By Charles H. Welch
The Good Deposit. The word "deposit" does not occur in the N.T. but it is used by expositors in an endeavour to translate with greater accuracy the meaning of the Apostle in the claim made by him in 2 Timothy 1:12.
First, let us see the passages concerned, as they appear in the A.V.
The structure of 2 Timothy 1:8-18 is divided into three sections by the words "not ashamed":
There can be no doubt but that the prison ministry of the Apostle is uppermost in this passage, and faithfu1ness in spite of great opposition is encouraged. We are concerned at the moment with the second of these subdivisions and so will set out more fully the structure of that passage.
As we have introduced a new translation into the structure, we will deal with that first. The words of the A.V., "that which I have committed unto Rim" (2 Tim. 1:12), are, in the original, ten paratheken mou, and those of verse 14, "that good thing which was committed unto thee", are ten kalen parakatatheken. It will be seen that, with the exception of the two words mou, "of me", and kalen, "good", the same words are used in both passages. The R.V. margin informs us that the Greek means "my deposit". If we turn to 1 Timothy 6:20 we shall find the same words used there, "0 Timothy, keep that which has been committed to thy trust", ten paratheken.
In 2 Timothy 2:2, where we read "the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also", the verb paratithemi is used. Moreover, in 1 Timothy 1:18, the Apostle uses the same verb where he says: "This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience" (1 Tim. 1:18,19).
It is evident that the Apostle has some specific body of truth in view when he uses this word paratheke. This is not only obvious by the way in which he uses it, but in the way in which he hedges it round. He closely associates it with what he calls "things heard of me", and even the gospel itself is that gospel of which Paul was made the herald, and which, in 2 Timothy 2:8, he denominates "my gospel". We shall therefore be well advised to go on with our search, so that we may have the full advantage of all the Apostle has to say of this "good deposit".
As the A.V. stands, the Apostle appears to be committing something to the safe keeping of the Lord, and a popu1ar hymn has fixed this interpretation in the minds of thousands. The margin of the R.V. reads "or that which He hath committed unto me. Gr. my deposit", and over against verse 14 the R.V. margin reads "Gr. The good deposit". This entrusted truth is associated with Paul as the Prisoner of Jesus Christ with a purpose that goes back before age times, and with himself as the accredited Preacher, Apostle and Teacher of the Gentiles. These features link the good deposit with the truth revealed in Ephesians, where Paul is again spoken of as the Prisoner of Christ Jesus, where the purpose goes back to before the foundation of the world, and where the truth entrusted is described as "The Mystery" (Eph. 3:1-14) for which he also suffered.
This good deposit was "kept" or "safeguarded", phulasso, (1) by the Lord, until that day; (2) by the Holy Ghost or pneuma hagion, spiritual power especially given at the beginning; (3) by holding fast the form of sound words which Timothy had heard of Paul; and finally, by committing the same to faithful men who should be able to teach others also (2 Tim. 2:2). That is the only "apostolic succession" that is valid, but it is a succession that has had little or no continuity. For this good deposit the Apostle had been saved and commissioned. To make all men see its beauty and its grace he spent his life, for it he gladly suffered prison and ultimately death, and those of us who have caught a glimpse of its glory must in our measure hold it faithfully, even though our faithfulness be limited by our frailty. We have already seen that a dispensation is a stewardship, here in this good deposit we have that body of truth that constituted the dispensation or stewardship of the Apostle while Israel remained in their blindness, while the hope of Israel was suspended, and while the New Covenant ceased to be operative. It is in the interest of that good deposit that this analysis has been prepared, and to safeguard its teaching is the chief object of its publication. May 2 Timothy 2:2 in some measure, however small, be among the blessed consequences of this effort.