14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to fight about words. This is useless and leads to the ruin of those who listen. 15 Be diligent to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth. 16 Avoid irreverent and empty speech, since those who engage in it will produce even more godlessness, 17 and their teaching will spread like gangrene. Hymenaeus and Philetus are among them. 18 They have departed from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and are ruining the faith of some. 19 Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, bearing this inscription: The Lord knows those who are his, and let everyone who calls on the name of the Lord turn away from wickedness. 20 Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also those of wood and clay; some for honorable use and some for dishonorable. 21 So if anyone purifies himself from anything dishonorable, he will be a special instrument, set apart, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. 22 Flee from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 But reject foolish and ignorant disputes, because you know that they breed quarrels. 24 The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, 25 instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth. 26 Then they may come to their senses and escape the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.
2 Timothy 2:14-26
Co-written by Amy & Jeff Kauppila
While I (Jeff) was in college, my roommates and I were challenged with 2 Timothy 2:15, which in the Amplified Classic states, “Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing (rightly handling and skillfully teaching) the word of truth.”
This challenge came to us from an unexpected source—a series of conversations with a homeless man whom we befriended and assisted. He stayed on our couch on cold winter nights and participated in some late-night discussions regarding the Bible. Verse 15 was his key verse, since he correctly realized that accurately handling the Word of God was important for encouraging and strengthening each other.
Paul tells Timothy to present himself as “one approved,” referring to the process whereby metal is tested and found to be sufficient. We are approved by grace, but we demonstrate that approval with our visible works. Paul is admonishing Timothy to have the Scriptures so impressed on his heart that he is prepared for the trials of life. Paul also wanted Timothy to be a workman who had no need to be ashamed of his work.
We too need to be workers whom God can put into service whenever we are needed. We need to be grounded in the Scripture and in continual conversation with the Father through prayer. When He calls us, our next heartbeat should be a heartbeat of obedience.
Throughout 1 Timothy 2, the Word of God is central in Paul’s encouragement to Timothy. The Word is the sword for the soldier (verses 3-4), the guide for the athlete (verse 5), and the seed for the hard-working farmer (verse 6). For the workman in verse 15, it is a tool for building, measuring and repairing God’s people. Correctly handling the Word builds up believers in the way God desires. The work produced by a sloppy worker who does not divide the Word correctly will not withstand the test of fire described in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15.
An approved worker does not waste time quarreling about words, but instead shuns godless chatter because it undermines God’s work and results in further ungodliness. Likewise, the worker knows that false doctrine is dangerous, spreading like gangrene, infecting and killing parts of the body (verse 17). Clearly a life built on the foundation of the Word of God is key to the worker’s ability to serve the Lord. May we study the Scriptures with eagerness, so we may be ready and willing workers for God.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- How would your discussions with your neighbors and acquaintances be impacted by your rightly handling the word of truth and salting your conversations with words of grace?
- Are you in a place today where you are prepared to be God’s worker for repairing and building up His people?
- Life Groups and mentoring relationships provide an atmosphere for learning sound doctrine and growing in our knowledge of God’s Word. They often provide challenges or insights that can leave a lasting impact. Perhaps you may be the one who provides that life-changing word to a church member, neighbor or acquaintance.