does Paul compare serving Christ to being a farmer? In what ways are these similar?

If we think of the Christian life as being like a farmer, then it would make sense:

  • To be prepared for hard work and long hours. Farming is back-breaking work. It consists of blood, sweat, and tears to bring in a good crop. Likewise, those experienced with evangelism know that reaching people for Christ is hard work! They know that they need to persevere through many dry seasons (2 Tim. 4:2).
  • To know when to rest. Farmers know that they can only do so much.
  • To spread abundant seeds. Good farmers liberally spread their seed on the field, knowing that not all will grow. Similarly, believers should share their faith often, knowing that most of the time, people will not come to Christ. It’s hard to know how much we should be sharing our faith, but one test is this: “When was the last time someone rejected your offer to come to Christ or rejected your invitation to a Bible study?” If this hasn’t happened recently, you probably aren’t abundantly sowing, and you’re being too conservative.
  • To be consistent. Farmers need to show up to work—even if they don’t feel like it. If the crops go dry because the farmer took a couple days off irrigation, he could starve.
  • To be patient. Farmers don’t see results for many months, and need to learn delayed gratification. They need to wait patiently to see their crops grow. Similarly, the problem with most believers isn’t with what they’re doing. They simply don’t wait long enough to see what God is doing behind the scenes.
  • To be humble. Farmers don’t get fame or fortune—yet they provide a life-giving service to people around the globe. Without them, humanity would starve to death.

“First to receive his share of the crops.” This could refer to financial renumeration.[165] Others hold that it refers to spiritual rewards, which could refer to blessings in this life or rewards at the bema seat.[166] Financial, eternal, or ministry responsibilities. This means he’s not the only one receiving the reward.

For further resources, see Dennis McCallum, Members of One Another (Chapter 9: “God’s Field”). See also Dennis McCallum’s teaching, “The Christian Worker as a Farmer” (2003).

(2:7) “Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.”

It’s wise to teach these three concepts through discussion in order to fulfill Paul’s command to “consider what I say.” These concepts should be reflected upon and discussed. See discussion questions below.

Conclusion

Paul himself was the hard-working farmer (2 Tim. 4:2); he was the strong athlete who “finished the course” (2 Tim. 4:7); and he was the good soldier who “fought the good fight” (2 Tim. 4:7).

2 Timothy 2:8-26 (How much do you value truth?)

Paul wrote to Timothy to coach him on how to handle false teachers who had infused his church in Ephesus. To begin, Paul explains his central thesis of his views: Jesus’ message of love and forgiveness. This message had changed Paul’s life, not to mention countless of other lives at this point. Consequently, Paul was willing to suffer and even die for the truth of Christ.

(1) Some ideas are worth living and even dying for

(2:8) “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel.”

“Remember Jesus Christ.” Recently, I was driving in the car with my wife, and I came down with a temporary bout of amnesia for several minutes. Doctors are still studying what happened, but for a short period of time, I temporarily forgot that my wife knows how to drive a car. (Consequently, I felt like I needed to give her lots of input on how to drive!) Of course, I don’t literally have amnesia. This annoying medical condition is simply called being a “backseat driver.” This occurs when you aren’t trusting in the person who is driving you around, and you feel like you need to tell them what to do.

In the Christian life, we don’t have medical amnesia, but we have a similar problem. Our focus strays from what is most important: Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, and his gospel message. Timothy was just like us. He didn’t literally forget who Jesus was. Instead, Paul wanted Timothy to focus on the person and work of Jesus. This is why Paul told him to “remember Jesus Christ.”

(2:9) “For which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned.”

If Jesus is real and his message of love and forgiveness are true, then this would be a reality worth suffering and even dying for. This is why Paul was content even in the face of suffering and imprisonment. A Christian worker can be stopped, but not the work of God.[167] The messenger can be stopped, but the message never can. Indeed, Paul had such a high view of Jesus’ message that he didn’t think a Roman prison could contain it or silence it.

(2:10) “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.”

“I endure all things.” If Jesus is real and his message of love and forgiveness are true, then everyone would need to hear about it. This explains why Paul would “endure all things.” This message changes the eternities of others. So, nothing would be too much to suffer.

“Those who are chosen.” Peter writes that the “chosen” people are elected “according to the foreknowledge of God” (1 Pet. 1:1-2). It’s encouraging to know that God has many people to reach, as we move out to spread the message of Christ (Acts 18:9-11).

“They also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.” We all are going to die. We are going to close our eyes in this life, and open them in the next.

(2:11) “It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him.”

This cannot refer to biological death, because we are still alive. Therefore, the mention of “living” with God must refer to being spiritually identified with Christ through his crucifixion in our new identity (Rom. 6:3-5).

(2:12) “If we endure, we will also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He also will deny us.”

“If we endure, we will also reign with Him.” Those who have suffered for Christ will later be rewarded by serving Christ in the Millennium and the New Heaven and Earth (Mt. 19:28; Lk. 19:17; Rom. 8:17; Rev. 20:1-6).

“If we deny Him, He also will deny us.” We cannot both “endure” as well as “deny” Christ. Thus, Paul must be describing two different types of people when he uses the plural pronoun “we.” In this instance, we take this to refer to humans who refuse to come to faith in Jesus. Some people say, “I’m not denying Christ… I’m just not ready to come to him right now.” Yet, Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters” (Mt. 12:30). There is a certain amount of logic to this statement. Imagine if you proposed to your girlfriend, and she said, “I’m not denying your proposal… I’m just not ready to get married right now.” Such a statement is nonsense. She is denying your proposal! Similarly, Jesus offers every single person complete and total forgiveness, and you are denying his forgiveness if you do not receive it.

(2:12) Does this passage threaten eternal security?

(2:13) “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”

Since we are identified with Christ (v.11), Jesus cannot deny himself.

(2) Some ideas are worth fighting for

So far, Paul has written about the great truths that changed his life, and the lives of countless people. These ideas about God, forgiveness, and the afterlife had such significant consequences that Paul was willing to suffer and even die to share them. However, some people reject Christ altogether (v.12), and Paul next tells Timothy that these truths are worth fighting over.

(2:14) “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.”

Paul had previously written about the “word wrangling” of the false teachers in Ephesus (1 Tim. 6:4; cf. v.23). This “wrangling about words” was not some harmless activity, however. Not only were these words “useless,” but they were also harmful to people listening (“leads to the ruin [katastrophē] of the hearers”). So, at best, it’s useless, and at worst, it’s harmful. People will either hear the word of God (Rom. 10:17), or they will hear the heated speculations of humans. In our view, these were likely proto-Gnostics who were teaching bizarre and esoteric concepts about God. These teachers stand in stark contrast to faithful Bible teachers who accurately interpret Scripture.

While the primary focus is on Gnostic false teachers, we can apply this to “wrangling about words” in Christian circles. We don’t want to argue incessantly about the eschatological implications of cessationism in a progressive dispensationalist dialectic. (If you don’t know what that last sentence means, that’s precisely the point!) We don’t want to be arguing endlessly about theological issues that hardly matter. We need to “remember Jesus Christ” as Paul implored Timothy (v.8). This means that we should focus on what the Bible emphasizes, avoid going around and around in argumentative circles, agree to disagree and amicably move on, accept good answers when we hear them, and stop bringing up the same topics incessantly.

(2:15) “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”

The term for “diligent” (spoudazō) means “zealous.” Paul uses such emphatic language because it is very important for us to get our interpretation correct. It is our role to do the study and gain the meaning out of text that God put into the text.

“Accurately handling the word” (orthotomounta) literally means “holding a straight course”[168] or “to cut a straight road.”[169]

“The word of truth” refers at least to the gospel message (Eph. 1:13; Col. 1:5), but surely extends to the Scriptures as a whole.

This demonstrates that not all interpretations are equally valid. Some interpretations of the Bible are wrong, while others are right. Incidentally, this flies in the face of postmodern values—namely, that all interpretations are equally valid.

(2:16) “But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness.”

We are supposed to refute false doctrine (Titus 1:9), and we are also supposed to “avoid” it. We can get wrapped up in fruitless discussions with false teachers who may never listen, resulting in a giant waste of time. Paul writes that it will “lead to further ungodliness.” At a certain point, we need to stop “throwing pearls before swine” (Mt. 7:6), though this requires wisdom to discern (Prov. 26:4-5; Mt. 10:13-14).

It’s tempting to get ensnared in debates, but it’s foolish. Sometimes we read a comment on social media followed with the words “change my mind.” This is a trap! These people most likely have no genuine interest in changing their minds. We need to discern when it’s appropriate to engage in debate, and when it is actually harmful.

(2:17) “And their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus.”

“And their talk will spread like gangrene.” At first, this sentence sound positive: “Their talk will spread…” Wow, their message is popular, and it’s spreading! But this is the spreading of a pseudo-spiritual cancer—not the spreading of God’s word. The term “gangrene” (gangraina) was used by ancient “medical writers… for a sore that eats into the flesh.”[170]

Hymenaeus (1 Tim. 1:20) and Philetus (only mentioned here) were two of the false teachers in Ephesus. Paul has no qualms calling out false teachers by name. After all, since they publicly sinned against the entire church, they should be publicly rebuked in front of the entire church.

(2:18) “Men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some.”

What was their false teaching? These two men both taught that the resurrection had already occurred. No doubt they considered the resurrection to be a “spiritual experience.”[171] This further implies some sort of Gnostic dualism. Furthermore, this shows that Hyper-Preterism is surely false.

“Men who have gone astray from the truth.” These two men started off well, and they may have even been pastors and teachers in the church in Ephesus. But they “astray” over time. We should surely mourn when fellow Christians lose their faith, but we shouldn’t be surprised by this. Even the best of us can turn away from God.

“They upset the faith of some.” False teachers aren’t persuasive with everyone, but they were with some.

(3) Living out our ideas consistently

Truth plays a role in our lives. Paul states that our worldview, our convictions, and values should result in a life that is continually changing and growing.

(2:19) “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.’”

The “firm foundation” could “refer to the church as a whole, the genuine work of God in Ephesus, the deposit of faith, or it may be a general statement of truth without a definite reference.”[172] Since the context refers to God knowing his people, we hold that Paul is referring to God’s work in the church being a “firm foundation.” That is, God’s work in his church is insurmountable in the end. Even though there are many false teachers, “Nevertheless!” God is still going to build his church (Mt. 16:18; 28:18-20). Instead of lamenting about all of these apostate teachers, Paul’s focus “falls on the immovable character of God’s foundation.”[173]

“‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.’” These are allusions to Numbers 16:5, 26, which is a passage given in the context of false teachers (i.e. Korah’s rebellion). When Korah went to fight against Moses’ leadership, we read that Moses said, “Tomorrow morning the LORD will show who is His, and who is holy, and will bring him near to Himself; even the one whom He will choose, He will bring near to Himself” (Num. 16:5). Later, he said, “Depart now from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing that belongs to them, or you will be swept away in all their sin” (Num. 16:26). These people had seen miracles and heard Moses teach, but they were hardened to God’s truth. This is similar to the false teachers that sat under Paul and Timothy. They saw amazing works of God and heard amazing teaching, but they couldn’t stand being under their leadership. They rejected “serving in heaven,” and would rather “rule in hell.”

(2:20-21) “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. 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.”

In my parents’ house, we have some plates that are for important purposes, and others for less important. Around Christmas time, my mom and I would set the table with the good silverware, crystal glasses, and expensive chinaware. Similarly, by learning to accurately handle the word, we become “sanctified” or “set apart” for more useful work.

“Vessels… to dishonor.” These could refer to “unworthy Christians, who were to be avoided.”[174] Later, Paul hopes that these people would repent from willingly being under the influence of Satan (v.26). Indeed, the term “cleanses” (ekkathairō) is only used one other time to refer to removing the “mother lover” in Corinth from fellowship (1 Cor. 5:7). It’s also possible to understand these vessels as being more or less honorable “relatively”[175] to one another. In other words, it’s not that we are honorable, but the work is honorable. We aren’t an honorable vessel, but a vessel useful for honor.

“Cleanses himself” implies that we have a role in deciding how much we want to be used by God. Since the cleansing is related to service, we must ask ourselves, “What kind of a worker do I want to be?” Some Christians complain, “I’m not useful.” They fail to realize that this is either an attack from the Enemy, making them feel unimportant. Or it is an unassuming confession—namely, they haven’t chosen to make themselves available to God to be utilized in his service. This has nothing to do with gifts. God might choose, in fact, to use people with less gifts because they made themselves available.

“These things” in the context is false teaching, superstition, etc.

A key to being cleansed is to learn and act on the word of God. Many believers long to be useful and influential in the cause of Christ. The key to doing this is to accurately handle the word of God. We simply can’t avoid this important aspect of Christian growth. Think of all the people who have influenced you for Christ. Surely, it is no coincidence that they were all strong in the word of God!

(2:22) “Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”

The battle of sanctification is not done in a vacuum. We need to replace lust with healthy, godly relationships. Nature abhors a vacuum. So, if we want to change, we should look for ways that we can replace sinful stimulation with spiritual and relational satisfaction. This is why we are told to do this “with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”

Moreover, it isn’t enough to simply cling to Christian friends in a “holy huddle.” Sanctification becomes effective when it is combined with victorious love-output. The goal of sanctification is “love” (1 Tim. 1:5).

(4) Be gentle with people, but tough on ideas

(2:23) “But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.”

There are times when should refute the false teachers (Titus 1:9) and times when we should refuse to engage false teachers. This isn’t a contradiction. We need wisdom to know when to give an answer and when such a course of action would be a foolish waste of time (see comments on verse 16 above).

(2:24) “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged.”

“Quarrelsome” (machomai) can refer to either physical or verbal fighting (BDAG, p.622).

“Kind” (ēpios) is also used of the gentleness of a mother (1 Thess. 2:7). Lea and Griffin write, “He need not be a jellyfish, but he must have a kindliness in his outward manner.”[176]

“Able to teach” (didaktikos) is required for elders (1 Tim. 3:2). It literally means “a skillful teacher.”[177] The way to confound false teachers is to think harder, study more, and articulate the truth better. This is a skill that we can learn, even if it isn’t a gift we possess.

“Patient when wronged” means to “control irritability because he has learned to bear patiently the wrong in others.”[178]

“With gentleness correcting those who are in opposition.” We should be tough on ideas, but gentle with people. “Gentleness” (prautēs) implies using exactly the right amount of strength in a given situation. Picture a man shooting pool. Sometimes he will crack the cue ball with tremendous force, but other times he will barely tap a ball into a pocket. This is the true control of a skilled player, and it captures the concept of “gentleness.”

When we’re dealing with a foolish or immoral brother, we shouldn’t become foolish in the process. We want to model the behavior that we want to see in the other person.

(2:25) “With gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth.”

The goal is not to defeat our brother, but to win our brother over to the truth (Mt. 18:15). The people whom Paul is describing are so deceived that they can’t even see it. Therefore, it would be a good prayer to ask God to give them a special opening of the eyes to see their error.

(2:25) Can we repent or does God cause us to repent?

(2:26) “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.”

When we do Christian work, it’s easy to view contentious people as the enemy, becoming contentious and combative in the process. Paul had a different view. He saw the true Enemy behind these people (v.26). Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers, principalities, and spiritual forces (Eph. 6:10-18).

In our estimation, this doesn’t refer to demon possession. This refers to being a tool of Satan in the Church, when we freely adhere to false teaching (1 Tim. 4:1-2).

Discussion Questions

Based on verse 1: What are some ways we might learn to become stronger in the grace of God?

Based on verses 3-4: Why does Paul compare Christian work with being a soldier? In what ways are these concepts similar? In what ways are they different?

Based on verse 5: Why does Paul compare Christian work with being an athlete? In what ways are these concepts similar? In what ways are they different?

Based on verse 6: Why does Paul compare Christian work with being a farmer? In what ways are these concepts similar? In what ways are they different?

2 Timothy 3

2 Timothy 3:1-9 (Battle falsehood)

In this chapter, Paul tells Timothy of the theological and ethical challenges that he will face as time moves on. What does he give Timothy to support him? Church councils? Catechisms? Popes? Nothing of the sort. This chapter closes with Paul telling Timothy that “all Scripture is God-breathed…”

The false teachers (vv.1-5)

The beginning of this list talks about being a lover of self, and the ending concludes with not being a lover of God.

(3:1) “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.”

Does this section refer to the end of history, or does it refer to Timothy’s own time? Both. Earlie[179] and Guthrie[180] note that the phrase “in the last days” is common in referring to the end of human history (cf. 2 Pet. 3:3; Jude 18). At the same time, this expression can also be used to describe the Church Age (Acts 2:17; Heb. 1:2), and after verse 6, Paul writes in the present tense. Indeed, if this material had no relevance for Timothy, then Paul would have no need to write, “Avoid such men as these” (v.5). As we noted earlier, Timothy was dealing with false teachers in his own day (1 Tim. 4:1ff).

At the same time, Paul uses the future tense throughout verses 1-5 (“difficult times will come”), and he writes, “Evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse” (v.13). Therefore, in our view, false teachers will continue to get worse and worse as history continues. Today, with the advent of the internet, false teachers have an immeasurably broad reach with their teaching (Mt. 24:4-5, 11, 24; 2 Thess. 2:3-4, 9-12). Moreover, cultural degradation will continue throughout the Church Age until Jesus returns (Mt. 24:12). While Timothy was already seeing this change in his own day (1 Tim. 4:1ff), it will continue to get worse as history reaches its climax. We agree that this era refers to the “entire time from the completion of Christ’s redemptive work until his return.”[181]

(3:2-4) “For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.

In verses 2-5, we have a list of 18 sinful attitudes or actions:

“Lovers of self” (philautos). This opening description is “the key to the rest of the list.”[182] Lea and Griffin write, “When the center of gravity in an individual shifts from God to self, a plethora of sins can spring up.”[183] This is what is wrong with the world: We love ourselves “rather than [being] lovers of God” (v.4). This is the disease, the foundation, the starting point. When God is removed from the center of our lives, we become profoundly insecure and unstable. Love of self reflects much of the philosophy implicitly or explicitly taught in our culture today (e.g. selfie culture).

“Lovers of money” (philargyros) is literally the “love” (phileo) of “silver” (argos). The Pharisees were “lovers of money” (Lk. 16:14). The great commandment is to love God and your neighbor. This is completely inverted: Loving things more than people.

“Boastful” (alazōn) can be rendered “imposters,”[184] but the standard translation is “boaster” or “braggart” (BDAG). Kittel states that the term refers to “one who ‘makes more of himself’ than the reality justifies, ‘ascribing to himself either more and better things than he has, or even what he does not possess at all’ (Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics, IV, 13, p. 1127a, 21 f).”[185] Our modern cult of celebrity worship fits under this description. Watching the Disney Channel really brings this to mind as well: Every show ends with a kid singing on stage and being surrounded their peers worshipping them.

“Arrogant” (hyperēphanos) is used by Josephus in the context of wealth and riches (Antiquities, 4.224). Arrogant people view life as a zero-sum game. It isn’t enough that I look good, but others need to look bad.

“Revilers” (blasphēmos) refers to “defaming, denigrating, demeaning” (BDAG). The contrast to this would be to be a peacemaker and being a person that builds up others.

“Disobedient to parents” refers to being unpersuadable (apeithēs). This sounds odd to modern ears, because we don’t think of disobedient kids as serious. Yet our modern world is so alienated—even within the family unit—that we are deceived of how serious this is. These people lack “even the normal compassion linking family members together.”[186] Paul uses the same term in Romans 1:30.

“Ungrateful” (acharistos) is obviously the opposite of gratitude. Jesus said that God is kind toward “ungrateful” people like us (Lk. 6:35). Recently, we forgot to pay the water bill, and they shut our water off for two days. I didn’t realize how ungrateful I am for water until it was gone. Likewise, my gratitude increased when the faucet began to work again. We need to see that we deserve nothing in life, and all of the good things in our lives are gifts of God (Jas. 1:17).

“Unholy” (anosios) means “being in opposition to God or what is sacred” (BDAG). This relates to being unthankful to God (Rom. 1:21).

“Unloving” (astorgos) means to “be lacking in good feelings for others” or “hardhearted, unfeeling, without regard for others” (BDAG; cf. Rom. 1:30). This could include being numb or indifferent to people’s pain. Love grows cold (Mt. 24:12).

“Irreconcilable” (aspondos) refers to someone “who is unwilling to negotiate a solution to a problem involving a second party” (BDAG). It was a military term that literally meant “without a truce.”[187] In a self-centered worldview, why should I give in? Why should I forgive?

“Malicious gossips” (diabolos) is an adjective meaning “slander” (BDAG). The noun form is the term for Satan—the slanderer.

“Without self-control” (akratēs) fits with modern Western culture very well. We have more addictions than we can count: food, drinking, drugs, pornography, etc.

You love yourself but you can’t control yourself. You’re free to do what you want, but you can’t stop doing what you want. We live in a culture of addiction. Moderation. Able to say, No.

“Brutal” (anēmeros) is literally “untamed, savage, brutal” (BDAG, p.79).

“Haters of good” (aphilagathos) comes from the root a (“non”), phileo (“love”), and agathos (“the good”). Isaiah writes, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil” (Isa. 5:20).

“Treacherous” (prodotēs) is used of Judas (Lk. 6:16) and the murderous religious leaders (Acts 7:52). A person like this might help if there is self-advantage. But when push comes to shove, they will burn you.

“Reckless” (propetēs) literally meant “falling down or forward” (BDAG). Negatively, it is used of being “rash” (Acts 19:36) or “doing any rash thing” (Josephus, Antiquities, 15.82). They do not have lasting loyalty.

“Conceited” (tetyphōmenoi) means to “be puffed up” or to “be blinded, foolish” (BDAG). Those who are “conceited” also “understand nothing” (1 Tim. 6:4). Like a puffer-fish. These are the type of people who trust their own thoughts as if they were infallible—not listening to others or even to God’s word.

“Lovers of pleasure” (philēdonos) seems to pair well with being “without self-control.” We often hear parents on sitcoms say to their children, “I don’t care what you do… I just want you to be happy.” Why do they never say that they want their kids to be humble? Virtuous? Loving? These are the type of people who live for raw hedonism on the one hand, and also people who live for comfort on the other. Both are forms of pleasure.

(3:5) “Holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; avoid such men as these.”

“Holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power.” When we deny the gospel, we lose the power of God (Rom. 1:16).

To “avoid” these men doesn’t mean that we fearfully stay away from them. The term “avoid” (apotrepou) means “purposely to avoid associating with someone, turn away from, avoid” (BDAG). The point is that we shouldn’t associate with false teachers like this. People use religion(s) to affirm what they want to believe. In a sense, they are saying, “I like a little bit of religion. As long as it doesn’t get in the way of my self-centered agendas.”

Proselytizing zeal

(3:6) “For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses.”

The same people who hold these attributes above also live them out by taking advantage of others—in this case “weak women” (NASB) or “weak-willed women” (NIV). Could it be that these women’s lives are a wreck, and so they welcome any false teacher who will make them feel better?

To “enter” households means “to worm their way into homes.”[188] To “captivate” (aitmalōtizō) means to “take captive” or “deceive.”[189] These terms “suggest that the false teachers had gained a complete psychological dominance over their victims.”[190]

(3:7) “Always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

This really rings true of modern-day skepticism, postmodernism, and naturalism. The more we affirm these worldview, the less we are able to know.

(3:8-9) “Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. 9 But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also.”

(3:8-9) Who were Jannes and Jambres?

During the time of the Exodus, the Pharaoh and the unbelievers (like Jannes and Jambres) were mocking God’s word. But God’s word proved true: These people faced God’s judgment, and God’s word was vindicated. Similarly, people in our culture might proclaim false teaching, but this will be disproven and faced with judgment.

Occult practitioners existed in Ephesus (Acts 19:18-19). This could be one of the parallels that Paul is raising with this mention of Pharaoh’s magicians. Later, Paul refers to these men as “impostors” (goētes) which literally means “wizards.”[191]

“Their folly will be obvious to all.” Even though these false teachers seem scary, Paul comforts Timothy, “Don’t worry about them… They won’t get far. Their sin will catch up with them. They’ll be publicly exposed.” For arrogant and boastful men like this, public disgrace would be a living hell.

2 Timothy 3:10-17 (Stand on God’s Word)

(3:10) “Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance.”

Timothy has already stood up for the truth, and he followed Paul’s example.

Stott writes, “The contrast with the first paragraph of this chapter is obvious. The men described there were following their own inclinations (they were lovers of self, money and pleasure), and their pathetic converts had been carried away by their own impulses. Timothy, on the other hand, has followed an altogether different standard, namely the teaching and the example of Christ’s apostle Paul.”[192]

(3:11) “Persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me!

These persecutions most likely refer to Paul’s first missionary journey (Acts 13-14). We can discover the stories mentioned here in the book of Acts: Antioch (Acts 13:14-51), Iconium (Acts 13:52-14:6), and Lystra (Acts 14:6-20). At one point in Lystra, they stoned Paul to the point that they thought he was dead. Timothy likely came to Christ at this time, so this would’ve been a stirring thought for Timothy to remember.

Paul brings this up to Timothy to remind him of the faithfulness of God. Of course, God didn’t spare Paul from the suffering and persecution, but he saved him through these things.

(3:12) “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

Timothy would’ve remembered Paul’s sufferings from Antioch and Lystra. Here, Paul tells Timothy that he is not unique: All servants of Christ will face suffering.

(3:13) “But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”

False teachers are themselves deceived because they reject the truth, and as a result, they deceive others. This is probably connected with the work of Satan mentioned in the previous chapter (2 Tim. 2:26).

Paul’s answer for false teaching? Scripture!

How are we supposed to battle such an army of perverse false teachers? Paul tells Timothy that the central weapon at our disposal is Scripture (vv.14-17). We need to be better interpreters (2:15) and sharper thinkers than the false teachers. This is a powerful argument for Sola Scriptura. Paul does not point to Peter as the solution or a church council or a teaching magisterium. He points to the inspiration and sufficiency of Scripture alone.

(3:14) “You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them.”

This is the key to true motivation: We need to become “convinced Christians” like Timothy.

(3:15) “And that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

Both Philo (Life of Moses, iii.39) and Josephus (Antiq. x.10.4) refer to “the sacred writings” as the OT.[193] Paul doesn’t give a “secret mystery” to Timothy, as Gnosticism taught. Instead, he reminds Timothy to “continue” in his study, devotion, and defense of Scripture.

From childhood you have known the sacred writings.” Apparently, Scripture is not an enigma. Even children can understand it. Timothy didn’t come to Christ through his study of OT Scripture, but it did “lead to salvation,” most likely when he was led to Christ by Paul.

(3:16-17) “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

(2 Tim. 3:16) Should we translate this as “all Scripture is inspired by God” or as “every inspired scripture has its use”?

Paul is most likely referring to OT Scripture—not NT Scripture. In context, Paul is referring to the “sacred writings” that Timothy has known since childhood (2 Tim. 3:14-15). Of course, the NT wasn’t written when Timothy was a boy. At the same time, Paul referred to Luke 10:7 as “Scripture” (1 Tim. 5:18), and Peter referred to Paul’s letters as “Scriptures” (2 Pet. 3:16). So, the NT was already being recognized as Scripture in the first-century. Therefore, everything that Paul writes about OT Scripture would apply to the NT Scriptures as well.

“Profitable” (ōphelimos) refers to being “useful, beneficial, or advantageous” (BDAG, p.1108). Physical exercise is only of “little profit (ophelimos)” (1 Tim. 4:8). Scripture, by contrast, “profitable” (ophelimos) for everything God calls us to do in Christian service (every good work”). This means that Scripture is not only inspired, but also sufficient for Christian work.

The “useful” or “beneficial” nature of Scripture gives evidence in addition to the rational arguments for the truth of Scripture. This shows that Scripture passes a pragmatic test. When we read our Bible, we see God changing our lives. When we teach it, we see lives changed. Billy Graham saw this first hand. He reported, “I’ve discovered something in my ministry: When I take the Bible literally, when I proclaim it as the word of God, my preaching has power. When I stand on the platform and say, ‘God says,’ or ‘The Bible says,’ the Holy Spirit uses me. There are results.”[194]

“Teaching.” When we teach someone how to interpret the Scriptures, we give them an inexhaustible source of strength, stability, hope, and courage for the rest of their lives. We impart to them the key to spiritual growth and transformation. This is why Paul could leave the leaders in Ephesus with a clear conscience: He was entrusting them both to God and to God’s word (Acts 20:32). This is how Paul could know that Timothy would be fine after his execution: Timothy had God’s word.

“Reproof and correction” (elegmon epanorthōsin) show that we need more than just the Bible. We need one another. Scripture gives us an objective basis to guide and inform our relationships. No longer are our disagreements merely a “battle of wills” or a “tug of war” between personal opinions. Instead, both people can turn to God’s word for objectivity.

“Training” (paideian) refers to “guidance for responsible living, upbringing, training, instruction” (BDAG, p.748). It often is used to refer to raising a child into maturity and even bringing “discipline” to children when needed (Heb. 12:5, 8; Eph. 6:4). Scripture raises us, corrects us, and trains us to be mature in Christ. Of course, this “training” never finishes. It isn’t as though we ever cease to Jesus said, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine” (Jn. 8:31). We never finish learning and growing in the word of God.

2 Timothy 4

2 Timothy 4:1-8 (Standing for the Truth)

Scholars believe that Paul made it out of his first imprisonment, but that he was recaptured and placed in prison a second time when he wrote 2 Timothy. Therefore, this is the final chapter Paul ever wrote. We learn a lot about a person from his or her last words. What does Paul tell us in his final words?

(4:1) “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom.”

Based on the high view of Scripture that Paul enunciated in chapter 3, Paul practically jumps out of his seat to exhort Timothy to “preach the word.” Indeed, Paul uses quite emphatic language. Paul is charging Timothy to preach the word in view of the fact that God is watching (“in the presence of God”) and that Jesus is returning (“by His appearing”). When we teach the Bible to others (on whatever scale), we need to consider the fact that we will have to give an account to Jesus at the end of our lives (Heb. 13:17).

Next, Paul unloads with nine imperatives. This is what one commentator referred to as “machine-gun precision.”[195] Truly, Paul is blasting away at our role in ministry.

(4:2) “Preach the word.” This is the central imperative that governs all the others. The focus in the church should be on the teaching and preaching of God’s word. Period. Of course, the church will do many more things than simply teach the word, but none of our activity should ever replace our focus on teaching God’s word.

Some might object that this is good for pastors and preachers to read, but not for average Christians. Not true. Paul’s imperative to “preach the word” refers to various means and methods (cf. 2 Tim. 2:2). This means that we could “stand behind a stately pulpit and expound Scripture,” or we could do this “person-to-person.”[196] The point is this: Every Christian can follow this imperative. Paul viewed this as something entrusted to him (2 Tim. 1:14), something to be guarded (1 Tim. 6:20), and something to be watched over carefully (1 Tim. 4:16).

“Be ready.” What does it look like to be ready? In context, this refers to doing various forms of ministry (e.g. teaching, training others, giving them courage, offering correction, confronting bad trends, etc.).

“In season and out of season.” Sometimes we see God using us powerfully in our efforts. Other times, we don’t. Our role isn’t to cause the growth (1 Cor. 3:6-7). Instead, our role is to be ready for God to work, rather than falling into a perfunctory or unthinking minimalism. In other words, during out of season times, our lifestyle shouldn’t change. We should continue to do what we also do: Build up the saints for the works of service (Eph. 4:12).

“Reprove, rebuke, exhort.” We’ve heard Christians say, “I checked out early because there weren’t any new faces at our Bible study last night.” Do these people realize that they are directly dismissing this passage? Whether or not God is bringing visible fruit, we always need to be ready to build up one another. Even if “the same old people are there,” we are always needed to instruct, correct, and encourage others in the things of God. Indeed, the culture or ethos of a church depends on this work of the leadership. Guthrie writes, “Christian discipline in our modern age is so generally lax that the moral status of many communities is greatly weakened.”[197]

“With great patience and instruction.” Surely, we need patience when working with people. This is why earlier Paul wrote, “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged” (2 Tim. 2:24). This is the grid through which we do all of our reproving, rebuking, and exhorting. Unless we have great patience and sound persuasion (“instruction”), our reproof will likely fall flat to the ground. People are smart. They can tell when we really care about them and love them. Patient investment like this leads to reciprocity with others around us. Because they sense our warmth, patience, and love, they become more willing to take our instruction.

Furthermore, leaders cannot simply correct people incessantly. They need to teach and persuade them of the truth of the Scriptures (“instruction”). Hence, Guthrie writes, “To rebuke without instruction is to leave the root cause of error untouched.”[198] The Pharisees were the ones who gave a lot of burdens without even “lifting a finger” to help (Mt. 23:4).

Why do we need to pay such close attention to the Scriptures?

(4:3) “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires.”

“Endure” (anechomai) means “to regard with tolerance, endure, bear with, put up with” (BDAG, p.78). Some people will grow to hate what they’re hearing from faithful followers of Jesus. At a certain point, they won’t want to hear it anymore and will cease being “tolerant” toward biblical teaching.

Sound doctrine” (hygiainousēs) is the root from which we get our word “hygiene.” Earle calls this “the key phrase of the pastoral Epistles.”[199] Some teaching is healthy or “hygienic” for its listeners, while other teaching is sickening to them.

“Have their ears tickled.” This could mean that what they heard “merely scratched their eardrums without penetrating further.”[200] Lea and Griffin write, “They covet new, fashionable ideas and long for the excitement of having their ears teased by the satisfying but harmless mumbling of pseudoscholarship. Such speakers toy with the minds of the hearers but leave the intellect uninformed, the conscience unchallenged, and the will set in a direction away from God.”[201]

Do you look for Bible teachers who tell you what you already believe? Do you read the Bible to discover God’s thoughts, or do you squeeze your own thoughts into the Bible? For instance, if you are addicted to sexual promiscuity, do you read the Bible through a sexualized lens, or do you read your sexual promiscuity through the lens of Scripture? Please don’t “baptize” your own sexual ethics into the Bible. If you want to be sexually promiscuous, go ahead. That’s your choice as a free moral agent. But please don’t waterboard the Bible until you force it to say whatever it is you wanted it to say in the first place. This sort of tortured interpretation has all of the same intellectual integrity of a southern slave owner interpreting Scripture in the 1800s. Please, do everyone a favor and leave the Bible out of it.

False teaching in our own day. With the advent of the Internet, solid Bible teaching has spread faster than ever. But a negative corollary of this is that false teaching and false ideologies spread just as fast. We currently live in a hurricane of truth claims, and this calls for an objective anchor to keep from being swept away (Eph. 4:14). Now more than ever, we need to dig deeply into the Scriptures!

(4:4) “And will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”

Is it that people will find myths to believe in? Or is it that they will treat the Bible as a “myth”? Guthrie writes, “The reason appears to be the superficial fascination of myths; but the verb used (ektrepō) points to deviation from the true course, and suggests a wandering into counterfeits (RSV has ‘wander into myths’), with no awareness that truth has been left behind.”[202]

(4:5) But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

“Be sober in all things.” At the very least, this refers to sobriety from drunkenness, but it implies much more than this (all things”). Given the context of false teachers, we need to be sharp and “sober” in our thinking. We need to be sharp enough to have answers to refute false teaching and false teachers.

Standing for the truth is equated with the ability to “endure hardship” (cf. 2:3). As time progresses, true Christians will face more and more social pressure to succumb to what the culture dictates: Will you crumble to the conformity of culture, or will you stick to Scripture?

“Do the work of an evangelist.” Evangelism is going to be hard—not easy. This is why Paul calls it “work.” Yet, this needs to remain our focus. When we’re getting pummeled with false teaching, it’s easy to make the false teachers our focus. Paul foresees this, and he encourages Timothy to keep an outward focus: Keep focused on sharing Jesus’ message of love and forgiveness! This doesn’t mean that every leader should drop their preaching, leading, and discipleship ministry to go reach the lost. But it does mean that we need to keep soft hearts toward the lost world around us, and pray for opportunities to share our faith. Also, we can do the work of an evangelist during our times of fellowship, in our preaching, and in our leadership of others, helping them reach their loved ones for Christ.

“Fulfill your ministry.” God has good works for all of us to walk in (Eph. 2:10). Paul urged Timothy to fulfill the plans that God had for him.

Paul’s work is done

(4:6) “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.”

“Being poured out as a drink offering.” Paul is alluding to the “drink offering” from the OT (Ex. 29:41; Lev. 23:13, 18; 37-38; Num. 15:7; 28:7, 24). There, the priest would pour out wine over the altar to say, “Thanks,” to God. To be clear, this wasn’t a way to pay for sins—only a way to give appreciation to God. This startling reference from Paul means that Paul was giving his entire life of service to God as a way of saying, “Thanks!” It’s as if Paul was saying, “God, you did the unthinkable sending Jesus to pay for my sins. I could never pay you back for that. But, here is my life—my offering to you. It’s not much, but it’s my way of saying, ‘Thanks.’”[203]

Paul had previously experienced the tension of pressing on or “departing” to be with Christ (Phil. 1:23). Now, he knows that his time is up, and his “departure” has arrived. Earlier, Paul wrote that this might happen (“Even if I am being poured out…” Phil. 2:17). Here he realizes that this will happen (“I am being poured out…”). Earlier Paul believed that he would make it out of imprisonment (Phil. 2:24), but here he believes that he will face martyrdom (“the time of my departure has come”).

The term “departure” was used to describe a ship lifting its anchor to set sail for home, or to a band of soldiers setting course for home after war. Lea and Griffin write, “Both the ship and the soldiers were going home, and the idea of going home was an accepted euphemism for death.”[204] For the Christian, death is not the end of the journey, but the beginning.

(4:7) “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.”

“I have fought the good fight.” The Greek term “fought” (agōnizomai) means to “agonize.” Standing for the truth is going to be a fight. Paul told Timothy to fight the good fight, and he had moral authority for doing this himself (1 Tim. 6:12). Paul didn’t win every battle or even that he “won” the fight. Rather, Paul was content to say that he never stopped fighting! He never quit, no matter how many falls that he took.

“I have finished the course.” Again, Paul doesn’t write that he won the race, but that he finished it.[205] In Paul’s farewell to the leaders in Ephesus, he wrote, “I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). Likewise, believers like John the Baptist had a “course” to finish (Acts 13:25). Paul doesn’t write that he has “won” the race—merely that he has “finished” it. He’s content with the work that God has put in front of him. For moving examples of this sort of endurance, see the races of John Stephen Akwhari (1968 Olympics) and Derek Redmond (1992 Olympics).

“I have kept the faith.” This doesn’t refer to Paul’s personal subjective faith, but the faith. That is, Paul stuck to the truth.

Timothy was still in the middle of the fight and the race as a young man (1 Tim. 4:12). But beware! Time flies so fast! We’re going to be sitting in Paul’s seat relatively soon.

(4:8) “In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

“In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness.” An athletic contest is in view here. The “crown” (stephanos) was a “laurel wreath given to the winner of the Marathon race (cf. 1 Cor 9:25).”[206]

“The Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day.” Jesus will personally award this crown to Paul. James (Jas. 1:12) and Peter (1 Pet. 5:4) focused on our eternal rewards as well. This reward isn’t just for Paul, but for all who have loved His appearing.”

2 Timothy 4:9-22 (Paul’s heart for people)

These are the final words Paul ever wrote. He knew that the guard could open his cell at any moment, and his earthly life would all be over. Yet, we don’t see a trace of defeat in Paul. He was able to face the reality of a dark and sinful world with his head held high. Paul mentions 17 people by name (not to mention groups!) in these final words. He mentions friends who:

  • Sunk into apathy and indifference.
  • Picked up his slack during difficult times.
  • Stood with him despite personal cost.
  • Abandoned him because of person cost.
  • Ended up being intent on hurting him!

How does Paul’s experience line up with yours?

(4:9) “Make every effort to come to me soon.”

Paul knows that his execution is coming “soon.” So, he pleads with Timothy to travel to his Roman prison cell before he dies. At the end of his life, Paul wanted to see his dear friend one final time. Later, Paul writes, “Make every effort to come before winter” (v.21). Of course, during the winter, the Adriatic was closed down for travel. So, if Timothy missed this narrow window, he could arrive to see Paul’s funeral, rather than Paul himself. He needed to get moving.

(4:10) “For Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.”

Demas was one of Paul’s trusted “fellow workers” who had served alongside Paul while he was in jail (Col. 4:14; Phile. 24). Think of that: Demas was so loyal that he visited Paul during house arrest.

But not anymore. The world-system lured Demas away from being dedicated to Christ (“having loved this present world… deserted me”). Demas “loved this present world,” in contrast to “all who have loved [Jesus’ future] appearing” (v.8).

Did Demas lose his faith and become apostate? No, Demas didn’t reject Christ or Christianity. Indeed, he went to a city with a great church—namely, Thessalonica. Instead, Demas chose not to dedicate his life to Jesus anymore. He traded Christ for a life of comfort and ease. What a tragedy!

This must’ve hurt Paul, because he refers to this as being “deserted” (egkataleipō) or “forsaken” (BDAG, p.273). Indeed, this is the word Jesus used to describe how God had “forsaken” him at the Cross (Mt. 27:46; Mk. 15:34). It’s often hard for us to understand just how much Paul suffered in many areas of his life (e.g. beatings, shipwrecks, etc.). However, many of us know exactly what this feels like. We have all seen close friends who were dedicated followers of Jesus simply walk away into a life of comfort and ease. These are some of the worst pains in the Christian life: seeing friends lose their spiritual vitality.

Crescens is never mentioned elsewhere in the NT. All we know about him is the fact that he was in Galatia, rather than in Rome with Paul. This doesn’t necessarily mean that Crescens was a “deserter” like Demas. It seems more likely that Paul is reflecting on the fact that he is was lonely with his friends around him.

Titus must have finished his previous work in Crete (Titus 1:5). So, he moves to “Dalmatia,” which was on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea in modern-day Yugoslavia.[207]

(4:11) “Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service.

Luke was a physician. So, it isn’t surprising to see him with Paul in prison (Col. 4:14; Phile. 24). Most likely, Luke gave medical treatment to Paul during this time. Moreover, it’s possible that Luke was Paul’s scribe for this letter.[208] After all, Luke wrote two major books (e.g. Luke-Acts), so we know that he was a proficient writer, and one whom Paul trusted.

How does Luke compare to Demas? Paul, Luke, and Demas had been close friends. Even during Paul’s house arrest, they served God together (Col. 4:14; Phile. 24). Yet, Demas and Luke had different responses: Demas left for the world, but Luke stayed with Paul.

John Mark (the author of the gospel of Mark) served with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey (Acts), but he defected from their mission (Acts 13:13). Paul refused to take Mark on his second missionary tour, but Barnabas continued to believe in Mark’s potential (Acts 15:36-40). Here we learn that Mark turned out to be a good Christian worker (cf. Col. 4:10). He was so good, in fact, that Paul wanted to see him on his deathbed. Even though Mark stumbled, he was able to finish strong. Earle comments, “John Mark is a vivid example of a young man who failed in his first assignment, but finally made good.”[209]

Paul’s mention of Mark shows us something special about this godly man: He didn’t hold a grudge. Mark had “deserted” Paul and Barnabas during a crucial time in their First Missionary Tour (Acts 15:38). But Paul could recognize repentance when he saw it. He warmly wants to see Mark—a man whom he didn’t trust a couple decades earlier.

(4:12) “But Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus.”

Tychicus was a faithful believer (Acts 20:4). Paul had trusted him to carry his letters to the Colossians and the Ephesians (Col. 4:7-8; Eph. 6:21). Moreover, Tychicus likely carried this letter to Timothy as well. We can translate “I have sent” as an epistolary aorist (“I am sending”).[210] This means that Tychicus was the person who brought the letter to Timothy in Ephesus.

In addition, Tychicus was a strong leader who could take over at the drop of a hat. In fact, Paul sent Tychicus to Ephesus to “relieve Timothy during the latter’s absence in Rome while visiting Paul.”[211] Likewise, Paul sent Tychicus to temporarily replace Titus in Crete: “When I send… Tychicus to you, make every effort to come to me at Nicopolis” (Titus 3:12). Tychicus could “tag in” when leaders needed a break.

(4:13) “When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments.”

Paul most likely didn’t leave his “cloak,” “books,” and “parchments” in Troas around AD 57 (Acts 20:6). This just seems too long ago. He must’ve made another journey there in the intervening decade. We’re simply not sure when Paul left these items in Troas.

It seems likely that Paul intentionally left these items in Troas because he knew that the Romans would take these once he was arrested. According to Roman law at the time, Roman guards would confiscate a prisoner’s possessions and even clothing once they were arrested. It’s painful to throw away valuables before going through security at the airport, and Paul must’ve had the same attitude toward his cloak and books. He didn’t want to give a perfectly good cloak to a Roman guard! So, he left these personal items in Troas in safe hands, mostly likely knowing that he would be imminently arrested.

“Bring the cloak.” Paul was probably cold and achy from sleeping on a stone floor in prison. He wanted his “cloak” because winter was approaching (v.21).

“The books” (biblia) probably refers to the OT Scriptures.[212] Paul wanted his OT Bible to read as he awaited death.

“The parchments” (Latin membrana) were “scrolls or codices written on animal skins (vellum).”[213] Kruger writes, “Not only does Quintilian use the term to refer to parchment notebooks, but the Roman poet Martial (writing AD 84-86) refers to a small codex called membrana that can be easily carried on journeys and held in one hand.”[214] Other works from Homer, Virgil, and Cicero were put into this format, according to Martial.[215] Cicero kept copies of his own letters, in case they were damaged or lost (Fam. 7.25.1; 9.26.1).[216] This evidence suggests that Paul kept a copy of his own letters as Scripture. Thus, he was asking Timothy for the OT scrolls and the NT books at the end of his life. This would mean that Paul’s letters were already being collected in the first century as Scripture. Guthrie writes, “It is not impossible, at least, that Paul had in his possession some written account of the Lord’s doings and sayings and that he wished to have them to hand in his present critical situation.”[217]

What does this tell us about Paul? At the end of his life, all Paul wanted was his Bible to read, his friends to keep him company, and a decent cloak to keep him warm. Surely, Paul is a paradigm of what it looks like to live simply.

(4:14-15) “Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. 15 Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching.”

Alexander was a common name, so we cannot be certain who this man is.[218] It could either refer to the man mentioned in Acts 19:33-34 or 1 Timothy 1:20. It’s possible that all three references describe the same man, or perhaps, they describe three different men. In our estimation, Paul is referring to the man who was removed from fellowship in 1 Timothy 1. Paul wrote, “Some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. 20 Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme” (1 Tim. 1:19-20). At one point, Alexander had served alongside Paul, but not anymore. Paul took a had a strong confrontation with Alexander and his buddy Hymenaeus. The result? Both were removed from the church, and apparently, Alexander went berserk! Even years later, he is still dangerous! We might think that Paul should’ve been more patient with Alexander. After all, look at the results: Alexander hated Christianity years later. But such pragmatic thinking is a mistake. Paul took a stand for the truth. Alexander had the choice to turn to God and change his mind, or double-down and fight against the church in Ephesus even harder. The church’s choice to remove Alexander was vindicated in our estimation: The fact that he’s still (violently?) attacking the Christians in Ephesus years later indicates that they made the right choice to remove him.

“The Lord will repay him according to his deeds.” Was Paul bitter at Alexander? Was he vengeful? Not at all. Paul didn’t seek how own revenge against Alexander. Instead, he trusted that “the Lord” would discharge justice on Alexander (cf. Rom. 12:19). If you don’t believe in a God of justice, then you would be quite tempted to get your own revenge in this life. Paul, however, was able to let it go.

(4:16) “At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them.”

“At my first defense.” Paul had a trial before Nero, but he was released. This occurred years earlier (around AD 62?). At this moment, however, Paul had been recaptured, and he knows that he would face capital punishment.

“May it not be counted against them.” Paul knows that God will repay Alexander for his deeds. Yet he doesn’t hold the same view toward the cowardly Christians who deserted him at his trial in Rome. They lacked the faith and courage to take a stand for Christ, but Paul didn’t hold this against them. Most likely, Paul learned this ethic from Jesus (Lk. 23:34) and Stephen whom he helped to murder (Acts 7:60). Moreover, Peter likely told Paul his testimony of cowardly betraying Christ, and yet, Paul saw how Jesus had restored Peter’s faith.

(4:17) “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth.”

“The Lord stood with me.” We once heard the story of a violinist who received a standing ovation for her performance in a concert hall. The crowd cheered, “Encore! Encore!” But the musician sheepishly left the stage, instead of playing more. Later, reporters asked her, “Why didn’t you give the crowd an encore?” The woman replied, “Everyone in the concert hall was standing and applauding, but one man in the front row was seated with his arms crossed. That is my violin teacher. And he didn’t like my performance. If he was the only person standing and clapping, I would’ve given an encore. But since he was sitting, I knew I had a lot more to learn.” This story really illustrates what Os Guinness called “the audience of One.” If Jesus is standing with you, then you need no one else’s approval. Fortunately, even if everyone deserts us, Jesus never will (cf. Heb. 13:5).

“Strengthened me” (enedynamōsen me) can be rendered “infused me with strength, empowered me, made me dynamic!”[219] This “strengthening” led to Paul boldly preaching the gospel to Nero and the Gentiles in Rome.

“Lion’s mouth” was a “common metaphor to express deliverance from some extreme danger.”[220] It’s doubtful that Paul was literally thrown to lions.

(4:18) “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Paul didn’t anticipate rescue from the physical persecution. Instead, Paul was confident that God would rescue him from “spiritual attacks.”[221] Ultimately, Christ rescued Paul by taking him to Heaven. This is an interesting parallel with Jesus’ own prayer: “Deliver us from evil” (Mt. 6:13). In Paul’s mind, he would succeed no matter what: either through release or through death.

(4:19) “Greet Prisca [Priscilla] and Aquila.”

This was a dynamic Christian couple. They took Paul into their house when he came to Corinth. They sailed with Paul to Ephesus (Acts 18:18-19). They played a role in correcting Apollos’ teaching when they were there (Acts 18:26). After Emperor Claudius’ edict to expel the Jews from Rome was rescinded, the couple returned to Rome to start a house church ministry (Rom. 16:3). They had “risked their lives” for Paul (Rom. 16:4). Regarding this couple, Earle comments, “In those days prosperous Jews traveled a great deal from city to city. In four of the six places where Priscilla and Aquila are mentioned [see Rom. 16:3; Acts 18:2, 18, 26; 1 Cor. 16:19], Priscilla’s name comes first. Evidently she was the stronger character of the two. It may well be that their moves were due as much to her missionary concern as to her husband’s trade.”[222]

“And the household of Onesiphorus.” Paul mentioned Onesiphorus earlier in this letter (2 Tim. 1:16-18). Paul stated that this man frequently “refreshed” Paul and supported Paul in prison. Many people rejected Paul during this time. Paul writes, “All who are in Asia turned away from me” (2 Tim. 1:15). But not Onesiphorus. It takes a disciplined mind to focus on the positive people in ministry, rather than the ones who abandon, betray, and break our trust.

(4:20) “Erastus remained at Corinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus.”

Erastus appears in Romans 16:23 and Acts 19:22. These references could all refer to the same person, but we’re not sure.

Trophimus is mentioned in Acts 20:4 and 21:29. Trophimus left Miletus and travelled with Paul to Jerusalem (Acts 21:29). So, this mention of leaving Trophimus “sick at Miletus” must refer to a later event. Regarding the fact that Paul left Trophimus in Miletus twice, Guthrie writes, “Some scholars find difficulty in believing that history would repeat itself and that Paul would twice visit Miletus with Trophimus, but this does not seem a major difficulty when it is remembered that Trophimus was an Ephesian (Acts 21:29). It is not impossible, therefore, that on Paul’s last journey from Asia to Rome Trophimus was to accompany him, but had to be left at Miletus due to illness, a fact of which Timothy could easily have been unaware.”[223]

“Trophimus I left sick.” Paul didn’t have power within him to heal on command. God chooses when to heal people through human agents—not us. We don’t know many people with the gift of healing. However, we heard the story of a man who seemed to genuinely possess this gift. One the signs of authenticity was the fact that this man wouldn’t always pray for healing—even when asked. He reported that sometimes God directs him not to pray for healing, because this isn’t in his will. Instead, he will pray over the person for perseverance, courage, comfort, and an overall ability to glorify God through suffering.

(4:21) “Make every effort to come before winter. Eubulus greets you, also Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brethren.”

“Make every effort to come before winter.” This explains why Paul really needed his “cloak” (v.13). Guthrie writes, “For a period of some weeks the Adriatic would be closed to shipping and the apostle is therefore anxious that Timothy should hasten to reach Italy before transport delayed him.”[224]

Irenaeus mentions Linus as the first bishop of Rome after Peter (Against Heresies, 3.3.3). Roman Catholic traditions holds that Linus was the next pope after Peter. Yet, this is a highly doubtful inference. As we have already seen, Paul entrusted Timothy to the Bible (2 Timothy 3:14-17), rather than a pope or other Christian leader.

“Eubulus… Pudens… Claudia.” We have no other mention of these men in the rest of the NT.

(4:22) “The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.”

Paul’s last words were about “grace.” The “your” is singular (referring to Timothy), but the “you” is plural, implying that this letter was written for more than just Timothy.

Questions for Reflection

Which of Paul’s friends do you resonate with the most? Which one do you want to be like?

Some people “finish the race” (Paul), some neglect the race (Demas), some defect from the race (Alexander), and some stumble but still finish (Mark). Which will you be?

Paul didn’t dwell on negative circumstances (e.g. Demas, Alexander, all who deserted him). He shared about it, but he moved on to share about the change in Mark’s life instead. Are you holding any grudges that you need to let go?

[1] John R. W. Stott, Guard the Truth: The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, The Bible Speaks Today (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 40.

[2] William D. Mounce, Pastoral Epistles, vol. 46, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2000), lv.

[3] William D. Mounce, Pastoral Epistles, vol. 46, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2000), lv.

[4] Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History (A. D. 326) 2:22.7-8.

[5] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 34.

[6] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 34.

[7] P.N. Harrison, The Problem of the Pastoral Epistles (London: Oxford UP, H. Milford, 1921), pp.20ff. Harrison later revised his view to state that fragments of Pastorals were original to Paul (1 Tim. 1:13-15; 2 Tim. 1:16-18; 3:10-11; 4:6-22; Titus 3:13-15). See P.N. Harrison, “Important Hypotheses Reconsidered: The Authorship of the Pastoral Epistles,” Expository Times 67 (1955): 77-81.

[8] D.A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament (2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005), p.558.

[9] G.U. Yule, The Statistical Study of Literary Vocabulary (n.p.: Archon, 1968), 281.

[10] D.A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament (2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005), p.560.

[11] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 25.

[12] J. N. D. Kelly, A Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles (1963; reprint Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981), 24.

[13] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 22.

[14] William D. Mounce, Pastoral Epistles, vol. 46, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2000), lxv.

[15] Gordon D. Fee, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011), 23.

[16] Gordon D. Fee, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011), 23.

[17] William D. Mounce, Pastoral Epistles, vol. 46, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2000), lxv.

[18] William D. Mounce, Pastoral Epistles, vol. 46, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2000), lxv.

[19] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 23.

[20] Craig Blomberg, From Pentecost to Patmos: An Introduction to Acts through Revelation (Nashville, TN: B & H Academic, 2006), 286.

[21] Scott Berkun, Confessions of a Public Speaker (Cambridge: O’Reilly Media, 2009), 57.

[22] Ralph Earle, “1 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 348.

[23] Ben Witherington III, The Acts of the Apostles: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1998), 563.

[24] Ben Witherington III, The Acts of the Apostles: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1998), 563.

[25] Darrel Bock, Acts (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007), pp.607-608.

[26] Ben Witherington III, The Acts of the Apostles: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1998), 564.

[27] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 71.

[28] William D. Mounce, Pastoral Epistles, vol. 46, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2000), 18.

[29] William D. Mounce, Pastoral Epistles, vol. 46, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2000), 19.

[30] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 58.

[31] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 67.

[32] George W. Knight, The Pastoral Epistles: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1992), 77.

[33] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 71.

[34] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 75.

[35] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 70.

[36] Were people literally killing their parents? Perhaps Paul is referring to the most extreme form of dishonoring father and mother. On the other hand, because Paul next includes murderers, this could simply be “describing smiters of parents.” Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 75.

[37] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 75.

[38] Arsēn means “male” or “man.” Brown’s New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology states, “Arsēn… means male as opposed to female, thēlys.” Colin Brown, ἄρσην. In L. Coenen, E. Beyreuther & H. Bietenhard (Eds.), Vol. 2: New international dictionary of New Testament theology (L. Coenen, E. Beyreuther & H. Bietenhard, Ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House. 1986. 562.

[39] This term is only used four times in the NT. It is translated as bed (Lk. 11:7), marriage bed (Heb. 13:4), pregnancy (Rom. 9:10), and sexual promiscuity (Rom. 13:13). Koitē means “bed” or “marriage bed.” Brown’s New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology states, “In secular Greek koitē, besides its common meaning bed, connotes the marriage bed (Aeschylus, Sophocles)… In the LXX koitē stands for a number of Hebrew words, most frequently forms of the verb šāḵaḇh, lie down.” McComiskey, T. κοίτη. In L. Coenen, E. Beyreuther & H. Bietenhard (Eds.), . Vol. 2: New international dictionary of New Testament theology (L. Coenen, E. Beyreuther & H. Bietenhard, Ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House. 1986. 586.

[40] Hays, Richard. ‘First Corinthians’, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching & Preaching, 1997. 97.

[41] White, James. Jeffrey Niell. The Same-Sex Controversy. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, 2002. Kindle loc. 1542-1550.

[42] Paul Copan, When God Goes to Starbucks: A Guide to Everyday Apologetics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2008), 89.

[43] Ralph Earle, “1 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 353.

[44] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 78.

[45] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 81.

[46] Ralph Earle, “1 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 356.

[47] Ralph Earle, “1 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 357.

[48] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 87.

[49] Ralph Earle, “1 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 357.

[50] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 85.

[51] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 89.

[52] See footnote that summarizes J.N.D. Kelly. Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 89.

[53] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 90.

[54] Gordon D. Fee, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011), 66.

[55] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 86.

[56] Ralph Earle, “1 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 359.

[57] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 95.

[58] Gordon D. Fee, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011), 71.

[59] Lifeway Research, “Pastors Feel Privileged and Positive, Though Discouragement Can Come” (October 5, 2011).

[60] Lifeway Research, “Pastors Feel Privileged and Positive, Though Discouragement Can Come” (October 5, 2011).

[61] The Greek word “you” (hymin) is plural. Moreover, the context refers to plural “elders” (v.1).

[62] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 109.

[63] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 109.

[64] Lifeway Research, “Pastors Feel Privileged and Positive, Though Discouragement Can Come” (October 5, 2011).

[65] Barna Institute, “38% of U.S. Pastors Have Thought About Quitting Full-Time Ministry in the Past Year.” (November 16, 2021).

[66] This is the verbal form of episkopos.

[67] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 94.

[68] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 108.

[69] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 117.

[70] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 118.

[71] Ralph Earle, “1 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 369.

[72] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 100.

[73] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 118-119.

[74] Ralph Earle, “1 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 370.

[75] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 103.

[76] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 104.

[77] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 126.

[78] Gordon D. Fee, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011), 94.

[79] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 126.

[80] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 105.

[81] Gordon D. Fee, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011), 94.

[82] Gordon D. Fee, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011), 94.

[83] Gordon D. Fee, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011), 94.

[84] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 126.

[85] Gordon D. Fee, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011), 97.

[86] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 105.

[87] Ralph Earle, “1 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 371.

[88] Fee writes, “But it is equally possible that he intends to suggest that their consciences carry Satan’s brand (as neb, Bernard, Kelly). This seems more in keeping with the context. By teaching in the guise of truth what is actually false, they have been branded by Satan as belonging to him and doing his will.” Gordon D. Fee, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011), 98-99.

[89] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 107.

[90] John R. W. Stott, Guard the Truth: The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, The Bible Speaks Today (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 113.

[91] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 107.

[92] John R. W. Stott, Guard the Truth: The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, The Bible Speaks Today (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 115.

[93] Ralph Earle, “1 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 372.

[94] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 108.

[95] Lea’s comments come from his interpretation of verse 4. Here, he holds that the “word of God” refers to the gospel message (2 Tim. 4:2; Titus 1:3; 2:5). He writes, “The gospel had brought them to a proper understanding of food, and they acknowledged by prayer that it was a gift from God.” This is how we “bless” the food before eating. Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 131.

[96] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 109.

[97] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 109.

[98] Ralph Earle, “1 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 373.

[99] Ralph Earle, “1 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 373.

[100] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 110.

[101] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 136.

[102] Ralph Earle, “1 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 373.

[103] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 111.

[104] Ralph Earle, “1 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 374.

[105] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 112.

[106] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 140.

[107] Ralph Earle, “1 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 375.

[108] Chuck Smith, Pastor’s Textbook.

[109] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 114-115.

[110] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 145.

[111] Ralph Earle, “1 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 377.

[112] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 116.

[113] John R. W. Stott, Guard the Truth: The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, The Bible Speaks Today (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 135.

[114] Ralph Earle, “1 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 378.

[115] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 151.

[116] Richard and Catherine Clark Kroeger, I Suffer Not a Woman: Rethinking 1 Timothy 2:11-15 in Light of Ancient Evidence (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1992), 62-63.

[117] Craig Keener “Women in Ministry,” Two Views of Women in Ministry. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing, 2001), 54.

[118] Ralph Earle, “1 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 379.

[119] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 153.

[120] Ralph Earle, “1 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 380.

[121] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 155.

[122] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 156.

[123] Ralph Earle, “1 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 381.

[124] Ralph Earle, “1 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 381.

[125] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 158.

[126] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 123.

[127] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 126.

[128] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 126.

[129] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 167.

[130] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 168-169.

[131] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 128.

[132] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 172.

[133] Ralph Earle, “1 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 386.

[134] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 176.

[135] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 177.

[136] We should note, however, that this same language appears in Paul’s house arrest as well: “I am an ambassador in chains” (Eph. 6:20).

[137] Sreechinth C, Scripted Words of Alfred Hitchcock (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2018), p.27.

[138] Michael B. Becraft, Steve Jobs: A Biography (ABC-CLIO, LLC, 2017), p. 185.

[139] Ian Littlewood, Critical Assessments—Volumes 1-4 (Helm Information, 1998), p.341.

[140] Joe Guse, The Tragic Clowns-An Analysis of the Short Lives of John Belushi, Lenny Bruce, and Chris Farley (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2009), p.106.

[141] Sreechinth C, Powerful Quotes of Winston Churchill (UB Tech, 2016), p.162.

[142] David Shields, The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008), p.196.

[143] See footnote. Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 184.

[144] Ralph Earle, “1 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 394.

[145] Ralph Earle, “1 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 394.

[146] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 187.

[147] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 143.

[148] Cited in Ralph Earle, “1 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 395.

[149] Robert L. Leahy, The Worry Cure: Seven Steps to Stop Worry from Stopping You (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2005), pp.18-19.

[150] Alison Wood Brooks, “Get Excited: Reappraising Pre-Performance Anxiety as Excitement.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 143, no. 3 (2014): 1144-58.

[151] Albert Ellis, How To Control Your Anxiety Before It Controls You (Citadel Press, 2000).

[152] David Burns, Feeling Great (Eau Claire, WI: PESI Publishing and Media, 2020), p.69.

[153] Ralph Earle, “2 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 396.

[154] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 149.

[155] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 149.

[156] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 197.

[157] Ralph Earle, “2 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 398.

[158] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 201.

[159] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 155.

[160] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 201–202.

[161] I’m indebted to my friend Gary Delashmutt for this insight, as well as many others in this section.

[162] “Lance Armstrong: USADA report labels him ‘a serial cheat.’” BBC News (October 11, 2012).

[163] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 159.

[164] Ralph Earle, “2 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 399.

[165] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 159.

[166] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 204.

[167] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 207.

[168] Ralph Earle, “2 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 402.

[169] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 165.

[170] Ralph Earle, “2 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 402.

[171] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 166–167.

[172] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 217.

[173] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 167.

[174] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 218.

[175] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 169.

[176] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 221.

[177] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 221.

[178] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 221.

[179] Ralph Earle, “2 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 406.

[180] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 173.

[181] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 223.

[182] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 174.

[183] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 224.

[184] Ralph Earle, “2 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 406.

[185] Gerhard Delling, “Ἀλαζών, Ἀλαζονεία,” ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 226.

[186] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 225.

[187] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 174.

[188] Ralph Earle, “2 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 407.

[189] Ralph Earle, “2 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 407.

[190] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 227.

[191] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 180.

[192] John R. W. Stott, Guard the Gospel the Message of 2 Timothy, The Bible Speaks Today (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1973), 94.

[193] Ralph Earle, “2 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 409.

[194] Emphasis mine. Charles Templeton, Farewell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1996).

[195] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 241.

[196] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 243.

[197] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 185.

[198] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 185.

[199] Ralph Earle, “2 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 411.

[200] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 186.

[201] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 244.

[202] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 186.

[203] I am indebted to Dennis McCallum for this insight.

[204] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 247.

[205] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 188.

[206] Ralph Earle, “2 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 413.

[207] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 252.

[208] Ralph Earle, “2 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 414.

[209] Ralph Earle, “2 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 414.

[210] Ralph Earle, “2 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 414.

[211] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 191.

[212] The term biblia can simply refer to letters or a “certificate” (cf. Mt. 19:7; Mk. 10:4).

[213] Ralph Earle, “2 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 415.

[214] Michael Kruger, Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books (Wheaton, IL. Crossway. 2012), 252.

[215] Kruger adds, “If parchment rolls were meant, then the term diphtheria would surely have been used.” Michael Kruger, Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books (Wheaton, IL. Crossway. 2012), 252.

[216] Richards, E. Randolph. “The Codex and Early Collection of Paul’s Letters.” Bulletin for Biblical Research 8 (1998) 151-166.

[217] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 191–192.

[218] Ralph Earle, “2 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 415.

[219] Ralph Earle, “2 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 416.

[220] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 195.

[221] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 257.

[222] Ralph Earle, “2 Timothy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 417.

[223] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 198.

[224] Donald Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 14, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 198.