2 Timothy 2:21

Friday, 6 April 2018

Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. 2 Timothy 2:21

Paul continues the thought of the previous verse which speaks of vessels of gold and silver, as well as vessels of wood and clay. Some are “for honor and some for dishonor.” He doesn’t really explain the thought. Instead, he assumes that Timothy (and all who read his words) will understand the metaphor he is using. And so he says, “Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter.” It cannot be that Paul is speaking of cleansing from one type of vessel to another type, meaning clay, wood, silver, or gold. Instead, he is referring to what the vessel is used for, meaning an honorable or a dishonorable use.

There are wood vessels which are used for honorable things, and it is possible that a silver or gold bowl could carry something dishonorable. The makeup of the vessel, combined with an honorable use, is what Paul is referring to. When an otherwise noble person associates with those who teach false doctrine, and when a regular blue-collar worker refrains from associating with such falsities, which of the two is cleansing himself properly? Of course, it is the latter. Even though “wood” is cheap in comparison to “gold,” he has made himself “a vessel for honor.”

In this then, he is becoming “sanctified and useful for the Master.” The meaning is obvious, any vessel which is cleansed – meaning a person regardless of their status – is acceptable for serving the Lord in their station of life. This is certain, because a vessel is not considered unclean in the Levitical law until it touches something unclean. Once this occurs, different things would happen to different materials. Clay vessels were to be broken. Bronze vessels were to be scoured. In Leviticus 15:12, it says for one type of defilement that, “The vessel of earth that he who has the discharge touches shall be broken, and every vessel of wood shall be rinsed in water.”

When even a wooden vessel is rinsed in this way, it was once again “prepared for every good work.” It is true that a gold vessel is generally considered as possessing the highest value, but a golden vessel which was defiled was of less value for holy service than an undefiled wood vessel. It remained so until it was once again cleansed. The only suitable vessel for the Lord’s work is one which is undefiled.

Life application: In the end, we are being shown that doctrine really matters to the Lord. The introduction of Hymenaeus and Philetus in verse 17 shows us that bad doctrine defiles a person, and that bad doctrine will corrupt good character. We must separate ourselves from those who teach falsities, and we must cleanse ourselves through the application of pure doctrine. In this, we will be acceptable for the Master’s use, and able to instruct others in what is right, sound, and edifying.

Lord God, we are who we are in person and position, but regardless of our station in life, we can be acceptable and of use to You. The noblest person who applies defiled doctrine to his life is less acceptable than the lowest commoner among us whose doctrine is pure and sound. Help us to cleanse ourselves of that which is incorrect through a careful study of Your word, and then help us to pursue Your word further, day by day, applying its precepts to our walk in Your presence. Amen.

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