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 Outright rejectors of the Truth must be withdrawn from.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'.
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-1Sam.14v24-30.
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:
TO BE A MEMORIAL UNTO THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL..'
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) budded..as 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