Bring this to the attention of all in all seriousness, reminding them not to get into useless disputes over words that can only capsize those who hear [and take heed of such nonsense]. Be eager to demonstrate your credentials as a workman who is not ashamed to speak the word of truth clearly and plainly.
     But avoid all vain and empty discourse that can only promote a godless way of life [a way of life lacking God-given integrity], since such words will eat away as a mould, as in the case of Hymanaeus and Philetus who have completely missed the point when they try to say that the resurrection is here already and so turn the faith of some upside down. Still, the word of the Lord stands firm having this as its seal: “The Lord knows those who are His” and “Let all those who name the name of the Lord depart from unrighteousness."
     Now as you know, in a great house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but those of wood and also of earth. Some are items for noble public use; others for use not so honourable. So then, when anyone has cleansed himself from whatever is not so honourable, then he is ready for service, a vessel fit for the master's service in every good work, and some indeed for honourable use, while some for not so honourable.
     Flee youthful passions but be in pursuit of right-standing, faith, love and peace along with those who are pure in heart who call [as you do] upon the Lord. But avoid [being taken in by] foolish and mis- educated disputations knowing that they [can only] generate wrangling.
     And the servant of the Lord must not wrangle, but must be gentle toward all persons, able to teach, able to deal with error and humbly dealing with those who set themselves up in opposition [to the Good News] since God may indeed grant them repentance to understand the truth since they need to come to a right mind and so escape from the snare of the devil, for whom, in order to do his will, they have become entrapped. - II Timothy 2:14-26/transliteration by Bruce C Wearne

Talking 2

Be eager to demonstrate your credentials as a workman who is "not ashamed to speak the word of truth clealy and plainly", but avoid empty discourse, Paul tells Timothy in II Timothy. PICTURE: rawpixel/Unsplash.

 

"All, says Paul, need cleansing so that they are fit for the Master's use. None are exempt from the cleansing process and being made ready for whatever the Master decides for them."

Paul the prisoner, suffering afflictions and privations, has told Timothy of why he is willing to undergo this hardship. “The Lamb of God” suffered and so Paul cannot complain if God has counted him worthy of undergoing something similar. This is all about how the image-bearers of God, redeemed by the work of the Christ, take up their lives as servants. The song that Paul has composed is to be sung to remind the people Timothy serves of what is at stake.

But there is a debilitation that is to be avoided like the plague. Timothy is not employed by the Lord of Heaven and Earth to spend his time in fruitless disputation about words. Such disputes only serve to disorient, if not destabilise, those who need to be built up in the faith. Timothy is a workman and he should not hide his light under a bushel basket. He should be prepared to demonstrate his credentials by plainly speaking the word of truth. This word may not be his - at least it does not originate with him - but in speaking and teaching it plainly he is indeed showing his capabilities [DOKIMON], his mettle.

Paul gives an example of a couple of “teachers” - Hymanaeus and Philetus - who have demonstrated the deadly spiritual effects of this disorienting and distorting disputation. They have taken the words in which the Good News has been spoken and perverted the message of the resurrection of Christ by trying to suggest it has already come.

In seeking (or is it selling?) “resurrection”, they have an inflated view of their own importance and devalued the Good News. Faith is subverted and Paul is quick to point out that such subtlety does not in the least divert the Almighty Lord from His purpose: "The Lord knows those that are His and let all those who name the name of the Lord depart from unrighteousness".

And this is an important part of the life of all Christians - departing from unrighteousness - the aim is for all those with responsibilities that are high status for public display and those with menial tasks in the “back room”.

All, says Paul, need cleansing so that they are fit for the Master's use. None are exempt from the cleansing process and being made ready for whatever the Master decides for them.

Paul is also aware of the youth of his letter's recipient. He advises him to not only flee the passions of youth but to be in hot-pursuit of righteousness and to join himself with those who are earnest in calling upon the Lord.

The servant of the Lord (Isaiah 42) must not wrangle and waste time in senseless debate about ill-conceived questions that simply generate unhealthy contention. The servant of the Lord is not in the business of fomenting contention.

Paul emphasises what is to be found in the prophet Isaiah concerning “the servant of the Lord”. He is sent to calmly and quietly encourage such people to return to their right mind and to be liberated from the snare of the devil.