Typically these arguments he refers to involve quarreling over that
which the Bible is not clear about. There are things which the Bible
says which are stated explicitly and unambiguously. And I would argue
that things that are most important are those which the Bible states
explicitly, repeatedly, and unambiguously. But when what the Bible
states in this manner doesn't agree with one's opinion or chosen
lifestyle, there is the tendency to read into the Bible one's ideas by
assigning meaning to particular words in the Bible of which the authors
of the Bible did not intend. This is also much along the lines of
Notice that just prior to this Paul spoke of some fundamental
principles, principles which should not be denied by arguing over the
meaning of words. And yet ironically you'll find Christians quarreling
over the precise meaning of
It's common to find people claiming their views are scriptural, but
mishandle the Word of truth by reading into the Bible ideas which the
Bible didn't intend. In contrast, inductive study involves letting the
Bible speak for itself. A few healthy principles of interpretation I
4. To say anything conclusively about a
subject in the Bible one must first study it comprehensively.
Ironically this very verse has been mishandled. For as the KJV and NKJV
translate it "rightly dividing" the word of truth, some have
misunderstood this as speaking of simply dividing the Bible into
dispensations. For example C.I. Scofield noted, "The Word of Truth, then, has right
divisions, and it must be evident that, as one cannot be "a workman
that needeth not to be ashamed" without observing them, so any study of
that Word which ignores those divisions must be in large measure
profitless and confusing."
By taking the metaphor literally,
Scofield did not handle this verse correctly - shame on him! For the
expression to "rightly divide" simply means to handle correctly.
While the world "rightly divide" is only used here in the New
Testament, the word is used twice in the LXX. Pr 3:6
In all thy ways acquaint thyself with her, that she may rightly direct thy paths. Pr 11:5 Righteousness traces out blameless
paths: but ungodliness encounters unjust dealing.
2Tim 2:16 Avoid godless chatter, because those
who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.
Godless chatter is, among other things, that which doesn't take
God into account. The example that follows in verses17,18 is that of
those who gave a religious opinion while ignoring what God said on the
matter. Ungodliness is lifestyle which ignores God. No matter how
allegedly "virtuous" the atheist, he is inherently ungodly for not
deferring to God in the realms of ideas and behavior.
Paul had spoken previously to Timothy on this subject in his first
letter where he said, "Timothy,
guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless
chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge,
which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith."
Thus "godless chatter"
is that which is
inconsistent with the content of our faith as declared to us in the
Word of God, and thus such chatter is godless insomuch as it ignores
what God has said.
Likewise he also advised Timothy, "Have nothing to do with godless myths
and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly." 1Tim 4:7
"godless" is the same word
as elsewhere. Here he seems to be alluding to superstitions. And
indeed in perhaps every culture you will find Christians combining
their faith with superstitions. Don't be drawn into such things. Don't
indulge in idle speculations.
2Tim 2:17,18 Their teaching will spread like
gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have wandered away
from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place,
and they destroy the faith of some.
"Gangrene" is much like cancer, and so translations will often
translate this "cancer". But gangrene is more visible. In either case
the illustration is clear. And indeed the history of Christianity has
shown, even in the book of Acts, that false teaches can spread quickly
and destroy the faith of some. For example in Acts there was the cancer
of the Circumcision which grew right out of the church of Jerusalem.
Peter, James and John simply overlooked the fact that there was a
cancer growing in their church and was spreading abroad. But when it
spread to Galatia, Paul was outraged that such a thing had not been
nipped in the butt from its inception and so went to Jerusalem to deal
with this issue personally. Through that encounter and through his
writing of the book of Galatians (the book that also inspired the
inception of the Protestant Reformation, removing the visible church
from the cancer of Catholicism which had grown corrupt at the time),
the heresy of the Judaizers no longer posted a significant threat for
the last two millennia. Consequently I would argue that heresy should
not simply be avoided, it should be opposed, as Paul also said, "We demolish arguments and every
pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we
take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2Cor
Now in particular here these men, Hymenaeus and Philetus, propose that
the resurrection has already taken place. This kind of reminds one of
"date setters" concerning the return of Christ. Indeed there are those
today who claim that the second coming has already occurred. This is
usually the result of them setting a date for Christ's return. The date
comes and goes. Nothing happens so they claim that something
"invisible" actually did happen. Likewise the claim of the resurrection
have already occurred is not uncommon. Today there are those who claim
a viewpoint they refer to as "Full
in which the Coming (Parousia), resurrection,
rapture, day of the Lord and day of judgement all occurred in AD 70.
would argue they fit into the same category as Hymenaeus and Philetus.
To be noted, Paul is making a big deal about and area of theology
referred to as "eschatology" - a theology of the end times. Many today
tend to treat issues of eschatology as peripheral, non-essential
issues. Yet, for example, if you read Paul's two letters to the
Thessalonians he makes a big deal about such things.
the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being
gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily
unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to
have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come.
Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come
until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is
revealed, the man doomed to destruction.He will oppose and will exalt
himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he
sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. Don’t
you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things?"
we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to
grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus
died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus
those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word,
we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming
of the Lord, will certainly
not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself
will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the
archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will
rise first.After that, we who are still alive and are left will be
caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
And so we will be with the Lord forever." 1Th 4:13-17
Here we see the whole of the resurrection of
the righteous includes the Rapture, which shortly follows
the resurrection of
the righteous who had died. And in 1Cor
he further speaks on the nature and timing of the
resurrection, including the Rapture.
Therefore, as divisive as it may seem, there are certain views of
eschatology which should not be tolerated. Paul says, "I stand on trial because of my hope
in the resurrection of the dead." Acts 23:6
But if such resurrection
(including the Rapture) had already occurred, and one missed out on it,
there is no hope offered in the gospel.
2Tim 2:19 Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation
stands firm, sealed with this inscription: "The Lord knows those who
are his," and, "Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn
away from wickedness."
These were not quotes from scripture, but rather here Paul endorses a
couple of expressions which encapsulate a couple of ideas foundational
to the faith. But it's interesting to consider the implication of him
bringing up these two ideas in this context of godless chatter.
"This Lord knows those who are His"
implies that it might not be obvious from the standpoint of one's
institutional allegiance. In other words, there are those who claim to
be Christians, but their mere claim does not make one a child of God.
There are those among the Christian community - the visible Church -
who are His, namely the invisible Church - those who have actually been
born of God - the genuine believers. Korah and his followers were
Israelites, yet Moses said to them, "In the morning the LORD will show who
belongs to him"
. Nu 16:5
What happened? "The ground under
them split apart and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them,
with their households and all Korah’s men and all their possessions.
They went down alive into the grave, with everything they owned; the
earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the
community." Nu 16:31-33
Yet such also will be the fate of nominal Christians.
"Everyone who confesses the name
of the Lord must turn away from wickedness."
And indeed, "No one who is born of God will
continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on
sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the
children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who
does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does
not love his brother." 1John
So departing from iniquity is not a condition for
salvation, but rather a characteristic of those who have been saved.
Those who characteristically don't depart from iniquity show they don't
belong to God.
"Free Grace Theology" or Antinomianism or Keswickian theology, however
one refers to it, is the idea that departing from wickedness is
optional. "Chaferism", for example, a form of Kewsickian theology to
which Campus Crusade for Christ, or CRU as it's known now, has
historically advocated the idea that one only need accept Christ as
Savior to be be saved, accepting Christ's Lordship being optional. Yet
in fact there is no such category among the saved who continue to live
a lifestyle of sin, according to Paul's writings and John writings in
1John, and elsewhere. Consequently such theologies may be likened to
2Tim 2:20-21 In a large house there are articles not
only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble
purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the
latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful
to the Master and prepared to do any good work.
This sounds very much like 1Cor
3:12-13 "If any man builds
on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or
straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will
bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will
test the quality of each man’s work."
The thing about wood, hay or straw that is that they're combustible.
They vanished in the fire. There are things we may get caught up in
with regards to this life, which won't last. "The heavens will disappear with a
roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and
everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed
in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live
holy and godly lives" 2Peter
3:10,11a "The grass
withers, And its flower falls away, But the word of the LORD endures
forever." 1Peter 1:24a-25
yourself over to that which will last forever. Don't get caught up in
vanity. "What I mean, brothers,
is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live
as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are
happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not
theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not
engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away." 1Cor 7:29-31
"We are God’s workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance
for us to do." Eph 2:10
But we must prepare ourselves to be effective in serving the Lord.
2Tim 2:22 Flee the evil desires of youth, and
pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call
on the Lord out of a pure heart.
Have nothing to do with the lusts characteristic of the immature -
anything which is antithesis to a godly life. "Flee sexual immorality" 1Cor 6:18a "Flee from idolatry" 1Cor 10:14b "You, O man of God, flee these things
and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness." 1Tim
Grow up! But realize the Christian life is not simply about abstaining
from sin. "Let him turn away from
evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it." 1Peter 3:11
It's about pursuing
righteous living, applying faith with an attitude of love, being at
peace with God, with others, and with one's own conscience. These are
to be pursued in \ with other Christians. The Christian life
is not intended to be lived isolated from other Christians. It is a
serious thing when Christians depart from the fellowship of the body. "A man who isolates himself seeks his
own desire; He rages against all wise judgment." Pr 18:1
But, granted, Paul is referring to fellowship among those who call
on the Lord out of a pure heart, and such people among the Christian
community may be rare. Part of pursing righteous living is pursing such
quality believers to fellowship with. If none exist, grow your own.
2Tim 2:23-26 Don’t have anything to do with foolish
and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the
Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone,
able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently
instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them
to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses
and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do
So if someone wants to quarrel about such things you need only reply, "Sorry, the Bible tells me I'm to have
nothing to do with foolish and stupid arguments".
are ideas worthy of debate, but all too often people bring up arguments
that are just too stupid to even comment on. And if you enter into such
debates they end up merely as quarrels as you'd be arguing with a
person who is just too irrational to see the stupidity of their own
position. So don't even bother.
A teacher should be dispassionate. Which is not to say removed of
passions, but rather one whose passions do not influence their
judgements. Truth, getting it right, is the priority, and second to
that, communicating it effectively. Teaching is in the realm of ideas.
Pride and resentfulness are counter-productive to teaching. In fact in
teaching and in discussion with others, one person's attitude tends to
invoke the same in the other. Thus one person who approaches the
subject rationally, dispassionately, with humility, but unaffected by
insults, tends to invoke the same attitude in the other person. In fact
one of the battles in discussions and debates is who is going to
control the attitude. Those who are losing the argument, if they are
too proud to modify their position, often end up simply belittling the
other person to see if they can win with regards to controlling that
person's emotions. So one of the challenges of teaching is to remain
dispassionate and keep it on topic.
God granting repentance indicates those who are in opposition are not
in full control. But rather they are described as being captive to the
devil. Though granted, as with all sin, there's no doubt a degree of
cooperation on their part, else there would be no culpability on their
part. But it does help, with regards to those who oppose Biblical
teaching, to visualize such people as captives to the devil, victims of
whom you are trying to rescue. And realize that no matter how
convincing your own position may be, there are those how simply won't
be convinced because the real problem they have is spiritual and not