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


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.