Sunday, 1 April 2018
But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. 2 Timothy 2:16
The word “But” here is given as a strong and stark contrast to the things just stated, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” It was a positive exhortation intended to guide Timothy’s life and conduct before the Lord, and in the handling of His precious word. Now, Paul exhorts him to “…shun profane and idle babblings.”
The word translated as “shun” is one which means, “to stand around.” As it is in the middle voice here, it thus signifies to turn oneself around in order to avoid contact with something. The sense then is to look away from, and keep away from, such things. In this case, it is “profane and idle babblings.” The word “profane” means “worldly.” It comes from two words signifying “go” and “threshold.” Thus it is to cross a threshold which profanes due to improper entrance. The words are unfit to access God, particularly because faith is not involved.
The second word, translated as “babblings,” was first used by Paul in 1 Timothy 6:20 as he closed out his first letter to Timothy. It signifies empty disputing and worthless babble. This is now the second and last use of it in the Bible. In other words, Paul has already said this to him, but he is reminding him of the danger of such contact. This is how Paul stated it there –
“O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge— 21 by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith.
Grace be with you. Amen.” 1 Timothy 6:20, 21
Paul then gives a sound reason for avoiding these things by saying, “for they will increase to more ungodliness.” The word translated as “increase” means to advance. It is as if they are on a mission, removing obstacles in the process in order to meet a set goal. They are as soldiers marching from a state of ungodliness to more ungodliness. In the process, they spit out their worthless words in order to bring more into their ranks as they continue forward.
Such people are found in abundance in Christian blogs, chat rooms, and discussion boards. They play Scripture tennis, pulling verses out of context, and dispute simply for the sake of disputing. Their goal is never edification, but destruction. Two of such people will be mentioned by Paul next, and he will explain the destructive effects of their march toward ruin.
Life application: Paul says elsewhere, “Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.” Playing Scripture tennis with a fool can only lead you to looking like one too. Give your case, state your stand, support your doctrine, and the be done with the perverse people who simply want to hear themselves as they rush headlong into destruction. Don’t let them take you there as well.
Heavenly Father, give us wise discernment to not argue with fools. Your word tells us to reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition. It’s hard to follow this path, because pride steps in and we want to defend our case concerning You and Your gospel. But there are many who couldn’t care diddly. They only want to hear themselves, and to prove their know-it-all-ness in the process. Give us wisdom with such warped people, and the presence of mind to cut them off from further words. May we conduct our affairs to Your glory alone. Amen.