Accurately handling the word of truth
2 Timothy 2:1-21 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 3 Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. 5 Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. 6 The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops. 7 Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, 9for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned. 10 For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory. 11 It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; 12 If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; 13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.
14 Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some. 19 Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.”
20 Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.
In today’s text it says: Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Paul’s comparison of gangrene to the result of wrangling about words and worldly empty chatter shows the importance of guarding our tongues as believers. In Psalm 141:3-4, the psalmist says: Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil so that I take part in wicked deeds along with those who are evildoers; do not let me eat their delicacies. He is speaking then about what goes into the mouth. In Matthew 15:10;17-20 Jesus says: “Hear and understand. It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man. Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.” It is a good thing to guard what comes out of our mouths.
There are many today who love to wrangle about words. We see it every day in the media concerning news and political stories. They take single words or phrases out of context and twist them and distort them in order to change their meaning, to suit their own agenda, and so to lead to the ruin of the hearers. Sadly, we also see and hear this in the church today. Many people will take individual words or phrases from scripture and wrangle about them, taking them out of context, twisting and distorting their meaning in order to suit their own agenda, and so lead to the ruin of the hearers. Paul says: Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. To accurately handle the word of truth is a high calling, a great privilege and also a great responsibility. Remember what Paul says the result of mishandling the word of truth is? It will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. When gangrene affects the parts of a body the only thing that can be done to keep it from spreading is to remove it before it causes more to die. Accurately handling the word of truth, the truth of God’s word is that important. The results can mean life and death to those who hear.
In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Paul says: All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. There are a few important thing we should take note of regarding these verses. First, the scripture Paul is speaking of is what we would refer to as the Old Testament, the accounts of creation, the fall, the law and the prophets. These of course were not written by God’s hand, but they were and are inspired by God. They reveal His heart and His plan. They reveal His agenda, His truth. Second, it says all scripture, not every scripture. It is important that we look at scripture as a whole, in the context of itself as well as the context of the time and circumstance. If a person wrangles about words, so as to make scripture contradict scripture, they are mishandling the truth. The purpose of all scripture is to reveal God’s truth, His agenda and then to teach, train, correct and equip us to do His good work. Going back again to the fact that Paul is referring to the Old Testament, in Matthew 5:17-20, Jesus also says: “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus came to fulfill all of scripture. Anyone who wrangles about words to twist or distort what Jesus said and did, mishandles the truth. The last Book in the Bible is called Revelation, more accurately, The Revelation of Jesus Christ. That is really what all scripture is about. It is the revelation of Jesus Christ. It is the whole truth of God’s plan, His desire, His agenda.
Paul says: You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus… Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. In our culture and society today we are coming to a place where the culture, the “mob” makes the rules rather than God. Sadly again this has also permeated the church culture so that the desires of the majority often over rule the desires of God. The text says: “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.” Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. We are not all created the same, but God’s purpose, His desire, His plan for us is the same. God desires that we would see and know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, revealed through all scripture, so that we would become sanctified, useful and prepared for every good work.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit; thank You for all scripture. Thank You for the revelation of Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of all scripture and of Your plan and desire. According to Your will may I never mishandle the truth causing ruin to those who hear, but rather strong in Your grace may I speak and reveal Your truth. Amen.