2 Timothy 2:14-19 Show Yourself as a Tried and Tested Worker

2 Timothy 2:14-19

To Guard the Gospel: Show Yourselves to God as a Tried and Tested Worker

In this last will and testament of Paul’s to Timothy and the church at Ephesus he is instructing them to guard the gospel. He has given some clear instruction on what to teach in order to guard the message.

Now he is going to shift from content to actually being a tried and true worker in rightly handling the word as opposed to those who poorly handle the word and those who flat out teach false doctrine.

To guard the gospel we must:

Handle The Word Well v. 15

“Do your best (imperative) to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker (laborer who works hard in farming / an artisan) who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”

  1. An approved worker handles the word right

“Orthotomeo” means to handle skillfully or to handle right. Ortho, from where we get our words “orthopedic” or “orthodontist” meaning “strait” or “right” joint movement or teeth.

5.1 Exegeted because it’s God’s word not ours

4.1.1 What does it say? What does that mean? How does that


Often this is where the evil one will attack the one who stands for truth with whispers that sound like: “That was so foolish.” “Do you really believe that mess?”

  1. One who handles the word right has no need for shame

The audience is God.

Handlers of the word are handling God’s word not their own and must never play cavalierly with it.

It is a fearful and wonderful thing to teach God’s word.

James 3:1 reminds us that one should not presume to be a teacher because they incur a stricter judgment. Why, because we are to handle God’s truth not our version. It’s not our message we are tinkering with. This is why we must guard the gospel.

  1. One has to be a worker to handle the word right and not be ashamed

3.1 It is hard work to handle the word correctly.

  1. Hard working, unashamed handlers of the truth are approved (approved

            after being tried and tested)

2.1 The person who keeps doing this is approved through the

continual rigors of handling rightly before God without shame,

working hard at it, the word.

2.1.1 This approval comes from God as he bears witness to his word

through those who teach it well.

  1. We are commanded to do our best to present ourselves to God this way!

The proclaimer/teacher of the gospel of the kingdom must give account to the Lord himself and he is the one that we must seek to please.

1.1 The right handler of truth who works and is approved does not

look to hearers for approval but to Father who will tell them “well


What are tried and tested workers commanded to do?

To guard the gospel we must:

Remind Folks Before God To Not Fight Over Words v. 14

“Remind them of these things, and charge them before God (literally “the Lord”) not to quarrel about words (“war over words), which does no good (oudeis epi chresimos – brings no good upon), but only ruins (epi katastrophe – brings ruin upon) the hearers.”

  1. Bring to remembrance what is true.

This is a lifetime worth of work!

  1. Reminding about truth is done with the Lord as witness

When we teach we do so in the presence of the Lord and the Lord is witness to what is taught.

Every time one teaches the Word the witness to the event is the Lord himself. The audience is God’s people.

The Lord knows what is taught, and as a result he holds his people to hearing and obeying.

Quite literally we could say “The Lord is witness between us that his word has been taught and I am innocent because I have delivered your word.”

  1. Do not let people war over words.

We guard the gospel by charging God’s people to not war over words.

The idea here is fighting over nuanced subtleties and creating division.

This is speculative theology based on such nuanced wondering.

This may be fine for the classroom but not for life in the body and it’s not intellectual. It’s ego puffing in public to make one appear more than what they are.

3.1 1 Timothy 6:3-5

“If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth…”

3.2 Titus 3:9-11

“But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.”

  1. Warring over words brings no good.

Warring over words literally brings zero good upon those who hear or receive the residual effects of such warring.

  1. Warring over words brings catastrophe on the hearers.

Not only is there no good that comes, but warring over words brings ruin, literally catastrophe, on those who hear.

To guard the gospel we must:

Avoid Godless Chatter v. 16-18

“But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead (impel forward: this is a biting bit of sarcasm) people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread (nome – pasture/feed and exo – to have hold) like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened.”

  1. Avoid irreverent babble
  1. Irreverent babble leads to ungodliness

Paul uses a bit of biting sarcasm here to get the point across. The sarcasm is lost in English translations. The word “lead” is literally to impel forward.

Of course ungodliness is not forward but backward. And that is the point. You have to say it with a sarcastic tone to feel it. Paul is taking a Spirit inspired swipe at Hymenaeus, who he excommunicated from Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:20) along with his first little cohort, Alexander.

The sarcasm has to be playing on the apparent message of the one’s not rightly handling the word. They apparently were teaching that the resurrection has taken place, spiritually, and the eternal state has come upon those who have this kind of knowledge. Some scholars suppose this to be a very early brand of Gnosticism that would later grip the young church and which early church fathers would spend much time fighting off.

  1. Irreverent babble spreads like gangrene

Paul’s sarcasm is then followed by this ugly and gross metaphor of dead tissue poisoning the good tissue.

“Spread” is the translation of two words Paul uses “nome” meaning “pasture/feed” and “exo” meaning to “have hold”.

This bad teaching, called irreverent babble, will pasture up and feed on the host and take hold of it and poison it and kill it.

That’s what bad teaching does.

So, how will things turn out for those who mishandle the word?

How are things going to come about for those who word fight and for those propagating godless chatter?

Judgment Awaits Those Who Oppose the Truth v. 19

“But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his”, and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

  1. The Lord knows his people. v. 19a

In this seemingly out of place verse, Paul references an event that happens in Numbers 16. We know this by the phrase “The Lord knows those who are his.” This exact phrase shows up in the Greek translation of the Old Testament in Numbers 16:5, of which Paul would be exceptionally familiar.

Side Note: When you are reading the NT and notice quotes from the OT that don’t quite sound like the text when you look it up it is due to a couple of factors: 1. They are quoting the interpretation of the text 2. They are applying the text 3. They are quoting from the Greek Translation of the OT)

This situation that Paul is referencing is the one where Korah, Dathan and Abiram (Levites) along with 250 others, challenge Moses as the Lord’s appointed one to lead them.

Moses issues a challenge for them all them to present themselves to the Lord the next day and the Lord would “show who is his” because the Lord knows who is his.

Long story short, the Lord causes the earth to open up and swallow them all, families, tents, animals and the 250 that follow them.

Here is the encouragement and the warning:

1.1 The Lord knows who his faithful are in spite of the fools who keep

showing up to cause problems.

1.2 John 10:14-15

“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.”

  1. The Lord’s people depart from iniquity v. 19b

“Those who would take comfort in the first inscription must take responsibility for the second…There is no election (cf. v.10) apart from sanctification. It is written on our souls.”[1]


  1. We must constantly be reminded of the truth
  2. We will not quarrel about petty and side issues
  3. We will rightly handle the word or we will correct
  4. We will persevere in rightly handling the word
  5. We will not be ashamed of the truth
  6. We will work diligently and tirelessly to be excellent teachers of the word
  7. We will avoid godless untruth that leads to the destruction of God’s people
  8. We will take comfort in knowing that the Lord knows his and his know his voice and follow him
  9. We will constantly seek to be a repentant people seeking to hear the Lord and obey him. “He who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock.”
  10. we will be a worshiping people

Psalm 147:1 “Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.”

[1] Kent Hughes, 1&2 Timothy and Titus (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2000), p. 213.


2 Timothy 2:8-13 Remember Jesus!

2 Timothy 2:8-13

Remember Jesus!

If one is to guard the gospel they are going to have to be strengthened by the grace found only in Jesus.

They are going to have to entrust the gospel to the faithful in the church.

They are going to have to share in suffering with Jesus.

They are going to have to be like a good soldier who is single-minded in their devotion.

They are going to have to be like an athlete who puts in the hard work to win.

They are going to put in the hard work of mundane and repetitive labor in order to receive the fruits of their labor.

Now, Paul reminds Timothy and Ephesus that if they are to guard the gospel then they are going to have to remember some things.

REMEMBER the Gospel v. 8

God is into remembering because we fallen creatures have a tendency to forget.

  1. The Passover – Exodus 12:26, 27

“And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service? ’ you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses. ’” And the people bowed their heads and worshiped.”

  1. The Law – Deuteronomy 6:7ff, 20-23

“You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise…When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the Lord our God has commanded you? ’ then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. And the Lord showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes. And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers.”

  1. Crossing the Jordan – Joshua 4:5-7

“And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you? ’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”

So far 2 Timothy has been filled with exhortations to “remember”.

  1. Remember the faith of their forefathers 1:3
  2. Remember their mutual deep friendship and fellowship 1:4
  3. Remember his deep spiritual heritage 1:5
  4. Remember his gifting 1:6, 7
  5. Remember the pattern of sound words 1:13

Now Paul insists that Timothy and the church at Ephesus guard the gospel by remembering! What do they remember?

“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David…”

For the rest of the book Paul will refer to Jesus as “Christ Jesus”. Here he calls him “Jesus Christ” on purpose and that is to correspond to two major components he wants Timothy to remember about Jesus: Resurrection and King. Paul uses this device to help them remember what he’s asking them to remember!

“Jesus” corresponds to “risen from the dead”.

“Christ” corresponds to “offspring of David”.

  1. Remember: Jesus has been raised! (perfect tense – Jesus has been raised and still is raised)

Jesus the God/Man was killed in our place to pay for our inherited sin from the fall, he was buried and he has been raised and is alive now!

  1. Remember: Jesus is Christ THE King

Jesus fulfilled the Davidic Covenant, the promise made to King David in 2 Samuel 7:12ff as the promise that is reiterated throughout the Old Testament…Significantly it was after the resurrection, on the road to Emmaus, that Jesus explained, “‘Did not the Christ (the King from David’s line) have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself’” (Luke 24:26-27). Memory of Jesus’ Messiahship invites the believer to see Jesus as the culmination of God’s plan of salvation and to bow before him as king.[1]

Jesus is the King who rules over all things and especially his people!

  1. These two components made up the core of Paul’s preaching from which

Paul’s entire worldview on redemption was based. (See Romans 1:1-4; 1 Cor. 15:1-4)

Certainly, the gospel is multifaceted (Creation/Fall/Redemption/Restoration), but the core of the work of redemption is Jesus resurrection and his kingship over his kingdom.


  1. We are prone to forget the kingdom and go with what appeals to the eye wrong desires and self-promotion.
  1. We are not to forget or give in on the facts of the gospel.
  2. We are to remember Jesus lives!
  3. We are to remember Jesus is THE King that rules well and make things

right and we can enter that kingdom and that rulership when we obey him.

Remember the Gospel’s Power v. 9

“…But the word of God is not bound!”

Not bound: The transformation of the Roman Empire in spite of the Church’s severe persecution

Not bound: The transformation of the Barbarians and Germanic tribes in their domination of the old Roman Empire

Not bound: The transformation of the Vikings in their domination of Ireland

Not bound: The mass export of the gospel through Scripture being loosed during the reformation and put in the hands of the people

Not bound: The Moravian’s work in the new world to reach the tribes of the Americas (including my people)

  1. Bearers of the gospel may be shut down but the message will never be.
  1. The gospel of the kingdom is subversive like yeast in dough.
  1. As the Father, Son and Spirit sent Joseph to Egypt to rescue his people in years to come and make his name known in Egypt, so our God sends his word even through the bound and unbound alike and spreads the aroma of Christ to his appointed places.

4. Take heart!

Remember to Love The Church v. 10

“Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

The elect here is a reference to the elect of God, which is his church that has been given to the Son by the Father and whom Jesus secures through his life, death and resurrection in order to receive them and keep them and rule them well forever.

“Paul states that the reason for his endurance is for the sake of the elect, he sees his own sufferings against the background of those who would come to faith in Christ as a result of the preaching of the gospel. Perhaps his reference to the salvation that is in Christ Jesus is intended to distinguish it from the kind of salvation offered by the false teachers. The words in Christ Jesus not only define the salvation as Christian, but also show it to be the possession of all those who are in Christ. Note that elsewhere Paul links salvation with glory (cf. 2 Thes. 2:13–14).”[2]

  1. Christian perseverance is a gift of the gospel and has gospel effect in that it becomes a visual illustration of the message of the cross to those who didn’t get to witness it first hand and it sees the elect rescued from darkness to light.

“Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect…”

1a. Paul has already stated that he views his imprisonment as Jesus’ work.

1b. Paul endures then by Jesus for his church.

1c. Jesus is how Paul got into suffering and the salvation of his church is the purpose of his suffering.

1d. By saving his church through putting his people in tough spots

glorifies Jesus because they imitate Jesus and make Jesus’ work known in those tough spots.

You have to love the church to persevere through difficulty. Jesus loves his church and he suffered to rescue it and he calls us to the same as his ambassadors.

1e. Don’t despise the day of suffering because there are good and divine effects Jesus’ can bring about through it. (See Gen. 50:20; Rom. 8:28)

  1. Rescue of the church comes only in Christ and not through any other means.

“…,that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus…”

2a. Jesus uses the suffering of his church to draw the elect to himself                  so that they may find entrance into his kingdom through himself.

  1. Jesus bestows the glory of image bearers in part now through the supernatural work of the kingdom that is a promise of full bestowal of that glory at the resurrection.

“…with eternal glory.”

3a. Eternal life is a present reality not a future hope (resurrection is    the future hope; See John 17:1-3)

  1. Remember the church. Don’t neglect her and don’t hate on her.

4a. The church is Jesus’ chosen bride and a kingdom of priests

to Father.

4b. Invest your time in the church. Return on that investment is


Remember a Trustworthy Statement v. 11-13

Paul’s final counsel to remember is either part of an early hymn or early poem that have 4 lines, 3 encouragements and 1 warning.

The Lord has used poetry, narrative and song to instruct his people from Genesis. Adam breaks out in poetic song when Eve is created; David writes songs; Solomon pens wise counsel.

The Spirit-filled church produces fantastic means to cause us to remember the truths of the kingdom. Paul gives us one here.

  1. Encouragement 1: Remember your transformation: Died (Aorist) / Live (F)

“If we have died (A) with him, we will also live (F) with him;…”

The first encouragement uses Romans 6 imagery of baptism picturing death, burial and resurrection to new and transformed life.

  1. Encouragement 2: Remember to persevere: Endure (Present) / Reign (F)

“…if we endure (P), we will also reign (F) with him;…”

  1. Warning: Remember, do not deny the Lord (F) / Deny (F);

“…if we deny (F) him, he also will deny (F) us;…”

See Matthew 10:32-33:

“So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”

  1. Encouragement 3: Remember Jesus is faithful because we are his: Faithless

(P) / Faithful (P)

“…if we are faithless (P), he remains (P) faithful…”

The difference between 3 and 4 is that the warning is for those who would walk away from Jesus to save themselves and being cool with having rescued themselves (he who looses his life finds it) versus wrestling to hold up and failing and seeking repentance.

Remember to worship King Jesus

Psalm 147:1 “Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.”

[1] Kent Hughes, 1&2 Timothy and Titus, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2000) p. 202.

[2] D. A. Carson et al., eds., New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 1307.