The Berean Expositor
Volume 15 - Page 42 of 160
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Now that love which is the end and goal of the charge to Timothy proceeds from a
threefold source, viz., a pure heart, a good conscience, an unfeigned faith. The threefold
stress is that of sincerity. In II Tim. 1: 3-5 the apostle says:--
"I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience . . . . . I call to
remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee."
The "pure heart", it will be observed, is closely associated with the avoidance of
foolish and unlearned questions that gender strife (II Tim. 2: 22, 23). When Paul says he
served God from his forefathers, what did he mean? and why should he have felt the
necessity to say that he did so with a pure conscience? Practically every Commentary
agrees on the point that the apostle worshipped God after the custom of his fathers, or
according to the knowledge received from his forefathers, and appears very concerned
lest the charge of the Jews against Paul that he had changed the customs and departed
from the teaching of the old covenant should have any appearance of truth. In spite of the
great weight of learning which is arrayed against us, we feel that we must follow the
gleam and seek afresh the meaning of the apostle.
"I thank God whom I serve from my forefathers" (apo progonon, II Tim. 1: 3).
Apo is explained in Appendix 104 of The Companion Bible as being used of motion
away from a place (e.g., Matt. 3: 16; 8: 1); origin or source whence anything comes,
such as birth, and then says, "Apo may consequently be used of deliverance or passing
away from any state or condition (e.g., Matt. 1: 21; 14: 2; Mark 5: 34; Acts 13: 8;
14: 15; Heb. 6: 1). "From their sins" must mean "away from them"; "from the faith"
(Acts 13: 8) must mean "away from the faith". Paul's words in II Tim. 1: 3 we
understand to teach that he did worship God AWAY FROM his forefathers, but
nevertheless with a pure conscience.
Much that Paul held most precious was diametrically opposed to the teaching of the
law of Moses, and unless he had the conviction that follows revelation his conscience
might sometimes have troubled him badly, and have taken the temper out of the sword
of the Spirit that he wielded so valiantly in the good fight. In his defence before Felix
(Acts 24:) he shows that already he had come some way along this journey, although at
that time the dispensation of the mystery was not in operation. He was accused as a
pestilent fellows, a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout all the world, and a
ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes, who also had gone about to profane the temple.
Paul refutes the charges of sedition and profanity, but admits the new light by which he
"But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I
the God of my fathers" (Acts 24: 14).
This charge on the apostle's part did not mean that he doubted the truth of Moses and
the Prophets or such a fundamental as the resurrection of the dead, but that the new faith
he held, though it may be deemed "heresy" by others, was God's truth to him:--
"And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward
God and toward men."