2 Timothy ii.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. The grace which is in Christ Jesus; i.e. which is in thee by Christ Jesus. (Witham)

Ver. 2. Before many witnesses. Some expound it, in the presence of many witnesses; others, of the witnesses and testimonies which St. Paul had brought out of the Scriptures, when he instructed Timothy. (Witham)

Ver. 3. Labour.[1] The Greek word implies, take pains in suffering; as Chap. i. 8. — As a good soldier, &c. The apostle bringeth three comparisons: 1. of a soldier; 2. of one that strives and runs for a prize; 3. of a husbandman. (Witham)

Ver. 4. No man….entangleth himself with worldly concerns: with other affairs of the world: much less must the soldier of Christ, who striveth,[2] (better than fighteth ) which belongs to the first comparison. (Witham)

Ver. 6. The husbandman who laboureth[3] must first partake. Both the Latin and Greek texts admit of two interpretations: the sense may either be, that it is fitting the husbandman partake first and before others of the fruits of his labours, or that he must first labour and then partake. (Witham)

Ver. 7. The Lord will give thee understanding.[4] In some Greek copies, may he give thee. (Witham)

Ver. 8. According to my gospel. He seems to understand his preaching. (Witham)

Ver. 9. In which I labour, or suffer, by the Greek. (Witham)

Ver. 10. The elect. By the elect, we need not always understand those predestinated to eternal glory, but chosen or called to the true faith; and this must rather be the meaning of St. Paul in this place, who could not distinguish between those predestinated to glory and others. (Witham) — Therefore I announce it with full liberty, suffering willingly all I have to endure for the sake of the elect.

Ver. 11, &c. If we be dead with him, to sin, or as others expound it, by martyrdom, we shall live also, and reign with him in heaven. But if we deny him, by renouncing our faith, or by a wicked life, he also will deny us, and disown us hereafter. See Matthew x. 33. He continues always faithful and true to his promises. He is truth, and cannot deny himself. (Witham)

Ver. 13. If we believe not; i.e. if we refuse to believe in God, or if after having believed, we depart from our faith, the Almighty still continues faithful; he is still what he was. Our believing in him cannot increase his glory, nor can our disbelief in him cause any diminution thereof, since it is already infinite. (Estius) — The sense may be: when we renounce God, and refuse to believe in him, will he be less powerful to punish us? or, will his menaces be less true or less efficacious? He will effect his work without us, for he will infallibly bring about the salvation of his elect. (Bible de Vence)

Ver. 14. Give this admonition to all, especially to the ministers of the gospel, that they may expose themselves willingly to suffer every thing for the establishment of the faith in Jesus Christ. — Testifying. Call God to witness the truths which you announce to the faithful; and for your part, do not amuse yourself with disputes about words. In the Greek it is thus translated by many: Warn them of these things, by conjuring them in the name of the Lord not to amuse themselves with disputes about words. (Calmet)

Ver. 15. Thyself approved,[5] or acceptable to God. — Rightly handling.[6] In the Greek, cutting or dividing the word of truth, according to the capacities of the hearers, and for the good of all. (Witham) — The Protestant version has, dividing the word of truth. All Christians challenge the Scriptures, but the whole is in the rightly handling them. Heretics change and adulterate them, as the same apostle affirms, 2 Corinthians xi. and 4. These he admonishes us (as he did before, 1 Timothy vi. 20.) to avoid, for they have a popular way of expression, by which the unlearned are easily beguiled. “Nothing is so easy,” says St. Jerome, “as with a facility and volubility of speech to deceive the illiterate, who are apt to admire what they cannot comprehend.” (Ep. ii. ad Nepot. chap. 10)

Ver. 16. Vain speeches, or vain babbling.[7] He seems to hint at disciples of Simon the magician, and their fables. (Witham)

Ver. 17. Like a cancer;[8] others say a canker or gangrene, a distempter that eats the flesh and parts affected. (Witham)

Ver. 18. Saying: That the resurrection is past already. It is uncertain what these heretics meant. Some say they held no resurrection, but that by which some died and some were born. Others that they admitted no resurrection but that by baptism from sin. Others that they called what is related in the gospel, that many bodies of the saints rose, at Christ’s death, the only resurrection. (Witham) — The fall of Hymenæus and Philetus, who seduced by the false reasonings of Simon Magus had abandoned the faith of the Church, convinced St. Paul of the great importance of opposing the profane novelties of heretics. It is for this that he insists so much on this subject, as well in this as in his first epistle to Timothy. The ancients expressly tell us, that Simon the magician did not believe in the resurrection of the body, but only that of the soul; meaning its resurrection from sin to grace. (Epiphanius)

Ver. 19. But the sure foundation of God and of the Christian faith standeth firm, though some fall from it, and will stand to the end of the world, the Church being built on a rock, and upon the promises of Christ, which cannot fail. Having this seal: the Lord knoweth who are his. The words are applied from Numbers xvi. 5. The sense is, that the faith and Church of Christ cannot fail, because God has decreed and promised to remain with his Church, and especially to protect his elect, to the end of the world. To know his, here is not only to have a knowledge, but is accompanied with a love and singular protection over them, with such graces as shall make them persevere to the end. — And let every one that nameth (or invoketh) the name of the Lord, depart from iniquity. Several understand these words, which are similar to those of Numbers xvi. 26., depart from the tents of these wicked men, to be as it were a second seal, or part of the seal of God’s firm decree, inasmuch as the elect by his grace, or when they are prevented and assisted by his grace, will always depart from iniquity; will remain firm in faith, and in the practice of good works: so that this may rather be an effect of the former seal, i.e. of God’s decree to protect his elect, than a different seal. (Witham) — Whatever efforts hell may make by its agents, the eternal edifice, of which the elect are the living stones, is immoveable, being founded on the immutable decree of divine election, and upon the efficacious and infallible means, which separate the children of the wicked Adam, to bring them and to unite them to Jesus Christ.

Ver. 20. In a great house there are, &c. Though St. Chrysostom by a great house, understands this world, and seems to think that in the Church there are none but precious vessels of gold and of silver, yet this is only true of the perfect part of the Church, as it comprehends the elect only. The common exposition, by the great house, understands the Catholic Church of Christ here upon earth, in which are mixed both vessels of gold and of earth, both good and bad; both the faithful that will be saved, and others that will be lost by not persevering in the faith and grace of Christ. Every one’s endeavour must be to cleanse himself from these, to depart from the ways of iniquity, by the assistances of those graces which God offers him, that so he may be a vessel unto honour, not troubling himself about the mysteries and secrets of predestination, but believing and knowing for certain, that if he be not wanting on his part, he can never be lost: and therefore let him follow the admonition of St. Peter, 2 Peter i. 10. “Wherefore, brethren, labour the more, that by good works you may make sure your vocation and election: for doing these things, you shall not sin at any time.” (Witham)

Ver. 21. Man, we see here, hath free-will to make himself a vessel of salvation or reprobation; though salvation be attributed to God’s mercy, the other to his justice, neither repugnant to our free-will, but working with and by the same, all such effects in us, as to his providence and our deserts are agreeable. (Bristow)

Ver. 22. Youthful desires of any kind, not only of luxury and intemperance. (Witham)

Ver. 24. Fit to teach[9] and instruct others. (Witham)

Ver. 25. If at any time[10] God may touch the hearts of those who believe not, or who lead a wicked life. (Witham) — In the Greek it is mepote, lest; that is, correct those who resist the truth, in hopes that God will some time bring them by repentance to the knowledge of the truth. The Greek does not express a fear that they will repent, but a certain doubt, mixed with strong hope and earnest desire of their conversion. Conversion from sin and heresy is the gift of God, yet we see good exhortations and prayers are available thereto; which would not be the case if we had not free-will. But these exhortations, to be profitable, must be made as the apostle says, en praoteti; i.e. with modesty and meekness. Si fortè det Deus illis meliorem mentem; i.e. ut perveniant ad agnitionem ejus veritatis, quam nunc oppugnant.

Ver. 26. By whom they are held captives[11] at his will: for sinners wilfully put themselves under the slavery of the devil, and wilfully remain in it. The Greek signifies, that they are taken alive in the devil’s nets. (Witham)


[1] Ver. 3. Kakopatheson; and ver. 9, for laboro, kakopatho.

[2] Ver. 4. Qui certat in Agone, ean athle tis.

[3] Ver. 6. Laborantem Agricolam, oportet primùm de fructibus percipere. It has the same ambiguity in the Greek.

[4] Ver. 7. Dabit, dosei, which Dr. Wells prefers, though in more Greek copies be found don, det.

[5] Ver. 15. Probabilem, dokimon.

[6] Ver. 15. Rectè tractantem, opthotomounta.

[7] Ver. 16. Vaniloquia, kenophonias.  See 1 Tim. vi. 20.

[8] Ver. 17. Ut cancer, os gaggraina.

[9] Ver. 24. Docibilem, didaktikon. See 1 Timothy iii. 2., which is there translated doctorem, and it signifies one fit to teach.

[10] Ver. 25. Ne quando, mepote, quasi, si quando.

[11] Ver. 26. Captivi tenentur, ezogremenoi.

Bible Text & Cross-references:

He exhorts him to diligence in his office: and patience in sufferings. The danger of the delusions of heretics.

1 Thou, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus:

2 And the things, which thou hast heard from me before many witnesses, the same commend to faithful men, who shall be fit to teach others also.

3 Labour as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

4 No man being a soldier to God, entangleth himself with worldly concerns: that he may please him to whom he hath engaged himself.

5 For he also that striveth for the mastery, is not crowned, except he strive lawfully.

6 The husbandman, who laboureth, must first partake of the fruits.

7 Understand what I say: for the Lord will give thee understanding in all things.

8 Be mindful that the Lord Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, of the seed of David, according to my gospel,

9 In which I labour even unto chains, as an evil doer: but the word of God is not bound.

10 Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation, which is in Christ Jesus, with heavenly glory.

11 A faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall live also with him:

12 If we suffer we shall also reign with him: *if we deny him, he will also deny us.

13 *If we believe not, he continueth faithful, he cannot deny himself.

14 Of these things put them in mind, testifying before the Lord. Contend not in words: for it is to no profit, but to the subversion of the hearers.

15 Carefully study to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

16 But shun profane and vain speeches: for they grow much towards impiety:

17 And their speech spreadeth like a cancer: of whom are Hymenæus and Philetus,

18 Who have erred from the truth, saying, that the resurrection is past already, and have subverted the faith of some.

19 But the sure foundation of God standeth firm, having this seal: The Lord knoweth who are his; and let every one that nameth the name of the Lord, depart from iniquity.

20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and earth; and some indeed unto honour, but some unto dishonour.

21 If any man, therefore, shall cleanse himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified and profitable to the Lord, prepared unto every good work.

22 But flee thou youthful desires, and follow justice, faith, charity, and peace with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

23 *And avoid foolish and unlearned questions: knowing that they beget strifes.

24 But the servant of the Lord must not wrangle: but be meek towards all, fit to teach, patient,

25 With modesty admonishing those who resist the truth: if at any time God give them repentance to know the truth,

26 And they recover themselves from the snares of the devil, by whom they are held captive at his will.



12: Matthew x. 33.; Mark viii. 18.

13: Romans iii. 3.

23: 1 Timothy i. 4. and 7.; Titus iii. 9.