No idle talk: Devotional Commentary for September 29-October 5
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us wisdom and insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
14Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers.
15Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
16But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.
17And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort,
18who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some.
19Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity."
In Second Timothy chapter 2 verse 11, Paul starts out by cautioning Timothy to take heed of his admonitions because they are "faithful sayings". They are reliable words. They are faithful precepts. They are the Word of God. These reminders were not just for Timothy to observe, but to be passed on to others as he received them.
The point was not the mere transmission of Paul's teachings to others through the services of Timothy. Paul urged Timothy always to remember and remind believers about the significance of the Gospel. He told him to warn believers not to take the Gospel lightly, not to trivialize the Word of God by engaging in pointless, unprofitable, and quarrelsome arguments. Quarrelsome arguments are not only worthless, but also are ruinous to believers.
So Paul strongly admonished Timothy to be aware of the quarrelsome characters around him and firmly stand in the true Gospel he heard and believed. He told him to be diligent, unashamed, a proven workman, a faithful and reliable teacher, and a discerning and courageous custodian of the true Gospel. Paul was more concerned for Timothy and those taught by him than the preservation of the integrity of the Gospel. God Himself is the solid Foundation of the Gospel. It shall always stand and those who belong to God are sealed and preserved by the Lord Himself.
Therefore, Timothy must faithfully, reliably, and courageously guide believers in the true Gospel so they would depart from iniquity and not be ensnared by the enticing words of false teachers. He must not shy away from correctly and truthfully expounding the Gospel. He must stand against falsehood by proclaiming the true Gospel looking to the Grace and Power of God as his strength and wisdom.
Paul cautioned Timothy to have a clearer understanding of the people around him. He did not want him to be just another aggressive preacher. He made him aware of Hymenaeus and Philetus and their infectious lie about the Resurrection of the body. These two were able to destabilize some of the faithful by teaching them that there was no more bodily Resurrection to hope for. Taking their cue from Gnosticism, they taught that the Resurrection of believers is only a spiritual phenomenon making the redeemed spiritually alive only with the spirit of Christ, but never alive again in bodily form.
But Paul exhorted Timothy to be diligent and unashamed, presenting himself to God a tried and true worker of the Gospel, correctly and clearly explaining the Word of Truth; while at the same time avoiding fruitless arguments and foolish chatter because such idle talk leads to ungodliness as was proven by the works of Hymenaeus and Philetus. Their false teachings undermined the faith of some among them regarding the bodily resurrection of the saints. It was necessary for Timothy to understand the deceptive ploys of the enemies of the Gospel so that he might be able to effectively defuse the evil forces of falsehood by the Power of God's living Word.
We notice how Paul's counsel to Timothy has been increasingly more intensive, raising the young man's maturity to a heightened quality of personal attributes and ministerial service. We must exercise great caution here lest we wrongly conclude that Paul was attempting to transmute Timothy into a high-powered Gospel performance machine, or, metamorphose him into an overbearing dogmatic nag. No, Paul was not trying to make Timothy anything but what God had called him to be: a preacher of the Gospel and a shepherd to the flock.
Paul's exhortations to Timothy are multifaceted. First, he sheds light on Timothy's demeanor, helping him recognize his fear and sense of youthful embarrassment. He encourages him to overcome his challenges by growing in the Grace of Christ and by drawing strength from God's Power at work in him. Second, he encourages him to observe three types of people and emulate, from each one, dedication, commitment, discipline, and perseverance so he might be focused, faithful, fervent, and enduring in his life and service to God. Third, Paul urges Timothy to courageously emerge from his fear and shame: a tried and true workman, fearless and unashamed to preach the Gospel, teach the truth, and lead the church.
However, we must realize that these qualitative changes are not ends in themselves. They are the necessary essentials for effectively carrying out one's responsibilities as God's servant. Timothy was called not just to be good at anything he does, but to be fervent, faithful, and focused in serving God. He was called to be mature in wisdom, well-versed in knowledge, and well-equipped in understanding. He was called to discern truth from error, and right from wrong. He was called to accurately and clearly teach the Gospel. He was exhorted to recognize error and the disseminators of falsehood and answer them with the truth without engaging in idle arguments.
Whereas Timothy was being prepared to take on the responsibilities of his specific calling, the exhortation to grow in Grace, to be strong in Christ, to be diligent, focused, fervent, faithful, and dedicated is an admonition of love issued by the Spirit of Truth to every believer redeemed by the precious blood of the Lamb of God. Like Timothy, we are also admonished to be unashamed workmen and women, fearless witnesses resisting falsehood and promoting Truth. We must continue to grow in Grace and persevere in faith so that we might speak the truth accurately, clearly, and simply. So goes the admonition: be always diligent to remember that, as Moses was like God to Pharaoh, each one of us is God's Timothy to anyone who might be listening to the Good News of the Gospel that God inspires in us.