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2Timothy 2:23-26

Thursday Evening Bible Study

May 17, 2018


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it address the person who is: Empty, lonely, guilty, or afraid to die? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved? Target 3300 words Video = 75 wpm

The history recorded in the book of Acts ends around AD 60, with Paul being confined under house arrest in his own apartment in Rome.

We believe that Paul was released after a couple of years, and would travel to Ephesus, Macedonia, Crete, Nicopolis, and then be rearrested in Troas and taken back to Rome.

In AD 64 Nero burned Rome, blamed it on the Christians, and kicked off a period of persecution.

This time, Paul would be confined in the Mamertine Prison.

Everyone has abandoned Paul except for his friend Luke the physician.
(2 Timothy 4:11 NKJV) Only Luke is with me.
It’s from here that Paul writes this letter, his final letter somewhere around AD 66-67, just prior to his death.
Paul is hoping that Timothy would come to him, but that isn’t going to happen.
Paul will shortly be taken outside the city of Rome where he will be beheaded.

Paul’s second letter to Timothy was written around AD 66-67 while Paul was in prison in Rome, being held in chains in the Mamertine prison.

Paul is just days away from being led out of the city where he will be beheaded.

These are Paul’s final written words, instructions to Timothy, his “next generation” leader.

Paul had been warning Timothy about getting off track by arguing over words, but to be sure that he “rightly divided” the Scriptures, the “word of truth”. Some, like Hymenaeus and Philetus, had already begun to wander away from the truth, saying that the resurrection had already taken place.

Last week we saw encourage Timothy to a life of purity.

Living in purity makes us more “useful” to the Lord.

(2 Timothy 2:21 NKJV) Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.
Last week I talked about how gross it would be to use your coffee pot to bail out a backed-up toilet.
Think about how much more gross it would be to actually use that same coffee pot to make coffee … without having washed it.
When we operate in purity, we don’t leave as much of an “after taste” in people’s minds when we are being used by Jesus.

2:23-26 Serving Usefully

What does it look like to be that “useful servant”?

:23 But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.

disputeszetesis – a seeking; enquiry; a questioning, debate; a subject of questioning or debate, matter of controversy

avoid paraiteomai – to avert by entreaty; to beg pardon; of one excusing himself for not accepting a wedding invitation to a feast

generategennao – of men who fathered children; to engender, cause to arise, excite

strifemache – a fight or combat; of those in arms, a battle; of persons at variance, disputants etc., strife, contention; a quarrel

:23 avoid foolish and ignorant disputes

foolish moros (“moron”) – foolish, dull, stupid

(Matthew 7:26 NKJV) “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand:
It’s not very smart to build your house on sand.
Some discussions and arguments are just stupid.

ignorant apaideutos – without instruction, uneducated, ignorant, rude.

It’s the opposite of the word that means “training of children”.
The arguments people make are like those who haven’t even learned the basics yet.


Know when to walk away

There are times when we need to speak up and explain clearly what we believe.
(1 Peter 3:15 NKJV) But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
There are also some discussions that we ought to walk away from.
Paul has already told Timothy this general principle several times:

(1 Timothy 4:7 NKJV) But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness.

(2 Timothy 2:16 NKJV) But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.

There are some folks who love to debate for the sake of showing how superior they are.
They’ve got their prearranged list of questions and points line up to show you how stupid you are and how ridiculous your faith is.
Like this old one: “If God is so powerful, can He make a rock so big that He can’t lift it?”
At some point, the discussion ends up being productive, frustration builds, voices are raised, and nothing is produced except for a bunch of hot heads.
You’ve carefully built your argument when it all falls apart like a house of cards…
Video:  Inside Out – Meet Anger
A young woman teacher with obvious liberal tendencies explains to her class of small children that she is an atheist. She asks her class if they are atheists too. Not really knowing what atheism is but wanting to be like their teacher, their hands explode into the air like fleshy fireworks. There is, however, one exception. A beautiful girl named Lucy has not gone along with the crowd. The teacher asks her why she has decided to be different. “Because I’m not an atheist.” Then, asks the teacher, what are you? “I’m a Christian.” The teacher is a little perturbed now, her face slightly red. She asks Lucy why she is a Christian. “Well, I was brought up knowing and loving Jesus. My mom is a Christian, and my dad is a Christian, so I am a Christian.” The teacher is now angry. “That’s no reason,” she says loudly. “What if your mom was a moron, and your dad was a moron. What would you be then?” A pause, and a smile…. “Then,” says Lucy, “I’d be an atheist.”

We might like that story, patting ourselves on the back about a child showing up a stuffy arrogant teacher.

We start to think that if we learned all the right “gotcha” lines, we too can put those darned atheists in their place.

People are rarely brought to faith by heated arguing, even if you clearly have the better argument.
If you are a good debater, the other person is backed into a corner and though you may have won the argument, most people’s pride won’t let them acknowledge it.
If you’re a lousy debater, the other person walks away feeling like they’ve won.

:24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient,

:24 a servant of the Lord

servantdoulos – a slave, bondman, man of servile condition



(Mark 10:35–45 NKJV) —35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.” 36 And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” 37 They said to Him, “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory.” 38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” 39 They said to Him, “We are able.” So Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized; 40 but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared.” 41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be greatly displeased with James and John. 42 But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. 44 And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Jesus is giving us a description of what the most mature Christian looks like.

He/she looks like a servant.

Though Paul is talking to Timothy here, it applies to us as well.

It’s what we all ought to be shooting for.

:24 must not quarrel

mustdei – it is necessary, there is need of, is right and proper

This is accompanied by the negative ou, so
“it is NOT necessary to quarrel”

quarrel machomai – to fight; of armed combatants, or those who engage in a hand to hand struggle; of those who engage in a war of words, wrangle, dispute

Related to “strife” in verse 23.
Quarreling is not the mark of a servant.



There is a place for silence when others want to argue.
Jesus set the example.
Isaiah wrote,
(Isaiah 53:7 NKJV) He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.

When Jesus was on trial, He didn’t say a lot.

(Matthew 27:11–14 NKJV) —11 Now Jesus stood before the governor. And the governor asked Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus said to him, “It is as you say.” 12 And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing. 13 Then Pilate said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” 14 But He answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly.
Peter put it in perspective this way.
(1 Peter 2:21–23 NKJV) —21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22 “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;
There are times when we need to speak up, but there are plenty of times we would be better off being silent.

:24 but be gentle to all

gentleepios – affable; mild, gentle

It is used by Greek writers as characterizing a teacher with wild out of control students, or a mother nursing a difficult child.
Paul uses a related form of the word in:
(1 Thessalonians 2:7 NKJV) But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.
What a contrast from that of being argumentative.

:24 able to teach

able to teachdidaktikos – apt and skillful in teaching

Some look at our passage as being descriptive of the pastor as the “servant” of the Lord in the church, and so a pastor needs to be able to “teach”.

Yet we all have a role in teaching, whether you’re gifted as a teacher or not.

(Colossians 3:16 NLT) Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

I think the key to “teaching one another” lies in being teachable yourself.

When you are learning more about the Lord, you have things to share with others.

:24 patient

This is not either of the usual words translated “patient” (hupomone, and makrothumia)

patient anexikakos (“endure” + “evil”) – patient of ills and wrongs, bearing evil without resentment

It’s one thing to endure when we are affected by evil, but another to endure without building resentment.

The writer to Hebrews says,

(Hebrews 12:15 NLT) Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.

How do we avoid the poisonous root of bitterness?

I know of no other way than to learn to forgive.
Paul wrote,
(Colossians 3:13 NKJV) bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.

The word “forgive” here means “to grace”, to give them what they don’t deserve.

Jesus died on a cross, providing forgiveness that we didn’t deserve.

Jesus taught us to pray,
(Matthew 6:12 NKJV) And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.

Here the word “forgive” means to “let go”.

If we don’t learn to “let it go”, we’re going to develop bitterness, and that ruins everything.

:25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,

:25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition


Attitude is everything

There are going to be times when we face “opposition”.
It may be opposition to us, or to the work of God.
How will we respond?
I think that most of the time we want the right thing, but we just don’t know how to go about it.
Like this fellow who knows how to start a lawnmower, but has never used a vacuum cleaner before:
Video: Starting the Vacuum
Paul would tell us the way to work with people is with “humility”.
humility praotes – mild and gentle friendliness

It is the attitude of mind and behavior which, arising from humility, disposes one to receive with gentleness and meekness whatever may come to him from others or from God.

This “humility” or “gentleness” is the attitude that allows us to correct others without arrogance, impatience, or anger.

Paul wrote,

(Galatians 6:1 NKJV) Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

Sometimes we are not so “humble” when we face a difficult person.

It was his first day on the job. He was a new clerk in the green goods department of a super market. A lady came up to him and said she wanted to buy half of a head of lettuce. He tried to dissuade her from that goal, but she persisted.

Finally he said, “I’ll have to go back and talk to the manager.”

He went to the rear of the store to talk to the manager, not noticing that the woman was walking right behind him. When he got into the back of the store, he said to the manager, “There’s some stupid old bag out there who wants to buy half a head of lettuce. What should I tell her?”

Seeing the horrified look on the face of the manager, he turned about and, seeing the woman, added, “And this nice lady wants to buy the other half of the head of lettuce. Will it be all right?”

Considerably relieved, the manager said, “That would be fine.”

Later in the day, he congratulated the boy on his quick thinking. He then asked, “Where are you from, son?”

The boy said, “I’m from Toronto, Canada, the home of beautiful hockey players and ugly women.”

The manager looked at him and said, “My wife is from Toronto.”

The boy said, “Oh, what team did she play for?”

-- Bruce Thielemann, "Because," Preaching Today, Tape No. 105.

When we challenge people with arrogance or hostility to their face, we back them in a corner and it’s less likely we’re going to get the desired result, which is for them to turn around.

correcting paideuo – to train children; to be instructed or taught or learn; to cause one to learn; to chastise; to chastise or castigate with words, to correct; of those who are molding the character of others by reproof and admonition

in oppositionantidiatithemai – to place one’s self in opposition, to oppose, to dispose in turn, to take in hand in turn, to retaliate

:25 repentance, so that they may know the truth

repentancemetanoia – a change of mind

may know epignosis – precise and correct knowledge

The goal is to get a person to change their mind.

It might be a change of mind about doctrinal matters.
It might be a change of mind about you, or some other aspect of life that they don’t know the truth about.

:26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

:26 that they may come to their senses

come to their sensesananepho (“again” + “sober”) – to return to soberness

Our goal should be to help folks come to their senses.

I think of the prodigal son who squandered all his inheritance and found himself in a distant land eating pigs’ food.

(Luke 15:17–19 NKJV) —17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” ’
It’s that moment of clarity, a type of “sobriety” when the clouds part and we think clearly again.
And of course with the prodigal son, the Father was waiting to welcome him back.

:26 escape the snare of the devil

snarepagis – snare, trap, noose; of snares in which birds are entangled and caught; implies unexpectedly, suddenly, because birds and beasts are caught unawares; a snare, i.e. whatever brings peril, loss, destruction; of a sudden and unexpected deadly peril; of the allurements and seductions of sin

taken captivezogreo – to take alive; to take, catch, capture

(Luke 5:10 NKJV) …And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.”

willthelema – what one wishes or has determined shall be done; will, choice, inclination, desire, pleasure


Freeing the captives

One day, a scuba diver was enjoying the aquatic world 20 feet below sea level. Looking around, he saw a guy at the same depth without any scuba gear on, so, he decided to go down another 20 feet. He took another look around, and low and behold, there was the same guy. I can’t believe it, thought the scuba diver, I bet he can’t go down another 25 feet. So, the diver goes down another 25 feet and, again, there is the guy! Totally amazed, the scuba diver pulls out a chalkboard and writes, “How the heck are you able to go so deep and stay under so long without any equipment?” The guy grabs the chalkboard and writes, “I’m drowning you moron!”

Sometimes we seem to be unaware of the most painfully obvious truth around us.

People all around us are drowning, and we are asking dumb questions.

We need to recognize the condition of those around us and work to help them, not criticize them.

We tend to think of people who cause us difficulty as the enemy, but they’re not the real enemy.
(Ephesians 6:12 NKJV) For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

People are not our enemy, Satan is.  He has captured people and they are slaves to do his bidding.

While it is important that we have the correct doctrinal answers to the questions people ask, Paul is reminding us that the most important thing is the attitude we have when we’re giving those answers.

John Newton was once a captain of a slave ship who converted to Christianity and changed his ways.  He’s the author of “Amazing Grace”.  He wrote,

What will it profit a man if he gains his cause, and silences his adversary, if at the same time he loses that humble, tender frame of spirit in which the Lord delights, and to which the promise of his presence is made!

-- John Newton, from The Letters of John Newton. Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 11.

In other words, you can win the argument, lose in attitude, and lose the person.

We need to be patient with people and look at them with the same eyes that the Lord does.

Harvey Mackay in his book Swim with the Sharks tells of the 88 year old President of Japan's largest enterprise, Matsushita Electric, answering an interviewer's questions on the future of his company. The interview went as follows:

Question: “Mr. President, does your company have long-range goals?”

Answer: “Yes.”

Question: “How long are your long-range goals?”

Answer: “Two hundred fifty years.”

Question: “What do you need to carry them out?”

Answer: “Patience.”

Don’t lose sight of your goal.  Be patient.