2 Timothy (!)
By Charles H. Welch
The Structure of the Epistle
The place of 2 Timothy in the epistles of Paul is exhibited in the articles entitled Chronology of the Acts and Epistles1; Ephesians1; and Dispensation1. Let us here consider the epistle as a whole and discover its literary structure. In conformity with the writer’s practice, the epistle opens and closes with salutations and personal references. The introductory note extends from verse 1 to verse 7, while the salutation follows the Amen of 4:18. The subject matter of the epistle proper is therefore contained between 1:8 and 4:18. We read through the first chapter and are struck with the two themes there sounded; a sad one because Paul and his message seem largely to be forsaken; a jubilant one because, even though all in Asia leave him (1:15) he was not ashamed for he knew Whom he had believed. The apostle also reaffirms his threefold office: ‘Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles’ (1:11). We note that the word ‘preacher’ is actually ‘herald’ (Greek, kerux).
With these few scattered thoughts in mind, we glance at the close of the epistle. This seems to commence somewhere about 4:9, where the apostle leaves the subject of his martyrdom and crown, for more immediate matters. We only read one verse before we find again the same sad theme as in chapter 1: Paul and his message forsaken: ‘Demas hath forsaken me’ (4:10). We remember also that two are named in chapter 1 as samples of those who turned away from Paul: ‘Phygellus and Hermogenes’ (1:15).
So, too, we discover a recurrence of the same jubilant note as is struck in chapter 1: ‘not withstanding the Lord stood with me’ (4:17), and that the word ‘preaching’ in verse 17 is kerugma ‘heralding’. We also notice that just as the apostle says concerning Alexander who did him much evil ‘The Lord reward him according to his works’ (4:14), so in chapter 1 he says, concerning Onesiphorus, ‘The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day’ (1:18). From these facts it is very evident that 1:8 - 18 balances 4:9 -18.
Let us now turn our attention to the remainder of the epistle. Chapter 2 opens with a strong insistence upon the distinctive teaching of the apostle: ‘the things that thou hast heard of me ... the same commit ...’ (2:2). Our minds go instinctively to the parallel in the third chapter. ‘Thou hast fully followed my doctrine ... afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch’ (3:10,11). Moreover, we perceive that the outstanding teaching of chapter 2 has to do with suffering and reigning, a good soldier and a crown. In chapters 3 and 4 we have the same emphasis. In both passages we have the word kakopatheo, suffer evil (2:3,9; 4:5 in the Received Text).
In both the ‘crown’ (2:5; 4:8) and in both either a ‘good’ (kalos) soldier, or a ‘good’ (kalos) fight (2:3; 4:7). There is enough here to make us feel sure that these correspondences are intentional. This leaves the second half of chapter 2, and the opening half of chapter 3, to complete the epistle. We note in 2:15 the word ‘approved’ (dokimos), which is found in negative form in 3:8, ‘reprobate’ (adokimos). This is encouraging as it forms the first link between these remaining passages. We further note that Hymenaeus and Philetus err concerning the truth, while Jannes and Jambres are given as examples of those who resisted the truth (2:17,18; 3:8). The rather alarming statement: ‘they will increase unto more ungodliness’ (2:16) is tempered by the words ‘they shall proceed no further’ (3:9).
Again, there is an evident contrast between those captives of the devil
who obtain deliverance by ‘repentance to the acknowledging of the truth’
(2:25), and those who are ‘ever learning and never able to come to an
acknowledgment of the truth’ (3:7). Moreover, we see a parallel thought in
the injunction of 2:16, to ‘shun’, with the injunction of 3:5 ‘from such turn
away’. With the material now before us, it is difficult to go far wrong in
arriving at the structure of the epistle:
The Structure of 2 Timothy as a whole
A 1:1 -7. Salutations and Remembrance. Lois, Eunice.
B 1:8 -18. Paul and his message forsaken.
C 2:1 -13. Teach things heard of me (exclusive).
D 2:14 -26. Hymenaeus and Philetus err concerning truth.
D 3:1 -9. Jannes and Jambres resist the truth.
C 3:10-4:8 Followed my teaching (exclusive).
B 4:9 -18. Paul and his message forsaken.
A 4:19 -22. Salutations Eubulus, Pudens, Linus, Claudia.
As indicated in the sub -heading of this article, the reader has now been shown something of the manner of arriving at the structure of Scripture.
This has been done in response to the request of readers who have asked ‘how do you arrive at the structure of any given passage?’ In order to follow the lead given, it is of course necessary to become well acquainted with the book or epistle concerned, so that the memory is stored with its contents and thus able to seize upon corresponding features. On no account must humanly devised headings be used to obtain the structure. Such a course may sidetrack the seeker and result merely in the production of a pretty outline, not the ascertainment of the Truth. We must build upon the Words of inspiration as instanced in the foregoing structure: kerux, dokimos, kalos, kakopatheo.
Here we are on solid rock, and though he fight against our theories the most antagonistic must acknowledge the facts we have marshalled. In a sense, the seeking of a structure is the practical putting into effect of the command to ‘rightly divide the Word of Truth’. In result it places Truth in compartments and facilitates discernment of the development of the argument.
We are now ready to commence the study of details with the assurance that such preparatory study always brings. While no assurance can alter our utter dependence upon the Lord, the Author of the book, we have learned that the most complete dependence goes hand in hand with the utmost diligence, a statement with which every reader of this study will most heartily agree.
The Historic Background. -- A short survey of the period seems called for in order that this last of Paul’s epistles may be seen in its true environment.
It is evident from the statements made at the end of the Acts that the ‘two whole years’ during which the apostle stayed in his own hired house brought his imprisonment to an end. When these two years had expired, Paul must either have been put to death or set at liberty. In two of the epistles written during these two years at Rome, the apostle appears to be confident that he will obtain his release, although quite prepared to magnify the Lord whether ‘by life or by death’ (Phil. 1:20,26; 2:24). Moreover, if we compare the record of his imprisonment during these two years with the circumstances indicated in 2 Timothy, we shall find evidence to justify the belief that he was eventually liberated, and then, after an interval in which he sought to confirm the churches in the truth, was again apprehended and executed. In Philippians and Philemon the apostle anticipates release, but in 2 Timothy this is by no means the case, and in chapter 4 he declares: ‘the time of my departure is at hand’ (4:6 -8).
In the former imprisonment Timothy was with Paul (Col. 1:1; Phil. 1:1). In the second imprisonment, however, Timothy is obviously absent, and the apostle writes to urge him to use all diligence to come before winter. In the first imprisonment Demas is with Paul (Col. 4:14; Philem. 24), but in 2 Timothy we read that ‘Demas hath forsaken me’ (4:10). During his first imprisonment we find Mark in attendance upon the apostle (Col. 4:10; Philem. 24); in the second imprisonment, however, Timothy is asked to bring Mark with him (2 Tim. 4:11). Before Paul’s apprehension Trophimus had accompanied him to Jerusalem (Acts 20:4; 21:29); in 2 Timothy, on the other hand, the apostle says that he has left Trophimus at Miletus sick (4:20).
During his first imprisonment, his friends visited him, brought him gifts, and were themselves encouraged to preach the gospel (Acts 28:30,31; Phil. 1:13 -15; 4:18), but during the second imprisonment he was forsaken, and we read that at his defence ‘no man stood with him’ (2 Tim. 4:16). In 2 Timothy, Paul speaks very feelingly of the persistence shown by Onesiphorus in seeking him out very diligently and finding him (1:17), which is in strong contrast with the conditions of Acts 28:30 where a very free intercourse is suggested. The earlier imprisonment was comparatively mild, Rome was still the impartial ruler; but in the second imprisonment there is severity and Paul suffers ‘as an evil doer’ (2 Tim. 2:9).
Agrippa’s statement in Acts 26: ‘this man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds ... this man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed to Caesar’ (Acts 26:31,32) would have been weighty evidence in the conditions obtaining during the earlier period, and it was only Nero himself that kept the apostle waiting so long for a decision. No such evidence, however, was of any avail when 2 Timothy was written. The burning of Rome and the persecution of the Christians had already changed the whole aspect of things and Paul now belonged to a hated sect.
When Paul writes to Titus he says in chapter 1: ‘for this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee’ (Titus 1:5). There is only one recorded visit to Crete in the Acts, namely in 27:7 -13. While it is not altogether impossible for Paul, even as a prisoner, to have founded a church there, yet if one reads the passage in Acts 27 with its anxieties about navigation, it seems difficult to believe that those in charge of Paul and the other prisoners would have allowed him enough liberty to have engaged in evangelizing any part of the island. If this be so, and our knowledge of Roman discipline makes it very probable, then the epistle to Titus clearly demands that there should be an interval between the end of the Acts and the second imprisonment.
Further evidence on this point is provided by a passage in 1 Timothy 1:3, ‘As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia’. There is no possibility of fitting this into the record of the Acts. Paul was in Ephesus twice (Acts 18:19; 19:1), but he did not leave Timothy at Ephesus on either of these occasions, and in the latter case he sent him to Macedonia (Acts 19:22).
Again, in 2 Timothy 4:20, Erastus is said to have remained at Corinth, and the tenor of the passage suggests that Paul left Erastus behind, just as he had left Trophimus at Miletum. Now there was no possibility of touching Corinth on the apostle’s first journey to Rome, but on the second journey, going by the land route (which we gather from the testimony of Ignatius was the route the apostle actually traversed), it would be natural to speak of leaving Erastus behind at Corinth and Trophimus at Miletum (see a map of Paul’s journeys).
In verse 13 of the same chapter, the apostle’s reference to the cloak left at Troas (4:13) does not seem a very natural one if we are to imagine an interval of five years; it would seem rather to refer to a visit subsequent to the history of the Acts and so after the two years’ imprisonment. Whether or not Paul accomplished his desired visit to Spain, we do not know. Clemens Romanus, a contemporary of Paul, on his first epistle to the Corinthians, writes:
Some have interpreted the phrase ‘the limit of the West’ (to terma tes duseos) as referring to Spain, and there is also an inscription found in Spain which reads as follows:
Here it is implied that in the year a.d. 65 or 66, i.e. a little after Paul’s release at the end of the Acts, the Christian community was of some size, and suffered in the general persecution under Nero. As Lewin asks: ‘If Paul did not preach in Spain, who did?’ and the more one ponders the question in the light of the times and the dangers to be faced, the more difficult the question becomes. There is also a passage in a fragment of the Canon Muratorianus, generally reckoned to date from a.d. 170, which reads as follow:
Eusebius (a.d. 296 -340) affirms that Paul was released after two years’ imprisonment at Rome, that he subsequently preached the Gospel, and that he was later taken as a prisoner to Rome the second time and there suffered martyrdom.
On the evidence available, it seems that we may safely say that Paul was set free in a.d. 63 after two years at Rome. On the 19th July a.d. 64 the great fire broke out at Rome, and widespread Christian persecution commenced within a few weeks. Between the apostle’s release in a.d. 63 and the outbreak of persecution under Nero in a.d. 64 he would have had time to visit the churches before he was called upon to lay down his life for the Lord he loved.
We see from Titus 3:12 that Paul intended spending the winter at Nicopolis. When the winter was over, he evidently traversed the district of Dalmatia, for we learn from 2 Timothy 4:10 that Titus had gone there. The apostle landed once more at Troas where he stayed for a while with Carpus, but by this time the persecution had spread from Rome into the provinces, and at Troas, where the apostle had seen the vision of the man of Macedonia, the great messenger to the Gentiles was again apprehended. That Paul was apprehended somewhere in this vicinity is clear from the testimony of Ignatius, a martyr of the first century. Ignatius was taken prisoner in Antioch of Syria, and travelled to Rome via Ephesus. Writing to Ephesus, he says:
Though Paul was probably arrested at Troas and had been obliged to abandon his cloak and books there, the Proconsul’s residence was at Ephesus, and he would naturally appear there for the preliminary trial. It looks as though Alexander the coppersmith who had antagonized Paul some years earlier (Acts 19:33) and who seems to have been among those who bore witness against him at Rome (2 Tim. 4:14), seized the opportunity at Ephesus to wipe out old scores by accusing the apostle. By an edict issued by Nero, Christianity had now become a crime. The Proconsul at the time was a man of exemplary character, named Soranus, who himself was put to death for his virtues by Nero in a.d. 66 (see Tac. Ann. 6:23). Some even think that he was a convert to the faith.
Paul was a Roman citizen, and as such could appeal from the tribunal to a Proconsul. Soranus may himself have felt rather like Pliny on a similar occasion in Bithynia, and have remitted the case to the Emperor.
However this may be, Paul eventually stood once more for trial before the Emperor, and from the expression, ‘I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion’ (2 Tim. 4:17) it would appear that, upon one of the counts against him at least, he was absolved. The jurors in the trial would have been provided with tablets, one marked A for absolvo, another C for condemno, and a third N.L. (non liquet) for adjournment. It was during this period of remand, while awaiting the issue of the remainder of his trial, that the apostle wrote this second epistle to Timothy, an epistle written in view of martyrdom and yet triumphant in view of a finished course. It was often the case that a prisoner would be acquitted on some minor count, only to be condemned upon some other indictment.
It was during this time that the apostle, the prisoner of Jesus Christ and ‘such an one as Paul the aged’, suffered from the cold and wanted his cloak. He longed with an intense longing for one more look at his son Timothy’s face; he wrote his last instructions for the church on earth, and bequeathed to every member of the One Body his blessed example.
As we read through this sacred epistle and remember the solemn atmosphere in which it was conceived and written, may each of us catch something of its spirit and be numbered among those of whom it can be said that they ‘love His appearing’ (2 Tim. 4:8).
As every reader will not have easy access to the writings of the ancients, we append one or two extracts from contemporary Latin writers which throw light upon the conditions obtaining during Paul’s last days.
Tacitus was a celebrated Roman historian, born about a.d. 56. Maunder says of him that ‘no name stands higher for historical reputation’. The following extract will give some idea of the outbreak of persecution under Nero, consequent upon the great fire at Rome.
The court favourite at this time was Tigellinus, who was also Prefect of the Praetorium. Juvenal writes of him:
Juvenal was born about the beginning of the reign of Claudius and died a.d. 128. Maunder says of him that ‘as the bold and unflinching castigator of vice he stands without rival’. Martial, the epigrammatist, who died a.d. 104, was at Rome at the time of the persecution of the Christians, and wrote the following:
We give below a few notes on the date and place of Paul’s death.
Clemens Romanus, the contemporary of Paul, speaks first of Peter’s death and then of Paul’s, and also alludes to the martyrdom of a multitude of others who died for their faith after the greatest torments. The date indicated here is A.D. 66. Dionysius, Bishop of Corinth (a.d. 170), speaking of Peter and Paul, says: ‘the one as well as the other, having taught as far as Italy, suffered martyrdom at about the same time’. Caius the Presbyter (a.d. 210) records that Peter and Paul were martyrs at Rome and that their tombs still existed. Tertullian (a.d. 190 -214) mentions that Paul suffered at Rome, but gives no date. Origen (a.d. 210 -253) says that Paul died at Rome in the time of Nero. Eusebius (a.d. 308 -340) places the martyrdom of Paul as a.d. 67, in the thirteenth year of Nero. Clinton, however, has shown that the years of Nero’s reign are postponed by one year, which brings the apostle’s martyrdom to a.d. 66. The Auctor Martyric Pauli, written about a.d. 396, gives the date of Paul’s death as the 29th June a.d. 66. The writer is very circumstantial on this point, and his testimony is important. Sulpitus Severus, who wrote in a.d. 400, associates Paul’s martyrdom with the year in which the Jewish war broke out (April 19th, a.d. 66). Lewin gives the following summary:
While we agree substantially with this summary, the following points should be noted by way of emendation:
With this small adjustment, the rest is straightforward, and will, we
trust, help the reader to follow more clearly the chronology and geography of
these critical years. The account should be read in conjunction with a good
map of the apostle’s journeys.
The Exposition of the Epistle
Passing the opening salutation of the epistle, we come to the first great section 2 Timothy 1:8 -18. The section is divided up by the recurrence of the word ‘ashamed’:
The subject of the section is ‘Paul and his message forsaken’, and it is interesting to notice that in the structure (page 148), 1:8 -18 balances 4:9 -18. Did Phygellus and Hermogenes turn away because they were ‘ashamed’? Did Demas forsake the apostle out of ‘shame’? If so, and it looks very much like it, what a word for us all.
Closely linked with this subject of Paul’s peculiar ministry is the principle of ‘right division’:
Vitally associated with this principle and in the same chapter is the great theme of the epistle, ‘suffering and reigning’. While the actual word ‘ashamed’ is not used in 2 Timothy 2:1 -13, we find there its synonym, ‘deny’. ‘If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He will also deny us’ (2:12). That ‘denying’ Him is equivalent to ‘being ashamed of’ Him, the following parallel passages will make clear.
The preceding verse in Luke 12 places ‘confessing’ over against ‘denying’. In 1 Timothy we find the exhortation to ‘confess’ while in 2 Timothy we have the warning not to ‘deny’ or ‘be ashamed’.
Closely linked with the thought of not being ashamed in 2 Timothy chapter 1 is the ‘testimony of our Lord, and of Paul His prisoner’ (2 Tim. 1:8). This is called ‘my deposit’ (A.V. ‘that which I have committed’) in 2 Timothy 1:12, and ‘that good thing which was committed unto thee’ in 1:14. This same trust is also in view in 2:2 where the apostle writes:
We must remember that 2 Timothy contains a message for ourselves at the present time, and, as in Philippians, sets before us ‘examples’ both of those to whom the prize will be awarded, and of those who will be ‘denied’ (2:12). No one can rightly entertain the remotest hope of ‘reigning with the Lord’ or of receiving a ‘crown’, who is ashamed of the special ‘deposit of truth’ associated with the Lord’s prisoner.
Before going further we must attempt to discover the structure of the passage. We have already seen that the three references to ‘being ashamed’ seem to divide the section up into three parts. We therefore note this fact as follows:
We next observe that in the first division the apostle speaks particularly of the gospel:
In the second section, the subject is ‘that good deposit’ (1:12,14). In the third section, service is prominent: ‘he oft refreshed me’; ‘he ministered unto me’ (1:16 -18). We therefore note these facts as follows:
These three subjects, each associated with being unashamed, are connected by the apostle with two time periods. The Gospel is connected with a period ‘before the world began’ (1:9), while the ‘good deposit’ (1:12) and the recognition of the service of Onesiphorus (1:16 -18) are both connected with ‘that day’.
We now have sufficient material to enable us to arrive at the
2 Timothy 1:8 –18
Paul and his message forsaken
B1 Timothy.-- Not ashamed of testimony of prisoner.
B2 Paul.-- Not ashamed of suffering as prisoner.
B3 Onesiphorus.-- Not ashamed of chain of prisoner.
(See article entitled the GOOD DEPOSIT for fuller examination of the essential feature of this section).
A new and important theme is introduced in chapter 2. We have seen that, although forsaken by most of those who should have stood by him, the apostle is nevertheless not ashamed because the Lord was his Keeper. Moreover, we have seen that though the outlook was indeed black, there were mitigating elements, not the least being the ‘refreshing’ ministry of Onesiphorus. On the whole, however, this great opening section is painted in sombre colours. Timothy is told that, if he is to endure the pressure of those persecuting days, he will need all the grace that is at his disposal. Consequently the second great section of the epistle, while using figures that emphasize labour, suffering and endurance, introduces the encouragement of reward and crown.
Most of our readers are acquainted with the relationship of the four
basic Prison Epistles, but it may be useful to set out the relationship of
Philippians with 2 Timothy, so that we may the better appreciate the place
that Prize and Crown occupy in the doctrine of the mystery.
There can be no reasonable doubt but that these epistles form a pair,
just as surely as do Ephesians and Colossians. Apart from other
distinguishing features, the words ‘depart’ and ‘offered’ are enough evidence
of the fact, for these words do not occur in any other of Paul’s epistles.
The structure of 2 Timothy 2:1 -13, shorn of all detail is as follows:
2 Timothy 2:1–13
the keynotes being suffering and reigning. But the following fuller analysis
is necessary to our understanding of the epistle, before we can effectively
proceed to its exposition.
It will be observed that the fourfold reference to suffering or enduring is related to a fourfold reference to the ministry of the apostle:
Suffering for its own sake is to be avoided; it may be merely an exhibition of morbid and debased feelings. Suffering that comes upon us because of our own folly and misdeeds must be borne patiently and with penitence, but suffering that comes upon us because of the truth we hold and teach, should be a matter of rejoicing, not only for the honour put upon us to be counted worthy to suffer shame for the Name of the Lord, but because there is associated with this present suffering the crown and the prize.
In introducing this aspect of his teaching to Timothy the apostle uses three figures,
These are, as it were, the premises of his argument, and if we have unscriptural views as to these, we shall also have them in our conclusions.
Take the first figure, the soldier. What we immediately associate with
the profession of the soldier is fighting, but we look in vain in 2 Timothy
2:3,4 for reference to fighting qualities or fighting prowess, the apostle’s
use of the word being restricted to the qualities of endurance and nonentanglement
with the things of this life. We must therefore call a halt in
our advance through this third section to make sure that the figures intended
by Paul are understood by ourselves.
The Good Soldier.
The true basis of the apostle’s teaching lies in what he says of the ‘good soldier’, and to this we now turn. The apostle was at liberty to select any one or more of the characteristics of the soldier. As he has done elsewhere, he could speak of his arms and of his armour; he could speak of his bravery, his discipline, his prowess, his obedience, his chivalry or his cruelty. But none of these things were in Paul’s mind in the writing of 2 Timothy 2:3,4. What he selects and brings forward are:
‘Enduring hardness’ is a passive quality and one not immediately associated with soldiering. Yet who is there that passed through the horrors of war, whether personally or in imagination, that does not know that the long -drawn -out horror of mud, filth and suspense of the trenches demanded more from the soldier than the short, sharp, decisive, conflict of arms? These words, ‘endure hardness’, translate the Greek kakopatheo, ‘to suffer evil’. Kakos is just the opposite of kalos, the word translated ‘good’ in the same verse.
Josephus uses this word in his Wars of the Jews, saying:
Again, in the Antiquities of the Jews, speaking of the father of Nebuchadnezzar, he writes:
It is highly significant to learn that kakos, evil, is derived from chazo, to recede, retire, retreat in battle (so Eustath, quoted by Leigh). Homer and other Greek writers frequently use kakos in this sense, and so the word meant cowardly, dastardly, faint -hearted. If these unsoldierly qualities *inhere in the word kakos, ‘evil’, one can readily appreciate the apostle’s choice of the word kalos for the ‘good’ soldier. [*inhere in = exist essentially in.]
Coming to the word kakopatheo, ‘to suffer evil’, we find it in two
forms. Let us see them together:
In addition to this willingness to suffer evil, the apostle says of the good soldier: ‘No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life’ (2 Tim. 2:4). Conybeare and Howson translate the above passage:
That which the apostle says will ‘entangle’ the good soldier if he yields, is called ‘the affairs of this life’. The word translated ‘life’ here is not zoe but bios, and refers more to the ‘livelihood’ than the life - principle itself.
Here are some examples of its usage and meaning:
Biosis gives us ‘manner of life’ (Acts 26:4) and bioo ‘live’, in the sense of manner of life (1 Pet. 4:2).
Very near to the meaning of the apostle in 2 Timothy 2:4 is the word
biotikos: ‘And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be
overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life’ (Luke
‘Strive for mastery’ (2 Tim. 25), translates the Greek word athleo. This word covered all the public games, such as running, wrestling and boxing, in which competitors met and struggled for the victor’s crown. In Hebrews 10:32 we have the word athlesis, ‘a great fight’ associated with endurance and suffering. As with the figure of the soldier, so again here the apostle might have chosen for notice many qualities. He could have referred to the endurance displayed by these athletes; he could have repeated what he says in 1 Corinthians 9 concerning their self -discipline and temperance, but these he had already introduced in connection with the good soldier. Here he passes on to make the most important observation that ‘if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully’ (2 Tim. 2:5).
It is this point that the apostle wishes to make and which is repeated in doctrinal terms in verse 12, ‘if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He also will deny us’. Those who transgressed the laws governing the Greek games were fined. Pausanias tells us that, at Olympia, there were six statues of Jupiter made from fines imposed upon those who had not ‘contended lawfully’. Epictetus speaks of the severe discipline to which the contestants were subjected, using very similar terms to those which occur in 1 Corinthians 9. He says:
The rigorous examination to which the candidates had to submit before being permitted to enter the contest throws further light upon the meaning of this rule that contestants must ‘strive lawfully’. They had to satisfy their examiners as to whether they were slaves or freemen, and whether they were true Greeks. This was amplified in the public stadium by the herald laying his hand upon the head of the candidate and asking, ‘can any accuse this man of any crime? Is he a robber, or a slave? or wicked or depraved in his life?’ Finally if the candidate satisfactorily passed this ordeal he was taken to the altar of Jupiter where he was required to swear that he had gone through the discipline enjoined, and that he would abstain from every breach of the laws governing the contest.
Paul makes direct allusion to this in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, where the
race, the prize, the crown, the discipline, are all emphasized. In the
concluding sentence he refers to the office of the herald, and the
possibility, that he, after heralding to others, should himself be ‘disapproved’ and fail to pass the equivalent of the examination to which we
have referred. When referring to his own expectations regarding the race,
the crown and the prize, his language is characterized by extreme humility.
Here, in 1 Corinthians 9, he expresses the thought that he may not even pass
the entrance examination.
Here, as in 2 Timothy 2, patient waiting is associated with harvest. The English ‘husbandman’ is derived from hus (old English) a house, and bondi(old Norse) to dwell, and so does not originally mean a married man, but a peasant owning his own house and land; a freeholder, or yeoman. One occurrence of the verb georgeomai is found in Hebrews, and there the use of the word transfers the teaching of 2 Timothy 2 from the husbandman himself to the field that he cultivates.
The next verse shows that salvation is not in view here but ‘things that accompany salvation’. In like manner, the ‘reigning’ or the ‘denying’ of 2 Timothy 2:12,13 has not to do with salvation itself, but the added glory that may go with it. Yet once more, georgion, ‘husbandry’, occurs in 1 Corinthians 3, a passage dealing, not with salvation but service; not with foundation but superstructure; not with the possibility of ‘being lost’ but with the possibility of ‘suffering loss’, while at the same time ‘being saved as through fire’.
There are some who would refer the word ‘first’ in 2 Timothy 2:6 to the verb ‘toiling’ rather than to the verb ‘partaking’. It is a truth, certainly, that the husbandman must toil first before he can partake of the fruits, but it seems fairly certain that the meaning of the apostle here, is that, after having toiled, he ought to be ‘a first -partaker’ of the fruits. (See The Companion Bible). Wordsworth’s note is:
The structure of 2 Timothy as a whole has as its central members:
The fuller structure of 2:14-26 is as follows:
No one can read this epistle without sensing the apostle’s anxiety for Timothy. The days were dark; opposition was growing; evil doctrines within the church menaced the faith; love was waxing cold. How could the apostle best help Timothy and all who tread the path in after years? He calls up memories of Timothy’s home life; he reminds him of his gifts; he exhorts him to possess a pattern of sound words; he uses the figures of the soldier, athlete and husbandman; he refers to his own example; he encourages by linking together enduring and reigning; he warns concerning subverting heresies, and at last he gives his whole doctrine of perseverance in one verse, 2:15. The verse divides naturally into three parts:
First of all, let us be clear as to the import of the command ‘study’. The idea in the word is not that the person addressed is to be ‘studious’. It is certain that he must have some acquaintance with language, for his material is ‘the word of truth’, but he is addressed rather as a ‘workman’ than a scholar. The word translated ‘study’ is the Greek word spoudazo. Speudo, from which spoudazo is derived, means ‘haste’ (Luke 2:16; 19:5,6; Acts 20:16; 22:18; 2 Pet. 3:12).
Words have a tendency to degenerate, and today ‘haste’ has lost its primary meaning and taken on another. ‘More haste, less speed’ is a proverb of the world, but such ‘haste’ is neither implied in the references given nor inculcated in the passage before us. In translating David’s statement ‘the king’s business required haste’ (1 Sam. 21:8) the LXX uses the word spoude. In the A.V. spoudazo, and its associate words spoudaios, spoudaioo and spoude, are translated more times by ‘diligence’ and ‘diligently’ than by any other. Let us note the passages, as they give a fair idea of the apostle’s meaning in 2 Timothy 2:15. The following occur in the Pastoral Epistles themselves,
These five references have to do with travel, and, to this day, a special type of carriage is called a Diligence, especially in France. Both speed and care are associated with speudo and the words ‘assiduity’ and ‘sedulous’, very nearly approach the intention of the original. In Ephesians 4:3 the word is translated ‘endeavour’. The exhortation to ‘study’ also includes the idea of earnest and close application, implying some element of endurance, and as we have already seen, some driving necessity that demands haste in its primary meaning. Whatever it be that makes such demands upon the child of God must be of supreme importance. Let us see what it is.
In the original the word translated ‘to show’ is paristemi, from para, ‘beside’, and istemi, ‘to stand’. Because of the perilous times that are to stand in and because of those, like Jannes and Jambres, who will withstandthe truth, we are encouraged to look forward to the glorious day of standingup from the dead, rejoicing that, in spite of all opposition, the foundation
of God standeth. We should, consequently, be diligent to stand beside God,
knowing that He will stand beside us, and should stand around, or aloof, from
profane babblings, and stand away from iniquity. Even more than all this is
crowded into the exhortation of 2 Timothy 2:15. Timothy would know the
exhortation of Ephesians 6 to ‘stand’, ‘stand against’ and ‘withstand’, and
only those who have personally assimilated the many and wonderful occurrences
of histemi and its combinations can hope to gather from 2 Timothy 2:15 a
tithe of its encouragement, warning and strength. This may sound like hard
work. It is. A workman is being addressed and he has been exhorted to use
Most evidently the apostle intended to bring all the encouragement that he could to bear upon Timothy to enable him to ‘stand’ and for this purpose found nothing so powerful as that which had ever been before his own eyes:
As a redeemed and justified sinner, Timothy could look forward without a tremor to that future presentation which will result from the death of Christ, when he would be ‘holy, unblameable and unreproveable’. In 2 Timothy 2:15, however, he is seen here not so much as a saved sinner, but as a responsible servant, and while nothing he did or omitted to do could make any difference regarding his blessed hope, the question of the prize or crown, of reigning or being denied, of being ashamed here or unashamed there, is raised with Timothy in his capacity of workman. Ergates, ‘workman’, means primarily a labourer or artificer, the meaning being retained unchanged today. We find service in the gospel among believers is often denominated ‘work’.
Timothy is exhorted to do the ‘work’ of an evangelist (4:5) and the equipment, by the Word of the man of God, is a thorough outfitting ‘unto all good works’ (3:17). So also, under the figure of a ‘vessel’, the separated servant is meet for the Master’s use and prepared ‘unto every good work’ (2:21). As an example of the difference between the approval of God and the approval of men, compare the joyous consciousness of the Lord’s approval in 2 Timothy 4:7,8 with the estimate of man in 2 Timothy 2:9, ‘I suffer as an evil worker kakourgos’, and, in contrast to the suggestion of denial and shame of 2 Timothy 2:12 and 15, see the confidence of 2 Timothy 4:18, ‘The Lord shall deliver me from every evilwork’.
While Timothy might be expected to perceive the necessity of right division, Paul is anxious that he should not be left to his own inferences. How then shall the apostle best put the principle that is vaguely seen at work right through chapter 1? Shall he once more go back in mind to the child Timothy at his mother’s knee? Shall he visualize the teaching of those holy Scriptures that had made Timothy wise unto salvation? Does he remember that a Jewish mother would most certainly teach her boy some of the Proverbs? and that Timothy’s father, being a Greek, and living in Galatia, would most certainly have read the Greek version of the Old Testament, known as the Septuagint? We cannot tell, but this we do know, that Timothy needed no explanation of the term ‘right division’. We can dismiss all attempts made by commentators to discredit this fact and feel perfectly safe in doing so, because we shall be ‘comparing spiritual things with spiritual’. In the Bible used by Timothy occurs the following verse:
We find the same word in Proverbs 11:5, where it is again used of a ‘way’. These are the only occurrences in the LXX. (See RIGHT DIVISION).
The remaining chapters of 2 Timothy focus attention particularly upon the character of the last days. The reader is referred to the article LAST DAYS AND LATTER TIMES for a fuller analysis. Chapter 3 contains the most explicit testimony that the Scriptures contain to their inspiration, a point to be kept in mind when some object to the application of ‘Right Division’ because they think it in some way invalidates the Word.
The epistle ends on a glorious note of triumph,
Two phrases link Philippians and 2 Timothy together by bonds forged by the spirit of God so that no man can separate them, and no exposition which either denies or ignores these links can be of service to the workman who would be unashamed. These two phrases use the word ‘depart’ and ‘offered’. In Philippians this ‘departing’ is desired but is postponed (Phil. 1:23), and this ‘offering’ is cheerfully contemplated but not imminent (Phil. 2:17). In 2 Timothy the time for this ‘departure’ has come, and the time for being ‘offered’ has arrived (2 Tim. 4:6). In Philippians, Paul said that he had not yet attained. In 2 Timothy he says ‘I have finished my course’. May we ‘so run’, that we too may ‘obtain’.