Standing for Truth: The Unashamed Workman - 2 Timothy 2:14-19

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As Christians we believe that God has entrusted us with something precious. God has given us His Word and the Gospel and we have been called to steward the truth that has been given to us.  This means that we should be committed to knowing the truth and protecting it from those who would try to distort it. 

As Paul gives Timothy some final instructions, this is a theme that comes up over and over: The importance to stewarding and standing for the truth. Paul goes to great lengths to remind Timothy of his responsibility to know the truth and guard it from those who would seek to twist or pervert it.

A Preface: Maintain the standard of truth (2:14)

  • In verse 14 Paul sets the stage for the rest of the section. In this verse we have two exhortations, both of which will be fleshed out in the remaining verses of this paragraph.
  • Positive: Remind them of the truth (v. 14a) – In vv. 8-13 Paul reminds Timothy to stay committed to the Gospel. He encourages him to remember Christ and His resurrection and implications of Christ’s work both for those who believe and for those who deny Him. Now, in verse 14, Paul calls on Timothy to continually remind the church of these central truths. 
  • Negative: Charge them to avoid unprofitable word-wars (v. 14b) – While the Scriptures make it clear that Paul was never afraid to stand for truth, he also recognized that there is a kind of “word-war” that distracts from the truth rather than promoting it. Paul calls on Timothy to charge the church, before the face of God, to avoid these unprofitable word-wars.
  • Application – As the people of God we should pay careful attention to both of these exhortations. First, we must never forget our continual need to hear and believe the Gospel. The Gospel is not only the means of our salvation, it’s also the means our continued growth in Christ. Second, we must recognize the difference between defending the truth and participating in word-wars that only distract from the truth.

A Plea: Be a faithful teacher of the truth (2:15-17a)

  • Positive: Be an unashamed workman (v. 15) – In this verse Paul calls on Timothy to work hard to know and teach the Word of God rightly. Literally he says, cut straight the word of truth. He wants Timothy to know that this is work that is done in the presence of God, for His approval and that those who do it well can stand before God without shame.
  • Application – For Christians 2 Timothy 2:15 is an important reminder of our stewardship of the truth and of how important it is for us to be diligent in our effort to know and apply the truth of God. After all, it is His Word, not ours.
  • Negative: Avoid those who mock the truth (v. 16-17a) – Not only is Timothy to know the truth, he’s also instructed to avoid those who mock the truth. While there are some false teachers and teachings that should be confronted, there are some that should simply be avoided because of the nature of the mockery. This is something Paul speaks to throughout his letters (1 Timothy 1:3-4; 4:7; 6:20; Titus 3:8-11).
  • The results of irreverent babble Paul makes it clear that there will be disastrous results from this kind of mockery of the truth. First, those who participate in it will be led into more and more ungodliness, and second, it’s something that can spread quickly like a disease to others.

A Portrait: An example of those who forsake the truth (v. 17b-18) 

  • An example of real people – In order clarify his point Paul offers a specific example. In this example Paul names two men who have swerved from the truth and participated in this kind of false teaching (1 Tim. 1:20).
  • An example of a specific teaching – While we don’t know much about this false teaching, what Paul says is that in this case some were teaching that the resurrection had already taken place. What we recognize is that this is a critical error in regard to a central tenant of the Gospel.

A Promise: The Surety of God’s Salvation (2:19) 

  • Paul is a pastor and as a pastor it seems that he recognizes that there may be some for whom this teaching could cause concern. There may be some for whom this teaching creates doubt about the stability of the faith. However, in verse 19 Paul offers some assurance about the stability of the faith and the security of those who truly belong to God.
  • The firm foundation of the Gospel – After these warnings about false teaching and those who have fallen away Paul gives this encouragement: God’s firm foundation stands. The Gospel and Christ’s Church will not fall. Then he offers two seals that are revealed on this foundation.
  • An Assurance: The Lord knows those who are His – In this quote from Numbers 16:5 Paul gives us the assurance that God knows His people and that we don’t have to fear being forgotten by Him (John 10:14-15). He will defend, protect and uphold His children. 
  • A Response: God’s people will obey Him – While some may fear being led astray, Paul assures us that those who are God’s will live in obedience to Him and depart from iniquity. True believers will persevere.