Evening Bible Study
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
These are Paul’s final written words, instructions to Timothy, his “next
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
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
:23 avoid foolish and ignorant disputes
foolish – moros (“moron”) – foolish, dull, stupid
(Matthew 7:26 NKJV)
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,
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
Know when to walk away
There are times when we need to speak up and explain clearly what we
(1 Peter 3:15 NKJV)
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:
Timothy 4:7 NKJV) But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and
exercise yourself toward godliness.
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’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
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
If you’re a lousy debater, the other person walks away feeling like they’ve
: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
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
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
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
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
must – dei – 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”
Quarreling is not the mark of a servant.
There is a place for silence when others want to argue.
Jesus set the example.
(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.
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
gentle – epios – 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:
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
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
Yet we all have a role in teaching, whether you’re gifted as a teacher or
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
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)
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
How do we avoid the poisonous root of bitterness?
I know of no other way than to learn to forgive.
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
Jesus taught us to pray,
(Matthew 6:12 NKJV)
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:
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.
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
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.
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.
:25 repentance, so that they may know the truth
repentance – metanoia – a
change of mind
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 senses – ananepho (“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.
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
I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired
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
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
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.
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”.
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
-- 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
Question: “How long are your long-range goals?”
Answer: “Two hundred fifty years.”
Question: “What do you need to carry them out?”
Don’t lose sight of your goal. Be