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A biblical journey through the epistles

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Do not quarrel about words because you will ruin the hearers – 2nd Timothy 2:14-15

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Do not quarrel about words because you will ruin the hearers – 2nd Timothy 2:14-15 – August 29th 2016

This is a series in the book of 2nd Timothy, for the home page in our study and to see other studies then please click here or our main epistle page is here. My aim is to go through the Book of 2nd Timothy as the LORD wills.

2nd Timothy 2:14 (ESV) Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

Paul again charges Timothy to “remind them” and to go over information that they already are aware of. This hits home with me because I do not always listen right the first time and often times I have to be reminded things that I should already know and I don’t know whether it is just me but I usually get the difficult things down but it is the beginner or easier parts of Christianity that I don’t always have switched on. I am so grateful that Christianity is not like other religions in that it is all rules, facts and figures but an actual relationship where I am the party that will mess up and be unfaithful. That to me is challenging and the more I write these articles the more I feel God working in my life.

Timothy had the same job as many pastors do today and that is one of realigning the vision of the ones he had been charged to shepherd and keep them focused on good doctrine. Keep the main thing the main thing and not to get bogged down in words that do not matter and we could learn from that today in our church culture that is all about packaging and branding as much as it is the life changing message that could save someone from Hell! People ask why I have not made “more of an effort with this website” and my answer has and will always be “it is about the bible studies and not building something pleasing to the eye” as people really are not going to get saved by a great introduction page!

Again Paul allows Timothy to cut out the fruitless arguments over things that really have no importance, we can get lost in spiritual rabbit trails about things that really have no impact in people’s lives. I have seen whole ministries dedicated to arguing a point about one small piece of scripture and really being ineffective in the world because the point they are arguing does not glorify God or save souls. They are “busy” for the Lord but not really “productive”. That is a warning for everyone and in that I include even me and I have to check myself on a regular basis to make sure I am not doing likewise. What do you have fruitless arguments over?

Be careful because Paul warns that these arguments can ruin the hearers because people do what people have been taught and if they are taught by an endless debater that leads more seekers to be detractors from the Word of God then that seed will be sown in the new believer and you will have cloned another who debates fruitlessly and does very little to advance the kingdom of God. I feel strongly about this as I used to be like this and I took 1st Peter 3:15 as an invite to debate people into submission and it was never intended to be like that.

We have to remember that the scriptures are living and breathing and have the power to change people’s lives and we must not be trying to bludgeon people or bore them to death with them and our endless debates.

Verse 15 is by and far the most quoted verse in this chapter and my own home church in Porterville California used to have it on their announcement sheet. I will break this down ito it’s component parts…

  • Do your best – Be diligent, work hard and endure in the Word, find out exactly what it means and be in context before you begin to teach it. Never underestimate the benefit of laboring in the scriptures.
  • To present yourself to God as one approved – Timothy was not doing this to appear smart before men, at least that should not be his motivation and this echoes the teachings of Christ who advised men like that “had received their reward already”. You will also notice that he was to first present HIMSELF to God as one approved.

It is similar to when you are on a flight and you listen to the safety announcement where it states that always affix your own safety device before helping someone else, yes Timothy will have plenty opportunity to mentor others into a deeper faith but he must not neglect his own personal study because he will leave himself pumping a dry well when he is serving.

  • A worker who has no need to be ashamed – we have all had a teacher, a manager or supervisor at some point in our lives and if we do a poor job then to be called on it we know how embarrassing that is and how it shames us. Being entrusted with the holy word of God well that should motivate us to do our very best work.

I am reminded of a story that I heard the preacher Philip De Courcey say when he was quoting an account from Kissinger where a young intern handed Kissinger a report and he asked “is this your very best work?” and the intern thought and said ” I guess it can be improved” and this happened a few other times and finally the intern said “yes, I am confident this is my best work” and Kissinger took the document and read it. How is our work for the Lord? Are we holding something back? Are we clock watching? Are we ashamed?

  • Rightly handling the word of truth – remember what we said earlier about getting the truth correct from the scriptures? Timothy had to be able to teach correctly and be strong enough to squash any heresies and explain what the scriptures said and did not actually say. Many commentators have a picture of a sword and that Timothy should be handling the Word like a sword and that is a good picture to keep because a Sword does divide and pierce, much like the Word of God.

It also means that his teaching had to be relevant and we need to learn that today that the illustrations should be small and pointing towards a larger truth. The point of an illustration should not be to “be funny” get a “quick laugh” or to alleviate the tedium of a long service but to point someone to a greater truth. Remember we are trying to save souls, not bore people to death!

It also gets rid of “interpretation issues” where people will state “you interpret it this way and I do not” if you have rightly divided the word and have it in context and approach the text with no bias (I say this because many people will try to get scripture to justify all manners of sin by using an interpretation that at best is a stretch!) then you will have the correct interpretation which is why it is vital to labor in the scriptures to understand and rightly handle the word of truth.

Lord willing, in our next article in Second Timothy we will look at the verses sixteen through nineteen of chapter two where Paul instructs Timothy to “avoid irreverent babble” having read ahead I love these scriptures and I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

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Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved – 2nd Timothy 2:14-19

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Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved – 2nd Timothy 2:14-19 – 05/13/2016

Thank you for clicking on our page for the Pauline epistle which is called 2nd Timothy, the letter is authored by the apostle Paul to Timothy who was in the Ephesian church. This is called a Pastoral Epistle and gives many doctrines that we still use in both church structure and also for choosing leaders in the church. For other bible studies on other epistles please see our main epistle page or for others in 2nd Timothy please click on this link.

2 Timothy 2:14 (ESV) Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. 19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse eight of the second chapter of Second Timothy.

V14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.

In true Pauline fashion we see that Paul instructs the younger man to not get distracted with things that would take him away from the word of God. That is the basic job of the pastor is to keep his “sheep” focused on God and I do lament that we have moved away from doing life together as Christians. Paul was reminding Timothy to keep the things that were spoken of in the last blog article first and foremost and then follows a command.

He tells them to not quarrel about words, to not get into unprofitable arguments and in this election year I see that we do that more and more as Christians, we get mad about things that really ae not worth getting heat up about. It is not worth it to cause contention in the church of Jesus Christ over things that do not matter. As Paul states, it does no good and only ruins the hearers.

Paul touches on a little of what we find problematic in our relationships today in that we are to not strive or quarrel about words and there is nothing wrong with standing up for the truth however the issue comes when we wish to debate points that are irrelevant n the great scheme of things and we care more about defending our own small theological point than the greater work of the Lord. That then causes harm in relationships because often times these exchanges are not done in love.

V15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

This is the most famous part of this scripture but I prefer to quote it with the verse behind and often times the verse in front in order to get the context of what Paul is saying. People have oft quoted this verse as a badge of honor to show how much they study the word and this verse being the reasoning why. It is good to study the word and that is commendable but it should not be a “kudos point” in our Christian walk. Let’s look at this the way Paul intended.

  1. Do your best – Sometimes this is translated as “be diligent” and much as we looked at when we looked at Psalm 123, God looks for us to be diligent, to be studying when we are not feeling it and in season and out of season. (2 Timothy 4:2) If we are not enduring then it may be time to check out motivation. If it is for us and not for the Lord then we have our reward already! (Matthew 6)
  2. To present yourself to God as one approved – And God’s opinion is the only one that matters, people will come and go and popularity is a fleeting fad of a swaying opinion that will either be in your favor or not. Pastors will often times not be the most popular people in the building (especially if they are doing their job right) and what Paul states here is true on this level.

    Like much of 1st Timothy Paul exhorts Timothy to get himself approved and get his doctrinal ducks in a row as he wasn’t called to get others approved, which will come as he is equipping the saints for the work of the ministry. (Ephesians 4) But as a leader he needs to make sure he is being refreshed as much as possible, that is why I try to get to at least one conference a year that has sound biblical teaching from men I trust.

  3. A worker who has no need to be ashamed – Have you ever done a job where the boss is watching and suddenly your “work rate” improves, so how many of you feel sad now that you have admitted that to yourself. Remember you have a heavenly boss that sees everything you do, so how holy do you feel now? Is there anything in your life that you wouldn’t want shown on a big screen cinema for all your family and friends to see?

    Yes we are saved by grace and not by works but it is encouragement to be diligent as we have that natural reaction of shame to our sin that stems back to the Garden of Eden because let’s face it, it is embarrassing when your work is examined and it is shown to be deficient.

  4. Rightly handling the word of truth – and this is the roof on the house, the topping on the cake and quite frankly the reason for the diligence. As a leader he had to know what it said the reason why it said it and be able to explain it to someone who either had a strong Jewish background in the law or no religious background whatsoever. He had to be able to explain the gospel truths to everyone who would receive it. It is tremendously important that the Pastor understands the correct meaning and application to the scripture before he teaches it. We see why in the book of James…

James 3:1 (ESV) Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

That scares me, even just teaching or preaching on a bible study or writing these articles means that I would be called a “teacher” and if ever a title was placed on someone who was more undeserving it is here. I see myself not as a teacher but more as someone who wants to make the scriptures more accessible to as many as possible.

V16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.

We need to be careful if we are seen as a teacher to not lead people away from the word of God. As leaders and by default we will have people looking up to us, it is not something that I chase or desire but it happens a lot. One thing we need to be careful is to not lead people astray with our actions. If you are a leader in authority you will be looked at and scrutinized. Let me give an example of this…

At a youth group I attended when I was much younger I was invited (along with the rest of the group) to the leader’s apartment building where we had youth group that evening because the church was unavailable. Where I was sitting in that guys living room I saw his CD collection and then started to think, if he likes these bands then they must be okay. I never saw his DVD/VHS collection but if I had then I might have used that to justify bad choices in my life based on what he had. Do you see where I am going with that?

We need to avoid vanity in our preaching also and avoid anything that promotes us. I find it a lot when I am speaking to fellow bloggers or pastors who have written a book that they can be very “promoting” of their own works. (I have been guilty of that also in the past too so I am speaking as much to me as anyone else!) There really is nothing as holy as the word of God and despite any good or relevant points that I make on these articles I pray that I always point you to the word of God first.

Teaching that is in place or dilutes the word of God may be popular for a season but it is not a substitute for the real thing. It is what will lead people further away from Godliness and the cancer will spread like gangrene and Paul gives two examples of this by naming two offenders to show Timothy what type of people he was meaning. We see our old friend Hymenaeus from 1st Timothy 1:20 but he appears to have a new partner in crime in this letter.

What were Hymenaeus and Philetus teaching? Well according to Paul they were teaching that the “saying that the resurrection has already happened” and were teaching incorrect doctrines regarding the End times and despite having started in the correct position they allowed themselves to become incorrect in their doctrine stating that Jesus had already returned. We have to base our faith on sound doctrine and not man’s opinions in order to be correct scripturally. Due to this incorrect doctrine they were causing others to have problems in their faith.

Some people may be okay with some unconventional teaching and methods and I am all for reaching people for the gospel, however if we stray into heresy and teaching that is not consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ then I will have an issue with that. People start to believe a version of Jesus that is not the Jesus of the bible and that is not okay. Also it the heresy does not have to affect everyone, if they are upsetting the faith of some that is bad enough.

V19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

In typical Jewish writing style we see that Paul goes from the negative to the positive and he states quite boldly that despite the attacks on the faithful word of God, He has a firm foundation and that foundation will stand up to the scrutiny of skepticism and false religion. That is a good question to ask yourself is that do you stand on that firm foundation when under attack by those who wish to trash your faith? Or do you stand on that firm foundation that cannot be shaken?

Paul takes his thoughts from Numbers 16 verses 5, 26 & 27

Numbers 16:4 (ESV) When Moses heard it, he fell on his face, 5 and he said to Korah and all his company, “In the morning the LORD will show who is his, and who is holy, and will bring him near to him. The one whom he chooses he will bring near to him.

And

Numbers 16:26 (ESV) And he spoke to the congregation, saying, “Depart, please, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest you be swept away with all their sins.” 27 So they got away from the dwelling of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. And Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the door of their tents, together with their wives, their sons, and their little ones.

Because the Lord knows who are his, notice that it says the Lord knows, not us! I genuinely think that we will be surprised by who we see in heaven and who we don’t because many of us will not be our true selves when we are with other believers. We are called to be his and we are also called to true repentance and a life change when we enter that relationship with Jesus. We need to turn from our sins and depart our iniquity as Paul states. That is my MO here at TTE is to either help you into a relationship with Jesus, help you find a decent bible teaching church and partner with you in growing in Christ and if you are a believer I pray these studies help you grow deeper in Christ because let’s face it! It is all about Jesus!

Lord willing, in our next article in Second Timothy we will look at the verses eight through thirteen of chapter two where Paul talks being a worker approved by God, having read ahead I love these scriptures and I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG