Saturday, January 12, 2008

2 Timothy 2

What is this passage all about?

Paul exhorts Timothy to avoid quarrelling about words and rather to teach the true gospel of Jesus Christ that Paul has taught him and many others.

What can I learn from this?

Three times in this passage (vv14,16,23) Paul warns against getting involved in arguments with people who have distorted the gospel. This warning should echo as forcefully to Christians today. There are many people (just like Hymaneus and Philetus, v17) who present their own gospels, which have some things in common with that of the true gospel of Christianity, but which, when considered in their entirety, are completely false. Often these people present themselves to the world as Christians, but they are not. They give Christianity a bad name by making claims on its behalf which they have no right to make, and living lives that are not consistent with the true gospel. Paul's method of dealing with these people prevents them from polluting the doctrines of the church. After repeating the basics of the true gospel in v8ff, Paul tells Timothy in v14, "Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God of quarrelling about words; it is of no value and only ruins those who listen." This is sound advice for us today. Don't expect to convert a person who holds a distorted doctrine unless you are a preacher (see vv24-15, where Paul tells Timothy how he is to go about this.) Don't even get involved with them in wars of words. This will only cause you to question your own understanding of the truth, and perhaps fall into error yourself.

Rather, "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." (Philippians 4:8.) It is much better to listen to your own minister and read your own Bible. (Make sure that you attend a church with a high view of the Bible and its veracity.) If a Christian desires deeper teaching than is available within their own local church, they should consider the advice of their own minister in what Bible or Theological college to study at, one which follows the advice of Paul (v2), "the things you have heard me say in the presence of many withnesses entrust to reliable me n

How does this apply to my own life?

I need to avoid contentious behaviour! Paticularly where people are espousing liberal interpretations of the Bible, I need to avoid arguments and walk away. It is better for me to (1) pray for these people, that they might come to know the truth of the gospel from a godly teacher; (2) avoid exposing myself to faulty reasoning founded on unsound premises; and (3) spend the time growing in the truth, instead.

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