Verse by Verse notes- 2nd Timothy 2v15-26

   'a workman that needeth not to be ashamed'

               (the principles of fellowship) 

       (adapted from an old article in 'Testimony' magazine)   


v15- 'rightly dividing'   Diaglott= 'rightly treating',   cp 2nd Peter

         3v16-  'they that are unlearned and unstable wrest,  as they

         do also  the  other  scriptures, unto  their  own  destruction'

         'the word of truth'-     what composed 'the word of truth' at

         that time?    It was mostly  the  Old  Testament  Scriptures,

         which Peter included in his phrase 'the other scriptures'.


         Paul was aware that guidance was needed for the believers

           to be able to discriminate between different grades of sin.

         1. Outright rejectors of the Truth must be withdrawn from.

         2. Foolish and unthinking sinners may be patiently helped.

         To illustrate this distinction,   Paul proceeds to expound two

                very different examples from the history of Israel-

          the first example was of such importance that it was also

          mentioned in 2nd Peter 2v4 and Jude 6 (plus contexts)…

      "the angels that sinned..cast down to hell..chains..darkness"

   "the angels which kept not their first estate..chains..darkness"  

                             link to 'the-angels-that-sinned'    


   1.    V16-22- OUTRIGHT REBELLION cp NUMBERS 16:    

   v16-'shun profane and vain babblings' -     contrast the introduction to the

                       2nd example below, 'foolish and unlearned questions'….

            'shun'- Jerusalem Bible= 'have nothing to do with'- the idea conveyed

            is to utterly repudiate and avoid;       it  involves  separation….'they will

            increase unto more ungodliness'.   REBELLION SPREADS.   The ex-

            ample which Paul is about   to   introduce clearly demonstrates this fact.


   v17- 'And their word will eat as doth a canker'-   Jerusalem Bible= 'Talk of

            this kind corrodes like gangrene'….cp 1st Corinthians 5v6, Galatians

            5v9-  moral or doctrinal rebellion  will  corrode away the Truth if it is

            not eradicated-    'a little leaven LEAVENETH THE WHOLE LUMP'.

            The process of actual "church" apostacy is traced out in   'departure'.

            Concerning corruption of the Truth   link  to     'committees'-'leprous'.


   v18- 'Who concerning the truth have erred'-      Paul is dealing with a denial

             of essential doctrine- 'saying that the resurrection is past already'….

            'and overthrow the faith of some'-        even as some were 'overthrown

            in the wilderness', 1st Corinthians 10v5-      which period of time is now

            selected by Paul in the  following example   from the  history of  Israel.


   v19- 'Nevertheless'-     i.e.    though some are inevitably overthrown….'the

            foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal'-  see  Diaglott mg.-           

            "The expression is  here  used  with  peculiar  propriety, in  allusion to

            the custom of engraving upon some stones laid  in  the  foundation  of

            buildings the  names of  the   persons  by whom,  and  the  purpose  for

            which the structure is raised:    and nothing can have greater tendency

            to encourage the hope, and at the same time to engage the obedience

            of Christians,  than this double  inscription"….Phillips = 'God's  solid

            foundation  still  stands,   however,  with  this   double  inscription'.


            Re the 'stones' and 'building' link to 'the Lord's day'-   8th Vision and 

            'leprous' for the individual and the prophetical applications.                                                 

            The 'double inscription' the Apostle now lays before us:


            ONE– concerning 'the names'…. Lesson = GOD HAS CHOSEN.

            'The Lord knoweth them that are his'- 'knoweth' should be translated

            in the past tense, i.e. 'has known'- cp Romans 8v29, John 10v14.

            The passage from Numbers 16 supplies the quotation in verse 5-

            'the LORD will show who are his'- Septuagint='God has..known those

            that are his'-  the direct quotation is obvious,  and  bear  in  mind that

            the Septuagint (Greek) translation of the  Old  Testament  Scriptures

            was in common use in  the times of  Christ and  His  Apostles,  and was

            used by them when it was  an  accurate  rendition  of  the original He-

            brew.    This is one of those occasions.       And so the choice of faithful

            disciples is entirely of God-cp Acts 2v47; 13v48; 15v14;Romans 9v6-

            28. However, this is not Calvinism (unconditional pre-destination).

            All who are  called  of God must  manifest (show forth)  faith.    And so

            Paul now proceeds to deal with    'the  purpose for which the structure

            is raised'-which is to reveal faith in God.


            TWO– concerning 'the purpose'….Lesson = WE MUST OBEY.

            'Let every one that nameth  the name of Christ depart from iniquity'-

            profession  must  be  matched  by  performance,     cp James 1v22-25;

            2v14-26.  Paul now continues  his    quotations from Numbers 16-  'De-

            part..from  the  tents  of    these  wicked  men..touch nothing  of theirs,

            lest ye be consumed in  all  their  sins' (Sept.='sin')- v26cp v21,24,45.

            Some obeyed, amongst them being    'the children of Korah (who) died

            not',  Numbers 26v11.         Korah was a foremost rebel, but the faithful

            obedience of his children saved them, thus illustrating Ezekiel 18v20-

            'The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father'.      It also illustrates

            the bitter lesson that sometimes we must  separate from    fleshly rela-

            tionships to be faithful to God-cp Matthew 10v28-39;Luke 13v31-53.

            Also consider the implications of 'Proverbs' - pages 2 and 3.


            The word of God is 'sweet as honey', Psalm 119v103; Exodus 16v31.

            'Through thy precepts  I get understanding:    therefore I hate every

            false way' Psalm 119v104.       This is understanding of  departure from

            the Faith to laxity or extremity - link to 'appeal'.We are dealing here

            with laxity. There is also understanding of extremity -

            'Jonathan..tasted a little honey..and his eyes were

            father hath troubled the land'-1st Samuel 14v24-30 cp'signs'-the 6th.


            And when the implications of   apostacy from within are fully digested

            the 'belly' becomes 'bitter'.    This was the experience of Ezekiel and

            John, and is inevitably the experience of  all  who  find themselves in

            their position- cp Ezekiel 3v1-14; Revelation 10v8-10.     Bitterness is

            associated with distress and suffering of God's people  in the     days of

            their probation-   Exodus 1v14; 12v8; Lamentations 1v4; 3v15 etc.


            However,understanding the purpose of the bitterness is able to bring

            sweetness  - the love of God & the reward to come - Proverbs 27v7.

            It is very personal - 'the heart knoweth his own bitterness' - but so

            will also be the reward -  'and a stranger doth not intermeddle with

            his joy' - Proverbs 14v10.


            Re the Passover we read - 'with bitter herbs they shall eat it',    & the

            persecution they must endure is made the more bitter by the aposta-

            cy of many from the Truth.     This bitterness becomes the measure of

            the judgments to be  meted  out  upon  God's   enemies,  including the

            'church-state',the end result of this apostacy-link to 'the Lord's day'-

            4th Vision.     Believers   are 'measure(d)' for  affliction  now, but those 

            who contribute to this suffering will receive "double" for their sins-

            Zechariah 2;Hebrews 12v1-11; Revelation 11v1,2;18v6 etc.    And the

            redeemed will then be 'measure(d)' for salvation - Rev. 21v15.


            Let us be like  the children of Korah, who showed the spirit of Psalm

            84v10-    'For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rath-

            er be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents

            of wickedness'.    This Psalm was, significantly, 'for the sons of Korah'

            (see superscription). Note well the glorious words of v11, 12-

            'For the LORD God is  a sun and shield:    the LORD will give grace

            and glory:  no  good  thing  will he   withhold from them that walk up-

            rightly.   O LORD of hosts,  blessed is the man that trusteth in thee'.

            Summarising,   when faced with rebellion against the Truth,  we must

            re-affirm our commitment to God, and ensure the preservation of the

            Truth in the earth by withdrawal from iniquity.

            'For there must also be heresies among you, that they which are app-

            roved may be manifest among you'- 1st Corinthians 11v19.

            The viewer may wish to link with 'promises', to consider more fully

            the aspect of 'the seed of the woman' and 'the seed of the serpent'.


   v20- 'in a great house'-i.e. the ecclesia cp. 1st Peter 2v5….'vessels of gold

           and of silver'- i.e. 'some to honour'- those having the   "DOUBLE IN-

           SCRIPTION', the 'seal' of v19-   see above notes….'but also of wood

           and of earth'-    i.e. 'some to dishonour'- those who do not 'depart from

           iniquity'- v19. Note carefully, there are are TWO CLASSES included

           in the term 'to dishonour'- they are active and passive. See v21.

           For more on these 'vessels' see 'Sin and Death and Divine Selection'.


   v21- 'If a man therefore purge himself from these'-i.e.v20- the 'the vessels

           to dishonour'….'purge  himself'-  i.e.     by departure  therefrom….'he

           shall be a vessel unto honour-  cp v20….'sanctified'- cp Numbers 16v

           37, 38 Septuagint - the words there translated 'hallowed'('sanctified'

           in v37- Septuagint) are from  the  same  Greek  as     in this verse. There 

           the description is applied to    'the  brazen  censers...of  these  sinners'.


           These 'censers' became 'broad plates for a covering of the altar:


           that they 'be not as Korah, and as his company', v39, 40. The censers

           were taken 'out of the burning'v37 - thus demonstrating the principle

           that sin's flesh must be purified by 'fire'- v35.  This figure is shown as

           an essential attribute  of the  glorified   multitudinous  Christ-body, cp

           Revelation 1v15;Ezekiel 1v4,7, 13, 27;Daniel 10v6.  Also 1st Peter 1v

           7- 'the trial of (our) faith'  is  'with fire', cp Rev.3v18.  1st Corinthians

           3v9-15 tells us-'every man's work..shall be revealed by fire'-   note the

           identity of expression in verse 12 and here-ch. 2v20. The Christ-head 

           of this body has likewise been purified by His own sacrifice-     link to

           'sacrifice' or go via 'Index'.   Without such sacrifice, salvation for both

           Himself and for His people would have been impossible.


           In   Paul's exposition, the 'vessel(s) unto honour'     reveal this   purifying

           principle  by separation  from  iniquity…'meet   for     the    master's  use,

           and prepared unto every good work'-     even as   the   plates on the altar.

           Those initially destroyed  in the rebellion  illustrate  the  first class of

           'vessel(s) unto dishonour'. However, as is always the case,     active re-

           bels  against  the Truth have passive   supporters,    who by   their very

           inaction illustrate the saying of Christ -              'He that is not with me is

           against me'- Matthew 12v30.    And so not only were the first class cut             

           off, but so also were the second.    These aligned themselves in rebell-

           ious spirit by saying-  'Ye have killed the people of the LORD'-v45.


           When the integrity of the Truth is threatened,inaction cannot save us.

           We are  charged  with  the  protection  of  this  precious  synthesis  of

           doctrine and practice – link to 'committees'. Consider the following:

           '..choose you this day whom ye will serve..we  will  serve the LORD'-          

           'How long halt ye between two opinions?   If the LORD be God,follow

           him' -   'Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the LORD, curse ye bitterly

           the inhabitants thereof;         because they came not to the help of the

           LORD, to the help of the LORD against the mighty'- 'thou stoodest

              on the other side..thou shouldest not have looked on' -

                   Joshua 24v15;1st Kings 18v21; Judges 5v23; Obadiah11,12

           John Thomas commented on 'neutrals' and 'enemies' - link here.


           The rebels' 'word (did) eat as doth a canker', writes Paul, v17.

           Link to 'leprous'.  They 'perished in the gainsaying of Core', Jude 11. 

           Saints must   separate from  errorists, and  also  their  supporters who

           encourage them by  their  passive support & murmuring against God.

           Some have maintained that this constitutes 'guilt by association'. This

           is an attempt to justify remaining within  a  community which has ab-

           rogated its duty to renounce error and purge it from its midst. The su-          

           pport of errorists,  even by inaction,   would be  more  accurately des-

           cribed as 'guilt by identification'. Such have made their choice.

           We all know that even the laws of man condemn complicity in crime.

           This fatal choice results in Divine rejection - see the following:

           Leviticus 20v3-5; Deuteronomy 13v12-18; Joshua 7v11-13, 20-26;

           2nd Corinthians 13v2,10.


           Robert Roberts agreed   that where  "evidence" of   error  is "indisput-

           able", there can be    "no excuses to justify its being ignored", and also

           "none are so blind as those who do not wish to see"*.     We have the

           clear duty, as the writer of these notes did many years ago, to choose

           the word of God over the word of man.     Which way will you choose?

           Our first objective is to  put ourselves right with God,    and only then

           are we   'vessel(s) unto honour, sanctified,    and meet for the master's

           use' (see above).         We may then be able to 'save others' by    'pulling

           them out of the fire'  even as  'linger(ing) Lot' was delivered-   Jude 23

           cpGenesis 19v12-16. Should it be objected that here it was the angels

           who were involved, we answer that  Jude applies  the same obligation

           to believers concerning certain disciples, similar to the case of Lot -   

           & this sad situation is explored further in 'proverbs' - page 3.         

           *the complete article is available by linking to 'heresy'.


           However, a very heavy burden is  laid  upon  the disciples of Christ to

           ensure that  the  matter concerns  a    fundamental   principle.  Anything

           less than this needs patience and education-v23-26 below.Also,follow          

           this link to 'appeal' or go via 'Index' for more on this vital subject.


   v22- 'Flee also youthful lusts' - i.e. in addition to being purged from the in-

           iquity of  outward  rebellion,   there  must  be   an  internal  cleansing

           in order to be  acceptable  to  God….'follow'-   Diaglott='pursue'- this

           process     is  never  easy……'righteousness,   faith, charity (i.e. love'),

           peace'-  i.e. the  positive  attributes of the Faith….'with them that call

           on the Lord out of a pure heart'-         separation from iniquity is in real-

           ity a positive re-identification with the Truth -       and the apparent neg-

           ativity must be accompanied with   positive unity  between   those of like

           mind- as brought out in 'appeal' above.      To 'call on the Lord' means

           more than a verbal exercise– it means action- cp Acts 2v21, 37, 38.


           Profession  must  be  matched  by  performance-James 2v14-26.  Cp

           Psa.34v14-'Depart from evil,and do good;seek peace,and pursue it'.

           And v15,16- 'The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous,     and his

           ears are open to their cry.  The face of the LORD is against them that

           do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth'.                                 


           We note that  following  the  judgments  upon  the  rebels  in  Numbers

           16,  and  the  choice  of   'the rod  of  Aaron..(that) a token

           against the rebels', we see a different,   compliant heart in the children

           of Israel – Numbers 17.   Cp Deuteronomy 5v22-29 for God's estima-

           tion of a similar reaction on another occasion.   Numbers 18 completes

           the picture of reconciliation now experienced by God's people.


           It is perhaps not without significance  that  the  heresy  against  which

           Paul is contending in    2nd  Timothy 2v18  is   'that the resurrection is

           past already'.     This heresy would help to pave the way for the apos-

           tate doctrine of "the immortal soul".     It is however a wonderful con-

           trast to consider on one hand,   the destruction of the rebels    'into the

           pit', Numbers 16v30-33 -  and on the other hand, the 'almond..rod (of)

           Aaron (which) budded'.  The almond tree is considered as   "the awak-

           ening tree" in the Holy Land, being early to blossom*.    It is therefore

           a fit symbol of resurrection and newness of life. There are 2 destinies.


           Today, at this moment,   we have   the  choice     which destiny will be ours.

                     *...there is a beautiful play on words    iin Jeremiah 1v11,12 -

           "I see a rod of an almond tree...I will hasten my word to perform it".

           The Hebrew word tr. "almond" = 'shaqed', and is derived from the

           Hebrew word tr. "hasten" = 'shaqad', meaning "to be alert".         


           We should use our limited time wisely, or it will be too late. Cp Ephes-

           ians 5v16;James 4v14;Rev.16v15;22v7-12 & link'the time of the end'.   


   2.   v23-26- A 'FOOLISH QUESTION' cp NUMBERS 12:     

   v23- 'foolish and unlearned questions avoid'-       note the stark contrast to

           the outright rebellion previously dealt with in verses16-22-'shun pro-

           fane and vain babblings' .  Now he deals with the occasion when 'Mir-

           iam and Aaron spake against Moses',  Numbers 12v1.    Immediately

           the   distinction  which    John draws between two types of  sin appears.

           They are (a) 'a sin which is not unto death',      as with  Miriam & Aaron,

           for which prayer may be offered,  and   (b) 'a sin unto death', for which

           prayer is not to be offered. Weakness, not rebellion, may be forgiven.          

           Cp 1st John 5v16*.In the case of Korah and the rebels,Moses did not

           pray for them,asking God not to accept their offering-Numbers16v15.

           *the same contrast is evident in Matthew 12v31,32 cp Luke 12v10 -

           "blasphemy against the holy spirit..a word against   the Son of man".


           However, we note that in the case of Miriam, who  was    stricken  with

           leprosy,  Moses  prayed  to  God  that  she  should  be   healed- Num-

           bers 12v13.   The quotation of Paul is  taken  from  verse  11-   where

           Aaron confesses-'we have done foolishly'.     This was not an outright

           rebellion,  but more of a personal contention 'against Moses because

           of the  Ethiopian woman whom he had married',  verse 1.     And so the

           result   of Moses'  prayer  for  Miriam illustrates the saying  of       John-

           'he  (i.e. God)    shall  give him life for them   that sin not unto death'…

           'they do gender strifes'-     as illustrated in  Numbers 12.       Because of

           the open promulgation of this      'foolish and unlearned question' then

           'strife' was the result.    Paul speaks against this also in Romans 14v1-

           Revised Version-'But him that is weak in faith receive ye, YET NOT

           TO DOUBTFUL DISPUTATION'.     Dissension must be discouraged.

           The leprosy of Miriam was able to be healed-link to 'leprous'.


   v24- 'And the  servant of the Lord  must not strive'-       quoting from Num-

            bers 12v7-'My servant Moses'-  see also v26 below….'but be gentle

            unto all..apt to teach, patient'. Paul also exemplified this-Romans14v

            10-13, 15v1-7.All who aspire to be servants of God must do likewise.


   v25- 'In meekness'-   cp Numbers 12v3-   'Now  the  man Moses was very

            meek'.   To be 'meek' is to be  lowly,  humble,  teachable, faithful- cp

            Psalm 25-  this is the significance in both  the Hebrew and Greek.  It

            is not a quality often seen today-      for there are not many who take

            heed of the word of God,  which alone can create a meek disposition.

            'instructing those that oppose themselves'-Phillips='to correct those

            who oppose his message'-     Miriam and Aaron opposed Moses, v1,2,

            7,8.It was not a conscious opposition to God. This is why their treat-  

            ment was more lenient… 'if God peradventure will give them repent-

            ance to the acknowledging of the truth'- Jerusalem Bible =           

            'never  forgetting  that  God  may  give  them  a  change  of  mind  so

            that they recognize the truth and come to their senses'-   which is ex-

            actly  what  happened  with  Miriam  and  Aaron,  v11,12.   However,

            this punishment was to be remembered in Israel-Deuteronomy 24v9.

            God has, in the Gospel and "signs and wonders", revealed His

            "everlasting power and divinity;   that they may be without excuse" -

            Romans 1v 20RV cp Acts 2v22 & Hebrews 2v1-4. 


   v26- 'And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil'-

           which was the happy result, see Numbers 12v14,15….'who are taken

           captive by him at his will'-    rather,  this should be translated,  as per

           RV and RVmg-   'having been taken alive by the Lord's servant unto

           the will of God'.   This brings us to  the  beautiful  and   heart-warming

           finale,  where we see Moses,  'the servant of the Lord', together with

           the ecclesia in the wilderness,waiting 7 days for Miriam to be cleans-

           ed-   'and the people journeyed not    till Miriam was brought in again'-

           Numbers 12v15.     Thus,  through     Moses' intercession, Miriam  and

           Aaron  were    'taken alive by the    Lord's   servant  unto   the will of God'.

           It is a  stark contrast to    the destruction of the rebels   in Numbers 16.


                       So that we might not be "ashamed" at Christ's coming

                                let us adopt now and if necessary implement

                             the principles of fellowship   

        return to fellowship   return to home page-index