Friday, 30 March 2018
Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. 2 Timothy 2:14
Paul now exhorts Timothy concerning what he has been speaking about. This doesn’t mean just the preceding few verses, but all of the exhortations thus far. In verse 1:8, he spoke of not being ashamed of the gospel. In 1:13, he exhorted Timothy to hold fast to the pattern of sound words which he had heard. In 2:1, Timothy was told to be strong in the grace of Christ Jesus. In 2:8, Paul spoke of Christ’s person, ancestry, and resurrection. In 2:11, he gave the poetic thought concerning the relationship between Christ and those who have or have not called on Him. These, and so many other points connected to those verses, are what Timothy is to remind others of. But along with reminding them, he is to charge “them before the Lord.”
The word translated as “charging” indicates solemn witness. It is an intensified compound word which gives the sense of giving complete and clear testimony. Therefore, Paul is particularly interested in Timothy’s special handling of what he has been taught. Paul is an apostle, and therefore Timothy could use the words written to him as authoritative. Anyone contradicting what is written would then be given the charge to correct his error. This is exactly what responsible teachers of the Bible should be doing to this day. When someone wants to get argumentative over an issue, the teacher is to charge them, in the presence of the Lord, “not to strive about words to no profit.”
The idea here is someone who argues over points which are invalid, twisting words to suit a perverse and incorrect agenda. He engages in “Scripture tennis,” pulling verses out of context, and manipulating words, thoughts, verses, and concepts in order to come to improper conclusions. Paul’s focus is consistently centered on the Person and work of Christ. This builds up his audience, edifies them, and sets them on a sound path of doctrine and holiness. However, those who strive over words to no profit do so “to the ruin of the hearers.”
They confuse the minds of those untrained in the word, mislead them into strange doctrines, divide the fellowship so that they can conquer as many as possible to their perverse side, and overthrow the faith of these people. They go from being set and secure in Christ, to becoming legalistic work-your-way-to-heaven robots. Or they go from purity in Christ to license-to-sin-and-call-it-ok deviants. On and on it goes with cults and aberrant sects. They are filled with people who have been ruined by those with perverse agendas.
Life application: Paul always sets doctrine as the most important point in our relationship with Christ. Those who dismiss biblical doctrine do so because they have no knowledge of the Bible, and they are to lazy to put in the effort to get to know it. After all, it is so much easier to watch a movie than it is to engage one’s brain in sound, reasonable theology.
Lord God; Heavenly Father; Almighty Creator – You have pieced all things together for Your glory. You have set in motion the plan of redemption, and You have fulfilled what is needed for our salvation through the work of Christ. Connected to this are many points of doctrine, given to keep us on a sound and straight path in life. And yet, we spend a lot more time watching TV than we do engaging our brains in the pursuit of theology. What a waste! When we stand before You, what will we present as having brought You honor? So many will have little to identify them as even minutely interested in the great things You have done for us. Help us to correct this, O God. Help us to desire You more, and to be pleasing and approved in Your sight. Amen.