Principles of Service
2 Timothy 2
2 Timothy 2
2 Timothy 2. In this chapter we have a number of principles that Timothy would need in his service to the Lord. Paul compares the man of God with a number of figures: as a soldier (v.3), an athlete (v.5), a husbandman (v.6), a workman (v.15), a vessel (v.21), and a bondman (v.24). The chapter deals with the state of mind that the servant of Christ must have: to be willing to suffer for the name of Christ, to use diligence in handling the Word of God, to separate from evil in order to be useful in service, and to be gentle with souls, seeking to restore those who are enslaved by the devil.
Be Strong in Grace (2:1)
¶ Thou therefore, my child, be strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus. v.1 Be Strong in Grace. The “therefore” in v.1 refers back to the end of the previous chapter, in which Paul reminded Timothy that many believers in Asia were abandoning Paul and his doctrine. The natural tendency in circumstances such as those would be to give up. But Paul encourages the opposite: strength instead of weakness. The very first principle that Paul lays before Timothy is the need to be strong, but more specifically, to “be strong in grace”. This means to have an appreciation for the grace of God, and the place of favor in which the believer stands, not through our own efforts, but by virtue of our standing “in Christ Jesus”. When we have an appreciation for the grace of God, it gives us the right attitude and perspective. Timothy could see the decline around him. There can be a tendency to be strong in something else, perhaps the law, when we see things slipping morally (Heb. 13:9). But we need to “be strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus”.
Passing on the Truth (2:2)
2 And the things thou hast heard of me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, such as shall be competent to instruct others also. v.2 Passing on the Truth. Here we have the Divine order for passing on the truth. Timothy was to pass on the truth he had received from the apostle Paul. It was the same truth, not a new revelation. The servant of the Lord must be faithful to pass on the teaching of God’s Word without adding or subtracting from it! There are four generations here: (1) Paul himself, (2) Timothy among “many witnesses”, (3) “faithful men” whom Timothy was to teach, and (4) “others also”. This shows the importance of ministry! It is true that the next generation must understand God’s will from the Word of God for themselves, but sound expository teaching from one generation to the next is necessary. There is no mention of formal institutions such as monasteries or seminaries. The truth is passed down from faithful men to others. The leading qualification is that these ones would be faithful, and secondly that they would be able to teach others. There were many witnesses in addition to Timothy who took in the truth Paul was putting forth as he received it. It was not an exclusive knowledge for the initiated, but rather truth for the whole assembly.
Willingness to Sacrifice and Suffer for Christ (2:3-13)
vv.3-13 In these verses Paul addresses the mindset that Timothy must have to carry forward for God’s glory in a difficult day. He uses three examples in these verses that we are all familiar with: a soldier, an athlete, and a husbandman. All three of these occupations require discipline, patience, and self-sacrifice. These are the same qualities needed in the Christian.
3 Take thy share in suffering as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one going as a soldier [‘when on campaign’]1 entangles himself with the affairs of life, that he may please him who has enlisted him as a soldier. vv.3-4 A Soldier. The first occupation compared to the Christian pathway is that of a soldier. Those in the Roman Empire would be well aware of the duties and qualities of a soldier. The two characteristics of a soldier referred to by Paul are (1) a willingness to suffer in service, and (2) a willingness to make sacrifices in order to serve undistractedly. A soldier must be prepared to suffer, not only in battle from injury, wounds, etc. but also from depravation on long marches, sickness, and extreme conditions. It is understood that the warfare the Christian is engaged in is not physical, but rather a spiritual warfare. “Take thy share” implies there are other comrades also in this warfare. What is the difference between the warfare in 2 Timothy and that of Ephesians 6? They are closely connected, yet the warfare here in 2 Timothy is the sphere of service, like a soldier on campaign; “no one going as a soldier”. In Ephesians 6 it is more the sphere of holding the truth, and laying hold of our portion in Christ. In addition to being prepared to suffer, a soldier must be prepared to detach himself from unnecessary obligations in order to remained focused; “No one going as a soldier entangles himself with the affairs of life”. A soldier might go on furlough from time to time, and then take up for a season the affairs of life, but when “on campaign” he cannot make room for such things. A “good soldier of Jesus Christ” is never on leave, and his service is never completed this side of heaven. What does it mean to be entangled with the affairs of this life. It does not suggest anything wrong with natural relationships such as marriage, or with secular employment (for marriage, see Heb. 13:4; 1 Cor. 7:8-9; Matt. 19:5-6, and for occupation, see 2 Cor. 11:7-9; Col. 3:22-24). To become entangled is to enter into an unhealthy relationship or obligation that deters the believer from pleasing the Lord.2 An example might be an unnecessary business partnership that completely absorbs a believer’s time and attention. It doesn’t necessarily mean the entanglements of sin. There are plenty of things that are not positive evil, but are nevertheless counter-productive to service for the Lord. Notice the motive; “that he may please him who has enlisted him as a soldier”. Whatever we do, it should be in order to please the Lord. It could be an evangelist spreading the gospel or a mother raising her children, both can be done as a good soldier of Jesus Christ!
5 And if also any one contend in the games, he is not crowned unless he contend lawfully. v.5 An Athlete. The next occupation compared is that of an athlete. Timothy was well acquainted with the Greek games, in which men competed in athletic competitions for a crown of laurels. Paul makes several references to these games in his epistles (1 Cor. 9:25; 1 Tim. 4:8). The point stressed in v.5 is that an athlete who comes in first does not get crowned unless he competed according to the rules of the game. Breaking the rules, even in the smallest point, would result in disqualification. The same is true in our Christian pathway in a spiritual sense. The Christian is called to be careful in the smallest details of life that the Word of God be followed. It isn’t good enough to just move generally in the right direction. The details are important. We find a similar principle in other places, such as with the builder in 1 Cor. 3, who must take heed “how he builds”. A Christian might be tempted to adopt worldly principles in service for Christ; e.g. applying man’s wisdom to grow churches, or turning to the world in times of need rather than God. To play by the rules means to seek God’s mind in our service.
6 The husbandman must labour before partaking of the fruits. v.6 A Husbandman. The third occupation set before us for comparison is that of a husbandman, which is a farmer of grapes. The Authorized translation greatly obscures the meaning of this verse, but more critical translations render it properly. Farmers in general understand the principle of delayed gratification. There must be much labor up front if there is to be partaking of the fruits later. We cannot expect fruits without labor. Husbandmen particularly understand this, as grape vines can take up to three years to bear fruit, and more years to full maturity. For the believer, the time of labor is now, and the time of partaking of fruits is future, when rewards are given out at the judgment seat of Christ, and manifested in the day of Christ. “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister” (Heb. 6:10, see also 1 Cor. 3:8; 1 Thess. 1:3).
¶ 7 Think of what I say, for the Lord will give thee understanding in all things. v.7 Meditation Leads to Intelligence. The principles Paul had just set before Timothy, of willingness to suffer, attention to detail, and delayed gratification, would be important for the young man to consider. It is one thing to hear what is said, and another thing to consider it. It is through meditation that the Word of God is made good to the soul, and then the Lord will give us further light: “the Lord will give thee understanding in all things”.
8 Remember Jesus Christ raised from among the dead, of the seed of David, according to my glad tidings, 9 in which I suffer even unto bonds as an evil-doer: but the word of God is not bound. 10 For this cause I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that “they” also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. vv.8-10 Two Examples of Suffering in Service. Paul then seeks to encourage Timothy by setting before him two examples, both illustrating that fruit for God is only produced through suffering and death. First, we have the preeminent example of Jesus Christ, who was “raised from among the dead”. It isn’t merely the fact of the resurrection, but the Person of Jesus Christ as an example of one who, though He was “of the seed of David”, and could have expected a royal reception, but instead was persecuted unto death. As concerning the promises to the Seed of David, at the end of His life Christ had nothing; “And after the sixty-two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, and shall have nothing” (Dan. 9:26). But God raised Christ “from among the dead”, which refers to the special out-resurrection so central to Paul’s gospel, and called elsewhere “the first resurrection”, as a special seal of God’s approval and honor! That life which seemed so fruitless, then proved (from the resurrection and onwards) to be the most fruitful life that was ever lived (John 12:24)! God’s answer to faithful service is not in this life, but in resurrection. This is what made the error of v.18 so serious. Christ therefore is the ultimate example of one who suffered in the pathway of service, but in the end was honored by God. Second, Paul presents himself as a lesser example of one who suffered in the pathway of Christian service. Paul could never suffer in atonement, but he could suffer in love, and thus imitated Christ. The gospel Paul preached was accompanied by suffering; “in which I suffer even unto bonds as an evil-doer”. What made Paul’s suffering particularly intense was that it was “as an evil-doer”; his faithfulness was misconstrued as evil. How instructive, that the Apostle Paul himself suffered as an evil-doer! How can we expect to serve without suffering? Yet Paul could add, that while he was bound in Rome, “the word of God is not bound”. Paul’s ministry ended in a Roman prison, with all they in Asia (his greatest sphere of labor) having turned away. It was apparent defeat for Paul, but the Word of God could not be stopped. As Paul sat in prison, the Word of God was spreading like wildfire! What motivated Paul was a love for souls. Following in the footsteps of his Master, the apostle selflessly suffered “all things” for the sake of the elect, because he was seeking their eternal blessing; “that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory”. Paul’s love and willingness to suffer was an imitation of the love of Christ Himself!3 This example was calculated to powerfully affect Timothy’s heart.
11 The word is faithful; for if we have died together with him, we shall also live together; 12 if we endure, we shall also reign together; if we deny, “he” also will deny us; 13 if we are unfaithful, “he” abides faithful, for he cannot deny himself. vv.11-13 Fellowship with Christ in Suffering and Its Reward. Paul next comments on a “saying” of the early Christians, almost like a little poem that they would say among themselves for mutual encouragement. It is similar to the expression in 1 Tim. 1:15, 4:9, and Titus 3:8. These were sayings that had become popular among believers, and Paul commends them heartily, by saying “The word is faithful”. It isn’t wrong to have “sayings”. In fact, often the truth has been committed to memory through these scriptural sayings. But it is important that our sayings are “faithful” to the Word of God. The apostle now speaks of reward. The overarching principle in these verses is that God is faithful concerning His Son! See John 5:23. God has been so glorified by His Son, that he takes note of everything we do with regard to Christ, and will see to it that all is answered for, whether dying with Him, or enduring suffering with Him. This works both positively and negatively. Only an unbeliever could “deny Him” in the ultimate sense, in which case they would be “denied by Him” at the great white throne; “then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:23). However, the context of “we” and “us” in this pastoral epistle is true believers; 2 Tim. 1:14 says the Holy Spirit dwells in “us”, a fact only true of believers. If a true believer denies Christ when those opportunities arise to speak for Him, and if that is never judged in this lifetime, then at the judgment seat Christ He also will deny us a reward; “he shall suffer loss” (1 Cor. 3:15), and “He that loveth his life shall lose it” (John 12:25). We have a similar thought in Matt. 10:32-33. Paul speaks of things that are only possible ultimately for unbelievers, but there is a warning in them for us also. Living together and reigning together refer to the day of manifestation, when Christ takes His rightful place in this world. In v.13 there is something deeper: even if we are unfaithful, “he abides faithful, for he cannot deny himself”. Undergirding all of God’s ways in grace and government is His own immutable character; He is faithful!
Handling Doctrine and the Word of God (2:14-18)
¶ 14 Of these things put in remembrance, testifying earnestly before the Lord not to have disputes of words, profitable for nothing, to the subversion of the hearers. v.14 Profitable and Unprofitable Ministry. Timothy was to “put in remembrance” the things Paul had set before him; namely, the basics of Christian doctrine, involving Jesus Christ of the Seed of David, raised from among the dead. This is profitable ministry, in contrast with what follows. The servant of Christ should focus on giving the saints a good foundation, rather than waste time on peripheral issues. Timothy was to earnestly testify to the brethren “before the Lord” not to occupy with unprofitable arguments. We aren’t told what those “disputes of words” might have centered around, but it would likely be the influence of the Judaizing teachers, who were seeking to bring the saints under the law, especially the ceremonial points of the law. Not only do these discussions not profit, but they positively harm the saints; “to the subversion of the hearers”.
15 Strive diligently to present thyself approved to God, a workman that has not to be ashamed, cutting in a straight line the word of truth. v.15 Proper Handling of the Scriptures. If v.14 is what Timothy was to say to others, then v.15 is what should characterize his own life. The servant of Christ must “strive diligently” to have the approval of God in their ministry. This has nothing to do with acceptance before God, which is all by grace, through faith, and by virtue of our standing in Christ. There is a God-approved manner of handling the scriptures! Paul compares the believer to “a workman”, likely a carpenter or a tailor, who would find it necessary to cut raw materials in their craft. When a workman is finished with his project, he is judged on the neatness of his work. A “workman that has not to be ashamed” is one who pays close attention to detail. The same is true when handling the scriptures, called here “the word of truth”. The approved workman is characterized by “cutting in a straight line the word of truth”. Just as a tailor must cut his cloth according to the pattern, so the servant of Christ must unfold and apply the Word of truth carefully and distinctly, according to the mind of God. One aspect of this, perhaps alluded to by the verb “cutting”, is the work of discerning the context of each passage of scripture. “All scripture is profitable”, but not all scripture describes Christian doctrine. For example, to mix the law with Christianity results in confusion and harm. But the larger principle is that the Word of God should be handled carefully, with diligent attention paid to the mind of its Divine Author.
16 But profane, vain babblings shun, for they will advance to greater impiety, 17 and their word will spread as a gangrene; of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; 18 men who as to the truth have gone astray, saying that the resurrection has taken place already; and overthrow the faith of some. vv.16-18 The Spreading-Effect of Bad Teaching. In contrast to “cutting in a straight line the word of truth”, Paul next speaks of bad teaching. Timothy was to personally “shun profane, vain babblings”, which are discussions that exalt man and demean (or make common) the things of God. “Profane” can mean either ‘unholy’ or ‘the irreverent treatment of something that is holy’ (Heb. 12:16). Paul warned Timothy of the same character of things in 1 Tim. 6:20. Although the early stages appear relatively benign, these things actually cause real harm to the soul, and Paul warns that they will certainly lead to worse forms of evil; “they will advance to greater impiety”. Still more alarming, bad teaching “will spread as a gangrene”. Paul warns of a similar thing in Gal. 5:9; “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump”. Bad doctrine must be judged, or else it will spread and many souls will be affected. Paul mentions two false teachers who went astray from the truth and led to the overthrow of the faith of others. Hymenaeus (also mentioned in the first epistle as one that Paul had delivered unto Satan) and Philetus, were two men that had begun teaching “that the resurrection has taken place already”. They weren’t denying the resurrection altogether as some in Corinth, but were asserting that it had already taken place. They were so satisfied with this present life that they denied the Christian’s proper hope. By making vain the hope of some believers in the resurrection, Hymenaeus and Philetus were responsible for overthrowing the faith of some Christians. This shows the serious character of bad doctrine.
The Principles of Sanctification (2:19-22)
19 Yet the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, The Lord knows those that are his; and, Let every one who names the name of the Lord withdraw from iniquity. v.19 The Foundation of God. Having mentioned those whose faith was overthrown, the apostle reminds Timothy of something that cannot be shaken. The foundation of God refers to the immutable character of God, which stands sure regardless of the failure of man.4 How wonderful for the believer to rest on such a foundation! But this foundation has a “seal”, which impacts those who rest on it. There are two sides to this seal, similar to a coin. On one side we have God’s sovereignty: “The Lord knows those that are his”. It is not for us to judge ultimately whether a person belongs to Christ by election or by redemption. We are to judge a person’s profession by their fruits (Matt. 7:20), but the knowing who is really saved is within God’s purview alone. On the other side we have man’s responsibility: “Let every one who names the name of the Lord withdraw from iniquity”. God holds man responsible according to his profession. If someone professes the name of the Lord, God holds them responsible to separate from evil. Note that “iniquity” has to do with man’s will inserted into Divine things. The Lordship of Christ is emphasized in connection with the professor’s responsibility. These two principles of the foundation of God are tremendously valuable in guiding the believer in a day of ruin and mixture (v.20). On one hand the believer can have confidence that the Lord knows who is real, and on the other hand he is made to feel the responsibility to separate from evil.
20 But in a great house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also wooden and earthen; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. v.20 A Great House. Paul describes the state of mixture in the Christian profession with the example of “a great house”.5 In literal terms this would bring to mind the large castles of a feudal society, which were equipped with hundreds of cooking and serving vessels required to meet the needs of such a house. In a great house, there is bound to be a mixture of vessels: “there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also wooden and earthen; and some to honour, and some to dishonour”. Paul shows that the public testimony of Christianity, the house of God, when committed to the hands of man, falls into a state of mixture, comparable to a great house. “Vessels to honor” are the gold and silver, representing those who have divine righteousness (gold) and are redeemed by the blood of Christ (silver). “Vessels to dishonor” are those who dishonor the Lord’s name, including men like Hymenaeus and Philetus, who taught doctrines that were destructive to the Christian faith. How sad that the house of the living God, which ought to be the witness and support of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15) has fallen into such a state! What can the believer do in such circumstances? The answer is in v.21.
21 If therefore one shall have purified himself from these, in separating himself from them, he shall be a vessel to honour, sanctified, serviceable to the Master, prepared for every good work. v.21 Sanctification. The path forward in the mixture of the “great house” is through sanctification. A believer must “have purified himself from these” through separation. Anything that dishonors the Lord should be separated from. Clearly, by the way the term “vessels” is used, the vessels must be referring to persons (“he shall be a vessel”), not merely doctrines and practices. However, the principle is this: in order to be serviceable, we must first be sanctified. To compromise and go on in fellowship with evil is not the right path. To sacrifice holiness to preserve unity is not the Lord’s mind. Only through separation can the believer be “a vessel to honour, sanctified, serviceable to the Master”. But separation is not only negative; it is also positive. It is from evil, and unto the Lord. There is much work that the Master can use us for, and the sanctified servant is “prepared for every good work”. Notice that here it is the believer’s obligation to separate. In 1 Cor. 5 it was the responsibility of the assembly to put away the wicked person. If the assembly refuses to judge evil, the individual has no choice but to separate himself from them. However, there should be consideration before the Lord as to whether such a step is truly necessary. This is not equivalent to leaving the house; i.e. abandoning the profession of Christianity. The reformers acted on this principle when they separated from the Roman church; they left the papal system, but did not leave the house. The same was true years later when the reformed churches became corrupt and lifeless; many godly believers separated from vessels to dishonor, but did not leave the house. As a result, God was pleased to use them “for every good work”! It is the same principle in 1 Cor. 5 and 2 Tim. 2. The holy nature of God Himself guides the saints.
22 But youthful lusts flee, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace, with those that call upon the Lord out of a pure heart. v.22 Personal Purity and Right Associations. In dealing with public issues (v.21), there is a danger to neglect personal purity. There is no point separating from vessels to dishonor if we are careless as to moral purity. Paul warns Timothy to “flee” (run away with fear from) “youthful lusts”. These would be the lusts that generally tempt people in their youth, before the tempering effect of age begins to buffer those tendencies, although they are always within reach. Examples would be: self-confidence, impatience, self-will, and immoral sexual-desire. Again we have the balance between the negative and the positive. However, this is not only an exhortation to the young; it is applicable to all of us! If we are to flee (run from) youthful lusts, we are also to “pursue” (run after) “righteousness, faith, love, peace”. Righteousness is consistency of our walk with the nature of God. Faith is total confidence in God and His Word. Love is the motive for all Christian activity: first to have a sense of God’s love for us, and then to reflect that love to others. Peace is the settled condition of the soul in the midst of difficulties, as well as between brethren. What a path is laid before the sanctified servant! In addition, we find that there is fellowship for the sanctified servant in the pathway. If we are to “separate from” vessels to dishonor, then God will provide companions with whom we can pursue righteousness, etc. “with”. Isolationism is never God’s mind, and He provides fellowship for His own, even in a day of ruin. A nice example of this is how the Apostle John would encourage fellowship between Gaius and Demetrius (3 John 1:12). What should the standard be for our fellowship? Great experience, great knowledge, and great gift, etc. are all put to the side. We should follow “with those that call upon the Lord out of a pure heart”. It is the heart that God looks for (1 Sam. 16:7), and it is the heart that really determines who our companions in service should be!
A Gentle and Gracious Attitude (2:23-26)
23 But foolish and senseless questionings avoid, knowing that they beget contentions. v.23 Foolish and Senseless Questionings. There is a need to avoid things that would lead to contention or strife; “foolish and senseless questionings avoid, knowing that they beget contentions”. If you know a conversation will not be edifying, but will only lead to strife, simply avoid it. Contention among the saints is to be avoided if at all possible.
24 And a bondman of the Lord ought not to contend, but be gentle towards all; apt to teach; forbearing; v.24 Gentleness and Patience. It is important for “the servant (bondman) of the Lord” to understand the behavior that is proper to him as belonging to the Lord. The word is “bondman” or slave. We are responsible to reflect the character of our Lord and Master! This is why we must not be contentious, but rather “gentle towards all”. Paul could speak of “the meekness and gentleness of the Christ” (2 Cor. 10:1). In addition to gentleness, there should also be patience. The expression “apt to teach” implies a patience with those who are ignorant; e.g. a willingness to go over old material again and again if necessary. The servant of the Lord must be willing to forbear the difficulties of dealing with souls, some of whom may be dishonest, stubborn, rebellious, ungrateful, offensive, etc. These things, which were perfectly patterned by our Lord, are what our character should be!
25 in meekness setting right those who oppose, if God perhaps may sometime give them repentance to acknowledgment of the truth, 26 and that they may awake up out of the snare of the devil, who are taken by him, for “his” will. vv.25-26 Delivering the Captives. The Christ-like attitude of the servant of the Lord is to be displayed especially in dealing with those “who oppose” the truth of God. It is particularly difficult to remain patient and gentle when seeking to help those who are so deluded by the devil that they are actually in opposition to the work of the Lord! The danger is that we might become angry, bitter, and resentful toward those ones. This is where the quality of meekness becomes important. A care for the souls of those who are caught in “the snare of the devil” will make the servant of the Lord patiently work to “set right” those who oppose the truth of God. There is hope for these ones, not in themselves, but in God, who alone grants repentance; “if God perhaps may sometime give them repentance to acknowledgment of the truth”. Repentance means to change one’s thinking, but it goes deeper than the intellect. It involves a moral judgment, such that the soul takes God’s side in a matter. When people are clearly presented with the truth, but refuse to acknowledge it, they do not need more teaching; what they need is repentance. It is only by God’s grace that an ensnared soul can “awake up” and find deliverance. The end of the verse may be a little hard to understand. Those who oppose the truth of God are “taken captive by him” i.e. the devil, “for his will” referring to God. In other words, God allows the devil to lead men captive, but it ultimately serves God’s sovereign purpose!
Summary of the Principles of Service. We have seen the principles of service laid before Timothy in this chapter. Here is a brief summary of what the servant of the Lord must do:
- Be strong in grace (v.1)
- Pass on the truth (v.2)
- Be willing to suffer in service (v.3)
- Make sacrifices in order to serve undistractedly (v.4)
- Be careful in the smallest details to follow the Word of God (v.5)
- Be willing to labor now, and leave the reaping until later (v.6)
- Meditate on the Word of God, as it will lead to intelligence (v.7)
- Remember the example of Christ: fruit is produced through suffering (vv.8-10)
- God takes note of everything we do, and will reward it (vv.11-13)
- Go over the basics repeatedly (v.14)
- Avoid unprofitable ministry (v.15)
- Properly handle the scripture; cut it in a straight line (v.14).
- Judge bad teaching before it spreads (vv.15-18)
- Separate from anything that dishonors the Lord (vv.19-21)
- Pay attention to personal purity (v.22)
- Choose good companions (v.22)
- Maintain a gentle and gracious attitude (v.23)
- Avoid strife (vv.23-24)
- Be gentle and patient (v.24)
- Seek to deliver those who oppose the truth (vv.25-26)
- W. Kelly Translation
- To entangle oneself in the businesses of life means really to give up separation from the world by taking one’s part in outward affairs as a bona-fide partner in it. The servant of Christ is bound whatever he does to do it unto the Lord and therefore in conformity with His word. In everything he serves the Lord Christ; nor is this bondage of the law but liberty in the Spirit, though he be the Lord’s bondman. As the soldier on campaign has to please him that enrolled his name, so evermore has the Christian servant to please the Lord. He Himself has said, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:30). – Kelly, W. The Epistles to Timothy.
- The afflictions found in the path of service in the gospel assume here a high and peculiar character in the mind of the suffering and blessed apostle. It is participation in the sufferings of Christ, and, in the case of Paul, to a very remarkable degree. The expressions he uses are such as might be employed in speaking of Christ Himself as regards His love. As to the propitiation, naturally no other could take part in that: but in devotedness, and in suffering for love and for righteousness, we have the privilege of suffering with Him. – Darby, J.N. Synopsis of the Books of the Bible.
- The object clearly is to mark what abides firm and of God in the midst of confusion and ruin; and to use that immutable foundation for the comfort and good courage of all who desire to do His will. … Nothing more simple or important if the firm foundation of God be taken in the abstract; those who stand upon it are on the one side comforted, on the other solemnly admonished. – Kelly, W. The Epistles of Paul to Timothy.
- It does not say “the church has become a great house”. The great house is a figure used to describe what man has done with the Christian profession. The church is still the house of God, the pillar and ground of the truth. It is similar to how Jesus said “My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves” (Luke 19:46).