Tonight we are gathering to discuss 2 Timothy 2. In vv.8-13, Paul once more reminds Timothy of his basic gospel teaching. This fundamental teaching is not a religious system nor a message of how a person might be saved. Rather, the good news is a proclamation of who Jesus Christ is – the anointed one, the king, the ruler of the universe – and who we are in him – alive and light and Spirit-filled. Over the past several weeks, we have seen similar short gospel statements in 1 Timothy 2:5-6 and 2 Timothy 1:8-10. (The lectionary reading this Sunday from Colossians 1:15-28 also contains one of these great gospel statements.) If you have the opportunity today, ruminate over these verses and pull out the greater meaning that each of the phrases within this statement has. For everything else in this letter and in all of our studies is secondary to these basic proclamations.
Paul repeats his gospel proclamation to Timothy because there are those in the church who misused and abused the words of Paul’s teachings. (vv.14-19). A similar issue was previously addressed in 1 Timothy 1:3-7 where Paul writes about those who occupy themselves with endless genealogies, speculations, and vain discussions. Here, these logomachies (disputes about words) are poisonous to the congregation for two primary reasons. First, these disputes do no good and only bring dissension and anger into the body which eats away at the body like gangrene. We have all been in arguments where the goal is simply to win and not to discover the truth or advance the underlying issue. Disputes about words serve to distract and detract from what the words themselves actually signify.
Second, these disputes will begin to mislead people. In the Garden, the snake (mis)quotes God. Gen. 3:1. During the Temptations, Satan correctly (but non-contextually) quotes Scripture. Luke 4:10-11. And, here, it appears that some are (mis)quoting Paul concerning the Resurrection. (We have previously met Hymenaeus (v.17) in 1 Tim. 1:20.) These men are teaching that our resurrection is a past event that occurs at our conversion. (v.18). There is some basis for this teaching in Paul’s other teaching such as Romans 6:4 or Colossians 3:3 where Paul equates Christ’s resurrection with our present newness of life. But, these present disputes about Paul’s teachings, particularly in taking them out of context, only serve to undermine the faith and not build it up. (Of course, I am glad that the church doesn’t parse Paul’s words today.)
Paul concludes this discussion of false teachers with advice on how to confront them. In his first letter, Paul instructs Timothy that his teachings (unlike the wayward teachers) must not come from vain disputations but arise from a love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience, and a sincere faith. (1 Tim. 1:5). Here, Paul instructs Timothy to combat these teachers not argumentatively and so to lower and debase himself to their level but to correct them with kindness and with gentleness. (v.24).
Dinner is at 6. The menu is Thanksgiving in July. Discussion about 6:45. Compline at 8. Please bring a friend.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against these, there is no law.Galatians 5:22