Wednesday, 4 April 2018
Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” 2 Timothy 2:19
The word “Nevertheless” is given as a contrast to the false teachings of people such as have been mentioned in verses 16-18. The two false teachers, Hymenaeus and Philetus, had taught that which was untrue about the resurrection, but no matter what they had said, “the solid foundation of God stands.” In other words, there is one foundation, Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 3:11), and that foundation is proclaimed by the prophets and apostles (see Ephesians 2:20) where Christ is the chief cornerstone of this foundation.
What Paul is saying is that the truth of the word of God is not diminished by false teachings. Despite people making outrageous or misleading claims which dupe people, the truth of the word stands. Some may walk away from the faith because they have been misled, but what they should have done is turned to the word and studied it on their own instead of losing heart and turning away. Paul then confirms the truth of God’s word in this manner by saying, “having this seal.”
Paul is using the term here metaphorically. A letter from a king is sealed with his royal seal in order to show its authenticity, that it has not been altered, and that it is official. Buildings, at times, are inscribed with a note of their original purpose, and who had been behind their construction. Such things show the source, the intent, and the reliability of what is stated. Likewise, the solid foundation of God is similarly sealed. The seal is that, “The Lord knows those who are His.”
This then is one of the inscriptions which is permanently seen on the foundation stone. Christ knows who belongs to Him, and who does not. Being led astray does not negate being His, just as having sound doctrine doesn’t necessarily mean one is His. Belief in His work is the deciding factor. In Nahum 1:7, it says, “…He knows who trust Him.” This is what the Lord looks for above all else. In his words now, Paul may have been thinking of Numbers 16:5 –
“…and he spoke to Korah and all his company, saying, “Tomorrow morning the Lord will show who is His and who is holy, and will cause him to come near to Him. That one whom He chooses He will cause to come near to Him.”
Jesus gave this same type of terminology in John 10:14, acknowledging that He knows His sheep. No true believer will be left out of His promises. The inscription is written. Further, Paul next says, “and, ‘Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.’” This is a second seal, or inscription, made upon the foundation. It may be a loose merging together of several verses from Isaiah. In Isaiah 26:13, we read –
“O Lord our God, masters besides You
Have had dominion over us;
But by You only we make mention of Your name.”
Also, we read in Isaiah 52:11 this –
“Depart! Depart! Go out from there,
Touch no unclean thing;
Go out from the midst of her,
You who bear the vessels of the Lord.”
Paul may be citing these two verses, or maybe he was just drawing them from the store of his memory as truth which apply to the church. Either way, the Lord divinely inspired Paul that this is the second inscription of the foundation. Those who are known by the Lord are to live lives of holiness to Him. We are to depart from iniquity and follow sound doctrine.
In citing these two things, it cannot be inferred that Paul is saying the two false teachers are not saved believers. Instead, he could be saying exactly the opposite. The Lord knows who are His, despite the incorrect doctrine, and they are being admonished by Paul, through Timothy, to turn from the iniquity of their false teaching. As it was, they were examples for the church in all subsequent generations to not be followed or emulated. For those who follow the proper path, they are to stay on it and not get caught up in such false ramblings.
Life application: We are all accountable to God for our doctrine. If we fail to follow sound teaching, it does not negate our salvation – if our conversion was true. However, we will not be considered obedient to the Lord, and so we are exhorted to turn from the iniquity of false teachings, and to pursue holiness and righteousness through a sound evaluation of Scripture.
Lord God, You know who belong to You. The Shepherd knows each of His flock. But we often get misdirected from the fold. We are prone to wander off into unsound teachings. Help us to not do this, but give us hearts that are willing to search out what is true, and to stay in line with that always. In this, we will stay safely among the flock and not be exposed to the false teachings of wolves. This we pray that we will be pleasing to You in our lives and doctrine. Amen.